Advertisements



Charlie Munger was still a master of the one-liner in his 90s, calling crypto "venereal disease" and AI overhyped

The "Oracle of Pasadena" leaves behind decades' worth of zingers, including savage takedowns of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Charlie Munger died Tuesday, aged 99.Mark Peterson/Corbis via Getty Images Charlie Munger, who died Tuesday, was as well-known for his signature wit as he was for his investing success. The "Oracle of Pasadena" still had a sense of humor well into his late 90s. Here are some of his best quotes on markets – including his savage takedowns of crypto. The late Charlie Munger, who died Tuesday aged 99, was known for his signature sense of humor as well as for his meteoric success during a five-decade tenure at Berkshire Hathaway.Warren Buffett's right-hand man leaves behind decades' worth of life lessons – as well as his fair share of zingers, including savage takedowns of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.Here are 11 of the Oracle of Pasadena's best quotes on investing and markets.The stock market1. On the 2008 financial crisis: "The bubble in America was caused by some combination of megalomania, insanity and evil in, I would say, investment banking, mortgage banking" – Munger at a 2011 conference in Pasadena, CA2. On former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld: "I bet Richard Fuld doesn't have an ounce of contrition. It's just megalomania. When it's like that, you need rules to prevent catastrophe. When banks are borrowing the government's credit rating, you need rules to prevent stupid things" – Munger in a 2010 interview with CNBC3. On derivatives: "What do you think a derivatives trading desk is? It's a casino in drag. They make the witch doctors look good" – Munger at the 2015 Daily Journal annual meeting4. On what value investing has in common with fishing: "I have a friend who's a fisherman. He says, 'I have a simple rule for success in fishing. Fish where the fish are.' You want to fish where the bargains are. [It's] that simple" – Munger at the 2020 Daily Journal annual meeting5. On meme stocks: "What we're getting is wretched excess and danger for the country. A lot of people like a drunken brawl, and so far those are the people that are winning, and a lot of people are making money out of our brawl" – Munger at the 2021 Daily Journal annual meetingThe Federal Reserve6. On Alan Greenspan, Fed chair in the run-up to the financial crisis: "Alan Greenspan is a smart man. He just totally overdosed on Ayn Rand at a young age" – Munger at a 2011 conference in Pasadena, CAArtificial intelligence7. On the ChatGPT-fueled AI investing craze: "I am personally skeptical of some of the hype that has gone into artificial intelligence. I think old-fashioned intelligence works pretty well" – Munger at the 2023 Berkshire Hathaway annual meetingBitcoin and crypto8. On bitcoin when it was trading at $150: "I think it's rat poison" – Munger in a 2013 interview with Fox Business9. Five years later, when the token was valued at $9,000: "So it's more expensive rat poison" – Munger in a 2018 follow-up interview with Fox Business10. On dodging the crypto craze and subsequent crash: "I'm proud of the fact that I avoided it. It's like some venereal disease. I just regard it as beneath contempt" – Munger at the 2022 Daily Journal annual meeting11. On the US not banning crypto transactions: "I am not proud of my country for allowing this crap – well, I call it crypto shit. It's worthless, it's crazy, it's not good, it'll do nothing but harm, it's antisocial to allow it… I think the people that oppose my position are idiots" – Munger at the 2023 Daily Journal annual meetingRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 29th, 2023

Legendary investor Charlie Munger trashed crypto as worthless and vile in one of his final interviews – and blasted coin promoters as deluded "scumballs"

Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett's late business partner, eviscerated crypto and its touters during one of his last interviews, released this week. The late Charlie Munger was Warren Buffett's business partner.Yahoo Finance/YouTube Charlie Munger tore into crypto and its touters during one of the last interviews of his life. Warren Buffett's late business partner slammed bitcoin and other tokens as worthless and deplorable. Munger trashed crypto promoters, saying most of them are either delusional or "scumballs." Charlie Munger eviscerated cryptocurrencies in an interview with Stripe's cofounder and president John Collison on a new episode of the "Invest Like The Best" podcast. It's one of the last conversations featuring Munger to be released following his death aged 99 last week.Munger, Warren Buffett's right-hand man and Berkshire Hathaway's vice-chairman for nearly five decades, trashed bitcoin and other digital tokens as worthless and deplorable, and wished they were banned.While he much preferred investing in productive assets like businesses, he still preferred gold to crypto."I don't hate gold as an investment as much as I hate cryptocurrency. I think cryptocurrency ought to have been driven out as illegal," Munger said."I don't think that buying a percentage of nothing is a good investment, even though it's hard to create more nothing." Munger dismissed crypto as a "scumball activity," and decried its promoters as largely "scumballs" or delusional.The late investor said the technology served not as a store of wealth, but as a "store of delusion." He also slammed it for fueling all sorts of undesirable behavior, as it enables anonymous transactions that bypass the conventional financial system."It's ideal for drug dealers, dope dealers, scam artists of various kinds," he said. "Every kind of criminal you can imagine. Very good in extortion, kidnapping. Why would we want a wonderful, crime-facilitating, new medium of exchange?"Munger also said it was a "huge mistake" for Sequoia Capital, the storied venture-capital firm, to make an early investment in Robinhood given the trading app's embrace of crypto."You're successful with Sequoia and you're identified with financing people like Apple and so on, why in the hell would you take Robinhood, you know it's some goddamn crypto? It's totally crazy," he said.Munger has railed against crypto on many occasions, calling it "rat poison," a "venereal disease," an "open sewer," and an "absolute horror." He also said he wouldn't want anyone involved with crypto to marry into his family.The price of bitcoin, the most popular crypto, halved to below $15,000 in 2022. Yet it's more than erased those gains this year to trade above $44,000 – its highest level in more than 18 months.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 7th, 2023

Charlie Munger trashed crypto as worthless and vile – and blasted coin promoters as deluded "scumballs"

Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett's late business partner, eviscerated crypto and its touters during one of his final interviews released this week. The late Charlie Munger was Warren Buffett's business partner.Yahoo Finance/YouTube Charlie Munger delivered a scathing critique of crypto in one of his final interviews. Warren Buffett's late business partner slammed bitcoin and other tokens as worthless and deplorable. Munger trashed crypto promoters, saying most of them are either delusional or "scumballs." Charlie Munger eviscerated cryptocurrencies in an interview with Stripe's cofounder and president John Collison on a new episode of the "Invest Like The Best" podcast. It's one of the last conversations featuring Munger to be released following his death aged 99 last week.Munger, Warren Buffett's right-hand man and Berkshire Hathaway's vice-chairman for nearly five decades, trashed bitcoin and other digital tokens as worthless and deplorable, and wished they were banned.While he much preferred investing in productive assets like businesses, he still preferred gold to crypto."I don't hate gold as an investment as much as I hate cryptocurrency. I think cryptocurrency ought to have been driven out as illegal," Munger said."I don't think that buying a percentage of nothing is a good investment, even though it's hard to create more nothing." Munger dismissed crypto as a "scumball activity," and decried its promoters as largely "scumballs" or delusional.The late investor said the technology served not as a store of wealth, but as a "store of delusion." He also slammed it for fueling all sorts of undesirable behavior, as it enables anonymous transactions that bypass the conventional financial system."It's ideal for drug dealers, dope dealers, scam artists of various kinds," he said. "Every kind of criminal you can imagine. Very good in extortion, kidnapping. Why would we want a wonderful, crime-facilitating, new medium of exchange?"Munger also said it was a "huge mistake" for Sequoia Capital, the storied venture-capital firm, to make an early investment in Robinhood given the trading app's embrace of crypto."You're successful with Sequoia and you're identified with financing people like Apple and so on, why in the hell would you take Robinhood, you know it's some goddamn crypto? It's totally crazy," he said.Munger has railed against crypto on many occasions, calling it "rat poison," a "venereal disease," an "open sewer," and an "absolute horror." He also said he wouldn't want anyone involved with crypto to marry into his family.The price of bitcoin, the most popular crypto, halved to below $15,000 in 2022. Yet it's more than erased those gains this year to trade above $44,000 – its highest level in more than 18 months.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 7th, 2023

Charlie Munger first met Warren Buffett in 1959. Here"s how the lawyer became an investing legend.

Charlie Munger set up a successful law firm in California, but a 1959 dinner party with Warren Buffett in their hometown led him to join Berkshire Hathaway. Charlie Munger was 99.Rick Wilking/ReutersCharlie Munger died at the age of 99 on Tuesday.The Berkshire Hathaway vice-chairman became an investor after meeting Warren Buffett at a dinner party.He also served in the US Army Air Corps, and lost an eye to failed cataract surgery.Charlie Munger, the vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett's righthand man, died at the age of 99 on Tuesday."Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie's inspiration, wisdom and participation," Buffett said in a press release.Things could have turned out differently for Munger if he didn't meet Buffett at a 1959 dinner party in their hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.Munger was a successful lawyer before Buffett convinced him to try out finance, and then to join Berkshire Hathaway in 1978.Here's the story behind the investing legend.Charlie Munger was born in Omaha, Nebraska on January 1, 1924.Omaha, NebraskaDavel/Getting ImagesAs a teenager, one of his first jobs was at a grocery store called Buffett & Son, owned by Warren Buffett's grandfather.Bettmann/Getty ImagesIn 1941, Munger left Omaha to enroll at the University of Michigan, studying math. He would later donate millions of dollars to his alma mater.Raymond Boyd/Getty ImagesBy 1943, shortly after turning 19, he joined the US Army Air Corps as a second lieutenant.Brigadier General James Doolittle stands next to a recruiting poster in 1943.US Army Air Force/Interim Archives/Getty ImagesAfter scoring highly on an army intelligence test, Munger was sent to study meteorology at Caltech in Pasadena.Chiharu Uchida/Getty ImagesThrough the G.I. Bill, he took several other classes. And in 1945, he married his first wife Nancy Huggins.President Franklin Roosevelt signing the G.I. Bill of Rights.Bettmann/Getty ImagesMunger then applied to Harvard Law School, which his father attended, but was rejected because he didn't have an undergraduate degree.A view of a gate to Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University on July 8, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesThe former dean, Roscoe Pound, was a Munger family friend and intervened on his behalf. Munger graduated summa cum laude – the highest honor – in 1948.The campus of Harvard Business School and Harvard University, July 26, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. Harvard, one of the most prestigious business schools in the world, emphasizes the case method in the classroomBrooks Kraft/Corbis via Getty ImagesMunger moved with his family to California and worked in law. He divorced his first wife in 1953 and met Nancy Borthwick on a blind date, marrying her in 1956.Paul Tamas/Getty ImagesSource: Stanford MagazineMunger and Warren Buffett first met in 1959 at a dinner party in their hometown of Omaha, and quickly got along.Eric Francis/Getty Images"About five minutes into it, Charlie was sort of rolling on the floor laughing at his own jokes, which is exactly the same thing I did," Buffett told CNBC. "I thought, 'I'm not going to find another guy like this.' And we just hit it off."Back in California, he cofounded the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson in 1962, where he worked as a real estate attorney.Andrew Harnik/APThe two stayed in touch, and on Buffett's advice, Munger gave up law to concentrate on managing investments.Nati Harnik/APMunger was successful, as Buffett pointed out in a 1984 essay. `He generated compound annual returns of 19.8% between 1962 and 1975.jayk7/Getty Images"He was willing to accept greater peaks and valleys of performance, and he happens to be a fellow whose whole psyche goes toward concentration, with the results shown," Buffett wrote.In his 50s, Munger lost his left eye after cataract surgery failed. A doctor warned he could lose his right eye too, so he began learning braille, but the condition improved.Hill Street Studios/Getty ImagesBuffett became CEO of Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, and convinced Munger to join him as vice-chairman in 1978.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesThe pair became the face of the company, with Munger known as the pragmatic and witty righthand man.APMunger stayed in California while Buffett worked from Omaha, speaking frequently by phone.David Silverman/Getty ImagesSource: BloombergBuffett credited Munger with swaying him away from the "cigar-butt" style of value investing, which involves buying low-priced stock in struggling companies.markgoddard/Getty Images"It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price," Buffett told shareholders in 1989. "Charlie understood this early – I was a slow learner."When Munger missed a shareholders meeting in 2010, Buffett brought a cardboard cutout on stage, and mimicked him saying: "I couldn't agree more."Markets InsiderSource: BloombergMunger was known for his one-liners, calling crypto "rat poison" and a "venereal disease." In May, he rebuffed AI: "I think old-fashioned intelligence works pretty well."Charlie Munger was 99.Rick Wilking/ReutersSource: Yahoo FinanceWhen he died Munger was worth $2.6 billion. Lane Hickenbottom/ReutersSource: ForbesMunger died in a California hospital on November 28, aged 99.Nati Harnik/APCharlie Munger, investing legend and right hand to Warren Buffett, dies at 99Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 29th, 2023

Billionaire investor Charlie Munger says crypto is rife with fraud and delusion - and praises Elon Musk, calling Tesla"s success a "minor miracle"

Warren Buffett's right-hand man said investors are too eager to buy into the latest fad, and crypto's novelty meant regulators overlooked its dangers. Charlie Munger.AP Photo/Nati Harnik Charlie Munger ripped into cryptocurrencies, saying fraud and delusion are common in the industry. Regulators overlooked crypto's risks and should have banned it, Warren Buffett's business partner said. Munger also contrasted the Fed with the Bank of Japan, and praised Elon Musk and Tesla. Warren Buffett's business partner has torn into cryptocurrencies once again, declaring the space is rife with fraud and delusion, and regulators have dropped the ball by not outlawing bitcoin and other digital assets.Charlie Munger, a billionaire investor and the vice-chairman of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, also suggested the Federal Reserve is far less aggressive than the Bank of Japan. Moreover, he underscored Tesla's unlikely success and praised Elon Musk.Here's what Munger told CNBC in an interview aired on Tuesday. He spoke days after Sam Bankman-Fried's digital-asset exchange, FTX, filed for bankruptcy:"It's partly fraud and partly delusion — that's a bad combination," Munger said about the crypto industry. "People think this is a real asset, it's not a real asset," he added about the coins themselves.The 98-year-old investor bemoaned the growing acceptance of crypto by Wall Street banks and hedge funds, and suggested financiers are far too eager to buy into the latest fad."It pains me that in my own country I see people that once were regarded as very reputable people helping these things exist," he said. "There are people who think that you've got to be on every deal that's hot."Munger added that it's "crazy" and "demented" to think someone can mint a new token that can turn a 12-year-old into a billion are overnight.Buffett's right-hand man also suggested the novelty of crypto has meant regulators have failed to grasp its dangers. He criticized authorities for not banning crypto early on."The danger flags are wagging so clearly," he said. "None of this stuff should ever have been allowed."Munger has previously compared crypto to a "venereal disease" and an "open sewer," and said he wouldn't want someone in the space to marry into his family.The Fed, Elon Musk, and TeslaThe world needs competent central banks, but the Fed is a "mouse that hardly tries to do anything" compared to the Bank of Japan, Munger said."If we get in the kind of trouble Japan was in, of course we'll do the same damn thing," he said. The Japanese central bank has cut interest rates below zero in an effort to shore up economic growth in recent years.On another note, Munger said he was surprised by Tesla's outsized success, and felt far more positively about Elon Musk's company than he does about bitcoin."Tesla has made some real contributions to civilization," he said. "Elon Musk has done some good things that other people couldn't do.""We haven't had a successful new auto company in a long, long time," Munger added. "What Tesla has done in the car business is a minor miracle."This story is being updated, check back for more details.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytNov 15th, 2022

Inside Frances Haugen’s Decision to Take on Facebook

Blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company is no small feat Frances Haugen is in the back of a Paris taxi, waving a piece of sushi in the air. The cab is on the way to a Hilton hotel, where this November afternoon she is due to meet with the French digital economy minister. The Eiffel Tower appears briefly through the window, piercing a late-fall haze. Haugen is wolfing down lunch on the go, while recalling an episode from her childhood. The teacher of her gifted and talented class used to play a game where she would read to the other children the first letter of a word from the dictionary and its definition. Haugen and her classmates would compete, in teams, to guess the word. “At some point, my classmates convinced the teacher that it was unfair to put me on either team, because whichever team had me was going to win and so I should have to compete against the whole class,” she says. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Did she win? “I did win,” she says with a level of satisfaction that quickly fades to indignation. “And so imagine! That makes kids hate you!” She pops an edamame into her mouth with a flourish. “I look back and I’m like, That was a bad idea.” She tells the story not to draw attention to her precociousness—although it does do that—but to share the lesson it taught her. “This shows you how badly some educators understand psychology,” she says. While some have described the Facebook whistle-blower as an activist, Haugen says she sees herself as an educator. To her mind, an important part of her mission is driving home a message in a way that resonates with people, a skill she has spent years honing. Photograph by Christopher Anderson—Magnum Photos for TIME It is the penultimate day of a grueling three-week tour of Europe, during which Haugen has cast herself in the role of educator in front of the U.K. and E.U. Parliaments, regulators and one tech conference crowd. Haugen says she wanted to cross the Atlantic to offer her advice to lawmakers putting the final touches on new regulations that take aim at the outsize influence of large social media companies. The new U.K. and E.U. laws have the potential to force Facebook and its competitors to open up their algorithms to public scrutiny, and face large fines if they fail to address problematic impacts of their platforms. European lawmakers and regulators “have been on this journey a little longer” than their U.S. counterparts, Haugen says diplomatically. “My goal was to support lawmakers as they think through these issues.” Beginning in late summer, Haugen, 37, disclosed tens of thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The documents were the basis of a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal that sparked a reckoning in September over what the company knew about how it contributed to harms ranging from its impact on teens’ mental health and the extent of misinformation on its platforms, to human traffickers’ open use of its services. The documents paint a picture of a company that is often aware of the harms to which it contributes—but is either unwilling or unable to act against them. Haugen’s disclosures set Facebook stock on a downward trajectory, formed the basis for eight new whistle-blower complaints to the SEC and have prompted lawmakers around the world to intensify their calls for regulation of the company. Facundo Arrizabalaga—EPA/EFE/ShutterstockHaugen leaves the Houses of Parliament in London on Oct. 25 after giving evidence to U.K. lawmakers. Facebook has rejected Haugen’s claims that it puts profits before safety, and says it spends $5 billion per year on keeping its platforms safe. “As a company, we have every commercial and moral incentive to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on our apps,” a spokesperson said in a statement. Although many insiders have blown the whistle on Facebook before, nobody has left the company with the breadth of material that Haugen shared. And among legions of critics in politics, academia and media, no single person has been as effective as Haugen in bringing public attention to Facebook’s negative impacts. When Haugen decided to blow the whistle against Facebook late last year, the company employed more than 58,000 people. Many had access to the documents that she would eventually pass to authorities. Why did it take so long for somebody to do what she did? Read More: How Facebook Forced a Reckoning by Shutting Down the Team That Put People Ahead of Profits One answer is that blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company requires a particular combination of skills, personality traits and circumstances. In Haugen’s case, it took one near-death experience, a lost friend, several crushed hopes, a cryptocurrency bet that came good and months in counsel with a priest who also happens to be her mother. Haugen’s atypical personality, glittering academic background, strong moral convictions, robust support networks and self-confidence also helped. Hers is the story of how all these factors came together—some by chance, some by design—to create a watershed moment in corporate responsibility, human communication and democracy. When debate coach Scott Wunn first met a 16-year-old Haugen at Iowa City West High School, she had already been on the team for two years, after finishing junior high a year early. He was an English teacher who had been headhunted to be the debate team’s new coach. The school took this kind of extracurricular activity seriously, and so did the young girl with the blond hair. In their first exchange, Wunn remembers Haugen grilling him about whether he would take coaching as seriously as his other duties. “I could tell from that moment she was very serious about debate,” says Wunn, who is now the executive director of the National Speech and Debate Association. “When we ran tournaments, she was the student who stayed the latest, who made sure that all of the students on the team were organized. Everything that you can imagine, Frances would do.” Haugen specialized in a form of debate that specifically asked students to weigh the morality of every issue, and by her senior year, she had become one of the top 25 debaters in the country in her field. “Frances was a math whiz, and she loved political science,” Wunn says. In competitive debate, you don’t get to decide which side of the issue you argue for. But Haugen had a strong moral compass, and when she was put in a position where she had to argue for something she disagreed with, she didn’t lean back on “flash in the pan” theatrics, her former coach remembers. Instead, she would dig deeper to find evidence for an argument she could make that wouldn’t compromise her values. “Her moral convictions were strong enough, even at that age, that she wouldn’t try to manipulate the evidence such that it would go against her morality,” Wunn says. When Haugen got to college, she realized she needed to master another form of communication. “Because my parents were both professors, I was used to having dinner-table conversations where, like, someone would have read an interesting article that day, and would basically do a five-minute presentation,” she says. “And so I got to college, and I had no idea how to make small talk.” Today, Haugen is talkative and relaxed. She’s in a good mood because she got to “sleep in” until 8:30 a.m.—later than most other days on her European tour, she says. At one point, she asks if I’ve seen the TV series Archer and momentarily breaks into a song from the animated sitcom. After graduating from Olin College of Engineering—where, beyond the art of conversation, she studied the science of computer engineering—Haugen moved to Silicon Valley. During a stint at Google, she helped write the code for Secret Agent Cupid, the precursor to popular dating app Hinge. She took time off to undertake an M.B.A. at Harvard, a rarity for software engineers in Silicon Valley and something she would later credit with helping her diagnose some of the organizational flaws within Facebook. But in 2014, while back at Google, Haugen’s trajectory was knocked off course. Haugen has celiac disease, a condition that means her immune system attacks her own tissues if she eats gluten. (Hence the sushi.) She “did not take it seriously enough” in her 20s, she says. After repeated trips to the hospital, doctors eventually realized she had a blood clot in her leg that had been there for anywhere between 18 months and two years. Her leg turned purple, and she ended up in the hospital for over a month. There she had an allergic reaction to a drug and nearly bled to death. She suffered nerve damage in her hands and feet, a condition known as neuropathy, from which she still suffers today. “I think it really changes your priorities when you’ve almost died,” Haugen says. “Everything that I had defined myself [by] before, I basically lost.” She was used to being the wunderkind who could achieve anything. Now, she needed help cooking her meals. “My recovery made me feel much more powerful, because I rebuilt my body,” she says. “I think the part that informed my journey was: You have to accept when you whistle-blow like this that you could lose everything. You could lose your money, you could lose your freedom, you could alienate everyone who cares about you. There’s all these things that could happen to you. Once you overcome your fear of death, anything is possible. I think it gave me the freedom to say: Do I want to follow my conscience?” Once Haugen was out of the hospital, she moved back into her apartment but struggled with daily tasks. She hired a friend to assist her part time. “I became really close friends with him because he was so committed to my getting better,” she says. But over the course of six months, in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, she says, “I just lost him” to online misinformation. He seemed to believe conspiracy theories, like the idea that George Soros runs the world economy. “At some point, I realized I couldn’t reach him,” she says. Soon Haugen was physically recovering, and she began to consider re-entering the workforce. She spent stints at Yelp and Pinterest as a successful product manager working on algorithms. Then, in 2018, a Facebook recruiter contacted her. She told him that she would take the job only if she could work on tackling misinformation in Facebook’s “integrity” operation, the arm of the company focused on keeping the platform and its users safe. “I took that job because losing my friend was just incredibly painful, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that pain,” she says. Her optimism that she could make a change from inside lasted about two months. Haugen’s first assignment involved helping manage a project to tackle misinformation in places where the company didn’t have any third-party fact-checkers. Everybody on her team was a new hire, and she didn’t have the data scientists she needed. “I went to the engineering manager, and I said, ‘This is the inappropriate team to work on this,’” she recalls. “He said, ‘You shouldn’t be so negative.’” The pattern repeated itself, she says. “I raised a lot of concerns in the first three months, and my concerns were always discounted by my manager and other people who had been at the company for longer.” Before long, her entire team was shifted away from working on international misinformation in some of Facebook’s most vulnerable markets to working on the 2020 U.S. election, she says. The documents Haugen would later disclose to authorities showed that in 2020, Facebook spent 3.2 million hours tackling misinformation, although just 13% of that time was spent on content from outside the U.S., the Journal reported. Facebook’s spokesperson said in a statement that the company has “dedicated teams with expertise in human rights, hate speech and misinformation” working in at-risk countries. “We dedicate resources to these countries, including those without fact-checking programs, and have been since before, during and after the 2020 U.S. elections, and this work continues today.” Read More: Why Some People See More Disturbing Content on Facebook Than Others, According to Leaked Documents Haugen said that her time working on misinformation in foreign countries made her deeply concerned about the impact of Facebook abroad. “I became concerned with India even in the first two weeks I was in the company,” she says. Many people who were accessing the Internet for the first time in places like India, Haugen realized after reading research on the topic, did not even consider the possibility that something they had read online might be false or misleading. “From that moment on, I was like, Oh, there is a huge sleeping dragon at Facebook,” she says. “We are advancing the Internet to other countries far faster than it happened in, say, the U.S.,” she says, noting that people in the U.S. have had time to build up a “cultural muscle” of skepticism toward online content. “And I worry about the gap [until] that information immune system forms.” In February 2020, Haugen sent a text message to her parents asking if she could come and live with them in Iowa when the pandemic hit. Her mother Alice Haugen recalls wondering what pandemic she was talking about, but agreed. “She had made a spreadsheet with a simple exponential growth model that tried to guess when San Francisco would be shut down,” Alice says. A little later, Frances asked if she could send some food ahead of her. Soon, large Costco boxes started arriving at the house. “She was trying to bring in six months of food for five people, because she was afraid that the supply lines might break down,” Alice says. “Our living room became a small grocery store.” After quarantining for 10 days upon arrival, the younger Haugen settled into lockdown life with her parents, continuing her work for Facebook remotely. “We shared meals, and every day we would have conversations,” Alice says. She recalled her daughter voicing specific concerns about Facebook’s impact in Ethiopia, where ethnic violence was playing out on—and in some cases being amplified by—Facebook’s platforms. On Nov. 9, Facebook said it had been investing in safety measures in Ethiopia for more than two years, including activating algorithms to down-rank potentially inflammatory content in several languages in response to escalating violence there. Haugen acknowledges the work, saying she wants to give “credit where credit is due,” but claims the social network was too late to intervene with safety measures in Ethiopia and other parts of the world. “The idea that they don’t even turn those knobs on until people are getting shot is completely unacceptable,” she says. “The reality right now is that Facebook is not willing to invest the level of resources that would allow it to intervene sooner.” A Facebook spokesperson defended the prioritization system in its statement, saying that the company has long-term strategies to “mitigate the impacts of harmful offline events in the countries we deem most at risk … while still protecting freedom of expression and other human rights principles.” What Haugen saw was happening in nations like Ethiopia and India would clarify her opinions about “engagement-based ranking”—the system within Facebook more commonly known as “the algorithm”—that chooses which posts, out of thousands of options, to rank at the top of users’ feeds. Haugen’s central argument is that human nature means this system is doomed to amplify the worst in us. “One of the things that has been well documented in psychology research is that the more times a human is exposed to something, the more they like it, and the more they believe it’s true,” she says. “One of the most dangerous things about engagement-based ranking is that it is much easier to inspire someone to hate than it is to compassion or empathy. Given that you have a system that hyperamplifies the most extreme content, you’re going to see people who get exposed over and over again to the idea that [for example] it’s O.K. to be violent to Muslims. And that destabilizes societies.” In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. election, according to media reports, some initiatives proposed by Facebook’s integrity teams to tackle misinformation and other problems were killed or watered down by executives on the policy side of the company, who are responsible both for setting the platform’s rules and lobbying governments on Facebook’s behalf. Facebook spokespeople have said in response that the interventions were part of the company’s commitment to nuanced policymaking that balanced freedom of speech with safety. Haugen’s time at business school taught her to view the problem differently: Facebook was a company that prioritized growth over the safety of its users. “Organizational structure is a wonky topic, but it matters,” Haugen says. Inside the company, she says, she observed the effect of these repeated interventions on the integrity team. “People make decisions on what projects to work on, or advance, or give more resources to, based on what they believe is the chance for success,” she says. “I think there were many projects that could be content-neutral—that didn’t involve us choosing what are good or bad ideas, but instead are about making the platform safe—that never got greenlit, because if you’ve seen other things like that fail, you don’t even try them.” Being with her parents, particularly her mother, who left a career as a professor to become an Episcopal priest, helped Haugen become comfortable with the idea she might one day have to go public. “I was learning all these horrific things about Facebook, and it was really tearing me up inside,” she says. “The thing that really hurts most whistle-blowers is: whistle-blowers live with secrets that impact the lives of other people. And they feel like they have no way of resolving them. And so instead of being destroyed by learning these things, I got to talk to my mother … If you’re having a crisis of conscience, where you’re trying to figure out a path that you can live with, having someone you can agonize to, over and over again, is the ultimate amenity.” Haugen didn’t decide to blow the whistle until December 2020, by which point she was back in San Francisco. The final straw came when Facebook dissolved Haugen’s former team, civic integrity, whose leader had asked employees to take an oath to put the public good before Facebook’s private interest. (Facebook denies that it dissolved the team, saying instead that members were spread out across the company to amplify its influence.) Haugen and many of her former colleagues felt betrayed. But her mother’s counsel had mentally prepared her. “It meant that when that moment happened, I was actually in a pretty good place,” Haugen says. “I wasn’t in a place of crisis like many whistle-blowers are.” Read More: Why Facebook Employees ‘Deprioritized’ a Misinformation Fix In March, Haugen moved to Puerto Rico, in part for the warm weather, which she says helps with her neuropathy pain. Another factor was the island’s cryptocurrency community, which has burgeoned because of the U.S. territory’s lack of capital gains taxes. In October, she told the New York Times that she had bought into crypto “at the right time,” implying that she had a financial buffer that allowed her to whistle-blow comfortably. Haugen’s detractors have pointed to the irony of her calling for tech companies to do their social duty, while living in a U.S. territory with a high rate of poverty that is increasingly being used as a tax haven. Some have also pointed out that Haugen is not entirely independent: she has received support from Luminate, a philanthropic organization pushing for progressive Big Tech reform in Europe and the U.S., and which is backed by the billionaire founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar. Luminate paid Haugen’s expenses on her trip to Europe and helped organize meetings with senior officials. Omidyar has also donated to Whistleblower Aid, the nonprofit legal organization that is now representing Haugen pro bono. Luminate says it entered into a relationship with Haugen only after she went public with her disclosures. Haugen resigned from Facebook in May this year, after being told by the human-resources team that she could not work remotely from a U.S. territory. The news accelerated the secret project that she had decided to begin after seeing her old team disbanded. To collect the documents she would later disclose, Haugen trawled Facebook’s internal employee forum, Workplace. She traced the careers of integrity colleagues she admired—many of whom had left the company in frustration—gathering slide decks, research briefs and policy proposals they had worked on, as well as other documents she came across. Read more: Facebook Will Not Fix Itself While collecting the documents, she had flashbacks to her teenage years preparing folders of evidence for debates. “I was like, Wow, this is just like debate camp!” she recalls. “When I was 16 and doing that, I had no idea that it would be useful in this way in the future.” Jabin Botsford—Getty ImagesHaugen testifies on Oct. 5 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In her Senate testimony in early October, Haugen suggested a federal agency should be set up to oversee social media algorithms so that “someone like me could do a tour of duty” after working at a company like Facebook. But moving to Washington, D.C., to serve at such an agency has no appeal, she says. “I am happy to be one of the people consulted by that agency,” she says. “But I have a life I really like in Puerto Rico.” Now that her tour of Europe is over, Haugen has had a chance to think about what comes next. Over an encrypted phone call from Puerto Rico a few days after we met in Paris, she says she would like to help build a grassroots movement to help young people push back against the harms caused by social media companies. In this new task, as seems to be the case with everything in Haugen’s life, she wants to try to leverage the power of education. “I am fully aware that a 19-year-old talking to a 16-year-old will be more effective than me talking to that 16-year-old,” she tells me. “There is a real opportunity for young people to flex their political muscles and demand accountability.” I ask if she has a message to send to young people reading this. “Hmm,” she says, followed by a long pause. “In every era, humans invent technologies that run away from themselves,” she says. “It’s very easy to look at some of these tech platforms and feel like they are too big, too abstract and too amorphous to influence in any way. But the reality is there are lots of things we can do. And the reason they haven’t done them is because it makes the companies less profitable. Not unprofitable, just less profitable. And no company has the right to subsidize their profits with your health. Ironically, Haugen gives partial credit to one of her managers at Facebook for inspiring her thought process around blowing the whistle. After struggling with a problem for a week without asking for help, she missed a deadline. When she explained why, the manager told her he was disappointed that she had hidden that she was having difficulty, she says. “He said, ‘We solve problems together; we don’t solve them alone,’” she says. Never one to miss a teaching opportunity, she continues, “Part of why I came forward is I believe Facebook has been struggling alone. They’ve been hiding how much they’re struggling. And the reality is, we solve problems together, we don’t solve them alone.” ShutterstockFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the company was rebranding as Meta. It’s a philosophy that Haugen sees as the basis for how social media platforms should deal with societal issues going forward. In late October, Facebook Inc. (which owns Facebook, Whats App and Instagram) changed its name to Meta, a nod to its ambition to build the next generation of online experiences. In a late-October speech, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believed the “Metaverse”—its new proposal to build a virtual universe—would fundamentally reshape how humans interact with technology. Haugen says she is concerned the Metaverse will isolate people rather than bring them together: “I believe any tech with that much influence deserves public oversight.” But hers is also a belief system that allows for a path toward redemption. That friend she lost to misinformation? His story has a happy ending. “I learned later that he met a nice girl and he had gone back to church,” Haugen says, adding that he no longer believes in conspiracy theories. “It gives me a lot of hope that we can recover as individuals and as a society. But it involves us connecting with people.” —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein and Nik Popli.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 22nd, 2021

Who is MrBeast? Meet the 25-year-old YouTube star who"s famous for giving away millions of dollars to strangers and says he"s not rich.

Who is MrBeast? His ambitious challenges helped grow his YouTube channel to 240 million subscribers. Here's a closer look at his path to fame. MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, has grown his YouTube following to 240 million. Here's how he did it.Jeff Cheatham/HCK2 MrBeast is one of the most-viewed YouTubers thanks to his attention-grabbing stunts. He earns between $600 to $700 million a year but still doesn't consider himself wealthy.  See how the 25-year-old leveraged his fame into a globally recognized brand.  At 25 years old, Jimmy Donaldson, also known as MrBeast, is one of YouTube's most-viewed and highest-paid creators.His early viral videos included challenging feats — from reading every word in the dictionary to counting from zero to 100,000 for 40 straight hours — and his ambitious challenges and money giveaways, like "curing" 1,000 people's blindness, have helped him grow his channel to roughly 240 million subscribers: the most in YouTube's history. He's also an entrepreneur who launched the virtual restaurant brand MrBeast Burger in 2020 and a supposedly better-for-you chocolate business called Feastables in 2022. Overall, MrBeast's endeavors help him rake in somewhere between $600 to $700 million annually. But the YouTube star still doesn't consider himself to be wealthy. "I'm not naive; maybe one day. But right now, whatever we make, we reinvest," he said in a recent interview. Check out how MrBeast rose to fame:MrBeast was born as Jimmy Donaldson on May 7, 1998.Greenville, North Carolina.Hi-Tech Hikers/YouTubeThe YouTube star and his brother, CJ, grew up in eastern North Carolina in the city of Greenville. In 2016, he graduated from Greenville Christian Academy, a private high school in the area, according to Business North Carolina.  Donaldson uploaded his first YouTube in February 2012, when he was just 13 years old.MrBeast in a video in 2015.MrBeast/YouTubeThe teenager began his YouTube career posting videos under the username "MrBeast6000," according to Newsweek. For the first few years, Donaldson attempted, unsuccessfully, to master the YouTube algorithm by creating the content he thought would attract the largest audience. As MrBeast attempted to game YouTube's algorithm.MrBeast playing "Call of Duty" on his channel in 2014.MrBeast/YouTubeThe aspiring YouTuber went through stages of trends on his channel: funny compilations of playing "Minecraft" and "Call of Duty," estimating YouTubers' wealth, offering tips and tricks to aspiring creators, and commentating on YouTuber drama, Newsweek reported. MrBeast himself made very few appearances in his videos in the early days. MrBeast started to gain a following in 2015 and 2016 thanks to his "worst intros" series of videos, which rounded up and poked fun at YouTuber introductions he discovered on the platform.MrBeast was on track to YouTube fame in the mid 2010s.MrBeast/YouTubeBy mid-2016, MrBeast hit 30,000 subscribers. In late 2016, MrBeast enrolled in college.…but that didn't last long.MrBeast/YouTubeThe YouTuber said he lasted only two weeks before he dropped out, telling his mom: "I'd rather be poor than do anything besides YouTube," according to a post on X. His mom made him move out of his childhood home North Carolina at 18 because "she loves me and just wanted me to be successful," MrBeast later in a post on X. MrBeast first went viral in January 2017, when he uploaded a video showing himself counting to 100,000 — which he later revealed took him 44 hours.Dropping out of college fueled MrBeast's ambitions to become successful.MrBeast/YouTube"I just really wanted it," MrBeast later said about the challenge, according to a video on Casey Neistat's YouTube channel. "I had dropped out of college, I wasn't really making much. I knew it would go viral." After that first video went viral, MrBeast found what the YouTube algorithm liked.By 2017 MrBeast was at the 1 million mark.Casey Neistat/YouTubeHe quickly amassed more views with similar stunts, like spinning a fidget spinner for 24 hours and watching Jake Paul's "It's Everyday Bro" music video for 10 hours straight. By November 2017, MrBeast reached 1 million subscribers, according to a post on X.  Now, MrBeast has a few types of videos that serve as his bread-and-butter on his channel.MrBeast, left, watching over a challenge competing for $1 million.MrBeast/YouTubeHe still puts on exhausting, hours-long stunts — which have been referred to as "junklord YouTube" — as well as last-person-to-leave challenges in which he gives out thousands of dollars, The Verge reported. These videos' titles range from "Going Through the Same Drive Thru 1,000 Times" to "Last To Remove Hand, Gets Lamborghini Challenge." MrBeast also puts on attention-grabbing donations and charity stunts.MrBeast donating $10,000 to a Twitch streamer with 0 views.MrBeast/YouTubeHe once opened up a car dealership where he gave out cars for free, and is known to dole out thousands of dollars to small streamers on Twitch and YouTube, as well as to waitresses and Uber drivers in person.As Donaldson has grown his channel, he was able to hire four of his childhood friends — Chris, Chandler, Garret, and Jake — to work for him and his YouTube channel.MrBeast and his college crew often appear on his YouTube channel.MrBeast/YouTubeThe group often makes cameos in some of MrBeast's wildest last-person-to-leave challenges, and each one has become an iconic name in the MrBeast empire, according to Newsweek.  By December 2018, MrBeast had given out $1 million through his outlandish stunts, earning him the title of "YouTube's biggest philanthropist."Brand deals are key to keeping his channel running.MrBeast/YouTubeMrBeast is a product of his own viral content: He's only able to give out these thousands of dollars thanks to six-figure brand deals to fund in-video ads, according to a video on his YouTube channel.  MrBeast has been credited with helping to launch a new style of expensive stunt videos on YouTube in which creators pull off elaborate challenges and large-scale sponsored giveaways.MrBeast has grown popular through challenge videos.MrBeast/YouTubeThat includes videos ranging from "Paying People $10,000 To Eat Ghost Pepper," "I Bought Everything In A Store," and "Last To Remove Hand, Wins House," according to The Verge. However, MrBeast's success hasn't come without controversy.MrBeast used homophobic slurs in a series of old tweets.MrBeast/YouTubeIn 2018, The Atlantic unearthed a series of old, since-deleted tweets from MrBeast in which he uses homophobic slurs and the idea of being gay as a punchline for jokes. At the time of the article, his Twitter bio read: "just because I'm gai doesn't mean I'm gay." MrBeast defended himself as "not offensive in the slightest bit in anything I do." MrBeast has also been accused of giving away fake money after critics found that bills used in a November 2019 video were not of legal tender.He said the fake money came as a way to mitigate the rush of people who wanted real money.Casey Neistat/YouTubeMrBeast later said he gave out fake bills to mitigate the risk of a dangerous rush of people clamoring over free money, and claimed he later exchanged the fake bills with real checks for people in the video, according to Dexerto.  Over the years, MrBeast has revealed a few details about his life.MrBeast has 128 million subscribers on YouTube.Lex Fridman via YouTubeThe 22-year-old has shared that he has Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. In June 2019, MrBeast first shared on Instagram he was dating Maddy Spidell. "i don't want mr beast for his money, just want a bf with good taste in anime who can make me laugh," Spidell wrote in a post on X the month before. We are simple people. We see a new pewdiepie video, we watch it. A post shared by MrBeast (@mrbeast) on Jun 16, 2019 at 12:17pm PDTJun 16, 2019 at 12:17pm PDT  In late 2018, MrBeast harnessed his notoriety for elaborate stunts to throw his support behind PewDiePie, the popular YouTuber who was locked in a battle for the spot as the most-subscribed-to YouTube channel (a title he's since lost to T-Series).Getty Images; YouTube; Getty ImagesIn true form, MrBeast pulled out all the stops: he recorded a 12-hour video saying "PewDiePie" 100,000 times, and turned up at the Super Bowl in "Sub 2 PewDiePie" shirts. In late 2019, MrBeast launched — and successfully completed — a fundraising campaign called #TeamTrees to plant 20 million trees by the end of the year.Major tech execs like Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey pitched in, too.YouTube/MrBeastThe campaign gathered the support of more than 600 influencers and received donations from tech execs like Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and YouTube stars like Jeffree Star and PewDiePie. MrBeast was one of the most-viewed creators on all of YouTube in 2020.He was YouTube's top creator for 2020.MrBeast/YouTubeHe's regularly accrues more than 10 million views on his YouTube videos, according to The Verge, displaying just how successful he is at going viral. His net worth isn't publicly available, but he's said that most of his $1 million donations are funded by brand deals.YouTube put him as the top creator of 2020, beating out other viral sensations like Dream and James Charles.  2020 was a big year for MrBeast, with two of the largest collaborations that he's ever attempted on his channel.32 influencers came together for his Rock/Paper/Scissors competition.YouTube/MrBeastIn a video, streamed in April 2020, Donaldson gathered 32 of the world's biggest influencers to take part in a Rock/Paper/Scissors competition for $250,000. That stream was watched 38 million times in under a year but he wasn't content with just one event.  In October of that year, he put on a $300,000 influencer trivia tournament that was won by the D'Amelio family. Mild controversy broke out after some online accused the family of cheating by having multiple people take part in the contest.   As he gained fans, MrBeast's videos also grew more ambitious.youtube.com/@mrbeastHis average cost of making a video climbed from $10,000 to $300,000 by 2020, according to Bloomberg.  He also launched his own charity organization in late 2020 called Beast Philanthropy.The organization is committed to providing hunger relief.Beast PhilanthropyIts website says it's committed to providing "long-lasting relief to individuals suffering from homelessness, hunger, and poverty."In December 2020, MrBeast opened up a restaurant that would pay people to eat at it. Weeks later, he launched his own MrBeast Burger franchise in dozens of cities.Donaldson and his first MrBeast burger location.YouTube/MrBeastDonaldson opened up over 300 delivery-only locations across the United States, allowing fans the chance to order a MrBeast burger from an app or UberEats, according to Mashed.  In 2021, MrBeast has continued uploading outlandish and expensive videos.In 2020, MrBeast continued making outlandish and expensive videos.MrBeast/YouTubeDonaldson's most recent 2021 videos have him buying all the items in five stores and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on expensive food.  In February 2021, Donaldson made a guest appearance on the Clubhouse app causing it to crash.MrBeast crashed Clubhouse.YouTubeDonaldson spoke on the app about how to succeed on YouTube, which brought in a massive influx of new downloads and users for the app, causing it to crash. In April of that year, he faced backlash from some fans.MrBeast had a brush with crypto fraud too.(Photo illustration by Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images)They accused him of collaborating in a "pump-and-dump" scheme after he promoted the cryptocurrency Refinable, which quickly crashed after its launch, according to the New York Times.  In May 2021, past employees of Donaldson told The New York Times that he created a "hostile work environment" and that he made "unreasonable demands."His former employees came forth with complaints in 2021.MrBeast / YouTube11 employees shared their experience with the New York Times, with the outlet saying that Donaldson's "demeanor changed when the cameras weren't around," according to the outlet.  In 2021, MrBeast surpassed 53 million YouTube subscribers.…and he's a perfectionist.Jeff Cheatham/HCK2He also revealed that he strives for perfection with his videos — to the extent he already scrapped at least three videos in 2020 that he spent $100,000 on producing, according to Dexerto. In January 2022, MrBeast was ranked the highest-paid YouTube star by Forbes for the first time.Kim Kardashian's Skims campaign includes two "The White Lotus" actresses.Jordan Strauss/Associated PressThe publication estimated that he earned $54 million in 2021, more than celebs like Billie Eilish and Kim Kardashian. In July 2022, MrBeast hit another milestone.MrBeast and PewDiePie.Roy Rochlin/Getty Images and Pewdiepie via YouTube.He became the second YouTube creator to hit 100 million subscribers on YouTube after PewDiePie.By November, he surpassed PewDiePie's subscribers.MrBeast hit 111 million subscribers on November 11.Dave Kotinsky and Karwai Tang/Getty Images.MrBeast now has 131 million subscribers on YouTube, more than any other creator on the platform.In September 2022, MrBeast revealed that he was offered $1 billion for his content empire but turned it down.Donaldson appeared on an episode of The Iced Coffee Podcast posted on September 27.The Iced Coffee Hour via YouTubeAnd when he was asked on the Flagrant podcast whether he had a price in mind for his empire he said, "It's so crazy I don't even want to say it because it's just where I want to be. If we have a mobile game company and we got 100 million people playing it, and we have a thousand physical Beast Burgers and Feastables in 20,000 stores, it would probably be like $10 billion, $20 billion," he said,That same month, he opened the first physical location of Beast Burger in New Jersey.Beast Burger opening in New Jersey.MrBeastThousands of people showed up on the opening day, according to NJ.com.  In October of last year, MrBeast began speaking to investors.Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast).Virtual Dining Concepts.He was looking to raise $150 million for his YouTube and food business at a $1.5 billion valuation, according to Axios.  In December, MrBeast tweeted, "Can I be the new Twitter CEO?" Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, responded, "It's not out of the question."Donaldson has previously described Musk as one of his biggest inspirations.Vivien Killilea and Gotham/Getty Images.MrBeast has said he looks up to Musk. "I really want to be Elon one day," he wrote on Twitter in 2020.In January 2023, MrBeast said he plans to give away "every penny" before he dies.He has no ambitions of living lavishly, he said.Dave Kotinsky"No matter how big I get I'll never own a mansion, yacht, Lamborghini etc. All I want is to make the best videos possible and help as many people as I can while doing it," he once said.In December 2020, he launched MrBeast Burger, a virtual restaurant brand.MrBeast takes a selfie with a young fan at the launch of his burger brand.Dave KotinskyThe brand, which was launched in partnership with a restaurant group called Virtual Dining Concepts, is sold in hundreds of restaurants that are trying to earn additional revenue.In January 2022 he launched a chocolate business called Feastables that makes plant-based, gluten-free chocolate bars.MrBeast debuted a line of plant-based, gluten-free chocolate bars in 2022.FeastablesThe brand sold more than 1 million bars of chocolate within the first 72 hours of launch, and had already earned over $10 million in sales by that May, it said.Nik Sharma, CEO of Sharma Brands and an angel investor in Feastables, previously told Insider: "Today, there is a whole new class of 'celebrities' who are digital creators."Last week, though, MrBeast sued Virtual Dining Partners for making "terrible quality" burgers under his name.Influencer Jimmy Donaldson outside a MrBeast Burger location.MrBeast BurgerThe suit followed a series of negative reviews from customers complaining online about the taste and quality of the burgers. One Reddit post that was cited in Donaldson's complaint against VDC claimed the MrBeast burger was "raw meat."One Insider reporter went to the brand's first physical location in New Jersey's American Dream megamall and found the meal to be "shockingly disappointing."Donaldson said VDC pursued other celebrities to try to replicate the success it had at first with MrBeast, the suit from Beast Investments LLC claims.This week, VDC fired back with a suit against Donaldson, claiming that he sabotaged his own burger brand.MrBeast is the biggest individual YouTuber in the world.Steve Granitz/Getty ImagesThe suit alleged that Donaldson leveraged his huge online presence to wage a "relentless attack" on the brand after failing to negotiate a more "lucrative deal" with them."MrBeast Burger's reputation was materially damaged if not destroyed, customers abandoned the Brand, and Plaintiffs' hard-won relationships with vendors, partners, and suppliers were shattered," the VDC suit claims. "Sadly, Donaldson's conduct has also damaged the bottom lines of hundreds of restaurants across the country and around the world."Steven Asarch contributed to reportingIn January, MrBeast announced that he had raked in over $250,000 on his first post on X.MrBeast finally gave into Elon Musk's request to post a video on X.Leon Bennett, Antonio Masiello/ Getty Images"MY FIRST X VIDEO MADE OVER $250,000!" he wrote in his post, noting that he had generated $263,655 in revenue. MrBeast initially brushed aside requests to post a video on the platform from owner Elon Musk. "My videos cost millions to make and even if they got a billion views on X it wouldn't fund a fraction of it," MrBeast posted on X on December 30. "I'm down though to test stuff once monetization is really cranking!"But less than a month later, he decided to post a 16-minute video that has garnered more than 176 million views. After OpenAI CEO Sam Altman announced the launch of Sora, a new video tool that can create videos from text, MrBeast put in a request.MrBeast asked Altman for a video of a monkey playing chess in a park. Altman responded with Sora's creation.  —MrBeast (@MrBeast) February 15, 2024  Despite earning close to $600 to $700 million a year, MrBeast still doesn't feel wealthy.MrBeast still feels like he has a ways to go before he feels rich.MrBeast"I'm not naive; maybe one day. But right now, whatever we make, we reinvest," he said in a recent interview. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 18th, 2024

The 25 best movies of 2023

Business Insider's entertainment correspondents broke down the best movies of the year, from "Oppenheimer" to "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse." How many movies of this list have you seen?Universal; Warner Bros; Sony; BI 2023 was filled with gorgeous animated movies, epic dramas, and big blockbusters. "Oppenheimer" "Barbie," "Poor Things," and "Past Lives" are among the must-see movies of the year. BI correspondents Jason Guerrasio and Kirsten Acuna also share their personal top 5 lists. "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" lives up to the hype.Miles Morales/Spider-Man (voiced by Shameik Moore) and Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) in "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse."Sony Pictures AnimationGiven that 2018's "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" wasn't just a box office hit but also won a best animation Oscar, anticipation for "Across the Spider-Verse" was high. Thankfully, it delivered.Like any great sequel, "Across the Spider-Verse" fleshes out more of the subplots, like the life of Gwen Stacy, and elevates the the stakes. Plus, the movie's cliffhanger ending left me excited to go back to theaters to see the third installment. — Jason Guerrasio"Creed III" is one of the best sequels you'll see this year.(L-R) Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors in "Creed III."MGMThe odds stacked against the third "Creed" movie were substantial.Not only did it mark star Michael B. Jordan's first time directing, but it didn't feature the franchise's glue: Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa.Despite all that, "Creed III" is fantastic.Though part three treads some familiar ground, Jordan injects a fresh perspective into the franchise's well-worn themes of guilt, second chances, and family.It turns out Stallone being left out of this round was the right move. — J.G."M3GAN" is an absolute riot from start to finish."M3GAN" was the first big hit of 2023.Universal PicturesUniversal Pictures kicked off 2023 with a banger blending horror and humor in a wild satire about an overprotective android, M3GAN, who goes berserk on anyone who presents a danger to or does wrong by her eight-year-old BFF, Cady (Violet McGraw).Best experienced with a crowd, the 102-minute film written by Akela Cooper ("Malignant") and starring Allison Williams is a riot from start to finish as the child-sized murder doll takes her job a little too seriously.Amie Donald's hauntingly graceful viral hallway dance, a moment that wasn't in the original script, will remain in our heads until the 2025 sequel. I'm calling it now: "M3GAN" is the camp "Chucky" of our generation. — Kirsten Acuna"Rye Lane" is the perfect breakup film about rediscovering yourself.Vivian Oparah and David Jonsson in "Rye Lane."20th Century StudiosRaine Allen-Miller's directing debut is a charming and honest look at how we publicly and privately grieve and move forward from a bad breakup.During a chance meeting, Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah) unexpectedly bond over recent heartbreaks and spend a whirlwind day in South London stepping out of their comfort zones, confronting their exes, and rediscovering themselves in the process.The film's vibrant sets and distinct look make this a fun and fast-moving 82 minutes. Anamorphic wide-angle lenses result in immersive shots that make you feel like you're experiencing the film's titular market alongside its leads. It's a shame Disney sent this 20th Century Studios' film straight to streaming. — K.A."Rye Lane" is streaming on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in the UK."Cocaine Bear" was the B-movie-flavored comedy we needed this year."Cocaine Bear."UniversalThis is definitely not the first time Hollywood has turned an outlandish true story into a box-office hit. But director Elizabeth Banks and producers Chris Miller and Phil Lord give "Cocaine Bear" the B-movie treatment that a true story about a bear eating a whole lot of cocaine deserves.The filmmakers dive into the absurd with so much force they may have single-handedly created a new horror genre. Don't be shocked if you see "Cocaine Shark" or "Cocaine Hawk" down the road (this is a joke... unless these movies are released). — J.G."Suzume" is a poignant story about loss, acceptance, and moving forward."Suzume" was released in Japan in November 2022. It was released internationally by Crunchyroll and Sony Pictures Releasing in 2023.CoMix Wave Films/CrunchyrollIn the gorgeously animated fantasy rom-com "Suzume," director Makoto Shinkai effortlessly crafts a story about loss and moving forward while honoring those who were lost in Japan's 2011 earthquake.The titular Suzume's life gets turned upside down when she opens a door in an abandoned part of town and unleashes an unexpected threat upon the world. As she and a mysterious young man, Souta, set out to stop a series of earthquakes, things become complicated when Souta is turned into a small three-legged chair who can run and speak.Referred to as the next Miyazaki, Shinkai is quickly becoming one of the greatest animated storytellers of our time. Now is a great time to catch up on his other films, including "Your Name" and "Weathering With You," both of which are streaming on Netflix. — K.A."Polite Society" is a delightful action comedy about sibling love with an unexpected twist.Priya Kansara and Ritu Arya in "Polite Society."Universal PicturesNida Manzoor's directorial debut "Polite Society" delivers a sharp look at overbearing parental expectations, sibling bonds, and pursuing your dreams. At surface level, Universal's action comedy seems like a film about a teenager, Ria (Priya Kansara), an aspiring stuntwoman who has the support of her older sister, Lena (Ritu Arya). The film shifts dramatically when Lena falls in love a little too quickly for Ria's liking. Ria goes into overprotective little sister mode, setting out to sabotage a seemingly perfect relationship, often using her stuntwoman skills.Full of fun fight sequences and some beautifully executed cartwheels, a great deal of the film's charm comes from not knowing whether or not Ria's sisterly concerns are selfish or valid until an unexpected, bizarre twist late in the film. The less you know about this one before tuning in, the better. — K.A."Polite Society" is currently streaming on Peacock."Still" offers a rare peek inside Michael J. Fox's life.Michael J. Fox in "Still."Apple TV+In this AppleTV+ doc, director Davis Guggenheim delivers a vulnerable and honest look inside Michael J. Fox's ongoing battle with Parkinson's disease. Fox is seen at physical therapy sessions, doctor's appointments, and with family as he shares how he learned of his diagnosis at the peak of his stardom at 29 and how he tried to hide it from Hollywood for several years.If you've ever watched the "Back to the Future" trilogy or "Family Ties," you'll want to carve out 95 minutes for this one as Fox shares the relentless shooting schedule that had him going directly from the NBC sitcom to Steven Spielberg's set for months straight. — K.A."Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie" is streaming on Apple TV+."Knock at the Cabin" is vintage M. Night Shyamalan.Dave Bautista in "Knock at the Cabin."UniversalM. Night Shyamalan movies are always crafted to make you uneasy, but this one hit differently for me.Maybe it's because of the pandemic, or having a family myself, but a group of people coming to a cabin to hold a family hostage and tell them the world is going to end unless one of them dies was truly troubling to watch. Despite all of that, I couldn't help but respect the craftsmanship behind it. The direction, script, camerawork, and, of course, the acting kept me riveted, especially Dave Bautista's turn in a lead dramatic role.  — J.G. Ben Affleck is amazing both in front of and behind the camera in "Air."Ben Affleck in "Air."Amazon StudiosIn recounting how Michael Jordan signed with Nike upon being drafted by the Chicago Bulls, Ben Affleck shows once more how he can turn a true story into a well-paced feature film. He even makes us root for a giant shoe company, turning what could have been an inside-baseball story of competing corporate cash grabs into something with passion and heart.And that's not just behind the camera. Affleck's comedic portrayal of Nike CEO Phil Knight, decked out in '80S jogging outfits and large sunglasses, shows he's still got a lot more to offer with his acting. — J.G."Air" is currently streaming on Amazon Prime."Past Lives" is a heartbreakingly beautiful and relatable story about first loves.A24's "Past Lives" is an enthralling look at the road not taken.A24Celine Song's directorial debut delicately explores the excitement and frustrations of reconnecting with a first crush when timing, location, and circumstances aren't on your side.Set across three timelines, "Past Lives" is a deeply relatable story about the missed connections we experience in our lifetime and the complicated ways in which those bonds may linger in our hearts and minds.The drama may leave you questioning whether or not you're living the life you're meant to be based on the choices you've made. After last year's Oscar winner "Everything Everywhere All at Once," this is another triumph from A24. — K.A."BlackBerry" is "Office Space" meets "Silicon Valley."(L-R) Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton in "BlackBerry."IFC FilmsDirector Matt Johnson, best known for his found-footage comedies like "The Dirties" and "Operation Avalanche," delivers his most mainstream work yet with "Blackberry," a romp through the rise and fall of the smartphone company.Here he casts Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton as the two figureheads behind the creation of the famous BlackBerry, and we follow as the two drive the once-promising company into the ground.With a comedic sensibility that can be compared to "Office Space" or "Silicon Valley," the movie is hugely entertaining, especially with Johnson also taking on a scene-stealing role. — J.G. Pixar gets back into a groove with "Elemental.""Elemental."Disney/PixarPixar may have bungled the release of "Elemental" in theaters due to poor marketing, but the good news is word-of-mouth praise for the film seems to be growing. "Elemental" is what we've come to expect from the beloved animation house: a story that can entertain all ages. And this one has a unique wrinkle as the first rom-com in the Pixar library. — J.G."Godzilla: Minus One" strikes a perfect balance between a pure monster movie and a story of humanity.Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) desires to take down Godzilla in "Godzilla: Minus One."Toho Co., Ltd.You don't need to watch any other Godzilla movie to appreciate Toho's latest installment where citizens take matters into their own hands to destroy the kaiju after it makes landfall in Tokyo shortly after World War II.Ships, trains, and entire buildings are all at the mercy of the massive lizard's heat ray as Godzilla decimates everything in its path. One action sequence gives major "Jaws" vibes as the monster mercilessly hunts down a boat in the ocean.But what makes this worth a watch is the unexpected emotional story of family, love, and sacrifice.Director Takashi Yamazaki balances the monster movie with a human story of a kamikaze pilot suffering from survivor's guilt. As Godzilla lurks beneath the surface, the film's larger messaging focuses on the strength and perseverance of a broken community coming together to rally against a force of evil. — K.A.Tom Cruise does Tom Cruise things in "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One."Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1."Paramount/SkydanceTom Cruise continues to amaze and astound. Of course, there's the jumping off the cliff scene, but it's his ability to tell a thrilling story (that doesn't feel stale eight movies into a franchise) that's really quite remarkable.The train sequence at the end is one of the best conclusions in the franchise. Yes, Cruise deserves a lot of credit as both the star and producer, but director Christopher McQuarrie, who has been helming the franchise since 2015's "Rogue Nation," is the real unsung hero for the rebirth of "M:I." — J.G."Barbie" was the biggest surprise of the year.Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken in "Barbie."Dale Robinette/Warner Bros.The idea of a Barbie movie originally seemed cringeworthy over a decade ago, but director Greta Gerwig gifted us a classic with an existential film about feminism, toppling the patriarchy, and wanting to be seen through the eyes of Margot Robbie's titular doll.Ryan Gosling's performance as a himbo Ken in which he delivers an '80s-inspired ballad, "I'm Just Ken," is one of the best movie scenes of 2023. Give this man an Oscar. — K.A.Emma Stone gives a career-high performance in "Poor Things."Emma Stone's big, bright eyes make Bella Baxter's innocence convincing in "Poor Things."Searchlight PicturesDirector Yorgos Lanthimos' sci-fi black comedy about an experimental scientist (Willem Dafoe) bringing a young woman (Emma Stone) back to life in an unconventional way is fantastical, bizarre, and a delightful exploration of one's place in society.A modern-day "Edward Scissorhands," Stone's performance as Bella Baxter is equally physical and emotional as she wobbles around like a curious giant babydoll observing and reacting to the delights and horrors of the world for the first time with a childlike wonder. Every second is a joy to watch.Mark Ruffalo is hysterical as a cocky lover in over his head with the inexperienced Bella. A dance sequence between the two is one of the film's many highs. — K.A."You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah" proves Adam Sandler's entire family is funny.(L-R) Idina Menzel, Samantha Lorraine, Adam Sandler, Sunny Sandler, and Sadie Sandler in "You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah."NetflixAdam Sandler puts his daughters front and center in this Netflix comedy, and it's one of the most wholesome movies I watched this year.Middle schoolers Stacy (Sunny Sandler) and Lydia (Samantha Lorraine) are best friends who have been dreaming their entire lives of sharing their bat mitzvah together. But things go sideways when the cute boy at school splits the friends apart. It leads to hilarious backstabbing and sabotage.The Sandman and Idina Menzel reteam again to play husband and wife (having previously done it in "Uncut Gems") with Sandler's other daughter, Sadie, playing the wise-ass older daughter to Stacy.The movie perfectly captures teen angst while also mixing in the classic Sandler comedy bits. — J.G."The Color Purple" remake is a worthwhile musical with an incredible Taraji P. Henson and Danielle Brooks.Taraji P. Henson, Fantasia Barrino, and Danielle Brooks in "The Color Purple."Courtesy of Warner Bros. PicturesDirector Blitz Bazawule's remake is a celebration of life and resilience. Based on Alice Walker's novel and the Broadway musical of the same name, the film follows Celie's (Phylicia Pearl Mpasi and Fantasia Barrino) decades-long journey to find her voice and love herself after suffering abuse at the hands of her father and husband for years.Brooks and Henson deliver powerful showstopping musical numbers that should garner them Oscar nods.Most importantly, this version explores the book's tender romance between Celie and Shug, a subplot that was reduced to a mere kiss in the 1985 picture. Here, Barrino and Henson wow in an emotional duet, "What About Love?" — K.A."Bottoms" is a movie you need to see right now.(L-R) Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott in "Bottoms."MGM Studios/Orion PicturesEmma Seligman's high-school satire following two lesbian friends who start a fight club in order to hook up with their crushes is one of the funniest movies I have seen all year.Combining the talents of Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott (who also cowrote the script with Seligman) and a scene-stealing role from former NFL star Marshawn Lynch, the movie expertly uses the cliches of coming-of-age comedies to turn the genre on its head, formulating silly scenarios and a twisted ultra-violent ending that's still somehow touching by the end credits. — J.G."American Fiction" is a smart take on how people are reduced to stereotypes.Jeffrey Wright is downright funny in "American Fiction."MGM/OrionWhen Monk (Jeffrey Wright) can't get his serious book published, the professor purposefully writes a novel that panders to what he believes publishers want from a Black writer about the Black experience under a pseudonym. Then, it hilariously takes off. Based on the 2001 novel "Erasure," Cord Jefferson's directorial debut makes an impactful statement about entertainment companies profiting off of cultural stereotypes instead of diving deeper into a person's experience. Wright doesn't even look like he's acting sometimes as he vents his frustrations, baffled by the predictability of the publishing industry and how far he can push this ruse as he's struggling to hold his family together through multiple life events. — K.A."They Cloned Tyrone" is one of the better movies Netflix has ever made.(L-R) Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, and John Boyega in "They Cloned Tyrone."NetflixOne of the better Netflix original movies of the year (arguably ever) examines race, cloning, and conspiracy theories as stars John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, and Jamie Foxx play a trio who find themselves in a government project that makes them doubt everything they've ever known.From Juel Taylor in his feature directing debut (he also cowrote the fantastic script), this sci-fi dark comedy is one of the most cleverly crafted stories of the year. — J.G."Oppenheimer" solidifies Christopher Nolan's status as a master storyteller, and should result in an Oscar win.Cillian Murphy in "Oppenheimer."UniversalDespite reluctantly having to share the spotlight his opening weekend with "Barbie," Christopher Nolan cannot be upset with how things turned out for him in 2023, and it could result in Oscar glory early next year."Oppenheimer" is a masterwork and adds to Nolan's already prestigious filmography another movie that both challenges and dazzles the audience with powerful images and a thrilling story.And in today's world, there are few tales as thrilling (and haunting) to examine as the birth of the atomic bomb and the ramifications of it. — J.G.Martin Scorsese proves he's still got zip on his fastball with "Killers of the Flower Moon."Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in "Killers of the Flower Moon."Apple TV+/ParamountMartin Scorsese takes David Grann's acclaimed book on the string of murders of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma in the 1920s during the oil boom and creates a sprawling Western that puts the spotlight on greed and the lengths people will go to get rich.Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone all give fantastic performances, but it's Scorsese who is the true star. His choices of the movie's look and feel — accompanied by the talents of cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, production designer Jack Fisk, and the late Robbie Robertson doing the original score — pull you into the story in which the auteur once more examines the madness of man. — J.G.With "Napoleon," show up for Joaquin Phoenix yelling about boats, stay for the amazing performance by Vanessa Kirby.Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby in "Napoleon."Sony/Apple TV+I wasn't expecting to laugh so much watching Ridley Scott's look back on the life and times of infamous French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, but in hindsight, how could you not poke fun at him?Though he had a brilliant mind for military maneuvers, his ego and immaturity led to unnecessary deaths and France losing face among the other world titans at that time.Joaquin Phoenix embodies all of this as Napoleon in the movie, but it's Vanessa Kirby as his beloved wife Joséphine who is the highlight of the movie. It will hopefully lead to a much-deserved Oscar nomination. — J.G.Kirsten's top five of 2023"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse."Sony1. "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse"2. "Suzume"3. "Godzilla: Minus One"4. "Barbie"5. "Past Lives"Jason's top five of 2023Emma Stone in "Poor Things."Searchlight Pictures1. "Poor Things"2. "BlackBerry"3. "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse"4. "Barbie"5. "Bottoms"Read the original article on Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 22nd, 2023

"Dr. Doom" Nouriel Roubini has said crypto is "totally corrupt." Now he"s launching his own token.

The token will be pegged to investments Roubini has touted in the past, including gold and other commodities. Nouriel RoubiniFred Prouser/Reuters "Dr. Doom" Nouriel Roubini is launching a crypto token after years of bashing the crypto industry. The token will be pegged to investments Roubini has touted in the past, including gold and other commodities. Roubini has been a vocal crypto critic, previously calling the industry "totally corrupt." "Dr. Doom" Nouriel Roubini spent years bashing crypto. Now, his asset management firm is creating its own crypto token.Roubini's Atlas Capital is launching the Atlas Climate Token, a blockchain-based stablecoin that will be pegged to "a carefully chosen portfolio of liquid real world assets," the company said in a statement on October 31. They include climate-resilient real estate investment trusts, inflation-hedged government bonds, gold, and other commodities.Those investments are in line with what Roubini has touted previously as the famously gloomy economist has warned of a series of disasters.In the past year, he's sounded the alarm on spiraling debt and a financial crisis that will slam the US with runaway inflation. That will be complicated by wars, rampant disease, and climate change. He's recommended investors should pile into assets that hedge against those risks.Atlas claimed the investments underpinning its stablecoin have a winning track history. Its portfolio has posted gains in 48 out of the past 51 years, with an average return of 8.2%, the firm said in a statement.Atlas added that its portfolio would have would have quadrupled returns over the past three decades while the US dollar's value has more than halved after adjusting for inflation. The firm is also planning to launch an exchange-traded fund in the first quarter of 2024.Atlas Portfolio performance against the US DollarAtlas CapitalIssuing a cryptocurrency is a stark turnaround for Roubini, who has previously called crypto "totally corrupt" and the "biggest criminal heist in human history." Earlier this year, he warned of a "crypto apocalypse" coming for the industry, thanks to regulators cracking down on misconduct in the space.Roubini is known for his persistently bearish takes on the economy and markets. He was one of the first economists who predicted the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. And he's warned of some form of disaster for the US economy for most of the past two decades. That's led to criticism from other experts, some of whom have referred to Roubini as a "permabear."Atlas Capital did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 9th, 2023

All I wanted was a swimming pool. What I got was a $31,000 lesson in Zelle fraud.

In search of a status symbol, I wound up getting ripped off big-time. But the real scam is how America's payment apps treat their customers. A pool could have been evidence that my life hadn't amounted to nothing. But after we Zelle-ed the deposit to our contractor, things started to go very wrong.All I wanted was a status symbol. What I got was a $31,000 lesson in the downside of payment apps.Illustrations by Madison KetchamI was trying to reach Gary Kruglitz, the proprietor of Royal Palace Pools and Spas. Gary cuts a certain figure. Just a hair over 6 feet tall, wears a mustache, square wire-rimmed bifocal glasses, thin short-sleeved dress shirts through which it is occasionally possible to glimpse just the hint of nipple when the lighting is right. He has an unusually high voice for a man his size, as if a Muppet crawled down his throat one night and couldn't get out again. I wouldn't say Gary is perplexed by this modern world we find ourselves living in as much as he might not be aware it exists. Sometimes when you talk to him, he'll look up from his papers, turn in your direction, and blink, like a bird that has heard something in the underbrush.Gary — I changed his name so I could be as honest about him and his nipples as possible — spends his days working out of his pool warehouse, in an office covered desk-to-credenza in product manuals and spa brochures and invoices produced in gold-, pink-, and white-triplicate. A man trapped in the amber of another era, the type of guy who answers his phone yellllow and says bye now when he hangs up. But at this moment, Gary was not answering his phone at all. And I was desperate to reach him, because my wife and I had paid him a deposit of $31,500 to build us a pool, and he had apparently disappeared off the face of the earth."I'm sorry, Gary is not available right now," said Cheryl when I phoned that morning.As best I could tell, there were three women who worked at Royal Palace Pools. Cheryl, Cheryl, and Sheryl. (Could be wrong on that.) The Cheryls didn't have offices. They stood point at the front of the store, behind the glass cases where the chlorine tablets and pool thermometers are displayed. There was a rumor that one of the Cheryls — Sheryl — was Gary's wife, but I couldn't imagine Gary making love, or having breakfast each morning with someone in his home. I believed the likelier scenario was that each night when the Cheryls went home, Gary climbed into an empty Jacuzzi shell with a bag of Funyuns and a worry-worn pad of invoices that served as his transitional object, pulled the thermal cover over himself, and waited in the dark with his eyes open until he could go back to the office. Regardless, if you wanted to get in touch with him, there was going to be at least one Cheryl between you and Gary."Do you know where he is?" I said. "This is urgent.""Um. And who is this?" said Cheryl.I gave her my name and her tone changed a bit. "I see," she said tightly. "Well, I'll tell him that you called. Again." "Please do," I said, trying to sound both grateful and angry. Then I hung up.It's true that my wife and I had been calling Gary a lot. About a year and a half prior, we'd walked into his office in the Berkshires, in Massachusetts — home to white folks who love the Boston Pops, farm to table, and Lyme disease — and signed a contract for Gary to build a pool in our backyard. It made me feel a little bit like an asshole to be honest, the idea of having a pool. Just the rich-person-ness of it. But what is life if not a long march toward losing all your morals and shame. And thanks to the support of my friends and family, I was able to bury my feelings deep inside and become invested in the idea of having a pool. A pool could be evidence that my life hadn't amounted to nothing. When I found myself at a party with intimidating people, I would sometimes say to myself, I am a person with a swimming pool, so I could believe I had the same right to exist as anyone else. And people would have to be friends with me, right? Because who doesn't want a friend with a pool? It would be like when Jeff Allen's mom used to let him have pool parties at his house in eighth grade. Sure, after everyone ate all the grilled cheeses his mom had cut into triangles and sneaked shots of vodka and then thrown up in the bushes, they all left and didn't invite him to come along. But wasn't that better than sitting at home alone on a Friday night, which was probably what Jeff would have been doing otherwise? Wasn't that a win?It made me feel a little bit like an asshole to be honest, the idea of having a pool. Just the rich-person-ness of it. But what is life if not a long march toward losing all your morals and shame.(Side note: Jeff grew up to be a heavy Facebook poster who writes screeds about how if people are so sure a man has a right to marry a man, then shouldn't a man have the right to marry a dog? He lives in Tennessee now with his wife, Krystal, whom he proposed to by having a trained dolphin swim up to her strapped with an engagement ring. Some people stay true to themselves.)Originally, the pool work was supposed to commence in April 2020. But obviously that didn't happen, because that was when everyone was sealed in their homes rinsing groceries in a solution of three parts water to one part Clorox. But now it was 2021. The construction trade was beginning to lurch back to life. There were delays, of course. We were in the throes of the great pandemic renovation boom, and there weren't enough workers or materials. Container ships were lined up for miles at the ports, and the cost of lumber had become something normal people talked about. The New York Times was publishing hate-reads about people from cities moving to places like the Berkshires and building swimming pools and bringing their obnoxious, demanding, me-first city culture with them.And so that March, we began calling Gary to say me first. Can you ensure we'll be first in line once the ground thaws? He'd try, he said. We took that as a promise.We called him in April. We called him in May. The further into summer we got, the less responsive he became. If you've hired a contractor, this will sound familiar. Why answer the phone just to get yelled at by some people from a New York Times hate-read? June crept along, and Gary went completely dark. We were anxious. We felt wronged. We let our feelings be known: Gary, and here I'm paraphrasing our email, we Karen-ed our way into being first in line to build a pool in the spring and now here it is in the middle of summer and we literally cannot get ahold of you. Finally, on July 5, we received a response. Gary emailed us that he was ready to begin. He said he could start within the week and reminded us that, according to the contract, we owed him $30K-plus before construction commenced. We checked the contract and saw that he was right. He sent another email with instructions for payment. Because a lot of bank branches were still closed, and the crew wanted their money, he requested that we transfer the money via Zelle. But because there are daily Zelle limits, he said, we should just transfer a little bit every day.We Zelle-ed $3,500 on the 6th, $3,500 on the 7th, $5,000 on the 8th and again on the 9th. Now that he was getting his money, Gary was more responsive. Do you have all the materials you were waiting for, we asked in an email. Yep, mostly. Can you start next week? Yes. The emails were strange. We sometimes had to read them aloud: What if you put a period here, would it make sense then? What if there were a verb? But Gary's emails had always been weird. After all, you don't go into the Cheryls business because you care about the syntax in your electronic correspondence. This man ran his company from an AOL account, which I didn't even know you could still have.After we Zelled more money, we got worried. What if Gary said he never got his deposit? We asked him to send us a signed receipt for the $23,000-ish we'd sent. Certainly, he said, I'm on a job, give me a few minutes. A few minutes later we got a signed receipt from Royal Palace Pools and Spas, printed on letterhead and photographed. All we had to do was send another $3,500 on the 12th and another $5,000 the 13th, his start date. If things went our way, the construction would be finished in a few weeks. After we Zelled more money, we got worried. What if Gary said he never got his deposit?And then July 13 arrived. Early that morning we received an email from Gary that he was down the road with his crew and would be there imminently. But hours passed, and he didn't show. That's when we reached Cheryl and she said, "Oh, it's you," and told me she'd get him a message. We started calling every 15 minutes. This guy had taken our money and who knows when — or if — he was ever going to start building us a hate-read-worthy swimming pool.Then, early that afternoon, we got Gary on the phone. Yellllow he said. We asked him where he was. He was confused by that. He was at the office, he said. But you told us you were on your way here, we said. You emailed us and said you were already on the road.Gary was silent for a moment."I haven't emailed you in a month," he said.Then my wife said holy fuck.Like so many things I use to conduct the most critical tasks in my everyday life with a carefree obliviousness, I didn't really know what Zelle was. I now know it's an entity wholly owned by a company called Early Warning Services LLC, which is itself owned by a consortium of America's largest banks: Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, PNC, Truist, Capital One, and US Bank. The reason for this byzantine structure is that 1) it's pretty hard for a bunch of enormous banks to own something together without forming a separate company to own that company and 2) it allows the banks to not be liable for losing someone's 30 grand.Perhaps the most significant thing to know about Zelle is the people who own it probably wish they hadn't been forced to invent it. For years, Silicon Valley venture capitalists funded PayPal and other "peer-to-peer" payment apps as a kind of Trojan-horse play to disrupt the extremely lucrative and quasi-oligarchic banking industry. The idea was mostly to lose money on the P2P apps (they're free to use) in order to grow as quickly as possible. It worked: As P2P apps accrued enormous numbers of customers, banks began to view them as an existential threat, and Zelle was born. Just as Disney and NBC and Warner Bros. knew they must chase Netflix on a downward spiral of shrinking revenue into the murky depths of oblivion, the big banks knew they had to launch Zelle to let their customers give one another money directly for pizza and rent (and pools) without paying any fees. Today Zelle is by far America's most used P2P payment platform, with twice as many transactions as Venmo.Of course, another thing P2P apps are useful for is perpetrating fraud. The money transfers almost instantly, between people who may know each other only as a cellphone number or an email address. So Zelle, by default, became one of America's most popular platforms for tricking people out of their cash. Zelle isn't very forthcoming about how often that happens. The company told me that "more than 99.9%" of transactions on the network are executed safely. On one hand, that means that the chances you're getting scammed are very low. On the other hand, Zelle reported that it processed 2.3 billion payments last year, and less than 0.1% of that puts us at somewhere less than 2.3 million transactions that maybe were not executed quite so safely. Besides that 99.9% figure, Zelle says it doesn't share fraud numbers "in an effort not to tip off fraudsters," though I'm not sure how telling me how many people are getting scammed would "tip off" anyone.When I asked Chase to discuss Zelle fraud, I received an email saying, "Unfortunately, we don't have anyone available for an interview." Presumably because the 240,000 people who work for JPMorgan Chase were all in the same meeting that day.Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the financial industry regulator banks most love to hate, has been petitioning Zelle to find out exactly how much fraud there is. And the data she's collected suggests there's probably, technically speaking, a whole fucking lot. According to Warren's office, US Bank — a single institution in the consortium — reported 45,000 incidents of Zelle scams last year. That's triple the number from 2021. It's certainly possible, if the criminals keep at it, work hard, and show some grit, they can triple the amount of fraud again by next year.The point here isn't that Zelle is worse than all the other places that invented this fun, frictionless way to accidentally transfer your net worth and brittle sense of sense of control in the universe to someone Gary Kruglitz supposedly told you to pay. It's just that Zelle is bigger. And that nobody — not the banks, not the police, not the Feds, not the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals — feels it's their job to go after the criminals when it happens. The bazillion-dollar fraud industry that preys on the likes of me and my wife basically operates with impunity.We were in the kitchen when we hung up with Gary. My wife and I exchanged a look, and in that look was contained a universe of knowledge: The scales fell and the gauze unwound and everything we for some reason couldn't see in the previous two weeks fell into a terrible, humiliating focus. The way we had been goaded every day for two weeks to send the max Zelle amount. The way the email messages from Gary were subliterate in a completely different way from the way a classic Gary email is subliterate. The receipt we'd made him email, which, when we opened it now in our kitchen, we realized didn't really look like the other receipts we'd gotten from Royal Palace Pools and Spas. The letterhead had typos on it.And the email addresses. Jesus, the email addresses.Now is when I need to make some confessions. When Gary Kruglitz told us to Zelle him, he didn't really tell us to Zelle him. He told us to Zelle two people we had never met before. What I'm confessing is that we sent $30,500 of our hard-earned money to sunshineyasmin48@gmail.com and personalbreezy@gmail.com. Yes, someone emailed us and said, "Hey, will you Zelle 30 grand to a perfect stranger who goes by the name Personal Breezy and has no identification except for a Gmail account?" And our response was: Done!Sitting there in the kitchen, we instantly understood our role in this drama: In a world of marks and cons, we were … complete fucking idiots. We were the people who write $10,000 checks to Sri Lankan princes who'd been wrongly imprisoned in Amsterdam but were lucky enough to get your phone number from a friend of your son. We were our own clueless elderly parents whom we make fun of because they are such naive morons, and they were us.In a world of marks and cons, we were complete fucking idiots.So yes, we fell victim to some highly suspect shit. But let me ask you this: If your contractor seems like they're doing something a bit dodgy, would that really surprise you? Don't you kind of assume your contractor has angles? Don't you suspect that every contractor is subtly fleecing you, while also subtly fleecing the people who work for him or her, in a velvet-gloved mafioso kind of way that everyone has tacitly approved? Isn't our national OK-ness with Donald Trump a subconscious admission that we assume everyone in the building trades is on the grift? And isn't what a lot of us actually look for in a contractor someone who's a little suspect? Who can maybe find a way to not have to get the permits? Who's maybe going to pay some folks under the table? Would you bat an eye if your contractor asked you to make your check out to his wife instead of him (which has happened to me)? Or if he told you to just Zelle the money to Personal Breezy? Maybe you would. But we didn't. Because the emails were coming from Gary's actual email account. But there in the kitchen, we understood that there's no guarantee that anything you're doing most of the time in your life is what it seems. There is no assurance that anyone is who they say they are. It became clear just how foundational trust is to the economy of my life, which essentially consists of countless transactions with people I have never seen, every transaction requiring a faith that a set of numbers or letters actually corresponds to a person of pure intention. And now the intentions of even the best of us — even the Gary Kruglitzes, with their bifocal glasses and their shirt-nipples and their loyal contingent of Cheryls — had been called into question. And it made, for us, everything suspicious. Every email in my inbox, every transaction on my credit card, all of it seemed a little infected and evil. And, like lots of victims of crimes of intimacy, we felt like it was somehow our fault. Hadn't we been emailing with these people wantonly, with abandon? Hadn't we kind of asked for it? Our accounts had been in a kind of transactional congress that was consecrated, in some sense, by ourselves. Still, in the immediate aftermath of the crime, even as our faith in holding companies with vague-sounding names owned by giant financial corporations was shaken to its core, we believed we were not without recourse. We knew the only thing you can do in a capitalist society is get after it. We were members of the (relatively) entitled class, after all, the (relatively) most valued customers, the platinum (sadly not diamond) medallion members. The system was built to serve us. It had been only moments since our money had been zapped into the welcoming receptacle of the bank account of Personal Breezy. So we just needed to compel Chase to go in and extract our money and give it back to us. There was no time to waste.Or so we thought. Because actually there was a lot of time to waste.When we called Chase, we were immediately shunted into the black box of voice-operated client sequencing. That is what a bank is now. An app and a dim void filled with a voice-menu system and a three-question survey. Our call was "answered" by a buoyant robot voice that had been engineered to keep us from talking to a person. We did the tricks you do to get to a human. Pressed zero. Said operator. We persevered. Eventually a woman with a Southern accent came online and said thank you for being a client and could she help us with something. Yes, we said, yes you can help us with someone stole $30,000 out of our Chase account and we need you to get it back. There was a pause as she typed something. In the background, I could hear what sounded like a 2-year-old playing close by. When the woman spoke again, she said this wasn't her area and could she give us the number of their fraud team. If this life teaches you one thing, it's that you cannot let a phone agent hang up on you.We said no no no. If this life teaches you one thing, it's that you cannot let a phone agent hang up on you. You have to be vigilant. Because if you've been alive long enough, you understand that you have been pledged to a never-ending battle with customer service. It's right there in the chapter of their training manual titled: "Be nice, call them by their first name, but give them nothing. Unless they get really mad and demand to speak to a manager." It's the most salient truth of our time: The only way to get more SkyMiles or a free gin and tonic on your next flight — or get your money back from a cybercriminal — is to be an insufferable asshole to someone making $13 an hour while also caring for their 2-year-old at home.The phone agent shunted us onward. In a moment, a fraud specialist answered the phone in an indiscernible accent. He sounded very far away. I explained our situation and he told me he was very sorry. He sounded like he was the kind of sorry you are if you have to say sorry to hundreds of people a day. And why should he be more sorry than that? He was probably 6,000 miles away, where it was 3 in the morning, and he had to finish his shift at the call center in time to head over to the university to finish his econ degree. He told us that he would open up a case. The team was on it, and we would hear from them shortly. At some level, I realize now, I expected someone at Chase to say holy shit that's crazy, hey everyone, stop what you're doing because we need to raise this one up to DEFCON 5 and send a drone over to Sunshine Yasmine48's house. But that is not what happened. We didn't hear much in the way of news from the fraud-investigation team for a long time. And when they got in touch it was to tell what by then we already knew: That money was long gone. That money was gone the moment we sent it.Did we confront Gary Kruglitz? Yes we did. We marched right into his office and grilled him hard until he defeated us with a simple and probing question: What's a zelle? It defied belief, we quickly realized, that a man who had been trapped in technological amber since the Nixon era was running a cyberscam designed to come between us and our money out of an AOL account.So what did happen? How does someone steal $30,000 without anyone even looking for them? It actually requires a pretty complex operation, but one that has been industrialized so that anyone with a little moxie and a Tor dark-web browser can do it. It most likely happened like this: We grilled Gary hard until he defeated us with a simple question: What's a zelle?First, Gary was targeted. Not personally, according to an official at the Justice Department who spoke with me on the condition that I not use his name. Whoever did this, the Justice Department guy told me, probably went after the emails of a ton of people who had a Gary-ian profile. Pool guys in the Northeast. Contractors in Massachusetts. Relatively tech-unsophisticated folks who conduct transactions for large sums of money. People who routinely get Zelled $30,000 from relative strangers. Maybe they got Gary to give up his email password via the time-honored scam of phishing. "The guy probably clicked on a link he shouldn't have clicked on," said Evan Kohlmann, a cyber-intelligence expert whose company, Cloudburst Technologies, tries to predict crypto fraud before it happens by monitoring chatter on the dark web. "They send you a text message or an email message. You owe tax money, here's the receipt for the thing you bought at Best Buy. The emails look real, so you open it." Or maybe the scammers got Gary's password the old-fashioned way: They bought it. Hacked credentials are relatively cheap to buy on the dark web. They're part of a vibrant shadow economy built to service a booming subculture of would-be fraudsters. It is precisely what tech has always delivered: the ability for the most average of us to do complicated, seemingly inexplicable stuff with the click of a mouse.It takes a really long time to learn how to hack millions of passwords and only a small group of people can do it, for instance, but if you sell it as a service to the relatively much larger group of people who want to commit cyberfraud but lack the requisite coding skills — well, in capitalism, that's called scale. A former assistant US attorney who specialized in cybercrime told me, for instance, that there's a suite of software called Metasploit that's popular with cybercriminals. The software is designed to test a system's security, but lots of its tools — including its password-cracking feature — come in handy for hacking as well.Once whoever it is was in Gary's email, they could look through correspondence between, say, Gary and my wife, familiarize themselves with our contract, and see exactly how much we owed. They now had everything they needed to ask for money.But if you don't want to get caught perpetrating fraud, it's best not to have victims send you anything directly. So the next step is to hire people to receive the money — your Personal Breezys or your Sunshine Yasmines — folks who are more often than not dupes themselves. Sometimes they're part of a "work from home" scam, people who think they're moving money to and from bank accounts as part of a legitimate business. Or maybe all they know is they get 10% of the money if they forward it to another Zelle account, and they don't ask any questions.Or often they're part of what's called a romance scam. "That's when someone believes they are sending their money to a loved one," the Justice Department official told me. "These people in the middle are often incredibly sympathetic and incredibly non-culpable. Someone who really believes: 'My fiancé is overseas and they were in an oil explosion and if I can send him the money, they can get help. Even though we've never met, even though I've only met them on Instagram or Facebook.' An FBI agent can sit down and show them evidence of fraud, that they are a victim, and they will still continue to talk with the fiancé." But Personal Breezy, whatever his or her motivation, was only the briefest step on the journey. Breezy most likely immediately passed our money on to another account. It may have gone through Paxful, a P2P app out of Estonia that converts money into crypto. Or whoever got the money next used it to buy Target gift cards, which were resold on the dark web, at a discount, for crypto. One way or another, our money was almost certainly converted into crypto, and then, at some point, back into fiat currency, to be spent as the fraudster liked. "Once it's in crypto, it's fucking gone," Kohlmann, the cyber-intelligence expert, told me. "You won't get it back."People have always used anonymous payment methods to conduct illicit business. Historically this payment method was called: lots and lots of cash. But over time, the flow of cash through financial institutions became more regulated. "It's the SWIFT system," Kohlmann explained. "Tracked by banks. Illicit money flows could be tracked, even in cash. Then comes crypto. Anonymous. Guess who looked at this and said, 'Hey, this is for us!' Criminals. North Korea, the Mafia. All these folks jumped into crypto. So now comes the problem. That cannot persist. It's an imbalance in the system. You can't have a form of money where you're totally anonymous to the IRS."And yet, we do.We called the FBI. We called the Massachusetts State Police. We called the Massachusetts attorney general. We called the police department in Monterey, Massachusetts, where we live, population 1,095. We found out it's harder to get someone to answer the phone at the FBI than it is to get someone to answer the phone at Amazon. Especially if you want to find out who to talk to if you were tricked out of money on Zelle. Eventually we learned that we needed to fill out a form online if we wanted to alert the federal authorities of the crime that had been perpetrated against us. So we filled out the form and clicked "submit." It has been two years since we submitted that form, and we have never heard from the FBI.The first person I talked to at the attorney general's office told me the best bet would be to have the state police begin an investigation. After a series of calls I was able to speak with a Massachusetts state police detective who told me his unit once took down a ring of people who had perpetrated internet fraud. Great, I said. Let's get into it. He said that's not how it works. First, as far as he knew, that was the only time it happened. And second, I needed to start with my local police department. They, in turn, could call on the state police to aid in the investigation if they needed it. Monterey has two, maybe three police officers. Thus far, none of them have formed an "internet crimes task force."So that's what we did. The Monterey Police Department was very responsive. The Chief himself showed up at our house and sat at our table. He took a police investigation notebook out of his utility belt, listened to our story. He had an impressive police mustache and his uniform was immaculate, but I do not believe that the Chief of Police in Monterey was quite equipped to deal with this issue. Monterey has two, maybe three, full-time police officers. Thus far none of them have formed an "internet crimes task force."We got in touch with the Chief a couple of days later, and he told us he was planning to call Gary. He did try to get the state police involved. But as far as I know, that never happened. We did not call the Monterey Police Department back. It seemed unkind.We tried calling Zelle, which proved to be harder than calling the FBI. "The banks say go to Zelle," a staff member from Elizabeth Warren's office told me. "And Zelle says go to the banks. But what the banks don't tell you is that the banks own Zelle."The truth is that this was essentially no one's problem. It was not the FBI's problem or the state police's problem or the problem of the local police or Chase or Zelle or Gary Kruglitz, who just went right on yellow-ing through the rest of the summer pool season, because what the fuck else was he supposed to do? This was a crime that no one would investigate. One federal prosecutor told us they lacked the resources to chase down the vast majority of fraud cases. Unless you've had millions of dollars stolen, it's essentially like living in a lawless world."It's a very low-risk crime," Kohlmann says. "It's very popular on the dark web, and the only people who get caught are very greedy. Law enforcement doesn't give a shit. For the Justice Department it has to be millions for them to care. I'm pretty sure Zelle cares. Loss is an issue. It hurts their brand name. They have to engage in some process. But how many employees do you think Zelle has? And how many working on this? I would guess Zelle has fewer than 20 people working on fraud. How are they going to manage this problem with 20 people? Plus Zelle will say: How is it our responsibility to track down criminals?"For the moment, Zelle is right: They have no responsibility for what happens to your money on their platform. That's because, Zelle argues, they're a platform, just like Meta and X and all the other Silicon Valley behemoths who operate by the argument that none of the bad and scary shit that takes place on the frictionless networks they built and maintain and profit from is their problem. Their job is to be iconoclastic technological innovators who facilitate bringing new worlds together, and governments and institutions and everything in the old guard are just trying to slow them down. That we could require Zelle to protect users from fraud is, of course, not exactly an idea without precedent. "The context I use for Zelle is my credit card," the staffer from Senator Warren's office told me. "If someone steals my credit card, I'm protected. If someone fools me to pay with my credit card, the same thing holds. But it's important to remember that when credit cards were introduced, they didn't have those protections. The Fair Credit Billing Act built in those protections." Senator Warren would very much like to have something like the Fair Credit Billing Act for peer-to-peer payments. But because there doesn't seem to be any political will for banking regulation at the moment, and Zelle certainly isn't going to just volunteer, it doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. A few weeks later, after I'd told them I was a reporter writing about Zelle, Chase emailed to let me know they'd found Personal Breezy. In an agreement between the banks, they shut down Breezy's account. There was some money in it, which we would have rights to. In the end, I believe $278 was transferred back into our account, and the case was closed.I put the likelihood at 100% that the people who stole our money needed it more than we did.This was not a tragedy. Out of all the kinds of money, money to build a pool is probably the very best kind of money for the world to suffer the loss of. I put the likelihood at 100% that the people who stole our money needed it more than we did. But the fact remains that it was the theft of $30,000. The fact remains that there is a huge river of money flowing out of people's accounts and into the hands of … well, we have no idea. Armies of phishermen and lovelorn mules and crypto exchangers and people who buy Metasploit and passwords on the dark web. It's possible that the government will eventually be moved to safeguard consumers against Zelle fraud. But the greater issue is one that will plague us for a long time: the dilemma of knowing who is real and who is not, and assigning responsibility for the consequences. The arms race between those trying to prove realness — whether through passwords or two-factor authentication or biometric scans — and those trying to evade realness is moving at breakneck speed. Someone at Clear, the identity-protection company that helps people skip the lines at airports, told me they've built technology they call "liveness detection." To prove you're you, you not only have to possess all the information and devices that prove who you are, but also that you are actually alive, in the instant in the place where a transaction is happening, by doing stuff like moving in a humanlike way.This is what security has come to — proving an instant of existence. And while knowing if Gary is Gary or I am me or Breezy is the Breeziest Breezy on the internet is getting harder and harder, the pull to decouple ourselves from any real-world identity — the anonymity of crypto, the maybe-someday-plausibly lifelike simulation of the metaverse, the evolving deepfake of AI — gets even more powerful. Knowing who anyone really is seems like it's going to become a philosophical question, not to mention a practical one. Anything can be true. Nothing is real. The simulation is reaching its singularity. We did get the pool. We saved for another two years and hired Gary, who never apologized, and never seemed even slightly perturbed that someone had stolen our money by pretending to be him. We asked him if he had changed his password, and he looked at us like we were speaking in Romanian. He blinked and said everything was fine. We paid him by check.Devin Friedman is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 1st, 2023

wanted was a swimming pool. What I got was a $31,000 lesson in Zelle fraud.

In search of a status symbol, I wound up getting ripped off big-time. But the real scam is how America's payment apps treat their customers. A pool could have been evidence that my life hadn't amounted to nothing. But after we Zelle-ed the deposit to our contractor, things started to go very wrong.All I wanted was a status symbol. What I got was a $31,000 lesson in the downside of payment apps.Illustrations by Madison KetchamI was trying to reach Gary Kruglitz, the proprietor of Royal Palace Pools and Spas. Gary cuts a certain figure. Just a hair over 6 feet tall, wears a mustache, square wire-rimmed bifocal glasses, thin short-sleeved dress shirts through which it is occasionally possible to glimpse just the hint of nipple when the lighting is right. He has an unusually high voice for a man his size, as if a Muppet crawled down his throat one night and couldn't get out again. I wouldn't say Gary is perplexed by this modern world we find ourselves living in as much as he might not be aware it exists. Sometimes when you talk to him, he'll look up from his papers, turn in your direction, and blink, like a bird that has heard something in the underbrush.Gary — I changed his name so I could be as honest about him and his nipples as possible — spends his days working out of his pool warehouse, in an office covered desk-to-credenza in product manuals and spa brochures and invoices produced in gold-, pink-, and white-triplicate. A man trapped in the amber of another era, the type of guy who answers his phone yellllow and says bye now when he hangs up. But at this moment, Gary was not answering his phone at all. And I was desperate to reach him, because my wife and I had paid him a deposit of $31,500 to build us a pool, and he had apparently disappeared off the face of the earth."I'm sorry, Gary is not available right now," said Cheryl when I phoned that morning.As best I could tell, there were three women who worked at Royal Palace Pools. Cheryl, Cheryl, and Sheryl. (Could be wrong on that.) The Cheryls didn't have offices. They stood point at the front of the store, behind the glass cases where the chlorine tablets and pool thermometers are displayed. There was a rumor that one of the Cheryls — Sheryl — was Gary's wife, but I couldn't imagine Gary making love, or having breakfast each morning with someone in his home. I believed the likelier scenario was that each night when the Cheryls went home, Gary climbed into an empty Jacuzzi shell with a bag of Funyuns and a worry-worn pad of invoices that served as his transitional object, pulled the thermal cover over himself, and waited in the dark with his eyes open until he could go back to the office. Regardless, if you wanted to get in touch with him, there was going to be at least one Cheryl between you and Gary."Do you know where he is?" I said. "This is urgent.""Um. And who is this?" said Cheryl.I gave her my name and her tone changed a bit. "I see," she said tightly. "Well, I'll tell him that you called. Again." "Please do," I said, trying to sound both grateful and angry. Then I hung up.It's true that my wife and I had been calling Gary a lot. About a year and a half prior, we'd walked into his office in the Berkshires, in Massachusetts — home to white folks who love the Boston Pops, farm to table, and Lyme disease — and signed a contract for Gary to build a pool in our backyard. It made me feel a little bit like an asshole to be honest, the idea of having a pool. Just the rich-person-ness of it. But what is life if not a long march toward losing all your morals and shame. And thanks to the support of my friends and family, I was able to bury my feelings deep inside and become invested in the idea of having a pool. A pool could be evidence that my life hadn't amounted to nothing. When I found myself at a party with intimidating people, I would sometimes say to myself, I am a person with a swimming pool, so I could believe I had the same right to exist as anyone else. And people would have to be friends with me, right? Because who doesn't want a friend with a pool? It would be like when Jeff Allen's mom used to let him have pool parties at his house in eighth grade. Sure, after everyone ate all the grilled cheeses his mom had cut into triangles and sneaked shots of vodka and then thrown up in the bushes, they all left and didn't invite him to come along. But wasn't that better than sitting at home alone on a Friday night, which was probably what Jeff would have been doing otherwise? Wasn't that a win?It made me feel a little bit like an asshole to be honest, the idea of having a pool. Just the rich-person-ness of it. But what is life if not a long march toward losing all your morals and shame.(Side note: Jeff grew up to be a heavy Facebook poster who writes screeds about how if people are so sure a man has a right to marry a man, then shouldn't a man have the right to marry a dog? He lives in Tennessee now with his wife, Krystal, whom he proposed to by having a trained dolphin swim up to her strapped with an engagement ring. Some people stay true to themselves.)Originally, the pool work was supposed to commence in April 2020. But obviously that didn't happen, because that was when everyone was sealed in their homes rinsing groceries in a solution of three parts water to one part Clorox. But now it was 2021. The construction trade was beginning to lurch back to life. There were delays, of course. We were in the throes of the great pandemic renovation boom, and there weren't enough workers or materials. Container ships were lined up for miles at the ports, and the cost of lumber had become something normal people talked about. The New York Times was publishing hate-reads about people from cities moving to places like the Berkshires and building swimming pools and bringing their obnoxious, demanding, me-first city culture with them.And so that March, we began calling Gary to say me first. Can you ensure we'll be first in line once the ground thaws? He'd try, he said. We took that as a promise.We called him in April. We called him in May. The further into summer we got, the less responsive he became. If you've hired a contractor, this will sound familiar. Why answer the phone just to get yelled at by some people from a New York Times hate-read? June crept along, and Gary went completely dark. We were anxious. We felt wronged. We let our feelings be known: Gary, and here I'm paraphrasing our email, we Karen-ed our way into being first in line to build a pool in the spring and now here it is in the middle of summer and we literally cannot get ahold of you. Finally, on July 5, we received a response. Gary emailed us that he was ready to begin. He said he could start within the week and reminded us that, according to the contract, we owed him $30K-plus before construction commenced. We checked the contract and saw that he was right. He sent another email with instructions for payment. Because a lot of bank branches were still closed, and the crew wanted their money, he requested that we transfer the money via Zelle. But because there are daily Zelle limits, he said, we should just transfer a little bit every day.We Zelle-ed $3,500 on the 6th, $3,500 on the 7th, $5,000 on the 8th and again on the 9th. Now that he was getting his money, Gary was more responsive. Do you have all the materials you were waiting for, we asked in an email. Yep, mostly. Can you start next week? Yes. The emails were strange. We sometimes had to read them aloud: What if you put a period here, would it make sense then? What if there were a verb? But Gary's emails had always been weird. After all, you don't go into the Cheryls business because you care about the syntax in your electronic correspondence. This man ran his company from an AOL account, which I didn't even know you could still have.After we Zelled more money, we got worried. What if Gary said he never got his deposit? We asked him to send us a signed receipt for the $23,000-ish we'd sent. Certainly, he said, I'm on a job, give me a few minutes. A few minutes later we got a signed receipt from Royal Palace Pools and Spas, printed on letterhead and photographed. All we had to do was send another $3,500 on the 12th and another $5,000 the 13th, his start date. If things went our way, the construction would be finished in a few weeks. After we Zelled more money, we got worried. What if Gary said he never got his deposit?And then July 13 arrived. Early that morning we received an email from Gary that he was down the road with his crew and would be there imminently. But hours passed, and he didn't show. That's when we reached Cheryl and she said, "Oh, it's you," and told me she'd get him a message. We started calling every 15 minutes. This guy had taken our money and who knows when — or if — he was ever going to start building us a hate-read-worthy swimming pool.Then, early that afternoon, we got Gary on the phone. Yellllow he said. We asked him where he was. He was confused by that. He was at the office, he said. But you told us you were on your way here, we said. You emailed us and said you were already on the road.Gary was silent for a moment."I haven't emailed you in a month," he said.Then my wife said holy fuck.Like so many things I use to conduct the most critical tasks in my everyday life with a carefree obliviousness, I didn't really know what Zelle was. I now know it's an entity wholly owned by a company called Early Warning Services LLC, which is itself owned by a consortium of America's largest banks: Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, PNC, Truist, Capital One, and US Bank. The reason for this byzantine structure is that 1) it's pretty hard for a bunch of enormous banks to own something together without forming a separate company to own that company and 2) it allows the banks to not be liable for losing someone's 30 grand.Perhaps the most significant thing to know about Zelle is the people who own it probably wish they hadn't been forced to invent it. For years, Silicon Valley venture capitalists funded PayPal and other "peer-to-peer" payment apps as a kind of Trojan-horse play to disrupt the extremely lucrative and quasi-oligarchic banking industry. The idea was mostly to lose money on the P2P apps (they're free to use) in order to grow as quickly as possible. It worked: As P2P apps accrued enormous numbers of customers, banks began to view them as an existential threat, and Zelle was born. Just as Disney and NBC and Warner Bros. knew they must chase Netflix on a downward spiral of shrinking revenue into the murky depths of oblivion, the big banks knew they had to launch Zelle to let their customers give one another money directly for pizza and rent (and pools) without paying any fees. Today Zelle is by far America's most used P2P payment platform, with twice as many transactions as Venmo.Of course, another thing P2P apps are useful for is perpetrating fraud. The money transfers almost instantly, between people who may know each other only as a cellphone number or an email address. So Zelle, by default, became one of America's most popular platforms for tricking people out of their cash. Zelle isn't very forthcoming about how often that happens. The company told me that "more than 99.9%" of transactions on the network are executed safely. On one hand, that means that the chances you're getting scammed are very low. On the other hand, Zelle reported that it processed 2.3 billion payments last year, and less than 0.1% of that puts us at somewhere less than 2.3 million transactions that maybe were not executed quite so safely. Besides that 99.9% figure, Zelle says it doesn't share fraud numbers "in an effort not to tip off fraudsters," though I'm not sure how telling me how many people are getting scammed would "tip off" anyone.When I asked Chase to discuss Zelle fraud, I received an email saying, "Unfortunately, we don't have anyone available for an interview." Presumably because the 240,000 people who work for JPMorgan Chase were all in the same meeting that day.Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the financial industry regulator banks most love to hate, has been petitioning Zelle to find out exactly how much fraud there is. And the data she's collected suggests there's probably, technically speaking, a whole fucking lot. According to Warren's office, US Bank — a single institution in the consortium — reported 45,000 incidents of Zelle scams last year. That's triple the number from 2021. It's certainly possible, if the criminals keep at it, work hard, and show some grit, they can triple the amount of fraud again by next year.The point here isn't that Zelle is worse than all the other places that invented this fun, frictionless way to accidentally transfer your net worth and brittle sense of sense of control in the universe to someone Gary Kruglitz supposedly told you to pay. It's just that Zelle is bigger. And that nobody — not the banks, not the police, not the Feds, not the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals — feels it's their job to go after the criminals when it happens. The bazillion-dollar fraud industry that preys on the likes of me and my wife basically operates with impunity.We were in the kitchen when we hung up with Gary. My wife and I exchanged a look, and in that look was contained a universe of knowledge: The scales fell and the gauze unwound and everything we for some reason couldn't see in the previous two weeks fell into a terrible, humiliating focus. The way we had been goaded every day for two weeks to send the max Zelle amount. The way the email messages from Gary were subliterate in a completely different way from the way a classic Gary email is subliterate. The receipt we'd made him email, which, when we opened it now in our kitchen, we realized didn't really look like the other receipts we'd gotten from Royal Palace Pools and Spas. The letterhead had typos on it.And the email addresses. Jesus, the email addresses.Now is when I need to make some confessions. When Gary Kruglitz told us to Zelle him, he didn't really tell us to Zelle him. He told us to Zelle two people we had never met before. What I'm confessing is that we sent $30,500 of our hard-earned money to sunshineyasmin48@gmail.com and personalbreezy@gmail.com. Yes, someone emailed us and said, "Hey, will you Zelle 30 grand to a perfect stranger who goes by the name Personal Breezy and has no identification except for a Gmail account?" And our response was: Done!Sitting there in the kitchen, we instantly understood our role in this drama: In a world of marks and cons, we were … complete fucking idiots. We were the people who write $10,000 checks to Sri Lankan princes who'd been wrongly imprisoned in Amsterdam but were lucky enough to get your phone number from a friend of your son. We were our own clueless elderly parents whom we make fun of because they are such naive morons, and they were us.In a world of marks and cons, we were complete fucking idiots.So yes, we fell victim to some highly suspect shit. But let me ask you this: If your contractor seems like they're doing something a bit dodgy, would that really surprise you? Don't you kind of assume your contractor has angles? Don't you suspect that every contractor is subtly fleecing you, while also subtly fleecing the people who work for him or her, in a velvet-gloved mafioso kind of way that everyone has tacitly approved? Isn't our national OK-ness with Donald Trump a subconscious admission that we assume everyone in the building trades is on the grift? And isn't what a lot of us actually look for in a contractor someone who's a little suspect? Who can maybe find a way to not have to get the permits? Who's maybe going to pay some folks under the table? Would you bat an eye if your contractor asked you to make your check out to his wife instead of him (which has happened to me)? Or if he told you to just Zelle the money to Personal Breezy? Maybe you would. But we didn't. Because the emails were coming from Gary's actual email account. But there in the kitchen, we understood that there's no guarantee that anything you're doing most of the time in your life is what it seems. There is no assurance that anyone is who they say they are. It became clear just how foundational trust is to the economy of my life, which essentially consists of countless transactions with people I have never seen, every transaction requiring a faith that a set of numbers or letters actually corresponds to a person of pure intention. And now the intentions of even the best of us — even the Gary Kruglitzes, with their bifocal glasses and their shirt-nipples and their loyal contingent of Cheryls — had been called into question. And it made, for us, everything suspicious. Every email in my inbox, every transaction on my credit card, all of it seemed a little infected and evil. And, like lots of victims of crimes of intimacy, we felt like it was somehow our fault. Hadn't we been emailing with these people wantonly, with abandon? Hadn't we kind of asked for it? Our accounts had been in a kind of transactional congress that was consecrated, in some sense, by ourselves. Still, in the immediate aftermath of the crime, even as our faith in holding companies with vague-sounding names owned by giant financial corporations was shaken to its core, we believed we were not without recourse. We knew the only thing you can do in a capitalist society is get after it. We were members of the (relatively) entitled class, after all, the (relatively) most valued customers, the platinum (sadly not diamond) medallion members. The system was built to serve us. It had been only moments since our money had been zapped into the welcoming receptacle of the bank account of Personal Breezy. So we just needed to compel Chase to go in and extract our money and give it back to us. There was no time to waste.Or so we thought. Because actually there was a lot of time to waste.When we called Chase, we were immediately shunted into the black box of voice-operated client sequencing. That is what a bank is now. An app and a dim void filled with a voice-menu system and a three-question survey. Our call was "answered" by a buoyant robot voice that had been engineered to keep us from talking to a person. We did the tricks you do to get to a human. Pressed zero. Said operator. We persevered. Eventually a woman with a Southern accent came online and said thank you for being a client and could she help us with something. Yes, we said, yes you can help us with someone stole $30,000 out of our Chase account and we need you to get it back. There was a pause as she typed something. In the background, I could hear what sounded like a 2-year-old playing close by. When the woman spoke again, she said this wasn't her area and could she give us the number of their fraud team. If this life teaches you one thing, it's that you cannot let a phone agent hang up on you.We said no no no. If this life teaches you one thing, it's that you cannot let a phone agent hang up on you. You have to be vigilant. Because if you've been alive long enough, you understand that you have been pledged to a never-ending battle with customer service. It's right there in the chapter of their training manual titled: "Be nice, call them by their first name, but give them nothing. Unless they get really mad and demand to speak to a manager." It's the most salient truth of our time: The only way to get more SkyMiles or a free gin and tonic on your next flight — or get your money back from a cybercriminal — is to be an insufferable asshole to someone making $13 an hour while also caring for their 2-year-old at home.The phone agent shunted us onward. In a moment, a fraud specialist answered the phone in an indiscernible accent. He sounded very far away. I explained our situation and he told me he was very sorry. He sounded like he was the kind of sorry you are if you have to say sorry to hundreds of people a day. And why should he be more sorry than that? He was probably 6,000 miles away, where it was 3 in the morning, and he had to finish his shift at the call center in time to head over to the university to finish his econ degree. He told us that he would open up a case. The team was on it, and we would hear from them shortly. At some level, I realize now, I expected someone at Chase to say holy shit that's crazy, hey everyone, stop what you're doing because we need to raise this one up to DEFCON 5 and send a drone over to Sunshine Yasmine48's house. But that is not what happened. We didn't hear much in the way of news from the fraud-investigation team for a long time. And when they got in touch it was to tell what by then we already knew: That money was long gone. That money was gone the moment we sent it.Did we confront Gary Kruglitz? Yes we did. We marched right into his office and grilled him hard until he defeated us with a simple and probing question: What's a zelle? It defied belief, we quickly realized, that a man who had been trapped in technological amber since the Nixon era was running a cyberscam designed to come between us and our money out of an AOL account.So what did happen? How does someone steal $30,000 without anyone even looking for them? It actually requires a pretty complex operation, but one that has been industrialized so that anyone with a little moxie and a Tor dark-web browser can do it. It most likely happened like this: We grilled Gary hard until he defeated us with a simple question: What's a zelle?First, Gary was targeted. Not personally, according to an official at the Justice Department who spoke with me on the condition that I not use his name. Whoever did this, the Justice Department guy told me, probably went after the emails of a ton of people who had a Gary-ian profile. Pool guys in the Northeast. Contractors in Massachusetts. Relatively tech-unsophisticated folks who conduct transactions for large sums of money. People who routinely get Zelled $30,000 from relative strangers. Maybe they got Gary to give up his email password via the time-honored scam of phishing. "The guy probably clicked on a link he shouldn't have clicked on," said Evan Kohlmann, a cyber-intelligence expert whose company, Cloudburst Technologies, tries to predict crypto fraud before it happens by monitoring chatter on the dark web. "They send you a text message or an email message. You owe tax money, here's the receipt for the thing you bought at Best Buy. The emails look real, so you open it." Or maybe the scammers got Gary's password the old-fashioned way: They bought it. Hacked credentials are relatively cheap to buy on the dark web. They're part of a vibrant shadow economy built to service a booming subculture of would-be fraudsters. It is precisely what tech has always delivered: the ability for the most average of us to do complicated, seemingly inexplicable stuff with the click of a mouse.It takes a really long time to learn how to hack millions of passwords and only a small group of people can do it, for instance, but if you sell it as a service to the relatively much larger group of people who want to commit cyberfraud but lack the requisite coding skills — well, in capitalism, that's called scale. A former assistant US attorney who specialized in cybercrime told me, for instance, that there's a suite of software called Metasploit that's popular with cybercriminals. The software is designed to test a system's security, but lots of its tools — including its password-cracking feature — come in handy for hacking as well.Once whoever it is was in Gary's email, they could look through correspondence between, say, Gary and my wife, familiarize themselves with our contract, and see exactly how much we owed. They now had everything they needed to ask for money.But if you don't want to get caught perpetrating fraud, it's best not to have victims send you anything directly. So the next step is to hire people to receive the money — your Personal Breezys or your Sunshine Yasmines — folks who are more often than not dupes themselves. Sometimes they're part of a "work from home" scam, people who think they're moving money to and from bank accounts as part of a legitimate business. Or maybe all they know is they get 10% of the money if they forward it to another Zelle account, and they don't ask any questions.Or often they're part of what's called a romance scam. "That's when someone believes they are sending their money to a loved one," the Justice Department official told me. "These people in the middle are often incredibly sympathetic and incredibly non-culpable. Someone who really believes: 'My fiancé is overseas and they were in an oil explosion and if I can send him the money, they can get help. Even though we've never met, even though I've only met them on Instagram or Facebook.' An FBI agent can sit down and show them evidence of fraud, that they are a victim, and they will still continue to talk with the fiancé." But Personal Breezy, whatever his or her motivation, was only the briefest step on the journey. Breezy most likely immediately passed our money on to another account. It may have gone through Paxful, a P2P app out of Estonia that converts money into crypto. Or whoever got the money next used it to buy Target gift cards, which were resold on the dark web, at a discount, for crypto. One way or another, our money was almost certainly converted into crypto, and then, at some point, back into fiat currency, to be spent as the fraudster liked. "Once it's in crypto, it's fucking gone," Kohlmann, the cyber-intelligence expert, told me. "You won't get it back."People have always used anonymous payment methods to conduct illicit business. Historically this payment method was called: lots and lots of cash. But over time, the flow of cash through financial institutions became more regulated. "It's the SWIFT system," Kohlmann explained. "Tracked by banks. Illicit money flows could be tracked, even in cash. Then comes crypto. Anonymous. Guess who looked at this and said, 'Hey, this is for us!' Criminals. North Korea, the Mafia. All these folks jumped into crypto. So now comes the problem. That cannot persist. It's an imbalance in the system. You can't have a form of money where you're totally anonymous to the IRS."And yet, we do.We called the FBI. We called the Massachusetts State Police. We called the Massachusetts attorney general. We called the police department in Monterey, Massachusetts, where we live, population 1,095. We found out it's harder to get someone to answer the phone at the FBI than it is to get someone to answer the phone at Amazon. Especially if you want to find out who to talk to if you were tricked out of money on Zelle. Eventually we learned that we needed to fill out a form online if we wanted to alert the federal authorities of the crime that had been perpetrated against us. So we filled out the form and clicked "submit." It has been two years since we submitted that form, and we have never heard from the FBI.The first person I talked to at the attorney general's office told me the best bet would be to have the state police begin an investigation. After a series of calls I was able to speak with a Massachusetts state police detective who told me his unit once took down a ring of people who had perpetrated internet fraud. Great, I said. Let's get into it. He said that's not how it works. First, as far as he knew, that was the only time it happened. And second, I needed to start with my local police department. They, in turn, could call on the state police to aid in the investigation if they needed it. Monterey has two, maybe three police officers. Thus far, none of them have formed an "internet crimes task force."So that's what we did. The Monterey Police Department was very responsive. The Chief himself showed up at our house and sat at our table. He took a police investigation notebook out of his utility belt, listened to our story. He had an impressive police mustache and his uniform was immaculate, but I do not believe that the Chief of Police in Monterey was quite equipped to deal with this issue. Monterey has two, maybe three, full-time police officers. Thus far none of them have formed an "internet crimes task force."We got in touch with the Chief a couple of days later, and he told us he was planning to call Gary. He did try to get the state police involved. But as far as I know, that never happened. We did not call the Monterey Police Department back. It seemed unkind.We tried calling Zelle, which proved to be harder than calling the FBI. "The banks say go to Zelle," a staff member from Elizabeth Warren's office told me. "And Zelle says go to the banks. But what the banks don't tell you is that the banks own Zelle."The truth is that this was essentially no one's problem. It was not the FBI's problem or the state police's problem or the problem of the local police or Chase or Zelle or Gary Kruglitz, who just went right on yellow-ing through the rest of the summer pool season, because what the fuck else was he supposed to do? This was a crime that no one would investigate. One federal prosecutor told us they lacked the resources to chase down the vast majority of fraud cases. Unless you've had millions of dollars stolen, it's essentially like living in a lawless world."It's a very low-risk crime," Kohlmann says. "It's very popular on the dark web, and the only people who get caught are very greedy. Law enforcement doesn't give a shit. For the Justice Department it has to be millions for them to care. I'm pretty sure Zelle cares. Loss is an issue. It hurts their brand name. They have to engage in some process. But how many employees do you think Zelle has? And how many working on this? I would guess Zelle has fewer than 20 people working on fraud. How are they going to manage this problem with 20 people? Plus Zelle will say: How is it our responsibility to track down criminals?"For the moment, Zelle is right: They have no responsibility for what happens to your money on their platform. That's because, Zelle argues, they're a platform, just like Meta and X and all the other Silicon Valley behemoths who operate by the argument that none of the bad and scary shit that takes place on the frictionless networks they built and maintain and profit from is their problem. Their job is to be iconoclastic technological innovators who facilitate bringing new worlds together, and governments and institutions and everything in the old guard are just trying to slow them down. That we could require Zelle to protect users from fraud is, of course, not exactly an idea without precedent. "The context I use for Zelle is my credit card," the staffer from Senator Warren's office told me. "If someone steals my credit card, I'm protected. If someone fools me to pay with my credit card, the same thing holds. But it's important to remember that when credit cards were introduced, they didn't have those protections. The Fair Credit Billing Act built in those protections." Senator Warren would very much like to have something like the Fair Credit Billing Act for peer-to-peer payments. But because there doesn't seem to be any political will for banking regulation at the moment, and Zelle certainly isn't going to just volunteer, it doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. A few weeks later, after I'd told them I was a reporter writing about Zelle, Chase emailed to let me know they'd found Personal Breezy. In an agreement between the banks, they shut down Breezy's account. There was some money in it, which we would have rights to. In the end, I believe $278 was transferred back into our account, and the case was closed.I put the likelihood at 100% that the people who stole our money needed it more than we did.This was not a tragedy. Out of all the kinds of money, money to build a pool is probably the very best kind of money for the world to suffer the loss of. I put the likelihood at 100% that the people who stole our money needed it more than we did. But the fact remains that it was the theft of $30,000. The fact remains that there is a huge river of money flowing out of people's accounts and into the hands of … well, we have no idea. Armies of phishermen and lovelorn mules and crypto exchangers and people who buy Metasploit and passwords on the dark web. It's possible that the government will eventually be moved to safeguard consumers against Zelle fraud. But the greater issue is one that will plague us for a long time: the dilemma of knowing who is real and who is not, and assigning responsibility for the consequences. The arms race between those trying to prove realness — whether through passwords or two-factor authentication or biometric scans — and those trying to evade realness is moving at breakneck speed. Someone at Clear, the identity-protection company that helps people skip the lines at airports, told me they've built technology they call "liveness detection." To prove you're you, you not only have to possess all the information and devices that prove who you are, but also that you are actually alive, in the instant in the place where a transaction is happening, by doing stuff like moving in a humanlike way.This is what security has come to — proving an instant of existence. And while knowing if Gary is Gary or I am me or Breezy is the Breeziest Breezy on the internet is getting harder and harder, the pull to decouple ourselves from any real-world identity — the anonymity of crypto, the maybe-someday-plausibly lifelike simulation of the metaverse, the evolving deepfake of AI — gets even more powerful. Knowing who anyone really is seems like it's going to become a philosophical question, not to mention a practical one. Anything can be true. Nothing is real. The simulation is reaching its singularity. We did get the pool. We saved for another two years and hired Gary, who never apologized, and never seemed even slightly perturbed that someone had stolen our money by pretending to be him. We asked him if he had changed his password, and he looked at us like we were speaking in Romanian. He blinked and said everything was fine. We paid him by check.Devin Friedman is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 1st, 2023

The Great Zelle Pool Scam

All I wanted was a status symbol. What I got was a $31,000 lesson in the downside of payment apps. A pool could have been evidence that my life hadn't amounted to nothing. But after we Zelle-ed the deposit to our contractor, things started to go very wrong.All I wanted was a status symbol. What I got was a $31,000 lesson in the downside of payment apps.Illustrations by Madison KetchamI was trying to reach Gary Kruglitz, the proprietor of Royal Palace Pools and Spas. Gary cuts a certain figure. Just a hair over 6 feet tall, wears a mustache, square wire-rimmed bifocal glasses, thin short-sleeved dress shirts through which it is occasionally possible to glimpse just the hint of nipple when the lighting is right. He has an unusually high voice for a man his size, as if a Muppet crawled down his throat one night and couldn't get out again. I wouldn't say Gary is perplexed by this modern world we find ourselves living in as much as he might not be aware it exists. Sometimes when you talk to him, he'll look up from his papers, turn in your direction, and blink, like a bird that has heard something in the underbrush.Gary — I changed his name so I could be as honest about him and his nipples as possible — spends his days working out of his pool warehouse, in an office covered desk-to-credenza in product manuals and spa brochures and invoices produced in gold-, pink-, and white-triplicate. A man trapped in the amber of another era, the type of guy who answers his phone yellllow and says bye now when he hangs up. But at this moment, Gary was not answering his phone at all. And I was desperate to reach him, because my wife and I had paid him a deposit of $31,500 to build us a pool, and he had apparently disappeared off the face of the earth."I'm sorry, Gary is not available right now," said Cheryl when I phoned that morning.As best I could tell, there were three women who worked at Royal Palace Pools. Cheryl, Cheryl, and Sheryl. (Could be wrong on that.) The Cheryls didn't have offices. They stood point at the front of the store, behind the glass cases where the chlorine tablets and pool thermometers are displayed. There was a rumor that one of the Cheryls — Sheryl — was Gary's wife, but I couldn't imagine Gary making love, or having breakfast each morning with someone in his home. I believed the likelier scenario was that each night when the Cheryls went home, Gary climbed into an empty Jacuzzi shell with a bag of Funyuns and a worry-worn pad of invoices that served as his transitional object, pulled the thermal cover over himself, and waited in the dark with his eyes open until he could go back to the office. Regardless, if you wanted to get in touch with him, there was going to be at least one Cheryl between you and Gary."Do you know where he is?" I said. "This is urgent.""Um. And who is this?" said Cheryl.I gave her my name and her tone changed a bit. "I see," she said tightly. "Well, I'll tell him that you called. Again." "Please do," I said, trying to sound both grateful and angry. Then I hung up.It's true that my wife and I had been calling Gary a lot. About a year and a half prior, we'd walked into his office in the Berkshires, in Massachusetts — home to white folks who love the Boston Pops, farm to table, and Lyme disease — and signed a contract for Gary to build a pool in our backyard. It made me feel a little bit like an asshole to be honest, the idea of having a pool. Just the rich-person-ness of it. But what is life if not a long march toward losing all your morals and shame. And thanks to the support of my friends and family, I was able to bury my feelings deep inside and become invested in the idea of having a pool. A pool could be evidence that my life hadn't amounted to nothing. When I found myself at a party with intimidating people, I would sometimes say to myself, I am a person with a swimming pool, so I could believe I had the same right to exist as anyone else. And people would have to be friends with me, right? Because who doesn't want a friend with a pool? It would be like when Jeff Allen's mom used to let him have pool parties at his house in eighth grade. Sure, after everyone ate all the grilled cheeses his mom had cut into triangles and sneaked shots of vodka and then thrown up in the bushes, they all left and didn't invite him to come along. But wasn't that better than sitting at home alone on a Friday night, which was probably what Jeff would have been doing otherwise? Wasn't that a win?It made me feel a little bit like an asshole to be honest, the idea of having a pool. Just the rich-person-ness of it. But what is life if not a long march toward losing all your morals and shame.(Side note: Jeff grew up to be a heavy Facebook poster who writes screeds about how if people are so sure a man has a right to marry a man, then shouldn't a man have the right to marry a dog? He lives in Tennessee now with his wife, Krystal, whom he proposed to by having a trained dolphin swim up to her strapped with an engagement ring. Some people stay true to themselves.)Originally, the pool work was supposed to commence in April 2020. But obviously that didn't happen, because that was when everyone was sealed in their homes rinsing groceries in a solution of three parts water to one part Clorox. But now it was 2021. The construction trade was beginning to lurch back to life. There were delays, of course. We were in the throes of the great pandemic renovation boom, and there weren't enough workers or materials. Container ships were lined up for miles at the ports, and the cost of lumber had become something normal people talked about. The New York Times was publishing hate-reads about people from cities moving to places like the Berkshires and building swimming pools and bringing their obnoxious, demanding, me-first city culture with them.And so that March, we began calling Gary to say me first. Can you ensure we'll be first in line once the ground thaws? He'd try, he said. We took that as a promise.We called him in April. We called him in May. The further into summer we got, the less responsive he became. If you've hired a contractor, this will sound familiar. Why answer the phone just to get yelled at by some people from a New York Times hate-read? June crept along, and Gary went completely dark. We were anxious. We felt wronged. We let our feelings be known: Gary, and here I'm paraphrasing our email, we Karen-ed our way into being first in line to build a pool in the spring and now here it is in the middle of summer and we literally cannot get ahold of you. Finally, on July 5, we received a response. Gary emailed us that he was ready to begin. He said he could start within the week and reminded us that, according to the contract, we owed him $30K-plus before construction commenced. We checked the contract and saw that he was right. He sent another email with instructions for payment. Because a lot of bank branches were still closed, and the crew wanted their money, he requested that we transfer the money via Zelle. But because there are daily Zelle limits, he said, we should just transfer a little bit every day.We Zelle-ed $3,500 on the 6th, $3,500 on the 7th, $5,000 on the 8th and again on the 9th. Now that he was getting his money, Gary was more responsive. Do you have all the materials you were waiting for, we asked in an email. Yep, mostly. Can you start next week? Yes. The emails were strange. We sometimes had to read them aloud: What if you put a period here, would it make sense then? What if there were a verb? But Gary's emails had always been weird. After all, you don't go into the Cheryls business because you care about the syntax in your electronic correspondence. This man ran his company from an AOL account, which I didn't even know you could still have.After we Zelled more money, we got worried. What if Gary said he never got his deposit? We asked him to send us a signed receipt for the $23,000-ish we'd sent. Certainly, he said, I'm on a job, give me a few minutes. A few minutes later we got a signed receipt from Royal Palace Pools and Spas, printed on letterhead and photographed. All we had to do was send another $3,500 on the 12th and another $5,000 the 13th, his start date. If things went our way, the construction would be finished in a few weeks. After we Zelled more money, we got worried. What if Gary said he never got his deposit?And then July 13 arrived. Early that morning we received an email from Gary that he was down the road with his crew and would be there imminently. But hours passed, and he didn't show. That's when we reached Cheryl and she said, "Oh, it's you," and told me she'd get him a message. We started calling every 15 minutes. This guy had taken our money and who knows when — or if — he was ever going to start building us a hate-read-worthy swimming pool.Then, early that afternoon, we got Gary on the phone. Yellllow he said. We asked him where he was. He was confused by that. He was at the office, he said. But you told us you were on your way here, we said. You emailed us and said you were already on the road.Gary was silent for a moment."I haven't emailed you in a month," he said.Then my wife said holy fuck.Like so many things I use to conduct the most critical tasks in my everyday life with a carefree obliviousness, I didn't really know what Zelle was. I now know it's an entity wholly owned by a company called Early Warning Services LLC, which is itself owned by a consortium of America's largest banks: Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, PNC, Truist, Capital One, and US Bank. The reason for this byzantine structure is that 1) it's pretty hard for a bunch of enormous banks to own something together without forming a separate company to own that company and 2) it allows the banks to not be liable for losing someone's 30 grand.Perhaps the most significant thing to know about Zelle is the people who own it probably wish they hadn't been forced to invent it. For years, Silicon Valley venture capitalists funded PayPal and other "peer-to-peer" payment apps as a kind of Trojan-horse play to disrupt the extremely lucrative and quasi-oligarchic banking industry. The idea was mostly to lose money on the P2P apps (they're free to use) in order to grow as quickly as possible. It worked: As P2P apps accrued enormous numbers of customers, banks began to view them as an existential threat, and Zelle was born. Just as Disney and NBC and Warner Bros. knew they must chase Netflix on a downward spiral of shrinking revenue into the murky depths of oblivion, the big banks knew they had to launch Zelle to let their customers give one another money directly for pizza and rent (and pools) without paying any fees. Today Zelle is by far America's most used P2P payment platform, with twice as many transactions as Venmo.Of course, another thing P2P apps are useful for is perpetrating fraud. The money transfers almost instantly, between people who may know each other only as a cellphone number or an email address. So Zelle, by default, became one of America's most popular platforms for tricking people out of their cash. Zelle isn't very forthcoming about how often that happens. The company told me that "more than 99.9%" of transactions on the network are executed safely. On one hand, that means that the chances you're getting scammed are very low. On the other hand, Zelle reported that it processed 2.3 billion payments last year, and less than 0.1% of that puts us at somewhere less than 2.3 million transactions that maybe were not executed quite so safely. Besides that 99.9% figure, Zelle says it doesn't share fraud numbers "in an effort not to tip off fraudsters," though I'm not sure how telling me how many people are getting scammed would "tip off" anyone.When I asked Chase to discuss Zelle fraud, I received an email saying, "Unfortunately, we don't have anyone available for an interview." Presumably because the 240,000 people who work for JPMorgan Chase were all in the same meeting that day.Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the financial industry regulator banks most love to hate, has been petitioning Zelle to find out exactly how much fraud there is. And the data she's collected suggests there's probably, technically speaking, a whole fucking lot. According to Warren's office, US Bank — a single institution in the consortium — reported 45,000 incidents of Zelle scams last year. That's triple the number from 2021. It's certainly possible, if the criminals keep at it, work hard, and show some grit, they can triple the amount of fraud again by next year.The point here isn't that Zelle is worse than all the other places that invented this fun, frictionless way to accidentally transfer your net worth and brittle sense of sense of control in the universe to someone Gary Kruglitz supposedly told you to pay. It's just that Zelle is bigger. And that nobody — not the banks, not the police, not the Feds, not the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals — feels it's their job to go after the criminals when it happens. The bazillion-dollar fraud industry that preys on the likes of me and my wife basically operates with impunity.We were in the kitchen when we hung up with Gary. My wife and I exchanged a look, and in that look was contained a universe of knowledge: The scales fell and the gauze unwound and everything we for some reason couldn't see in the previous two weeks fell into a terrible, humiliating focus. The way we had been goaded every day for two weeks to send the max Zelle amount. The way the email messages from Gary were subliterate in a completely different way from the way a classic Gary email is subliterate. The receipt we'd made him email, which, when we opened it now in our kitchen, we realized didn't really look like the other receipts we'd gotten from Royal Palace Pools and Spas. The letterhead had typos on it.And the email addresses. Jesus, the email addresses.Now is when I need to make some confessions. When Gary Kruglitz told us to Zelle him, he didn't really tell us to Zelle him. He told us to Zelle two people we had never met before. What I'm confessing is that we sent $30,500 of our hard-earned money to sunshineyasmin48@gmail.com and personalbreezy@gmail.com. Yes, someone emailed us and said, "Hey, will you Zelle 30 grand to a perfect stranger who goes by the name Personal Breezy and has no identification except for a Gmail account?" And our response was: Done!Sitting there in the kitchen, we instantly understood our role in this drama: In a world of marks and cons, we were … complete fucking idiots. We were the people who write $10,000 checks to Sri Lankan princes who'd been wrongly imprisoned in Amsterdam but were lucky enough to get your phone number from a friend of your son. We were our own clueless elderly parents whom we make fun of because they are such naive morons, and they were us.In a world of marks and cons, we were complete fucking idiots.So yes, we fell victim to some highly suspect shit. But let me ask you this: If your contractor seems like they're doing something a bit dodgy, would that really surprise you? Don't you kind of assume your contractor has angles? Don't you suspect that every contractor is subtly fleecing you, while also subtly fleecing the people who work for him or her, in a velvet-gloved mafioso kind of way that everyone has tacitly approved? Isn't our national OK-ness with Donald Trump a subconscious admission that we assume everyone in the building trades is on the grift? And isn't what a lot of us actually look for in a contractor someone who's a little suspect? Who can maybe find a way to not have to get the permits? Who's maybe going to pay some folks under the table? Would you bat an eye if your contractor asked you to make your check out to his wife instead of him (which has happened to me)? Or if he told you to just Zelle the money to Personal Breezy? Maybe you would. But we didn't. Because the emails were coming from Gary's actual email account. But there in the kitchen, we understood that there's no guarantee that anything you're doing most of the time in your life is what it seems. There is no assurance that anyone is who they say they are. It became clear just how foundational trust is to the economy of my life, which essentially consists of countless transactions with people I have never seen, every transaction requiring a faith that a set of numbers or letters actually corresponds to a person of pure intention. And now the intentions of even the best of us — even the Gary Kruglitzes, with their bifocal glasses and their shirt-nipples and their loyal contingent of Cheryls — had been called into question. And it made, for us, everything suspicious. Every email in my inbox, every transaction on my credit card, all of it seemed a little infected and evil. And, like lots of victims of crimes of intimacy, we felt like it was somehow our fault. Hadn't we been emailing with these people wantonly, with abandon? Hadn't we kind of asked for it? Our accounts had been in a kind of transactional congress that was consecrated, in some sense, by ourselves. Still, in the immediate aftermath of the crime, even as our faith in holding companies with vague-sounding names owned by giant financial corporations was shaken to its core, we believed we were not without recourse. We knew the only thing you can do in a capitalist society is get after it. We were members of the (relatively) entitled class, after all, the (relatively) most valued customers, the platinum (sadly not diamond) medallion members. The system was built to serve us. It had been only moments since our money had been zapped into the welcoming receptacle of the bank account of Personal Breezy. So we just needed to compel Chase to go in and extract our money and give it back to us. There was no time to waste.Or so we thought. Because actually there was a lot of time to waste.When we called Chase, we were immediately shunted into the black box of voice-operated client sequencing. That is what a bank is now. An app and a dim void filled with a voice-menu system and a three-question survey. Our call was "answered" by a buoyant robot voice that had been engineered to keep us from talking to a person. We did the tricks you do to get to a human. Pressed zero. Said operator. We persevered. Eventually a woman with a Southern accent came online and said thank you for being a client and could she help us with something. Yes, we said, yes you can help us with someone stole $30,000 out of our Chase account and we need you to get it back. There was a pause as she typed something. In the background, I could hear what sounded like a 2-year-old playing close by. When the woman spoke again, she said this wasn't her area and could she give us the number of their fraud team. If this life teaches you one thing, it's that you cannot let a phone agent hang up on you.We said no no no. If this life teaches you one thing, it's that you cannot let a phone agent hang up on you. You have to be vigilant. Because if you've been alive long enough, you understand that you have been pledged to a never-ending battle with customer service. It's right there in the chapter of their training manual titled: "Be nice, call them by their first name, but give them nothing. Unless they get really mad and demand to speak to a manager." It's the most salient truth of our time: The only way to get more SkyMiles or a free gin and tonic on your next flight — or get your money back from a cybercriminal — is to be an insufferable asshole to someone making $13 an hour while also caring for their 2-year-old at home.The phone agent shunted us onward. In a moment, a fraud specialist answered the phone in an indiscernible accent. He sounded very far away. I explained our situation and he told me he was very sorry. He sounded like he was the kind of sorry you are if you have to say sorry to hundreds of people a day. And why should he be more sorry than that? He was probably 6,000 miles away, where it was 3 in the morning, and he had to finish his shift at the call center in time to head over to the university to finish his econ degree. He told us that he would open up a case. The team was on it, and we would hear from them shortly. At some level, I realize now, I expected someone at Chase to say holy shit that's crazy, hey everyone, stop what you're doing because we need to raise this one up to DEFCON 5 and send a drone over to Sunshine Yasmine48's house. But that is not what happened. We didn't hear much in the way of news from the fraud-investigation team for a long time. And when they got in touch it was to tell what by then we already knew: That money was long gone. That money was gone the moment we sent it.Did we confront Gary Kruglitz? Yes we did. We marched right into his office and grilled him hard until he defeated us with a simple and probing question: What's a zelle? It defied belief, we quickly realized, that a man who had been trapped in technological amber since the Nixon era was running a cyberscam designed to come between us and our money out of an AOL account.So what did happen? How does someone steal $30,000 without anyone even looking for them? It actually requires a pretty complex operation, but one that has been industrialized so that anyone with a little moxie and a Tor dark-web browser can do it. It most likely happened like this: We grilled Gary hard until he defeated us with a simple question: What's a zelle?First, Gary was targeted. Not personally, according to an official at the Justice Department who spoke with me on the condition that I not use his name. Whoever did this, the Justice Department guy told me, probably went after the emails of a ton of people who had a Gary-ian profile. Pool guys in the Northeast. Contractors in Massachusetts. Relatively tech-unsophisticated folks who conduct transactions for large sums of money. People who routinely get Zelled $30,000 from relative strangers. Maybe they got Gary to give up his email password via the time-honored scam of phishing. "The guy probably clicked on a link he shouldn't have clicked on," said Evan Kohlmann, a cyber-intelligence expert whose company, Cloudburst Technologies, tries to predict crypto fraud before it happens by monitoring chatter on the dark web. "They send you a text message or an email message. You owe tax money, here's the receipt for the thing you bought at Best Buy. The emails look real, so you open it." Or maybe the scammers got Gary's password the old-fashioned way: They bought it. Hacked credentials are relatively cheap to buy on the dark web. They're part of a vibrant shadow economy built to service a booming subculture of would-be fraudsters. It is precisely what tech has always delivered: the ability for the most average of us to do complicated, seemingly inexplicable stuff with the click of a mouse.It takes a really long time to learn how to hack millions of passwords and only a small group of people can do it, for instance, but if you sell it as a service to the relatively much larger group of people who want to commit cyberfraud but lack the requisite coding skills — well, in capitalism, that's called scale. A former assistant US attorney who specialized in cybercrime told me, for instance, that there's a suite of software called Metasploit that's popular with cybercriminals. The software is designed to test a system's security, but lots of its tools — including its password-cracking feature — come in handy for hacking as well.Once whoever it is was in Gary's email, they could look through correspondence between, say, Gary and my wife, familiarize themselves with our contract, and see exactly how much we owed. They now had everything they needed to ask for money.But if you don't want to get caught perpetrating fraud, it's best not to have victims send you anything directly. So the next step is to hire people to receive the money — your Personal Breezys or your Sunshine Yasmines — folks who are more often than not dupes themselves. Sometimes they're part of a "work from home" scam, people who think they're moving money to and from bank accounts as part of a legitimate business. Or maybe all they know is they get 10% of the money if they forward it to another Zelle account, and they don't ask any questions.Or often they're part of what's called a romance scam. "That's when someone believes they are sending their money to a loved one," the Justice Department official told me. "These people in the middle are often incredibly sympathetic and incredibly non-culpable. Someone who really believes: 'My fiancé is overseas and they were in an oil explosion and if I can send him the money, they can get help. Even though we've never met, even though I've only met them on Instagram or Facebook.' An FBI agent can sit down and show them evidence of fraud, that they are a victim, and they will still continue to talk with the fiancé." But Personal Breezy, whatever his or her motivation, was only the briefest step on the journey. Breezy most likely immediately passed our money on to another account. It may have gone through Paxful, a P2P app out of Estonia that converts money into crypto. Or whoever got the money next used it to buy Target gift cards, which were resold on the dark web, at a discount, for crypto. One way or another, our money was almost certainly converted into crypto, and then, at some point, back into fiat currency, to be spent as the fraudster liked. "Once it's in crypto, it's fucking gone," Kohlmann, the cyber-intelligence expert, told me. "You won't get it back."People have always used anonymous payment methods to conduct illicit business. Historically this payment method was called: lots and lots of cash. But over time, the flow of cash through financial institutions became more regulated. "It's the SWIFT system," Kohlmann explained. "Tracked by banks. Illicit money flows could be tracked, even in cash. Then comes crypto. Anonymous. Guess who looked at this and said, 'Hey, this is for us!' Criminals. North Korea, the Mafia. All these folks jumped into crypto. So now comes the problem. That cannot persist. It's an imbalance in the system. You can't have a form of money where you're totally anonymous to the IRS."And yet, we do.We called the FBI. We called the Massachusetts State Police. We called the Massachusetts attorney general. We called the police department in Monterey, Massachusetts, where we live, population 1,095. We found out it's harder to get someone to answer the phone at the FBI than it is to get someone to answer the phone at Amazon. Especially if you want to find out who to talk to if you were tricked out of money on Zelle. Eventually we learned that we needed to fill out a form online if we wanted to alert the federal authorities of the crime that had been perpetrated against us. So we filled out the form and clicked "submit." It has been two years since we submitted that form, and we have never heard from the FBI.The first person I talked to at the attorney general's office told me the best bet would be to have the state police begin an investigation. After a series of calls I was able to speak with a Massachusetts state police detective who told me his unit once took down a ring of people who had perpetrated internet fraud. Great, I said. Let's get into it. He said that's not how it works. First, as far as he knew, that was the only time it happened. And second, I needed to start with my local police department. They, in turn, could call on the state police to aid in the investigation if they needed it. Monterey has two, maybe three police officers. Thus far, none of them have formed an "internet crimes task force."So that's what we did. The Monterey Police Department was very responsive. The Chief himself showed up at our house and sat at our table. He took a police investigation notebook out of his utility belt, listened to our story. He had an impressive police mustache and his uniform was immaculate, but I do not believe that the Chief of Police in Monterey was quite equipped to deal with this issue. Monterey has two, maybe three, full-time police officers. Thus far none of them have formed an "internet crimes task force."We got in touch with the Chief a couple of days later, and he told us he was planning to call Gary. He did try to get the state police involved. But as far as I know, that never happened. We did not call the Monterey Police Department back. It seemed unkind.We tried calling Zelle, which proved to be harder than calling the FBI. "The banks say go to Zelle," a staff member from Elizabeth Warren's office told me. "And Zelle says go to the banks. But what the banks don't tell you is that the banks own Zelle."The truth is that this was essentially no one's problem. It was not the FBI's problem or the state police's problem or the problem of the local police or Chase or Zelle or Gary Kruglitz, who just went right on yellow-ing through the rest of the summer pool season, because what the fuck else was he supposed to do? This was a crime that no one would investigate. One federal prosecutor told us they lacked the resources to chase down the vast majority of fraud cases. Unless you've had millions of dollars stolen, it's essentially like living in a lawless world."It's a very low-risk crime," Kohlmann says. "It's very popular on the dark web, and the only people who get caught are very greedy. Law enforcement doesn't give a shit. For the Justice Department it has to be millions for them to care. I'm pretty sure Zelle cares. Loss is an issue. It hurts their brand name. They have to engage in some process. But how many employees do you think Zelle has? And how many working on this? I would guess Zelle has fewer than 20 people working on fraud. How are they going to manage this problem with 20 people? Plus Zelle will say: How is it our responsibility to track down criminals?"For the moment, Zelle is right: They have no responsibility for what happens to your money on their platform. That's because, Zelle argues, they're a platform, just like Meta and X and all the other Silicon Valley behemoths who operate by the argument that none of the bad and scary shit that takes place on the frictionless networks they built and maintain and profit from is their problem. Their job is to be iconoclastic technological innovators who facilitate bringing new worlds together, and governments and institutions and everything in the old guard are just trying to slow them down. That we could require Zelle to protect users from fraud is, of course, not exactly an idea without precedent. "The context I use for Zelle is my credit card," the staffer from Senator Warren's office told me. "If someone steals my credit card, I'm protected. If someone fools me to pay with my credit card, the same thing holds. But it's important to remember that when credit cards were introduced, they didn't have those protections. The Fair Credit Billing Act built in those protections." Senator Warren would very much like to have something like the Fair Credit Billing Act for peer-to-peer payments. But because there doesn't seem to be any political will for banking regulation at the moment, and Zelle certainly isn't going to just volunteer, it doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. A few weeks later, after I'd told them I was a reporter writing about Zelle, Chase emailed to let me know they'd found Personal Breezy. In an agreement between the banks, they shut down Breezy's account. There was some money in it, which we would have rights to. In the end, I believe $278 was transferred back into our account, and the case was closed.I put the likelihood at 100% that the people who stole our money needed it more than we did.This was not a tragedy. Out of all the kinds of money, money to build a pool is probably the very best kind of money for the world to suffer the loss of. I put the likelihood at 100% that the people who stole our money needed it more than we did. But the fact remains that it was the theft of $30,000. The fact remains that there is a huge river of money flowing out of people's accounts and into the hands of … well, we have no idea. Armies of phishermen and lovelorn mules and crypto exchangers and people who buy Metasploit and passwords on the dark web. It's possible that the government will eventually be moved to safeguard consumers against Zelle fraud. But the greater issue is one that will plague us for a long time: the dilemma of knowing who is real and who is not, and assigning responsibility for the consequences. The arms race between those trying to prove realness — whether through passwords or two-factor authentication or biometric scans — and those trying to evade realness is moving at breakneck speed. Someone at Clear, the identity-protection company that helps people skip the lines at airports, told me they've built technology they call "liveness detection." To prove you're you, you not only have to possess all the information and devices that prove who you are, but also that you are actually alive, in the instant in the place where a transaction is happening, by doing stuff like moving in a humanlike way.This is what security has come to — proving an instant of existence. And while knowing if Gary is Gary or I am me or Breezy is the Breeziest Breezy on the internet is getting harder and harder, the pull to decouple ourselves from any real-world identity — the anonymity of crypto, the maybe-someday-plausibly lifelike simulation of the metaverse, the evolving deepfake of AI — gets even more powerful. Knowing who anyone really is seems like it's going to become a philosophical question, not to mention a practical one. Anything can be true. Nothing is real. The simulation is reaching its singularity. We did get the pool. We saved for another two years and hired Gary, who never apologized, and never seemed even slightly perturbed that someone had stolen our money by pretending to be him. We asked him if he had changed his password, and he looked at us like we were speaking in Romanian. He blinked and said everything was fine. We paid him by check.Devin Friedman is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 1st, 2023

Operation Choke Point 2.0: How US Regulators Fight Bitcoin With Financial Censorship

Operation Choke Point 2.0: How US Regulators Fight Bitcoin With Financial Censorship Authored by Peter Chawaga via BitcoinMagazine.com, “The reason that we are focused on financial institutions and payment processors is because they are the so-called bottlenecks, or choke-points, in the fraud committed by so many merchants that victimize consumers and launder their illegal proceeds,” Bresnickat explained to the club. “We hope to close the access to the banking system that mass marketing fraudsters enjoy - effectively putting a choke hold on it…” This concerted effort, later labeled “Operation Choke Point”, targeted a wide range of business categories, including ammunition sales, drug paraphernalia, payday loans, dating services, pornography, telemarketing, tobacco sales, and government grants. This broad application of financial exclusion ultimately prompted multiple lawsuits and federal investigations into the conduct of both the DOJ and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), as well as harsh criticism from all corners. “The clandestine Operation Choke Point had more in common with a purge of ideological foes than a regulatory enforcement action”, wrote Frank Keating, a former governor of Oklahoma who served in the DOJ during the Reagan administration, in a 2018 editorial for The Hill. “It targeted wide swaths of businesses with little regard for whether legal businesses were swept up and harmed. In fact, that seemed to be the goal.” In 2017, the Trump administration’s DOJ wrote a letter to Congress indicating that Operation Choke Point was officially over. In 2018, the FDIC promised to limit its personnel’s ability to “terminate account relationships” and to put “additional training” into place for its examiners. But in the years since the federal government so blatantly demonstrated its interest in dictating access to banking services and its power to do so deliberately with little or no consequences, many feel that little has changed. BANK RUNS, WITH BIAS On March 8, 2023, it was announced that the cryptocurrency-focused institution Silvergate Bank would be voluntarily liquidated by its holding company. The bank had been focused on serving cryptocurrency clients since 2013 when its CEO Alan Lane first invested in bitcoin. In 2022, it had acquired the technology behind Meta’s failed stablecoin project, Diem, with hopes of launching its own dollar-backed token. As the cryptocurrency market declined in late 2022, marked by the collapse of one of its biggest clients in cryptocurrency exchange FTX, the bank’s stock price plummeted. It likely did not help that at the same time, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Roger Marshall, and John Kennedy asked Silvergate to disclose details of its financial relationship with collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Soon after, on March 10, 2023, almost ten years to the day from Bresnickat’s public detailing of Operation Choke Point, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was seized by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation and placed under FDIC receivership, marking what was then the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history. Since 2021, the bank had been increasing its long-term securities holdings but, as the market value of these assets deteriorated amid U.S. dollar inflation and Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, it was left with unrealized losses. Simultaneously, its customers, many of whom were prominent businesses within the cryptocurrency industry and were similarly strained by economic conditions, were withdrawing their money. On March 8, 2023, SVB announced that it had sold more than $21 billion worth of securities, borrowed another $15 billion, and was planning an emergency sale to raise yet another $2.25 billion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this sparked a run on its remaining funds, totaling some $42 billion in withdrawals by March 9, 2023. On Sunday, March 12, state and federal authorities stepped in; customers of Signature Bank had withdrawn more than $10 billion. Since 2018, Signature Bank had maintained a focus on cryptocurrency businesses, with some 30% of its deposits coming from the sector by early 2023. Signature Bank had also accrued a large proportion of uninsured deposits, worth some $79.5 billion and constituting almost 90% of its total deposits. It was holding relatively little cash on hand — only about 5% of its total assets (compared to an industry average of 13%) — so it was poorly prepared for a run on crypto-friendly banks spurred by SVB’s issues. On March 12, 2023, the New York State Department of Financial Services closed Signature Bank and placed it under FDIC receivership as it faced a mountain of withdrawal requests. At the time, this represented the third-largest bank failure in U.S. history. Following their seizures of SVB and Signature Bank, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and FDIC described the takeovers as “decisive actions to protect the U.S. economy by strengthening public confidence in our banking system”. But others suggested the actions, particularly against Signature Bank, signified a blatant reemergence of the prejudice displayed during Operation Choke Point and connected to a larger effort to stymie cryptocurrency businesses. “I think part of what happened was that regulators wanted to send a very strong anti-crypto message”, Barney Frank, a Signature Bank Board member and former congressman who helped draft the seminal “Dodd-Frank Act” to overhaul financial regulation following the Great Recession, told CNBC in March 2023. “We became the poster boy because there was no insolvency based on the fundamentals.” Following an FDIC announcement that Flagstar Bank would assume all of Signature Bank’s cash deposits except for those “related to the digital-asset banking businesses”, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal announced that Frank was right to call out this bias. “This confirms Mr. Frank’s suspicions — and ours — that Signature’s seizure was motivated by regulators’ hostility toward crypto”, the board wrote. “That means crypto companies will have to find another bank to safeguard their deposits. Many say that government warnings to banks about doing business with crypto customers is making that hard.” TARGETING A NEW CHOKE POINT Public officials, financial professionals, and Bitcoin advocates had been pointing out an apparent bias against cryptocurrency businesses from the Biden administration well before the March 2023 bank runs. There were numerous policy events in the early part of 2023 to back up those sentiments. A January 3, 2023, “Joint Statement on Crypto-Asset Risks to Banking Organizations” from the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) noted that, “The events of the past year have been marked by significant volatility and the exposure of vulnerabilities in the crypto-asset sector. These events highlight a number of key risks associated with crypto-assets and crypto-asset sector participants that banking organizations should be aware of…”, effectively serving to dissuade financial institutions from taking on those risks. A White House “Roadmap to Mitigate Cryptocurrencies’ Risks” released on January 27, 2023, indicated that the Biden administration sees the proliferation of cryptocurrencies as a threat to the country’s financial system and warned against the prospect of granting cryptocurrencies more access to mainstream financial products. “As an administration, our focus is on continuing to ensure that cryptocurrencies cannot undermine financial stability, to protect investors, and to hold bad actors accountable”, per the roadmap. “Legislation should not greenlight mainstream institutions, like pension funds, to dive headlong into cryptocurrency markets… It would be a grave mistake to enact legislation that reverses course and deepens the ties between cryptocurrencies and the broader financial system.” On February 7, 2023, the Federal Reserve pushed a rule to the Federal Register clarifying that the institution would “presumptively prohibit” state member banks from holding crypto assets as principal in any amount and that “issuing tokens on open, public, and/or decentralized networks, or similar systems is highly likely to be inconsistent with safe and sound banking practices”. And on May 2, 2023, the Biden administration proposed a Digital Asset Mining Energy (DAME) excise tax, suggested as a way to force cryptocurrency mining operations to financially compensate the government for the “economic and environmental costs” of their practices with a 30% tax on the electricity they use. For Brian Morgenstern, the head of public policy at Riot Platforms, one of the largest, publicly traded bitcoin miners based in the U.S., these policy suggestions, updates, and rule changes clearly indicate a larger attempt to hinder Bitcoin advancement by targeting financial choke points. “The White House has proposed an excise tax on electricity use by Bitcoin mining businesses specifically — an admitted attempt to control legal activity they do not like, in the name of environmental protection”, Morgenstern explained in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine. “The only explanation for such inexplicable behavior is deep-rooted bias in favor of the status quo and against decentralization.” Collectively, this behavior could influence the conduct of regulated banks, just as the pressure applied by the DOJ in the 2010s unduly limited the businesses in its crosshairs back then. For many, it’s clear that Operation Choke Point has been reinstated. “‘Operation Choke Point 2.0’ refers to the coordinated effort by the Biden administration’s financial regulators to suffocate our domestic crypto economy by de-banking the industry and severing entrepreneurs from the capital necessary to invest here in America”, U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty, a member of the committees on banking and appropriations, told Bitcoin Magazine. “It appears that financial regulators have bought into the false narrative that cryptocurrency-focused businesses solely exist to facilitate or conduct illicit activities, and they seem blind to the opportunities for the potential innovations and new businesses that can be built.” PRESSURE WHERE IT HURTS It may be fairly obvious how such a pressure campaign by federal regulators would hurt cryptocurrency-focused projects that depend on access to banks. But the larger ramifications of such financial prohibitions for retail customers and the advancement of Bitcoin in particular may not be. Why should proponents of Bitcoin, a decentralized financial rail designed to function outside of the legacy system, care about a choke point in regulated financial institutions? Caitlin Long, the founder of Custodia Bank, which is focused on bridging the gap between digital assets and legacy financial services, recognizes that for users in the U.S. to legitimately participate in Bitcoin, the regulatory landscape must be accommodating. “I’ve been working for years to help enable laws to be enacted, in multiple U.S. states and federally, precisely because in the absence of legal clarity about Bitcoin, legal systems can become attack vectors on Bitcoiners”, she said in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine. “All of us live under legal regimes of some sort, and we should be aware of legal attack vectors and work toward resolving them in an enabling way.” Long’s advocacy may best represent the potential that favorable or even just equitable financial access could mean for Bitcoin adoption and the advancement of its technology for everyone. Through her work, Custodia (then under the name Avanti) obtained a 2020 bank charter in its home state of Wyoming that made it a special-purpose depository institution capable of custodying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on behalf of clients. But, following a prolonged delay in approval of Custodia’s application for a master account with the Federal Reserve that would allow it to leverage the FedWire network and facilitate large transactions for clients without enrolling intermediaries, Custodia filed a lawsuit against the Fed last year. “Operation Choke Point 2.0 is real — Custodia learned about its existence in late January when press leaks hit and reporters started calling Custodia to say they learned that all bank charter applicants at the Fed and OCC with digital assets in their business models, including Custodia, were recently asked to withdraw their pending applications”, Long said. “Reporters told us that the Fed’s vote on Custodia’s application would be a foregone conclusion before the Fed governors actually voted.” But, more than just stifling innovators who seek to build bridges between Bitcoin and legacy financial services, targeting the choke points of Bitcoin platforms will only push these platforms outside of the scope of regulators, giving those with malicious intent an advantage over those who are attempting to play by the rules. “Internet-native money exists. It won’t be uninvented”, Long added. “If federal bank regulators have a prayer of controlling its impact on the traditional U.S. dollar banking system, they will wake up and realize it’s in their interest to enable regulatory-compliant bridges. Otherwise, just as with other industries that the internet has disrupted — corporate media, for example — the internet will just go around them and they will face even bigger problems down the road.” As was laid bare by the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Bitcoin is still very much tied to the world of cryptocurrency at large in the portfolios of investors and the eyes of most people around the world. Indeed, the revelations around FTX’s criminal operations have been a case in point for regulators who seek the financial prohibition of cryptocurrency businesses. But this very prohibition may have enabled FTX’s operators to fleece billions in customer funds: Based on a Caribbean island, the vast majority of FTX’s business was outside of the jurisdiction of U.S. regulators. As U.S. regulators limit the growth of domestic businesses, offshore alternatives like FTX benefit. And while many Bitcoiners may think that policymakers are powerless to determine the success of this permissionless technology, adverse or absent regulations can limit Bitcoin-specific businesses just as harshly as they do broader, cryptocurrency-related ones. In fact, it may be Bitcoin’s unique properties that make the current regulatory landscape such a daunting one for growth. “Bitcoiners should care about Operation Choke Point 2.0 because certain policymakers are trying to take away our ability to participate in the Bitcoin network”, Morgenstern argued. “Moreover, Bitcoin is different. It is not only the oldest and most tested asset in this space, it is perhaps the only one that everyone agrees is a digital commodity. That means the on-ramp for inclusion into any policy frameworks will have less friction inherently, and Bitcoiners need to understand this.” RELIEVING THE CHOKE POINTS Reviewing the recent, hostile policy updates from federal regulators, it seems clear that Bitcoin is firmly entrenched along with “crypto” in their minds. And, Bitcoin proponents in particular will agree, many businesses focused on other cryptocurrencies are apt to hurt investors. But some in the Bitcoin sector think that more education could help underscore the distinctions between Bitcoin and altcoins, and better protect Bitcoin from more justified regulatory limits on manipulated tokens and vaporware. “Engage with your elected officials”, Morgenstern encouraged. “Help them understand that Bitcoin’s decentralized ledger technology is democratizing finance, creating faster and cheaper transactions and providing much-needed optionality for consumers at a time when the centralized finance system is experiencing distress. This will take time, effort and a lot of communication, but we must work together to help our leaders appreciate how many votes and how much prosperity is at stake.” Indeed, for those elected officials who do recognize this bias as unduly harmful to innovation, continued advocacy from Bitcoin’s supporters is the best way out of the choke hold. “This isn’t an issue where people can afford to be on the sidelines anymore”, Hagerty concluded. “I encourage those who want to see digital assets flourish in the United States to make your voice heard, whether that is at the ballot box or by contacting your lawmakers and urging them to support constructive policy proposals.” *  *  * This article is featured in Bitcoin Magazine’s “The Withdrawal Issue”. Click here to subscribe now. A PDF pamphlet of this article is available for download. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/18/2023 - 15:45.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 18th, 2023

The rise and fall of Juul: The e-cigarette maker"s comeback plan includes a high-tech vape and a "shots-on-goal" approach to the FDA

Discover what happened to the iconic nicotine vape brand Juul. Eva Hambach/Getty Images Over the last several years, Juul has gone from a darling of Silicon Valley to a company beset by legal challenges. The e-cigarette maker recently agreed to pay $462 million in a settlement that ends lawsuits against it. Here's a rundown of the company's history, from its $38 billion valuation to legal settlements. A majority of Juul's legal troubles are behind it. The e-cigarette maker agreed to pay $462 million in a settlement that ends lawsuits against it from states including New York and California, the New York Times reported in April. The settlement adds to the billions that Juul has spent defending itself from claims that it targeted young people with its marketing and did not provide information about addictive nicotine in its products.Most recently, the company has developed a new device with "age-verification capabilities and prevents the use of counterfeit or unauthorized third-party refill cartridges," the Wall Street Journal reported. It's also submitted various products to the FDA in the hopes that one of them passes approval, per the Journal. Juul did not immediately respond to a request from Insider for comment.Over the last several years, Juul has gone from a darling of Silicon Valley to a company beset by legal challenges. It also fell from a valuation of $38 billion in 2018 to just $1 billion last October, according to the Journal.Scroll down to see Juul's rise and decline:2004: At Stanford, the product-design grad students James Monsees and Adam Bowen create the idea for Ploom, Juul’s precursor.Juul.com / YouTubeMonsees and Bowen have said they were smokers who met on smoke breaks while pursuing master's degrees in product design at Stanford University. Their thesis presentation, now posted on Juul's website, describes their product as "the rational future of smoking."2007: Monsees and Bowen found the vaporizer startup Ploom in San Francisco.YouTube / Hyphy SF By February 2008, Ploom raised $900,000 in venture funding, putting its valuation at roughly $3 million, according to PitchBook.A 2011 description of the Ploom device, which sold for $75, described it as a heat-not-burn product that could be filled with single-serve refills called "Ploom Pods." The pods could include tobacco or non-tobacco ingredients, it said. Aug. 1, 2013: Ploom debuts the Pax with a launch party in San Francisco.Ploom at Robin Thicke's album-release party in 2013 in New York.Andrew Toth / Getty ImagesAfter raising close to $5 million, Ploom launched a device called the Pax, a vaporizer for loose-leaf tobacco that could also be used for cannabis.To debut the device, Ploom hosted a launch party in San Francisco's trendy Mission District.At this time, Ploom investors included Japan Tobacco, the maker of Winston and Salem cigarettes, along with the software company Originate and the angel investment group Sand Hill. Feb. 16, 2015: Monsees and Bowen sell the Ploom brand and a vaporizer line to the Japanese tobacco company JTI. They rebrand as Pax Labs.Japan Tobacco Inc.'s president and CEO, Mitsuomi Koizumi, using a Ploom during an interview with Reuters at the company's headquarters in Tokyo in 2017.Toru Hanai / ReutersAs part of the deal, JTI said in a statement that Ploom would buy back JTI's minority stake in the startup.June 1, 2015: Pax Labs launches the Juul with a party in New York City.SRITAPax introduced the Juul with a launch party in New York City.A trove of images collected by Stanford researchers suggested that the campaign focused on a young audience. Guests were invited to try Juul's products free and share selfies on social media, Business Insider reported."Juul's launch campaign was patently youth-oriented," Robert Jackler, a practicing Stanford physician who was the principal investigator behind the tobacco-image collection, told Business Insider.2016: Juul sales skyrocket 700%.An ad on Juul's website from 2016.Juul devices gained popularity. Sales rose 700% in 2016, ABC 7 News reported.July 1, 2017: Monsees and Bowen spin out Juul Labs as an independent company and name former Pax Labs CEO Tyler Goldman CEO.Pax Labs; Melia Robinson/Business InsiderGoldman came to Pax from the music-streaming startup Deezer then took over Juul Labs.Nov. 2017: Juul is the best-selling e-cigarette on the market.Pax LabsJuul said it'd sold 1 million units. The company also captured a third of the e-cigarette market, according to Nielsen data.Dec. 11, 2017: CEO Tyler Goldman leaves Juul. The company replaces him with Kevin Burns.Juul's new CEO, Kevin Burns.Juul/YouTubeGoldman left Juul to "pursue new entrepreneurial activities." The company hired Burns from the yogurt company Chobani.Dec. 2017: Juul raises $112 million in venture funds and adds Nicholas Pritzker to its board, according to PitchBook.The industrialist A.N. Pritzker in 1982. The wealthy Pritzker family owned the chewing-tobacco giant Conwood before selling it to the tobacco giant Reynolds. They also founded and expanded the Hyatt Hotels chain.AP PhotoThe fresh funds came from firms including Tao Capital, Fidelity, and Evolution, according to PitchBook.Nicholas Pritzker, Tao's cofounder, joined Juul's board, CNBC reported. Pritzker is a member of the wealthy Pritzker family, which owned the chewing-tobacco giant Conwood before selling it to the tobacco giant Reynolds. The Pritzkers also founded and expanded the Hyatt Hotels chain.On an undisclosed date, Tao Capital sold its stake in Juul to the hedge fund Tiger Global and Manhattan Venture Partners, PitchBook said.The venture fund M13, another early Juul investor, sold its shares in the spring of 2018.This slide has been updated with new information about M13's investment.March 2018: Dozens of outlets report that 'Juuling' is an epidemic at high schools.A Juul ad from 2016.Pax LabsNational news outlets including National Public Radio, USA Today, and Business Insider reported that the Juul had a loyal and growing following among young people.All of the reports said teens were taking to social media to brag about being able to sneak puffs in class or in the bathroom thanks to Juul's discreet design.April 2018: Led by Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the US Food and Drug Administration starts an 'undercover blitz' to crack down on sales of the Juul to minors.Scott Gottlieb, then the FDA commissioner.ReutersIn what the FDA said was the largest coordinated enforcement effort in agency history, the FDA issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who it said were illegally selling Juuls and other e-cigarettes to minors. The FDA found the retailers by conducting what it called "a nationwide, undercover blitz.""Let me be clear to retailers," Gottlieb, then the FDA's commissioner, said in the statement, "this blitz, and resulting actions, should serve as notice that we will not tolerate the sale of any tobacco products to youth."April 2018: Wall Street analysts warn that Juul is starting to encroach on Big Tobacco's financial terrain and could negatively affect Altria stock.A close-up view of cigarettes on June 10, 2015 in Bristol, England. Health campaigners have asked for a levy on the tobacco industry to help fund anti-smoking measuresMatt Cardy/Getty ImagesIn a research note, Citigroup analysts warned investors that the Juul was beginning to disrupt tobacco stocks.The note suggested that the rise of the Juul could bode poorly for tobacco companies — including Altria, British American Tobacco, and Imperial Brands — as sales were falling faster than expected."The US tobacco market is beginning to be disrupted by Juul," the analysts wrote, adding, "We don't expect underlying cigarette trends to improve much in the rest of 2018."May 2018: Juul doubles its staff to 400 people.Pax LabsJune 2018: San Francisco bans flavored e-cigs like the Juul, prompting an endorsement from Michael Bloomberg.An ad from the California Department of Public Health supporting San Francisco's ballot measure to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes like Juul.California Department of Public HealthBloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies, called the move "an important step forward for public health" and said it should embolden other cities and states to follow suit.July 8, 2018: Wall Street analysts say Juul is reviving the formerly comatose e-cig market, which had been slumping since 2014.AP Photo/Craig MitchelldyerIn a research note, Morgan Stanley analysts credited Juul with "driving a revival in the US e-cig market," adding that sales of Juul devices "accounted for almost the entire incremental increase in US e-cig sales as a percent of total cigarette and e-cigarette sales in the last year."July 10, 2018: Juul raises $1.2 billion in a round that values the company at more than $16 billion, according to PitchBook.Bowen and Monsees at the Hotel Tortue in December 2018 for Juul's launch in Germany.Getty Images / Picture AllianceThe seven investors in the round included a maker of marijuana therapeutics, called Applied Biosciences, along with the the venture firm Bracket Capital, the hedge funds Darsana Capital and E Squared Capital, the investment giant Fidelity, the angel investor Sand Hill, and Tiger, according to PitchBook.Aug. 21, 2018: Israel bans Juul products, calling them a 'grave risk to public health' because of their high nicotine content.A package of the Juul device and flavored Juul nicotine Pods.JUUL LabsIn a statement, Israel's Health Ministry said it's banning the sale and import of Juul devices because they contained more than 20 milligrams per milliliter of nicotine and presented "a grave risk to public health," Reuters reported.Sept. 11, 2018: The FDA deepens its crackdown on Juul and other e-cig makers.FDA commissioner Scott GottliebReutersIn a statement, then-Commissioner Gottlieb said the FDA was working on creating a system to "properly regulate" e-cigarettes like the Juul.He said the aim was twofold: make e-cigarettes available as a less-dangerous alternative for adult smokers, but also keep them out of the hands of young people.Oct. 2, 2018: The FDA surprises Juul at its headquarters and seizes 'thousands of pages of documents' as part of an investigation into its marketing practices.Reuters/Ronen ZvulunThe agency was running an investigation into whether Juul marketed its products to teens, CNBC said.The visit was an extension of the FDA's request in April for materials related to how Juul presented its products and whether they were designed to appeal to kids, according to CNBC.Oct. 2018: Juul surges in popularity, now accounting for over 70% of the US e-cigarette market, according to Nielsen data.Reuters / Brendan McDermidNov. 13, 2018: Juul stops selling its sweet and fruity flavors at stores, making those varieties only available online.Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderJuul says it will temporarily stop selling its flavored e-cigarettes in stores.The move comes on the heels of a similar ban on flavored e-cigs that the city of San Francisco enacted over the summer.Researchers nearly unanimously praised the move, which they say could help protect young people by making the products less appealing and harder to purchase. Juul's flavored varieties will still be sold online, the company says.Nov. 15, 2018: The FDA announces plans to curb flavored e-cig sales after reports that youth vaping has ballooned 78%.A high-school student vaping near a school campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Associated Press2018: The Federal Trade Commission begins investigating whether Juul marketed its products to minors.Members of the Federal Trade Commission.REUTERS/ Leah MillisThe Federal Trade Commission began looking into Juul's use of influencers and other marketing tools to appeal to young people, The Wall Street Journal reported in August 2019.According to The Journal, the FTC's investigation began before it started reviewing a deal between Juul and the Marlboro maker, Altria, in December 2018.Dec. 20, 2018: Altria buys 35% of Juul for $12.8 billion, bumping Juul's valuation to $38 billion. Gottlieb accuses both companies of backing away from pledges to curb youth vaping.Packs of Marlboro cigarettes on sale.REUTERS/Brian SnyderIn what the Silicon Valley Business Journal called "the biggest investment ever in a US venture-backed company," Marlboro and the Parliament cigarette maker, Altria, paid $12.8 billion for a third of Juul. That gave Altria more combustible-cigarette market share than the next seven brands combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Juul, which had an annual revenue of about $2 billion at the time, also received a $2 billion bonus from Altria to distribute among its 1,500 employees, CNBC reported. That would have been about $1.3 million a person.On the heels of the deal, Gottlieb called out both companies, saying they were backing away from previous pledges to fight teen vaping. March 5, 2019: In a surprise announcement, Gottlieb announces he's leaving his post as FDA commissioner.FILE PHOTO: U.S. Food and Drug Commissioner Gottlieb attends interview at Reuters HQ in New YorkThomson ReutersGottlieb, a well-liked figure who spent just two years steering the country's top food and drug regulator, said he was leaving in a month to spend more time with his family in Connecticut.The commissioner had made a name for himself as both a vocal critic of e-cigarette startups like Juul and a speedy approver of new pharmaceutical drugs.In a resignation letter, Gottlieb wrote that one of his accomplishments at the FDA was taking actions against "bad actors that put Americans at risk."March 13, 2019: Gottlieb announces a crackdown on flavored e-cig sales.Reuters / Mike SegarRoughly a week after announcing his departure from the FDA, Gottlieb released a plan to crack down on flavored e-cigarette sales at gas stations, pharmacies, and convenience stores. The plan would also crack down on websites without buffers against youth purchases, such as age-verification software or quantity limits.April 3, 2019: The FDA says it's looking into a 'potential safety issue' related to seizures tied to vaping.ShutterstockIn a statement, Gottlieb said his agency had seen reports suggesting that a small number of e-cigarette users (35 cases from 2010 to early 2019) had experienced seizures after vaping.By August, the FDA said it had received 127 reports — but noted that the new figure might simply mean more people were coming forward, not necessarily that cases were increasing.Gottlieb also noted that seizures were known as possible side effects of nicotine poisoning and said the agency would continue exploring whether there was a connection.April 8, 2019: Democrats in the US Senate launch an investigation into Juul's deal with Altria as well as its social media and advertising practices.Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.Sergio Flores/Getty ImagesEleven Democratic senators, including the party whip Dick Durbin and the presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, wrote a letter to Juul demanding that the company answer questions about its advertising practices and its deal with Altria, CNBC reported.June 13, 2019: The US House of Representatives announces an investigation of Juul's marketing and the Altria deal.Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are sworn in on the House floor January 3, 2017.Jonathan Ernst/ReutersHouse Democrats launch their own investigation into Juul, Fortune reports.July 16, 2019: Juul's CEO apologizes to parents of teens addicted to its vaping products.CBS This MorningIn a CNBC documentary, Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns issued an apology to parents of teens who were addicted to the company's vaping products."First of all, I'd tell them that I'm sorry that their child's using the product," Burns said.July 25, 2019: Officials in Wisconsin warn of eight cases of severe lung disease in teens who'd vaped. It's unclear what kinds of products or substances are involved.Simah Herman, 18, on September 19 with a photo of her former vaping devices in Los Angeles. Herman was in a medically induced coma and treated for pneumonia and lung-disease from vaping.Reuters / Lucy NicholsonIn July, Wisconsin's chief medical officer wrote a memo to healthcare providers warning them about a cluster of sick adolescents who had used e-cigarettes. Chest X-rays of the teens revealed similarities in lung damage, he says. The following month, the CDC released an emergency notice about 30 cases of vaping-related lung illness in Wisconsin. In mid-August, officials reported the first death tied to vaping-related lung illness: an adult in Illinois. By September, the CDC and the FDA said there had been 530 confirmed and probable cases of the mystery illness since June. Seven people died. The investigation is ongoing, and officials have yet to find a substance or brand that's common among all the cases.Aug. 16, 2019: Juul raises $785 million in equity and debt financing from Proioxis Ventures, according to PitchBook.Melia Robinson/Business InsiderThe funds will be used to speed Juul's expansion overseas, according to PitchBook. The figure brings the company to $14.2 billion in funds raised.Aug. 29, 2019: Bloomberg says Juul devices were involved in three reports of seizures linked to vaping.Brendan McDermid / ReutersIn three reports submitted to the FDA, people said they or their children had used a Juul before experiencing seizures, Bloomberg News reported. Bloomberg obtained the reports through a public records request.In two of the three reports, the FDA wasn't able to officially confirm that a Juul device was involved, according to Bloomberg.Aug. 29, 2019: Juul's CEO warns people against using Juuls and says vaping's long-term health effects are unknown.Juul's new CEO, Kevin Burns.Juul/YouTubeIn an interview with CBS, Burns said anyone who wasn't already using nicotine, the addictive drug in Juul, should not start."Don't vape. Don't use Juul," Burns told CBS.Sept. 9, 2019: The FDA slams Juul for portraying its e-cigs as 'totally safe' and marketing them to kids at schools.An ad showing a plate of food suggesting that users "save room for Juul."JuulIn a warning letter, the FDA said Juul wrongly painted its e-cigarettes, known in the industry as ENDS, as safer than cigarettes and marketed them intentionally to young people."Referring to your ENDS products as '99% safer' than cigarettes, 'much safer' than cigarettes, 'totally safe,' and 'a safer alternative than smoking cigarettes' is particularly concerning because these statements were made directly to children in school," the FDA letter said."Our concern is amplified by the epidemic rate of increase in youth use of ENDS products, including Juul's products," the letter added.Sept. 17, 2019: Juul sales are halted in China for unclear reasons.An employee at a Tmall logistics center in Suzhou, China.Thomson ReutersA selection of flavored Juul products that went up for sale on two online Chinese marketplaces, JD.com and Tmall, were removed within a week, The Wall Street Journal reported. Both retailers declined to say why.Juul had long been planning to launch in China, where more than 300 million people smoke, according to the World Health Organization. Its nicotine refills, or Juul Pods, are manufactured in Shenzhen, China.Sept. 18, 2019: India bans vaping, citing the "impact of e-cigarettes on the youth."Reuters / Neil HallIndia outlawed the production, sale, import, and advertising of e-cigarettes, citing the need to stop the "impact of e-cigarettes on the youth," BuzzFeed News reported. Penalties include jail time and fines of up to $7,000.Juul had been planning to launch in India, home to more than 106 million smokers — second only to China — by the end of 2019.Sept. 23, 2019: The US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into Juul.REUTERS/Ronen ZvulunThe Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors in the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California were conducting a criminal investigation of Juul. Further details, such as the focus of the investigation, were not available, and Juul didn't respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.Several other investigations are ongoing, including an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission focusing on whether Juul marketed to teens and an FDA investigation focused on marketing, outreach, and Juul's uniquely high nicotine content.Sept. 24, 2019: Juul reportedly prepares to scale back its staff.A woman exhaling a puff of vapor from a Juul e-cigarette.Associated Press / Craig MitchelldyerJuul began preparing to restructure its staff as it faced slower sales resulting from increasing reports about the mysterious vaping-related lung illness, the proposed US ban on flavored e-cigarettes, and a variety of other investigations, The Wall Street Journal reported.The company employs roughly 3,900 people, according to The Journal, up from the 200 it had in 2017.For now, Juul plans to hire less aggressively and start outlining plans to cut some jobs, according to The Journal, but will still continue to expand. Sept. 25, 2019: CEO Kevin Burns steps down and is replaced by longtime tobacco executive K.C. Crosthwaite.Former Juul CEO Kevin Burns.CBS This MorningCrosthwaite was most recently chief growth officer at Altria, and has worked in tobacco for more than 20 years.In announcing the change, Juul also said it would suspend US advertising and some lobbying efforts. Crosthwaite said he would "strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate."Oct. 7, 2019: A crop of school districts across three states sues Juul.ShutterstockFour school districts sue Juul in what appears to be the beginning of a trend.The districts include Three Village Central in New York, La Conner in Washington, Olathe in Kansas, and Francis Howell in Missouri. In separate suits filed on Monday, the districts argue that Juul created a public nuisance by intentionally marketing to kids; misrepresenting its products' nicotine content; and endangering teens' health, according to public documents that Business Insider viewed.Cindy Ormsby, an attorney for the Missouri case, told the Riverfront Times that the Francis Howell lawsuit is "part of a coordinated package of litigation filed by school districts across the country, each dealing with a similar crisis of students addicted to nicotine." In September, Kansas City school district Goddard became one of the first to announce that it was preparing a lawsuit against Juul.The lawsuits seek unspecified damages and legal fees.Oct. 17, 2019: Juul extends its ban on sweet and fruity flavors to include online sales.SRITAJuul announces that it is stopping online sales of its mango, fruit, cucumber, and cream varieties. Last fall, the company temporarily banned sales of those varieties in stores. As of Oct. 17, those flavors can't be purchased in-person or online.In a statement, Juul says it "will continue to develop scientific evidence to support the use of these flavored products."Oct. 28, 2019: Juul reportedly plans to cut 500 jobs before year's end. Its chief marketing officer departs the following day.Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty ImagesJuul looks to eliminate roughly 500 jobs by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reports.The cuts are part of a company-wide reorganization effort, according to the journal, and will involve anywhere between 10-15% of Juul's total workforce. "As the vapor category undergoes a necessary reset, this reorganization will help Juul Labs focus on reducing underage use, investing in scientific research, and creating new technologies while earning a license to operate in the US and around the world," KC Crosthwaite, Juul's new CEO, said in an emailed statement provided to Business Insider.The following day, the Journal reports that Juul's chief marketing officer is departing."Craig Brommers, an incredibly talented marketing executive, has asked to transition out of Juul Labs in the coming months so that he can pursue opportunities with other companies," a Juul spokesperson told the Journal.The spokesperson also said that as a result of Brommer's departure, the CMO position would be cut.Oct. 29, 2019: Juul names a new chief financial officer after its existing CFO asks to leave.Smith Collection/Gado/Getty ImagesJuul appoints Guy Cartwright its new chief financial officer after CFO Tim Danaher asks to leave the company, the Wall Street Journal reports.Cartwright previously served as managing director of the investment firm TowerBrook Capital Partners LP, and joined Juul in July, according to the Journal. Danaher had served as Juul's CFO since 2014.Oct. 31, 2019: Marlboro maker Altria, which owns a third of Juul, slashes the value of its stake in the company. Juul is now valued at $24 billion instead of $38 billion.Justin Sullivan / Getty ImagesMarlboro maker Altria, which last December purchased a 35% stake in Juul for $12.8 billion, cuts the value of its investment in the company by $4.5 billion.The move reveals that Juul is now worth $24 billion, down from $38 billion.On a conference call, Altria cited unexpected market shifts like regulatory crackdowns abroad and a proposed US flavor ban."We're not pleased to have to take an impairment charge on the Juul investment," Altria CEO Howard Willard said on the call. "We did not anticipate this dramatic a change in the e-vapor category," he added.November 7, 2019: Juul stops selling mint flavored options, leaving only menthol and tobacco flavored refillable cartridges.A screenshot shows 2015 advertising for Juul products displayed in a print magazineReutersJuul announces it will stop selling mint-flavored refillable cartridges, or Juul pods. In a press release, the company said it would immediately stop accepting orders for the mint-flavored pods from retail partners and stop selling mint-flavored pods online.According to the release, Juul's decision was based partially on new research  which suggested that mint and mango were the most popular flavors among high school students who Juul."These results are unacceptable," Juul Labs CEO KC Crosthwaite said in the release, adding, "that is why we must reset the vapor category in the US and earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, Attorneys General, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use."2020: Amid the pandemic, Juul lays off 40% of its workforce in April, 2020. It then lays off over half of its remaining staff, resulting in about a further 1,000 employees being cut.Shopkeepers stand inside a Juul shop at a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 30, 2019.REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana2021: By 2021, Altria slashes its valuation for Juul to $5 billion, while Juul itself asserts it was worth $10 billion. Two years prior, the company was valued at $38 billion.A hand with a cigarette is seen in front of displayed logos of Philip Morris and Altria in this picture illustrationReutersSeptember 30, 2021: The CDC and FDA releases a study that finds that over 2 million middle-and-high-school students in the US were using e-cigarettes.Eva Hambach/Getty ImagesThe study found that eight in 10 of those students used flavored e-cigarettes."These data highlight the fact that flavored e-cigarettes are still extremely popular with kids," said Mitch Seller, the director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "And we are equally disturbed by the quarter of high school students who use e-cigarettes and say they vape every single day."February, 2022: A judge rules that Altria can keep its investment in Juul.FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2018, file photo Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York. The company that makes Marlboro cigarettes will take a $4.1 billion hit from its investment in Juul. Altria took a 35% stake in the e-cigarette company at the end of 2018 at a cost of almost $13 billion. The Richmond, Va., company on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 cited burgeoning legal cases that it expects to grow. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)Associated PressAn administrative judge ruled that Altria didn't break antitrust laws by taking a 35% stake in Juul. The Federal Trade Commission had sued in 2019, and can still appeal the ruling. June 23, 2022: The FDA bans Juul from selling and distributing its e-cigarette products in the US, and also orders that all products currently in the market be removed.Markets InsiderAltria's stock plunged 10% on news of the ban. The FDA did briefly prohibit Juul products in the US, though an appeal of the decision forced the agency to put its decision on hold.December 6, 2022: Juul agrees to settle roughly 5,000 lawsuits that accused the company of marketing its products to teens and children.Julia NaftulinJuul got an equity investment to pay for the settlement costs, though the financial terms were not disclosed, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.January 25, 2023: Juul executives were in discussions with major tobacco companies, including Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco, and Altria, the Wall Street Journal reported.Close-up of logo for e-cigarette or vape company Juul on glass window of convenience store in San Ramon, California, December 6, 2019.Smith Collection/Gado/Getty ImagesThe talks included multiple possibilities, including an outright sale of Juul as well as strategic investments and licensing and distribution deals, the Journal reported.April 12, 2023: Juul reached a $462 million settlement with states including New York and California, ending allegations that Juul targeted young consumers with its marketing.JUUL FacebookThe settlement marked an end to the biggest portions of Juul's legal troubles, the New York Times reported. With the news, Juul had reached settlements with 47 states and territories as well as 5,000 individuals and local governments, per the Times.July 19, 2023: Juul reportedly seeks FDA approval for a new device that it says avoids problems that the agency had previously identified with its productsANDREW KELLY/ReutersThe new high-tech device "has age-verification capabilities and prevents the use of counterfeit or unauthorized third-party refill cartridges," the Wall Street Journal reported. The pen is already for sale in Canada and the UK, according to the Journal."Juul said it is taking a 'shots-on-goal' approach to its FDA submissions, presenting a range of products to regulators in the hopes that at least some of them pass muster," per the Journal.   Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 19th, 2023

Tesla history"s most important moments, from its founders" launch to bringing EVs mainstream

Take a tour through Tesla's history from Silicon Valley startup to the world's most valuable car company. Tesla Model 3.Tesla Tesla has been a public company since seven years after its founding.  Tesla closed out its first day of trading 13 years ago with a market cap of $2.22 billion. The carmaker put electric cars on the map.  Since the Tesla IPO in June of 2010, Elon Musk's electric-car company has contended with high highs and low lows. And through all the twists and turns, Tesla managed to put electric vehicles on the map and become the most valuable car company on the planet. Tesla's journey from fledgling startup to EV juggernaut hasn't always been smooth sailing. While the company has notched plenty of achievements, it's also experienced its fair share of setbacks. Here's a breakdown of the company's most defining moments since its founding. 2003Martin Eberhard.Paul Sakuma/ AP PhotoIn July, Tesla Motors is founded by a group of Silicon Valley engineers. While Elon Musk, Tesla's current CEO, has led Tesla for the majority of its existence, he wasn't always at the helm of the company. Tesla, named after the famous physicist Nikola Tesla, was incorporated in 2003 by two engineers, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Later co-founders included JB Straubel, Ian Wright, and Musk. Eberhard served as CEO until August 2007, and left the company shortly thereafter. 2004Musk in 2006.Joanne Ho-Young Lee/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty ImagesIn February, Musk led the company's Series A funding round in 2004, contributing $6.5 million and joining Tesla's board as chairman. 2006In August, Musk published a blog post entitled "The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)" in which he laid out Tesla's long-term mission: to help transition the world away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. "Some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution." 2007Ze'ev Drori.Robert Galbraith/ReutersIn November, Tesla announced Ze'ev Drori would take the helm at Tesla at the end of November. An Israeli engineer and tech veteran, Drori was tasked with bringing Tesla's first car, the Roadster, to market by the first quarter of 2008.  2008The Tesla Roadster.TeslaIn February, Tesla's first Roadster was delivered.Drori managed to bring the Roadster into production on time and the first vehicle was delivered to Musk, who was serving as the company's chairman at the time. To celebrate the occasion, Musk jumped in the Roadster and led four other prototype Roadsters packed with engineers down Highway 101 and University Avenue in Palo Alto, California. By mid-March, the company had met its goal of getting regular production of the Roadster up and running. At the time, Drori referred to the event as a "milestone for the company and a watershed for the new era of electric vehicles."Tesla produced the Roadster, which priced at $109,000, until January 2012 and in total sold 2,450 of them.By October, Tesla was feeling pressure created by the financial crisis. "The global financial system has gone through the worst crisis since the Great Depression, and the effects are only beginning to wind their way through every facet of the economy. It's not an understatement to say that nearly every business will be impacted by what has unfolded in the past weeks, and this is true for Silicon Valley as well," Musk said at the time.Musk announced he would be taking over the company and that there would be layoffs. He also pushed the launch date of the Model S sedan, Tesla's next vehicle, from 2010 to mid-2011. By November, the company's financial situation had worsened and Tesla was on the brink of bankruptcy. To help restore Tesla's coffers and speed up Roadster production, the company's board of directors approved $40 million in convertible debt financing."Even then, we only narrowly survived...We actually closed the financing round on Christmas Eve 2008. It was the last hour of the last day that it was possible," Musk said in 2015. 2009Musk and the Model S.Fred Prouser/ReutersTesla unveiled its second car, the Model S, in March 2009 in Hawthorne, California at the SpaceX headquarters.  By May 12, 2009, Tesla had already surpassed 1,000 reservations for the Model S.   The $40 million in financing helped get Tesla through its darkest hour, but the company needed more resources to further develop its battery technology. Tesla and Daimler had already been in partnership for about a year working on an electric Smartcar. But by May, Daimler made a long-term bet on Tesla by taking a 10 percent stake in the company. The two companies agreed to work together on developing battery and electric drive systems.In June 2009, Tesla also received a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy, which it repaid by May 2013. 2010CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk waves after ringing the opening bell at the NASDAQ market in celebration of his company's initial public offering in New York June 29, 2010.REUTERS/Brendan McDermidTesla goes public. Tesla offered 13.3 million shares at $17 per share. The company raised $226.1 million. Shares closed at $23.89, valuing Tesla at $2.2 billion. 2011In October 2011, Tesla showed off a near-production version of the Model S to about 3,000 early reservation holders. Musk revealed that the vehicle would get 320 miles per charge and go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. "The oil companies said electric cars can't work, but the truth is, they don't want them to work. But here it is. They would say this car is the equivalent of a unicorn. Well, tonight you had the opportunity to ride a unicorn," Musk said at the event. 2012The Model X.Alex Davies / Business InsiderJust a few months later, Musk unveiled a Model X prototype, the company's first SUV. The vehicle's most novel feature was its falcon-wing doors. By February 2012, the company had amassed advance sales of more than $40 million. At the time of its reveal, Tesla aimed to have the Model X in production by 2014. However, it wouldn't actually enter production until the end of 2015. In a major milestone, Tesla started delivering the Model S to customers in June 2012.The first Model S off the production line went to none other than venture capitalist and Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson, complete with a telltale personalized "TSLA S1" California license plate. Jurvetson stunned an early 2009 Tesla board meeting by pulling a blank check from his wallet and filling it out on the spot to reserve the very first Model S to come off the line.Doing so, he even beat Tesla CEO Elon Musk to the punch. Musk drives the first production Tesla Roadster, but he is apparently relegated to Model S # 002 2014Tesla MotorsTesla announced its plans to build its giant battery factory, dubbed the Tesla Gigafactory, in February 2014 and ultimately decided to built it in Sparks, Nevada. The original site was 1,000 acres, but in June 2015 the company purchased an additional 1,864 acres of adjacent land.April 2015The "Powerwall."AP Photo/Ringo H.W. ChiuTesla reveals the Powerwall, a giant rechargeable battery for your home, and its Powerpack, a battery for commercial use.Tesla made a big push into energy when it unveiled the Powerpack and Powerwall at an event in Hawthorne, California in 2015.Musk said that batteries were the "missing piece" of Tesla's business model and claimed that 160 million Powerpacks could power the United States.The company followed up in a statement on its website declaring that "Tesla is not just an automotive company it's an energy innovation company."September 2015Tesla had originally planned to launch its Model X SUV in late 2013 or early 2014, but production delays forced the company to push back deliveries by almost two years. The vehicle's highly-specialized features, like its signature doors made it complicated to manufacture on a mass scale. October 2015Autopilot.YouTube/TeslaTesla began rolling a software update that activated its new advance driver-assistance system, Autopilot. Since late 2014, Tesla had included the necessary radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors to make Autopilot work. With Autopilot switched on, a Model S could automatically stay centered in its lane and brake and accelerate to keep up with traffic. These remain the basic functions of Autopilot.  March 2016Tesla Model 3TeslaMusk unveiled the much-anticipated Model 3 on March 31, 2016. He announced that the car would get 215 miles or more per charge and go from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds. Tesla planed a starting price of $35,000, though that price point was never widely available. May 2016National Transportation Safety BoardThe first fatal Autopilot accident occurred in May 2016, but word didn't get out about the incident until more than a month later. On June 30, government regulators revealed they were looking into a tie between the fatal accident and Tesla's Autopilot feature. Tesla issued a statement calling the incident a "tragic loss."According to Tesla's statement, the Model S was driving down a divided highway when a tractor-trailer cut across the highway perpendicular to the vehicle. "Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S," Tesla said. June 2016The company made a $2.6 billion bid to acquire SolarCity, a solar installation company run by Musk's cousin. Not surprisingly, the SolarCity deal was controversial from the start, primarily because SolarCity was about $3 billion in debt and the deal was seen as a bailout. Further complicating the matter, Musk was also the chairman of the company. July 2016In 2016, Musk revealed the second part of the Tesla master plan, which outlined four key goals: 1. Develop "stunning" solar roofs that seamlessly integrate with Tesla's battery storage.2. Roll out more affordable vehicles "to address all major segments."3. Advance its self-driving technology so that it is "ten times safer" than manual driving. 4. Roll out a car-sharing program that enables Tesla owners to make money by renting out their autonomous car. Over the years, Musk has repeatedly touted Tesla's plans for self-driving vehicles that can earn their owners passive income. But this robotaxi vision is still a long way off. November 2016Musk made it clear in early 2016 that automation was the future for Tesla. During a shareholder meeting in June, Musk said that he saw a huge opportunity in "building the machine that makes the machine." So it wasn't all that surprising when Tesla announced it was buying Grohmann Engineering, a German firm that specializes in designing systems for manufacturing automation. Tesla also closed its Tesla-SolarCity deal in November 2016.Some Tesla shareholders alleged that the deal amounted to a bailout that unfairly enriched Musk's family, sparking off a lengthy legal battle. Musk won the case in April.  February 2017Musk and the new Tesla logoAPIn 2017, the automaker dropped the "motors" from its name in a move meant to reflect the fact that Tesla no longer just sold cars.  July 2017The Model 3.TeslaTesla held its Model 3 launch in July 2017.  The first cars went to Musk and Tesla employees. Getting the Model 3 — a more affordable, mass-produced vehicle — to market was crucial for Tesla to grow its reach to become profitable. What ensued was months of "Tesla production hell" as Tesla ramped up output to thousands of cars per week. November 2017The Semi.TeslaAt an event at Tesla's Hawthorne, California, facility, the automaker showed off its Semi truck concept. With a center-mounted seat, the Tesla truck promised a range of 500 miles and a 400-mile range after 30 minutes of charging. Musk even claimed it would have self-driving capabilities, The Verge reported.The Semi has been delayed multiple times, but Tesla now says it will go into production in 2023. At the Tesla Semi's unveiling, the company also took the opportunity to tease another future product: the new Roadster. Tesla claimed the $200,000 sports car would hit 60 mph in just 1.9 seconds. After delays, it's set to go into production in 2023. February 2018SpaceX via Getty ImagesIn February 2018, the rocket company SpaceX, another Musk venture, launched its founder's Tesla Roadster into space during a test launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket. A dummy dubbed "Starman," wearing a SpaceX spacesuit, was strapped into the driver's seat.  The car is currently orbiting the Sun. August 2018Musk tweeted that he is "considering taking Tesla private at $420" a share.He also said that he'd "secured" funding. The tweet would kick off an SEC investigation into Musk's tweeting habit. September 2018The SEC charged Musk with making "false and misleading statements" about taking Tesla private.The SEC accused Musk of misleading the public, claiming that he knew he didn't have a deal to take Tesla private. Eventually, the two settled. Musk had to step down as the chairman of Tesla's board of directors. Both he and Tesla were fined $20 million. The agreement stipulated that, going forward, Tesla lawyers needed to approve any of Musk's tweets containing material information about the company. March 2019Tesla Model YTesla Motors/Handout via ReutersThe automaker unveiled the Tesla Model Y, its fourth vehicle. Tesla said the Model Y would be able to travel 300 miles on a charge and seat seven people. October 2019Tesla became the first western automaker to own a factory in China without a joint venture. The factory, located in Shanghai, would help Tesla better supply the world's largest car market with its most popular vehicle, the Model 3. November 2019Tesla CybertruckReutersMusk unveiled the Cybertruck at an event on November 21, 2019. Tesla said the radically designed truck would be able to tow 14,000 pounds and travel 500 miles on a single charge.All did not go off without a hitch, though, as a demonstration meant to show the strength of the "armored" glass used in the Tesla truck left two huge cracks in it. The Cybertruck was supposed to be on sale already. Now Tesla says it'll hit streets in 2023. It's been beat to market by electric pickups from Ford, General Motors, and Rivian Automotive. 2020In March, Tesla started delivering the Model Y SUV to customers just as the global pandemic hit the US.In June, he Tesla Model S Long Range Plus achieved an EPA-rated range of 402 miles, making it the first EV to do so. The company achieved this through cutting down on weight and maximizing regenerative braking.The Model S has since been beat by the Air, a sedan from the California startup Lucid Motors. But the Model S is still one of the longest-range electric cars you can buy today. In July after burning through cash for years, Tesla hit its stride and started turning a consistent profit. The feat teed it up for being added to the S&P 500 index later that year. In December, Tesla delivered 499,550 vehicles in 2020, just shy of its goal of half a million units.  2021Tesla Model S Plaid.TeslaAmid a cryptocurrency gold rush, Tesla bought bitcoin worth $1.5 billion in January of 2021. It said it planned to accept the currency as a payment for Tesla cars, but that didn't last long. The value of bitcoin has plummeted in recent months, meaning Tesla's crypto bet is likely under water. Tesla had announced the Model S Plaid at an event in September 2020. And by June of 2021, started shipping it to customers. Tesla's fastest car and most powerful vehicle ever, the Plaid has three motors that propel it to 60 mph in a claimed 1.99 seconds.The Plaid cost is now at $135,990. Tesla's share price skyrocketed for the better part of 2020 and 2021 as the company proved its profitability and grew sales. In October 2021, as its share price crested $1,000, Tesla's market cap surged past $1 trillion. It joined powerhouses like Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft. After announcing the move in October, Tesla headquarters officially moved out of Silicon Valley to Austin, Texas in December 2021. Musk also moved to Texas, where SpaceX's launch site is. 2022Texas Giga factorySUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty ImagesIn March after months of bureaucratic delays and environmental protests, Tesla kicked off production at its new factory near Berlin in March. Tesla is building Model Y SUVs there for the European market. In April, Tesla opened its Austin, Texas, Gigafactory.Mere weeks after opening its third vehicle plant in Germany, Tesla opened a fourth, marking the occasion with a "Cyber Rodeo" party. The company makes the Model Y there. It also plans to eventually build the Cybertruck pickup at the sprawling facility. In June amid a broader economic downturn, Musk outlined plans to for Tesla layoffs, cutting 10% of salaried staff. In October, Tesla faced a criminal investigation into its "self-driving" claims, sources said.Tesla's claims that its cars can drive themselves, which it calls "full self-driving capabilities," had been under investigation by the US Department of Justice since 2021, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The investigation could lead to criminal charges.In December, Tesla began delivering its electric Semi truck.2023In an April open letter, a group of 17 Tesla investors asked the board to rein in Elon Musk's attention, which they suggested had become too scattered across his various other companies.In May, Elon Musk announced in an interview with Ford CEO Jim Farley that the Supercharger network of roughly 12,000 chargers will become available to the owners of Ford electric vehicles through a Tesla partnership.That same month, Tesla's Model Y sales outsold all other vehicles in the first quarter of 2023, according to estimates from JATO Dynamics, marking the first time it happened for Tesla and for any EV.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 22nd, 2023

Tesla history"s most important moments, from its founders to bringing EVs mainstream

Take a tour through Tesla's history from Silicon Valley startup to the world's most valuable car company. Tesla Model 3.Tesla Tesla has been a public company since seven years after its founding.  Tesla closed out its first day of trading 13 years ago with a market cap of $2.22 billion. The carmaker put electric cars on the map.  Since the Tesla IPO in June of 2010, Elon Musk's electric-car company has contended with high highs and low lows. And through all the twists and turns, Tesla managed to put electric vehicles on the map and become the most valuable car company on the planet. Tesla's journey from fledgling startup to EV juggernaut hasn't always been smooth sailing. While the company has notched plenty of achievements, it's also experienced its fair share of setbacks. Here's a breakdown of the company's most defining moments since its founding. 2003Martin Eberhard.Paul Sakuma/ AP PhotoIn July, Tesla Motors is founded by a group of Silicon Valley engineers. While Elon Musk, Tesla's current CEO, has led Tesla for the majority of its existence, he wasn't always at the helm of the company. Tesla, named after the famous physicist Nikola Tesla, was incorporated in 2003 by two engineers, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Later co-founders included JB Straubel, Ian Wright, and Musk. Eberhard served as CEO until August 2007, and left the company shortly thereafter. 2004Musk in 2006.Joanne Ho-Young Lee/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty ImagesIn February, Musk led the company's Series A funding round in 2004, contributing $6.5 million and joining Tesla's board as chairman. 2006In August, Musk published a blog post entitled "The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)" in which he laid out Tesla's long-term mission: to help transition the world away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. "Some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution." 2007Ze'ev Drori.Robert Galbraith/ReutersIn November, Tesla announced Ze'ev Drori would take the helm at Tesla at the end of November. An Israeli engineer and tech veteran, Drori was tasked with bringing Tesla's first car, the Roadster, to market by the first quarter of 2008.  2008The Tesla Roadster.TeslaIn February, Tesla's first Roadster was delivered.Drori managed to bring the Roadster into production on time and the first vehicle was delivered to Musk, who was serving as the company's chairman at the time. To celebrate the occasion, Musk jumped in the Roadster and led four other prototype Roadsters packed with engineers down Highway 101 and University Avenue in Palo Alto, California. By mid-March, the company had met its goal of getting regular production of the Roadster up and running. At the time, Drori referred to the event as a "milestone for the company and a watershed for the new era of electric vehicles."Tesla produced the Roadster, which priced at $109,000, until January 2012 and in total sold 2,450 of them.By October, Tesla was feeling pressure created by the financial crisis. "The global financial system has gone through the worst crisis since the Great Depression, and the effects are only beginning to wind their way through every facet of the economy. It's not an understatement to say that nearly every business will be impacted by what has unfolded in the past weeks, and this is true for Silicon Valley as well," Musk said at the time.Musk announced he would be taking over the company and that there would be layoffs. He also pushed the launch date of the Model S sedan, Tesla's next vehicle, from 2010 to mid-2011. By November, the company's financial situation had worsened and Tesla was on the brink of bankruptcy. To help restore Tesla's coffers and speed up Roadster production, the company's board of directors approved $40 million in convertible debt financing."Even then, we only narrowly survived...We actually closed the financing round on Christmas Eve 2008. It was the last hour of the last day that it was possible," Musk said in 2015. 2009Musk and the Model S.Fred Prouser/ReutersTesla unveiled its second car, the Model S, in March 2009 in Hawthorne, California at the SpaceX headquarters.  By May 12, 2009, Tesla had already surpassed 1,000 reservations for the Model S.   The $40 million in financing helped get Tesla through its darkest hour, but the company needed more resources to further develop its battery technology. Tesla and Daimler had already been in partnership for about a year working on an electric Smartcar. But by May, Daimler made a long-term bet on Tesla by taking a 10 percent stake in the company. The two companies agreed to work together on developing battery and electric drive systems.In June 2009, Tesla also received a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy, which it repaid by May 2013. 2010CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk waves after ringing the opening bell at the NASDAQ market in celebration of his company's initial public offering in New York June 29, 2010.REUTERS/Brendan McDermidTesla goes public. Tesla offered 13.3 million shares at $17 per share. The company raised $226.1 million. Shares closed at $23.89, valuing Tesla at $2.2 billion. 2011In October 2011, Tesla showed off a near-production version of the Model S to about 3,000 early reservation holders. Musk revealed that the vehicle would get 320 miles per charge and go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. "The oil companies said electric cars can't work, but the truth is, they don't want them to work. But here it is. They would say this car is the equivalent of a unicorn. Well, tonight you had the opportunity to ride a unicorn," Musk said at the event. 2012The Model X.Alex Davies / Business InsiderJust a few months later, Musk unveiled a Model X prototype, the company's first SUV. The vehicle's most novel feature was its falcon-wing doors. By February 2012, the company had amassed advance sales of more than $40 million. At the time of its reveal, Tesla aimed to have the Model X in production by 2014. However, it wouldn't actually enter production until the end of 2015. In a major milestone, Tesla started delivering the Model S to customers in June 2012.The first Model S off the production line went to none other than venture capitalist and Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson, complete with a telltale personalized "TSLA S1" California license plate. Jurvetson stunned an early 2009 Tesla board meeting by pulling a blank check from his wallet and filling it out on the spot to reserve the very first Model S to come off the line.Doing so, he even beat Tesla CEO Elon Musk to the punch. Musk drives the first production Tesla Roadster, but he is apparently relegated to Model S # 002 2014Tesla MotorsTesla announced its plans to build its giant battery factory, dubbed the Tesla Gigafactory, in February 2014 and ultimately decided to built it in Sparks, Nevada. The original site was 1,000 acres, but in June 2015 the company purchased an additional 1,864 acres of adjacent land.April 2015The "Powerwall."AP Photo/Ringo H.W. ChiuTesla reveals the Powerwall, a giant rechargeable battery for your home, and its Powerpack, a battery for commercial use.Tesla made a big push into energy when it unveiled the Powerpack and Powerwall at an event in Hawthorne, California in 2015.Musk said that batteries were the "missing piece" of Tesla's business model and claimed that 160 million Powerpacks could power the United States.The company followed up in a statement on its website declaring that "Tesla is not just an automotive company it's an energy innovation company."September 2015Tesla had originally planned to launch its Model X SUV in late 2013 or early 2014, but production delays forced the company to push back deliveries by almost two years. The vehicle's highly-specialized features, like its signature doors made it complicated to manufacture on a mass scale. October 2015Autopilot.YouTube/TeslaTesla began rolling a software update that activated its new advance driver-assistance system, Autopilot. Since late 2014, Tesla had included the necessary radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors to make Autopilot work. With Autopilot switched on, a Model S could automatically stay centered in its lane and brake and accelerate to keep up with traffic. These remain the basic functions of Autopilot.  March 2016Tesla Model 3TeslaMusk unveiled the much-anticipated Model 3 on March 31, 2016. He announced that the car would get 215 miles or more per charge and go from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds. Tesla planed a starting price of $35,000, though that price point was never widely available. May 2016National Transportation Safety BoardThe first fatal Autopilot accident occurred in May 2016, but word didn't get out about the incident until more than a month later. On June 30, government regulators revealed they were looking into a tie between the fatal accident and Tesla's Autopilot feature. Tesla issued a statement calling the incident a "tragic loss."According to Tesla's statement, the Model S was driving down a divided highway when a tractor-trailer cut across the highway perpendicular to the vehicle. "Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S," Tesla said. June 2016The company made a $2.6 billion bid to acquire SolarCity, a solar installation company run by Musk's cousin. Not surprisingly, the SolarCity deal was controversial from the start, primarily because SolarCity was about $3 billion in debt and the deal was seen as a bailout. Further complicating the matter, Musk was also the chairman of the company. July 2016In 2016, Musk revealed the second part of the Tesla master plan, which outlined four key goals: 1. Develop "stunning" solar roofs that seamlessly integrate with Tesla's battery storage.2. Roll out more affordable vehicles "to address all major segments."3. Advance its self-driving technology so that it is "ten times safer" than manual driving. 4. Roll out a car-sharing program that enables Tesla owners to make money by renting out their autonomous car. Over the years, Musk has repeatedly touted Tesla's plans for self-driving vehicles that can earn their owners passive income. But this robotaxi vision is still a long way off. November 2016Musk made it clear in early 2016 that automation was the future for Tesla. During a shareholder meeting in June, Musk said that he saw a huge opportunity in "building the machine that makes the machine." So it wasn't all that surprising when Tesla announced it was buying Grohmann Engineering, a German firm that specializes in designing systems for manufacturing automation. Tesla also closed its Tesla-SolarCity deal in November 2016.Some Tesla shareholders alleged that the deal amounted to a bailout that unfairly enriched Musk's family, sparking off a lengthy legal battle. Musk won the case in April.  February 2017Musk and the new Tesla logoAPIn 2017, the automaker dropped the "motors" from its name in a move meant to reflect the fact that Tesla no longer just sold cars.  July 2017The Model 3.TeslaTesla held its Model 3 launch in July 2017.  The first cars went to Musk and Tesla employees. Getting the Model 3 — a more affordable, mass-produced vehicle — to market was crucial for Tesla to grow its reach to become profitable. What ensued was months of "Tesla production hell" as Tesla ramped up output to thousands of cars per week. November 2017The Semi.TeslaAt an event at Tesla's Hawthorne, California, facility, the automaker showed off its Semi truck concept. With a center-mounted seat, the Tesla truck promised a range of 500 miles and a 400-mile range after 30 minutes of charging. Musk even claimed it would have self-driving capabilities, The Verge reported.The Semi has been delayed multiple times, but Tesla now says it will go into production in 2023. At the Tesla Semi's unveiling, the company also took the opportunity to tease another future product: the new Roadster. Tesla claimed the $200,000 sports car would hit 60 mph in just 1.9 seconds. After delays, it's set to go into production in 2023. February 2018SpaceX via Getty ImagesIn February 2018, the rocket company SpaceX, another Musk venture, launched its founder's Tesla Roadster into space during a test launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket. A dummy dubbed "Starman," wearing a SpaceX spacesuit, was strapped into the driver's seat.  The car is currently orbiting the Sun. August 2018Musk tweeted that he is "considering taking Tesla private at $420" a share.He also said that he'd "secured" funding. The tweet would kick off an SEC investigation into Musk's tweeting habit. September 2018The SEC charged Musk with making "false and misleading statements" about taking Tesla private.The SEC accused Musk of misleading the public, claiming that he knew he didn't have a deal to take Tesla private. Eventually, the two settled. Musk had to step down as the chairman of Tesla's board of directors. Both he and Tesla were fined $20 million. The agreement stipulated that, going forward, Tesla lawyers needed to approve any of Musk's tweets containing material information about the company. March 2019Tesla Model YTesla Motors/Handout via ReutersThe automaker unveiled the Tesla Model Y, its fourth vehicle. Tesla said the Model Y would be able to travel 300 miles on a charge and seat seven people. October 2019Tesla became the first western automaker to own a factory in China without a joint venture. The factory, located in Shanghai, would help Tesla better supply the world's largest car market with its most popular vehicle, the Model 3. November 2019Tesla CybertruckReutersMusk unveiled the Cybertruck at an event on November 21, 2019. Tesla said the radically designed truck would be able to tow 14,000 pounds and travel 500 miles on a single charge.All did not go off without a hitch, though, as a demonstration meant to show the strength of the "armored" glass used in the Tesla truck left two huge cracks in it. The Cybertruck was supposed to be on sale already. Now Tesla says it'll hit streets in 2023. It's been beat to market by electric pickups from Ford, General Motors, and Rivian Automotive. 2020In March, Tesla started delivering the Model Y SUV to customers just as the global pandemic hit the US.In June, he Tesla Model S Long Range Plus achieved an EPA-rated range of 402 miles, making it the first EV to do so. The company achieved this through cutting down on weight and maximizing regenerative braking.The Model S has since been beat by the Air, a sedan from the California startup Lucid Motors. But the Model S is still one of the longest-range electric cars you can buy today. In July after burning through cash for years, Tesla hit its stride and started turning a consistent profit. The feat teed it up for being added to the S&P 500 index later that year. In December, Tesla delivered 499,550 vehicles in 2020, just shy of its goal of half a million units.  2021Tesla Model S Plaid.TeslaAmid a cryptocurrency gold rush, Tesla bought bitcoin worth $1.5 billion in January of 2021. It said it planned to accept the currency as a payment for Tesla cars, but that didn't last long. The value of bitcoin has plummeted in recent months, meaning Tesla's crypto bet is likely under water. Tesla had announced the Model S Plaid at an event in September 2020. And by June of 2021, started shipping it to customers. Tesla's fastest car and most powerful vehicle ever, the Plaid has three motors that propel it to 60 mph in a claimed 1.99 seconds.The Plaid cost is now at $135,990. Tesla's share price skyrocketed for the better part of 2020 and 2021 as the company proved its profitability and grew sales. In October 2021, as its share price crested $1,000, Tesla's market cap surged past $1 trillion. It joined powerhouses like Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft. After announcing the move in October, Tesla headquarters officially moved out of Silicon Valley to Austin, Texas in December 2021. Musk also moved to Texas, where SpaceX's launch site is. 2022Texas Giga factorySUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty ImagesIn March after months of bureaucratic delays and environmental protests, Tesla kicked off production at its new factory near Berlin in March. Tesla is building Model Y SUVs there for the European market. In April, Tesla opened its Austin, Texas, Gigafactory.Mere weeks after opening its third vehicle plant in Germany, Tesla opened a fourth, marking the occasion with a "Cyber Rodeo" party. The company makes the Model Y there. It also plans to eventually build the Cybertruck pickup at the sprawling facility. In June amid a broader economic downturn, Musk outlined plans to for Tesla layoffs, cutting 10% of salaried staff. In October, Tesla faced a criminal investigation into its "self-driving" claims, sources said.Tesla's claims that its cars can drive themselves, which it calls "full self-driving capabilities," had been under investigation by the US Department of Justice since 2021, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The investigation could lead to criminal charges.In December, Tesla began delivering its electric Semi truck.2023In an April open letter, a group of 17 Tesla investors asked the board to rein in Elon Musk's attention, which they suggested had become too scattered across his various other companies.In May, Elon Musk announced in an interview with Ford CEO Jim Farley that the Supercharger network of roughly 12,000 chargers will become available to the owners of Ford electric vehicles through a Tesla partnership.That same month, Tesla's Model Y sales outsold all other vehicles in the first quarter of 2023, according to estimates from JATO Dynamics, marking the first time it happened for Tesla and for any EV.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 22nd, 2023

Transcript: Ramit Sethi

   The transcript from this week’s, Ramit Sethi on Living Richly, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including any podcast extras, on Apple Podcasts, Bloomberg, Spotify, Stitcher, and YouTube. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week… Read More The post Transcript: Ramit Sethi appeared first on The Big Picture.    The transcript from this week’s, Ramit Sethi on Living Richly, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including any podcast extras, on Apple Podcasts, Bloomberg, Spotify, Stitcher, and YouTube. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, what can I say? Ramit Sethi is a fascinating guy with really an amazing and fascinating career, starting out studying psychology and a little bit of finance at Stanford. He started a blog, which eventually became a podcast and a book, and is now a Netflix series. Depending on the platform, it’s either “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” the book, or the Netflix show “How to Get Rich.” And it’s not rich in terms of how to pile up money, but rather how to live a rich life by treating money as a tool to do the things that you want to do. That’s one part financial freedom, one part prioritization of your life, and one part less stress and worries about financial matters. It’s really a very thoughtful and intelligent approach to thinking about spending. And I found the conversation to be really interesting. I’ve chatted with Ramit before. I think he’s really a fascinating guy, and I’m glad we finally managed to get him in to the studio for a podcast. The show on Netflix is really quite interesting, and his just whole approach is intelligent and joyful and really very pleasant as opposed to the usual spending scolds who make money like a drudgery in a bore. He’s not like that at all, which probably accounts for a lot of his success. He makes what is otherwise a potentially challenging subject very interesting. I found this conversation to be delightful, and I think you will also. So, with no further ado, my sit-down with Ramit Sethi teaching you how to live a rich life. Ramit Sethi, Founder and CEO, I Will Teach You to Be Rich: Thanks for having me. RITHOLTZ: Oh, good seeing you again. Good to have you. So, before we get into the Netflix series and the book, let’s talk a little bit about your background. You get a scholarship in high school, you put it in the stock market, and immediately lose half. How do you lose half of your money that quickly? SETHI: Well, everybody thought they were a genius including me in 1999, 2000. Kind of sounds familiar to all of our crypto friends from the last few years. So, I was sitting there reading Industry Standard, remember that magazine? RITHOLTZ: Sure. SETHI: And all these this media about how the stock market was going up 15 percent a week. So… RITHOLTZ: Forever. SETHI: Trees grow to the sky. RITHOLTZ: Yes. SETHI: Always, and so I said, cool, I’m going to get in on this, and I took the first scholarship check which they sent to me, that’s usually not how it works, they usually send it to the school. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: And you know, for a 17-year-old kid, that’s a lot of money I put in the stock market, and I lost half of it within weeks. And in retrospect, that was probably one of the best lessons I ever got. RITHOLTZ: You know, if you step into a casino and the bells and lights go off and you win money, you’re screwed the rest of your life. SETHI: Cause you think you’re a genius. RITHOLTZ: Right, how hard is it? SETHI: So, then I end up going to college. I had other scholarships that paid my way through, which was very fortunate. And I was learning about money, reading all the books, all the magazines, watching the shows, and I was also studying social psychology. So, I was studying human behavior, persuasion, and I was really, it reminded me of that book “The Emperor Has No Clothes” because the advice that we all get about money, for the last 30 plus years, makes no sense if you understand psychology. And that’s when I started to develop my own philosophy. RITHOLTZ: And let’s talk a little bit about that academic study. Stanford BA Information and Society with a minor in psychology, a master’s in social psychology and interpersonal processes. It sounds like you knew exactly what you wanted to do from a fairly early period in your life. SETHI: No, I’m not so sure. I think, you remember that famous Steve Jobs commencement address? RITHOLTZ: The speech, sure. SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Absolutely. SETHI: That was my graduation. RITHOLTZ: Get out. SETHI: Yes. So, he said, you often can’t tell where you’re going until you look backwards, and you connect the dots. RITHOLTZ: Makes sense. SETHI: And I found that to be profoundly true for me when I was in college, I was super interested in why we do the things we do. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: For example, why do we all talk about, you know, I should probably go to the gym a little bit more, but we don’t. I find that profoundly interesting because we sometimes will say it’s about money, it’s about time, but deep down there are deeper reasons and so being at Stanford and being able to study a science technology and society and psychology and sociology, that really allowed me to understand more of why we do what we do. RITHOLTZ: Really, really interesting. I’m trying to remember the date. I think it’s January 19th is when the average New Year’s resolution has been broken. SETHI: Yes, there’s some — you know it’s interesting there’s some nuance, I think, to New Year’s resolutions, I used to be kind of like scornful. Ah, you know, the gym piles up and then it empties out. Now I think I’ll take any opportunity where people are motivated to change. And if it is a 20-year high school reunion, if it’s January 1st, doesn’t matter. RITHOLTZ: Sure. SETHI: Will most people flush out? Probably. But there’s a few who will make it meaningful for them and commit to it. And for me that’s a win. RITHOLTZ: So, I’m skipping ahead a little bit, but you write a lot about instead of focusing on goals focusing on processes, clearly psychology helps there too it’s easy to make a small change in how you do things as opposed to this immense, hey I really want to be jacked for my 20th reunion. SETHI: Yes, one of the most interesting emails I got from my newsletter subscribers was a woman who wrote me and said, you know, you talk about going for a run or going to the gym, and she goes, I have told myself that I want to go for a run five times a week for years, and I never do it, and I just wrote back to her and I said … RITHOLTZ: Go for a walk. SETHI: … why don’t you go once a week? And her response was so fascinating. She said, why would I do that, that will make no difference. I find that extremely fascinating, she would rather — yes, she would rather dream about going five times a week then actually go once a week, and so many of us do this with our money. We’d rather dream about having 10 million then start investing $100 a week. RITHOLTZ: Perfect is the enemy of the good, isn’t it? SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: That’s really fascinating. So, you start the blog in 2004, more or less. SETHI: Yes, while I’m in college. RITHOLTZ: You were an early adopter, as was I. How did that evolve into a book? SETHI: The blog was not some master genius stroke. It was my frustration because– RITHOLTZ: Come on, tell the truth. You’re like, I’m going to blog for 20 years and then Netflix is going to come along. SETHI: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Netflix, which didn’t even exist. RITHOLTZ: By then it was just DVD by mail. SETHI: Yes, so okay, I was trying to teach my friends in college about personal finance. We’d be sitting around the dining halls, someone would be complaining about their fourth overdraft fee, and I would go, hey, you should just come. I have this one-hour presentation I do on money. And they were like… RITHOLTZ: Wait, this is in college you would do this? No kidding. SETHI: Yes, and so they would go, yes, that sounds really cool. And they would never show up. Another fascinating peculiarity of human behavior, when it comes to money events, most people hate them because when they physically go they feel bad, and the older you get, the worse you feel, because you feel, I should have learned this earlier, my friends were 20 years old, and they already felt like they were behind imagine a 45, 55 year old at a 401k seminar, they don’t want to go. So I did this for a year and a half nobody virtually nobody came like 10 people, and I finally said, I was a cocky college kid, I go, you know what the world needs to hear what I know. But they were certainly not listening. So, I started a blog. I said, maybe these lazy college kids will read it from their dorm. And that actually turned out to be exactly right. RITHOLTZ: So, was there ever an actual job out of Stanford or did the blog lead to? SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Tell us about your first gig. SETHI: So, I had some internships in college and then when I graduated, I accepted an offer from Google actually. And they said, you should take some time. You know, you’ve been in school for a long time. I said, yes, I plan to. I’ll be talking to you guys in three months. So, I took the summer off. One of my buddies said, “Hey, I’m starting this thing. Why don’t you start it with me?” So, I started this little collaboration company with my friend. We were co-founders. And it sort of blew up that summer. And I ended up saying to Google, “I really appreciate you guys, but I think I’m going to stick with this.” And I was at that company, which was an online collaboration company, for several years, till about ’09. Meanwhile, I was doing my blog on the side, and it was just getting bigger and bigger. RITHOLTZ: Whatever happened with the collab company? SETHI: It’s still around, it’s still around. RITHOLTZ: There was no big exit, you didn’t ring the bell and say? SETHI: No, there was no exit, we were not here at Bloomberg. It was sort of earlier than Google Docs, and it was a Wiki, now it’s sort of pivoted into B2B. RITHOLTZ: Kind of interesting, so you’re working on the blog since ’04, somewhere along the lines there’s a self-published eBook or something like that? SETHI: Yes, around 06, 07 I said I want to see if anybody on the internet will actually pay for anything, I had not made a cent from the blog. It was just me doing it as a hobby. So, I created this eBook and I decided to sell it for $4.95 cents, and I was very terrified, it’s like any artist who’s ever sold something. RITHOLTZ: Sure. It’s validation. SETHI: Yes, and like what is the world going to think? I had such low confidence that I didn’t even set up a distribution system I just said when the receipt comes in through PayPal, I’ll manually attach it to an email because I thought 50 people would buy it, two interesting things happened first I was terrified of people calling me a sellout because back then to me selling something was sort of the antithesis of creating value and I actually did get called a sellout, I had people who had been reading me for free for years who turned and they said “Oh so it’s I will teach Ramit to be rich.” And that really hurt. When I think back to some of the most painful moments over a 20-year career, that is definitely one. RITHOLTZ: Because everything in the world is free. You should work for free. Media subscription should be free. Nobody should ever pay for anything. SETHI: Correct. And if you do, you’re trying to get one over me. RITHOLTZ: You’re a sellout. I’ll tell you something funny and people you know, we never quite had that accusation, but for the better part of 15 years before I started accepting capital, it was, “Hey, everybody’s telling you how to manage your assets the wrong way. Here, you could do it yourself. Here’s the right way to do it. You could do it. It takes a little discipline, a little time, and very little money. Manage it yourself.” And to my chagrin, people started saying, “Hey, I like the way you think, but I don’t have time for this. You take my money.” “No, no, don’t you understand? This is all about you can do it yourself.” “I’m busy. You do it.” All right, and that’s how a business was born, but I don’t look at that as selling out. I don’t look at what you did as selling out. $5 is not going to kill anybody. SETHI: Exactly, and you know if they didn’t like it I refunded them. That was what was fascinating. RITHOLTZ: Money-back guarantee on the, wow. SETHI: And then the second thing that was fascinating to me was I had a small cadre of very loud vocal people who were angry. But… RITHOLTZ: that’s true on every website. SETHI: Exactly, but the people who bought, I could see their statistics. Their open rates on my emails were quadruple the rate of everybody else. They email me saying, hey, this was great. When are you creating the next thing? I sat there looking at the data, looking at the emails, and I go, wait a minute. There’s something qualitatively different about buyers and non-buyers. That led to the next three or four years of learning how to sell, how to create value, and not worry about selling out, but do it in a very ethical way. Do it my way. RITHOLTZ: And did the eBook eventually lead to “I Will Teach You to be Rich” the book? SETHI: Yes, I think I became more comfortable. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when thinking about writing a book is doing it too early. I waited until I had my philosophy dialed in. I treated my blog like an experimental lab. So, I tested it with different incomes, different industries, different geographies. By the time I wrote it, I knew what I was going to say. And so that came out in March ’09, which actually happens to be the bottom. I’m the bottom. But I remember going around, here we are in Manhattan, I remember going on book tour, and this book came out and a few months before my publishers had sort of sent me a note, are you sure that this information is still relevant because of what’s going on? I go, good information has nothing to do with time. If anything, it’s even more relevant because now low cost, long term investing makes sense, et cetera, et cetera. So, I go on book tour to 13 cities and in every city, I’m sitting in the green room waiting for a news director to come out and they go, we’re not going to talk about investing today. I go, what? And they go, there’s 10 percent unemployment. People just want to know how to get by. And I looked at them and I thought to myself, we’ll talk about that. There’s definitely some ways to save money. But that also means the majority of people are employed and everybody knows that at some point the market will come back and they want to position themselves. So, they just looked at me like I was an alien. I looked at them like, I don’t really care what you say. I’m going on air, I’m going to say what I want. And I think that has been true since 2009 until now. Every time I do media, the predominant question is, times are tough, things are crazy, how do we get by? And I go, I simply don’t accept the premise anymore. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: I go, wait a minute, first of all, in certain areas, things are better than ever. Second, regardless of what we’re talking about here, there are ways to get ahead and actually make money fun. So, I’m just not going to indulge the idea that money has to be purely a nuisance, purely an annoyance. No, let’s start off by talking about how money can be amazing and joyful and create a rich life. RITHOLTZ: Really love that. And I have to start out with a confession. When this book first came out, I hated the title. (LAUGHTER) RITHOLTZ: I thought it was just another get rich quick scheme, some sort of nonsense, and it was one of the guys I worked with that said, no, no, that’s not what this book is about. You got to read it. So I started thumbing through it and I’m like oh this is not about getting rich, this is about figuring out what money as a tool can do for you and how to use it properly, it’s a very different headspace than most of the here’s how to invest and get rich. What led you to that sort of approach and that title? SETHI: Well, I was sober when I chose that title, okay? I want to — I was a college kid, and I named my website I will teach you to be rich. I always have loved provocative names. I do love being ultra-clear about what I’m going to promise. I have these digital programs. One of them is find your dream job. It’s very clear what you’re going to get. I like that. But I will say that I’m not offended by what you said because if you go and read it, there are people who talk about the book. I feel very fortunate that people spread the word a lot and they will almost always introduce it in the exact same way. They’ll go listen … RITHOLTZ: Ignore the title. SETHI: They go, this book, it sounds like a scam, but “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” is actually really good and that’s fine with me when you hear that title, I love a big promise, but what I love even more is over delivering on it. So, it’s not just about getting rich. It’s actually about being rich, and being rich means not it means how to earn money, it means how to talk about money and even how to spend money all of those things including managing money are part of a rich life. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s delve deeper into the concept of a rich life. I love this quote. a rich life is lived outside the spreadsheet. explain that. SETHI: Well, there’s too many nerds probably half the people listening to this who love their spreadsheets, hey guys, do you want to do an amortization table? You want to do a Monte Carlo analysis? And they do that for 35 years tweaking numbers I go you won, you won the game. It’s fine, turn the page on your life and go to the next chapter. Once you have your asset allocation dialed in, your automatic contributions dialed in, all the basics, then you can move on. And part of that involves designing your rich life. Let’s talk about that. RITHOLTZ: Yes, I really want to get into that because when we talk about the show, that really is a focus and you really kind of rocked some people back on their heels and make them address things they don’t want to address. I’m assuming that the blog and the podcast led to a lot of those interactions that ended up in the book. SETHI: 100 percent. Yes, the blog gave me a lot of raw material because I had a chance to talk to people at different incomes, et cetera. You know, a rich life, most people expect a money book to start with a chapter on budgets. That’s virtually every money book. And that is, in my opinion, a total turn off. RITHOLTZ: Buzzkill. SETHI: Okay, some average person opens up a book. They’re already feeling nervous judge. They open up the first chapter that author says, okay here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get a budget. Everybody hates the word budget. I hate budgets myself. I don’t keep one and now you’re going to go through the last 12 months of spending which are not conveniently found anywhere, you know, you did it wrong, but I want you to go and spend the next 20 hours writing this stuff down just so you can be judged. It’s like, no thanks, I’m going to put this right back on the shelf. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: So that is a lack of understanding psychology. What I did with the book was to understand where do people want to start? Let’s get them a quick win. Number one, everybody has credit cards, everybody misunderstands how to use them, and there are actually some secret perks that people have no idea about. Let’s get you a quick win. You got a late fee? Read these words off the page. In fact, here’s the phone number you call, and you will get your $37 fee waived. People do that, they don’t believe it. And they do it, they go, oh my god it worked. And like that they realize they’re on board, I can take control of my money, not let every financial company control me. RITHOLTZ: Yes, I was genuinely shocked and again the Netflix series is in my head. People have 18 credit cards, 20 — who has 20 bank accounts, it’s you’re just what you’re paying in fees seems to be exorbitant. SETHI: Yes, a lot of people who watched that show “How to Get Rich” on Netflix they told me like, I had no idea how little people know about money, but to me, I’ve been talking to everyday people for the last 20 years, so it doesn’t faze me to have 20 savings accounts to not know how much you’re spending on fees. Of course, you don’t, that’s like asking me, Ramit, do you have a carburetor in your car? I go, what the hell’s a carburetor? I don’t know, I turn the key it works, that’s my understanding. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about the money dial, where did the concept of that come and how do people actually use your money dial? SETHI: When I talk about a rich life people like the term they go, rich life. What is that? So, you know first let’s just start with that, a rich life can be traveling two months a year, a rich life can be wearing a beautiful cashmere coat, it could be picking up your kids from school every afternoon. Your rich life is yours. And so, people they buy into that they go. Oh wow. RITHOLTZ: It’s not just materialism. It’s not just shiny things. It sounds like it’s choices and freedom and much less worry. SETHI: Yes, but it’s being very, very specific about it so freedom is when I ask people, what is your rich life? 90 percent of people say the same answer to me across the world. They go I want to do what I want when I want. They really think that they’re clever. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: I go wow that’s so interesting, I never heard that before. (LAUGHTER) SETHI: And then I go so what do you want, and they just stare at me because that is how far most of us have thought. And they’ll say something like travel. I go, okay, where? They go, Europe. I go, where? I want to know what airline seat you’re going to sit in, I want to know where you’re going to stay, what you’re going to eat, I want to know who’s going with you for how long, that’s a vivid and specific vision of a rich life. So, an easy way to do this for everybody listening is let’s do this quick exercise together. The first question I have for you, Barry, is what do you love spending money on? RITHOLTZ: Dining, entertainment, things like that. SETHI: Fantastic. Dining is actually the number one response money dial, or it’s what I call a money dial. RITHOLTZ: Really? SETHI: Yes, number one is eating out or dining. Number two is travel. Number three is health and wellness. Number four is my money dial, convenience. And then there’s a variety of others. So, the second question is, Barry, if you could quadruple the amount you spend on dining, what would it look and feel like for you? RITHOLTZ: That would be a terrifying number. SETHI: Tell me. RITHOLTZ: So, my wife and I also really like cooking, so we cook at home, we just redid a kitchen, we have this lovely chef’s kitchen. So, I try and balance having fun and playing some music, cracking a bottle of wine and working on a recipe. That’s a lot of fun. As is, you know, we just had an insane lunch at the Restoration Hardware. SETHI: I love that place. RITHOLTZ: Just exorbitant. But, you know, as an occasion, I’m like, don’t even think about it. Just let’s order what we want and not even think twice. SETHI: So, you are in an unusual position because you, I’m guessing, you’re not really price sensitive about eating out. RITHOLTZ: So, you and I have previously discussed pain points in spending. Like for me it’s clothes because everything is an expensive bib eventually. (LAUGHTER) RITHOLTZ: And look I’m wearing nice pants. SETHI: I told Barry, my wife’s a personal stylist, I said Barry let’s do this. RITHOLTZ: Right. I mean I’m wearing nice clothes today, but I can rationalize dropping a couple hundred bucks on a meal without even thinking twice about it. But you walk into certain stores, 800 bucks for a pair of shoes, 400 bucks for a shirt, it’s a little more challenging because I’m hard on everything. I know that the shirt will eventually have spaghetti stains on it and the sneakers the shoes will be destroyed, but that’s my pain point. SETHI: Okay. RITHOLTZ: It’s not cars. It’s not watches. It’s not food. SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: It’s clothes. SETHI: So, people listening, they’re saying okay I eat I like to eat out or I like to travel and the second question when I ask, what would it look like if you could quadruple your spending? People smile because they go, wow, they never thought of it, most people when it comes to food. They give me the same answer, they go, wow, I probably have to watch what I eat because I’d be eating up four times a week and I go… RITHOLTZ: It’s not bigger portions. It’s going to nicer places. SETHI: That’s right. So, most of us think linearly, I go, what? Are you going to go to Chipotle four times a week? (LAUGHTER) SETHI: Might you go to a different caliber? RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: And this is where it becomes really fascinating, a rich life is not simply more frequency, a money dial turned all the way up could be eating at a beautiful Michelin-starred restaurant for lunch, it could be going — if you turn it all the way up, you might go to Italy with your loved one, go to a farmers’ market with a chef and make the food together. RITHOLTZ: That sounds like fun. SETHI: So, the point of a money dial and the point of a rich life is to really get specific about What it would look like to turn it up then you will understand what I mean when I say I want you to spend extravagantly on the things you love as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t. RITHOLTZ: And that’s a really fascinating aspect to your writings and to the show because People seem to be somewhat agnostic about their spending habits regardless of whether it’s important or not. SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: And you know if you get — if you could get people to focus on oh, you want this big expensive trip or this nice car or whatever it happens to be, well to get there you just have to stop throwing money away on junk, you’re about halfway there. SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: What’s the pushback to that from clients? From people? SETHI: Most people have simply been taught that they should cut back a little bit on everything. What a demoralizing philosophy Oh, I should cut back 5 percent on asparagus 5 percent on my car 5 percent on rent 5 percent on cable, it’s like that is so ineffective, that’s why there are so many folks out there who berate people about buying a… RITHOLTZ: A spending scold. SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: if you’re one latte away from your retirement being messed up you got bigger … SETHI: Bigger problems. And truthfully a coffee a day is not going to change your financial life in any material way but there are certain five or ten big things that make a huge difference so what I encourage you … RITHOLTZ: Let’s go through those. SETHI: All right, what I tell people is stop asking three-dollar questions, start asking $30,000 questions, those would be am I automating my savings and investments? Have I made rules for myself such that if I’m saving 5 percent this year, I’m going to increase it by 1 percent per year, that right there if you do that for your savings and investment is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more than all the coffee you’ll ever buy. Am I paid well? Have I learned the skills of negotiating my salary? Have I managed my asset allocation and my investment fees? If you do these few things, you’ll be light years ahead of agonizing over the price of broccoli. RITHOLTZ: Right. It’s whenever I read the spending scolds, they always have half the story. Never buy a sports car, never buy a sailboat, never buy a… SETHI: It’s always no, no, no. RITHOLTZ: But the right way to say that is never buy a sports car if you can’t afford a sports car. SETHI: Correct. RITHOLTZ: But if you can afford it, go buy whatever the hell you want. And that focusing on the spending but ignoring the hey, is this a rational expenditure for someone who is earning enough to pay for that vacation, that house, that car, why not? SETHI: It’s a very simple puritanical view that people in personal finance espouse, which is it’s really easy to tell people no to everything. A blanket no, but it’s much harder. RITHOLTZ: It’s lazy. SETHI: Yes, it’s intellectually lazy, but I think it’s much more fascinating and nuanced to show people you can actually spend more on the things you love. For example, I just posted a picture of my car. I’m not into cars, not at this phase of life, and I know you are super into it, so this is interesting. I posted my car, it’s an old, of course it’s a Honda Accord, all right? RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: It’s a very reasonable — RITHOLTZ: We had a Honda Accord Cross Tour, probably the best car I’ve ever had. SETHI: It’s fantastic. So, I could go buy any car, but to me, it’s great. I hardly drive, I have it, it’s fine. One day, I’m sure I’ll get a much nicer car. And so, I posted this just to show people, look, this isn’t my thing, it’s where I cut costs mercilessly but when I travel, I love hotels, I love clothes those are the things that are important to me and so I want people to actually have this highly dichotomous way of spending, you spend extravagantly on certain things… RITHOLTZ: A barbell. SETHI: Yes, a barbell and then you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t. RITHOLTZ: I really like that concept. So, speaking of staying within your spending limits, if you’re making 70 grand a year, maybe a $4,000 handbag isn’t the best use of your money. SETHI: It’s very likely although if they tell me, hey I pay 18 percent of gross for my rent. I would go, cool, what are you doing with the rest? They go, I love a bag. I go, how long is it going to take you to save? They go, I know my numbers, 14 months. Fantastic, but I will say you know we want to be reasonable the fact of the matter is 90 plus percent of people do not know their basic numbers. RITHOLTZ: What are your thoughts on the early retirement fire movement? SETHI: I like any movement that gets Americans to think about increasing their savings rate. I love that. I love a movement that gets people to be goal oriented. I love that. However, it quickly crosses over into obsession over pure metrics and truthfully accumulating money is never the goal. That is living in the spreadsheet. RITHOLTZ: I’m glad, I’m glad you said that, I remember reading a blog post by someone who was in that space, and they were stressing because they had a houseguest who was taking a long hot shower. SETHI: Come on. RITHOLTZ: I swear this is true, and the long hot shower was going to be expensive and it’s like again if a hot shower, the cost of that is too much, what are you going to do when you’re old if you’re retired in your prime living earning spending years, it just makes no sense. SETHI: It’s — that’s when you’ve gone too far, imagine you have a pair of eyeglasses. The primary money lens that we use in this country is cost we go to the store. We look at the cost. I get it. RITHOLTZ: The wrong measure. SETHI: There are so many other lenses, so for something like black pepper, which I don’t really care about I’ll use cost fine, but for other things like a pair of shoes which I am going to keep for seven years or taking my parents out to a really nice restaurant, I’m going to use different lenses, so there are lenses like security and safety, delight, results. That’s why somebody might hire a personal trainer instead of doing it on YouTube. Even just luxury. So, what I want is for people like a symphony, you got to be able to have different instruments, not only the instrument of cost. And that’s where I think people go wrong. RITHOLTZ: Really, really fascinating. I’ve always thought of you as like a financial advisor, but on the show, It’s almost like you’re a therapist/counselor. Each of these vignettes are like interventions. (LAUGHTER) RITHOLTZ: How do you think of this? Am I mis-describing you? How do you think of your own work? What’s your job title? SETHI: Well, you can call me what you want. I mean, I get judged by the results of the people I work with, which I love. I think that money is so much more than just what’s on the page. And ultimately, through the show and through my podcast, I’ve become much more interested in the interpersonal dynamics. Couples, even individuals, they know that they should probably save more. They know that they should probably pay off debt. Why aren’t they? And that to me is where we begin to peel the onion. RITHOLTZ: That’s more counseling than it is financial advice. And on the show, I’ve seen some themes come up over and over again. So first, none of these people, they don’t track their spending, there’s no budget, there’s not even the mental buckets of, I’m going to spend this much on entertainment and this much on rent. It just is a fire hose coming in and a fire hose going out. SETHI: That’s very astute. I think that the way most people think about money is purely reactive and purely transactional. So, it goes like this. Our printer broke down. Let’s buy a new printer. Our kids need soccer cleats. Let’s go buy soccer cleats. Oh my gosh, we got our credit card bill. I guess we spent that much on sprinklers at Home Depot. That’s basically the next 40 years of life and that’s true. That’s true. And so, I have a lot of compassion because we’ve all done that in some way. It could be fitness. It could be relationships It could be anything. You and I understand that you should probably have certain mental buckets and you should probably go on offense instead of defense and we get that after you understand this stuff, it’s not that hard. If you don’t even know, for example, how to decide if you can afford your car, then that is really where we’re starting. RITHOLTZ: Or your house people were living in houses with HOA fees and repair costs that they seemingly never thought of. SETHI: Well, this is the number one thing You know when I when I talk to folks the number one and number two area, they overspend on number one is their house because they have no sense of, they don’t even know that 28 percent rule, they don’t know 28 36. That’s very technical and the second area they overspend on is their car. Now why, what is in common with both of those? First, they’ve gotten more expensive recently yes, but two, there are gigantic phantom costs with each of those. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: When I show people for example that if you take a mortgage, you might as well just add on 50 percent to that mortgage to account for taxes, interest, maintenance, opportunity costs they are shocked they can’t believe it. In fact, when I go further and tell them that it’s actually been a better decision for me to rent than to own, It’s like somebody’s telling them the sky is green. RITHOLTZ: Well, the American dream has been you know, you find your little place, you buy it you own it. No one could raise your rent. You can paint the walls any color. SETHI: Yes, and you’re not throwing money away on rent, funny you never say that when you go out to a restaurant, you’re throwing money away in a restaurant and then they go, oh, you’re paying your landlord’s mortgage. I go, are you concerned about paying your sushi restaurant owner’s mortgage? No, it’s a bunch of almost religious aphorisms, they lack any substance and so we simply meaninglessly repeat these phrases. I don’t want to throw rent away. Easier than teaching opportunity cost and doing a buy versus rent calculation. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about a couple of other things on the show that I was fascinated by. Reckless spending is kind of a theme. We mentioned the $4,000 handbag for somebody who really… SETHI: Who could not afford it. Right? RITHOLTZ: Or the guy who was spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars each month on video games. I mean one video game should keep you busy for a month not dozens, that was sort of a … SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: An obsession. SETHI: So that that’s really interesting, when I heard that, I really want everyone watching “How to Get Rich” to notice my reaction. When people — first of all, it is extremely intimate for people to admit all their financials to anyone, and I had all of their financials. RITHOLTZ: I saw this — by the way you walk through, here’s their credit card spending, here’s what’s in their savings account, one of the people who’s spending a ton of money literally had five dollars and change in their savings account. SETHI: Until now you’ve never been able to actually see inside people’s … RITHOLTZ: It’s pretty horrifying. SETHI: It’s fascinating to me. It’s like a microscope You know, they see a spreadsheet to me when I look at someone’s money, I see a family trip to Disneyland or I see a beautiful outfit or I see early retirement, and that’s what I wanted to shift into. So, when people invite me into their homes and they open up their finances to me. They are very brittle, they’re expecting me to come down like a pile of bricks and say you’re doing it all wrong and a lot of times I just go, that’s really interesting. Why’d you do that? What do you love about video games, and you can see them visibly loosen up. RITHOLTZ: You’re very genteel with these people, there’s no finger wagging, there’s no scolding, and you very gently nudge them to that you give them I forgot which woman it was, Maybe it was the gymnast, you gave her three choices choice a, do nothing. SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Choice B, do something little. Choice C, do something large. And nobody wants to do nothing. SETHI: Yes, well … RITHOLTZ: They have agency they’re saying well, I’m not going to do A, so now it’s their decision. SETHI: Correct? So, there’s a lot of psychology into play. RITHOLTZ: Yes. SETHI: And if you’re listening and for example, you’ve had a spouse maybe who’s just seemingly not interested in money or your kids or anyone around you where you’re or you can even bring yourself sometimes to figure out how to spend money more meaningfully, a lot of us think that the solution is found in a spreadsheet and it’s not. For every single person on the show and on my podcast, there is something much deeper going on and it’s easy. In fact, it’s lazy to throw a bunch of numbers, here’s a compound interest chart. That’s not going to change anybody’s life. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: We’ve all seen it; we all know what it says. But to understand, for example, what did your parents say around the dinner table? And you will always hear people repeating phrases like, we can’t afford it, money doesn’t grow on trees. Now imagine hearing that 10,000 times growing up. RITHOLTZ: You left the door open again, must I pay to heat Eva Lane? SETHI: Exactly. RITHOLTZ: I heard that growing up constantly. SETHI: Bingo. And so, a lot of the folks, whether it be on the show or on my podcast, they’ll do very well. They may get a great job, accumulate money, and they can afford any lunch, they can afford a trip, but some of them agonize over it. Why? They think, oh, I’m bad, I feel guilty buying this business class trip, but really it often traces back to what they heard from their parents. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. Let’s talk about married couples that don’t have a joint checking account. Two different couples with, that’s unfathomable. SETHI: Really? That surprises you? RITHOLTZ: Shocking, shocking. Because I remember when I first got married, I’m married 30 years already, we had separate checking accounts and my wife is like, why do you need to hide your money from me? I’m not hiding, first of all, she was making more than me and second, I’m not hiding, I have this account, you have that account, we merged everything and never looked back. By the way, she takes care of the bills because when we were younger, when the lights went out, that’s how I knew it was time to pay the electric bill. (LAUGHTER) SETHI: First of all, congratulations on 30 years, that’s amazing. That’s the ultimate part of a rich life. I’m not surprised that so many couples don’t have joint accounts, but I’ll tell you something that might surprise you. I actually don’t have a problem if couples have separate accounts, here’s what’s really going on the people that get into financial trouble in relationships tend to have separate accounts, but it’s not the separate accounts that cause the problem, it’s the fact that they simply slid into this relationship as individuals and never sat down and discussed, how do we want our money to go? So, if they sit down and they go, you know what? I think we prefer to have separate accounts. We can combine as necessary. I say fantastic, but most people with separate accounts never had that conversation and that is the plan. RITHOLTZ: It’s not just the separate accounts, It’s the separate spending and separate priorities where how are we going to save if you’re buying X or Y or Z? SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: We’ll never get out of debt. We’ll never buy that house, which was one of the couples’ motivation. SETHI: This is very common. So, you know, on the podcast, I only speak to couples. And you’ll get these patterns. One is an over spender; one is an under spender. I had a particularly fascinating couple; I think it was around episode 20. He wrote me in all caps, he said, Ramit, please help. My wife of 21 years is about to divorce me because I’m too cheap. I was like, click, so I immediately click and respond to him. I brought him on the show with his wife. I had reviewed all their finances and she was angry, in fact almost checked out. And she said, I don’t understand why after 20 years of marriage, he doesn’t trust me, our yard is the only unlandscaped yard. She said, he asked me to find mattresses for our two girls, I spent a week creating a spreadsheet. And he said, that’s too expensive, the mattresses were something like 500 bucks. Their net worth, Barry, can you guess? RITHOLTZ: Five million dollars. SETHI: It was around 13 million dollars. And so, when you hear that — RITHOLTZ: So, 500 bucks for a mattress is just irrelevant. SETHI: It’s meaningless. It would be easy to simply say, this guy’s nuts, why don’t you loosen up? RITHOLTZ: He’s got issues for sure. SETHI: Yes, and that’s where I start. That’s where I go, let’s talk about it. Non-judgmentally, but let’s talk about what’s going on. Remember, she was about to divorce him. And so, you can listen to the episode, episode 20, and you can hear how that conversation evolves. It’s much deeper than math. RITHOLTZ: So, this raises a really interesting question, people reveal very embarrassing challenging financial habits, how did you get these folks to come clean on them? SETHI: On the show… RITHOLTZ: Yes. SETHI: We have casting so casting went out and found particularly interesting situations and I gave a lot of guidance as to what type of people are especially interesting, on my podcast that was the hardest thing of all is to get people to open up all of their financials. Not only have we been able to do that, now we have them on video just like on the show. That’s very intimate. I’m not sure I would go on a show like that. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: What I’ve learned about the psychology of people appearing on this is you have to understand that most people feel truly lost when it comes to money. They don’t know who to trust. They don’t even know the difference between the word financial advisor and 401k like those two, they’re in different universes to us but to somebody walking on the street, those words are all jumbled up into the personal finance or confusing money cloud, and so when they hear somebody who comes and says like, hey, I’m not going to judge you if you like a purse, I’m not going to judge you if you like to eat out, fine, I like a couple nice things myself, that’s cool, let’s talk about what your rich life is and how we can use your money to get there. They are willing to open up anything if they know that they can trust me. RITHOLTZ: Really intriguing. So, let’s — we were talking earlier about budgeting and you know credit scores and things like that. Let’s talk a little bit about people who have more money than they know what to do with because they’ve spent their whole life working and saving and investing and suddenly, they have a hard time pivoting to, hey I could take that trip, I could buy that sailboat, I could do what I want. what sort of advice do you give to these folks to allow them to be more comfortable to make that transition? SETHI: This is my favorite topic, Barry, because nobody really talks about it and it’s very politically incorrect. RITHOLTZ: We talk about this in the office all the time it comes up constantly partly because we have a lot of wealthy clients, but also partly because we’re big believers in as you suggest, you have to use money as a tool to live your richest life, what advice do you give these folks? SETHI: One way to think about it is you really have your prime spending years between the ages of 40 to 60, so think about that before 40 most people don’t really have money after 60 there may be health issues whether it be with yourself or somebody in your family that you have to take care of, whatever, things happen. So, if you accept the idea that your prime spending years are between 40 to 60, what does that mean for you? And suddenly, traveling to certain places becomes an urgency. Eating at a certain restaurant you’ve always wanted to becomes an urgency. This requires a change. One, the idea of shifting from accumulation to de-accumulation is really hard. That’s why, you know, when people retire, they start freaking out because they’re not getting the income even though the interest pays more than they would have ever made. RITHOLTZ: Right, they’re not getting the income and they have a lot more hours in the day to go out and spend money. SETHI: Exactly. The second thing is people often make this jump they go, well, if I go eat at that restaurant, I don’t want to have to become that rich guy who’s eating there. I go, you think you’re going to trip and fall and eat at a Michelin starred restaurant every single night? It’s like, get real, I trust myself enough to know that I can drive a car twice and not have to buy ten of them. I trust myself enough to know Barry’s going, well, I don’t know about that. He goes, have you been in my Porsche? (LAUGHTER) SETHI: Okay, maybe not. I trust myself enough to know that I can eat at a nice restaurant for an anniversary and say wow I really love that or that wasn’t my thing, but it was cool and not have to do it every night. Many of us have simply never built the skill and it is a skill of spending money, so we’ve earned it, we’ve managed it, but we never actually built a skill of spending it meaningfully and that’s why we have to start almost like we’re building a new muscle. RITHOLTZ: How do you address the guilt that some people feel when they say I’m spending my kids’ inheritance? SETHI: I don’t — first of all, it’s lazy for people when I ask them, what’s your rich life? They go, you know what? I’m so simple. I’m just a simple person. I really want to just provide for my kids. I go, that sucks, that’s a boring answer, and that’s intellectually lazy. RITHOLTZ: (LAUGHTER) SETHI: So you worked your entire life. Oh and you never modeled building good spending habits. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: You literally accumulated it like Scrooge McDuck and you’re handing it over to your kids without any modeling? No, that’s actually unacceptable to me. I told my parents, my parents had very modest incomes growing up and we told my mom and dad I sat down with them because they were nervous about spending money because they had gone through the same thing. And I said, let’s look at the numbers I mean it very simple for them and I said, mom and dad, what are you going to do with this money if you don’t start spending it? And they’d never really thought about they go, we’ll give it to the kids. I go, we don’t want one cent, you taught us how to be educated you taught us good values, we want you to spend every last cent and maybe even more. And so, I put them on a travel budget, and I said you have to spend this much every single month, in fact they’re abroad right now, which I’m so happy about. The guilt of not leaving money for your kids really is a deeply emotional response. You want to leave them money? Please do, leave them some, but more importantly leave them a model of your spending money on the things that matter to you. RITHOLTZ: Do you get the kids involved? Do you get the whole family involved when you’re talking with a wealthy family that’s having some issues with figuring out how to live their rich life? SETHI: The first thing I do is work with the parents. Parents are obsessed with the question about should I give them an allowance? Should I not? I go, listen, that’s like someone saying I want to meet the person of my dreams. What kind of shoelaces should I wear? I go it’s irrelevant, an allowance is not the primary issue. What I ask him is how do you talk about money at home, and they go, we don’t talk about it. I go, why not? They go, because our parents never talked about it. I go, okay, we’re going to start talking about it. Second, do you ever get excited about it? Most people have never conceived that they can get excited about money, they see it as something negative something to protect their children from and so I suggest some gentle things, if their kid is very young. I say you know bring them over on your lap and say, you know mommy’s going to log into the credit card, this is what allows us to buy the food that we eat can you help me push the button and then as they get older, empower them to make decisions about a vacation or a dinner out. It’s not about an allowance, you can give them an allowance or not that’s not the point, the point is to model healthy relationship with money. RITHOLTZ: That’s really, really interesting, we in the office we set up so we’ve had a robo advisor internally for six seven years already and we advise parents to set up small accounts for their kids, so they start investing at eight, twelve … SETHI: Love it. RITHOLTZ: Fourteen years old, it doesn’t have to be a lot of money but they get to watch it grow. SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: And it’s really like oh this is something that I could continue to do on my own. SETHI: And they talk about it. RITHOLTZ: Yes. SETHI: I had another fascinating couple they’d been dating for a year, they’re in their late 30s he had started a business and he was paying himself $2,000 a month. She was making $200,000 per month. RITHOLTZ: A month? SETHI: She was making 100 times what he makes. RITHOLTZ: So, she’s making $2.5 million. That’s a nice income. SETHI: Very nice in her late 30s. She had more money than she would ever need and they struggled. The reason they came to me was it was about who’s going to pay the check for dinner. So, believe it or not, this is a real deal. So, I took the call and what became very clear was I asked her, when did you first learn about investing? And you know what she said, Barry? She said, age five. Her parents started talking about compound interest. Age five, which is what wealthy families tend to do. Then I asked him, when did you learn about investing? He goes, I started reading your book about two weeks ago. So, imagine a guy who has a 30-year deficit on learning about a concept as important as compound interest. We can’t expect everybody to have the same knowledge. We all start at different parts in life. For me, physical fitness, I wish I learned how to deadlift when I was 16, I didn’t. But if you can give your kids an advantage, and certainly your partner, it is to talk about money regularly and positively. RITHOLTZ: So, before we get to our favorite questions, a quick curve ball question. Got to ask, how did the Netflix deal come about? Did they reach out to you? Did you reach out to them? Was there a third-party intermediary? How do you suddenly get a Netflix series? SETHI: They reached out to me. I remember where I was, they emailed me and it said, would you be interested in sitting down for a meeting and also should we communicate through you, or do you have representation? RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: Two things happened to me. First off, I didn’t believe it was from them so I went up to the “from” and it said “@netflix.com.” I was like, wait a second. RITHOLTZ: Oh, you can fake that though, that’s easy enough. SETHI: So, I was like, this is crazy. RITHOLTZ: If you hit reply, that’s when you know it’s real. SETHI: Yes, that’s a good tip. Well, I’m glad it worked out. The second thing that occurred to me was, I don’t even know what they meant by representation. I’m not a Hollywood guy. RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: I’ve been running my business for 20 years on the internet. RITHOLTZ: You’re New York based, right? SETHI: Yes, and then LA now. But I didn’t even know, so I had to learn, how do you find an entertainment lawyer? I literally went on Google and searched entertainment lawyer, and I had to learn the entire business, which I’m just, just, just starting to grasp. It was a totally fascinating journey and they had been wanting to do a money show. In fact, every network has been wanting to… RITHOLTZ: Right. SETHI: But money’s really hard on TV. It’s boring, it’s often very depressing. And so, I told them point blank, I said, “Look, I’m interested, but I want to do it my way. “I do not want to berate some couple, for how much they spend on Reese’s Pieces cups. And they said, no, no, no, we want you to do it your way. They gave me broad creative control. RITHOLTZ: That’s great. SETHI: I’m very thankful. RITHOLTZ: Is there going to be a second season? SETHI: We will see. RITHOLTZ: I mean, given that it’s top 10 trending, you got to think it’s interesting. What was the experience like putting this together? It’s obviously, it’s not writing, it’s not podcasting, it’s very different. You’re pretty telegenic. Did you did you find the transition to video challenging at all? SETHI: Definitely Well, you know, I got a lot of nice comments from people around the world and I thought to myself, wow so all it takes for me to look good is to throw up a multi-million-dollar crew with the best cameras in the world and makeup and I said, wow. Okay, I’ll take it I’ll take whatever it takes, you know, what was challenging most of all was the intimacy of going into people’s houses. RITHOLTZ: Yes. SETHI: like in the first scene you see me visiting Matt and Amani. I meet their family their children, that is as intimate as it gets to be in someone’s living room talking about money. RITHOLTZ: Looking at their — looking literally at their… SETHI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Their statements, their credit card spending. SETHI: And watching fights happen in front of me, which I do love a good fight I mean, I love reality TV myself, but you have to remember … RITHOLTZ: Oh no, it gets uncomfortable. SETHI: Yes, and it should, right? Money is uncomfortable. RITHOLTZ: Yes. SETHI: And that’s okay, but all this time there’s a tight camera on my face and I’m thinking oh my — like is this really happening so to me that’s what is the magic of the show is, I don’t know anything about them all I know is their name and their financials, same as you and together we go and discover what’s going on. RITHOLTZ: Well, it’s definitely entertaining, we’ll blow through five questions really quickly starting with other than “How to Get Rich” what else are you streaming on Netflix or anything else. SETHI: I’m watching “Indian Matchmaking” just because I love it. RITHOLTZ: Come on. SETHI: My parents had an arranged marriage you know I have to watch this. It’s you know, it hits home. And on the podcast side there’s a couple, one is there’s an interesting podcast about Rolls-Royce and it’s called “Ghost Stories” it’s about their Ghost and it’s you know it’s a little bit like markety but I just love craftsmanship, I love design, so I get to hear from the designers. RITHOLTZ: And you’re not sporting a watch, I’m surprised, I figure that you’re a clothes guy. SETHI: I’m a hotel guy and clothes and convenience, like personal training, things like that. Watches. RITHOLTZ: Doesn’t do anything for you. SETHI: Nah. RITHOLTZ: I’ll tell you a funny story about that later. Second question, who are your mentors? Who helped shape your career? SETHI: BJ Fogg, one of my professors at Stanford. I learned from him at the Persuasive Technology Lab. He’s still a close friend of mine. Jay Abraham taught me a lot about putting my customers and clients at the center of my world. Those two were very influential and continue to be. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about books. What are some of your favorites? What are you reading right now? SETHI: One of my favorites is “The Color of Law.” That’s a book about redlining. It’s about race and real estate in this country. Most people have no idea that real estate is deeply, deeply built around race. It’s racist. It’s a racist institution in our country. RITHOLTZ: And has been for a long, long time. SETHI: For decades. It is built that way. RITHOLTZ: Do you think people really don’t know that? SETHI: They do not know. No. No, no like 100 percent … RITHOLTZ: The inner cities and slums and the highways that will cleave the lower-income part of the town right in half. SETHI: No, Barry, they have no idea. RITHOLTZ: Right your face. SETHI: No, you can’t miss it unless you’ve been radicalized to ignore it so no they do not know and they don’t want to know, and that’s why every time I talk about books I talk about this book “The Color Of Law” it is staggering to learn what happened in our country. And then I’m reading a book right now called “Unreasonable Hospitality” the manager of 11 Madison Park. Wow, really interesting how they took that restaurant to be … RITHOLTZ: Top-rated Michelin star-rated. SETHI: I just love a good hospitality story. RITHOLTZ: Last two questions. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who is interested in a career in either financial counseling or investing? SETHI: Gosh, I would say first off talk to people who are in the industry and were in the industry and left, talk to at least 15 people and find out what’s their lifestyle like, do they get to travel do they enjoy it what do they like what are they not like? Find out if it’s for you and then the second thing I would say is if you are interested in financial counseling, therapy, et cetera, you’re going to learn the technical skills but the skill that I think is underrepresented when it comes to money is understanding people. So psychology is absolutely critical and that will set you apart. RITHOLTZ: Our final question, what do you know about the world of advice and financial planning and counseling that you wish you knew 20 years or so ago when you were first getting started? SETHI: Education alone is not the answer. I often get people saying, “Ramit, we should teach your book in high school.” and I actually disagree. Education alone doesn’t solve the problems we have, it helps, but there are structural changes that need to be made such as building more housing, there are also ways of communicating about money which is why I did this Netflix show and my podcast to show people that money can actually be fun and joyful and not simply something that you need to do like flossing your teeth. RITHOLTZ: It doesn’t have to be a drag. Tell people where they can find you, your website the name of the show and the book and everything else. SETHI: The name of the show on Netflix is “How to Get Rich” My suggestion is watch the first three minutes and notice the differences in how we talk about money. My podcast where I speak to couples from all over the economic spectrum is “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” and my book is also called “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.” RITHOLTZ: Ramit, thank you so much for coming in today. This was a blast. If you enjoyed this conversation, well, be sure and check any of the previous 500 we’ve done. You can find those at YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, wherever you find your favorite podcasts. You can sign up for my daily reading list at ritholtz.com. Follow me on Twitter @Ritholtz. Follow all of the fine family of Bloomberg podcasts @podcast. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps put these conversations together each week. Samantha Danziger is my audio engineer. Atika Valbrun is my project manager. Paris Wald is my producer. Sean Russo is my researcher. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio. END   ~~~   The post Transcript: Ramit Sethi appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureJun 10th, 2023

Cats once served as vital members of the US Navy. Old photos show these forgotten service felines.

Scot Christenson, author of "Cats in the Navy," told Insider hundreds of thousands of cats shared voyages with sailors before the practice was banned. Cpl. Edward Burckhardt poses with a rescued a kitten that he named Suribachi Sue.Courtesy of US Naval Institute. Seafaring cats have been a staple of culture dating back to ancient Egypt. Scot Christenson, author of "Cats in the Navy," spoke to Insider about these forgotten felines. The animals served vital roles as pest control on boats and friend to the world's sailors.  As long as humans have been sailing the seas, cats have been by their side.A US Navy officer pets a boat cat.Courtesy of Scot ChristensonFurry felines have been passengers aboard ships for thousands of years, traversing the world and spreading around the globe, according to Scot Christenson, director of communications for the US Naval Institute and author of "Cats in the Navy." Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings dating back 5,000 years show cats hunting birds from a boat, Christenson told Insider.The Phoenicians and the Vikings, both master seafaring communities, later helped spread cats throughout Europe.British, French, and Spanish explorers in the late fifteenth century carried cats to the Americas upon the discovery of the "new world" during the age of exploration.The animals were so universally revered that local islanders visited by British trading ships would often sneak onboard the ships to try and steal a cat for themselves, Christenson said.  The animals were originally brought on board as pest control.A cat walks across the HMS Queen Elizabeth off of the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.Cats served a vital role: catching and killing rodents on ships.During the Age of Sail, from the mid-16th to the mid-19th century, rats were known to leave an easily-ignitable trail of gunpowder aboard wooden ships as they scurried across the deck, posing a risk to the sailors on board, Christenson said, and cats could help stop the rodents in their tracks.Even in the modern era, rats and mice remained an inherent danger to many ships, spreading disease, chewing through sails, and eating food supplies, according to Christenson"But cats are effective predators," he told Insider. Cats eventually became valued members of several countries' navies.Men aboard the USS Olympia use a small mirror to play with a cat on board in 1898.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.Cats were considered akin to crew members aboard the British Royal Navy, according to Christenson.Some sailors would bond so closely with a cat that they would bring the animal home with them at the end of a voyage.When the US Navy was founded in the 18th century, the military branch borrowed certain customs from its British predecessor, including a penchant for seafaring cats. "Cats have been on almost all ships," Christenson said of the world's navies. Sailors held strong superstitions about cats.A portrait of Navy cat Brunhilde.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.Long believed to be powerful and spiritual animals, cats served as omens and portents among early sailors, according to Christenson.The Japanese believed cats could protect their ships from evil spirits, Christenson told Insider.Sailors around the globe also believed that a cat's behavior could predict the outcome of a voyage.If a cat jumped on board a ship prior to setting sail, seaman believed their vessel would be protected on its journey. But if a cat deserted a boat ahead of its departure, sailors thought themselves doomed, according to Christenson. The worst sign of all was the sight of two cats fighting on the pier ahead of a sailing, which some sailors interpreted as the devil and angel fighting for their souls, Christenson said.  Cats were once believed to control the weather.A cat cuddles up on the HMAS Encounter.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.Sailors initially believed cats were in control of their fate, Christenson said. The animals were thought to have a gale inside their tail because they would begin shaking during storms.Sailors interpreted this behavior as angry cats calling down foul weather.Sailors realized years later that the cats were actually reacting to drops in air pressure.Cats would respond to the physical agitation they felt when the air pressure around them would drop.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.Seamen later discovered that moody cats weren't in fact conjuring storms, instead, they were responding to the physical agitation they felt when the air pressure around them would drop.Sailors started to watch cats' mannerisms to detect coming storms.The animals are also sensitive to high-pitched whines, so cats helped Navy sailors detect coming air crafts during the World Wars, Christenson said. Some cats were even paid for their hard work.Cpl. Edward Burckhardt poses with a rescued a kitten that he named Suribachi Sue.Courtesy of US Naval Institute.Feline members of the Royal Navy received a weekly allowance, which the sailors often paid themselves, contributing one shilling and sixpence to buy treats and milk for their cat friends, Christenson said.The extra snacks helped make sure the cats were sustained on board even after they had caught all the rodents.Despite many cats' dislike of water, the animals adapted surprisingly well to life at sea.A collection of cats congregate at the US Naval Air Station Squantum in July 1942.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.Most cats quickly learned to love their seafaring lives, Christenson said. Some learned to swim and dive for fish themselves, while others who never fully embraced the ocean, taught themselves to catch fish that jumped over the ship's bow.The animals, which originally come from desert climates, can survive on very little water, obtaining most of their necessary moisture from their prey, according to Christenson. Cats have such adept internal filtration systems, that the animals could even drink a bit of salt water and be fine. There could be dozens of cats on board the same ship at one time.A gathering of kittens play at the Naval Air Station Squantum in 1942.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.During World War I, the US Navy scooped up hundreds of thousands of stray cats and assigned them to ships, Christenson said. The animals would typically stay on the same boat for long periods at a time, becoming territorial over their space. But every once in a while, a cat would jump ship if they determined they could get better food options on another boat, even if it was with another country's navy, according to Christenson.The smartest cats claimed control of the ship's galley where they received extra treats and grew extra fat. Other felines opted to spend time in a boat's laundry room where there were plentiful soft and warm items on which to sleep.Cats are notoriously difficult to train and could get themselves — or their sailors — into trouble.During prohibition, federal officials learned to look for cats scurrying away to hiding holes on a ship, often inadvertently leading investigators to the ship's store of illegal boozeCourtesy of Scot Christenson.The animals are known for having minds of their own, opting to remain loyal to territory, and often not to people."Cats are going to cat," Christenson said with a laugh.A cat that chose to ditch its crew right before departure could be recaptured by a superstitious sailor, but would often run off again as soon as an opportunity arose. During prohibition, federal officials learned to look for cats scurrying away to hiding-holes on a ship, often inadvertently leading investigators to the ship's store of illegal booze, according to Christenson.But Navy cats were known to offer their human colleagues companionship.A Navy man holds a group of small cats.Courtesy of Scot Christenson."Cats were a unifying friend to everybody on the ship," Christenson said.Officers and enlisted men alike formed strong bonds with the animals, who offered them companionship during difficult journeys. Cats provided an emotional outlet for military men who could derive stress relief from a quick cuddle. Political and legal liabilities ultimately led to the end of cats' reign on the open waters.A 1907 postcard depicts US Navy men with a goat and cats.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.Budget cuts after World War II dealt a death knell to Navy cats, Christenson said.Advocates for the financial cuts ridiculed the Navy, accusing the military branch of complaining about a lack of funds while planning birthday parties for their cats.The public relations aspect of the campaign embarrassed the Navy, even though more often than not, it was the sailors themselves paying for the upkeep of their feline friends.But it was updated quarantine laws that ultimately led to the end of cats' seafaring days, according to Christenson.For years, Navy cats were granted special permission to forgo most country's standard laws that required incoming private citizens to quarantine their accompanying cats and other pets for several months.But as nations began cracking down on animal quarantine laws in the aftermath of World War II, ship captains faced serious repercussions if one of their boat's felines escaped and went exploring in a port city, Christenson said, leading to the demise of the practice altogether. Almost all the world's navies have since banned cats from ships.Political and legal liabilities led to the end of Navy cats.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.Ships face hefty penalties for breaking the rules, according to Christenson.But while most ships no longer carry furry seamen, anecdotal evidence suggests that the Russian navy may still employ cats on their boats, Christenson told Insider. Their legacy lives on.US Marine Frank Praytor uses a medicine dispenser to feed a stray cat.Courtesy of Scot Christenson.Christenson spent years collecting stories of the cats who served in the Navy.Of all the cases he found, his favorite anecdote is the tale of "Mis Hap."Mis Hap was a tiny kitten found by a Marine during the Korea War, Christenson told Insider. The animal had just been orphaned, and her human rescuer named her Mis Hap because she had "been born in the wrong place at the wrong time."The Marine was photographed feeding the cat with a medicine dropper in a heartrending photo that was picked up by dozens of newspapers around the globe, according to Christenson.Prior to Mis Hap's discovery, the Marine in question was at risk of being court-martialed after submitting one of his own photographs of wounded Marines to a photo contest, flouting military censors that had banned the publication of such content at the time.But the marine's newfound newspaper fame ultimately spared him from the charges and yielded hundreds of marriage proposals from women across the country who were moved by his tender care toward Mis Hap, according to Christenson.Mis Map went on to become the mascot of headquarters in Korea.Her Marine eventually brought her back to Chicago where she lived a long, happy life.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 1st, 2023

What happened to Juul? The rise and fall of the highly addictive vape pen that changed the nicotine industry forever

Discover what happened to the iconic nicotine vape brand Juul. Eva Hambach/Getty Images Over the last several years, Juul has gone from a darling of Silicon Valley to a company beset by legal challenges. The e-cigarette maker recently agreed to pay $462 million in a settlement that ends lawsuits against it. Here's a rundown of the company's history, from its $38 billion valuation to legal settlements. A majority of Juul's legal troubles are behind it. The e-cigarette maker agreed to pay $462 million in a settlement that ends lawsuits against it from states including New York and California, the New York Times reported this month. The settlement adds to the billions that Juul has spent defending itself from claims that it targeted young people with its marketing and did not provide information about addictive nicotine in its products.Juul did not immediately respond to a request from Insider for comment.Over the last several years, Juul has gone from a darling of Silicon Valley to a company beset by legal challenges. It also fell from a valuation of $38 billion in 2018 to just $1 billion last October, according to the Journal.Scroll down to see Juul's rise and decline:2004: At Stanford, the product-design grad students James Monsees and Adam Bowen create the idea for Ploom, Juul’s precursor.Juul.com / YouTubeMonsees and Bowen have said they were smokers who met on smoke breaks while pursuing master's degrees in product design at Stanford University. Their thesis presentation, now posted on Juul's website, describes their product as "the rational future of smoking."2007: Monsees and Bowen found the vaporizer startup Ploom in San Francisco.YouTube / Hyphy SF By February 2008, Ploom raised $900,000 in venture funding, putting its valuation at roughly $3 million, according to PitchBook.A 2011 description of the Ploom device, which sold for $75, described it as a heat-not-burn product that could be filled with single-serve refills called "Ploom Pods." The pods could include tobacco or non-tobacco ingredients, it said. Aug. 1, 2013: Ploom debuts the Pax with a launch party in San Francisco.Ploom at Robin Thicke's album-release party in 2013 in New York.Andrew Toth / Getty ImagesAfter raising close to $5 million, Ploom launched a device called the Pax, a vaporizer for loose-leaf tobacco that could also be used for cannabis.To debut the device, Ploom hosted a launch party in San Francisco's trendy Mission District.At this time, Ploom investors included Japan Tobacco, the maker of Winston and Salem cigarettes, along with the software company Originate and the angel investment group Sand Hill. Feb. 16, 2015: Monsees and Bowen sell the Ploom brand and a vaporizer line to the Japanese tobacco company JTI. They rebrand as Pax Labs.Japan Tobacco Inc.'s president and CEO, Mitsuomi Koizumi, using a Ploom during an interview with Reuters at the company's headquarters in Tokyo in 2017.Toru Hanai / ReutersAs part of the deal, JTI said in a statement that Ploom would buy back JTI's minority stake in the startup.June 1, 2015: Pax Labs launches the Juul with a party in New York City.SRITAPax introduced the Juul with a launch party in New York City.A trove of images collected by Stanford researchers suggested that the campaign focused on a young audience. Guests were invited to try Juul's products free and share selfies on social media, Business Insider reported."Juul's launch campaign was patently youth-oriented," Robert Jackler, a practicing Stanford physician who was the principal investigator behind the tobacco-image collection, told Business Insider.2016: Juul sales skyrocket 700%.An ad on Juul's website from 2016.Juul devices gained popularity. Sales rose 700% in 2016, ABC 7 News reported.July 1, 2017: Monsees and Bowen spin out Juul Labs as an independent company and name former Pax Labs CEO Tyler Goldman CEO.Pax Labs; Melia Robinson/Business InsiderGoldman came to Pax from the music-streaming startup Deezer then took over Juul Labs.Nov. 2017: Juul is the best-selling e-cigarette on the market.Pax LabsJuul said it'd sold 1 million units. The company also captured a third of the e-cigarette market, according to Nielsen data.Dec. 11, 2017: CEO Tyler Goldman leaves Juul. The company replaces him with Kevin Burns.Juul's new CEO, Kevin Burns.Juul/YouTubeGoldman left Juul to "pursue new entrepreneurial activities." The company hired Burns from the yogurt company Chobani.Dec. 2017: Juul raises $112 million in venture funds and adds Nicholas Pritzker to its board, according to PitchBook.The industrialist A.N. Pritzker in 1982. The wealthy Pritzker family owned the chewing-tobacco giant Conwood before selling it to the tobacco giant Reynolds. They also founded and expanded the Hyatt Hotels chain.AP PhotoThe fresh funds came from firms including Tao Capital, Fidelity, and Evolution, according to PitchBook.Nicholas Pritzker, Tao's cofounder, joined Juul's board, CNBC reported. Pritzker is a member of the wealthy Pritzker family, which owned the chewing-tobacco giant Conwood before selling it to the tobacco giant Reynolds. The Pritzkers also founded and expanded the Hyatt Hotels chain.On an undisclosed date, Tao Capital sold its stake in Juul to the hedge fund Tiger Global and Manhattan Venture Partners, PitchBook said.The venture fund M13, another early Juul investor, sold its shares in the spring of 2018.This slide has been updated with new information about M13's investment.March 2018: Dozens of outlets report that 'Juuling' is an epidemic at high schools.A Juul ad from 2016.Pax LabsNational news outlets including National Public Radio, USA Today, and Business Insider reported that the Juul had a loyal and growing following among young people.All of the reports said teens were taking to social media to brag about being able to sneak puffs in class or in the bathroom thanks to Juul's discreet design.April 2018: Led by Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the US Food and Drug Administration starts an 'undercover blitz' to crack down on sales of the Juul to minors.Scott Gottlieb, then the FDA commissioner.ReutersIn what the FDA said was the largest coordinated enforcement effort in agency history, the FDA issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who it said were illegally selling Juuls and other e-cigarettes to minors. The FDA found the retailers by conducting what it called "a nationwide, undercover blitz.""Let me be clear to retailers," Gottlieb, then the FDA's commissioner, said in the statement, "this blitz, and resulting actions, should serve as notice that we will not tolerate the sale of any tobacco products to youth."April 2018: Wall Street analysts warn that Juul is starting to encroach on Big Tobacco's financial terrain and could negatively affect Altria stock.A close-up view of cigarettes on June 10, 2015 in Bristol, England. Health campaigners have asked for a levy on the tobacco industry to help fund anti-smoking measuresMatt Cardy/Getty ImagesIn a research note, Citigroup analysts warned investors that the Juul was beginning to disrupt tobacco stocks.The note suggested that the rise of the Juul could bode poorly for tobacco companies — including Altria, British American Tobacco, and Imperial Brands — as sales were falling faster than expected."The US tobacco market is beginning to be disrupted by Juul," the analysts wrote, adding, "We don't expect underlying cigarette trends to improve much in the rest of 2018."May 2018: Juul doubles its staff to 400 people.Pax LabsJune 2018: San Francisco bans flavored e-cigs like the Juul, prompting an endorsement from Michael Bloomberg.An ad from the California Department of Public Health supporting San Francisco's ballot measure to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes like Juul.California Department of Public HealthBloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies, called the move "an important step forward for public health" and said it should embolden other cities and states to follow suit.July 8, 2018: Wall Street analysts say Juul is reviving the formerly comatose e-cig market, which had been slumping since 2014.AP Photo/Craig MitchelldyerIn a research note, Morgan Stanley analysts credited Juul with "driving a revival in the US e-cig market," adding that sales of Juul devices "accounted for almost the entire incremental increase in US e-cig sales as a percent of total cigarette and e-cigarette sales in the last year."July 10, 2018: Juul raises $1.2 billion in a round that values the company at more than $16 billion, according to PitchBook.Bowen and Monsees at the Hotel Tortue in December 2018 for Juul's launch in Germany.Getty Images / Picture AllianceThe seven investors in the round included a maker of marijuana therapeutics, called Applied Biosciences, along with the the venture firm Bracket Capital, the hedge funds Darsana Capital and E Squared Capital, the investment giant Fidelity, the angel investor Sand Hill, and Tiger, according to PitchBook.Aug. 21, 2018: Israel bans Juul products, calling them a 'grave risk to public health' because of their high nicotine content.A package of the Juul device and flavored Juul nicotine Pods.JUUL LabsIn a statement, Israel's Health Ministry said it's banning the sale and import of Juul devices because they contained more than 20 milligrams per milliliter of nicotine and presented "a grave risk to public health," Reuters reported.Sept. 11, 2018: The FDA deepens its crackdown on Juul and other e-cig makers.FDA commissioner Scott GottliebReutersIn a statement, then-Commissioner Gottlieb said the FDA was working on creating a system to "properly regulate" e-cigarettes like the Juul.He said the aim was twofold: make e-cigarettes available as a less-dangerous alternative for adult smokers, but also keep them out of the hands of young people.Oct. 2, 2018: The FDA surprises Juul at its headquarters and seizes 'thousands of pages of documents' as part of an investigation into its marketing practices.Reuters/Ronen ZvulunThe agency was running an investigation into whether Juul marketed its products to teens, CNBC said.The visit was an extension of the FDA's request in April for materials related to how Juul presented its products and whether they were designed to appeal to kids, according to CNBC.Oct. 2018: Juul surges in popularity, now accounting for over 70% of the US e-cigarette market, according to Nielsen data.Reuters / Brendan McDermidNov. 13, 2018: Juul stops selling its sweet and fruity flavors at stores, making those varieties only available online.Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderJuul says it will temporarily stop selling its flavored e-cigarettes in stores.The move comes on the heels of a similar ban on flavored e-cigs that the city of San Francisco enacted over the summer.Researchers nearly unanimously praised the move, which they say could help protect young people by making the products less appealing and harder to purchase. Juul's flavored varieties will still be sold online, the company says.Nov. 15, 2018: The FDA announces plans to curb flavored e-cig sales after reports that youth vaping has ballooned 78%.A high-school student vaping near a school campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Associated Press2018: The Federal Trade Commission begins investigating whether Juul marketed its products to minors.Members of the Federal Trade Commission.REUTERS/ Leah MillisThe Federal Trade Commission began looking into Juul's use of influencers and other marketing tools to appeal to young people, The Wall Street Journal reported in August 2019.According to The Journal, the FTC's investigation began before it started reviewing a deal between Juul and the Marlboro maker, Altria, in December 2018.Dec. 20, 2018: Altria buys 35% of Juul for $12.8 billion, bumping Juul's valuation to $38 billion. Gottlieb accuses both companies of backing away from pledges to curb youth vaping.Packs of Marlboro cigarettes on sale.REUTERS/Brian SnyderIn what the Silicon Valley Business Journal called "the biggest investment ever in a US venture-backed company," Marlboro and the Parliament cigarette maker, Altria, paid $12.8 billion for a third of Juul. That gave Altria more combustible-cigarette market share than the next seven brands combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Juul, which had an annual revenue of about $2 billion at the time, also received a $2 billion bonus from Altria to distribute among its 1,500 employees, CNBC reported. That would have been about $1.3 million a person.On the heels of the deal, Gottlieb called out both companies, saying they were backing away from previous pledges to fight teen vaping. March 5, 2019: In a surprise announcement, Gottlieb announces he's leaving his post as FDA commissioner.FILE PHOTO: U.S. Food and Drug Commissioner Gottlieb attends interview at Reuters HQ in New YorkThomson ReutersGottlieb, a well-liked figure who spent just two years steering the country's top food and drug regulator, said he was leaving in a month to spend more time with his family in Connecticut.The commissioner had made a name for himself as both a vocal critic of e-cigarette startups like Juul and a speedy approver of new pharmaceutical drugs.In a resignation letter, Gottlieb wrote that one of his accomplishments at the FDA was taking actions against "bad actors that put Americans at risk."March 13, 2019: Gottlieb announces a crackdown on flavored e-cig sales.Reuters / Mike SegarRoughly a week after announcing his departure from the FDA, Gottlieb released a plan to crack down on flavored e-cigarette sales at gas stations, pharmacies, and convenience stores. The plan would also crack down on websites without buffers against youth purchases, such as age-verification software or quantity limits.April 3, 2019: The FDA says it's looking into a 'potential safety issue' related to seizures tied to vaping.ShutterstockIn a statement, Gottlieb said his agency had seen reports suggesting that a small number of e-cigarette users (35 cases from 2010 to early 2019) had experienced seizures after vaping.By August, the FDA said it had received 127 reports — but noted that the new figure might simply mean more people were coming forward, not necessarily that cases were increasing.Gottlieb also noted that seizures were known as possible side effects of nicotine poisoning and said the agency would continue exploring whether there was a connection.April 8, 2019: Democrats in the US Senate launch an investigation into Juul's deal with Altria as well as its social media and advertising practices.Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.Sergio Flores/Getty ImagesEleven Democratic senators, including the party whip Dick Durbin and the presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, wrote a letter to Juul demanding that the company answer questions about its advertising practices and its deal with Altria, CNBC reported.June 13, 2019: The US House of Representatives announces an investigation of Juul's marketing and the Altria deal.Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are sworn in on the House floor January 3, 2017.Jonathan Ernst/ReutersHouse Democrats launch their own investigation into Juul, Fortune reports.July 16, 2019: Juul's CEO apologizes to parents of teens addicted to its vaping products.CBS This MorningIn a CNBC documentary, Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns issued an apology to parents of teens who were addicted to the company's vaping products."First of all, I'd tell them that I'm sorry that their child's using the product," Burns said.July 25, 2019: Officials in Wisconsin warn of eight cases of severe lung disease in teens who'd vaped. It's unclear what kinds of products or substances are involved.Simah Herman, 18, on September 19 with a photo of her former vaping devices in Los Angeles. Herman was in a medically induced coma and treated for pneumonia and lung-disease from vaping.Reuters / Lucy NicholsonIn July, Wisconsin's chief medical officer wrote a memo to healthcare providers warning them about a cluster of sick adolescents who had used e-cigarettes. Chest X-rays of the teens revealed similarities in lung damage, he says. The following month, the CDC released an emergency notice about 30 cases of vaping-related lung illness in Wisconsin. In mid-August, officials reported the first death tied to vaping-related lung illness: an adult in Illinois. By September, the CDC and the FDA said there had been 530 confirmed and probable cases of the mystery illness since June. Seven people died. The investigation is ongoing, and officials have yet to find a substance or brand that's common among all the cases.Aug. 16, 2019: Juul raises $785 million in equity and debt financing from Proioxis Ventures, according to PitchBook.Melia Robinson/Business InsiderThe funds will be used to speed Juul's expansion overseas, according to PitchBook. The figure brings the company to $14.2 billion in funds raised.Aug. 29, 2019: Bloomberg says Juul devices were involved in three reports of seizures linked to vaping.Brendan McDermid / ReutersIn three reports submitted to the FDA, people said they or their children had used a Juul before experiencing seizures, Bloomberg News reported. Bloomberg obtained the reports through a public records request.In two of the three reports, the FDA wasn't able to officially confirm that a Juul device was involved, according to Bloomberg.Aug. 29, 2019: Juul's CEO warns people against using Juuls and says vaping's long-term health effects are unknown.Juul's new CEO, Kevin Burns.Juul/YouTubeIn an interview with CBS, Burns said anyone who wasn't already using nicotine, the addictive drug in Juul, should not start."Don't vape. Don't use Juul," Burns told CBS.Sept. 9, 2019: The FDA slams Juul for portraying its e-cigs as 'totally safe' and marketing them to kids at schools.An ad showing a plate of food suggesting that users "save room for Juul."JuulIn a warning letter, the FDA said Juul wrongly painted its e-cigarettes, known in the industry as ENDS, as safer than cigarettes and marketed them intentionally to young people."Referring to your ENDS products as '99% safer' than cigarettes, 'much safer' than cigarettes, 'totally safe,' and 'a safer alternative than smoking cigarettes' is particularly concerning because these statements were made directly to children in school," the FDA letter said."Our concern is amplified by the epidemic rate of increase in youth use of ENDS products, including Juul's products," the letter added.Sept. 17, 2019: Juul sales are halted in China for unclear reasons.An employee at a Tmall logistics center in Suzhou, China.Thomson ReutersA selection of flavored Juul products that went up for sale on two online Chinese marketplaces, JD.com and Tmall, were removed within a week, The Wall Street Journal reported. Both retailers declined to say why.Juul had long been planning to launch in China, where more than 300 million people smoke, according to the World Health Organization. Its nicotine refills, or Juul Pods, are manufactured in Shenzhen, China.Sept. 18, 2019: India bans vaping, citing the "impact of e-cigarettes on the youth."Reuters / Neil HallIndia outlawed the production, sale, import, and advertising of e-cigarettes, citing the need to stop the "impact of e-cigarettes on the youth," BuzzFeed News reported. Penalties include jail time and fines of up to $7,000.Juul had been planning to launch in India, home to more than 106 million smokers — second only to China — by the end of 2019.Sept. 23, 2019: The US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into Juul.REUTERS/Ronen ZvulunThe Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors in the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California were conducting a criminal investigation of Juul. Further details, such as the focus of the investigation, were not available, and Juul didn't respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.Several other investigations are ongoing, including an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission focusing on whether Juul marketed to teens and an FDA investigation focused on marketing, outreach, and Juul's uniquely high nicotine content.Sept. 24, 2019: Juul reportedly prepares to scale back its staff.A woman exhaling a puff of vapor from a Juul e-cigarette.Associated Press / Craig MitchelldyerJuul began preparing to restructure its staff as it faced slower sales resulting from increasing reports about the mysterious vaping-related lung illness, the proposed US ban on flavored e-cigarettes, and a variety of other investigations, The Wall Street Journal reported.The company employs roughly 3,900 people, according to The Journal, up from the 200 it had in 2017.For now, Juul plans to hire less aggressively and start outlining plans to cut some jobs, according to The Journal, but will still continue to expand. Sept. 25, 2019: CEO Kevin Burns steps down and is replaced by longtime tobacco executive K.C. Crosthwaite.Former Juul CEO Kevin Burns.CBS This MorningCrosthwaite was most recently chief growth officer at Altria, and has worked in tobacco for more than 20 years.In announcing the change, Juul also said it would suspend US advertising and some lobbying efforts. Crosthwaite said he would "strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate."Oct. 7, 2019: A crop of school districts across three states sues Juul.ShutterstockFour school districts sue Juul in what appears to be the beginning of a trend.The districts include Three Village Central in New York, La Conner in Washington, Olathe in Kansas, and Francis Howell in Missouri. In separate suits filed on Monday, the districts argue that Juul created a public nuisance by intentionally marketing to kids; misrepresenting its products' nicotine content; and endangering teens' health, according to public documents that Business Insider viewed.Cindy Ormsby, an attorney for the Missouri case, told the Riverfront Times that the Francis Howell lawsuit is "part of a coordinated package of litigation filed by school districts across the country, each dealing with a similar crisis of students addicted to nicotine." In September, Kansas City school district Goddard became one of the first to announce that it was preparing a lawsuit against Juul.The lawsuits seek unspecified damages and legal fees.Oct. 17, 2019: Juul extends its ban on sweet and fruity flavors to include online sales.SRITAJuul announces that it is stopping online sales of its mango, fruit, cucumber, and cream varieties. Last fall, the company temporarily banned sales of those varieties in stores. As of Oct. 17, those flavors can't be purchased in-person or online.In a statement, Juul says it "will continue to develop scientific evidence to support the use of these flavored products."Oct. 28, 2019: Juul reportedly plans to cut 500 jobs before year's end. Its chief marketing officer departs the following day.Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty ImagesJuul looks to eliminate roughly 500 jobs by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reports.The cuts are part of a company-wide reorganization effort, according to the journal, and will involve anywhere between 10-15% of Juul's total workforce. "As the vapor category undergoes a necessary reset, this reorganization will help Juul Labs focus on reducing underage use, investing in scientific research, and creating new technologies while earning a license to operate in the US and around the world," KC Crosthwaite, Juul's new CEO, said in an emailed statement provided to Business Insider.The following day, the Journal reports that Juul's chief marketing officer is departing."Craig Brommers, an incredibly talented marketing executive, has asked to transition out of Juul Labs in the coming months so that he can pursue opportunities with other companies," a Juul spokesperson told the Journal.The spokesperson also said that as a result of Brommer's departure, the CMO position would be cut.Oct. 29, 2019: Juul names a new chief financial officer after its existing CFO asks to leave.Smith Collection/Gado/Getty ImagesJuul appoints Guy Cartwright its new chief financial officer after CFO Tim Danaher asks to leave the company, the Wall Street Journal reports.Cartwright previously served as managing director of the investment firm TowerBrook Capital Partners LP, and joined Juul in July, according to the Journal. Danaher had served as Juul's CFO since 2014.Oct. 31, 2019: Marlboro maker Altria, which owns a third of Juul, slashes the value of its stake in the company. Juul is now valued at $24 billion instead of $38 billion.Justin Sullivan / Getty ImagesMarlboro maker Altria, which last December purchased a 35% stake in Juul for $12.8 billion, cuts the value of its investment in the company by $4.5 billion.The move reveals that Juul is now worth $24 billion, down from $38 billion.On a conference call, Altria cited unexpected market shifts like regulatory crackdowns abroad and a proposed US flavor ban."We're not pleased to have to take an impairment charge on the Juul investment," Altria CEO Howard Willard said on the call. "We did not anticipate this dramatic a change in the e-vapor category," he added.November 7, 2019: Juul stops selling mint flavored options, leaving only menthol and tobacco flavored refillable cartridges.A screenshot shows 2015 advertising for Juul products displayed in a print magazineReutersJuul announces it will stop selling mint-flavored refillable cartridges, or Juul pods. In a press release, the company said it would immediately stop accepting orders for the mint-flavored pods from retail partners and stop selling mint-flavored pods online.According to the release, Juul's decision was based partially on new research  which suggested that mint and mango were the most popular flavors among high school students who Juul."These results are unacceptable," Juul Labs CEO KC Crosthwaite said in the release, adding, "that is why we must reset the vapor category in the US and earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, Attorneys General, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use."2020: Amid the pandemic, Juul lays off 40% of its workforce in April, 2020. It then lays off over half of its remaining staff, resulting in about a further 1,000 employees being cut.Shopkeepers stand inside a Juul shop at a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 30, 2019.REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana2021: By 2021, Altria slashes its valuation for Juul to $5 billion, while Juul itself asserts it was worth $10 billion. Two years prior, the company was valued at $38 billion.A hand with a cigarette is seen in front of displayed logos of Philip Morris and Altria in this picture illustrationReutersSeptember 30, 2021: The CDC and FDA releases a study that finds that over 2 million middle-and-high-school students in the US were using e-cigarettes.Eva Hambach/Getty ImagesThe study found that eight in 10 of those students used flavored e-cigarettes."These data highlight the fact that flavored e-cigarettes are still extremely popular with kids," said Mitch Seller, the director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "And we are equally disturbed by the quarter of high school students who use e-cigarettes and say they vape every single day."February, 2022: A judge rules that Altria can keep its investment in Juul.FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2018, file photo Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York. The company that makes Marlboro cigarettes will take a $4.1 billion hit from its investment in Juul. Altria took a 35% stake in the e-cigarette company at the end of 2018 at a cost of almost $13 billion. The Richmond, Va., company on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 cited burgeoning legal cases that it expects to grow. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)Associated PressAn administrative judge ruled that Altria didn't break antitrust laws by taking a 35% stake in Juul. The Federal Trade Commission had sued in 2019, and can still appeal the ruling. June 23, 2022: The FDA bans Juul from selling and distributing its e-cigarette products in the US, and also orders that all products currently in the market be removed.Markets InsiderAltria's stock plunged 10% on news of the ban. The FDA did briefly prohibit Juul products in the US, though an appeal of the decision forced the agency to put its decision on hold.December 6, 2022: Juul agrees to settle roughly 5,000 lawsuits that accused the company of marketing its products to teens and children.Julia NaftulinJuul got an equity investment to pay for the settlement costs, though the financial terms were not disclosed, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.January 25, 2023: Juul executives were in discussions with major tobacco companies, including Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco, and Altria, the Wall Street Journal reported.Close-up of logo for e-cigarette or vape company Juul on glass window of convenience store in San Ramon, California, December 6, 2019.Smith Collection/Gado/Getty ImagesThe talks included multiple possibilities, including an outright sale of Juul as well as strategic investments and licensing and distribution deals, the Journal reported.April 12, 2023: Juul reached a $462 million settlement with states including New York and California, ending allegations that Juul targeted young consumers with its marketing.JUUL FacebookThe settlement marked an end to the biggest portions of Juul's legal troubles, the New York Times reported. With the news, Juul had reached settlements with 47 states and territories as well as 5,000 individuals and local governments, per the Times.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 30th, 2023

Miami spent years partying on a crypto-fueled high. I went to check out the brutal comedown.

Miami was party central during the pandemic as tech bros and crypto kings flocked to Florida. Now it's like a scene from The Last of Us. Miami was the center of the stock and crypto markets' pandemic boom. But now the party is over and the city is facing the fallout.Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/InsiderThe years of wild partying have ended. I went in search of survivors.To be successful on Wall Street, you have to be able to recognize the changing market winds — patterns that inform investors when it's time to get in and when they need to get out. Sometimes, the winds are a warm and inviting breeze: Assets rise in value and everyone seems to be making money. Other times, they turn into a violent gale, leaving financial destruction and destitutioniin their wake.If any city was in the eye of the dramatic weather pattern that seized markets over the past few years, it was Miami. And if any city is the city where you can see just how remarkably things have shifted, it's also Miami. Consider it a financial weather vane perched on the Florida coast.When I visited Miami in January 2021, the gentle winds of stimulus cash and pandemic-era savings had turned the city into the capital of crypto and a paradise for a new type of too-online stock jockey. But when I returned in January this year, signs of the market's meteorological reversal were everywhere.Gone are the nearly daily happy hours at beachfront bars where crypto guys in Crocs enthused about the newest coin. Traffic on Miami Beach's sexiest thoroughfare, Collins Avenue, is lighter. The home of the NBA's Miami Heat — which was hastily christened "FTX Arena" after the city signed a $135 million deal with the now collapsed cryptocurrency exchange — has already been renamed the "Miami-Dade Arena." And the gossip around town is that the repo man is coming for recently purchased Mercedes G Wagons — the unofficial status symbol of Miami's newly monied.Not that the city's longtime residents are rattled by any of this. Miami has been home to many a frenzy — the land grabs of the 1920s, the cocaine boom of the '80s, and the real-estate bust of 2008. Every time there is a boom, the city is invaded. And every time there is an inevitable bust, the carpetbaggers clear. The people who are able to really make it in Miami are a lot like the people who make it in the market: steady, clear-eyed, and attentive to the possibility of gale-force winds blowing in from the Caribbean overnight. And those who limp out after the winds shift leave with a lot fewer dollars but a handful of valuable lessons: Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and sometimes when the sun shines, it burns.Miami bubble machineMiami is no stranger to swift injections of wealth. Yes, the city is an international financial hub, but it's also a free-wheeling port with a love for fast money in a state with no income tax — classically great conditions for forming financial bubbles. Miami Beach itself was born during the land rush of the '20s, when Carl Fisher built the town from sand dredged out of Biscayne Bay and average Americans began buying up plots in Florida sight-unseen. The author Christopher Knowlton argues in his book "Bubble in the Sun" that while this speculation didn't directly cause the Great Depression, "the Sunshine State did provide both the dynamite and the detonator."If the draw in the 1920s was imaginary land, Miami's bubble in the 2020s was driven by imaginary money — crypto. Either way, the idea was the same: Buy into the hot investment and become fabulously wealthy in no time. When I visited Miami in February 2021, the vaccine rollout was just getting started. Californians and New Yorkers were fleeing to Florida in record numbers to escape the pandemic winter, find riches, or both. Miami, on the other hand, was raging as if there were no pandemic at all.The stock market was on a stimulus-fueled heater, and the whole town knew somebody who was raking in money trading on Robinhood. You couldn't get a seat at Carbone, the extravagant red-sauce joint imported from New York City and known for catering to the stars. Living up to Miami's reputation for big bienvenidos, the city's mayor, Francis Suarez, set himself up as a one-man welcome wagon for the crypto crowd, the startup crowd, and any financial firm that might consider moving into town. As bitcoin surged above $40,000, the city published a "white paper" that declared crypto would "transform the world," minted its own digital currency, and started attracting the biggest names in digital finance. Crypto was injected into basically every Miami function, especially its biggest annual festival, Art Basel. With all the ease of Pitbull putting on a pair of aviator sunglasses, Miami absorbed the frenetic energy of an entire country frustrated by the pandemic and flush with cash."The pitch was like Miami's cocaine-cowboy days," a real-estate broker who specializes in selling high-end properties to rich newcomers told me. "'Come here, and it'll be free rein.' It didn't feel like the right move, but cash is still king in Miami." The crypto guys worked their way into every corner of Miami's party scene: including the annual Art Basel festival.Erika Goldring/Getty Images for MarshlandThe real-estate broker told me that during this boom, they took a lot of young men in the crypto world to see properties, though they rarely bought anything. They were cosplaying as wealthy real-estate gurus, the broker said, "trying to be an expert in something they didn't really understand," and they were often uninterested in whether a prospective deal made financial sense. There was a lack of grounding in their property viewings, often espoused by the improbable combination of naivety and a new girlfriend at every meeting.Given the city's history of riding trends, it wasn't surprising that crypto and other tech startups based on short-order fads — think: metaverse — found a home in Miami. What was odder was the kind of people who flocked to Miami for this latest speculative craze."If you're not comfortable going out, going out, Miami is a lot to handle," the real-estate broker told me. "I don't think any of them are exposed to nightlife. The things that you do in your 20s, these guys were doing for the first time."At night, the crypto kids traveled in obvious packs of men dressed like boys at camp. And like boys at camp, their movements were confined to parts of town built to accommodate visitors at play. It's unclear whether that was for comfort or simply because they did not know where else to go. They had too much money to be spring breakers and too little idea what to do with it to be locals. They did not own white jeans, a staple of the Miami nightlife uniform, and could not tell the difference between a pretty woman flirting and one doing her job. They did, however, tip and spend well when instructed, I'm told. Miami — ever elastic — may have bent from crowding and been tired from teaching, but it did not break.This is not to say that all the city's growth was built on the blockchain. There were more staid players of high finance who relocated as well. Citadel — Wall Street's largest market maker and undisputed victor of the pandemic cycle — moved its headquarters and ultimately hundreds of employees there from Chicago. But the real-estate broker told me there were clear differences between those heading south riding crypto cash and the more traditional finance people. Unlike the crypto kids, these traditional types showed up to view property with a family and a financial plan. It was clear that, like their employees, they were looking for a place to make a long-term deal — or, at the very least, a good school district.Privately, Miami natives laughed when the newcomersignored their warnings about the anxiety of hurricane season and the unbearable summer heat. The newcomers — and the crypto kids, especially — believed they could master Miami as easily as they had mastered the markets. Like so many before them, they had picked the right investment and become fabulously wealthy in no time. So how hard could it be?The rhythm is going to get youIn spring 2022, this recent round of Miami novices learned the same lesson as speculators throughout the city's history: It can literally be pretty tough, bro.After they spent two years riding high, the winds changed and the markets turned with a vengeance. Bitcoin started collapsing in March, going from a record high of over $60,000 to $16,200 by November. Miami coin fell 95% from February to May. Tech stocks big and small got pounded too. The new Miami money party started to run out of libations.The moment the music really stopped, though, was when FTX — which had been valued at $32 billion at its peak — collapsed in November and its wunderkind founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was charged with fraud. It was a sucking sound heard across the crypto world, and other big names in the burgeoning industry — like Celsius and Gemini — were swept away shortly thereafter. In Miami, the crypto guys started disappearing from town. One bartender at a members-only beach club in South Beach, where the crypto kids tried to hold court, told me that it was a pretty quick vanishing act. They're all gone "because they're all broke," they told me. It was as simple as that.As one person who managed the jump from raising money for Wall Street to Miami crypto and then back again told me frankly: "Everyone knew SBF was a fraud, but Bernie Madoff kept the joke going for almost 20 years." The expectation, they said, was that SBF would be more adept at keeping the shell game going — he wasn't. Without the man CNBC's Jim Cramer called "the next JP Morgan," and with Washington bearing down on the industry, the crypto kings of Miami got scarce — fast.And as soon as FTX fell, the cold winds of regulation began sweeping into Miami from Washington, DC. "Sweetie, regulation means less opportunity," the former crypto fundraiser said. In interviews, leaders like Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong will tell you that crypto welcomes regulation because it can remove uncertainty and give participants clarity on the rules of the road. But this is more of a ruse: What Armstrong and his ilk want are lax regulations.It's smoke and mirrors. There's no real money here anymore.That is why crypto's current collapse of faith may be fatal. Regulators clearly think crypto is too volatile for big banks to handle, which will limit its growth. As things are, the small banks that were servicing the industry are failing — like San Diego's Silvergate — or flailing, like New York's Signature Bank, for lack of capital as coin prices plummet. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler seems to be leaning toward officially labeling crypto a security, which could kill the industry entirely by revealing that under its thin veneer of technological innovation, there is just plain, old gambling. Knowing this, the same people who were sipping cocktails in their cargo shorts and calling Miami home in 2021 are now threatening to move their emptying empires overseas in 2023 — if they haven't left already. Gensler seems unmoved."There were a lot of true believers in the Miami crypto scene. They wanted to drink the Kool-Aid," the fundraiser said. "The big boys like Peter Thiel all got out on top. The paupers just crumbled to nothing."In January, I sat with a former crypto executive at the bar in South Beach's Eden Roc hotel. Miami was experiencing its normal winter rush of Wall Street conferences, and we were reading faces. The crypto exec wanted to see whether Wall Street's rank and file had figured out what they had figured out months before — that the beach party was over. "It's smoke and mirrors. There's no real money here anymore," the former crypto exec, a third-generation Wall Streeter, said. "It's all gone to Dubai and Singapore." There was fear on people's faces where two years ago there had been greed."You know who's rich in Miami?" the former crypto exec — now a naturalized Miami citizen — asked me. "The people who make windows for yachts."They're right. The people who survive in the city, whatever the weather, are those who make a living supporting its glamorous lifestyle. They work in nightlife, hospitality, real estate, and anything that can provide the infrastructure for revelers' good time. Like so many speculators before them, the crypto kids came and went, barely leaving a mark in the sand. Some of the wealth that came into Miami over the past few years will stick. But just like in the wider market crash, much of it is gone forever. This is a routine the city has grown accustomed to. Nature is healing. After another tide of money rushed in and out, Miami remains sun-soaked and unbothered but always keeping one eye out for the next shift in the wind.Linette Lopez is a senior correspondent at Insider.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMar 26th, 2023

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: First kids of the United States

Jimmy Carter has four children: Jack, Chip, Jeff, and Amy. Some of his kids followed him into politics, while others stayed out of public life. Jimmy Carter with his daughter, Amy, in 1976 (left) and 1995.CWH/AP ; Rick Diamond/Getty Images Children of US presidents are in the public eye almost as much as their parents. Some first kids follow their parents into politics, while others steer clear of the limelight. Many remain involved with their parents' foundations and presidential libraries. Melissa Stanger, Melia Robinson, and James Pasley contributed to previous versions of this article.Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, was just 3 years old when she moved into the White House in 1961.Caroline Kennedy perches on a swing set on the White House lawn in April 1963.CORBIS/Corbis via Getty ImagesAfter President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Jacqueline moved the family to Manhattan.Kennedy went on to attend Radcliffe College and Columbia Law School.Kennedy served as the US ambassador to Japan for three years.Caroline Kennedy.Brian Snyder/ReutersKennedy was the first woman to serve as ambassador to Japan. During her tenure, former President Barack Obama strengthened his relationship with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. She resigned from the job shortly after President Donald Trump was sworn in in 2017.The former attorney also serves as president of the JFK Presidential Library and has written best-selling books on constitutional law, American history, and poetry.In 2019, she presented House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.Caroline is married to American designer Edwin Schlossberg and they have three children. President Lyndon B. Johnson's daughter Lynda held her wedding at the White House in 1967.President Lyndon Johnson escorts daughter Lynda prior to her wedding ceremony in the East Room of the White House in 1967.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesLynda Bird Johnson married Chuck Robb, who went on to serve as the governor of Virginia from 1982 to 1986 and the state's senator from 1989 to 2001.The bride wore a gown designed by Geoffrey Beene, embellished with buttons at the high neck and down the princess-line seams.Today, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb advocates for equal rights for women and minorities.Lynda Bird Johnson Robb in 2013.Carolyn Kaster/APThe former Virginia first lady is the oldest living child of a US president. In the '70s, she chaired the President's Advisory Committee for Women to help carry out former President Jimmy Carter's mandate to promote gender equality.Johnson Robb, whose father signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act, spoke at the 50th anniversary ceremony of the March on Washington and attended the remembrance banquet for the 50th anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" assault in Selma, Alabama.She has openly supported same-sex marriage, and she and her sister, Luci, told Katie Couric in an interview in 2014 that she believes her father would have, too.In 2019, the Johnson sisters christened a warship bearing their father's name by smashing champagne bottles against the ship.The younger Johnson daughter, Luci Baines Johnson, also had a White House wedding.Luci Baines Johnson and Pat Nugent with their wedding cake at the White House in 1966.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesBaines Johnson married Patrick Nugent in 1966 in a gown designed by Priscilla Kidder.The couple held their ceremony at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and their reception in the East Room of the White House. They had four children and divorced in 1979.Baines Johnson then married investor Ian J. Turpin in 1984.Baines Johnson now chairs the private holding company her mother founded 70 years ago.Luci Baines Johnson.Jay Janner-Pool/Getty ImagesBaines Johnson and Turpin took the helm of LBJ Asset Management Partners in the late '80s and completely turned the business around during the economic crisis.In 2020, she took part in a Facebook live event supporting Texas Democrats.President Richard Nixon's daughter Tricia held her wedding in the White House Rose Garden in 1971.Edward Finch Cox and Tricia Nixon Cox at their wedding in 1971.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesTricia Nixon and Edward Finch Cox met at a high school dance in 1963 and dated throughout college.Their wedding was the first to be held outdoors in the White House Rose Garden.Today, Nixon Cox lives a quiet life with her family in Manhattan.Tricia Nixon Cox.T. J. Kirkpatrick/Getty ImagesNixon Cox accompanied her father on many campaign stops and state trips during his presidency but has steered clear of the spotlight since starting a family more than 40 years ago.Trisha serves on the board of the Richard Nixon Foundation and has one child, Christopher Nixon Cox.She and Cox celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2021 with an event at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.Julie Nixon Eisenhower, who married President Eisenhower's grandson in 1968, volunteered as a White House tour guide during her father's presidency.Julie Nixon Eisenhower leading a tour at the White House in 1969.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesIn the summer of 1969, Nixon Eisenhower led tours of the White House for people with impaired vision."Children and adults felt the scaled serpent legs of the wooden Empire sofa in the Red Room, enjoyed the smoothness of the silk tassels on the draperies in the Green Room, and touched the cool silver of the two-hundred-year-old coffee urn that had belonged to John and Abigail Adams," she wrote in a biography of her mother titled "Pat Nixon: The Untold Story."Nixon Eisenhower has written several biographies and serves on the board of her father's presidential library.Julie Nixon Eisenhower.Cliff Owen/APA staunch supporter of her father after the Watergate scandal, Nixon Eisenhower lives on a Pennsylvania farm away from the public eye.In addition to writing a biography about her mother, she and husband David Eisenhower authored a memoir about her grandfather-in-law, "Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969." The couple has three children.Michael Ford (first from the right) had recently married Gayle Ann Brumbaugh when his father, President Gerald Ford, took office.From left to right: Steve Ford, John Ford, first lady Betty Ford, President Gerald Ford, Susan Ford, daughter-in-law Gayle Ann Ford, and her husband Michael Ford.White House Photos/Getty ImagesMichael was also a student at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, an evangelical seminary in Massachusetts.Michael spent 36 years overseeing campus life at Wake Forest University.Michael Ford.Rex Larsen-Pool/GettyMichael Ford, who went by "Mike," returned to his alma mater, Wake Forest University, in 1981 as associate dean of campus life, and he retired in 2017 after 36 years. He serves as a trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.He and Gayle Ann have three children.John "Jack" Gardner Ford was known as the president's "free-spirited, shaggy-haired son."John "Jack" Gardner Ford (right) with White House photographer David Hume Kennerly at the White House in 1975.David Hume Kennerly/Getty ImagesDuring Ford's presidency, Jack studied at Utah State University and worked as a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park during the summers.Jack became a founding staff member of the magazine Outside.Jack Ford.Tasos Katopodis/GettyJack grew into a successful entrepreneur. He founded a startup, California Infotech, which supplied electronic information kiosks to malls. He also helped launch Outside magazine.After appearing at half a dozen Republican National Conventions, Jack served as executive director of the San Diego host committee for the RNC in 1996. In 1989, he married Juliann Ford. They have two sons.Steven Ford was 18 years old when his father became president.Steven Ford (second from the left) chats with White House staff in 1974.David Hume Kennerly/Getty ImagesKnown as the "charmer of the family," Steven worked as a ranch hand in Utah, Montana, and Idaho instead of going straight to college.Steven became an actor, appearing in "The Young and The Restless" and several Hollywood blockbusters.Steven Ford.Alex Wong/GettySteven joined the cast of television soap opera "The Young and The Restless" in 1981, playing P.I. Andy Richards. After six seasons and a role reprisal in 2002, he has since appeared in a number of films, including "Armageddon," "Black Hawk Down," "When Harry Met Sally," and "Transformers."Ford ended his tenure as chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation in 2014, though he remains on the board of trustees. He continues to honor the legacy of his father's administration, speaking at town-hall events and lectures around the country. His most requested talks are: "Inside the White House and Hollywood" and "Getting to the top with character."In 1975, 17-year-old Susan Ford held her senior prom in the East Room of the White House.Susan Ford and Sandcastle front man Billy Etheridge dance at the 1975 Holton Arms School Senior Prom.CORBIS/Corbis via Getty ImagesThe youngest of the Ford children, Susan lived in the White House full-time. Her senior class raised all the funds for the prom, including the fee for bands Sandcastle and the Outerspace Band, and elected her prom queen, according to Vanity Fair. It remains the only prom to have ever been held in the White House.Susan also took up photography under the mentorship of White House photographer David Kennerly.Susan Ford Bales has since worked as a photojournalist, breast cancer advocate, and trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.Susan Ford Bales.GettyFord Bales worked as a photojournalist for the Associated Press, Newsweek, Money Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, the Topeka Capital-Journal, and the Omaha Sun. She has also written two novels set in the White House, "Double Exposure: A First Daughter Mystery"  and "Sharp Focus."Ford Bales launched National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in conjunction with her mother, and she succeeded her mother as chairwoman of the Betty Ford Center. She has also called for better efforts to identify causes and cures to heart disease, after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest herself in 2013.She married Charles Vance, one of her father's former secret service agents, and they had two children before divorcing in 1988. She later married attorney Vaden Bales.John William "Jack" Carter is President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter's oldest son.A portrait of President Jimmy Carter and his extended family. Jack Carter is third from the left, holding son Jason James Carter.CORBIS/Corbis via Getty ImagesJack and his then-wife Judy had a young son of their own, Jason James, when Jimmy Carter took office.Jack ran for a Nevada seat in the US Senate.Jack Carter.John Locher/APIn 2006, Jack ran for the first major office the Carter family has sought since 1980. He sealed the Democratic nomination for a US Senate seat in Nevada, but was unsuccessful against an incumbent Republican senator in the general election.Jack spent most of his career in the investment and finance industry. He has been married twice and has two children.James Earl "Chip" Carter worked for his family's peanut farming business.Chip Carter and Caron Griffith at President Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Ball in 1977.Mikki Ansin/Getty ImagesHe attended his father's inaugural ball with his then-wife Caron Griffith in 1977, where they were interviewed by American gossip columnist Rona Barrett.Chip has since participated in the Democratic National Committee and served as a member of Plains City Council.Chip Carter.John Bazemore/APChip worked as vice president, then president and CEO, at Friendship Force, a not-for-profit that organized international exchanges for adult home stays.He has been married three times and has a son and a daughter.His son James Carter IV — the grandson of President Carter — made headlines during the 2012 presidential election after he helped unearth the infamous "47%" video that ostracized nominee Mitt Romney. James Carter IV later received a thank-you note from former President Barack Obama.Donnel Jeffrey "Jeff" Carter and his wife, Annette, were newlyweds when they moved into the White House with his parents.Jeff Carter, the son of President Jimmy Carter, with his wife, Annette.Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty ImagesJeff and Annette met at Georgia Southwestern University and married in 1975 during Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign. They spent the first years of their married life in the White House."While living in the White House, Jeff and Annette helped host everybody from Bob Dylan to Pope John Paul II," their son Josh wrote in Annette's obituary in September 2021. "In some of Annette's favorite White House memories, she greeted the cast of Star Wars after the release of 'A New Hope' and John Travolta after he starred in 'Saturday Night Fever' and 'Grease.' These experiences were quite extraordinary for Jeff and Annette's first few years of marriage."Jeff launched a computer-electronics company.Jeff Carter volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.R. Diamond/WireImage/Getty ImagesJeff co-founded Computer Mapping Consultants, a firm that became a consultancy for the World Bank in 1978 and held foreign government contracts.He and Annette had three children together. In 2018, their 28-year-old son Jeremy died from a suspected heart attack.President Jimmy Carter's youngest child, Amy Carter, was 9 years old when her father's presidency began.Rosalynn Carter, Jimmy Carter, and Amy Carter on the South Lawn of the White House in 1977.HUM Images/Universal Images Group via Getty ImagesAmy had a pet Siamese cat named Misty who accompanied her to Camp David and took up residence in her doll house.Amy illustrated a children's book that her father wrote.Amy Carter with husband Jay Kelly and son Hugo Carter in 2008.Rick Diamond/Staff/WireImage/Getty ImagesAmy became a political activist in the '80s and '90s, and she was even arrested at a CIA recruitment protest. She later received a master's degree from Tulane in art history and wed computer consultant James Wentzel in 1996. At her wedding ceremony she was not given away, saying she did not belong to anyone. She had one child with Wentzel, a son named Hugo James Wentzel. They later divorced, and she married John Joseph "Jay" Kelly in 2007. They share another son, Errol Carter Kelly.Amy worked with her dad on the 1995 children's book "The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer," which Jimmy wrote and she illustrated, about a boy who befriends a monster. She remains a board member of the Carter Center, but she has otherwise stayed out of public life.Michael Reagan was adopted by Ronald Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman, three years before the couple divorced.President Ronald Reagan with son Michael Reagan in the doorway of Marine One.Diana Walker/Getty ImagesHe is the last living child of Reagan's first marriage.Michael became a successful radio talk-show host.Michael Reagan.Getty ImagesAfter a stint working in aerospace, the powerboat-racing enthusiast found his niche as a political radio talk-show host. He hosted the show for over 26 years. In his retirement, Michael writes op-ed articles, contributes to Newsmax Media, and serves as president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation.Michael, 76, has been married twice and has two children.Reagan's daughter Patti followed in her father's footsteps as an actress.President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan with daughter Patti Davis (right), and son Ron Jr. and his wife Doria (left) at the White House on Christmas.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesDuring the 1980s, she appeared in TV movies such as "Curse of the Pink Panther" and "For Ladies Only," as well as shows like "Romance Theatre" and "The Love Boat."She didn't always have the easiest relationship with her parents — she wrote a tell-all memoir detailing "her father's emotional abandonment of her, her mother's cruelty, and the family's bitter rivalries, uncontrollable rage, and dark secrets."Patti married Paul Grilley in 1984. They divorced in 1990.Davis is the author of multiple fiction and nonfiction novels.Patti Davis.Associated Press/Chris PizzelloDavis has opened up about struggling with a number of personal obstacles, including drug addiction, self-harm, and an eating disorder, and published more than half a dozen works.She blogs regularly on her website and in 2017, wrote an editorial on her father's shooter called "Don't Let My Dad's Shooter Go Free." In 2019, she said her father would be "horrified" about democracy during the era of President Donald Trump.She released her latest memoir, "Floating in the Deep End: How Caregivers Can See Beyond Alzheimer's," in September 2021.Ron Reagan Jr. dropped out of Yale to become a professional ballet dancer.President Reagan watching Ron hug Nancy after a ballet performance in 1981.Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty ImagesAs a member of the Joffrey Ballet, Reagan Jr. danced in John Cranko's ''The Taming of the Shrew'' at City Center, Frederick Ashton's ''Illuminations,'' Mr. Cranko's ''Pineapple Poll,'' and Antony Tudor's ''Offenbach in the Underworld.'' He left the ballet company in 1983.Reagan Jr. now provides political analysis as an MSNBC contributor.Ron Reagan.Getty ImagesReagan Jr. tried his hand at a number of careers before arriving in journalism and joining MSNBC as a political analysis contributor. He has expressed strong opposition to Trump.Unlike his father, Reagan Jr. has very liberal political views. The "unabashed atheist" recorded a comical PSA for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which ran during Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" in 2014.He married Doria Palmieri, a clinical psychologist, in 1980. She died in 2014, and he married Federica Basagni in 2018.George W. Bush, the oldest of President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush's children, went to Yale and worked in the oil business before venturing into politics himself.George W. Bush (first on right) at his father's inauguration in 1989.Diana Walker/Getty ImagesGeorge W. Bush campaigned for his father in 1988 and purchased the Texas Rangers baseball team a year later. He served as governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.He served as president from 2001 to 2009, and he has since taken up painting.George W. Bush.Alex Brandon / Pool / GettyGeorge W. Bush served as the 43rd president at the start of the war in Iraq. He was criticized for his handling of the "War on Terror," Hurricane Katrina, and other challenges. He has mostly steered clear of politics since leaving office, but he called for the end of the partial government shutdown on Instagram in 2019 with a photo featuring him and his wife, Laura Bush, handing pizza over to their Secret Service detail, who were working without pay.In April, he revealed that he wrote in Condoleezza Rice's name on his 2020 election ballot."She knows it," he told People magazine. "But she told me she would refuse to accept the office."He also gave the maximum allowed political contributions to Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, two Republicans who supported impeaching former President Donald Trump over the January 6 Capitol riot.Today, he is enjoying retirement as a grandfather and an artist. In April, he released a book of paintings titled, "Out of Many, One: Portraits of America's Immigrants." His friendship with former first lady Michelle Obama has also made headlines.John Ellis "Jeb" Bush stayed in close contact with his father's administration as he pursued his own political ambitions.President George H.W. Bush speaks in 1991 as Jeb Bush and Barbara Bush look on.Dirck Halstead/Getty ImagesJeb transitioned from corporate life to public office in the '80s — first as the chairman of the Dade County Republican Party and eventually as governor of Florida.Jeb frequently wrote letters to his father during his presidency with various requests, ranging from suggestions for appointees for United States attorney to meetings with Motorola. The New York Times reported in 2015 that Jeb's requests often served to reward supporters and build out his own political connections.After serving as governor of Florida and running for president in 2015, Jeb became a college professor.Jeb Bush.Getty Images/Bryan BedderDuring his presidential campaign, he released 33 years of tax returns — the most ever made public by a presidential candidate — as a sign to voters that he values transparency.Since his presidential run, Jeb has been spending time teaching, first as a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, then teaching a class at Texas A&M before being named presidential professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania.He published an op-ed in the Miami Herald in 2020 calling for a "student and parents 'bill of rights' that secures their right to access, quality and transparency."He married Columba Garnica Gallo in 1974 and they have three children.Neil Bush's experience with dyslexia inspired Barbara Bush's focus on childhood literacy programs as first lady.Neil Bush reads to elementary school children.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesHe earned a bachelor's degree and an MBA from Tulane University and then founded educational software company Ignite! Learning in 1999 after struggling with dyslexia as a child.An international businessman, Neil currently chairs the board of directors at Points of Light, the philanthropic group his father founded.Neil Bush.Getty ImagesIn addition to Points of Light, Neil chairs the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, the Bush China US Relations Foundation, and several property development companies and consulting firms.Neil married Sharon Bush and they had three children. In 2003, they divorced and he married Maria Andrews in 2004.Marvin Bush attended the University of Virginia and worked in insurance.Marvin Bush (left) and Dorothy Bush in 1990.Ron Sachs/CNP/Getty ImagesHis family gave him the nickname "Marvelous," according to The New York Times.Today, Marvin Bush is a managing partner at an investment firm in Washington, DC.Marvin Bush.Andrew Harnik/APMarvin is president of the Washington, DC-based investment firm Winston Capital Management.Marvin made headlines during the 2016 presidential election when he endorsed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson over Trump after his brother Jeb's exit from the race.He married Margaret Conway in 1981 and they adopted two children.Dorothy Bush married former Democratic aide Robert "Bobby" Koch in a private ceremony at Camp David in 1992.Dorothy Bush Koch (right) and Bobby Koch at the 1992 Republican National Convention.CHRIS WILKINS/AFP via Getty ImagesThe private Camp David nuptials were Dorothy's second wedding. Koch previously worked as an aide to Rep. Richard Gephardt, a Democratic congressman from Missouri."I think every once in a while, even a president's family is entitled to something private," President Bush said, according to The Washington Post. "And certainly when it comes to the marriage of a daughter, that's the way we looked at it."Dorothy Bush Koch authored a book about her experience as a first kid.Dorothy Bush Koch.Getty ImagesDorothy is involved in a number of charities and philanthropies, and she serves as the honorary co-chair of The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.She published "My Father, My President: A Personal Account of the Life of George H. W. Bush," a memoir of her life as the 41st president's daughter. She also helped found a wellness company that educates people about mindfulness and holistic living.She and Koch live in Maryland. She has four children, two of whom are from her first marriage.Chelsea Clinton was 12 years old when Bill Clinton entered the White House.President Bill Clinton, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton.Dirck Halstead/Getty ImagesThe Clintons asked the media to give Chelsea privacy outside of public appearances, but she still faced intense scrutiny and ridicule from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and "Saturday Night Live."She began studying at Stanford University in 1997.Chelsea Clinton serves as vice chair of the Clinton Foundation.Chelsea Clinton.Rob Kim/Getty ImagesChelsea is currently vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, where she champions the group's advocacy work in global health and childhood obesity. She previously worked as a special correspondent for NBC News and earned two master's degrees, one from Oxford in international relations and one in public health from Columbia University.Chelsea has written several children's books, and she's active on Twitter discussing issues facing families, public health, and dealing with bullies.While her mother, Hillary, lost the presidency to Trump, Chelsea said a future for her in politics was a "definite maybe."She and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, have three children.President George W. Bush's older twin daughter, Barbara Pierce Bush, graduated from Yale during his presidency and moved to New York City.Barbara Bush in 2003.Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic/Getty ImagesBarbara and her twin sister, Jenna, campaigned for their father and gave a speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention."Jenna and I are really not very political, but we love our dad too much to stand back and watch from the sidelines," Barbara said in the RNC speech. "We realized that this would be his last campaign, and we wanted to be a part of it. Besides, since we've graduated from college, we are looking around for something to do for the next few years. Kind of like Dad."Barbara went on to cofound Global Health Corps and support Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.Barbara Pierce Bush.Andrew Burton/ReutersWithin five years of graduating from Yale, Barbara cofounded Global Health Corps, a nonprofit that recruits young professionals to fight for better access to healthcare around the world. Before that, she worked at a children's hospital in South Africa and interned for UNICEF in Botswana.Barbara's political views differ from her family's. She spoke out in support of same-sex marriage in 2011 and was a noted Hillary Clinton supporter during the 2016 election.In 2017, she and her sister, Jenna Hager Bush, released a memoir called "Sisters First" about growing up in a political dynasty.That same year, Barbara married screenwriter Craig Coyne at the Bush family's Walker Point compound in Maine. They welcomed a daughter in 2021.She currently works as executive-in-residence with Eric Schmidt's Schmidt Futures, a venture facility "focused on technology & society, shared prosperity, and scientific benefit."The younger Bush twin, Jenna, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and began working in a DC charter school.President George W. Bush dances with his daughter Jenna as first lady Laura Bush looks on at the inauguration in 2001.DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty ImagesThe younger of the Bushes' twin daughters, Jenna earned a degree in English and worked as a teacher's aide at a charter school in Washington, DC. She took a leave of absence in 2006 to work for UNICEF in Latin America before returning to the school.Jenna Bush Hager is now a host for NBC's "Today" show.Jenna Bush Hager.Richard Drew/APIn 2008, Jenna released a book inspired by her work with UNICEF called "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope."She began working as a correspondent for NBC News in 2009 and was announced as the new host for the 10 o'clock hour of the "Today" show in 2019. Since taking over at "Today," she has begun a monthly book club that's been so successful it prompted Entertainment Weekly to dub her the new "book club queen." She also serves as a board member on the Greenwich International Film Festival.She and her husband, Henry Hager, have three children.Malia Obama was 10 years old when President Barack Obama took office.Malia Obama runs with Bo on the South Lawn of the White House in 2009.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty ImagesMalia attended Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC.In a 2015 appearance on "The Rachael Ray Show," former first lady Michelle Obama said that Malia's Secret Service detail taught her how to drive "because they wouldn't let me in the car with her."Malia graduated from Harvard in 2021 and is reportedly working with Donald Glover on a new Amazon Prime show, "Hive."Former president Barack Obama and his daughter Malia in 2016.Kevin Lamarque/ReutersMalia's interest in the entertainment industry began in high school. She interned on the canceled CBS series "Extant" in 2014, and she spent the summer of 2015 interning on Lena Dunham's HBO series "Girls."After graduating high school in 2016, she took a gap year where she interned at the now-defunct film studio The Weinstein Company.In 2021, Glover reportedly asked Malia to join the writing staff of his new Amazon show, "Hive," about a "Beyoncé-like" figure, sources told The Hollywood Reporter.In 2017, she reportedly began dating Rory Farquharson — son of British investment banker Charles Farquharson — whom she met at Harvard. Obama revealed on a 2020 episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast that Malia's boyfriend spent time living with them during the pandemic."He's British. Wonderful young man, and he was sort of stuck because there was a whole visa thing and he had a job set up," he said. "So we took him in, and I didn't want to like him, but he's a good kid. The only thing you discover ... young men eat! It's weird to watch them consume food. My grocery bill went up about 30 percent."At 7 years old, Sasha Obama was the youngest child to live in the White House since John F. Kennedy Jr.Sasha Obama at President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.Charles Ommanney/Getty ImagesSasha also attended Sidwell Friends School, where she became close friends with President Joe Biden's granddaughter Maisy Biden. Sasha and Maisy played together on the school's Vipers basketball team, which Obama briefly coached before a rival team complained.Sasha is currently a senior at the University of Michigan.Sisters Malia (left) and Sasha Obama.Olivier Douliery/GettyIn 2016, Sasha worked in the takeout window at Nancy's, a seafood restaurant on Martha's Vineyard, with six Secret Service agents in tow. Her and her sister's reaction to meeting "Deadpool" star Ryan Reynolds also went viral that same year.She moved back home at the beginning of the pandemic and continued taking her college classes online, but Michelle Obama told Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show" that both Sasha and Malia eventually had enough quality time with their parents and moved out west."By the summer, we were like, 'OK, that's enough of you. I have nothing else to say,'" she said. "Our youngest, Sasha, who's not as talkative as our older one, is just like, 'I really have nothing to say to you. I just don't. I'm not even trying anymore.'"Donald Trump Jr. served as executive vice president for the Trump organization and was instrumental in his father's presidential campaign.Donald Trump Jr.Brendan McDermid/ReutersAs executive vice president, Trump Jr. focused on expanding the commercial and real estate side of the business, and he appeared on "The Apprentice."He played a key role in his father's election campaign, making $50,000 speeches on his behalf and famously meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016 to get "dirt" on Clinton.He and his ex-wife, Vanessa, with whom he shares five children, finalized their divorce in February 2018, and he began dating former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle that May.Trump Jr. continues to speak at Trump rallies, bought a house in Florida, and is engaged to Guilfoyle.Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle at CPAC in 2021.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesIn March 2021, Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle sold their house in the Hamptons for $8 million and purchased a $9.7 million home in the gated Admirals Cove neighborhood of Jupiter, Florida, about 20 minutes from Mar-a-Lago.In January 2022, Guilfoyle posted a photo with Trump Jr. where she appeared to be wearing a diamond ring on her left ring finger. Guilfoyle confirmed their engagement in an Instagram post calling Trump Jr. her fiancé in February 2022.Last year, Trump Jr. was named — along with his father and two of his siblings, Ivanka and Eric — in a civil lawsuit filed by New York's attorney general Letitia James, who accused them of overvaluing the former president's assets by billions of dollars to banks and insurers. The defendants are fighting back against the lawsuit, claiming in January that the Trump Organization can't be sued because the name is branding shorthand, not a legal entity, Insider's Laura Italiano reported.Trump's daughter Ivanka served as an official advisor to her father in the White House.Ivanka Trump in 2019.Yuri Gripas/ReutersIvanka Trump served as a White House advisor to her father beginning in early 2017. In 2018, she was criticized for using a personal account to send hundreds of government-related emails.Before that, she worked at the Trump Organization with her brothers, but she resigned to avoid any conflicts of interest. She also had her own Ivanka Trump fashion brand, which she shut down in July 2018.In her early life, she modeled for brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Versace. She later appeared on "The Apprentice" as well as appearing on an episode of "Gossip Girl".She is married to real estate developer Jared Kushner, who also worked with her at the White House. They have three young children.Since Trump's presidency, Ivanka and Kushner have bought multiple properties in Florida and continued work on Kushner's Abraham Accords Caucus.Ivanka Trump on a walk with Jared Kushner in Florida in June 2021.MEGA/GC ImagesIvanka and Kushner reportedly bought a $32 million empty lot in Indian Creek Village, Florida, known as Miami's "Billionaire Bunker," in December 2020. They then signed a lease for a "large, unfurnished unit" in the amenities-packed Arte Surfside condominium building in Surfside, Florida, for at least a year, Katherine Clarke reported for The Wall Street Journal. They reportedly also added a $24 million mansion in Indian Creek Village to their Florida real estate profile.The Abraham Accords, which Kushner helped broker in August 2020, normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.During a visit to Israel in October 2021, Ivanka and Kushner met with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and attended an event at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem with former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.Ivanka has also been cooperating with the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, appearing for eight hours of questioning in April 2022.Like his older brother, Eric Trump worked as an executive vice president at the family business and appeared on "The Apprentice" before Trump's presidency.Eric Trump appears on the "Fox & friends" television program.AP/Richard DrewIn 2007, Eric created a charitable foundation to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research hospital in Tennessee, but he later stopped fundraising to avoid confusion around donations in the wake of his father's run to be president. In 2017, the foundation came under fire when a Forbes report alleged that thousands in donations were funneled to the Trump Organization. A spokesperson responded, "Contrary to recent reports, at no time did the Trump Organization profit in any way from the foundation or any of its activities."In 2014, he married Lara Lea Yunaska. They have two children.He is still a vice president at the Trump Organization, which is currently being investigated for fraud, and is a regular on Fox News.Eric Trump and Lara Trump exit Air Force One following Biden's inauguration.Noam Galai/Getty ImagesThe New York attorney general is investigating the Trump Organization's financial dealings, and 2022 court filings detailed the AG office's accusations against the company, including improperly inflated property values. Donald Trump has denied all wrongdoing and accused the probes of being politically motivated.Eric was subpoenaed in the investigation in late 2020, but he invoked the Fifth Amendment right more than 500 times when they were deposed in 2020, New York State Attorney General Letitia James' office said, according to court documents.In March 2021, he and his wife, Lara Trump, bought a $3.2 million estate in Jupiter, Florida, inside the Trump National Golf Club gated community.Eric has also made regular appearances on Fox News, criticizing President Joe Biden's leadership and weekend trips to Delaware.Tiffany Trump was in law school when her father took office.Tiffany Trump prepares to speak at the Republican Convention in Cleveland 2016.Carlo Allegri/ReutersTiffany is the only daughter from the president's second marriage to television personality Marla Maples. When she was 14, she released a single called "Like A Bird," and she said she was considering becoming a professional singer on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." She was later profiled as one of the "Rich Kids of Instagram" and has 1 million followers on the social network.Tiffany is currently living in Miami with husband Michael Boulos, whom she married in November.Tiffany Trump and Michael Boulos in May 2021.Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports/ReutersTiffany graduated from Georgetown University's law school in 2020.She married Michael Boulos, a businessman whose family owns a multibillion-dollar conglomerate of companies in Lagos, Nigeria, at Mar-a-Lago in November.Barron Trump moved into the White House in June 2017 after finishing out the school year at Trump Tower in Manhattan.Barron Trump.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesBarron was the first boy to live in the White House since John F. Kennedy Jr.While living in the White House, he attended St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Maryland, where tuition costs about $40,000 a year.In May 2017, he took his classmates to meet his dad at the White House.Barron is finishing high school at Oxbridge Academy in Palm Beach, Florida.Melania Trump and son Barron Trump leave Trump Tower in New York City in July 2021.James Devaney/GC ImagesBarron, who Donald Trump says is now 6 feet 7 inches tall, will graduate high school with the class of 2024. He visited New York City with his mother, former first lady Melania Trump, in July 2021.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytFeb 26th, 2023