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Patti Payne"s Cool Pads: "Street of Dreams" home in Bellevue put up for sale

The 4,360-square-foot home in the fashionable Summit Ridge neighborhood is owned by the chief financial officer of Kent-based Puget Sound Pipe and Supply......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 13th, 2022

How the last 20 years of economic turmoil broke millennials

Millennials are part of a "vast and accidental social experiment," one expert said. We've never seen a generation "with so much financial baggage." Millennials have been shortchanged by the economy.Noam Galai/Getty Images Millennials have been carrying around economic baggage since the Great Recession. While some are faring financially well, others have faced a host of challenges. Student debt, a housing crisis, and now inflation, are just a few of their economic woes. Millennials just can't catch a break.The generation, made up of people turning ages 26 to 41 this year, has long had a notorious bout of bad economic luck. Although they've been subject to the narrative of a frivolous generation who prefers to blow money on avocado toast, the reality is that their entrance into adulthood has been shortchanged by the economy."In a way, millennials are part of a vast and accidental social experiment," Kenan Fikri, the director for research at the Economic Innovation Group, previously told Insider. "We've never launched an entire generation with so much financial baggage." He added that they're unique because they graduated into the throes of the Great Recession. From there, they became saddled with student-loan debt and soaring living costs only to stare down their second recession before the age of 40. Now, as they enter a life stage filled with big spending, their finances are marred by inflation.Of course, not all millennials fit this bill. Some millennials, which generational researcher Jason Dorsey has dubbed "mega-llennials" for the "outsized advantage" they have over their less fortunate peers, don't identify with the negative stereotypes associated with their generation because they feel ahead of the game."It's almost like they got a head start," Dorsey told Insider, referring to the subset of millennials who don't fit the traditional media narrative of their generation. "They've been working and doing normal work-related stuff, but often are not getting attention for it." But the average millennial feels behind in their career and finances. Here's a complete timeline of all the economic dominoes that have fallen on their path to financial stability.2007: The financial crisis hits when the oldest millennials were age 26. They bore the true brunt of the recession, entering a tough job market and experiencing wage stagnation.Andia/Getty ImagesThe financial crisis of 2008 left no generation untouched: Silent, boomer, and Gen X households all experienced wealth loss. But "older millennials were squarely hammered," Mark Muro, a senior fellow and policy director at the Brookings Institution, previously told Insider."Millennials have lifelong damage, given the severity of the Great Recession," he added.The Great Recession split the generation down the middle, between the older millennials who walked into a dismal job market and younger millennials who experienced the recovery period and became risk-averse by watching the recession unfold.Coming of age in an era of slower economic growth has made it less possible for millennials to establish a solid career foundation and build wealth, Ernie Tedeschi, a managing director and policy economist for Evercore ISI, told Insider. "This has consequences for individual career prospects and affects their sense of dynamism," he said.It was a rocky start to adulthood. Research shows that those who graduate during a recession could see stagnation in financial growth for up to 15 years. A St. Louis Fed report found that nearly a decade later in 2016, people born in the '80s had 34% less wealth than they likely would have if the financial crisis hadn't occurred.But the recession also exacerbated a number of other problems millennials would soon have to deal with.  2012: Student debt crosses the $1 trillion threshold after exploding during the Great Recession, making it that much harder for millennials to save money.Bebeto Matthews/AP PhotosThe financial crisis intensified America's rising student-loan debt burden: graduates had less money to pay off their loans; more millennials enrolled in graduate school during a slow economic recovery, adding to their debt totals; and colleges hiked tuition prices due to lack of state funding. In the 2010s, college tuition more than doubled since the 1980s."Prior generations started building wealth right as they hit the labor market," Fikri told Insider. "By contrast, college-bound millennials spent the first decade of their careers digging out of debt."In a 2019 Business Insider Intelligence survey of more than 2,000 millennials, 60% of respondents said they took out a student loan for undergraduate or graduate education — and 43% owed between $10,000 and $49,999 at graduation."My student loans have been the center of my financial world," Daniela Capparelli, who graduated in 2007 with a degree in economics and finance and $150,000 in debt, told Insider two years ago. "I have always felt a huge weight on my shoulders because of this astronomical financial burden."Fikri described college as a "millennial Catch-22": Many feel that the ticket to a decent standard of living is a college degree, but going into debt makes it a rather expensive ticket and undermines the value of the degree itself."The burden of student debt relative to income and available opportunities keeps them trapped in a sort of limbo that's financially, emotionally, socially, and economically damaging," he said. 2017: As wages stagnate, cost of living gets out of control. The average housing price across US cities becomes more expensive than they were right before the Great Recession.People walk by a sold sign in front of a house along the Erie Canal in Pittsford, New York, on Monday, Sept. 6, 2021.Ted Shaffrey/AP PhotoBetween 1974 and 2017, adults ages 25 to 34 only saw increased earnings of $29 annually, when adjusted for inflation. During the same time period, those ages 45 to 54 saw an income growth of nearly $5,400.Millennials' paltry wage increase hasn't kept up with all the living costs that inflated in the 2010s. Hospital services, college tuition, medical services, and housing all began ticking up past the average inflation around the time of the Great Recession, according to the American Enterprise Institute's famous inflation chart, outpacing the hike in average hourly wages.In early 2017, average home prices across large US cities started to exceed their mid-aughts bubble highs, according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index. It left the typical millennial renting longer and buying later as they struggled to save for a down payment. By 2018, millennials buying their first home were paying 39% more than boomers did at the same age nearly 40 years ago.With stagnated wages and little wealth built up, millennials' finances were proving no match for the economy.  2020: Before the oldest millennial turns 40, the generation faces their second recession when the pandemic hits.Noam Galai/Getty ImagesBy 2019, the oldest millennials had finally narrowed their 34% wealth deficit. A follow-up St. Louis Fed report found that those born in the 1980s have median wealth levels 11% below older generations at similar ages."It turns out that millennials may not be as 'lost' as we once thought," read the report.But the following year, the pandemic hit. While there isn't enough data yet to determine the exact impact it had on millennials, it was another curveball for the generation. It widened the millennial inequality that dated back to the Great Recession, with wealthier millennials faring well while their low-earning peers are struggling.Millennials who already had lower earnings prepandemic and millennials with children were among those who suffered the most, Christine Percheski, demographer and associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University, previously told Insider. About 40% of millennial parents saw huge increases in hardships, she added, due to increases in food and housing insecurity and mothers cutting back employment hours or quitting work altogether to meet caregiving needs during the pandemic's school closures.  When unemployment peaked in April 2020, 14.5% of Americans ages 25 to 34 were unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's higher than the 10% unemployment peak of the Great Recession in 2009. And while some millennials may have escaped job loss, not all skirted past pandemic pay cuts. "I would imagine a lot of people are burning through whatever savings they had as they experienced unemployment," Percheski said. 2021: Just as millennials are ready to buy a house, they get screwed by their second housing crisis in 12 years in which record-high prices box many first-time homeowners out of the market.Newsday LLC/Getty ImagesCome 2021, millennials had finally reached the peak age for first-time homeownership. After spending years saving for a down payment, historically low mortgage rates and the flexibility of remote work enabled them to finally achieve their homebuying dreams.But the demand exacerbated an already shrinking housing inventory that was first fueled by contractors underbuilding homes since the Great Recession, and a housing boom soon became a housing crisis. Starter homes were the biggest victims of the dwindling inventory, as the national median home sale continuously climbed upward before reaching a record high of $386,888 in June 2021. Just as homeownership fell within millennials' grasp, it began to slip out of their fingers again."Now that they have economically recovered and are looking to buy a home for the first time, we're faced with this housing shortage," Daryl Fairweather, the chief economist at Redfin, told Insider last year. "They're already boxed out of the housing market."There have been 20 times fewer homes built in the past decade than in any decade as far back as the 1960s, according to Fairweather.She added that was not enough homes for millennials, who are the biggest generation, to buy.Gay Cororaton, the director of housing and commercial research for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), told Insider homeownership was "going to be more difficult for millennials."It was yet another wealth avenue lost for millennials. 2022: Millennials experience inflation for the first time as it surges to a 41-year-high. Of all age groups, they're impacted the most.All signs point to groceries getting more expensive, or going out of stock.Luis AlvarezInflation hit a 30-year high in November before surging again through March at a 41-year-high. It's the first time millennials have experienced inflation, just as many enter their high-spending years. They're also feeling the effects of it more than any other age group.A study by Wells Fargo analyzed the Consumer Expenditure Survey to determine which cohorts have seen the steepest rise in cost of living. An age breakdown showed that millennials experienced the highest inflation: 6.8% for the 25 to 34 age group and 6.9% for the 35 to 44 group (the latter also includes the youngest Gen Xers). It has a lot to do with their spending habits, as they're shelling out more for big ticket items thanks to the life stage they're currently in.Wells Fargo senior economist Sarah House told Insider that millennials are more likely to spend on used and new cars as well as gas, both of which have seen the steepest rise in prices the year through December. Millennials are also spending more on housekeeping goods and home furnishings since many are buying homes for the first time, House added.Unfortunately for millennials, not much of their spending goes toward the areas that have mostly escaped inflation. "On the other side of the equation, millennials spend relatively less on some of the areas that have seen the slowest rise in prices over the past year, such as healthcare, which has held down inflation rates for other groups more than millennials," House said.The Fed has hinted at raising interest rates in an effort to cool down prices. But that still comes at a cost, in the form of much pricier credit cards and loans. Considering all the big spending involved in millennials' current life stage, it could end up being their next economic challenge.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 14th, 2022

Millennials, Remote Work Are Upending Cities—What It Means for Real Estate

Location is, and has always been, everything in real estate. The truism that where a property sits must be its most important characteristic remains undisputed. But what is location, really? What does it mean to homebuyers, and what are the consequences when changes come? The truth is, street layouts, public transportation systems, commuting routes, open […] The post Millennials, Remote Work Are Upending Cities—What It Means for Real Estate appeared first on RISMedia. Location is, and has always been, everything in real estate. The truism that where a property sits must be its most important characteristic remains undisputed. But what is location, really? What does it mean to homebuyers, and what are the consequences when changes come? The truth is, street layouts, public transportation systems, commuting routes, open space, walking paths, restaurants or shopping, parks, schools and scenic views are malleable both in how they are valued and how they come to be. While location might seem like a relatively static feature when talking about properties, shifting priorities from policymakers as well as evolving consumer preferences can quickly cool off a hot neighborhood or revitalize a lagging market. Both these processes are happening all the time, but the current shift is maybe more dramatic and moving more rapidly than at any time in recent memory as Americans completely reevaluate exactly where they want to live—and why. Dr. Sam Chandan is a professor at NYU and Academic Dean of the school’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. He says a multitude of changes are manifesting now that could impact both city planning and real estate for decades to come. “Millennials are not necessarily looking for something that looks like Levittown,” says Chandan, referring to the hyper-planned suburban Long Island community that is often cited as a model of postwar housing philosophy. “It’s not sort of a ‘Leave it to Beaver’ scenario.” With people born in the 1980s and 1990s becoming the largest segment of homebuyers, understanding that demographic’s needs and preferences is a holy grail for real estate professionals. But how is that information guiding the growth of towns and cities, and what does it mean for the housing market? Chandan says that like most things real-estate related, the answers are always going to be local. But as the temporary supply constraints currently preventing the housing market from reaching its full potential fade, Chandan predicts that areas that allow higher densities through zoning reforms and follow a more centralized, community-oriented plan of development will be best positioned to capitalize and grow. “We’re talking about wanting to be in easy reach of a set of cultural and social amenities, and I think that is quite different from what we would have seen as the profile of a comparably-aged young family 30 years ago,” he says. Waiting on the World to Change Manhattan Beach nestles in the southwest corner of Los Angeles. The median sale price for a home exceeds $2 million, according to U.S. census data, with a mostly white and Asian population in a county that is almost 45% Hispanic. Most residential areas are composed of close-set, adobe-roofed single-family constructions on narrow streets, bisected with a commercial thoroughfare that feeds into the city’s bustling beach-adjacent downtown—a spread of health food stores, cafes and boutique retail shopping pressed right up against the water. Kristi Ramirez-Knowles is a team leader for Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty and a long-time Manhattan Beach resident, though she works in many of the surrounding southwest LA cities. In an area that is historically resistant to change, COVID has potentially provided a kick-start for generational changes in living preferences. “Now, post COVID—though we’re still in COVID—we still have a mix. We still have people that are willing to go almost anywhere,” she says. “ it’s a safe community.” Woburn, Massachusetts is a sprawling suburb about 25 minutes outside of Boston. It can trace its European colonization back to the mid 1600s, and is now characterized by its rustic winding streets and big colonials with plenty of forested areas and parks filling the margins. The town offers a wider range of price points, from $150,000 ranch fixer-uppers to a handful of multi-million-dollar estates. Eileen Dohtery is a ninth-generation resident of Woburn with 40 years of real estate experience, currently working for Lamacchia Realty. She says even as homebuyer preferences have evolved rapidly, change in policy and infrastructure often creeps up more gradually. “ are beside themselves because there’s so much development—if anything they’d like to restrict it and make it less per acre,” she says. Dan Forsman is President & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties. Overseeing the Atlanta region, he says dozens of thriving suburbs—many of which were originally vacation or resort communities—have begun “revitalization” efforts to begin serving changing needs and desires of longer-term residents. “Eclectic, farm to table restaurants—people are looking for that, access to that, and looking to where they can get that when they’re away from what I call ‘white noise,’” he says. Though these three disparate regions will certainly evolve along different lines at a more granular level, Chandan says that broadly the narrative of mass migration to different states or cities is overblown. People—especially young people—are looking to live within or near traditional metros like New York or Boston, but specifically for towns that can offer them a specific index of amenities. “What the data actually tells us is the dominant trend is greater dispersion in the metropolitan area,” he says. “They’re able to sort of optimize in a way that also accounts for all these other things that they care about.” What’s My Age Again? One of the most direct methods of addressing these needs is “upzoning” to allow for more density around what Chandan describes as the “quasi-urban core” of smaller towns and suburban cities. This has proved effective in combating land scarcity, affordability and transportation access, and often allows for developments of mid-rise condo complexes, townhomes or repurposed mixed-used construction that previously might have been disallowed or heavily regulated. These changes are also becoming more politically viable in many places as a new generation arrives—a generation that is more comfortable with diversity and living close to others, according to Chandan. In Woburn, this is only partly true, as Dohtery says she has observed some attitudes changing while others have not—starting with acceptance of racial diversity. “In the older parts of the center…it was more mixed nationalities. The older people wouldn’t walk down there. Younger people are that much more liberal, they don’t care, they like it. That’s where you see changing,” she reflects. In recent years there has been a big push to tear down old buildings in Woburn’s centuries-old central hub, putting up some multifamily living units and opening restaurants and retail stores. Doherty herself owns a multi-family home right in the city center, where her niece currently lives with some younger roommates. “They absolutely love being there, they walk downtown—literally in their backyard—to a different restaurant every night,” she laughs. At the other extreme, some neighborhoods in towns abutting Woburn can only be reached by unpaved, pothole-ridden streets—not because the town cannot afford to fix or pave them, but because people who live there have lobbied against it, according to Doherty. The idea, she says, is to discourage anyone who doesn’t live there from even driving past, keeping noise and nuisance to an absolute minimum. “That’s old Yankee money,” Doherty says. “It keeps the people out of their neighborhood.” Some of these folks are likely fighting a losing battle if they’re hoping to prevent development to that extreme (Doherty is currently involved with a 147-unit townhome development in Woburn). While resistance from locals can certainly slow down the evolution of a city, eventually both policymakers and developers are going to find ways to meet consumers with what they want. One thing that is changing in Los Angeles is at least a partial removal of one of the biggest barriers there: commuting. In the past, Ramirez-Knowles says she would tell potential homebuyers to rent a hotel for a night near a neighborhood they were considering and see if they could endure the level traffic and smog on a day’s commute before deciding to live there. But now with remote work, as well as a renewed emphasis on transportation and now-ubiquitous electric cars, Ramirez-Knowles says that areas that used to be defined by their freeway access and distance to business centers are trying to become self-sustaining. “So many millennials are doing a lot of their jobs—-they can work from home,” she says. “They don’t want to get out and drive. It’s important for them to walk or if they have to drive, drive a very short distance.” That is not to say that traffic does not matter anymore—commuters still end up driving as much as four hours a day to go a handful of miles cross-town, Ramirez-Knowles says. But areas that have more space, better views and nice schools are now options for many more families who do not have to worry about prohibitively lengthy drives. Another offset of the millennial lifestyle and work-from-home opportunities that is influencing city layouts is loneliness. Starting with the pandemic isolation, Ramirez-Knowles says people began seeking out “community amenities” where they could at least encounter another friendly (even mask-wearing) face. That has continued as people who work from home have limited excuses to just get outside, meet neighbors and learn about their town. “They want to be able to go walk their dogs, walk with their kids, get outside and get vitamin D,” she says. “You’re not getting out very much…you need places to go walk, you need a walkway—a green belt, if you will—a park, a pier.” In the Atlanta area, several towns are realizing that they can provide a lot more for their changing communities, according to Forsman. People who have second homes in the suburbs are spending more and more time away from the white noise of their working lives, he says, and are beginning to look for the same amenities in these areas as they have in their primary homes. Though this trend is hardly analogous to what is happening in Woburn or Los Angeles, the effect is the same: cities are re-developing downtowns and shifting the kind of access and amenities they provide. “They’ve had a face lift and an upgrade, because people aren’t going to malls the way they used to,” Forsman says. This applies even to areas in the north that historically have been made up of mostly seasonal resort towns in the mountains. As flexible work allows residents to spend more time here, businesses move in to provide more grocery shopping, entertainment and year-round services, which in turn draws even more people to make those towns their permanent—or semi-permanent—homes. Stop, Collaborate and Listen There are many other barriers and unintended consequences stemming from the types of changes happening right now as well, he adds. Cities that are too successful with these tactics will quickly see the price of land and homes balloon, slowing real estate growth and creating more racial and economic segregation. In places like Woburn, there is also the possibility of political backlash, and policymakers must balance the often-powerful backlash from residents and other stakeholders who fear loss of so-called community character or outsides. Real estate professionals can make a big difference in these situations. Doherty says that as a longtime resident she is trusted by even the most stalwart Woburnites and can navigate the complicated landscape of local politics and land use laws, where trust and experience make all the difference. Doherty speaks of being contacted by a local politician one time, who invited her to attend a campaign event emphasizing that she was maybe the most well-known public figure in the area. “I said to him, ‘I have to go, I sold you your house!’” she laughs. In Woburn, developments, zoning tweaks and infrastructure investments happen gradually, and becomes much easier with any local support, according to Doherty, with projects eeking through the approval process one by one. On the other side of the country, Ramirez-Knowles says the overpricing and lack of homes has pushed people to settle in areas where the schools or neighborhoods maybe aren’t what they had originally hoped for. Developers are building brand new, more affordable condos inland in cities that haven’t historically been “family friendly” like Torrance and Gardena, and people are snatching them up, she says. “I would say that’s attracting families even though the school district may not be that great. I think it’s the appeal of brand new and something they can afford,” she posits. Many of these units are selling out before they are even framed, she adds, during the current inventory crunch. If cities approve the kind of housing units people are looking for— which Ramirez-Knowles describes as narrow, multi-floored condo communities with built-in recreation centers, pools and gyms—even more business investment and development often follows. The result of all this movement and new development, of offering wider varieties of housing types and densities in different parts of a given city creates demographic diversity, according to Chandan. A place that can accommodate young and old, wealthy and lower income folks, families and retirees is much healthier for everyone, and especially for the real estate market. Though convincing some people of these benefits will be difficult—and sometimes impossible— Chandan argues that even those who prefer their “Leave it to Beaver” lifestyle will eventually benefit from this type of change. “The person who is a young family right now in a two or three-bedroom rental unit in that quasi-urban core—in five years, that person is a potential buyer for your home,” Chandan says. Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Please email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com. The post Millennials, Remote Work Are Upending Cities—What It Means for Real Estate appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaNov 22nd, 2021

3 signs you may be able to snag your dream home at a lower price, according to Opendoor"s head of real estate

Kerry Melcher suggests keeping an eye on newer listings with a better price per square foot as well as availability to book home tours. A realtor's for sale sign stands outside a house that had been sold in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 27, 2021. Patrick Doyle/Reuters Kerry Melcher is the head of real estate at Opendoor, an iBuying real estate firm. If you're trying to snag a dream home at the lowest price possible, Melcher says there are several clues to look for. Keep an eye on newer listings with a better price per square foot, as well as how easy it is to book a home tour. After a year of seeing record-setting home prices and increased buyer demand across the US, the housing market has begun to show signs of cooling off around the country. But how can millions of hopeful homebuyers spot a potential cool-off in neighborhoods where they'd like to buy - and time their house hunt accordingly? Kerry Melcher is the head of real estate at Opendoor. Kerry Melcher As the head of real estate at Opendoor, I stay on top of prices and fluctuations in the housing market. Market cool-off signs go beyond noticing your neighbors are finally talking about more than their home-buying woes. Here are three specific things to look for, and what to do when you notice the signs.Editor's note: Opendoor is an iBuying platform that purchases and resells homes around the country.1. You see more 'for sale' signs in your neighborhood - and they aren't disappearing overnightIn a strong seller's market, the average number of days homes are available on the market decreases. Remarkably, 89% of residential properties sold in less than a month in June 2021, as compared to 56% in 2019. Sellers also reported an average of four offers on their homes in June, double the number from just two years ago - validating aspiring homebuyers who may have thought they were imagining that homes were selling overnight.Are you looking to buy in a popular neighborhood? "For sale" signs hanging out for more than a few days without a 'sold' sign may indicate that a strong local seller's market is beginning to slow down. Now is an ideal time to drive around your desired neighborhoods and tour some available homes. The start of a slowdown is also a smart time to check back in with your lender.Let them know if your income or plans for a down payment have changed, and discuss any rate adjustments that have taken place since your previous conversation. Make sure any pre-qualification you received during the height of a buying frenzy is still accurate so you can adjust your search according to numbers both you and your lender feel comfortable with.2. Homes are selling within the current price range for the neighborhood, rather than setting new record highsA trifecta of low inventory, historically low mortgage rates, and increased buyer demand created a strong seller's market, driving prices across the US to continue reaching record highs this summer. Do you know what prices homes have been selling for nearby or in your desired neighborhood?It's wise to keep a close eye on the local market so you can spot a potential cool-off as numbers shift. Pay attention to the new active inventory. As prices begin to normalize, you may see new inventory listing at a better price per square foot than with houses that have been sitting for more than 30 days.When you notice prices are changing, invest time in understanding your ideal neighborhood - and surrounding neighborhoods - to become more familiar with home features and relative pricing. Buying often slows considerably in November and December, which may inspire some sellers to take an offer they might otherwise consider to be low. If your timeline aligns, it may be a good time to be more aggressive with your offer. You may be able to buy even more house than you initially thought possible!3. You have noticeably more choice in available homes - and time to tour themAmidst the hottest housing market we've experienced in decades, national inventory of active listings declined by more than 50% in early 2021 - leaving home shoppers with fewer homes to see throughout spring and summer months. Cooling markets allow for more choice, as well as more time for home shoppers to tour a property before it sells. If there seem to be more homes available and it's noticeably easier to book a home tour, the local market may be cooling off. To make the most of your search, be intentional about budgeting your time. You may still need to see multiple properties in one day, and it's a smart idea to give yourself at least an hour for each property (including travel time). During your tour, focus on items that matter most: odors, the condition of walls and floors, any issues with integrated fixtures or systems (such as exposed wires or problems with the home's HVAC system), unpermitted additions, and the lawn condition. Knowing which questions you should ask during a home tour will also help you stay focused and evaluate a potential property efficiently.If you're well-positioned to monitor for market cool-off signs and wait for a great deal, the best thing to do now is ensure you're financially prepared in the future to buy the home of your dreams. Kerry Melcher is the head of real estate at Opendoor, a third-generation realtor, and long-time member of the local Phoenix real estate business community.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 30th, 2021

The 5 best robot vacuums we tested in 2021

We tested 30 vacs to determine which robot vacuums work best for carpet, hardwood, pets, and more. Here are the best robot vacuums in 2021. Alyssa Powell/Insider A good robot vacuum cleans floors with little work from you, clearing debris with a button push. We tested 30 robot vacuums and consulted three experts to find the best options for different needs. The iRobot Roomba i3+ is the best robot vac; it cleans well and features a self-emptying dock. Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews home products. A robot vacuum will make the small but time-consuming task of vacuuming a little easier. However, you'll want one that's powerful and relatively quiet and doesn't require constant attention. I've tested 30 robot vacuums to find the best ones and consulted health experts and engineers on how to use them properly. A robot vac needs maintenance like any other small appliance. While using it takes just a press of a button, all our experts stressed the importance of regularly cleaning brushes and filters, and running the vac when no one is in the room to keep the indoor air quality clean and avoid resuspended particles. We get into details over here. I tested each robot vac's cleaning abilities along with its extra features and app. You can find the details of how we tested, what else we recommend, how to shop for a robot vacuum, and more at the end of our guide.Here are the best robot vacuums in 2021Best robot vacuum overall: iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot VacuumBest budget robot vacuum: Eufy RoboVac 15C Max Robot VacuumBest robot vacuum with a mop: Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot VacuumBest robot vacuum for hardwood floors: iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot VacuumBest robot vacuum for pet hair: Bissell SpinWave Robot VacuumTable of Contents: Masthead Sticky Best robot vacuum overall James Brains/Insider With its automatic dirt disposal, strong suction, and large main brushes, the iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is an excellent, low-maintenance solution for any home.Robot vacuum size: 13.34" x 13.26" x 3.63"Main brush length: two brushes, each 6.75"Dust bin capacity: 380 mLBattery life (per manufacturer): 75 minutesWarranty: One year parts and laborFeatures: Wi-Fi app connectivity (available for iOS and Android), compatible with Alexa and Google Home, schedulingExtras: Auto-empty station, two disposable dust bags, extra air filterPros: Excellent performance on carpeting, cleans well on hardwood, pairs with the app and Alexa, comes with an automatic dirt disposal base, doesn't get stuck easilyCons: Loud, virtual wall barriers cost extra, not impressive in corners The iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is iRobot's most affordable option that features automatic dirt disposal, which empties the vac's dustbin automatically. You just replace the disposable dust bag every month or two.  In our carpet tests, the i3+ picked up all of the coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hairs we laid out and left behind only about 5% of the flour — the best performance of all the robot vacs we tested. In corners, it came within an inch of the wall but left behind about half the flour.It performed better on hardwood floors, picking up all of the coffee grounds and pet hair, and only left behind 5% of the kitty litter and about 10% of the flour. The robot vac didn't get stuck during its cleaning sessions.Whereas some robot vacuums sense carpeting and boost suction, the i3+ provides consistently strong suction, and when it detects excess dirt, it automatically performs multiple passes. Setup is a breeze, only taking about 10 minutes, including connecting to the user-friendly app. Unfortunately, the app doesn't allow you to set up no-go zones, so you must buy virtual wall barriers. The barriers work as advertised, but at around $40 each, I prefer using everyday household objects to keep the Roomba out of areas I want to protect.The other negative with the i3+ is how loud it is. My sound meter recorded 68 dB, and you can't adjust the suction power for a quieter clean. Best budget robot vacuum Amazon With its sub-$200 price, the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max Robot Vacuum offers an impressive suite of features, including smart connectivity, and performs well picking up most debris on carpeting and hardwood.Robot vacuum size: 12.75" x 12.75" x 2.85"Main brush length: 5.5"Dust bin capacity: 600 mLBattery life: 100 minutesWarranty: One yearFeatures: Wi-Fi app connectivity (available for iOS and Android), compatible with Alexa and Google Home, schedulingExtras: Extra side brushes, a remote control, extra air filter, cleaning toolPros: Good performance on carpeting and hardwood, doesn't get stuck easily, quiet, supported by an app, Alexa and Google Assistant compatible, fits into small spacesCons: Did poorly in corner cleaning tests and picking up flour on carpeting, app doesn't let you set no-go zonesOf the vacuums that cost under $250, the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max Robot Vacuum had the best overall performance in our tests.It picked up all of the coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hair we laid out on carpeting and hardwood. It had a more challenging time with flour, leaving 10% of the flour on hardwood and a disappointing 40% of the flour on the carpeting.Another area where the unit showed poor performance was in corners. It only came within about 3 inches of the hardwood corner, and though it came within an inch of the carpeted corner, it didn't pick up much of the flour.On the plus side, the RoboVac 15C Max only got stuck during its cleaning cycles about a quarter of the time, which is impressive in my messy home. Also, it's the quietest of the units we tested, registering 60 decibels on its highest suction power.Beyond quickly testing to make sure it worked, I didn't use the controller because the vacuum pairs with your phone and is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. Unfortunately, the app (available for iOS and Android) doesn't allow you to set up no-go zones or virtual barriers.Additionally, setup and connecting to the app were seamless experiences, taking a total of 10 minutes. The vacuum also has a small footprint so it can squeeze into tight spaces. Best robot vacuum with a mop James Brains/Insider The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System thoroughly cleans floors as opposed to pushing a wet cloth around. When paired with the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum, the two make easy work of time-consuming chores.  Robot vacuum size: 13.7" x 13.7" x 3.6"Main brush length: 6.25"Dust bin capacity: 600 mL (estimated)Battery life (per manufacturer): 3 hoursWarranty: One yearFeatures: Wi-Fi app connectivity (available for iOS and Android), compatible with Alexa and Google Home, scheduling, virtual no-go zones, zoned cleaning, HD video surveillanceExtras: Adjustable flow water tank, mop cloths and mounting plate, extra side brushes, extra sponge filter, extra air filter, cleaning tool, auto-empty station (sold separately), scrubbing mop system (sold separately)Pros: Excellent performance on carpeting and hardwood, automatically empties the dustbin, HD video surveillance, impressive deep-cleaning mop attachment, quiet operationCons: Got stuck on the threshold in our tests, doesn't get deep into cornersThe Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System attachment is the best mopping system I've tested. The 480-vibrations-per-minute scrubbing motion offers a deep clean. It made the powerful Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum even better. The 240mL water tank was large enough to complete at least two passes over the 500-square-foot test floor. With the app, you can choose from four water-flow levels to reach a balance of moistness and quick drying and two mopping patterns. The deep scrubbing option provides thorough cleaning, and the quick scrubbing is for routine mopping. And, I appreciated that it automatically avoids carpeting.As for the robot vac itself, the Ozmo T8 AIVI has HD video and a microphone so you can watch your pets or check for open windows and doors from your phone. I didn't find the home surveillance features particularly useful, but they could be handy if you're concerned about security. The more helpful feature is the auto-empty station that automatically empties the dustbin after cleaning sessions. You just replace the disposable pouch every month or two. The Ozmo T8 AIVI was among the best at removing the debris types we tested on carpeting and hardwood. Plus, it remains relatively quiet at just 67 dB on the highest cleaning setting and 58 dB on Quiet mode. However, the vac consistently got stuck on a 1-inch lip between rooms. It also wasn't able to come within 2 inches of corners.The setup was seamless. I plugged in the dock to charge the vacuum, connected the app, updated the firmware, and set a schedule for cleaning. After two cleanings, the vac created a map of my layout so I could set no-go zones to keep the T8 AIVI away from sensitive areas.Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum Best robot vacuum for hardwood floors James Brains/Insider The D-shaped iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum did the best in our hardwood floor tests and features a self-emptying dustbin, an impressive app that lets you set no-go zones, and large main brushes that pick up debris on the first pass.Robot vacuum size: 12.25" x 12.25" x 3.5"Main brush length: two brushes, each 9.5"Dust bin capacity: 380 mLBattery life (per manufacturer): 2 hoursWarranty: One year parts and laborFeatures: Wi-Fi app connectivity (available for iOS and Android), compatible with Alexa and Google Home, scheduling, virtual no-go zones, zoned cleaningExtras: Auto-empty station, two disposable dust bags, extra side brush, extra air filter, cleaning toolPros: Cleans well on hardwood flooring, good performance on carpeting, rarely gets stuck, comes with a charging dock that empties the dustbin, large main brushes, has a helpful app with virtual no-go zonesCons: Loud, poor performance in carpeted cornersAs iRobot's top-of-the-line model, the Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum is packed with features. It empties itself and is supported by an app that allows you to schedule cleanings effortlessly, set no-go zones, and customize your cleaning experience. You can even pair it with the iRobot Braava Jet M6 (sold separately) to mop after it finishes its vacuum cycle.In testing, the Roomba s9+ performed the best of any robot vac on hardwood flooring. After the cleaning cycle, there was only a trace of flour left. Its D-shaped design came within an inch and a half of the corner, picking up everything it could reach. The performance was still solid on carpeting with only about 10% of the flour left, 5% of the kitty litter, and no coffee grounds or pet hairs to be found after testing. The unit didn't get stuck in our testing area either. At 77 dB (about as loud as a busy city street) on high suction power, the s9+ was by far the loudest model we tested, and even in quiet mode, the vacuum is not unnoticeable. Additionally, the vac got within an inch of the carpeted corner. But it left behind about 70% of the flour, which suggests it doesn't do as well picking up fine debris on carpeting, especially in areas the main brushes have trouble reaching.Installation was easy, but it took about 25 minutes. I spent most of that time installing firmware updates after connecting to the app. Best robot vacuum for pet hair James Brains/Insider The Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum picked up all the pet hair on carpet in our tests and has a great assortment of mop attachments and accessories. The company is also committed to helping homeless pets and helps them find loving homes. Robot vacuum size: 12.25" x 12.25" x 3.25"Main brush length: 5.75"Dust bin capacity: 400 mLBattery life (per manufacturer): 130 minutesWarranty: One year limitedFeatures: Wi-Fi app connectivity (available for iOS and Android), schedulingExtras: Water tank with spinning mop pads, extra mop pads, trial-size cleaning formula,  damp-proof mat, extra side brushes, extra air filter, cleaning toolPros: Excellent job on hardwood and corners, picked up all of the pet hair in our tests, great mop attachment and accessories, app connectivity, small size, quiet operationCons: Can't set up no-go zones, gets stuck easilyThe Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum is created specifically for pet hair and has a 5.75-inch tangle-resistant main brush, a useful mop attachment, and powerful suction. Specs aside, a portion of each sale also goes to the Bissell Pet Foundation, which is committed to finding loving homes for pets.The Bissell SpinWave picked up all the cat and dog hair we laid out on carpeting and hardwood. Additionally, on the hardwood, it only left a trace of kitty litter and flour. It came within 2 inches in corners and picked up more than 60% of the flour on both the carpet and hardwood.It's also among the quietest vacs we tested – 58 decibels on quiet mode (slightly softer than a normal conversation) and 65 on high suction. If you have particularly skittish pets, the low-decibel output is less likely to startle your fur friends. The vacuum's extras are helpful to any pet parent, including a mop tank attachment, spinning mop pads, and a trial-size bottle of cleaning formula. Plus, you receive a cleaning tool that helps remove hairs from the brushes and clean the filter.In testing, the mop attachment worked seamlessly. You just fill the tank with water and some cleaning formula and attach it to the vacuum in place of the dustbin. The mop pads spin to scrub away stuck-on debris while avoiding carpeting.The SpinWave has a quick setup that takes five minutes, including installing the app and connecting the unit. The most significant limitation is it consistently got stuck on the 1-inch threshold between rooms.  What else we tested James Brains/Insider We've tested 30 robot vacuums and counting; here are the ones that didn't make our top picks.What else we recommend and whyUnder $400Ecovacs U2 Pro: This vac did excellent cleaning hardwood and carpeting and rarely got stuck. The U2 Pro also comes with a mop attachment, which didn't do a good job of cleaning up dried Tang on linoleum. Despite good performance, it couldn't compete with our current top picks and was too expensive for consideration as our best budget pick. Other negatives include loud operation, poor corner cleaning, and boundary strips for setting no-go zones that are sold separately.Proscenic 850T: When it comes to cleaning hard flooring, the 850T is outstanding. It picked up almost all of the debris on hardwood in our testing, got deep into the corners, and got all of the grounds, hair, and litter on the carpet. However, it left 20% of the flour behind, got stuck easily, and ran loudly. Plus, the vac regularly disconnected from the app in my long-term testing and required my attention to run on schedule.Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge: Eufy usually makes more affordable robot vacuums, so at this price, the G30 Edge is considered the company's top-end model. The variety of extras — no-go zone strips, a user-friendly app, and Alexa and Google Home compatibility — make it worth the price, but you'll have to compromise some power. It performed poorly on carpeting and in corners during our testing, and it was in the middle of the pack on hardwood. Despite the underwhelming performance, it remains a good value for the price.Under $600ILife A10: If setting no-go zones is essential to you, the A10 might be a good option. After it maps your house, you can set up virtual barriers in the app. This model also does an outstanding job of cleaning hardwood and carpet. But, there are plenty of cons: The A10 barely picked up any flour in carpeted corners, it runs loudly, and it gets stuck easily.Proscenic M7 Pro: I enjoy the automation afforded by self-empty charging docks, and the M7 Pro has one that works well. You can also set no-go zones in the app. Plus, the vac didn't get stuck easily and performed well on carpeting and hard flooring. Yet, it had trouble cleaning corners and was loud. Plus, with a height of 4 inches, it doesn't fit under low-clearance furniture.iRobot Roomba i7+: The Roomba i7+ was the first robot vacuum to feature an automatic dirt disposal charging dock. Since then, iRobot has introduced two other models that improve upon the i7+. Though this Roomba has great high-end features, its performance doesn't justify its price. It only did a satisfactory job on carpeting and hardwood, and it got stuck relatively often. If you find the i7+ on sale, we recommend picking it up. Otherwise, consider the s9+ or i3+ instead. Read our full review.Under $800Roborock S7: I tested this Roborock with the optional auto-empty dock ($299.99), which looks incredible, is super convenient, and performed flawlessly. The vac itself has powerful suction and avoided getting stuck in our tests. The mop scrubs at up to 3,000 cycles per minute, which translated to one of the top performances in our mop test. However, it didn't do well vacuuming in corners and operated loudly. It came close but did not perform well enough to unseat any of our top picks. Still, if the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI isn't available, this is a worthy substitute.Roborock S6 MaxV: For the most part, Roborock is doing a terrific job in the robot vac space. We recommend the S6 MaxV because of its excellent performance in our carpeting, hardwood, and corner tests. It also has video surveillance, no-go zones, and a useful app. But it's oversized and kept getting stuck on the 1-inch lip leading into the kitchen of our testing course. The S6 MaxV is louder than most vacs we've tested. What we don't recommend and whyEufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S: At one time, the RoboVac 11S was our budget pick, but after putting it through our testing alongside other affordable options, we no longer recommend it. The 11S doesn't have WiFi connectivity, which has become standard at every price point in the industry. The vac performed well on carpeting but left a lot of debris behind on hardwood and in corners. You'd be much better off with the Moosoo MT-720. Read our full review.Proscenic M6 Pro: After testing two other Proscenic models I recommend, I was surprised by how poorly the M6 Pro cleans. It left significant debris behind on carpeting and hard flooring and in corners. The vac also got stuck easily and ran loudly. Plus, the app is slow to respond to finger taps and commands. Yeedi K650: The attractive price doesn't make up for the fact that the Yeedi K650 does a poor job cleaning any surface. It also gets stuck often, is noisy, and doesn't have many of the features we like, such as the ability to set no-go zones.iRobot Roomba e5: This appears to be iRobot's attempt to make a budget Roomba, but it's the worst-performing Roomba I've come across in my years of testing. It didn't come with any extras – not even an additional filter. You can schedule it easily in the app, and it's compatible with Alexa and Google Home, but you have to buy virtual wall barriers separately. Also, it gets stuck easily and doesn't clean well on hardwood.  Neato Botvac D7 Connected: We're dropping the Neato Botvac D7 Connected from our guide this time around because it's relatively big, got stuck about half the time during our initial testing, and it only comes with two extra filters and a magnetic barrier, which isn't necessary since you can set no-go zones in the app. We think there are more affordable alternatives that perform better and are more feature-rich in our guide. Read our full review.Eufy RoboVac 11S Max: The 11S Max updates the 11S, but we feel the original 11S is better. If you're spending this much, though, the 15C Max performed much better in our testing. The 11S Max did poorly on carpeting and hardwood and in corners. It also relies on a remote controller rather than app connectivity, which means you need to turn to and keep track of another device.Roborock S5 Max: The S5 Max is loud, big, and it did poorly in corners and on carpeting in our tests.  Our testing methodology James Brains/Insider I've been reviewing vacuums for the past few years, writing numerous buying guides and reviews, so I leaned on my background when developing our testing methodology.I also consulted three experts and took their advice and expertise into consideration — Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida; Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University and the current president of the American Association for Aerosol Research; and Jill Notini, the Vice President of Communication and Marketing for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.In addition to using each robot vacuum daily for at least several weeks, I tested each for its suction on various types of flooring, including corners, ability to maneuver around obstacles, noise, and special features.Our testing methodology has gotten more comprehensive over the years. For any models that I'd previously tested but didn't have the vacuums on hand anymore, I extrapolated the data as best as possible based on previous testing and manufacturer info. Those vacuums are the iRobot Roomba i7+, Neato Botvac D7 Connected, and Eufy 11S Max and 15C Max. Here's a breakdown of the percentages of each material the top picks cleaned up on each surface in our tests:Surface - MaterialiRobot Roomba i3+Eufy RoboVac 15C MaxEcovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVIiRobot Roomba s9+Bissell  SpinWaveCarpet - Flour95%60%98%90%80%Carpet - Coffee100%100%98%100%100%Carpet - Litter100%100%98%95%98%Carpet - Hair100%100%100%100%100%Carpet corner - Flour50%20%35%30%65%Carpet corner - Proximity1 inch1 inch2 inches1 inch2 inchesHardwood - Flour90%90%95%98%98%Hardwood - Coffee100%100%100%100%100%Hardwood - Litter95%100%98%100%98%Hardwood - Hair100%100%100%100%100%Hardwood corner - Flour80%0%80%85%75%Hardwood corner - Proximity1 inch3 inches2 inches1.5 inches1.5 inchesHere are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:Size: I note the specs of the overall unit, main brush, and side brushes. This gives me an idea of how well a vacuum can clean floors and carpet — the larger the brushes, the more they can usually sweep up. The main brushes are often between 5 to 10 inches long, and side brushes are usually 2 to 3 inches long. Of the vacs I've tested, only Roomba models have two main brushes; others have one. I've noticed that longer brushes tend to facilitate faster cleaning. If this appeals to you, consider a unit with a longer brush, such as the Roomba s9+.Carpet cleaning: I poured a tablespoon each of flour, coffee grounds, and kitty litter on 18-inch-square sections of carpeting. I also collected pet hairs from my rat terrier and two cats to place on carpeting. I ran the vacuum on its most powerful mode for two cleaning cycles and compared before-and-after photos to estimate the percentage of each material picked up or left behind.Hardwood floor cleaning: This is the same test as the carpet cleaning test but on hardwood flooring.Corner cleaning: To test corner cleaning abilities, I poured a teaspoon of flour in an approximately 4-inch radius in a corner on hardwood and carpeting. I took pictures of the messes before and after running the robot vac for two cleaning cycles to compare how much flour was left over. I also measured how close to the corner the vac was able to reach.Obstacle avoidance: You don't want your robot vac to get stuck while it's cleaning or when it's returning to its charging dock, both of which force you to hunt it down while it's sending you notifications or making annoying error sounds. I tested the vacuum in an approximately 500-square-foot room with several obstacles, including stairs, a 1-inch threshold to a kitchen, and a table with chairs.Loudness: I used a sound meter to measure the decibel output of each of the robot vacuums from 12 inches away as they ran on the highest and lowest settings. For vacuums I no longer had in my possession for testing, I relied on manufactures' info and my previous notes. Brushes: I noted the lengths of the main and side brushes as they'll likely indicate performance in our cleaning tests.Robot vacuums work using a combination of suction and brushes. There are two types of brushes on robot vacuums: the side brush and the main brush. Units have either one or two side brushes that are about 3 inches in diameter and protrude from the forward portion of the vac. They move in a circular motion, get into corners, and feed debris to the main brush. There appears to be little difference in the performance of vacuums with two side brushes versus those with one.The main brush is between five and ten inches long, located under the unit, and is made of a rubber-like material. The vacuum sucks debris into the main brush, which spins to feed the materials into the dustbin. Of the vacs I've tested, only Roomba models have two main brushes. Other models have just one. I've noticed that longer brushes tend to facilitate faster cleaning. If this appeals to you, consider a unit with a longer brush, such as the Roomba s9+.Extras: I note if the vacuums included extras such as filters and side brush replacements, mop attachments, a cleaning tool, and more.   Special features: All of the vacuums featured some method for scheduling and returning to their charging dock on their own, so those weren't useful differentiators. Auto-dirt disposal, voice control, and home surveillance aren't universal, so you may want to consider if those are important. (There's more information on those and other features here.) What we're testing next Amazon Amazon We're constantly testing new vacuums to update our guide. Below are a few models we are currently testing or will be testing soon:Shark AI with XL HEPA Self-Empty Base: This is an update to the Shark IQ self-emptying vac, and the improvements appear to be pronounced. The self-empty dock has a 33% larger capacity and has HEPA filtration. The main brush is designed to tangle less frequently. Plus, you can set no-go zones in the SharkClean app (available for iOS and Android).iRobot Roomba i7 - Certified Refurbished: This will be my first time testing a certified refurbished robot vacuum. I'm curious to see if it performs as well as the new i7, which we recommend. Choosing certified refurbished only saves you $100 right now, so I expect its performance to be virtually indistinguishable from a new unit.Samsung JetBot AI+: Samsung announced the release of an AI-based robot vac at the 2021 CES trade show, and we're looking forward to testing its smart-learning capabilities to avoid obstacles. It also has cameras and can be connected to the brand's SmartThings hub for another layer of home security. Trifo Lucy: In addition to powerful suction and an outstanding app, Lucy has HDR video, a two-way microphone, and the ability to detect noise and people in your home as part of a home security setup. I'm interested in testing its vacuuming abilities alongside the home security features. Why we don't measure Pascal Pressure Unit James Brains/Insider A robot vacuum's suction power is measured in Pascal (Pa). Generally speaking, the higher the Pa, the better, but that's a misleading metric of comparison. When I talked to engineers at iRobot about a year ago, they told me that there are several ways to measure suction power, but there are no industry standards. They viewed the reported Pa measurements as essentially useless, hence why it's nearly impossible to find suction power for iRobot vacs. It's also difficult to find the Pa for Ecovacs, though Eufy and Roborock report the measurements for their models.Due to the inconsistent reporting from manufacturers, we don't include Pa as a part of our testing methodology and criteria. How to shop for a robot vacuum James Brains/Insider While using a robot vacuum is easy enough, shopping for one can be overwhelming. Here are the main aspects to look for when considering which one to buy. Size: If you have furniture that's hard to move or low-clearance pieces like sofas or bed frames, you'll want to pay attention to the height of a robot vacuum; the other dimensions are usually within the range of reason for a normal household.For example, I have several radiators in my house with a 3.5-inch clearance that slim vacuums can get under, while just-slim-enough models sometimes get stuck, and too-thick models bump up against and go elsewhere. If you want your robot vacuum to get under your low-clearance furniture, make sure you choose a model that is slim enough to do so. Features: It's important to think about what features you actually need. For instance, if you work from home and are rarely away, HD cameras aren't useful since you can keep tabs on your home with your own eyes. If your floors are covered with carpet, you don't need your robot vac to mop. I also rarely use voice control out of personal habit, but if you use Alexa or Google Assistant for everything, then compatibility with those services is a must.Extras: You can easily purchase extra filters or brushes for robot vacs, but we think having them included with the unit is better. All of our top picks include useful extras like brushes or dirt disposal bags.Price: Robot vacuums go on sale often, and the discounts are steepest during Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. We expect most of the models we recommend in this guide to go on sale, so it pays to wait until those sale days. How to use a robot vacuum James Brains/Insider Robot vacuums make keeping your house clean easier, but there's still some regular maintenance needed to improve the performance and longevity and help your indoor air quality. Run your robot vac when no one is around: Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor at Clarkson University and president of AAAR, and Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at PCSI, both recommend running your robot vacuum in unoccupied areas. The robot vacs can kick dust, pollutants, and microbes back into the air as it vacuums floors, which can lead to subpar indoor air quality. "Every vacuum, including a robot vacuum, has the potential to release some dust, particles, and allergens back into the air, but the benefits still outweigh the risks," said Peña-Hernández. And run it regularly: Ferro and Peña-Hernández agree that you should run your robot vac at least once per week and more if you have pets and heavy-traffic areas. Ferro even suggests that daily cleaning isn't a bad idea. I generally set my vacuums to run in the early morning before I wake up or when the level of my house where the vacuum is running will be unoccupied, especially since I live in a large house with three pets and no HVAC system.Clean the dustbin and filter: If you're regularly vacuuming your space, you'll need to make sure to empty the dustbin and clean the filter. According to Peña-Hernández, you should clean the vacuum's filter at least once a week, or twice a week if you have a pet.  You'll also need to replace the filter and brushes every few months. Manufacturers usually give guidelines in the vac's user manual on how often you should replace these components. A good sign that it's time to replace your filters or brushes is if they appear to be damaged or if your vac just isn't doing as good of a job of cleaning as it once did. Fortunately, many models come with extra filters and brushes, but eventually, you'll have to purchase replacements. Manufacturers usually link to their parts store in your robot vac's app, but you can also usually find parts on Amazon, so it's worth shopping around. Just make sure that you are buying the right parts for your model.Use it in addition to a traditional vacuum:  Despite how far robot vacuums have come in the last decade, they won't replace your stick and upright vacuums anytime soon. Robot Vacuum FAQs Do you still need another vacuum if you have a robot vac?While the dream is to set your robot vacuum on a schedule and have it do all the floor cleaning for you, it's just not the reality at the moment. Robot vacuums don't clean as much dirt and debris as upright vacuums. "I think you'd still need a stick or upright vacuum for spots that the robot vac can't reach," Ferro said.Robot vacs function best as maintenance cleaners. Having them run a couple times a week will make your floors less gunky, especially if you have pets. But these vacuums also need babysitting. You need to clear their path of anything that might get tangled in their wheels, and some have trouble getting into or out of tight spaces. Their bins are fairly small, so you'll need to empty them more regularly than an upright or stick version. Even squarish robot vacuums — as opposed to round ones — aren't perfect at getting into corners. Some are too tall to fit under certain types of furniture. They obviously avoid stairs, too. Upright vacuums typically come with attachments that are useful for cleaning things like drapes or furniture, which robot vacs can't handle. "Research indicates that robot vacuums are not meant to replace upright vacuums," Peña-Hernández said. "That likely has to do with their smaller motor size. They're good for touch-ups and in-between uses."When it comes to robot vacuums, expect maintenance not miracles.How have robot vacuum cleaners improved?Since iRobot's first Roomba came on the market in the early 2000s, robot vacuum technology has improved a lot. You can now find square-ish models in addition to round ones, and the mapping technology is much better. Cameras and optical sensors can help with obstacle recognition, and LiDAR-based navigation uses lasers to detect objects. These capabilities aren't perfect, but vacuums are now more adept at finding their way back to charging docks than they were even a few years ago. Another new feature is self-emptying bins, which suck the debris out of the robot and into a canister in the charging dock. Many robot vacuums are now smart, letting you start a cleaning session from an app or by asking a smart speaker. Some, like the iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum, let you block off entire rooms in an app, so you don't have to worry about them getting stuck on your kid's clothing piles. With cameras and connectivity come some privacy concerns. Some interesting features aren't universal, such as auto-dirt disposal and home surveillance. To get more guidance on these features, I spoke with Jill Notini, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for AHAM.A few of the new features she's excited about — and that are found in many if not all of the models in our guide — include:Advanced navigation: "Many of today's models have the ability to map a home and remember how to get around objects and stay out of tough spots. You can also program the robots to vacuum specific areas of the home." You can also set no-go zones that the vacuum should avoid on your phone via the app.Mopping ability: "Robots are evolving into floor care multitaskers," said Notini. "In addition to vacuuming, some models now have the ability to mop, both wet and dry."Voice control: "Robotic vacuums can now respond to voice commands, either directly or through an outside system like Amazon Alexa."Remote operation: "You can start, stop, or control your robotic vacuum with your mobile device."Cameras: "Cameras have been incorporated into some models to help the robot map the room and allow you to get a robot's eye view of cleaning and keep an eye on your house while you're away."Fall prevention: "Even with all of the new features and technological advances, robotic vacuums still have not gained the ability to climb stairs. Many models now utilize sensors to prevent themselves from taking a tumble down the stairs or off a higher level." All of the robots in our testing were able to sense cliffs and avoid falling down stairs.Automatic dirt disposal: One of the most useful features that's becoming more ubiquitous is the charging dock that automatically empties the vacuum's dustbin. Even the largest bins need to be emptied with regular use, so it's a maintenance task you'll need to perform once a week — at best. But with the self-emptying dock, the chore is no longer necessary. You just throw away and replace the disposable dust bag every month or two.Can a robot vacuum prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus?The novel coronavirus is most easily spread through face-to-face interactions and in close quarters. If someone in your household has been sick — even if it's not with COVID-19 — it's recommended to clean and disinfect the area.  "Currently, the CDC recommends that we take precautionary measures for vacuuming during the COVID-19 outbreak although there are no reported cases of COVID-19 associated with vacuuming," Peña-Hernández said. "It recommends using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, opening outside doors and windows to increase air circulation, and not vacuuming areas with people in it." How do you clean a robot vac?Though robot vacuums automate cleaning your floors, they are not completely hands-off. There are several care and maintenance steps you should take to ensure your vac operates properly for many years to come. Manufacturers provide clear instructions for cleaning and maintaining your robot vacuum in the user manual or app. Here are some general maintenance tasks:Empty the dustbin: Depending on how dirty your home is, you will want to empty your robot vacuum's dustbin after every use. If you run your vac daily and don't have pets, you can get away with doing this chore once a week.Clean the filter and dustbin: This is a weekly task. Cleaning the filter is important because the vacuum doesn't clean as well when the filter is dirty. You can clean most models' filters and dustbins with water. I usually clean and thoroughly dry the dustbin while letting the filter air dry. While the filter is air drying, I insert the extra filter that most units come with. Whatever you do, make sure the filter and dustbin dry completely before you use them again.Clean front wheel, brushes, sensors, and charging contacts: You should do this every two to four weeks. Most robot vacuums come with a cleaning tool with a brush on one end and a cutting blade on the other. Use these to cut out hairs that are wrapped around the brushes and wheel and brush away debris. Use a soft dry cloth to dust the sensors and charging contacts per the manufacturer's instructions.Additionally, after about two months of use, it's time to replace the filter. The front caster wheel and brushes — both the main brush and side brushes — should be replaced every year or so.Can you fix a robot vac?This depends entirely on the problem. In my years of testing robot vacuums, I've probably run into every problem a robot vacuum can experience: falling down stairs (surprisingly uncommon), running through pet accidents, attempts at taking up crocheting, etc. I've learned that these machines are resilient. That said, any attempt to fix a problem with your robot vacuum should start with consulting customer service. After I determined there was no chance I could clean the pet waste off my robot vacuum, I reached out to the manufacturer. And, even though the warranty specifically states these accidents aren't covered, they still provided me with a replacement unit for free. The most common problem I face is the vacuum finding my wife's yarn and wrapping it around its wheels and brushes. When this happens, you can usually work the thread free if you're patient. I usually just cut it free.  The best deals on robot vacuums from this guide A robot vacuum can make a huge difference in your life by cleaning messes for you with the touch of a button, but they can be pricey — at least on the surface. Every week, we see discounts on robot vacuums. However, the product category is so saturated that it can be difficult to figure out which sales are worth your time.Robot vacuum deals during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day are almost always worth your time. During these events, we've seen our top picks drop by more than $200. There are currently no updated deals at this time.Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us. Check out our guides to more great vacuum cleaners Connie Chen/Insider The best vacuumsThe best affordable vacuum cleanersThe best cordless vacuums Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 21st, 2021

Herb Greenberg: Despite A Hot IPO, Think Twice Before Rushing Into This Growth Story

Empire Financial Daily newletter in which Herb Greenberg discusses investing in Dutch Bros Inc (NYSE:BROS). Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more One of my favorite interviews – many years ago – was with Gordon Segal, founder of home décor retailer Crate & Barrel… Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more We discussed […] Empire Financial Daily newletter in which Herb Greenberg discusses investing in Dutch Bros Inc (NYSE:BROS). if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more One of my favorite interviews – many years ago – was with Gordon Segal, founder of home décor retailer Crate & Barrel... if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more We discussed why he never got tempted by the riches offered by investment bankers to take Crate & Barrel public. Segal hated, just hated, the thought of putting up stores for the sake of meeting Wall Street's growth forecasts. Instead, he preferred opening new stores when he could find the right location, then staffing them with current employees. The truth is, once a retailer or restaurant goes public, especially if it has a seemingly hot concept, the goal is fast growth. That means slapping up stores as fast as possible – and wherever possible – even if it's a terrible location. As veteran restaurant analyst John Gordon of Pacific Management Consulting put it, "This is the trouble every cool brand gets into." And with restaurants, especially, the eyes of management are often much bigger than their stomachs... Buca di Beppo A perfect example is Buca di Beppo, which had grand plans to dot the U.S. with 450 cavernous family-style Italian restaurants. As I wrote in Fortune magazine in 2001, when the company had just 68 stores in 21 states... Good luck! Says one former brokerage industry analyst who now works as a hedge fund manager: "I would be very careful of any management team that thinks it can build a 'national brand.' It just will not happen." And it didn't... Buca di Beppo's stock wound up collapsing until it was acquired in 2008 by Planet Hollywood. Even today, the company's website says it has "over 100 locations worldwide." (Translation: If it does, it's not much more than that.) The truth is that some concepts don't travel well to other geographies... or they aren't economically feasible for rapid or even broad expansion... or, if they're publicly traded, they simply can't remotely get close to the forecasted numbers they used to lure investors. Dutch Bros Enter the newly public coffee chain Dutch Bros Inc (NYSE:BROS)... With 471 drive-thru locations in 11 states – almost all west of the Rockies – the company's initial public offering ("IPO") last month caused lots of chatter. Born out of a coffee cart in Oregon, Dutch Bros rapidly created a cult-like following for its coffee – almost In-N-Out-like. The company also separated itself from competitors with mostly cold, high-octane drinks. Roughly a quarter of its sales, in fact, come from an energy drink that has no caffeine. Execution has been beyond reproach. The real sizzle in the story, though, is what the company says in its IPO filing about its future growth: That it believes it can balloon to 4,000 units. That got Wall Street's attention. But some big questions remain... Just how realistic is that number? And just as important, how long will it take to get there? After all, much like Crate & Barrel, Dutch Bros has prided itself on only opening stores staffed by existing employees. In a story, last June in Restaurant Business, Dutch Bros President Joth Ricci told the magazine's Jonathan Maze... We make sure the culture and the way we do things [are] protected. We only promote from within related to how we expand our culture and our business. That may be easier said than done now that Dutch Bros is a public company. As John Gordon says... Now they've got the burden of growing responsibly what they want to do versus the natural pressures that come with being publicly traded and pressures of quarterly earnings. But for Dutch Bros, there's something else that may give investors pause... Unlike most restaurants – or even coffee chains – Dutch Bros is drive-thru only. While that's good from the cost of the buildout and revenue per square foot, it's terrible for finding locations... especially post-pandemic and especially in crowded, well-established markets. As Gordon says... Demand for drive-thrus is great... After [the] pandemic, they became the golden property and will remain the golden property because for those afraid to get out of the car it became the ultimate convenience. Therein lies what quite possibly could be a problem for Dutch Bros... According to Gordon... Everyone realizes your fighting the likes of Starbucks (SBUX) and Dunkin' Donuts... They're all out for exactly the same kind of site – either conversion or new unit sites that Dutch Bros is. And it doesn't matter that the competition might not be as cool as Dutch Bros. This isn't about the coffee, the food, or even the product... The only thing that matters is the general lack of viable drive-thru locations, both new-builds and existing ones. Gordon put it this way... It's very difficult to get sites right now... I'm working for a huge international QSR [quick service restaurant] franchisor that has me looking for drive-thru sites. I will tell you... for one of their brands, it is beyond impossible to find drive-thrus. Given how hard it is – and to show what Dutch Bros is up against – Gordon says he and his client think it will take more than a year to find the right spots. As one friend in the coffee business put it to me... There aren't many options and Starbucks is really big on going that route. Landlords don't know much about coffee, so a lot of them would take Starbucks because of the name. Plus, Starbucks can pay more. That also doesn't bode well for part of the growth story... that Dutch Bros has yet to fully tap Southern California, especially Los Angeles and San Diego. As Gordon says... In certain dense states, California being one, it's going to be an immense challenge... [In other populated parts of California] city zoning makes it very hard to construct a new unit because of traffic and noise. There's something else to consider... Even if the company can build 4,000 units... how long will it take? In a recent report from investment bank Piper Sandler, I saw some impressive-looking stats... However, the length of time to hit 4,000 units is one thing (surprise, surprise!) that Dutch Bros doesn't say. Piper Sandler tried to take a stab at it, though... Based on "theoretical" performance, analyst Nicole Regan said her best guess is that "it may take as many as 12 years for this ultimate unit count to materialize." Twelve years? Forecasts based that far out, in my opinion, are generally meaningless. Besides, it doesn't really matter because from here to there, the only thing that matters for Dutch Bros (or any other fast-growing retailer or restaurant) is growth relative to expectations. That goes for revenue, average unit volume, and (key in the mix) the number of units. If Dutch Bros can't find enough good drive-thru locations, all bets are off. And while analyst after analyst in recent days has put a positive spin on Dutch Bros in their post-IPO initiation reports, it'll take a few quarters of earnings – especially guidance and management's commentary – for the real story to start emerging. And that doesn't even get into the question of whether Dutch Bros will play east of the Rockies. Two other points to consider... If its stock ever craters – or even if it doesn't – if Dutch Bros shows it has legs, it could wind up a potential acquisition target for a mature chain like Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. That is, of course, unless it proves to be a fad. Remember what I said earlier about how nearly a quarter of Dutch Bros' sales come from one product – a non-caffeine energy drink? What's to keep the company from striking a distribution partnership with a consumer packaged goods ("CPG") firm for a canned version – much like Starbucks does... or like California Pizza Kitchen does with its pizzas? That's a long-winded way of saying that while Dutch Bros faces a massive hurdle in finding drive-thru locations, there are levers that could bail out investors. The short term could be rocky... but for investors with a time horizon of longer than "immediate gratification," it's definitely worth watching. Goodrx And Traeger In the mailbag, reader responses about Medicare, Goodrx Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:GDRX), and Traeger Inc (NYSE:COOK)... As always, feel free to reach out via e-mail at feedback@empirefinancialresearch.com. And if you're on Twitter, feel free to follow me there at @herbgreenberg. My DMs are open. I look forward to hearing from you. "When comparing the pricing of Plan D plans vs. GoodRx, don't forget to add in the amount Social Security charges you for the privilege of using a Plan D. There is also GoodRx Gold for even better pricing. I use Kroger's (KR) drug Savings plan, which is run by GoodRx. Two years ago, I quit Medicare Plan D and (was) self-insured. I can't figure out how GoodRx makes any money? Could it be that the drug store gives them a rebate for the store selling at a reduced price?" – George C. Herb comment: George, you quit Medicare Part D? That's a bold move... but I'm glad to hear the Kroger plan is working. Turning to the way GoodRx makes money, as my colleague Enrique Abeyta wrote in the May issue of his Empire Elite Growth newsletter... GoodRx pays the PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers] a fee to get access to discounted drugs. That price includes the cost to manufacturers for those drugs, as well as what they pay for the drugstore to make their margin. The markup from those inputs becomes GoodRx's revenue. (Subscribers can read the full issue here... And if you aren't a subscriber, you can click here to find out how to gain instant access.) "Herb... Don't forget to check for other discount drug prices beyond GoodRx. They are not always the least expensive. For example, I get [a] continuous glucose monitor. In my area, GoodRx has it at around $128 for two from CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) with about $117 from Giant Pharmacy or $120 from my local pharmacy. A different discount card which seems to go by pharmacychecker.com has them for $92 at CVS rather than $128 (same CVS location), but in searching around, I found another card that has them for $77 at a CVS in Target (TGT)... Still CVS, but it has to be one in Target. If you get them at a regular CVS, it is more. Makes you wonder even more how much they really cost. Medicare doesn't cover them yet, but when it no doubt does it will pay more than this. Very strange and dysfunctional medical market in the USA. "Another thing that is also odd is the many drugs are lower priced for commercial insurance patients only. If you are on Medicare they are not discounted. I was taking one drug on a commercial insurance plan before my wife retired and it was a $5 co-pay each month. Under Medicare and Plan D, it was a $40 co-pay until the donut hole, then it was a $112 co-pay each month. GoodRx didn't help with this one as it was one of those advertised on TV. "And then there are the dental discount plans that you pay for rather than free that discount the dental cost by 40% or 50%. Be sure to look into those if you have to pay your own dental bills. I think GoodRx is going to expand to do that as well, but for now, I use the Aetna one." – Larry M. Herb comment: Thanks for the insightful comments, Larry. GoodRx definitely has competition, including in-store at the likes of CVS, when at point-of-sale the clerk might steer you to an even cheaper price. You know, the one that wasn't advertised but is offered because you showed a GoodRx coupon. Still, GoodRx probably has the single-best pricing platform, which is to its advantage. I think the one thing we can agree on is that when it comes to screw-ups, drug pricing in this country is at or near the top of the list! "So given what you've written, I assume you're no longer voting Republican right?" – Jack H. Herb comment: Hi Jack, I see the sarcasm there! Reality: I rarely discuss politics... But, for the record, I am and have been for years a registered independent. "Herb, your discussion regarding Traeger evoked some thoughts. We bought our first Traeger over 15 years ago when they were produced by a small company in Oregon. We have purchased seven more since then as we moved from one home to another and left ours for the lucky homebuyer. We even gave one to our parish priest for a home warming gift. We did buy one at a Costco and while the price was attractive the model was different than Traeger's own models and was 'bundled' with pellets, cover, etc., to make it seem like more of a bargain. "Why would they do this you asked. For people like you who haven't heard of Traeger and might never know of them! Costco has millions of members who shop regularly, and many of them will be introduced to the brand during their normal visits. Once someone is 'hooked on Traeger', few will move away from them. Meanwhile, Traeger sells their top-of-the-line 'Timberline' models at premium prices available only at select retailers who won't discount them. You should check out a Traeger... they're used to cook many dishes besides barbecue for which they are well known. My wife even bakes cakes in ours as well as recipes aimed at an oven! The Traeger imparts special flavors using different wood pellets, and temperatures are electronically controlled as precisely as our kitchen oven. We love our Traeger and use it several times a week! Best," – Robert O. Herb comment: Hi Robert, unfortunately, my overpriced Lynx is built-in, and everybody I know who uses a Traeger swears by it (though one friend who recently bought one was a little underwhelmed). I think the bigger issue here is why Traeger was discounting its grills at Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST). It's one thing to be at Costco, which sometimes is a "tell" that a company is having problems pushing a product. I understand the difference with Traeger and its Costco relationship. But discounting at Costco – with not only special sales but even deeper-discounted roadshows – is a red flag. Of course, so was Starbucks opening up stores across the street from one another, and you see how that turned out! Regards, Herb Greenberg Updated on Oct 18, 2021, 3:54 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 18th, 2021

The 8 best pillows for every type of sleeper in 2021

We slept on 22 different pillows (and counting) over many months to find the best ones for side, back, and stomach sleepers. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky We tested 22 pillows (and counting) to find the most comfortable choices for every sleep position. The Coop Home Goods Pillow is our top pick because you can customize the fill for ultimate comfort. Outfit the rest of your bed with our guides to the best mattress, best bed frame, and best sheets. Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews home products. Lauren Savoie/Insider Our sleep habits can have a major impact on our health and wellbeing. Central to getting a great night's sleep is having a solid setup, including a really comfortable, supportive pillow. "A good pillow is absolutely a top priority," said Rebecca Robbins, sleep researcher, author, and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate scientist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital. "No matter your budget, I really encourage people to splurge and invest in these products because they will help. The bed is the foundation of our sleep, and if these elements aren't supportive and not cozy to your personal preference, you put yourself at risk for sleep difficulties."With that in mind, we tested 22 different pillows and considered many others. While I (a back sleeper) slept on every pillow recommended in this guide for at least three nights, individual preferences and anatomy vary greatly (see: how to find the perfect pillow). I enlisted a stomach sleeper and two side sleepers to try each pillow for at least a night and considered feedback from other editors who have tried or reviewed pillows over the last few years.You can read all about other pillows we tested and our methodology here.Here are the best pillows in 2021Best pillow overall: Coop Home Goods The Original PillowBest budget pillow: Beckham Hotel Collection Gel PillowBest pillow for side sleepers: Casper Original PillowBest pillow for back sleepers: The Saatva Latex PillowBest pillow for stomach sleepers: Parachute Down Alternative Pillow, SoftBest pillow for neck pain: Leesa Hybrid PillowBest buckwheat pillow: Turmerry Sobakawa Buckwheat PillowBest down pillow: Brooklinen Down PillowEditor's note: This guide primarily deals with memory foam and down-alternative pillows since experts we spoke to said hypoallergenic pillows are better for most people. If you're interested in learning more about down pillows, we have a whole guide specifically for down pillows. Our testing methodology There is no one-size-fits-all best pillow for everyone; individual anatomy, sleep habits, and preferences deeply impact how comfortable a pillow will be from person to person. For that reason, our rating criteria for this guide relied heavily on the following considerations:Return policy and trial period: It's impossible to know how comfortable a pillow is going to be for you until you sleep on it, despite how comprehensive our guide aims to be. "The most important thing is trying the pillows out to see what works for you," said Robbins, which includes being able to touch, lay on, and sleep with a pillow before deciding if it's right for you. For this guide, we only considered pillows that accept returns of used merchandise for a full refund with at least a 30-day trial window, which gives you ample time to decide if a pillow is right for you.Adjustability: We prioritized pillows that are adjustable, with removable inserts or shredded fill for dialing in your perfect loft. This creates a more custom pillow that would better suit your needs.Ease of use: We looked at how well each pillow fit a standard pillowcase, whether the pillow came with a case or protector, and whether all or parts of the pillow were washable for better hygiene and pillow longevity.Comfort: I slept on all of the pillows for at least three (sometimes agonizing) nights. I also enlisted a side sleeper and a stomach sleeper to try the pillows over the course of a couple weeks. For future updates, we will develop a diverse sleep panel and have them test our top picks for additional feedback. Best overall Lauren Savoie/Business Insider The Coop Home Goods Original Pillow offers thoughtful features like adjustable fill, a washable pillow cover, and an unparalleled 100-night trial that make it the best choice for most people.Fill: Shredded memory foam and microfiberFirmness: Adjustable, but on the firmer sideHypoallergenic: YesSizes available: Queen (20" x 30") and King (20" x 36")Care instructions: Wash in cold water, delicate cycle. Do not use fabric softener or bleach. Tumble dry low until the inner pillow is completely dry before use.Who it's best for: Back, side, and stomach sleepers who like the feel of memory foamPros: Completely customizable with removable fill, comes with additional fill if you prefer a firmer pillow, comes with a washable encasement, hypoallergenic, 5-year warranty, 100-night trialCons: On the firmer side and might not be the best choice if you don't like memory foam, testers in previous reviews thought it arrived with a slightly funny smellIt's rare to come across a product as thoughtfully designed as the Coop Home Goods Original Pillow. Made from hypoallergenic shredded memory foam, the fill in the Coop pillow is adjustable so you can customize it to the perfect loft for your sleep preferences. Other thoughtful features like a washable cover, 5-year warranty, and 100-night trial make it our top recommendation. When you open the box, you're greeted by a bright yellow insert that walks you through how to customize the pillow and suggestions on how much fill to add or remove (it's more than you think) based on your preferred sleeping position. While the pillow arrives almost overfilled, it also comes with a half-pound bag of additional fill in case you need even more support. I followed the package recommendations to remove about a third of the fill for back sleepers. The result felt deeply personalized, and it was very comfortable to sleep on with a great balance of support and fluff. One drawback? If you favor a softer, more down-like fill (like I do), you may find the Coop pillow is on the firmer side and tends to get a bit hot during the night. However, we think most people will love the customization of the Coop pillow, especially if you prefer the springy feel of memory foam.Read our full review of Coop Home Goods' The Original Pillow Best pillow on a budget Lauren Savoie/Business Insider At just under $20 per pillow, the Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillows are an inexpensive option that still offers a comfortable, supportive night's sleep.Fill: Gel fiber down alternativeFirmness: ModerateHypoallergenic: YesSizes available: Queen (20" x 24") and King (20" x 28")Care instructions: Wash on a delicate cycle using cold water. Lay flat to dry.Who it's best for: Side and back sleepersPros: Inexpensive, soft and stackable, sleeps relatively cool, machine washable, good for stomach and side sleepers, 30-day return window, hypoallergenicCons: Side sleepers will likely need two or more of these pillows, pillows are not adjustableIf you're the type of person that can fall asleep just about anywhere or you're primarily concerned about price, the Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow is the best bang for your buck. These pillows are on the thinner side but have a gentle, down-like plushness that sets them apart from other inexpensive pillows I've tried. While they're definitely more squishy than supportive, they're a good choice for stomach sleepers; back sleepers; and anyone who likes to hug, fold, or stack their pillows at night.I've spent several months sleeping with these pillows on and off, and they haven't gone flat or gotten lumpy. They are a little less lofty and bouncy than when I first got them, but I actually like that since it gives them a more lived-in feel. "Gel pillow" is a bit of a misnomer; there's no liquid or cooling gel in these pillows like there is in some other cooling pillows. Instead, these pillows are filled with polyester gel fiber, which is similar to a down alternative in both feel and performance. The pillows stay relatively cool compared to denser materials like memory foam but stop short of actively cooling you like the Leesa Hybrid Pillow.While these pillows aren't adjustable, each pack comes with two pillows, so you can easily stack them to your desired comfort level. The company also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee — a rarity for Amazon-only pillow brands. Best pillow for side sleepers Lauren Savoie/Business Insider The Casper Original Pillow offers the loft and support that side sleepers need but with the soft and fluffy feel of a down alternative. Fill: Polyester microfiberFirmness: ModerateHypoallergenic: YesSizes available: Standard (18" x 26") and King (18" x 34")Care instructions: Remove inner pillow. Wash with cool water and a mild detergent on the gentle cycle. Run the rinse cycle twice. Tumble dry low.Who it's best for: Side sleepersPros: Soft and fluffy, 2-inch gusset that provides support for side sleepers, removable inner pillow, machine washable, 100-night trial periodCons: Loft is not very adjustable, not as supportive as memory foamThe goal of a good pillow is to bring your neck in alignment with the rest of your spine. For side sleepers, this means bridging the gap between your ear and where your shoulder meets the mattress. But shoulder size and height can vary a lot from person to person, meaning one side sleeper might need a really lofty pillow while another needs just a little bit of lift. The Coop pillow is ideal for side sleepers because it offers a lot of customization to help fill that gap. But if you're not a memory foam fan, your next best bet is the Casper Original Pillow. Made from down-alternative fill with a percale cotton shell, the Casper pillow feels a lot like the soft, plush pillows you'd find in hotel rooms. A 2-inch gusset (the strip of fabric between seams that gives the pillow a more boxy shape) keeps the pillow lofted for the supportive lift that side sleepers require, but the plush fill still gives the "sinking in" sensation when you lay your head down. One of the side sleepers who tried the pillow over several weeks also loved that the pillow stayed cool throughout the night and kept its shape despite its softer fill. You can adjust the fill a bit by removing the inner pillow, but all the side sleepers who tried it preferred the loft of the full pillow. If you want a balance of support and softness, we recommend giving the Casper Original Pillow a try; just keep in mind that it's not as customizable or adjustable as other pillows.Read our full review of the Casper Original Pillow. Best pillow for back sleepers Lauren Savoie/Business Insider Luxuriously plush, the Saatva Latex Pillow offers an ultra-comfortable, hotel-like experience and is particularly well-suited to back sleepers.Fill: Shredded Talalay latexFirmness: Moderate-softHypoallergenic: YesSizes available: Queen (18" x 28") and King (18" x 34")Care instructions: Remove core of shredded Talalay latex, machine wash cover and pillow.Who it's best for: Back sleepersPros: Moderate height that's ideal for back sleepers, plush like a hotel pillow, supportive latex core, 45-day trial period, comes with a pillow cover, cover and outer pillow are machine washableCons: Not very adjustable, too lofty for stomach sleepersThe Saatva Pillow is made from a supportive shredded latex core surrounded by a plush, down alternative layer and a sateen cotton liner. Its unique construction makes it different from any pillow I've ever felt before — it's got the hefty weight and support of a memory foam pillow, but with the plush, cool feel of a down pillow.Throughout testing, I kept coming back to this pillow, and it quickly became my go-to for nights I wasn't actively testing anything new.I've now been sleeping on this pillow for five months. I love how my head sinks into this soft pillow, but it's still supportive enough to keep its shape all night long. When I wake up, the pillow looks just as plush as when I fell asleep on it.I'm a very active sleeper who likes to move around a lot in bed and take my bedding with me, so I love that the pillow is equally plush and comfortable from all sides and angles. It's still soft and supportive when I inevitably fold it, scoop it, or hug it throughout the night. Finally, it's hypoallergenic, which is a must for allergy sufferers like myself. Multiple stomach sleepers who tried the pillow as part of our testing found it too lofty, even with the inner core removed. Some side sleepers might also find the pillow not quite lofty enough; we think it's best for back sleepers and those who prefer a plusher, cooler feel than memory foam.  Best pillow for stomach sleepers Lauren Savoie/Business Insider Soft but not too thin, the Parachute Down Alternative Pillow has the perfect loft for stomach sleepers who want just a bit of cushion.Fill: Superfine microfiberFirmness: Very softHypoallergenic: YesSizes available: Standard (20" x 26") and King (20" x 36")Care instructions: Dry clean or machine wash cool on a delicate cycle using mild, liquid laundry detergent. Tumble dry low with wool dryer balls.Who it's best for: Stomach sleepersPros: Soft and pillowy, made from hypoallergenic down alternative, folds easily for added support when lying on your side or back, stays cool, 60-day return windowCons: Needs to be fluffed regularly to retain its shape, doesn't offer enough support for sleepers who spend the majority of the night on their back or side and therefore not the best choice for guest bedrooms, fill cannot be adjustedStomach sleepers generally require the least amount of pillow support since your head and spine are already pretty close to alignment when lying on your stomach. Most stomach sleepers would benefit from a soft pillow with just a bit of loft, and for that, the Parachute Down Alternative Pillow is our top choice. This is the only pillow that received high marks for comfort from my husband, who is an avowed stomach sleeper and finds most pillows too lofty. The Parachute pillow elevates his head just enough to alleviate any neck strain, and the sateen cotton encasement keeps the pillow remarkably cool all night long, ideal for those, like him, who run hot.We purchased four of these pillows a little over a year ago, and they were our mainstay before I started testing and evaluating pillows for this guide. In a lot of ways, this pillow hits all the marks for me: it stays cool, is incredibly soft and comfortable, and is hypoallergenic. But while my husband happily drifts asleep with one of these pillows tucked under his head, I (a back sleeper) need to stack two or three to get the loft I need to fall asleep comfortably. While the fill is thin enough that the pillow easily folds over for some support if you occasionally flip to your side or back during the night, it doesn't provide enough for those who spend the majority of the night in those positions. The pillow also won't offer much lift if you're looking to prop yourself up to read or watch TV while lounging in bed. Still, it's a great personal pillow for any stomach sleeper who has found other pillows too lofty.  Best pillow for neck pain Lauren Savoie/Business Insider The Leesa Hybrid Pillow's cooling gel side provides ice-like relief from neck pain, while the quilted side offers a more traditional pillow experience for nights when you don't need as much support.Fill: Polyester microfiber, ventilated gel comfort layerFirmness: FirmHypoallergenic: YesSizes available: Standard (16" x 24") and Queen (16" x 28")Care instructions: Remove gel insert for spot cleaning. For outer cover and inner insert, machine wash warm on gentle cycle. Do not bleach, tumble dry low.Who it's best for: Side and back sleepers who have neck pain or sleep hotPros: Cooling gel helps relieve neck pain, good for hot sleepers, two different sides to choose from for optimal support, removable inner pillow for adjusting loft, inner pillow can be used as a travel pillowCons: On the heavy side, takes some getting used to, may be too squat for some side sleepersAs someone who has struggled with back and neck troubles, I feel your pain if you're currently dealing with a stiff or painful neck. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the first line of business is to make sure that your current pillow isn't causing or exacerbating your neck strain.Your pillow should support your neck in alignment with the rest of your spine in your preferred sleeping position. If you're deep in the throes of an existing neck sprain, you should check with your doctor before considering a new pillow. Experts told us that a memory foam pillow is the preferred choice for neck pain because the material offers cushion and support to keep your neck aligned and doesn't flatten or "sink" throughout the night like other more fluffy pillows. For this, we think our overall pick by Coop is a great choice since you can customize it to your perfect loft. But if your pain is making it hard to even get to sleep, I highly recommend you try out the Leesa Hybrid Pillow.The pillow has a gel-filled cooling side and a quilted cushioning side, with a removable mini-pillow in between for adjustability. The gel-side is where the Leesa pillow truly shines; it provides an instant chilling effect that I found deeply soothing for muscle pain and neck strain in a similar effect to holding a wrapped ice pack up to your neck. On nights when my back and neck really hurt, the Leesa has provided some much-needed relief to help me fall asleep. That said, this hybrid pillow has received mixed reviews from our testers over the years. With only two possible (and both relatively low) heights, it's also less adjustable than other pillows we tested and is best suited for stomach and back sleepers who don't need a lot of loft. It's also fairly heavy, and its unique design may take a few nights to get used to.Read our full review of the Leesa Hybrid Pillow Best buckwheat pillow Lauren Savoie/Insider While sleeping on buckwheat hulls can take some getting used to, the Turmerry Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow offers an adjustable, hypoallergenic, and sustainable option that works for all sleeping styles. Fill: Buckwheat hullsFirmness: Firm but malleableHypoallergenic: YesSizes available: Travel (12" x 16"), Mini (15" x 20"), Neckroll (13" x 6"), Standard (20" x 26"), Queen (20" x 30") and King (20" x 36")Care instructions: Empty the hulls from the pillow and wash the casing in the washing machine like a traditional pillowcaseWho it's best for: All sleep stylesPros: Adjustable, supportive, hypoallergenic, sustainable, refillable, 30-day return policyCons: Firm, sensation takes some getting used toBuckwheat hulls are a traditional pillow fill used in Japan and many other Asian countries. Neither my husband nor I grew up with this type of pillow, so testing the Turmerry Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow was a new experience for us.And wow, we were both completely blown away by how comfortable this pillow was — so much so that I actually purchased an additional one because my husband and I would fight over who got to sleep on it each night.The sensation of the hulls can take a little getting used to if this type of pillow is new to you. They rustle a bit and add some texture to the pillow. But I just love how malleable and yet supportive the pillow is.Most nights, I mold the pillow to the shape of my neck feel totally supported the whole night. The hulls are heavier than a standard pillow fill, and yet I can comfortably tuck my arm underneath it without creating too much pressure or overheating.There's a reason why this type of pillow has been a popular choice for centuries around the world. The pillow sleeps cool, is completely adjustable (just add or remove hulls to find your ideal loft), is sustainable and hypoallergenic, provides plenty of support, and works for all sleep styles.The Turmerry Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow is what my husband now uses every night and what I turn to when I want a little more support. If you've struggled to find a pillow that offers support, I highly recommend trying this pillow. Best down pillow Connie Chen/Insider The mid-plush Brooklinen Down Pillow conforms well to different sleeping positions, making it the ideal pillow for people who shift throughout the night. It feels as good as pillows double its price.Fill: DownFirmness: SoftHypoallergenic: NoSizes available:Standard (20" x 26") and King (20" x 36") Care instructions: Leave outside on a dry day or air fluff in the dryer. Spot clean with a soft soap for small stains and dry clean for larger stains. Note that dry cleaning will shorten the lifespan of the pillow. Who it's best for: Side and back sleepers who prefer a down pillowPros: Comes in multiple support levels, soft yet supportive, good value Cons: Down might not be the best choice for everyone, down smell is a little strong Down makes for a very soft and comfortable pillow, but the material isn't for everyone. While experts told us that down allergies are less common than we've been made to believe, people with dust mite allergies may sleep easier with a hypoallergenic pillow. That's why, for this guide, we focused solely on memory foam and down-alternative pillows.For those who strongly prefer the feel of a down pillow, we have a whole guide filled with down pillows we've tested. Our top pick was Brooklinen's Down Pillow, which was plush and comfy for a variety of different sleeping styles.Read more about the Brooklinen Down Pillow in our guide to the best down pillows. What else we tested Lauren Savoie/Insider What else we recommend and why:Under $60Brooklinen Down-Alternative Pillow, Mid-Plush: Brooklinen makes three different pillows in both down and down-alternative fills. I tested the mid-plush option, and I really liked the moderate loft; soft, cushiony feel; and simplicity of the pillow. It's a good pick for back sleepers and side sleepers. However, it didn't beat out any of our top picks. We're looking forward to testing the "plush" option, which may be a good pick for stomach sleepers.FluffCo Down Alternative Pillow: FluffCo set out to create hotel-style pillows at an affordable price point. We really liked its soft fluff pillow, which is a great option if you're looking for simple, high-quality pillows for your bed.$60 to $100Zoma Pillow: Unlike other memory foam pillows I've tried, this one wasn't too hot or stiff and is a nice, moderate loft that works well for both side sleepers and back sleepers. The gray pillow encasement comes off for easy cleaning and also hides stains well, so the pillow still looks brand new even after many nights sleeping on it. If you like a malleable, softer memory foam pillow (and don't mind that it's not adjustable), the Zoma pillow may be a good choice for you.Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow: Like our best overall pick by Coop, this pillow is stuffed with shredded foam that makes it easily adjustable to your sleeping preference — just remove fill as needed. However, it lacked many of the attributes that made our top pick a standout, like a pillow protector, a longer trial period, and additional foam right in the box for those who need even more loft. Comfort-wise, it was similar to other shredded foam pillows we tested: supportive, with some bounce, and runs a teeny bit hot. While it's a top choice with other consumer review sites, we think the Nest pillow offers fewer features than similar pillows do at a lower price point. Over $100Cadia Adjustable Height Down Alternative Pillow: This pillow seeks to offer a similarly adjustable experience as our top pick, but for folks who prefer a down alternative feel over memory foam. The pillow comes with three removable layers so you can get the perfect feel. I thought it felt a bit unsupportive with two layers removed (which is the right loft for my sleep style), but it could be a great option for those who like to tinker with their pillow loft.LAYR Pillow: This adjustable pillow offers three layers that can each be added, removed, or independently adjusted for your perfect pillow. It's a good option for guests, since each layer is made of a different material and firmness, but it feels quite underfilled with layers removed.Saatva Memory Foam Pillow: Previously our pick for "best luxury pillow," we still think this is a really great option, but feel you can get a "luxury" experience from any of our top picks. This pillow isn't adjustable, but it's supportive and firm and has a great spa-like feel.What we don't recommend and why:Zen Chi Buckwheat Pillow: We didn't test this pillow for this iteration of this guide. It was previously our top pick for best buckwheat hull pillow but failed to meet our standards for inclusion because some Amazon reviews mention brand-new pillows arriving with wheat beetles on or inside the pillows or in the packaging — not exactly a quality that inspires a night of good dreams. While the pillow height and fill are adjustable, the company also doesn't accept returns or exchanges of any opened merchandise, which makes this a risky purchase if you're not sure you like the feel of buckwheat. Belly Sleeper Pillow: This thin pillow has a low profile that is made specifically for stomach sleepers. However, even my resident stomach sleeper found it too thin, and if you happen to move to your back or side in the night, you'll have to fold the pillow in half to get your needed support.$50 to $100Vaya Pillow: I tried this pillow but was perplexed that the pillow I received looks significantly different than what is on the website. I contacted the brand, which claimed that the pillow I received is a newer version, but after many months of waiting for a website update, I still only see the old pillows available. I thought this pillow was far too overfilled, even for side sleepers, and the inaccuracies of what we received versus what's on the website are concerning. Le'Vista Hotel Collection Pillow: Formerly our best budget pillow, this Amazon-only brand has an unclear return policy (many report being charged a return fee) and gets middling reviews on the site. We didn't test it this time around because it didn't meet our criteria for returns. The price has also more than doubled since we last recommended it, no longer making it an attractive budget alternative. Many reviewers claim the pillows flatten out quickly and customer service is hard to reach.  Tulo Pillow: A few of our side-sleeping editors recommended this moderate-height memory foam pillow, but we didn't test it for this guide because it lacks many of the qualities of our top picks: It's not adjustable or washable, and the company doesn't offer a trial period or returns of open pillows.  Over $100Saatva Down Alternative Pillow: Saatva makes two of our top pillow picks, so I was surprised this one was such a miss. It was far too lofty, even for side sleeping, and left my neck in an uncomfortable position. It ended up straining my neck so much that I couldn't make it through the night before switching back to my normal pillow. Amerisleep Dual Comfort Pillow: This memory foam pillow has two sides: a "comfort" side and a "support" side, but I found little difference between either. Both sides are relatively firm, and while the "comfort" side may offer a teeny bit more softness, both were quite stiff. It may be a good option for those who like a pillow that lays flat and offers a lot of support.Royal Hotel Goose Down Pillow: This goose down pillow was featured and recommended in previous iterations of this guide, but we ultimately excluded it this time around because the company doesn't appear to accept returns. If you have your heart set on a down pillow, check out our guide to the best down pillows. What we're testing next Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow ($82.99): Made by the same company as our best overall pillow, the Eden Pillow features the same adjustable fill feature but with softer, gel-infused foam. It could be a good option for those who are intrigued by an adjustable pillow but like a cooler, softer feel. Sleep Number Comfortfit Pillow Ultimate ($69.99): This adjustable pillow has several smaller inner pillows that you can add or remove for your ideal loft. It's made from down-alternative fill and could be a good adjustable option for those who don't like the feel of memory foam. Boll & Branch Pillows ($158 to $228): Boll & Branch reportedly tried 100 different prototypes, and at least five of our editors have tried its down and down alternative pillows. We'll be retesting and incorporating the feedback into this guide. Brooklinen Pillows ($53.10 to $62.10): Brooklinen makes three different pillows in both down and down-alternative fills. While we've already tested the mid-plush down-alternative pillow, we're looking forward to testing the plush version as an option for stomach sleepers.Bear Pillow ($94 with code "FLASH25"): Breton Fischetti, VP of commerce, tried the Bear Pillow and said it improved his neck pain and helped him sleep better. Made from memory foam and "double ice fabric," the pillow claims to stay cool all night long. We'll be testing for a future update to this guide.  How to pick the perfect pillow Lauren Savoie/Business Insider Robbins told us the single biggest consideration when picking a pillow is your preferred sleep position: side, back, or stomach. The goal of your pillow is to support your neck in a neutral position aligned with the rest of your spine. That alignment shifts depending on the position you're sleeping in. While we all move around during sleep — switching positions about 60 times throughout each night — most of us spend the majority of our sleeping time in one position. Not sure what your sleep position is? Consider what position you typically fall asleep or wake up in. Robbins also has a neat exercise she performs with her clients: imagine you've been up for 24 hours and are presented with a big, luxurious hotel bed; how would you lie down on it to go to sleep? The position you envision is most likely your preferred sleep position and plays a big role in what type of pillow will work best for you. Side sleepers: Around 65% of the US population are side sleepers, according to Robbins, and this position requires the most loft and support to bridge the wide gap between the side of your head and where your shoulder rests on the mattress. If you're a side sleeper, choose a lofty pillow — ideally with an adjustable fill since there can be a lot of variability in the size of that shoulder gap from person to person. Robbins said hotels and sleep clinics usually outfit rooms with side sleepers in mind, so if you're buying pillows for a guest bedroom, a side-sleeper-friendly pillow is usually a good bet. Back sleepers: Back sleepers are the Goldilocks of pillow hunters — they need a pillow that is not too soft and not too firm, with just enough support to lift the back of the head to be in line with their shoulders. Back sleepers tend to benefit from a medium, cushiony pillow made from down or down alternative, though an adjustable pillow with at least one-third of the fill removed may work as well. Stomach sleepers: In the minority are stomach sleepers, who need the least amount of support from their pillow. Typically a thin, very soft pillow works best for stomach sleepers — just enough fill to cushion their face from the flat surface of the mattress.  FAQs Lauren Savoie/Business Insider How often should I replace my pillow?Even the best pillows aren't meant to last forever; for the best sleep, the National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing a well-used pillow every couple of years. Our fluffy little pillows absorb a shocking amount of dead skin and body oils night after night, which is the perfect breeding ground for allergens like dust mites. You can tell if it's time for a new pillow if your pillow is lumpy or flat, no matter how much you fluff it. Robbins also told us that a healthy pillow springs back when you compress it; if you fold your pillow in half and it stays put, it's probably time for a new pillow. (One caveat: it may not work with a very, very thin pillow.)Which pillows are best for allergy sufferers?Many pillows are made from hypoallergenic materials, but if you're prone to allergies, Robbins recommends looking for a pillow with a synthetic filling. Pillows with animal fillings (such as down) may trigger allergies or exacerbate them over time since dust mites really like fillings made from animal material.No matter your pillow style, the National Sleep Foundation and Robbins both recommend adding a pillow protector (an encasement that adds another level of protection from allergens, body oils, dust mites, and other pests) in addition to a pillowcase if your pillow doesn't already come with one (many of our top picks do), fluffing your pillows daily, and washing your pillow every couple of months according to manufacturer directions. Taking care of your pillow not only extends its life and helps you sleep better but can also ease allergies. Are pillows adjustable?It depends on the pillow. Many are not. However, our top pick, the Coop Home Goods Original Pillow is completely adjustable, so you can find the loft that's right for you. To adjust, you simply add or remove filling (the box comes with extra filling if you like a lot of loft) to reach your ideal comfort level.What are the best pillows for hot sleepers?If you tend to sleep hot (as I do), you may find pillows with down or down alternative filling — such as the Casper Original Pillow, Parachute Down Alternative Pillow, Saatva Pillow, or Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillows — have better airflow than memory foam pillows. Some memory foam pillows have started advertising "gel foam" that purportedly keeps your cooler. However, we haven't found that this type of foam produces a marked difference in comfort for hot sleepers. If you absolutely must have a foam pillow, the Leesa Hybrid Pillow is the coolest foam pillow we've found.How much do pillows cost?You can find pillows at a range of price points, anywhere from $10 to several hundred dollars. While it's not always the case that you have to spend more to get a good pillow (our best budget pick costs just $20), considering how much of our lives we spend sleeping, Robbins recommends thinking of a pillow as an investment that will pay you back in better sleep. Our favorite pillow is completely customizable and costs about $60, though you can often find it on sale for as little as $40 during the holidays and other sales events.Can I wash my pillow?It depends on the pillow. We recommend following manufacturer instructions for how to best care for and clean your pillow. What is pillow loft?Loft refers to the height of your pillow, which will determine how far off the mattress it will lift your head. In general, experts recommend a pillow that will keep your head and neck in alignment with the rest of your spine. How much loft that's needed to accomplish this depends on your sleeping position (side sleepers need more loft to bridge their shoulder gap, while stomach sleepers need very little loft since their head is so close to the mattress) and individual anatomy. A pillow with an adjustable loft, like our top pick, helps you dial in the perfect loft for your body and sleeping style.What pillow sizes are available?Aside from decorative throw pillows and Euro pillows, most pillows for sleeping come in two sizes: standard (or queen) and king. We recommend a standard or queen size for twin, full, and queen mattresses, and king pillows for king or California king mattresses.  Check out more of our bedding guides Coop Home Goods The best memory foam pillowsThe best gel pillowsThe best latex pillowsThe best down pillowsThe best body pillowsThe best pregnancy pillowsThe best travel pillows Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 8th, 2021

El Salvador Is Betting on Bitcoin to Rebrand the Country — and Strengthen the President’s Grip

Will the country's adoption of the digital currency help its people, or just its president? When Roman Martinez was growing up in El Zonte, a small coastal village in El Salvador, the American Dream loomed large. Beyond the local fishing industry, which Martinez’s parents worked in, there weren’t a lot of opportunities. “Young people just wanted to leave, to go to the U.S.,” he says. “But now we have a Salvadoran dream.” It’s a dream about Bitcoin. Two years ago an anonymous American donor sent more than $100,000 in the decentralized digital currency, or cryptocurrency, to an NGO that Martinez works for in El Zonte to pay for social programs. As the team began encouraging families and businesses to use Bitcoin, many of the town’s residents, most of whom had never had a bank account, began saving their money in the currency, making gains as its value surged. Curious tourists flooded into the town and foreign businesses set up shop. The project gave El Zonte the nickname “Bitcoin beach,” simultaneously a philanthropic endeavour and one of the world’s largest experiments in cryptocurrency. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “People with little income, who didn’t have access to a financial system, with $5 worth of Bitcoin they can start building something that can be the legacy they leave to their children,” Martinez says, over video call, wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with Bitcoin’s orange logo. It was partly El Zonte’s experiment that inspired El Salvador last month to become the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender—alongside the U.S. dollar, which El Salvador has used as its currency since 2001. The Bitcoin law, which came into force on Sept. 7, makes taxes payable in Bitcoin, obliges all businesses to accept it, and paves the way for the government to disburse subsidies in it. The government has built a network of 200 Bitcoin ATMs and a digital Bitcoin wallet app, called Chivo, through which it has distributed $30 worth of Bitcoin to every Salvadoran citizen in a bid to kickstart the Bitcoin economy. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele claims 2.1 million Salvadorans have used Chivo so far, in a country of 6 million people. Bukele is touting Bitcoin as a way for Salvadorans to reduce the fees they pay to send and receive remittances—which make up 22% of El Salvador’s GDP, mostly from the U.S.—and as a way for the 70% of Salvadorans who are unbanked to access financial services. He’s not alone in advocating for cryptocurrencies as a way for developing economies to bypass a global financial system in which access to services and investment are geared towards the world’s richer countries and individuals. Crypto has achieved its highest penetration mostly in countries where banking systems are costly and complicated to use, or where local economies and currencies are unstable. But critics say making Bitcoin—notoriously volatile and not subject to controls by any central bank—into legal tender is an unjustifiable gamble for El Salvador’s already ailing economy. The $200 million of taxpayer money congress has devoted to the project equates to 2.7% of the government’s total budget for 2021, or almost three times the agriculture ministry’s budget for the year. The uncertainty introduced by the Bitcoin policy has sent the price of government bonds tumbling, and halted negotiations for a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the country is seeking to plug a $1.5 billion hole in its public finances. ‘The coolest dictator in the world’ For the President, a 40 year-old with the casual wardrobe and cheeky communication style of a tech entrepreneur, Bitcoin is about more than its immediate economic impact, though. It’s a chance to rebrand El Salvador, from a country known primarily for gang violence and a sluggish economy that drives emigration to the U.S., to an independent, modern crypto pioneer. For young Salvadorans like Martinez, that means creating a Salvadoran dream. For the international community, it’s a rebuke to a world order that casts El Salvador as the backyard to the U.S.—which Bukele has increasingly railed against since taking power in 2019. Instead, he casts El Salvador as an independent hub of innovation, aligned with the anti-establishment crypto community, members of which have flooded and celebrated the country in recent months and will return for a large crypto conference in November. Envisioning the transformation he witnessed in El Zonte taking place across the country, Martinez is excited—despite doubts among the wider population. “We’re used to new things happening in the U.S. or Canada or Europe,” Martinez says. “Now we’ve changed the narrative about El Salvador and started moving forward. Michael Nagle—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesNayib Bukele, El Salvador’s president, speaks in a prerecorded video during the United Nations General Assembly via live stream in New York on Sept. 23, 2021. But there’s another narrative unfolding in El Salvador. Since Bukele’s party, New Ideas, won a landslide victory at parliamentary elections in February, he has moved rapidly to undermine the structures of El Salvador’s democracy. In May, parliament voted to replace opposition-linked judges on the supreme court with Bukele allies, bringing all levers of power under his control. In September—a few days before the Bitcoin launch—the same court ruled that Bukele can run for a second term in 2024, in defiance of El Salvador’s constitution, triggering sanctions from the U.S. He has also stepped up attacks on the media, including launching criminal investigations into news organizations and kicking critical journalists out of the country. Analysts say the Bitcoin experiment is part of Bukele’s proto-strongman trajectory. “He’s fallen in love with his own power and wants to nurture this cool millennial President image through this adventure into the Bitcoin world,” says Tiziano Breda, a Central America analyst at the International Crisis Group, a think tank. It’s working for him, largely. The Bitcoin law has sparked the first major protests of his presidency, with 8,000 people marching in San Salvador on Sept. 15— a significant number of people in a country where street protest is unusual. But the President’s approval ratings still stand above 85%. With that backing, Bukele is deeply dismissive of global concern about his leadership. On Sept 18, he changed his bio on Twitter to “Dictator of El Salvador,” clearly trolling the international press. Then, a couple of days later he changed it again, to “The coolest dictator in the world.” El Salvador’s rapid transformation On the night that Bitcoin launched in El Salvador, Nelson Rauda, a reporter for independent newspaper El Faro, went to a party. At a sleek hotel bar next to an infinity pool overlooking the pacific ocean in the department of La Libertad, crypto enthusiasts and internet celebrities from the U.S., including YouTuber Logan Paul, danced and let off fireworks to celebrate a major moment for the cryptocurrency. Some wore headdresses and carried orange signs featuring Bitcoin’s white B logo. Almost everyone was speaking English. ”The scenery, and the location was a beach in El Salvador, but it could have been anywhere else in the world,” Rauda says. “[The crypto community] want to portray themselves as bringing a future and development to El Salvador through Bitcoin— a kind of white saviorism in that sense. But most of them are not interested in the country, just business.” Bukele’s government welcomes their business. The President claims that if 1% of the world’s Bitcoin were invested in El Salvador, it would raise GDP by 25%. He has offered permanent residency to anyone who spends three Bitcoin (currently around $125,000). He has also highlighted the fact that, since Bitcoin is legal tender, rather than an investment asset, foreigners who move to El Salvador will not have to pay capital gains tax in the country on any profits made if the cryptocurrency’s value increases. To that he adds, in English, “Great weather, world class surfing beaches, beach front properties for sale” as reasons that crypto entrepreneurs should move to El Salvador. This pragmatic, salesman-like tone is something that Salvadorans appear to appreciate from their President. Though he served as mayor of the capital, San Salvador until 2018, Bukele ran for the presidency in 2019 as a political outsider. He used his direct link with millions of followers on social media to pit himself against the right and leftwing parties that had ruled the country since its civil war in the 1980s. That conflict, in which the U.S. played a decisive role by funding opponents of leftist rebels, sowed the seeds of many of El Salvador’s current problems: chronically low economic growth, weak institutions vulnerable to corruption, the world’s worst rates of gang violence and one of the lowest rates of direct foreign investment in Central America. Bukele argued, convincingly, that the postwar governments had failed to meaningfully address those woes over three decades. Since taking office, Bukele has projected an image of ruthless efficiency. In February 2020, he and a group of armed soldiers stormed into parliament in order to pressure lawmakers to pass his budget plan. He has slashed rates of gang violence, with the country’s homicide rate falling from 51 per 100,000 in 2018 to 19 per 100,000 in 2020 (Experts debate whether this is a result of Bukele’s security policy, gang trends independent of him, or a secretive quid pro quo deal he may have struck with gang leaders). He adopted a hardline response to COVID-19, ordering one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns and giving security forces the right to put any rule-breakers in detention centers, a move human rights watchdogs say led to violent repression. The unprecedented popularity Bukele has enjoyed has allowed him to move faster than Latin America observers expected to take anti-democratic steps, such as intervening in the judiciary, Breda says. “For many other sort of authoritarian governments in the region, it took [many] years to do the things that Bukele has done in such a sweeping way. The pace is definitely surprising.” Marvin Recinos—AFP/Getty ImagesIlluminated drones form figures inspired by the Bitcoin logo in El Sunzal Beach, El Salvador, on Sept. 7, 2021. ‘Bitcoin is costing the country dearly’ Those who are most sceptical of Bukele—conservative economists—see his Bitcoin law as new packaging for an old move for populist authoritarian leaders in Latin America. The policy was labelled a “Bitcoin scam” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “They’re always trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat,” says Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at the John Hopkins University and director of the Troubled Currencies Project at the libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. “They say: ‘We’ve had all these financial problems because of all these irresponsible leaders we’ve had in the past. And now here I am riding a white horse and I’ve got some new gimmick that’s going to solve it all. It’s called Bitcoin.’” Hanke helped advise the Salvadoran government on the country’s dollarization, when it adopted the U.S. dollar as its sole currency in 2001. From 1993 the Salvadoran colón had been pegged to the U.S. dollar on a fixed exchange rate, in a successful effort to keep previously rampant inflation under control. After eight years, the government opted to fully replace the colón with the dollar. That made the economy more stable and lowered the cost of borrowing, but limited Salvadoran governments’ freedom to spend money, particularly in times of financial crisis. Hanke and others have speculated that the Bitcoin move is a first step towards scrapping dollarization altogether and issuing a national digital currency. That would both enable looser public spending, and reduce the impact of U.S. sanctions. But for local economists, the immediate concern is how Bitcoin could complicate El Salvador’s path out of a deep pandemic recession. “Public finances in El Salvador are on a knife edge. Public debt stands at close to 90% of GDP and the government needs to find almost $1.5 billion to close the year and pay its obligations,” says Alvaro Trigueros Arguello, director of economic studies at FUSADES, a San Salvador-based development thinktank. Though El Salvador’s economy is growing—with the Central Bank saying Sept. 29 that GDP is on course to surge by 9% this year—Trigueros Arguello says this is mostly due to a temporary factors, including the reopening of businesses after COVID-19 restrictions and a surge in remittances after the disbursement of pandemic aid packages in the U.S. The Bitcoin rollout has complicated El Salvador’s relationship with the IMF, from which it is seeking a $1 billion assistance package. In June the fund denied a request by El Salvador to assist in its Bitcoin rollout. It cited the lack of transparency in cryptocurrencies, arguing that the difficulty of tracing who makes Bitcoin transactions has facilitated criminal activity elsewhere, as well as environmental concerns about widening the use of Btcoin, which requires vasts amount of energy to produce. Fears over the cryptocurrency’s impact on El Salvador’s macroeconomic stability have stalled negotiations between El Salvador and the IMF, Trigueros Arguello says. “The government needs international credit and because of Bitcoin, it’s not getting it,” Trigueros Arguello says. “Bitcoin is costing the country dearly.” Camilo Freedman—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesDemonstrators hold signs during a protest against President Bukele and Bitcoin in San Salvador on Sept. 15, 2021. The backdrop to El Salvador’s experiment hasn’t undermined the excitement for those who want crypto currencies to be more widely used. Bitcoin Twitter has filled with tweets celebrating how easy it is for Salvadorans to use the currency in places like Starbucks, and praising Bukele’s foresight. “I’m totally excited about what’s happening in El Salvador. [Particularly] the fact that it’s happening in Latin America,” says Cristóbal Pereira, CEO of Blockchain Summit LatAm, a regional conference covering the blockchain technology that underlies Bitcoin, which will host events at El Salvador’s own Bitcoin conference in November. “If people end up using it widely, there’s a good chance other countries and people will end up using it more too.” It’s too early to tell if the buzz will be matched by the significant investments Bukele is hoping for. Analysts say businesses will likely wait and see how the bitcoin rollout affects El Salvador’s economic stability before striking any major deals. Mike Petersen, an American who moved to El Zonte in 2005 and helped found the Bitcoin beach, says he’s received a “a huge flood of [enquiries from] businesses that want to set up shop here, because, for the first time they are realizing, hey, Salvador is a forward looking country.” Those include companies in the Bitcoin space, such as exchanges and ATM networks, but also real estate developers, manufacturing companies and “some lighting and architectural companies that are now outsourcing, hiring architectural students here to do design and and put together bids for them. Because they can pay them in Bitcoin.” Peterson says he doubts that concern about the political situation in El Salvador will have any impact on investors. “Elite media circles are the ones that are more focused on that. I think, in the business climate, people are more pragmatic and practical about things. And they see that Bukele is extremely popular.” What’s not necessarily popular, so far, is Bitcoin. Bukele claims that a third of Salvadorans are actively using Chivo, but it is unclear how many are only using the app to access the initial $30 gift from the government. Media outlets in El Salvador reported long queues for the ATMs, where most people were converting their Bitcoin to take dollars home with them. In the first week of the rollout, one of the country’s largest banks told The Financial Times that the cryptocurrency accounted for fewer than 0.0001 % of its daily transactions. Rauda, the El Faro reporter, says he knows “no one” who’s using Bitcoin on a regular basis. Teething troubles The government gave itself just three months after parliament approved its Bitcoin law in June to introduce the currency, leading to a series of technical issues with the Chivo wallet app. Crypto bloggers reported cash taking days to show up in their Chivo accounts after being transferred by other users, bugs making the app unusable, and an initial inability to transfer any sum below $5. Bukele, who took to Twitter throughout the launch to offer emoji-laden tech support messages, claimed most of the technical problems were resolved within a few days. The bumpy rollout helped trigger a 10% fall in the value of Bitcoin against the day it became legal tender, and further falls since. On Sept. 20 Bukele said his government had “bought the dip” and acquired 150 more coins, bringing the country’s total holding to 700 (around $22 million). Chaotic rollouts of new government programs are not unique to El Salvador. But some in the Bitcoin community have concerns about the structure of the country’s experiment, beyond the initial hiccups. Marc Falzon, a New Jersey-based Bitcoin YouTuber who visited San Salvador to document the rollout, says he became concerned about Salvadoran taxpayers footing the bill despite opposition to the policy, and about Article 6 of the Bitcoin law, which says that all economic actors in the country must accept Bitcoin if they have the technical capacity to do so. “Forcing people to accept a decentralized currency from a centralized authority ebbs away at the legitimacy of not just Bitcoin, but cryptocurrency in general,” he says. Supporters of the project point out that Salvadorans don’t have to keep their money in Bitcoin if they don’t want to, with the government guaranteeing their ability to transfer them into U.S. dollars via its national development bank and a range of services allowing businesses to make that transfer automatically. But Falzon says that the positive image of EL Salvador’s rollout generated by Bitcoin influencers on Instagram and Twitter didn’t reflect what he saw. In a health store near his hotel, for example, the shopkeeper said she couldn’t afford to restock because so many Bitcoin payments made by customers had simply never shown up in her Chivo app account. “For people in the Bitcoin and crypto community, El Salvador is a ‘told you so moment,’ proof that this isn’t just a fad. And I think that in that enthusiasm, we can lose sight of both the bigger picture—in how future countries may start to follow suit—and also of the individual experiences of the people that are in these countries.” Some individuals are happy though. Martinez, the community activist who grew up in El Zonte, says the town’s experience suggests hesitancy to use Bitcoin—and opposition to the Bitcoin law—will fade as Salvadorans become more used to the technology, and become widespread within a few years. He’s not concerned, he says, by how Bitcoin may play into Bukele’s larger political project. “As an NGO, we’re apolitical. We support anything that can make a better El Salvador. And I think we’re walking towards a better future.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 1st, 2021

100+ Memorial Day weekend sales you can shop right now

Memorial Day lands on May 30, and many stores are offering sales on tons of products to mark the occasion. Here's what to shop now. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.Memorial Day is the perfect time to stock up on outdoor essentials, like this fire pit that's currently 45% off.Solo StoveWhen you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Memorial Day is Monday, May 30, and sales have already started at many stores.  The shopping holiday offers some of the year's best savings on bedding, outdoor products, and more. Keep this page bookmarked for all the latest Memorial Day deals.  More than just the unofficial kick-off to summer, Memorial Day is a great time to snag some fantastic deals. Year after year, we see some of the season's best prices on products like mattresses, TVs, outdoor gear, and much more. Though the holiday officially lands on Monday, May 30, many retailers are already offering big sales to mark the occasion.We put together a list of the best Memorial Day deals, below. From outdoor furniture to fresh fish delivery services, there's a sale for just about every need. Check back here as Memorial Day weekend approaches — we'll be updating this page with new deals as they go live.Our favorite deals to shop right nowHulu Monthly Subscription (Deal)For a limited time, Hulu is offering three months of service for $1 a month. That's 85% off the regular price. The deal ends on May 27 at 11:59 p.m. PT.$1.00 FROM HULUOriginally $6.99 | Save 86%LG 65-inch C1 OLED 4K TVLG’s C1 is one of the best 4K TVs you can buy. The OLED panel delivers incredible image quality with an infinite contrast ratio.$1596.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $2499.99 | Save 36%$1596.99 FROM WALMARTOriginally $2499.99 | Save 36%Teva Hurricane DriftIdeal for those wanting comfort and convenience out of their footwear, the Teva Hurricane Drift Sandals offer a softer footbed with a velcro closure.$30.00 FROM HUCKBERRYOriginally $40.00 | Save 25%Casper Wave Hybrid Mattress (Queen)Casper Wave's Zoned Support will ensure that your core doesn't sink too deeply into the mattress so that your spine is well aligned.$2315.00 FROM CASPEROriginally $2895.00 | Save 20%Samsung 75-Inch QN90A 4K QLED TV (2021 Model)This 2021 Samsung 4K TV model remains one of the best high-end QLEDs you can buy. It delivers exceptional brightness while offering contrast that's almost on par with an OLED. This is the cheapest we've ever seen the 75-inch model sell for.$2199.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $2799.99 | Save 21%Koio Canvas CapriThough the Koio Capri Sneakers can be a bit pricey, they’re stylish, high-quality, and super comfortable.$167.00 FROM KOIOOriginally $225.00 | Save 26%Rent the Runway 8 Item PlanRent the Runway allows subscribers to rent from a constantly-rotating selection of the latest fashions and designs.$94.00 FROM RENT THE RUNWAYOriginally $144.00 | Save 35%Purple Hybrid Premier 3 Mattress (Queen)The Purple Hybrid Premier 3 Mattress keeps my body cool, cradled, and comfortable.$2699.99 FROM PURPLEOriginally $2999.00 | Save 10%TCL 3 Series HDTV (40-inch)It doesn’t have 4K resolution or other advanced features, but the TCL 40-inch 3 Series HDTV is one of the most affordable 40-inch Roku TVs you can buy.$219.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $289.99 | Save 24%Crocs Classic Lined Clog (Unisex)With the air getting colder, you deserve to treat your feet to something cozy and warm. The Classic Lined Clog is everything you love about the iconic Clog, but with a fuzzy liner to keep your toes toasty.$36.00 FROM CROCSOriginally $60.00 | Save 40%Best Memorial Day mattress salesDreamCloudAllswell: Get 20% off mattresses with the promo code MEMDAY20. Amerisleep: Get $450 off mattresses with promo code AS450.Avocado Mattress: Get 10% off sitewide. Bear Mattress: Get 30% off sitewide plus free accessories with your purchase.Beautyrest: Get up to $1,000 off select mattresses and adjustable bases through June 6.Casper: Get up to $800 off Casper mattresses.Cocoon by Sealy: Get 25% off the chill mattress plus free pillows and sheets with your order.Dreamcloud: Get $200 off the hybrid mattress plus free accessories.Helix: Get up to $350 off plus two free dream pillows.Leesa: Get up to $700 off mattresses and two free pillows.Mattress Firm: Get up to 60% off select mattresses. Nectar: Get $100 off plus a free accessory set with the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress.Purple: Get up to $200 in instant gifts with your mattress purchase.Saatva: Get up to $450 off mattresses.Serta: Get up to $1,000 off select mattresses and adjustable base sets through June 14.Sit'n Sleep: Get up to 50% off select brands.Sleep Number: Get up to $1,000 off select mattresses, and buy one get one 50% off all pillows.Tempur-pedic: Get up to $500 off adjustable mattresses sets and an instant gift with your purchase.Tuft & Needle: Get up to $500 off mattresses.Vaya: Get $300 off any mattress with promo code VAYA300.Zoma: Get up $150 off all mattresses.Best Memorial Day home and furniture salesOverstock/Facebook1-800-Flowers.com: Get up to 40% off select flowers and gifts.Apt2B: Get up to 25% off sitewide through May 31.Ashley Furniture: Save on select furniture with free delivery.Bed Bath & Beyond: Get up to 50% off sale and clearance items through May 30.BioBidet: Save on select bidets.Brooklinen: Get 15% off sitewide. Burrow: Get up to $1,000 off with promo code MDS22.CB2: Get up to 20% off outdoor furniture and up to 60% select sale items. Chewy: Get up to 30% off select items including pet food and toys. Floyd Home: Save 15% off your entire purchase with promo code SUNNYDAYS22.Inside Weather: Up to 20% sitewide, plus free shipping on orders over $1,500 with code MEMORIALDAY.Maytag: Get up to $200 via rebate with select appliances through June 1.Minted: Get 15% off sitewide with the promo code MEMORIALDAY22 through May 31.Houzz: Get up to 80% off select lighting, furniture, and more.Lowes: Save on appliances, tools, and more. Outer: Get up to $1,000 off outdoor furniture.Overstock: Get up to 70% off sitewide through May 30.Parachute: Get 20% off sitewide. Raymour & Flanigan: Get up to 35% off sitewide through May 30. Rifle Paper Co.: Get 25% off sitewide with the promo code BLOSSOM through May 31.Saatchi Art: Get 15% off originals of $2,000+ with promo code HELLOMAY15. Spark Grills: Get $200 off any Spark Grill Package.Sur la Table: Get up to 50% off select cookware.Wayfair: Get up to 70% off select furniture for every room in the house.West Paw: Get free shipping on orders of $25 or more with the promo code PLAY22. Wild One: Save on select color collections during the Spring Sale.Woot: Save on bedding through June 6. Best Memorial Day kitchen and cooking salesOmaha SteaksChicago Steak Company: Get four free filet mignons and free shipping with promo code MEMORIAL.EveryPlate: Get your first box for $1.79 a meal and 20% off your next two boxes with promo code MDW2022 through May 31.Factor: Get $120 off your first five boxes with promo code FactorMDW22 through May 31.Green Chef: Get $130 off plus free shipping with promo code GCMDW2022.HelloFresh: Get 16 free meals plus free shipping with promo code HFMDW2022 through May 31.Milk Street: Get 15% off sitewide starting Saturday, May 28, on ingredients, spices, sauces, tools, and cookware. Omaha Steaks: Get 50% off sitewide. Ooni: Get 20% off sitewide through May 30.Sizzlefish: Get 10% off sitewide with promo code MEMORIAL22Solo Stove: Get up to 45% off at fire pits.Best Memorial Day tech device dealsAmazonBest Buy: Get up to $500 off select TVs or get up to $300 off select Windows laptops.B&H: Save on photography supplies and gear during National Photo Month.Codecademy: Get 50% off Pro annual memberships with the promo code SPRING22. GoPro: Save on the Hero10 Black. Hulu: Get Hulu for $1 a month for your first three months, ending May 27.Newegg: Get up to 55% off select components, desktops, and more.Roku: Save on Roku streaming devices through May 29.Samsung: Save on select Samsung tablets, smartphones, TVs, and earbuds.Tile: Save on select Tile trackers. Best Memorial Day style and fashion salesGlassesUSAAndie Swim: Get 20% off orders of $150 or more with the promo code VACAY150 and 30% off orders of $250 or more with the promo code VACAYNOW250. Andrew Marc: Get 25% off sitewide and an extra 35% off final sale with the promo code AMSTARS.Athleta: Get 20% off sitewide.Aurate: Get 25% off sitewide with the promo code SHOWER.Baublebar: Get select pieces starting from $10. Burst Oral Care: Get $20 off two Burst Sonic Toothbrushes.Calpak: Get up to 40% off luggage through June 1.Crocs: Get up to 40% off select styles.eBags: Get 20% off ebags with promo code SUNSHINE.Everlane: Get 25% off select summer styles.Gap: Get an extra 50$ off sale styles with promo code MORE and 10% off regular-price styles with promo code PERK.Girlfriend Collective: Get 25% off orders of $250 or more.GlassesUSA: Get 50% off plus free shipping.J.Crew: Get 30% off your purchase during the Ready, Set, Summer event. Jachs NY: Get 60% off sitewide with the promo code MD60. Janie and Jack: Get an extra 20% off sale styles.Kate Spade: Get up to 40% off with the promo code HELLOSUMMER through May 30.Koio: Get 25% off select styles through May 30.Lands' End: Get 50% off swimwear and up to 60% off everything else with promo code BALL.Lo and Sons: Get up to 40% off select items. Lucky Brand: Get up to 50% off select styles. Macy's: Get up to 40% off select apparel, furniture, and more. Madewell: Get 25% off select apparel and accessories with the promo code LONGWEEKEND.MeUndies: Get 50% off sitewide with the promo code PICNICTIME.Mitchell & Ness: Get 30% off sitewide. Nordstrom: Get up to 60% off during the Half-Yearly Sale through June 5.Outdoor Voices: Get up to 50% off OV Extra apparel.Philosophy: Get $20 off orders of $50 or more with the promo code WEEKEND.Reebok: Get up to 50% off select apparel.Rent the Runway: Get $100 off the 8-item plan with the promo code MDW100.Rockport: Get one pair of shoes for $75, two for $145, and three for $200 with promo code FANDF.Selfmade: Get 20% off plus a free gift with the promo code SUNSOUT. Soma: Get up to 70% off select styles.Sunski: Get 25% off on Sunski's affordable range of sunglasses. UnderArmour: Get an extra 30% off all Outlet orders of $100 or more with the promo code MDEXTRA.Urban Outfitters: Get an extra 40% off sale styles.White and Warren: Get an extra 20% off sale styles with the promo code MEMDAY20 through May 30.Best Memorial Day outdoor and fitness salesREIBackcountry: Get up to 50% off select brands and gear.BioLite: Get 25% off sitewide on the brand's stoves, fire pits, and lighting.Charge Bikes: Get $150 off the Charge Comfort Bike and a free $100 Eddie Bauer gift card with the promo code SUMMERFEELS through May 31. Hydro Flask: Get 25% off select bottles and tumblers.Hyperice: Save on the Hyperice Hypervolt and Hypervolt 2. Huckberry: Get up to 35% off on select outdoor gear. Icemule: Get 25% off sitewide.Jack Wolfskin: Get 25% off your order with the promo code LONGWEEKEND25. Moosejaw: Get 20% off one full-priced item for Moosejaw Rewards Members (free to join) with promo code BIGPRETZEL. Poler Stuff: Get 25% off on camp gear and apparel with code SPRINGVIBES25. REI: Get up to 30% off sitewide; members can save 20% on one full-price item and 20% on one REI Outlet item with promo code ANNIV22. Rumpl: Get 25% off sitewide. Sea to Summit: Get 25% off bestselling gear.Smith Optics: Get 20% off sitewide excluding helmets.VSSL: Get 25% off sitewide through May 31.Frequently asked questionsWhen is Memorial Day 2022?Memorial Day 2022 lands on Monday, May 30, marking a three-day weekend for many people.What sales can I expect during Memorial Day Weekend?Though retailers from every category turn up for Memorial Day, the sales you're most likely to find are from companies that sell home goods and furniture. Last year we saw sales from retailers large and small alike, including Leesa, Best Buy, and Anthropologie.Are Memorial Day deals worth buying?For the most part, Memorial Day sales won't be better than those you'd see over Black Friday or Cyber Monday. However, furniture, appliances, and outdoor gear will see price drops that are comparable to those found during the holiday season.If you're in the market for Amazon devices like Kindle E-readers or Echo speakers, you're better off waiting until Amazon Prime Day 2022, the next major sales event on the horizon. Amazon says it will take place in July this year but hasn't given a specific date yet.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 26th, 2022

I visited a newly licensed marijuana farm in New York, and was shocked by how far there is to go before legal sales begin

An idyllic upstate New York farm owned by a Rockefeller is one of the first few dozen to be granted a recreational-marijuana cultivation permit. The front of the main office building at Hudson Hemp, one of the first farms in New York State to receive a license to grow high-THC cannabis for recreational sales beginning in late 2022.Ben Gilbert/Insider Legal sales of recreational marijuana are set to begin in New York City in late 2022. The first legal growers were granted licenses in April so that they could have harvests ready for sale. I visited one of the first licensed farms in upstate New York and saw how far there still is to go. Sometime later this year — no one seems to know exactly when — New York City will legally allow recreational marijuana to be sold, opening what's expected to be one of the most lucrative legal cannabis markets in the world. And right now, in preparation for the feeding frenzy, dozens of farmers are growing the marijuana that will become New York's first legal crop. Last Friday, I visited one such farm two hours north of New York City in rural, idyllic Hudson, New York — and saw just how far there is to go before sales open.Hudson Hemp, in Hudson, New York, is among the first few dozen farms to receive a license from New York to legally cultivate marijuana.The view of the farm from the office, which is set inside a gorgeous old farmhouse.Ben Gilbert/InsiderTwo hours north of New York City, on a 2,700 acre farm property owned by John D. Rockefeller's granddaughter, Hudson Hemp is producing one of New York state's first-ever legal marijuana crops.Don't let the name fool you: Hudson Hemp is officially, as of this season, a full-time marijuana farm.The difference between hemp and marijuana is simple: They're both cannabis plants, but hemp has less than 0.3% THC — the psychoactive constituent that is most directly responsible for feeling high.Beyond being used for textiles and manufacturing, hemp can be used to extract CBD oil. For the last several years, Hudson Hemp has been doing just that.But no longer.The farm's first crops will be grown outdoors, both in open air and in a greenhouse.Chief Cultivation Officer Brandon Curtin and Cultivation Manager Adam Smith surveying the farmland that will house Hudson Hemp's first legal marijuana crop.Ben Gilbert/InsiderHudson Hemp is one of the first 88 farms that was granted a license to produce marijuana by the newly-created New York State Office of Cannabis Management. That number has since swelled to 146 in total.By approving farms like Hudson Hemp first — thus giving farmers time to grow, dry, cure, and process marijuana for sale — the state is hoping to adequately prepare for when legal sales begin at an unspecified date later this year. But even for the first licensed farms, the process is just barely getting started.The greenhouse will enable the farm to more carefully control the environment of its first legal marijuana crop.The new greenhouse was just being finalized when I visited in mid-May. Hudson Hemp had started construction a few weeks before, despite not knowing if the state was going to grant its application to grow — one of many unknowns that businesses entering the cannabis market face.Ben Gilbert/Insider"This is where we're gonna be prepping our beds in the next 48 hours and planting ASAP," Hudson Hemp CEO Melany Dobson told me, referring to the newly constructed greenhouse.Before getting marijuana plants in the ground directly, Hudson Hemp is starting in the greenhouse with raised beds. "We're gonna build raised beds in here," Chief Cultivation Officer Brandon Curtin explained. "There's gonna be five of them, on a span of a hundred feet."Those raised beds, full of soil from the farm, will grow four or five different strains of high-THC cannabis intended for the first legal sales later this year. With just seven months of 2022 left to go, Hudson Hemp — like the rest of the legal cannabis industry in New York state — is starting from zero.Ben Gilbert/InsiderAs of mid-May 2022, the legal marijuana growers of New York state are still months away from harvest. It takes anywhere from three to eight months to grow a cannabis plant to maturity, depending on a wide number of variables, and another several weeks to cure the product after that. Yet, when legal marijuana sales open later this year, the only product that will be legally allowed for sale is product grown and processed in New York state. Moreover, there are limitations on how much can be grown by one cultivation licenseholder: 43,560 square feet of "flowering canopy" is allowed, Dobson said."That restriction creates a lot of variables in how much someone could potentially produce this year," she added. That's because you could technically have a subsequent crop growing and, as long as it isn't in the flowering stage, it doesn't count against your total canopy allotment."Had we had our greenhouse already up," she said, "we could have run two cycles." There are still major unknowns going into the opening of legal sales later this year. Hudson Hemp doesn't even know how its marijuana will be sold.Ben Gilbert/InsiderHow does a business produce goods for a market that doesn't exist yet?That question quietly hovers over every step of the operation at Hudson Hemp. Do consumers want pre-rolled joints, or whole packaged flower? What stores will even be able to sell marijuana when legal sales open up later this year?"At this moment in time, I do not know where we will transact our first sales," Dobson told me. "Right now that is one of the largest uncertainties," she said. "We're putting a ton of money into our cultivation, our harvesting, our curing, our trimming — the whole packaging line."New York's Office of Cannabis Management has yet to open the application process for retail licenses, and it's unclear when the process will begin, though educational workshops for applicants have begun. Nationwide, delays between between legalization and recreational sales have become extremely common. Dobson suspects that the first licensed retailers will be existing medical dispensaries, which are all owned by so-called "multi-state operators" — national or international cannabis companies like Curaleaf that are backed by private equity and venture capital — despite New York's marijuana legislation explicitly including social equity mandates.In the meantime, marijuana producers like Hudson Hemp are attempting to maximize their first harvests while dealing with a vegetative product that doesn't have an infinite shelf life.Like the garlic and banana peels in Hudson Hemp's compost pile, cannabis is an organic product that breaks down over time.Ben Gilbert/InsiderWhen you get home from the dispensary later this year and open up an eighth of New York City Diesel, it will already be degrading. Like produce and cut flowers, marijuana is organic material that breaks down over time. So when Hudson Hemp harvests its first crop later this year, the clock begins ticking on the quality of that product.There are industrial processes that slow down the process, of course — if packaged in an oxygen-free container and kept in a cool, dry, dark place, marijuana can last "for like a year," Dobson said, "but that's very expensive packaging." Hudson Hemp plans to get around this issue by only offering pre-rolled joints in its first year of sales, "so that it smokes beautifully and consistently," Dobson said, "and also resealable so that you can maintain the freshness of the pre-rolls for longer."Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 21st, 2022

Market Rout Extends With Futures Tumbling To Verge Of Bear Market

Market Rout Extends With Futures Tumbling To Verge Of Bear Market US stock futures slumped again, extending yesterday’s brutal selloff that erased $1.5 trillion in market value on concerns about everything from slowing growth, to Chinese lockdowns, to soaring inflation and tightening monetary policy. Contracts on the S&P 500 were down 1.2% 7:30 a.m. in New York, having earlier dropped to 3,856, one point away sliding 20% from January's all time highs, and triggering a bear market. The underlying index tumbled 4% on Wednesday, the most since June 2020, as consumer shares cratered after Target slashed its profit forecast due to a surge in costs. Nasdaq 100 futures were down 1.2%. 10Y TSY Yields slumped about 7bps, dropping to 2.833, while the dollar also dropped after yesterday's surge; bitcoin was flat around $29K. The retail rout continued on Thursday: shares of US retailers again tumbled in premarket trading amid growing worries over the impact of rising inflation and the ability of companies to pass on higher costs to consumers; with Bath & Body Works becoming the latest retailer to cut its guidance. Major technology and internet stocks were also down, pointing to further losses in major technology and internet stocks a day after the tech-heavy Nasdaq slumped to its lowest since November 2020. Apple (AAPL US) -1.2%, Microsoft (MSFT US) -1.2%, Meta Platforms (FB US) -1.1%, Netflix (NFLX US) -0.9% and Nvidia (NVDA US) -2.2% in premarket trading. US rail stocks may be in focus as Citi cuts ratings on Norfolk Southern (NSC US), Union Pacific (UNP US) and US Xpress Enterprises (USX US) to neutral from buy, while lowering 2023 estimates “across the board.”Here are some other notable movers: Cisco Systems (CSCO US) plunged 13% in premarket trading after the network-gear maker spooked investors with a warning that Chinese lockdowns and other supply disruptions would wipe out sales growth in the current quarter. Shares of networking equipment makers drop after Cisco cuts outlook, with Broadcom (AVGO US) -3.6% and Juniper Networks (JNPR US) -5.9% in premarket trading. Synopsys (SNPS US) rises 3.8% in premarket trading after the supplier of software used to design semiconductors boosted its profit and revenue guidance for the full year. Target (TGT US) shares fall 2.2% in premarket trading, Walmart (WMT US) -0.3%; Kohl’s (KSS US) is in focus after two senior executives depart Under Armour (UAA US) shares dropped as much as 6% in US premarket trading, with analysts saying that the departure of the sportswear maker’s CEO Patrik Frisk is a surprise and adds uncertainty. Bath & Body Works’s (BBWI US) outlook cut was a little greater than expected, though analysts noted that it was due to higher costs and investment. The company’s shares fell almost 4% in premarket trading. United Wholesale Mortgage (UWMC US) will struggle to main its 1Q earnings level in coming quarters, Piper Sandler says in a note downgrading the stock to underweight from neutral. Shares drop as much as 7% in US premarket trading. The S&P 500 is on track for its longest weekly losing streak since 2001 as traders flee risk assets over fears that the Federal Reserve will push the economy into a recession as it tries to curb inflation. The benchmark is close to falling into a bear market, after dropping 18% from a record high in January. "The US selloff was rather orderly and the market isn’t oversold, yet. That tells us that we are likely not at the bottom yet,” said Joachim Klement, head of strategy, accounting and sustainability at Liberum Capital. “Consumer sentiment remains depressed and we are seeing consumers retrenching on some discretionary spending.”  Speaking on Tuesday in his most hawkish remarks to date, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the US central bank will keep raising interest rates until there is “clear and convincing” evidence that inflation is in retreat. JPMorgan's Marko Kolanovic, meanwhile, said - what else - that things can get better for US stocks. “There will be no recession this year, some summer increase in consumer activity on the back of reopening, China increasing monetary and fiscal measures,” he said.  Bolstering his opinion is a conviction that US inflation has probably peaked, or is about to do so, paving the way for a pullback in price pressures that will eventually allow the Federal Reserve to moderate the pace of monetary tightening.  "Since we are pricing in a growth scare but not yet a recession, we could see further downside in the coming weeks, but we are starting to price in a very negative picture already, suggesting we should, at some point, be closer to the bottom,” said Esty Dwek, chief investment officer at Flowbank SA. US stock investors are pricing in stronger odds of a recession than are evident from positive macroeconomic indicators, according to Goldman Sachs strategists. "A recession is not inevitable,” Goldman strategists led by David J. Kostin wrote in a note. “Rotations within the US equity market indicate that investors are pricing elevated odds of a downturn compared with the strength of recent economic data.” Bets that robust earnings can help investors weather this year’s turbulence were thrown in doubt after US consumer titans signaled growing impact of high inflation on margins and consumer spending. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve officials reaffirmed that tighter monetary policy lies ahead, and investors fretted over stagflation risks. “We are pricing in a growth scare,” Lori Calvasina, the head of US equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told Bloomberg TV. “There is a lot of uncertainty in this market right now about whether or not that recession is going to come through or if it’s going to be another near-death experience.” There was some more good news on the China covid lockdown front: Shanghai Vice Mayor said Shanghai port throughput recovered to around 90% of the levels a year ago and that Shanghai will expand work resumption in areas with no COVID risk in early June. Furthermore, Shanghai is to gradually restore inter-district public transport from May 22nd and will require residents to show negative PCR tests taken within 48 hours before using public transport, while an economy official said Shanghai will reduce rents for small and medium-sized enterprises by more than CNY 10bln and the city extended CNY 72.3bln of loans to over 10,000 firms since March, according to Reuters. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 retreated 1.8%, after sliding more than 2% earlier, with all industry sectors in the red and personal care and financial services leading the decline as Wednesday’s retailer trouble in the U.S. spills over into Europe. FTSE 100 lags regional peers, dropping 2%. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: HomeServe shares jump as much as 12% after Brookfield agrees to buy the home emergency and repair services company for GBP4.1b. Societe Generale shares rise as much as 1.5%, as it was raised to outperform from market perform at KBW, with the broker saying the sale of Russian activities removes a key overhang for the bank and should result in a re-rating. Generali shares rose as much as 1.4% after 1Q profit beats analyst estimates as EU136m impairments on Russian investments were more than offset by higher operating income. PGNiG shares rise as much as 6.2% after reporting 1Q results that, according to analysts, support Polish gas company’s outlook. Nestle shares drop as much as 5.3% after Bernstein downgraded the stock to market perform from outperform, saying the shares will “struggle” if market sentiment improves and investors exit havens. Royal Mail shares fall as much as 14% after the postal group’s FY results slightly missed estimates and analysts said its outlook is “disappointing.” National Grid shares fall as much as 2.5%, erasing gains from yesterday’s record high, after the utility company reported full-year results. Earlier in the session, shares of Asian retailers follow their US counterparts lower after Target became the second big retailer in two days to trim its profit forecast. Australia: JB Hi-Fi retreats 6.6%, Wesfarmers -7.8%, Harvey Norman -5.5%, Woolworths -5.6% South Korea: E-Mart - 3.4%; apparel makers Hansae -9.4%, F&F -4.2%, Youngone -8.2% Japan: Fast Retailing - 3.1%, MatsukiyoCocokara -1.4%, Ryohin Keikaku -1.7%, Nitori -3% Singapore: Grocery chain operator Sheng Siong slips as much as 1.3% Hong Kong: Sun Art Retail down as much as 4.1% In China, Tencent Holdings Ltd. plunged 6.6% after warning it will take time for Beijing to act on promises to prop up the Chinese tech sector. Cisco Systems Inc. slid in extended US trading on a disappointing revenue outlook. Japan's Nikkei 225 suffered firm losses amid reports the ruling coalition is considering increasing the corporate tax rate and after several data releases in which Machinery Orders topped estimates but Exports missed as China-bound exports declined by the fastest pace since March 2020. Indian stocks declined to a ten-month low, tracking a sell-off across Asia, on concerns the US Fed’s hawkish stance on inflation may cool economic activity and hurt consumer demand.  The S&P BSE Sensex plunged 2.6% to 52,792.23, its lowest level since July 30, in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index slipped 2.7% to 15,809.40  Software exporter Infosys Ltd. fell 5.4% to a 11-month low and was the biggest drag on the Sensex, which had 27 of 30 member stocks trading lower. All 19 sector indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by S&P BSE Information Technology index, that dropped the most in over two years.   “Deteriorating macro sentiment such as soaring inflation, recession fears, and the prospect of the Federal Reserve getting even more hawkish will continue to keep benchmarks on the edge,” Prashanth Tapse, an analyst at Mehta Equities Ltd., wrote in a note.  In earnings, of the 36 Nifty 50 firms that have announced results so far, 21 have either met or exceeded analyst estimates, while 15 have missed forecasts. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.7% to close at 7,064.50, tumbling with global shares as concerns over inflation, interest-rate hikes and Ukraine piled up. All sectors dropped, except for health. Consumer shares were among the worst performers, following their US peers lower after Target became the second big retailer in two days to trim its profit forecast. Aristocrat rose after it released its 1H results and unveiled buyback plans. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.5% to 11,206.93 And in emerging markets, Sri Lanka fell into default for the first time in its history as the government struggles to halt an economic meltdown that prompted mass protests and a political crisis. An index of developing-nation stocks slumped more than 2%. In FX, the Bloomberg dollar spot index declines, with all G-10 majors rising against the greenback. CHF is the strongest G-10 performer with USD/CHF snapping lower on to a 0.97 handle and EUR/CHF slumping below 1.03. The Swiss franc diverged from Japanese yen and dollar after hawkish comments from SNB’s Thomas Jordan Wednesday, which assured traders CHF rates could follow EUR higher. Options trades may also be behind the latest move in the spot market. In rates, Treasury yields dropped about seven basis points as investors sought insurance against further declines in risk assets. Treasury yields richer by up to 6bp across belly of the curve, richening the 2s5s30s fly by 2.2bp on the day; 10-year yields around 2.83% with German 10-year outperforming by 2.5bps. Treasuries extended Wednesday’s rally as stocks resume slide with S&P 500 futures dropping under 3,900 to lowest level in a year; on the curve, the belly led the advance while bunds outperform in a more aggressive bull-flattening move as European stocks tumble. US session highlights include 10-year TIPS reopening at 1pm ET. Flurry of block trades during London session follows a spate of trades Wednesday; five blocks worth a combined cash-equivalent $1.2m/DV01 between 3:38am and 5:35am similarly entailed price action consistent with sales. Most European bonds also gained, with the yield on German 10-year securities falling more than basis points.  German yield curve bull-flattens: 30-year yield drops ~9bps before stalling near 1.05% which has acted as support for much of May so far. The Dollar issuance slate empty so far; eight borrowers priced $8.5b Wednesday, and new issue activity is expected to be muted during remainder of the week. Three-month dollar Libor +2.69bp to 1.50486%. Economic data slate includes May Philadelphia Fed business outlook and initial jobless claims (8:30am), April existing homes sales and leading index (10am). In commodities, crude oil extended declines, while most industrial metals were in the red as global growth fears damped the demand outlook. WTI reverses Asia’s gains, dropping back below $110 but holding above Wednesday’s lows. Spot gold is comparatively quiet, holding above $1,810/oz. Most base metals trade in the green; LME tin rises 2.1%, outperforming peers while copper held near a seven-month low and zinc extended losses. Bitcoin is modestly softer in a relatively contained range that lies just shy of the USD 30k mark. Crypto exchange FTX to start rollout of new stock-trading service on Thursday, WSJ reports; will not accept payment for order flow on stock trades. Looking to the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the weekly initial jobless claims, along with April’s existing home sales and the Philadelphia Fed’s business outlook survey for May. Central bank speakers include ECB Vice President de Guindos, the ECB’s Holzmann and the Fed’s Kashkari. Finally, the ECB will be publishing the minutes from their April meeting. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.1% to 3,879.25 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.7% to 426.41 MXAP down 1.8% to 161.60 MXAPJ down 2.2% to 527.30 Nikkei down 1.9% to 26,402.84 Topix down 1.3% to 1,860.08 Hang Seng Index down 2.5% to 20,120.68 Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,096.97 Sensex down 2.4% to 52,926.71 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.6% to 7,064.46 Kospi down 1.3% to 2,592.34 Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,814.49 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.28% to 103.52 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.96% Euro up 0.3% to $1.0496 Brent Futures down 0.1% to $109.00/bbl Top Overnight News from Bloomberg President Joe Biden is set to meet on Thursday with Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at the White House to discuss the Nordic nations’ NATO bids. China’s top diplomat again warned the US over its increased support for Taiwan, showing the island democracy remains a major sticking point between the world’s biggest economies as Beijing sent more military aircraft toward the island Sri Lanka fell into default for the first time in its history as the government struggles to halt an economic meltdown that prompted mass protests and a political crisis The yuan’s outlook is finally looking more balanced after a 6.5% dive versus its major trading partner currencies since March. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks were pressured on spillover selling after the worst day on Wall St in almost two years. ASX 200 was led lower by consumer staples following the retailer woes stateside and mixed Australian jobs data. Nikkei 225 suffered firm losses amid reports the ruling coalition is considering increasing the corporate tax rate and after several data releases in which Machinery Orders topped estimates but Exports missed as China-bound exports declined by the fastest pace since March 2020. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp initially weakened with the Hong Kong benchmark dragged lower by heavy losses in tech after Tencent’s profit declined by more than 50% and with the mainland pressured as Beijing conducts a fresh round of mass COVID testing, although the mainland bourse recovered most of its losses after Shanghai announced a further gradual easing of restrictions. Xiaomi (1810 HK) Q1 adj. net profit CNY 2.859bln (vs 6.069bln Y/Y), Q1 revenue CNY 73.4bln (vs. 76.9bln Y/Y); global smartphone shipments -10.5% Y/Y at 38.5mln units. Top Asian News Shanghai Vice Mayor said Shanghai port throughput recovered to around 90% of the levels a year ago and that Shanghai will expand work resumption in areas with no COVID risk in early June. Furthermore, Shanghai is to gradually restore inter-district public transport from May 22nd and will require residents to show negative PCR tests taken within 48 hours before using public transport, while an economy official said Shanghai will reduce rents for small and medium-sized enterprises by more than CNY 10bln and the city extended CNY 72.3bln of loans to over 10,000 firms since March, according to Reuters. Japanese MOF official said China's COVID curbs are among the factors that caused a decline in China-bound exports from Japan which fell by the fastest pace since March 2020, while Japan's April imports reached the largest amount on record, according to Reuters. Japan's ruling coalition is reportedly considering increasing the corporate tax rate, according to Jiji. New Zealand sees 2021/22 OBEGAL at NZD -18.98bln (prev. forecast -20.44bln), 2021/22 net debt at 36.9% of GDP (prev. forecast 37.6%) and Cash Balance at NZD -31.78bln (prev. forecast -34.10bln), while Finance Minister Robertson said the economy is expected to be robust in the near term and they see a return to OBEGAL surplus in 2024/25, according to Reuters. European bourses are pressured across the board in a broader risk-off moves after yesterday's Wall St. sell off, as European players look past the brief respite seen overnight on Shanghai's reopening; Euro Stoxx 50 -2.3%. Stateside, the magnitude of the downside is somewhat more contained given newsflow has been limited since Wednesday's downside commenced, ES -1.2%. Top European News EU is reportedly considering a targeted trade war on troublesome Brexiteer MPs and Tory ministers to force UK PM Johnson to do a U-turn on the Northern Ireland protocol, according to The Telegraph. Top UK Economist Defends BOE’s Handling of Inflation Crisis EasyJet Bookings Pick Up Ahead of Uncertain Summer Season Apax-Owned Rodenstock Acquires Spanish Rival Indo European Gas Slips With LNG Imports Helping Boost Stockpiles In FX Franc resurgence and re-emergence as a safe haven currency continues; USD/CHF touches 0.9750 vs 1.0060+ peak on Monday, EUR/CHF sub-1.0250 vs circa 1.0500 at one stage only yesterday. Dollar loses momentum as US Treasury yields retreat further and curve re-flattens amidst ongoing risk rout, DXY ducks under 103.500 after peaking just shy of 104.000 on Wednesday. Kiwi and Aussie find positives via fiscal and fundamental factors to evade aversion; NZD/USD back above 0.6300 after NZ budget and AUD/USD hovering around 0.7000 post- Aussie jobs data. Yen retains underlying bid irrespective of mixed Japanese data, USD/JPY below 128.00 again. Euro firmer beyond EUR/CHF cross ahead of ECB minutes and Sterling off UK inflation data lows awaiting retail sales on Friday, EUR/USD retains sight of 1.0500 and Cable near 1.2400. Rand meandering ahead of SARB in anticipation of 50 bp rate hike, USD/ZAR around 16.0000, irrespective of Gold taking firmer hold of USD 1800/oz handle. Fixed Income Debt resumes safe-haven rally as market mood continues to sour. Bunds top 154.00, Gilts get close to 120.00 and 10 year T-note even nearer the same psychological level. BTPs lag amidst the ongoing aversion to risk, while OATs and Bonos reflect on somewhat mixed auction results. Commodities WTI and Brent are pressured in-fitting with broader sentiment as initial resilience on demand-side positives re. China/COVID were overpowered by the risk move. However, the benchmarks are around USD 1.00/bbl off lows of USD 104.36/bbl and USD 106.76/bbl respectively, following reports that China is discussing the purchase of Russian crude. China is said to be in talks with Russia to purchase oil for strategic reserves, according to Bloomberg sources; detailed on terms and volume reportedly not decided yet Qatar Energy was reportedly selling July Al-Shaheen crude at premiums of USD 5.80-6.40/bbl above Dubai quotes which is the highest in 2 months, according to Reuters sources. Spot gold is bid as it draws haven allure, with the yellow metal marginally surpassing USD 1830/oz. US Event Calendar 08:30: May Initial Jobless Claims, est. 200,000, prior 203,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.32m, prior 1.34m 08:30: May Philadelphia Fed Business Outl, est. 15.0, prior 17.6 10:00: April Existing Home Sales MoM, est. -2.2%, prior -2.7%; Home Resales with Condos, est. 5.64m, prior 5.77m 10:00: April Leading Index, est. 0%, prior 0.3% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Today is my last day at work this week before I head up to Cambridge tomorrow for my Masters’ graduation. Before you send in a flood of congratulations though, I didn’t actually do any work for this qualification, with not even a single hour of revision. Now at this point you’re probably thinking I’m either a genius or guilty of some serious academic malpractice. I’m hoping the former. But the truth is that I’m benefiting from a quirky tradition that somehow means Cambridge, Oxford and Dublin will upgrade your Bachelors into a Masters after a few years. With the wedding two months away, it appears as though I’m losing all my bachelor status at once. Markets seem ready for a holiday too after the last 24 hours, with the selloff resuming at pace after the brief respite on Tuesday. In fact it was nothing short of a rout with the S&P 500 ending the day down -4.04%, marking its worst daily performance since June 2020, and leaving the index at a fresh one-year low. There wasn’t a single catalyst behind the slump, but weak housing data out of the US along with Target’s move to cut its profit outlook helped feed investor concern that the consumer might not be in as strong a position as previously thought. And that’s on top of all the other worries of late that the global economy is heading in a stagflationary direction amidst various supply-chain issues, alongside the prospect that tighter central bank policy is going to further dent growth and risks tipping various economies into recession. In terms of the specific moves, the S&P 500 gradually tumbled as the day went on, with its -4.04% decline more than reversing its +2.02% bounceback on Tuesday. The decline was an incredibly broad-based one, with just 8 constituents in the index ending the day higher, which is the lowest number since November. That earnings report we mentioned at the top meant that Target (-24.93%) saw the worst performance in the entire S&P 500, after saying they now expected their full-year operating income margin rate to be around 6%. That follows a disappointing report from Walmart the previous day, and meant that consumer staples (-6.38%) and consumer discretionary (-6.60%) were the worst-performing sectors in the S&P yesterday. The latest declines also mean that the S&P is back on track for a 7th consecutive weekly decline, having shed -2.49% since the start of the week, and S&P 500 futures are only up by +0.18% this morning. If the S&P 500 does see a 7th week in negative territory, then that would be the longest run of weekly declines for the index since 2001. Other indices lost ground too given the risk-off move, with the Dow Jones (-3.57%), the NASDAQ (-4.73%), and the small-cap Russell 2000 (-3.56%) all experiencing sizeable declines of their own. European indices had a better performance after closing before the worst of the US declines, and the STOXX 600 was “only” down -1.14% to just remain in positive territory for the week. With recessionary concerns back in focus, sovereign bonds rallied on both sides of the Atlantic as investors sought out safe havens. Yields on 10yr US Treasuries fell by -10.2bps to 2.88%, with the decline mostly led by a -9.6bps move lower in real yields, and nominal yields are only back up +2.5bps this morning. The yield curve also continued to flatten and the 2s10s slope (-6.9ps) fell to its lowest in over two weeks, at 21.0bps, although it’s been over 6 weeks now since the curve last traded in inversion territory. We did get some Fedspeak but to be honest there weren’t any major headlines relative to what we already knew, with Chicago Fed President Evans saying it was “quite likely” the Fed would be at a neutral setting by year-end, whilst Philadelphia Fed President Harker was making the case for more gradual rate hikes after the next few 50bp hikes are delivered. More important for the outlook was the release of various housing data yesterday, where housing starts fell to an annualised rate of 1.724m in April (vs. 1.756m expected), and that was from a downwardly revised 1.728m in March. That comes against the backdrop of rising mortgage rates, and the MBA reported that mortgage purchase applications fell -11.9% in the week ending May 13, leaving them at their lowest levels since May 2020 when the numbers were still recovering from the pandemic slump. Over in Europe, sovereign bond curves also became flatter as investors became increasingly aggressive on the near-term ECB rate path. Indeed the amount of ECB rate hikes priced in by the December meeting hit a fresh high of 108bps, or equivalent to at least four rate hikes of 25bps by year-end. That came amidst further ECB speakers over the last 24 hours, including Finnish central bank governor Rehn, who had already endorsed a July hike and said yesterday that the initial hike was “likely to take place in the summer”. Furthermore, he said that it seemed “necessary that in our policy rates we move relatively quickly out of negative territory”. We also heard from Estonian central bank governor Muller, who also endorsed a July hike and said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the deposit rate were in positive territory by year-end. However, Spanish central bank governor De Cos said that rate hikes should be gradual as he called for APP purchases to end at the start of Q3, with rate hikes to follow shortly afterwards. Those growing expectations of tighter policy saw shorter-dated yields move higher in Europe once again, with 2yr German yields hitting their highest level since 2011 despite only a marginal +0.1bps move to 0.36%. However, the broader risk-off tone meant it was a different story for their longer-dated counterparts, and yields on 10yr bunds (-1.6bps) and OATs (-2.2bps) both moved lower on the day. Peripheral spreads widened as well, whilst iTraxx Crossover neared its recent highs with a +26.2bps move to 468bps. In terms of the fight against inflation, there was a potential boost on the trade side yesterday as US Treasury Secretary Yellen confirmed ahead of a meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governments that the she favoured removing some tariffs on goods that are not considered strategic. Separately the risk-off move also saw oil prices move lower for a 2nd day running yesterday, with Brent crude down -2.52%, although it’s since taken back a decent chunk of that loss this morning with a +1.51% move higher to $110.76/bbl. Over in Asia, equity markets have tracked those steep overnight losses on Wall Street to move sharply lower this morning. Among the key indices, the Hang Seng (-2.25%) is the largest underperformer amidst a broad weakness in tech stocks as the Hang Seng Tech index fell by an even larger -3.40%. Mainland Chinese stocks have performed relatively better however, even if the Shanghai Composite (-0.08%) and CSI (-0.25%) have both moved slightly lower, while the Nikkei (-1.91%) and the Kospi (-1.29%) have seen more substantial losses. Finally there was some important employment data out of Australia this morning ahead of their election on Saturday, with the unemployment rate falling to its lowest since 1974, at 3.9%. The employment gain was a bit softer than expected with just a +4.0k gain (vs. +30.0k expected), but that included a +92.4k gain in full-time employment, offset by a -88.4k decline in part-time employment. Elsewhere on the data side, there were fresh signs of inflationary pressure in the UK after CPI inflation rose to a 40-year high of +9.0% in April. But in spite of the 40-year high, that was actually slightly beneath the +9.1% reading expected by the consensus, which marked the first time in over 6 months that the reading hasn’t been higher than expected. Gilts outperformed following the release as it was also beneath the BoE’s staff projection of +9.1%, and 10yr gilt yields closed down -1.6bps on the day, whilst sterling underperformed the other major currencies leave it -1.28% weaker against the US Dollar. To the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the weekly initial jobless claims, along with April’s existing home sales and the Philadelphia Fed’s business outlook survey for May. Central bank speakers include ECB Vice President de Guindos, the ECB’s Holzmann and the Fed’s Kashkari. Finally, the ECB will be publishing the minutes from their April meeting. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/19/2022 - 08:02.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 19th, 2022

Check out these 45 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingDeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Guto Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundCheckout made easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed round Quantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionEmbedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingAn alternative auto lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team.TomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ASoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round.  So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

The Real Estate Board of New York Announces Winners for Annual Residential Deal of the Year Awards

New York City residential brokerage leaders came together on May 4th at CNVS Events, located at 635 West 42nd Street to honor winners of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)’s Residential Deal of the Year Awards. In its 33rd year, the charity and awards gala was organized by members of the Deal of... The post The Real Estate Board of New York Announces Winners for Annual Residential Deal of the Year Awards appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. New York City residential brokerage leaders came together on May 4th at CNVS Events, located at 635 West 42nd Street to honor winners of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)’s Residential Deal of the Year Awards. In its 33rd year, the charity and awards gala was organized by members of the Deal of the Year Committee, also known as the Member in Need Fund Committee. This committee, along with members of the Residential Co-Chair Council and Residential Board of Directors served as judges for each award.  For residential transactions closed between September 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021, the gala highlighted the following awards: The First Place Residential Deal of the Year Award was given to Lawrence Rich and Dakota Scotto of The Corcoran Group and Steven Marvisch of Brown Harris Stevens. Titled “The Salesman in Me Made Me Do It/I Will Never Work on Yom Kippur Again,” the winning submission involved an apartment sale following two years of last-minute withdrawals and unforeseen challenges presented by the pandemic. The salesperson overcame what he described as divine bumps in the road after going against his better judgement to conduct a showing on Yom Kippur. Ultimately, the professionals involved in the deal were able to close on one of the most difficult transactions of their career. The Second Place Residential Deal of the Year Award went to Joe Ulam of Brown Harris Stevens. “The Studio Sale of the Year” submission involved the sale of a less than glamourous 265-square-foot ground level studio apartment. Despite unfavorable timing, minimal amenities and a contentious relationship between the seller and the Co-Op board president, the seller’s broker was able to find a qualified buyer at ask. To close the deal though, the salesperson had to successfully navigate a walkthrough with the buyer’s sister who ‘knew the ropes,’ as she just bought a home in Colorado. To keep the deal from blowing up over a questionable toilet, the salesperson quickly assembled and convinced five random strangers on the street to come in and flush the toilet with no issue in front of the buyer’s sister. Luckily, the ad hoc plumbing survey was a success and the buyer closed. The Third Place Residential Deal of the Year Award was given to Martha Friedricks-Glass of The Corcoran Group. In “Third Time’s A Charm,” the seller’s broker was tasked with selling a 3,100-square-foot apartment that the client had owned and lived in for 53 years. Through the height of the pandemic, four separate would-be buyers put in offers before being outbid or withdrawing. Eventually, the salesperson was able to convince the first would-be buyer to close on the full asking price. In addition to the Deal of the Year awards, the gala honored several individuals for performance and character. Doreen Courtright of Douglas Elliman for Residential Agent of the Year. Nominated by agents and associate brokers, the winner of this award demonstrates leadership in both the real estate industry and community for at least five consecutive years.Clifford Marks of Brown Harris Stevens for Residential Rookie of the Year. This award recognizes current and potential professional achievement as well as high moral character and professional ethical conduct of a salesperson licensed no earlier than August 30, 2019.Gary Malin of The Corcoran Group for The Eileen Spinola Award for Distinguished Service. This award honors a member who has made significant contributions to the REBNY community by donating time, expertise, and knowledge in the areas of education, ethics, and professional services for the betterment of the real estate industry. Residential sales and rental markets have fully recovered from significant declines in activity in 2021 and 2020 following the onset of the pandemic. Last year, sales of residential property in New York City exceeded $54 billion. This was a 77% increase from 2020. So far in 2022, sales continue to be incredibly strong, exceeding $14 billion during the 1st quarter. This represents a 42% increase from the 1st quarter of last year. This comes despite declines or only marginal gains in inventory. “As our City emerged from the darkest days of the pandemic, it was our residential members who were integral to the start of the City’s economic recovery. This event honors not only the most remarkable deals but the tremendous value these professionals bring to the industry and our City,” said James Whelan, REBNY President. “To match our members’ hard work, REBNY staff continues to advocate to the public sector to cut red tape and create tools that will help develop more housing inventory to ensure the long-term wellbeing of New York. Congratulations to the winners and all those who placed submissions.” The post The Real Estate Board of New York Announces Winners for Annual Residential Deal of the Year Awards appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyMay 8th, 2022

A mansion featured in HBO"s "Westworld" that includes a crescent-shaped pool is on the market for $23.5 million — take a look inside

The Crescent House, named after its crescent-shaped infinity pool, offers residents panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The mansion comes with a crescent-shaped infinity pool.Rancho Photos A $23.5 million waterfront mansion in Encinitas, San Diego County, California, just hit the market. The mansion is dubbed "The Crescent House" as it comes with a crescent-shaped infinity pool The 18,872-square-foot estate has four bedrooms and was featured in HBO's "Westworld." An oceanfront mansion in San Diego County, California, that was featured in an episode of HBO's "Westworld" just hit the market for $23.5 million.The home's exteriors.Rancho PhotosThe sci-fi show, which centers on futuristic and dystopian themes, used the sprawling estate in its season three premiere."Westworld's" producers chose the home as a set because it "incorporated a lot of the design details" that were already in the season, production designer Howard Cummings told Architectural Digest.The futuristic-looking property was designed by architect Wallace Cunningham.Cunningham also designed the San Diego mansion that served as inspiration for Tony Stark's home in the "Iron Man" movies, Insider's Katie Warren reported, citing realtors. The "Iron Man" home is currently owned by singer-songwriter Alicia Keys and her husband Swizz Beatz.Lisa Waltman and Kelly Howard of Compass hold the listing.The Crescent House, named after its crescent-shaped infinity pool, was completed in 2003.The pool stands in the middle of the central courtyard, shielded by the curved walls of the home.Rancho PhotosIt was originally built for Bud Fischer, a real-estate developer known for transforming San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, and his wife, agents told Insider.Throughout its history, the property has consistently been sold for less than its asking price, with every transaction finalized within a month of the house being listed, per listing records.It was first put up for sale in February 2014 for $11.75 million and sold for $10.5 million in March 2014. The property was then relisted for sale in August 2016 for $13 million, but sold for $11.1 million in September 2016, per listing records.The home sits on less than half an acre but comes with 74 feet of waterfront access. It sits on top of a steep bank and overlooks the Pacific Ocean.The mansion comes with numerous outdoor spaces, such as patios, verandas and terraces, where residents can enjoy the ocean view.Rancho PhotosA key highlight of the home is its numerous outdoor spaces, including patios, verandas, and terraces, where residents can lounge and admire the ocean view.The estate is located on Neptune Ave. in the coastal city of Encinitas in San Diego County, California.The real-estate scene in San Diego County has been buzzing recently as housing prices soar. In March, the median sales price for detached homes was $975,000, up by 20.4% compared to March 2021, when the median sales price was $810,000, per the San Diego Association of Realtors.At $23.5 million, the Crescent House is an outlier, but it's not the only multimillion-dollar mansion to hit the market recently. Another waterfront mansion in La Jolla, San Diego County, was listed for $32.5 million last month, per Mansion Global. At 0.43 acres, the estate is one of the larger lots on the street, and the land value alone is expensive, listing agents Waltman and Howard said in a joint statement."With today's building restrictions between the city and the coastal commission, you would not be able to build this house on that site today — it just cannot be duplicated," the agents said.There are floor-to-ceiling glass windows throughout the home for residents to enjoy panoramic views while indoors.The main living area features full-length glass panel windows that offer unblocked views of the ocean. There is also a fireplace.Rancho PhotosThe Crescent House is currently owned by Lance Williams and Eileen Quinn, a couple who primarily lives on Fisher Island in Miami. This estate is their vacation home.While most homes have one or two great views, this mansion is an exception, according to Quinn. "You have views all day long, 24 hours a day. You have views of the ocean, views of Encinitas hillside, views of the beautiful architecture itself," she said, per the factsheet.The home comes with four bedrooms and four full bathrooms.The master bedroom.Rancho PhotosThe main house hosts the master suite along with two bedrooms, while the fourth bedroom is located in separate guest quarters.All the bathrooms are designed in a minimalist style.One of the bathrooms in the house.Rancho PhotosSource: CompassThe main bathroom has double sinks.One of the bathrooms in the house.Rancho PhotosSource: CompassResidents can directly access the outdoor terrace from the guest suite through full-length glass doors.One of the guest suites.Rancho PhotosSource: CompassCunningham designed the house in such a way that all the main rooms, including the living room and master bedroom, were placed on the top floor for the best views.There is a curved metal staircase in the mansion.Rancho Photos"This house happens to be upside down with all of the principal rooms located on the top level," Cunningham said in a statement, per the factsheet sent to Insider.There are multiple ways for residents to move between floors, including ramps, metal staircases, and an elevator. "Each path is designed to shield you from the street and neighboring properties," he said. For example, the lower ramp creates a wall that protects the garden, terrace, and swimming pool from prying eyes.Part of the charm of the estate also lies in its location, according to the agents.The crescent-shaped pool is surrounded by curved walls to ensure privacy.Rancho Photos"Encinitas, this North County San Diego coastal region, is like paradise. It has a very stunning coastline with varying elevations and bluffs," the agents said, per the factsheet.As a result of the beautiful landscape, there is strong buyer interest in properties in the area, the agents said. "Inventory continues to be incredibly low with multiple offers on virtually all listings."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 6th, 2022

Homesick makes candles inspired by your city, state, or favorite experiences, and they make for a really sentimental gift idea

Homesick Candles are especially great gifts for college kids, frequent travelers, or anyone missing home. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Homesick Nothing can replace the feeling of home, but a scented candle from Homesick might be close. Homesick makes candles that smell like the 50 states, big cities, and being in your mom's house. In our experience, they don't smell exactly like "home" but still make a thoughtful gift. Homesick Candles$19.00 FROM HOMESICKHomesick Reed Diffuser$39.00 FROM HOMESICKScent is very closely tied to memory. When you smell cookies baking in the oven, you might feel like you're back in your grandma's kitchen decorating cookies with icing and sprinkles. But what about the scents of more abstract things like "home" and even geographic locations like New York? Homesick candles range from the hilarious to the sentimental, with unique scents that may not smell exactly like home, but perhaps an idealized version of it.What are Homesick candles?Candle company Homesick polled people around the US to find out what home smelled like to them to develop customized scents for each city and state, as well as experiences. The results range from the celebratory — like Let's Toast, which includes citrus and Champagne grapes — to the more sentimental — like Love Letters, which includes notes of rose, jasmine, sandalwood, peony, red plum, and lemon.Each candle is made from all-natural soy wax, which is then hand-poured into a glass container. The simple black-and-white labels let you know what candle you're smelling. The candles come in cute, colorful packaging, making them ready to gift to anyone who wants a whiff of nostalgia in their home away from home.The company also makes candles for astrology signs to Star Wars planets.Homesick's candles are reasonably priced starting at $19, and orders over $50 will get free shipping.What Homesick candles actually smell likeHomesick New York City Candle$34.00 FROM HOMESICK$34.00 FROM AMAZONWe tested a few of its candles and found that some of the scents transported us "home," while others smelled lovely but not quite like the places we imagined. Here are our team's thoughts on each candle we tried. New York City candleAs denizens of New York City, the Insider Reviews team typically remembers the malodorous smells we catch a whiff of on the street rather than the candle's idealistic "scents of spring days in Central Park, fine department stores, and concrete."Senior reporter Mara Leighton said it best when she described the candle as "what New York smells like in your dreams before you actually move here." The candle smells a lot like Macy's in Herald Square and is infinitely preferable to the iffy smell of the city streets and the subway.When I burned the NYC candle in my apartment, it smelled amazing. The gentle scent made my entire apartment smell great, and it burned evenly.United Kingdom candleSenior home & kitchen editor Lauren Savoie purchased the United Kingdom candle after a bout of nostalgia for her time living across the pond. The candle is advertised as smelling like bergamot, grass, rain, Earl Grey tea, apple crumb, toffee, vanilla, and sugar. While the candle smelled pleasant, it didn't exactly smell like how she imagined. "This one was much more sweet than it was hoppy or grassy like I imagine the UK to be. While it was lovely to burn, I can't say it transported me back to my days stomping down London's streets," she said.Ski Trip candleFormer health & fitness editor Rachel Shultz owns the Ski Trip candle, with notes of frosted air, cocoa, and warm amber. "As someone who lives in a ski town, it didn't smell distinctly themed to me (but what does snow and fun smell like?), but it does smell delicious regardless," she said.Let's Toast candleStory production manager Francesca Rea owns the Let's Toast candle, which is packed with citrusy Champagne notes. "I actually really liked the scent, but I did think it was pretty strong," she said. Some might find it a bit overpowering. We think this candle would make a great gift for anyone celebrating a special milestone like an engagement or promotion.New Mexico candleFormer travel editor Hannah Freedman is a New Mexico native, and while she enjoyed the smell of this candle, it didn't quite hit all the marks of home. ("Where is the juniper or pinon??")South Dakota candleThis one was the biggest miss of the candles our team tried, with Freedman reporting it smells "like soap," and not in a good way.Flameless optionsHomesick Reed Diffuser$39.00 FROM HOMESICKIf you don't like candles because of the fire risk, you may prefer Homesick's reed diffuser. The glass bottle has four ounces of essential oils that saturate reeds for a lovely scent, and you can choose from several different Homesick oils that smell the same as the brand's candles.Should you buy Homesick candles?HomesickWhile not all of us felt a sense of nostalgia associated with the Homesick candles we tried, we still think they make excellent gifts. Scent is deeply personal, and what smells like home to one person may not to another.What we particularly like about Homesick candles is the sentiment they convey. Selecting a scent specifically for your giftee that acknowledges their current circumstances feels much more personal than choosing a generic candle.Senior story producer Francesca Rea gifted a Connecticut candle to a friend stationed in Germany when he missed his first Christmas at home and reports he was really moved by the sentiment. Even if the candle's scent doesn't transport your giftee home, the simple act of receiving such a curated gift will make them feel a connection to the place they're missing.What are your alternatives?We've put together a full guide to the best places to buy candles. If you're looking for transporting scents in particular, we recommend checking out Otherland candles. The bottom lineAt $34, Homesick candles are reasonably priced so you can gift them for every occasion. College students and those who are just getting started in a new city or state will love the nostalgia factor, and anyone who likes candles will appreciate how well made they are.Shop all Homesick candles and diffusers.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

Homesick candles might not smell exactly like home, but they make great gifts for anyone adjusting to a new city

Homesick makes candles inspired by your city, state, or favorite experiences. They're great gifts for college kids, travelers, or anyone missing home. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Homesick Nothing can replace the feeling of home, but a scented candle from Homesick might be close. Homesick makes candles that smell like the 50 states, big cities, and being in your mom's house. In our experience, they don't smell exactly like "home" but still make a thoughtful gift. Homesick Candles$19.00 FROM HOMESICKHomesick Reed Diffuser$39.00 FROM HOMESICKScent is very closely tied to memory. When you smell cookies baking in the oven, you might feel like you're back in your grandma's kitchen decorating cookies with icing and sprinkles. But what about the scents of more abstract things like "home" and even geographic locations like New York? Homesick candles range from the hilarious to the sentimental, with unique scents that may not smell exactly like home, but perhaps an idealized version of it.What are Homesick candles?Candle company Homesick polled people around the US to find out what home smelled like to them to develop customized scents for each city and state, as well as experiences. The results range from the celebratory — like Let's Toast, which includes citrus and Champagne grapes — to the more sentimental — like Love Letters, which includes notes of rose, jasmine, sandalwood, peony, red plum, and lemon.Each candle is made from all-natural soy wax, which is then hand-poured into a glass container. The simple black-and-white labels let you know what candle you're smelling. The candles come in cute, colorful packaging, making them ready to gift to anyone who wants a whiff of nostalgia in their home away from home.The company also makes candles for astrology signs to Star Wars planets.Homesick's candles are reasonably priced starting at $19, and orders over $50 will get free shipping.What Homesick candles actually smell likeHomesick New York City Candle$34.00 FROM HOMESICK$34.00 FROM AMAZONWe tested a few of its candles and found that some of the scents transported us "home," while others smelled lovely but not quite like the places we imagined. Here are our team's thoughts on each candle we tried. New York City candleAs denizens of New York City, the Insider Reviews team typically remembers the malodorous smells we catch a whiff of on the street rather than the candle's idealistic "scents of spring days in Central Park, fine department stores, and concrete."Senior reporter Mara Leighton said it best when she described the candle as "what New York smells like in your dreams before you actually move here." The candle smells a lot like Macy's in Herald Square and is infinitely preferable to the iffy smell of the city streets and the subway.When I burned the NYC candle in my apartment, it smelled amazing. The gentle scent made my entire apartment smell great, and it burned evenly.United Kingdom candleSenior home & kitchen editor Lauren Savoie purchased the United Kingdom candle after a bout of nostalgia for her time living across the pond. The candle is advertised as smelling like bergamot, grass, rain, Earl Grey tea, apple crumb, toffee, vanilla, and sugar. While the candle smelled pleasant, it didn't exactly smell like how she imagined. "This one was much more sweet than it was hoppy or grassy like I imagine the UK to be. While it was lovely to burn, I can't say it transported me back to my days stomping down London's streets," she said.Ski Trip candleFormer health & fitness editor Rachel Shultz owns the Ski Trip candle, with notes of frosted air, cocoa, and warm amber. "As someone who lives in a ski town, it didn't smell distinctly themed to me (but what does snow and fun smell like?), but it does smell delicious regardless," she said.Let's Toast candleStory production manager Francesca Rea owns the Let's Toast candle, which is packed with citrusy Champagne notes. "I actually really liked the scent, but I did think it was pretty strong," she said. Some might find it a bit overpowering. We think this candle would make a great gift for anyone celebrating a special milestone like an engagement or promotion.New Mexico candleFormer travel editor Hannah Freedman is a New Mexico native, and while she enjoyed the smell of this candle, it didn't quite hit all the marks of home. ("Where is the juniper or pinon??")South Dakota candleThis one was the biggest miss of the candles our team tried, with Freedman reporting it smells "like soap," and not in a good way.Flameless optionsHomesick Reed Diffuser$39.00 FROM HOMESICKIf you don't like candles because of the fire risk, you may prefer Homesick's reed diffuser. The glass bottle has four ounces of essential oils that saturate reeds for a lovely scent, and you can choose from several different Homesick oils that smell the same as the brand's candles.Should you buy Homesick candles?HomesickWhile not all of us felt a sense of nostalgia associated with the Homesick candles we tried, we still think they make excellent gifts. Scent is deeply personal, and what smells like home to one person may not to another.What we particularly like about Homesick candles is the sentiment they convey. Selecting a scent specifically for your giftee that acknowledges their current circumstances feels much more personal than choosing a generic candle.Senior story producer Francesca Rea gifted a Connecticut candle to a friend stationed in Germany when he missed his first Christmas at home and reports he was really moved by the sentiment. Even if the candle's scent doesn't transport your giftee home, the simple act of receiving such a curated gift will make them feel a connection to the place they're missing.What are your alternatives?We've put together a full guide to the best places to buy candles. If you're looking for transporting scents in particular, we recommend checking out Otherland candles. The bottom lineAt $34, Homesick candles are reasonably priced so you can gift them for every occasion. College students and those who are just getting started in a new city or state will love the nostalgia factor, and anyone who likes candles will appreciate how well made they are.Shop all Homesick candles and diffusers.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

The Tucker Carlson origin story

Tucker Carlson's journey from prep school provocateur to Fox News flamethrower, according to his friends and former classmates. Tucker Carlson during a CNN National Town Meeting on coverage of the White House sex scandal, on January 28, 1998.Richard Ellis/Getty Images Tucker Carlson is remembered as a provocateur and gleeful contrarian by those who knew him in his early days. His bohemian artist mother abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will. At a Rhode Island prep school and at Trinity College, classmates remember him as a skilled debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audiences. On Oct. 29, 1984, New York police killed an elderly Black woman named Eleanor Bumpurs in her own home. Bumpers, who lived in a public housing complex in the Bronx, had fallen four months behind on her rent. When officials from the city housing authority tried to evict her, she refused, and they called the police. Five officers responded by storming into her apartment. Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, grabbed a butcher knife as two officers pushed her against a wall with their plastic shields and a metal pole. A third officer fired two shots from his 12-gauge shotgun, striking Bumpurs in her hand and chest.Eleanor Bumpurs' death dominated the city's news for two months and led the NYPD to revise its guidelines for responding to emotionally disturbed individuals.At St. George's prep school, some 175 miles away in Rhode Island, the incident deeply haunted Richard Wayner. He was one of the school's few Black students and had grown up in a residential tower not far from where Bumpurs had lived. He earned straight As and was so admired that in 1984 his peers elected him senior prefect, the prep equivalent of student body president, making him the first Black class leader in the school's 125-year history. Harvard soon beckoned.Wayner was frustrated with how the St. George's community seemed to ignore the conversations about racial justice that were happening outside the cloistered confines of Aquidneck Island. It bothered Wayne that almost no one at St. George's seemed to know anything about Bumpurs' killing. "You had your crew, you put your head down, and you tried to get through three or four years of prep school with your psyche intact," Wayner said of those days.As senior prefect, one of the duties was to deliver an address each week at the mandatory Sunday chapel service. One Sunday, perched from the chapel podium, Wayner described the shooting as a sea of white faces stared back at him. He concluded with the words: "Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?"Near the front of the chapel, a single hand went up for a few brief seconds. It was Tucker Carlson.Eleanor Bumpurs was shot and killed by the New York Police Department on October 29, 1984APThen a sophomore, Tucker had a reputation as a gleeful contrarian – an indefatigable debater and verbal jouster who, according to some, could also be a bit of a jerk. "Tucker was just sort of fearless," said Ian Toll, a St. George's alumnus who would go on to be a military historian. "Whether it was a legitimate shooting may have been a point of debate but the fact was that Tucker was an underclassmen and the culture was to defer to the seniors." Wayner himself never saw Tucker's hand go up, and the two kept in touch over the years. (Note on style: Tucker Carlson and the members of his family are referred to here by their first names to avoid confusion.)  Four decades later, glimmers of that prep school provocateur appear on Tucker's Prime Time show on Fox, which garners an average of between 3 to 4 million viewers a night. His furrowed visage and spoiling-for-a-fight demeanor are all too familiar to those who have known him for decades. In the words of Roger Stone, a Republican political operative, frequent guest, and longtime friend of Tucker's: "Tucker Carlson is the single most influential conservative journalist in America… It is his courage and his willingness to talk about issues that no one else is willing to cover that has led to this development."Tucker's name has even been floated as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024. "I mean, I guess if, like, I was the last person on earth, I could do it. But, I mean, it seems pretty unlikely that I would be that guy." he said on the "Ruthless" podcast in June, dismissing this possibility.Tucker's four decades in Washington, and his transition from conservative magazine writer to right-wing television pundit, have been well documented. But less well known are his early years and how they shaped him: his bohemian artist mother, who abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will; the Rhode Island prep school where he met his future spouse; and his formation into a contrarian debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audience with his attention-getting tactics.Tucker declined to participate in an interview with Insider, saying in a statement. "Your level of interest in the boring details of my life is creepy as hell, and also pathetic," he wrote. "You owe it to yourself and the country to do something useful with your talents. Please reassess."California roots Tucker Carlson's West Coast roots burrow as deep as a giant redwood. He was born in San Francisco in May 1969 as the excesses of the Sixties peaked and the conservative backlash to the counterculture and the Civil Rights movement started to take shape. Tucker's mother, Lisa McNear Lombardi, born in San Francisco in 1945, came from one of the state's storied frontier families. Lisa's mother, Mary Nickel James, was a cattle baron heiress. Her great-great-grandfather had owned 3 million acres of ranchland, making him among the largest landowners west of the Mississippi. Her father Oliver Lombardi was an insurance broker and descendant of Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants. Lisa enrolled at UC Berkeley, where she majored in architecture. She met Richard Carlson, a San Francisco TV journalist from a considerably less prosperous background, while still in college. Lisa and Richard eloped in Reno, Nevada in 1967. The couple didn't notify Lisa's mother, who was traveling in Europe with her new husband at the time. "Family members have been unable to locate them to reveal the nuptials," a gossip item published in the San Francisco Examiner dished.Tucker arrived two years later. A second son, Buckley, was born two years after that. As Richard's career began to flourish, the family moved first to Los Angeles and then, in 1975, to La Jolla, a moneyed, beach-front enclave about 12 miles north of San Diego. When Lisa and Richard divorced a year later, in 1976, Richard got full custody of their sons, then 6 and 4. According to three of Tucker's childhood classmates, Lisa disappeared from her sons' lives. They don't recall Tucker talking about her, or seeing her at school events. Marc Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate who went on to be executive producer of the Tony Kornheiser Show, says the two didn't talk much about Tucker's relationship with his mother and he got the impression that Tucker and Richard were exceptionally close. When Sterne's own parents split up that year, he said Tucker was supportive and understanding. Lisa spent the next two decades as an artist – moving first to Los Angeles, where she befriended the painter David Hockney, and later split her time between France and South Carolina with her husband, British painter Michael Vaughan. In 1979, Richard Carlson married Patricia Swanson, heiress to the Swanson frozen foods empire that perfected the frozen Salisbury steak for hassle-free dinners. She soon legally adopted Tucker and Buckley.  When Lisa died in 2011, her estate was initially divided equally between Tucker, his brother Buckley, and Vaughan. But in 2013, Vaughan's daughter from another marriage found a one-page handwritten document in Lisa's art studio in France that left her assets to her surviving husband with an addendum that stated, "I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each." A protracted battle over Lombardi's estate involving Vaughan and the Carlson brothers wound up in probate court. The Carlsons asserted the will was forged but a forensic witness determined that Lisa had written the note. The case eventually went to the California Appellate Court, which allowed the Carlson brothers to keep their shares in 2019."Lisa was basically sort of a hippie and a free spirit," said one attorney who  represented the Vaughan family and recalled having conversations about the case. "She was very liberal and she did not agree with Tucker's politics. But she stuck the will in the book, everyone forgot about it, and then she passed away."In a 2017 interview with The New Yorker, Tucker described the dissolution of his family as a "totally bizarre situation — which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all." Several pieces of art produced by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderLisa When Lisa left her husband and two young sons, she was escaping suburban family life in favor of the more bohemian existence as an artist. One of Tucker and Buckley's former teachers said their mother's absence "left some sour grapes." "I felt they sided with the father," Rusty Rushton, a former St. George's English teacher said. After the divorce, Lisa returned to Los Angeles and tried to break into the city's thriving contemporary art scene. She befriended Mo McDermott, an LA-based British sculptor, model, and longtime assistant to David Hockney, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. A few years before he met Lisa, the scene was captured in Jack Hazan's 1974 groundbreaking documentary "A Bigger Splash," which followed Hockney and his coterie of gay male friends idly lounging around the pool in his Hollywood Hills home."When love goes wrong, there's more than two people who suffer," said McDermott, playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself, in a voiceover in the documentary.Lisa and McDermott became a couple and Lisa won admission into Hockney's entourage. Hockney lived a far more reclusive lifestyle than his pop art compatriot Andy Warhol but some four dozen or so artists, photographers, and writers regularly passed through his properties."She was more like a hippie, arty kind of person. I couldn't ever imagine her being a mother," said Joan Quinn, the then-West Coast editor of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, who knew Lisa during those years and still owns several of her works. "She was very nervous all the time… She was ill-content."The pair were often seen at Hockney's Hollywood Hills home and at Friday night gallery openings on La Cienega Boulevard. They collaborated on playful, large-scale wood sculptures of animals, vegetables, and trees. A handful of their pieces could be seen around Hockney's hillside ranch."Hockney had me over to meet them. He wanted a gallery to handle their work," said Molly Barnes, who owns a gallery in West Hollywood and gave the pair shows in 1983 and 1984. "They were brilliant and David loved Mo. He thought they were the best artists around.""She was quiet and intellectual and somewhat withdrawn," Barnes said. "She had come from a lot of money and that reflected on her personality. She wasn't a snob in any way but she had the manners of a private school girl and someone who was fighting the establishment."A sculpture by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderNone of them recall Lisa discussing her two sons. McDermott died in 1988. After his death, Hockney discovered that McDermott had been stealing drawings from him and selling them. Hockney said the betrayal helped bring on a heart attack. "I believe I had a broken heart," Hockney told The Guardian in 1995. (Hockney did not answer multiple inquiries about Lisa or McDermott.)In 1987, Lisa met Vaughan, one of Hockney's peers in the British art scene known as the "Bradford Mafia." They married in February 1989 and for years afterward they lived in homes in the Pyrenees of southwest France and South Carolina's Sea Islands.Lisa continued to make art, primarily oversized, wooden sculptures of everyday household items like peeled lemons and dice, but she exhibited her work infrequently. She died of cancer in 2011, at which point Carlson was a decade into his media career and a regular contributor on Fox News. Richard In contrast to Lisa's privileged upbringing, Richard's childhood was full of loss. Richard's mother was a 15-year-old high school girl who had starved herself during her pregnancy, and he was born with a condition called rickets. Six weeks later, his mother left him at an orphanage in Boston called The Home for Little Wanderers. Richard's father, who was 18, tried to convince her to kidnap the infant and marry him, but she refused. He shot and killed himself two blocks from her home.A Massachusetts couple fostered Richard for two years until he was adopted by a wool broker and his wife, which he described in a 2009 reflection for the Washington Post. His adoptive parents died when he was still a teenager and Richard was sent to the Naval Academy Preparatory School. He later enlisted in the Marines and enrolled in an ROTC program at the University of Mississippi to pay for college.In 1962, Richard developed an itch for journalism while working as a cop in Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 21, and the future NBC political correspondent Catherine Mackin, helped him get a copy boy job at the Los Angeles Times. Richard moved to San Francisco three years later and his career blossomed. He started producing television news features with his friend, Lance Brisson, the son of actress Rosalind Russell. They filmed migrant farm workers in the Imperial Valley living in cardboard abodes in 110 degree weather, traipsed the Sierra Nevada mountains to visit a hermit, and covered the Zodiac Killer and Bay Area riots (during one demonstration in 1966, they sent television feeds from their car where they trapped for four hours  and a crowd roughed up Brisson, which required four stitches under his left eye). Another time, they rented a helicopter in search of a Soviet trawler but they had to jump into the Pacific Ocean when the chopper ran low on fuel near the shore and crashed.In 1969, Richard and Brisson co-wrote an article for Look Magazine that claimed San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto had mafia ties. Alioto sued the magazine's owner for libel and won a $350,000 judgment when a judge determined the article's allegations were made with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard for whether they were true or not." (Richard was not a defendant in the case and has stood by his story. Brisson declined an interview.)Richard moved back to Los Angeles to join KABC's investigative team two years later. One series of stories that delved into a three-wheeled sports car called the Dale and the fraudulent marketing practices of its founder, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, won a Peabody award in 1975. The series also outed Carmichael as a transgender woman. (Richard's role in Carmichael's downfall was explored in the HBO documentary "The Lady and the Dale.") Soon after arriving as an anchor for KFMB-TV, San Diego's CBS affiliate, Richard ran a story revealing that tennis pro Renee Richards, who had just won a tournament at the La Jolla Tennis Club, was a transgender woman."I said, 'You can't do this. I am a private person,'" Richards, who years later would advise Caitlyn Jenner about her transition, urged the television journalist to drop his story, according to a 2015 interview. "His reply? 'Dr. Richards, you were a private person until you won that tournament yesterday.'" By the time he left the anchor chair in 1977 to take a public relations job with San Diego Savings and Loan, Richard had soured on journalism. "I have seen a lot of arrogance and hypocrisy in the press and I don't like it," he told San Diego Magazine in 1977. "Television news is insipid, sophomoric, and superficial… There are so many things I think are important and interesting but the media can be counted on to do handstands on that kind of scandal and sexual sensation."Years later, Richard said that he never tried to encourage his eldest son in politics or journalism, but that Tucker had a clear interest in both from an early age. "I never thought he was going to be a reporter or a writer. I never encouraged him to do that," Richard told CSPAN of his eldest son in 2006. "I actually attempted not to encourage him politically, either. I decided those are the things that should be left up to them."A LaJolla, California post card.Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty ImagesA La Jolla childhoodAfter the divorce, Richard and his boys stayed in La Jolla in a house overlooking the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Friends of Tucker's would later say that the trauma of their mother's absence brought the three of them closer together.  "They both really admired their dad. He was a great source of wisdom. He's one of the great raconteurs you'll ever meet. They loved that glow that came from him," said Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate. "They both looked up to him, it was clear from my eyes."In an essay included in his book "The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism," Tucker described Richard as a kind parent who imbued family outings with a deeper message.One of Tucker's earliest memories, he writes, was from just after the divorce, when Tucker was seven and Buckley was five: the brothers gripping the edge of a luggage rack on the roof of his family's 1976 Ford Country Squire station wagon, while their father gunned the engine down a dirt road."I've sometimes wondered what car surfing was meant to teach us," Tucker wrote. "Was he trying to instill in us a proper sense of fatalism, the acknowledgement that there is only so much in life you can control? Or was it a lesson about the importance of risk?... Unless you're willing to ride the roof of a speeding station wagon, in other words, you're probably not going to leave your mark on the world."More often, the boys were left unsupervised and found their own trouble. Tucker once took a supermarket shopping cart and raced it down a hill in front of their house with Buckley in its basket. The cart tipped over, leaving Buckley with a bloody nose. He also recalled building makeshift hand grenades with hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil – using a recipe from their father's copy of "The Anarchist Cookbook"  and tossing them onto a nearby golf course."No one I know had a father like mine," Tucker wrote. "My father was funnier and more outrageous, more creative  and less willing to conform, than anyone I knew or have known since. My brother and I had the best time growing up."Richard sent Tucker to La Jolla Country Day, an upscale, largely white private school with a reputation as one of the best in Southern California, for elementary and middle school. In his book, "Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution," Tucker described his first grade teacher Marianna Raymond as "a living parody of earth-mother liberalism" who "wore long Indian-print skirts," and sobbed at her desk over the world's unfairness. "As a conservative, I had contempt for the whiny mawkishness of liberals. Stop blubbering and teach us to read. That was my position," he wrote. "Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.""I beg to differ," Raymond countered in an interview, saying that she was also Tucker's tutor during the summer after first grade and was even hired again. "I'm a great teacher. I'm sure he liked me." For her part, she remembered Tucker as a fair-haired tot who was "very sweet" and "very polite." (When The Washington Post reached out her her, she said Carlson's characterization had been "shocking.")  Friends from La Jolla remember that Tucker loved swimming the mile-and-a-half distance between La Jolla Shores Park and La Jolla Cove, jumping off cliffs that jut out into the Pacific Ocean, riffing on the drums, and playing Atari and BB gun games at the mall with his friends. "He was a happy kid. We were young, so we used to go to the beach. We did normal kid stuff," said Richard Borkum, a friend who is now a San Diego-based attorney. When they weren't at the beach or the mall, Borkum and another friend, Javier Susteata, would hang out at the Carlson home listening to The Who, AC/DC, and other classic rock bands. Borkum said the adults at the Carlson household largely left them alone. "I'm Jewish and Javier was Mexican and I'm not sure they were too happy we were going to their house," Borkum said.Another friend, Warren Barrett, remembers jamming with Tucker and going snow camping at Big Bear and snorkeling off Catalina Island with him in middle school."Tucker and I literally ate lunch together every day for two years," Barrett said. "He was completely the opposite of now. He was a cool southern California surfer kid. He was the nicest guy, played drums, and had a bunch of friends. And then something must have happened in his life that turned him into this evil diabolical shithead he is today."LaJolla is a upscale beach community outside of San Diego. Carlson and his family moved their in 1975.Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSan Diego's next mayorRichard, meanwhile, was exploring a second career in public service. By 1980, he had risen to vice president of a bank headed by Gordon Luce, a California Republican power broker and former Reagan cabinet official. The following year, Richard's public profile got a boost when he tangled with another veteran television journalist, CBS's Mike Wallace. The 60 Minutes star had interviewed Richard for a story about low-income Californians who faced foreclosures from the bank after borrowing money to buy air conditioners without realizing they put their homes up for collateral. Richard had his own film crew tape the interview, and caught Wallace saying that people who had been defrauded were "probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos." The remark made national headlines and Wallace was forced to apologize.Pete Wilson, the U.S. Senator and former San Diego mayor, encouraged Richard to run for office. In 1984, Richard entered the race to challenge San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock's re-election. "He was a very well-regarded guy," Hedgecock told Insider. "He had an almost Walter Cronkite-like appearance, but because he was in local news he was all about not offending anybody. He didn't have particularly strong views. He was nice looking, articulate, and made good appearances, but what he had to say was not particularly memorable other than he wanted me out of office."Sometimes Tucker tagged along for campaign events. "He would always show up in a sport coat, slacks and a bowtie and I thought that's really nice clothing for someone who is a kid," Hedgecock remembers. He was a very polite young man who didn't say much."Five days before voters went to the polls, Hedgecock went on trial for 15 counts of conspiracy and perjury, an issue that Richard highlighted in his television campaign ads. Richard still lost to Hedgecock 58 to 42 percent despite pouring nearly $800,000 into the race and outspending Hedgecock two to one. (Hedgecock was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws and resigned from office in 1985 but his convictions were overturned on appeal five years later.)People are seen near a beach in La Jolla, California, on April 15, 2020.Gregory Bull/AP PhotoPrep school In the fall of 1983, a teenaged Tucker traded one idyllic beachfront community for another.At 14, Tucker moved across the country to Middletown, Rhode Island, to attend St. George's School. (Buckley would follow him two years later.) The 125-year-old boarding school sits atop a hill overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, and is on the other side of Aquidneck Island where Richard Carlson went to naval school. The private school was known as a repository for children of wealthy East Coast families who were not as academically inclined as those who attended Exeter or Andover. Its campus had dorms named after titans of industry, verdant athletic fields, and a white-sand beach.Senators Claiborne Pell and Prescott Bush graduated, as did Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and poet Ogden Nash. Tucker's class included "Modern Family" actor Julie Bowen; Dede Gardner, the two-time Oscar-winning producer of "12 Years a Slave" and "Moonlight"; and former DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. Billy Bush – "Extra" host, and cousin to George W. Bush – was three years behind him.Tuition at St. George's cost $13,000 per year in the 1980s (it's now up to $67,000 for boarding school students) and student schedules were tightly regimented with breakfast, classes, athletics, dinner, and study hall encompassing each day. Students were required to take religion classes, and attend chapel twice a week. Faculty and staff would canvass the dorms on Thursdays and Sundays to ensure no one skipped the Episcopal service. Tucker impressed his new chums as an hyper-articulate merrymaker who frequently challenged upperclassmen who enforced dorm rules and the school's liberal faculty members."He was kind of a California surfer kid. He was funny, very intelligent, and genuinely well-liked," said Bryce Traister, who was one year ahead of Tucker and is now a professor at the University of British Columbia. "There were people who didn't like Tucker because they thought he was a bullshitter but he was very charming. He was a rascal and a fast-talker, as full of shit as he is today."Back then Tucker was an iconoclast more in the mold of Ferris Bueller than preppy neocon Alex P. Keaton, even if his wardrobe resembled the "Family Ties" star. Students were required to wear jackets, ties, and khakis, although most came to class disheveled. Tucker wore well-tailored coats and chinos, pairing his outfit with a ribbon-banded watch and colorful bowtie which would later become his signature. "He was always a very sharp dresser. He had a great rack of ties. He always knew how to tie a bowtie but he didn't exclusively wear a bowtie," said Sterne, Tucker's freshman year roommate. "He always had great clothes. It was a lot of Brooks Brothers." Their crew crew held court in each others' dorm rooms at Auchincloss, the freshman hall, kicking around a Hacky Sack and playing soccer, talking about Adolph Huxley, George Orwell, and Hemingway, and dancing to Tom Petty, the Grateful Dead, and U2 on the campus lawn. Televisions weren't allowed so students listened to their Sony Walkman swapping cassette recordings of live concerts. Tucker introduced several bands to his friends."He loved classic rock and he was and still is a big fan of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead," said Sterne, who saw a Dead show with Tucker at RFK Stadium in 1986.Sometimes the clique got slices at Aquidneck Pizza and played arcade games in town, hung out in history instructor William Schenck's office, and smoked pot and Marlborough Red cigarettes on a porch in the main building's common room that faced the ocean, according to multiple sources. When the school administrators banned smoking indoors the following year so they congregated behind the dumpster behind the dining hall. Vodka (often the brand Popov) mixed with Kool-Aid was the drink of choice and students stockpiled bottles under their beds.Tucker was an enthusiastic drinker, half a dozen classmates recall. In his book, "The Long Slide," Tucker credits Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for enticing him to try drugs in 10th grade, The experience gave him "double vision and a headache." By the time he got to college, Tucker writes, "I switched to beer."By the late 1990s Tucker stopped smoking. He eventually cut alcohol too in 2002 after drinking so much while covering George W. Bush in New Hampshire during the 2000 primary that he accidentally got on the wrong plane, according to a friend.Most of Tucker's fellow students remember him best as a skilled speaker."He was always eager to take the less palatable side of the argument and argue that side," said Mahlon Stewart, who attended prep school and college with Tucker and is now a geriatric specialist at Columbia University. "Back then it was comedic. I thought it was an act.""His confidence was just amazing. He could just put out some positions and be willing to argue anything no matter how outlandish," Keller Kimbrough, a former classmate who's now a professor at the University of Colorado. "We were talking about politics and religion one time Tucker pulled this card out of his wallet and said, 'Well actually I'm an ordained minister, I'm an authority on the subject.' This was a stunt. He could literally play the religion card." "When he got the job at Fox I just thought 'Wow that's perfect for him, that's exactly what he can do.'"Their dorm room discourses were never serious. Tucker would pick a side in a debate between whether the color red or blue were better, and the crowd would erupt whenever he made a good point, friends said.  "Even at age 15 he was verbally dexterous and a great debater," Ian Toll said. "His conservative politics was fully formed even back then. He believed in strong defense and minimal government."His teachers saw a pupil who was primed for law school."Language and speaking came naturally to him. He took pleasure in it," said Rusty Rushton, Tucker's former English teacher. Tucker's politics, though, "seemed fluid to me," Rushton said. "I don't think of him as a deeply ensconced ideologue."He ditched soccer after sophomore year to act in a school theater production of Ayn Rand's courtroom thriller "Night of January 16th" (Julie Bowen starred as the prosecuting attorney. Tucker played a juror). But Tucker found his voice in competitive debate when he eventually joined the school's debate club. The team traveled to other private school campuses to compete against schools like Andover, Exeter, and Roxbury Latin in tournaments."He won some debate and basically did a victory lap afterward and got in the face of all the faculty there," one alum from a rival school who debated against Tucker said. "After defeating the student team, he started challenging the faculty, and said, 'Do any of you want to take me on? Are any of you capable of debating me?'"SusieIn the fall of Tucker's sophomore year, a new headmaster arrived at St. George's, Rev. George Andrews II. Andrews' daughter, Susie – who Tucker would eventually marry – was in Tucker's class. According to school tradition, a rotating group of underclassmen was charged with serving their classmates dinner and, one night in late September, Tucker and Susie had the shift at the same time. "They were sitting at a table at the far end of Queen Hall just leaning in, talking to each other," Sterne recalled. "You could see the sparks flying, which was cool."Susie floated between the school's friend groups easily. When she was seen mingling with Tucker, some questioned what she saw in him."People were saying, 'Come on Susie, why are you dating Tucker?' He's such a loser slacker and she was so sweet," Traister said. The pair started dating at the age of 15 and quickly became inseparable. Tucker gained notoriety on campus for repeatedly sneaking into Susie's room on the second floor of Memorial Schoolhouse, the school's stately administrative office that housed the headmaster's quarters. He had less time for his dumpster buddies now that the couple hung out on the campus lawn, attended chapel and an interdenominational campus ministry organization called FOCUS. His senior yearbook included a photo of Tucker squinting in concern to a classmate, with the caption "What do you mean you told Susie?While Susie was universally liked within the St. George's community, her father was polarizing.Andrews led the school during a turbulent period – it was later revealed – when its choirmaster Franklin Coleman was accused of abusing or having inappropriate conduct with at least 10 male students, according to an independent investigation by the law firm Foley Hoag in 2016. (Two attorneys representing several victims said 40 alumni contacted them with credible accounts of molestation and rape accusations at the hands of St. George's employees between 1974 and 2004 after a 2015 school-issued report detailed 26 accounts of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. (Coleman was never criminally charged and he has not responded to Insider's attempts to reach him.) Over his eight-year tenure as school music director, from 1980 to 1988, Coleman invited groups of boys to his apartment for private parties. Sometimes he shared alcohol and pot with some of them, gave them back and neck rubs, showed pornographic videos, traveled with them on choral trips and stayed in their hotel rooms, and appeared nude around some of them, the report found. Several of Tucker's classmates and former faculty said they had no reason to believe he would have been aware of the accusations. "There were rumors circulating wildly that Coleman was bad news. The idea was he would cultivate relationships with young men," Ian Toll, a St. George's alum, said. "Anyone who was there at that time would have likely been aware of those rumors."Andrews told Foley Hoag investigators he was not aware of any complaints about Coleman until May 1988 (by then, Tucker had finished his freshman year in college) when school psychiatrist Peter Kosseff wrote a report detailing a firsthand account of misconduct. But Andrews acknowledged to investigators the school could have been aware of "prior questionable conduct" before then, the report said. Andrews fired Coleman in May 1988 after the school confronted Coleman with allegations of misconduct and he did not deny them. According to the investigation, Andrews told students Coleman resigned due to "emotional stress" and that he had the "highest regard and respect for him." On the advice of a school attorney, Andrews did not report the music teacher to child protective services. He also knew that his faculty dean wrote Coleman a letter of recommendation for a job at another school, according to investigators. Andrews left the school a few weeks after Coleman departed. By September 1989, he was named headmaster at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida which he led for 18 years. (Andrews declined to speak about Tucker or his tenure at either school.) St. George's, meanwhile, reached an undisclosed settlement with up to 30 abuse survivors in 2016. Coleman found work as a choir director at Tampa Preparatory School in Tampa Bay, Florida before he retired in 2008. Tucker Carlson attended St. George’s School, a boarding school starting at age 14.Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesTrinity In the fall of 1987, Tucker enrolled at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where Rev. Andrews had also attended.Nearly two-thirds of Trinity's student body back then originated from private schools and many came from wealthy backgrounds. Tuition in 1987 cost $11,700 plus an additional $3,720 for room and board—around $27,839 in today's dollars."When the Gulf War broke out" in 1990, one Trinity alum who knew Tucker recalled, "there was a big plywood sign in front of the student center that read, 'Blood for Oil,' and someone else threw a bucket of paint on it."The posh campus was situated in the middle of Hartford, Connecticut, the state's capital and one of its poorest cities. Discussions about race and inequality were sometimes at the forefront of campus politics, but many students avoided engaging in them entirely."There were issues about whether black students should only date other black students, that kind of thing," said Kathleen Werthman, a classmate of Tucker's who now works at a Florida nonprofit for people with disabilities. "My sophomore year, for new students, they had a speaker talking about racism, and one of the students said, 'I never met a black student, how are you supposed to talk to them?' And the idea that only white people can be racist was challenged too."Susie was at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. His brother remained in Rhode Island and other prep school friends had fanned out across the East Coast. Tucker moved into a four-bedroom dormitory overlooking the main quad. One suitemate, Neil Patel, was an economics major from Massachusetts who played intramural softball. (They would co-found the Daily Caller together two decades years later.) Other roommates played on the varsity soccer team and they formed a tight-knit group."I remember being struck by him. He was the same way he is now," said Rev. Billy Cerveny, a college friend of Tucker's who's now a pastor at Redbird Nashville. "He was a force of nature. He had a sense of presence and gravitas. You might get into an argument with him, but you end up loving the guy."Tucker often went out of his way to amuse his friends. Once during the spring semester, several activists set up a podium and microphone beneath his dorm window to protest the CIA's on-campus recruitment visits. The demonstration was open-mic so Tucker went up to the stage and told the crowd of about 15 people, "I think you're all a bunch of greasy chicken fuckers.""I think people laughed. He did," Cerveny said. "There was always a small collection of people any time there was an issue who tried to stir the pot in that way. Some people were dismissive and other people loved it, thinking 'Oh we're getting a fight here.'"As a sophomore, Tucker and his friends moved into a dingy three-story house on Crescent Street on the edge of the campus. He ditched his tailored jackets, khakis, and bowties for oversized Levi jeans, t-shirts, and untucked oxford shirts. Tucker commandeered a low-ceilinged room above the front porch with so many windows he had to hang up tapestries to keep out the sun. The tiny alcove had barely enough space for an eight-foot futon and several bookshelves Tucker built himself stacked with books he collected. Friends remember Tucker receiving an 8-by-10 manilla envelope that his father sent through the mail once or twice a month containing dozens of articles from newspapers and magazines.One of Tucker's friends, Cerveny, remembered stopping by Richard's home in Washington, D.C. and finding evidence of his hobbies, including the world's second largest collection of walking sticks."His house was filled with rare canes he collected from all over the world," Cerveny said. "The hallways had really amazing rows of canes hung on hooks that were specially made to mount these things on the house. One used to be a functional shotgun, another one was made out of a giraffe. His dad would pull out newspaper clippings of WWII Navy aircraft carriers. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I had never seen anything like that. Who collects canes?"During sophomore year, Tucker's friends decided to rush Delta Phi, a well-to-do fraternity also known as St. Elmo's. The Greek scene had a large presence on campus — about 20 percent of men joined them even though Trinity was a liberal arts school — and St. Elmo's had a reputation as freewheeling scamps. Once a year, a St. Elmo's brother would ride his motorcycle naked through the campus cafeteria. (Faculty voted in 1992 to abolish Greek life saying they were sexist and racist, and school administrators instead forced fraternities to become co-ed.)But Tucker refused to come aboard. Some classmates thought it was because he didn't want to be hazed."Tucker was not a joiner like that," Mahlon Stewart said. "He wouldn't have set himself up for whatever humiliation would have been involved. He would not have put up with that." But Cerveny, who pledged the fraternity, said it was a matter of faith."I remember explicitly him saying 'Look, I want to focus on what my faith is about and I thought this would be a big distraction,'" Cerveny said. "But he was very much in the mix with us. When we moved to a fraternity house [on Broad Street], we asked him to live with us."Tucker occasionally dropped in on his friends' fraternity events and occasionally brought Susie when she visited or Buckley when he drifted into town. Other times they hung out at Baker's Cafe on New Britain Avenue. Mostly Tucker stayed in his room."He was basically a hermit. It wasn't like he was going to a ton of parties" one Trinity St. Elmo's brother said. "He was not a part of the organizational effort of throwing big parties, or encouraging me to join the fraternity." Susie, who didn't drink or smoke, was a moderating influence. "Tucker and Susie had their moral compass pointing north even back then," Sterne said. "Tucker's faith was not something he was focused on in his early years but when he met Susie and he became close to her family, that started to blossom and grow in him. Now it's a huge part of his life."By the time his crew moved to another house on Broad Street, they each acquired vintage motorcycles and tinkered with them in their garage. Tucker owned a 1968 flathead Harley Davidson that barely ran and relied on a red Jeep 4X4 to transport friends around town (the Volkswagen van he had freshman year blew up). He smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes, sipped bourbon, and occasionally brewed beer in the basement, including a batch he named "Coal Porter," according to GQ.When he wasn't reading outside of his courses or tinkering with his carburetor, Tucker took classes in the humanities and ultimately majored in history. Tucker dabbled in other fields including Russian history, Jewish history, Women's Studies, and Religious Studies, sitting in the back of lecture halls with his friends. Ron Kiener, who taught an introductory level course in Judaism, recalled Tucker performing "poorly" but earning a credit. "He did not get a stellar grade from me," Kiener said. "Based on what he says now he surely didn't get very much out of my courses."But Leslie Desmangles, who led courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Myth, Rite, and Sacrament, said Tucker was engaged and likely did just enough to pass his courses even if he wasn't very studious or vocal in class discussions."He was interested in understanding the nature of religious belief and studying different cultures and religions but I'm not sure if he had an interest in diversity," Desmangles said. "He was genuinely interested in ritual since a lot of the Episcopal church is highly ritualistic."Tucker's fascination with religion extended to his extracurricular activities too. He and several friends joined Christian Fellowship, a Bible study group that met weekly and helped the school chaplain lead Sunday services. Some members even volunteered with ConnPIRG, a student advocacy group on hunger and environmental issues, and traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the Gulf War. But Tucker steered clear of campus activism. He spent his free time reading and seeing Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, and Sting perform when they came through Connecticut. Sometimes he skipped school to follow his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, on tour.He took an interest in Central American politics too. At the end of freshman year, Tucker and Patel traveled to Nicaragua. "We did not have a place to stay or any set plans," Tucker told the Trinity Tripod, his college paper, in March 1990. "It was very spontaneous. We are both extremely political and we felt that getting to know the country and some of its citizens would give us a better perspective on the situation." In February 1990, Tucker returned with three friends to Managua for 10 days to observe Nicaragua's elections. The National Opposition Union's Violetta Chamoro, which was backed by the U.S. government, defeated the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega who had been in power since 1979. A month later Tucker and his classmate Jennifer Barr, who was separately in Nicaragua to observe elections and distribute medical supplies to the Sandinistas, shared their perspectives about their visits to a small crowd at the Faculty Club for the school's Latin America Week. Tucker thought press coverage of the election was too left-leaning and criticized the media for skewing a conservative victory, according to Barr."I don't think it was necessarily true," Barr said. "He was dismissive [about my views]. I did get a sense that he believed in what he was saying, and it was very different from my experience and my understanding of the race."Tucker's stance on U.S. politics at the time was less didactic. As the 1992 presidential election loomed his senior year, Tucker touted the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, a Texas business magnate, to his friends although it did not appear that Tucker was an ardent supporter."Tucker would go on and on about how Ross Perot was the answer to this or that, as a joke, and every one would participate" one St. Elmo's brother said. "He liked the way Ross Perot was basically throwing a wrench into the system. He wasn't a serious Ross Perot proponent. He was cheering on somebody who was screwing up the system."In Tucker's college yearbook, below his tousle-haired, bowtie wearing thumbnail photo, was a list of his extra-curricular activities: "History; Christian Fellowship 1 2 3 4, Jesse Helms Foundation, Dan White Society." Neither of the latter two – named, respectively, after the ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator, and a San Francisco supervisor who assassinated Harvey Milk in 1978 – ever existed. Tucker admired Helms for being a "bull in the china shop" of Congress, one classmate said. Some friends believed Tucker slipped in the off-color references as a lark."It's like a joke you and a friend would put in a series of anagrams that only you and two friends would remember and no one else would," the St. Elmo's friend said. "It's so niche that only someone like Tucker is thinking things like that or would even know the name of the person who killed Harvey Milk. He paid attention to things like that."Others claimed Tucker was the victim of a prank."It would not at all surprise me if one of the other guys in the [fraternity] house filled it in for him, and not just an inside joke, but pegging him with something that he got grief for," another close friend said. Protesters rally against Fox News outside the Fox News headquarters at the News Corporation building, March 13, 2019 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesAn outsider among insidersBy the spring of 1991, Tucker's academic performance had caught up with him. He had accumulated a 1.9 grade point average and may have finished with a 2.1 GPA, according to one faculty member who viewed a copy of his transcript. Tucker would eventually graduate from Trinity a year late. Falling behind was not uncommon. About 80 percent of Trinity students completed their degrees in four years, according to Trinity College records. (A Trinity spokeswoman would not comment on Tucker's transcript due to FERPA laws, which protect student privacy.Tucker's post-collegiate plans fell through too. Tucker applied to the CIA that spring. The spy agency passed."He mentioned that he had applied and they rejected him because of his drug use," another college friend said, while declining to be named. "He was too honest on his application. I also probably should say I don't know whether he was telling the truth or not." Once the school year was over, Tucker and Neil Patel hit the road on a cross-country motorcycle ride. After that: Washington DC.  Tucker's family left Southern California for Georgetown after President Reagan named his father head of Voice of America. In June 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Richard ambassador to the Seychelles and the Carlson family upgraded to a nicer house in Georgetown with a pool in the basement. That summer, with Tucker's father and stepmother often out of town, the Carlson household was the center of Tucker's social lives, the place they retired to after a night drinking at Georgetown college dive bars like Charing Cross and Third Edition, and pubs like Martin's Tavern and The Tombs, immortalized in St. Elmo's Fire. In August, Tucker and Susie got married in St. George's chapel and held a reception at the Clambake Club of Newport, overlooking the Narragansett Bay. Back in Washington, Tucker's prep school, college, and his father's Washington-based networks began to mesh. Tucker took a $14,000-a-year job as an assistant editor and fact checker of Policy Review, a quarterly journal published at the time by the Heritage Foundation, the nation's leading conservative think tank. For the next three decades, Tucker thrived in the Beltway: He joined The Weekly Standard and wrote for several magazines before appearing on cable news networks as a right-of-center analyst and host at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. His father embarked on a third career as a television executive where he ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and his brother became a political operative and a pollster. By the time Tucker reached the core of the conservative media sphere, a slot on Fox News's primetime opinion lineup, he shed friends from his youth who couldn't grapple with the hard-right turn he veered once he became the face of the network.One friend was not surprised with Tucker's act. In the spring of 2016, during the heat of Donald Trump's presidential campaign against Hilary Clinton and a few months before "Tucker Carlson Tonight" premiered on Fox, Tucker had lunch with his old prep school classmate Richard Wayner who made the speech about Eleanor Bumpurs all those years ago. Wayner believed Tucker's gesture from his pew was never serious. "As a 9th or 10th grader in a chapel full of people in a conversation, he was trying to get attention," Wayner said.The two stayed in touch over the years and Tucker at one point suggested he write a handful of pieces for the Daily Caller, the conservative news and opinion site that Tucker co-founded and ran in the 2010s. As they settled into their table at a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse, the two chatted about Wayner's experience on the board of St. George's (which Susie was about to join) and their respective careers. Tucker was floating around at Fox, and Wayner, now an investor and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said the conversation drifted toward salaries."He was asking, 'How much do you make on Wall Street' and was like, 'Wow, Wall Street guys make a lot.'" Wayner said. When they left the restaurant and headed back toward the Fox News headquarters, several people recognized Tucker on the street even though he had jettisoned his trademark bowtie years ago. Wayner saw Tucker making the pragmatic decision to follow a business model that has made his conservative media counterparts a lot of money."I don't think he has a mission. I don't think he has a plan," Wayner said. "Where he is right now is about as great as whatever he thought he could be.""Tucker knows better. He does. He can get some attention, money, or both." he added. "To me, that's a shame. Because he knows better." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

A housing crash is unlikely, but a correction could be around the corner. Here"s the difference.

Spiking prices have quelled homebuyer demand — and that means the real estate market is bracing for a slowdown. Overview of an American neighborhood.Getty Images Talk of a likely housing bubble has intensified amid surging housing costs. As buyers grapple with rising rates and home prices, demand has begun to wane. The housing market is showing signs of cooling — but a housing crash is unlikely.  Speculation about a possible housing bubble has taken full bloom this spring homebuying season.And talk of bubbles inevitably leads to the question of whether the bubble will pop with a crash or more gently ease back to earth in a modest correction. As the Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates from their near-zero levels propels mortgage rates to a twelve-year high, it's put additional pressure on housing costs. With housing affordability sitting at a decade low, the homebuying frenzy that rocked the real estate market is beginning to fizzle — and that means a larger shift is looming."While springtime is typically the busiest homebuying season, the upswing in rates has caused some volatility in demand," Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist, said in a statement. "It continues to be a seller's market, but buyers who remain interested in purchasing a home may find that competition has moderately softened."As homebuyer demand wanes, either one of two things can come next: a correction or a crash. The former would entail a gradual drop in prices to more sustainable levels, whereas the latter would result from either a rapid drop in prices triggered by widespread panic from homeowners and investors or a wave of foreclosures.However, with homeowners leveraging more than $3.2 trillion in home equity and mortgage lenders enforcing strict standards, it's unlikely the real estate market is heading towards a crash — especially the likes of 2008.This isn't the housing market of 2008The COVID-19 housing market is drawing many comparisons to the real estate market of the mid-2000s, but the two periods couldn't be more different."This is not the same market of 2008," Odeta Kushi, First American's deputy chief economist, previously told Insider. "It's no secret the housing market played a central role in the Great Recession, but this market is just fundamentally different in so many ways."The housing bubble that led up to the 2008 crisis is attributed to a combination of cheap debt, predatory lending practices, and complex financial engineering that resulted in many borrowers being placed into mortgages they could not afford. The situation triggered a foreclosure crisis among homeowners and a credit crisis among the investors who owned bonds backed by defaulted mortgages and birthed a global recession. In 2022, the real estate market is in a much better position. Almost all American households have rebuilt their nominal net worth to pre-recession values and lending standards have tightened while home values have soared.However, despite the market's improvement, there still remains a great imbalance between supply and demand. But as buyer demand declines amid soaring costs, it's easing competition — and that could mean a correction rather than a crash is on the way.  The real estate market is bracing for a 'soft landing'As home buyer demand falls, the real estate market is approaching a slowdown.According to the Census Bureau, U.S. new-home sales have declined every month in 2022, and in March, they fell to a four-month low — highlighting the impact soaring borrowing costs are having on potential buyers."Higher mortgage rates along with the really strong home price appreciation create affordability challenges for many homebuyers and that's going to slow the market down," Mark Palim, Fannie Mae's deputy chief economist, told Insider. "We already have a slowdown in both home sales and the rate of home price appreciation."According to real estate database Redfin, 12% of homes for sale had a price drop during the four weeks ending April 3, up from 9% in 2021 and the highest share since December. "The slowdown over the last two weeks has felt significant, Dee Heyerdahl, Redfin real estate agent, said in a statement. "Usually April is when the spring home buying and selling market begins to heat up, but this year things are cooling down a bit instead." Doug Duncan, the chief economist of Fannie Mae, thinks the housing market is bracing for a "soft landing.""Mortgage rates have ratcheted up dramatically over the past few months, and historically such large movements have ended with a housing slowdown," Duncan said in a statement. "Consequently, we expect home sales, house prices, and mortgage volumes to cool over the next two years."As the real estate market cools, the fundamentals that supported its growth — like record high home prices and home equity —  are likely to keep it relatively healthy. This could mean a correction rather than a crash is on the horizon. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 4th, 2022

18 Of The Easiest Money Saving Tips That’ll Make You A Millionaire

Even if you’re modest, I think everyone wouldn’t mind being a millionaire. But, with such an uncertain future is that even possible? Actually. It is. With proper planning, responsible spending habits, and smart investments you can grow your fortune to $1 million and beyond. But, there’s a key part of that equation that shouldn’t be […] Even if you’re modest, I think everyone wouldn’t mind being a millionaire. But, with such an uncertain future is that even possible? Actually. It is. With proper planning, responsible spending habits, and smart investments you can grow your fortune to $1 million and beyond. But, there’s a key part of that equation that shouldn’t be overlooked. And, that’s effectively saving your money using these easy 18-tips. 1. Make it a game. “You probably think saving money has to be boring, hard work,” writes Michael Beck. “I say, let’s play a game instead!” he adds. “And if you’re good at it, this game can help you save a lot of money.” Here’s how the game began. Beck and his wife were broke after purchasing their first home. While eating at a fast-food restaurant they challenged themselves to see if they could both leave full by spending only $10. Since that was too easy, they kept dropping the price. From there, they competed against each to see who could stretch their gas tanks the most. After that, taking their entertainment budget to zero. And, finally, reducing their energy consumption by turning off the lights or reading instead of watching TV. The result? The couple was able to save $10,000 in one year? 2. Don’t talk about it. Be about it. What exactly do I mean? Well, if you want to save money, then it could be as simple as asking. And often, this is done in two ways; Proactively. Get in touch with the vendor you pay regularly, such as cable TV, cell phone carriers, or garbage service. Let them know that you’re a satisfied customer and then just ask for a discount. Some people even threaten to switch services to get a better deal. But, that’s your call. For retail, you could ask when specific items go on sale. Reactively. Let’s say that you receive a medical bill that insurance was supposed to cover. Instead of just shrugging this off and paying, contact them to settle the misunderstanding. Worst case scenario? You negotiate a better deal. For some, this may induce an anxiety attack. Thankfully, there are tools like Trim and Truebill that analyzes spending. From there, they will cancel unnecessary subscriptions and negotiate your recurring bills for you. Here are a couple of other suggestions for being proactive with your money; Don’t neglect problems, fix them ASAP. Let’s say you don’t replace your brake pads. This will result in a more costly repair. Do your research and only shop when you have coupons. If you use a credit card, make sure it offers perks like rewards and/or cashback. 3. Get free stocks. Not everyone thinks they are wealthy enough to invest. Well, guess what? The truth is, you don’t need that much to start investing. In fact, if you know where to look, you can even find free stocks — sometimes worth up to $500. Robinhood is one example of a robo-advisor that lets you start investing with $5, $100, or $800. It’s actually a favorite among beginner and professional investors because it doesn’t charge commission fees, and it lets you buy and sell stocks without any limits. In addition, it’s extremely easy to use. In addition, Robinhood automatically deposits a share of free stock into your account when you download the app and fund your account. This type of stock has a random value, so you could get anywhere from $5 to $500. Still, it gives you a jumpstart on building your investments. 4. Pay with cash. The easiest way to save money every time you make a purchase at the store is to use cash instead of a credit card. With a credit card, you can lose sight of your limits very easily. But, with cash, you have a hard spending limit. Whatever cash you have is your spending limit. If you don’t like carrying around cash, you could go out with a prepaid and reloadable card. 5. Buy used. You don’t have to spend your money on new and fancy stuff just because you have the money. That’s what Ilene Davis, who became a high-income earner when she went from making a moderate income to becoming a millionaire, discovered. Davis, for instance, typically shops at thrift stores and consignment shops for her clothing. The author even titled a chapter “Unfashionably Rich,” showing four pairs of jeans and asking what the difference between them is. One pair cost $132 and the other three cost around $12. “I also only buy used cars and will opt to watch movies with friends at home instead of going to the theater,” she said. Those are just a few ways to live a thrifty lifestyle, but there are plenty of ultra-easy frugal tips to try. 6. Lower your car costs. The ability to refinance your auto loan at lower interest rates will save you a lot of money in the long run. You can also save money if you shop around for car insurance regularly, rather than letting your current policy automatically renew. By driving less, taking heavy items out of your trunk, and avoiding excessive acceleration, you can reduce car maintenance and fuel costs. Speaking of gas, there are several things you can do to reduce your gas consumption and save money, even if you can’t control prices at the pump. For example, when you fill up, consider using a gas app to save money. 7. Re-evaluate your housing costs. Most households spend a substantial portion of their budgets on housing costs, such as rent or mortgage payments. In fact, housing costs accounted for more than 35% of the average person’s budget in 2020. If possible, you may be able to start saving right away if you move to a place with a lower rent. Choosing to refinance your mortgage can help you save money on interest and monthly payments. However, it’s important to understand whether refinancing is right for you. Or, you could find ways to monetize your home or rental. For instance, you could find a roommate or list a spare room on Airbnb. 8. Improve your credit score. The importance of having a good credit score cannot be overstated. After all, credit cards, mortgages, and student loans all have reduced rates if you have a better score. Furthermore, payments go down when the interest rate goes down. As such, reduced payments allow you to focus on important goals. As an example, if you’re saving $25 extra a month, you could throw it towards your debt, an emergency fund, or vacation savings. How can you improve your credit score? Well, here are some pointers to get you started; Always pay your bills on time. Keep accounts open — the longer you maintain accounts, the better your credit score will be. Keep utilization below 30%. If you keep hard inquiries below 1 every 12 months, your score will improve. 9. Don’t be wasteful. Besides being terrible for the environment, food waste is doing a number on your budget as well. According to statistics, the average American family of four throws away $1,600 in produce each year. How can you be less wasteful? Well, you could only buy what you need at the store. I know. Easier said than done, right? But, it’s possible if you map out your meals for the week and only purchase those items. Bonus points if you base your meals around coupons as well. I’m also I big fan of the freezer. For example, when I just went to the store, chicken breast was buy one, get one. So, I cooked up one package for my dinner for the week and throw the other in my freezer. 10. Auto-save your money. Your money will accumulate over time without any further work from you if you set up automatic transfers. As an example, each month a percentage of your paycheck automatically goes to your savings account. This is especially convenient when you’re setting up different savings account for different goals, wheter that’s building an emergency fund or going on vacation. You can even set up automatic enrollment for a retirement savings plan. Additionally, there are apps such as Digit, Qapital, or Acorns that do some of the heavy lifting for you. Upon signing up, a small amount will be transferred from your checking account to a savings account. Therefore, you won’t have to waste time or energy thinking about transferring funds. You can also round up purchases made on your debit or credit card and divert them into a savings account using these apps. 11. Transfer all windfalls to a savings account. Unexpected cash may still come your way even if you’re past the age when relatives give you birthday money. According to Miami-based attorney Miguel Suro, who runs RichMiser.com with his wife Lily Rodriguez, you should open a separate savings account just for these cash windfalls. “Deposit all unexpected income there,” Suro recommends. “I mean things like product recall refunds, class action settlements, refunds you get when you return an item or money someone gifts you. Just money that you weren’t expecting or counting on.” Do not forget to take advantage of your employer’s bonuses. Suro adds that unexpected income can be used for a specific goal or you can splurge on something you want in the future. It can also be used to create or boost an emergency fund. Bonus tip: You’re probably losing money at traditional financial institutions. So, when it comes to savings, consider parking this money in an alternative that pays better, such as a high-yield savings account. 12. Don’t keep up with Kardashians. What makes you happy? Go ahead and give yourself plenty of time to answer that question. Got it? Great! You can now resist the temptation to keep up with Joneses, Kardashians, or whoever the latest influencer is. Also, I strongly recommend spending less time on social media — especially before you go shopping. The truth is, it is unhealthy to compare one’s life with the lives of those around you on social media. It’s well known that these are selected to display unrealistic perfection. 13. Take advantage of your employer’s 401(K) match at work. “If you work for a fantastic company, one of the best perks that may offer is matching your 401(K) contributions. While you may not be able to access this today, it’s yours when you retire,” notes Due founder and CEO John Rampton. “We find that most 401k match contribution level are tiered,” he adds. “A generous match might include a dollar-for-dollar match on the first 3%-5% of the employee’s deposit.” Most 401(k) plans then contribute 50 cents for each dollar of the next 3%, which would equal 10% of employee contributions. “I would 100% take advantage of the first part, I also would take advantage of the 50% match for the second part as well,” John recommends. “This is all free money to you at the end of the day.” 14. Exercise and stay healthy. “Finances and health are nearly impossible to separate,” writes Kate Underwood in another Due post. “After all, health care costs money, and making money is a lot simpler when you’re healthy. You may be thinking you just don’t have time to focus on healthy habits like a balanced diet, exercise, or sleep.” However, “you might change your mind if you consider the many financial reasons to prioritize your health.” Having a healthy body helps you avoid illness and being absent from work. For freelancers or those with limited sick days, that’s especially important. In the case of freelancers, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. If you are a full-time employee, calling out excessively isn’t going to convince your employer to pay you more. In addition, there are long-term consequences. With healthcare costs rising, taking care of yourself today can help reduce your costs in the future. As a result, you should follow a nutritious diet and exercise regularly along with getting enough sleep. I am not the only one who can confirm this. Self-made millionaires also exhibit these traits. “Seventy-six percent of the rich aerobically exercise 30 minutes or more every day,” said Thomas C. Corley, who spent five years researching the daily habits of 177 self-made millionaires. Exercises that focus on cardio, such as running, jogging, or walking, count as aerobic exercises. “Cardio is not only good for the body, but it’s good for the brain,” he added. “It grows the neurons (brain cells) in the brain.” “Sleep is critical to success,” Corley also wrote. According to his study, 89% of self-made millionaires slept seven or more hours each night. 15. Brown bag-it. Did you know that the average household spends roughly $3,526 a year on food outside the house? When you crunch the numbers, that’s $294 per month! Buying lunch once or twice a week might seem like a big deal. By packing your lunch, however, you can expect substantial savings. 16. Follow the S.J.S.P. Principle. What’s the S.J.S.P. Principle? Well, according to Jeff Rose, founder of Good Financial Cents, this stands for stop justifying your stupid purchases. But, what classifies as stupid purchases? In short, liabilities like designer sneakers or McMansions. Instead, you should purchase assets. These would be things that appreciate in value over time, such as real estate, insurance policies, passive businesses, and stocks and bonds. 17. Don’t fall for quick rich schemes. Those who are successful in building wealth invest their money strategically. More importantly, they’re well aware that accumulating wealth doesn’t happen overnight. So, don’t fall for the false promises from get-rich-quick schemes. In reality, these should be referred to as lose-your-money-fast schemes. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 18. Invest in yourself. Want to build a financially secure future by saving money and investing in the stock market? That’s a smart move. At the same, it’s equally important to invest in yourself. After all, has Mark Cuban has said “the best time to invest in yourself is when you’re young and have nothing to lose.” One idea? Improve your financial literacy by listening to financial podcasts or reading finance books during your commute. Or, you could have “Mad Money” or “Squak Box” on in the background when doing the dishes. In addition to becoming more financially literate, you could also take measures to become more valuable. Perhaps you could learn a new skill or earn new qualifications in order to secure a raise or freelance on the side. Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Millionaire What is a millionaire? Millionaires are people whose net worth exceeds $1 million. Therefore, they have assets worth at least $1 million less than their liabilities. Why do you want to be a millionaire? As silly as the question may seem, wanting to be a millionaire and really understanding its meaning are far apart. After all, you must know why you want to achieve something in order to accomplish it. Millionaire status just for the sake of having a lot of money probably won’t give you the motivation to succeed. Instead, think through why you need to succeed; Are you looking for financial stability by becoming a millionaire? Would you like to travel more? Do you want more freedom? Do you want to help society in some way? What’s preventing you from becoming a millionaire? Debt and time are two major roadblocks to becoming a millionaire. If you can keep these two factors in your favor, you can become a millionaire regardless of your situation. In fact, by the time you retire, you can be a millionaire if you avoid consumer debt and start investing every month when you’re in your 20s or 30s. To start saving, you should put your investments into a tax-deferred account, such as an employer-sponsored 401(k). As long as you invest in retirement accounts, you can take a balanced approach to reduce any debt. How can you increase your savings? Although imagining becoming a millionaire is exciting, many people wonder if saving $2,000 a month is even feasible. The easiest way to increase your savings is to spend less and earn more. You should be able to save more as your career advances if you avoid lavish luxury purchases and avoid consumer debt. Have you formulated a retirement savings plan? The average person assumes that purchasing a home will be the biggest financial decision of their lives, but you’ll need far more money in retirement than you’ll need for a house. Building enough of a nest egg takes years, and the first step is to figure out how you’ll save it. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old while attending the University of Utah he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine, Finance Expert by Time and Annuity Expert by Nasdaq. He is the Founder and CEO of Due. Updated on Apr 28, 2022, 5:12 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkApr 28th, 2022

2 signs the US isn"t in a housing bubble

A housing bubble is on everyone's mind right now as prices hit record highs. But experts point out two underlying fundamentals remain strong. A family talking to a real estate agent.Getty Images Speculation of a US housing bubble is gaining momentum. But two key signs point to the conclusion that the real estate market isn't in a bubble.  They both have to do with the fact that more Americans are in a relatively good financial positions. Home prices have reached record highs — and as affordability plummets, it's no surprise that homebuyers and experts are debating the possibility of another housing crash. "The housing market is showing signs of froth, no doubt, "Ali Wolf, the chief economist for Zonda, a homebuilding prop tech company, previously told Insider. "Because of that, a lot of people have started to draw comparisons to the mid-2000s housing boom.""Froth," "crash," and a bursting "bubble" are all real estate speak related to a worst-case scenario if the currently hot housing market were to cool so much that homebuyers were unable to sell their homes for more than they paid.Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas published a report suggesting that US house prices are once again becoming unhinged from what buyers can afford as they rush into purchasing due to the fear of missing out rather than the strength of their longterm financial health. "Our evidence points to abnormal US housing market behavior for the first time since the boom of the early 2000s," the Fed researchers wrote. This "abnormal behavior" is what has people worried about a bubble, which is defined as when the high value of an asset, like a home, isn't supported by underlying factors, such as Americans' long-term abilities to afford their homes.However, despite signs of volatility, experts told Insider there are two key reasons why the real estate market is not yet in a bubble.Homebuyers have a lot of purchasing powerThe current housing cycle may be drawing comparisons to the real estate market of the mid-2000s – but that doesn't mean today's homebuyers are doomed to repeat history. Odeta Kushi, the deputy chief economist at title insurance company First American, believes a housing crash similar to 2008 is unlikely to happen."The housing market is in a much stronger position compared with a decade ago," Kushi told Insider. "Accompanied by more rigorous lending standards, the household debt-to-income ratio is at a four-decade low and household equity near a three-decade high."Used as a common measure of financial health, the debt-to-income ratio compares the total amount of debt a person owes each month to their income. The less debt a prospective buyer has, the more money they can put towards a home purchase.Data from First American shows that consumer house-buying power not only remains near record levels – but that it has more than doubled since 2006. Census data also shows that nominal median household income has increased approximately 40% from that time period, which is why Mark Fleming, the chief economist at First American, says today's buyers are far better off than those of the mid-2000s."Recency bias may have many thinking that rates below 3 percent and house-buying power above $450,000 is normal, but it is anything but normal from a historical perspective," Fleming told Insider. "The last two years were the exception, not the rule, and the housing market is adjusting to a not-so-new normal."The real estate market is now returning to its usual dynamics, according to Fleming. Although buyers may be worried about  shifting conditions —  they're actually just returning to familiar, pre-pandemic levels.Home values remain at historic highs The housing market's new normal comes with rapidly rising mortgage rates and dearth of homes available for sale — but that doesn't mean a bubble is brewing."Conditions are different from 2008, and a housing downturn seems unlikely anytime soon," Holden Lewis, an analyst at NerdWallet, told Insider. "Builders haven't overbuilt and lenders have strict lending standards. Put those trends together, and you have a housing market that's unlikely to crash anytime soon."The nation's lack of housing inventory has led to drastic home price growth across the country. Although this has further declined housing affordability, it's also increased the value of the wealth Americans own in their home. Data now shows the average mortgage borrower currently owns about $185,000 in tappable home equity — the amount of money a homeowner can access while retaining at least 20% equity in their homes."When the housing market crashed in 2008 and 2009, it was because many people owed more than their houses were worth," Lewis previously told Insider. "So when they couldn't afford to make their payments, they lacked the ability to sell their homes, pay off their mortgages, and start over. They ended up in foreclosure instead."With home prices and demand sitting at historic highs, today's homeowners are more likely to sell their properties if they become too unaffordable. So, while the real estate market may be out of whack, homebuyers are in a far better housing environment. This means a housing bubble and a crash like the mid-2000s is unlikely — at least anytime soon.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 28th, 2022

Will the Pornhub mansion fire ever be solved?

A year later, the fire that engulfed the $16 million Montreal mansion of Pornhub CEO Feras Antoon remains unsolved. Feras Antoon's multi-million dollar home in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville section of Montreal on the night of the fire.Stéphane Grégoire/Radio-Canada On April 25, 2021, a $16 million Montreal mansion belonging to the CEO of Pornhub went up in flames. The fire remains under investigation, and no one has been charged.  By his own admission, CEO Feras Antoon has scores of enemies—complicating the investigation. Last April 25, just before midnight, beneath a nearly full moon, two figures were spotted on the construction site of a massive, nearly-completed mansion on the edge of a suburban Montreal nature park.The hulking structure, two grinding years of construction in the making, was so large that a local newspaper called it "pharaonic." Plans called for eight bedrooms, seven baths, multiple elevators, a piano suite, an art gallery, a spa, and a sports complex that doubled as a grand ballroom.In minutes, the mansion was ablaze. Neighboring homes in the affluent Ahuntsic-Cartierville community were evacuated, their occupants hustled away in pajamas. Eighty firefighters battled the three-alarm blaze well into dawn. Investigators quickly determined the fire's source and within hours the incident was designated a criminal arson, according to a Montreal Police spokesperson. A year later, no one has been charged, and investigators say, in all likelihood, that no one ever will be. ("The investigation into this criminal arson is still ongoing," a spokesman said last week.) Fingers have been pointed in all directions and nearly every element of the crime remains shrouded in mystery. One reason for this comes down to the dizzying array of possible motives. That's because the mansion's owner, Feras Antoon, the CEO of Pornhub, was one of the most despised men in Canada, and beyond. Complicating things further is the fact that arson is a notoriously difficult crime to prosecute: because fire often destroys the evidence necessary to prove an ignition source and tie a suspect to the crime. Between 2016 and 2020, only 10.1% of arson investigations in Canada resulted in arrests, according to government statistics. "At the end of the day, this is one of the easiest crimes you can commit," said Glenn Corbett, associate professor of fire science at John Jay College in New York. Sudden scrutiny At the time of the fire, Antoon—who co-founded Pornhub's parent company, Mindgeek, in 2007—was tumbling through a bruising season of public relations disasters, investigations, lawsuits, and death threats. "I can't even count how many comments I saw from people saying to burn the company or my house down,"Antoon told Vanity Fair earlier this year. "For a while, it was easy to dismiss the tweets as just people on the internet talking. Then my house burned down."For nearly two years, victims of child porn, revenge porn, rape and sexual assault had been coming forward to say that Pornhub had ruined their lives. Many described the same harrowing one-two punch: First, learning that their sexual assault (or in some cases their private, consensual sexual encounters) was streaming on Pornhub. Then, being repeatedly ignored or rebuffed when they demanded the videos be taken down. Months of social media campaigns, news probes, and civil lawsuits against Pornhub had reached a fever pitch by December 2020, when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published a scathing portrait of the company. Kristof charged that Pornhub was "infested with rape videos [and] monetizes child rape, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags." In a statement released in response to the Kristof's reporting, the company said that "Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating child sexual abuse material, and has instituted a comprehensive, industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community." The company added that any assertion that the company allows child videos on the site "is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue."Feras Antoon's mansion on Jean-Bourdon Avenue on an April night in 2021.Stéphane Grégoire/Radio-CanadaMastercard, Visa and Discover all cut ties, and under enormous public pressure, Pornhub deleted all non-verified user-uploaded content—80% of its library. It also promised it had significantly improved its auditing and moderation software and staffing levels. (Pornhub no longer allows unverified users to upload X-rated content, according to company news releases.)  In February 2021, Antoon and Pornhub's COO were summoned to testify before the Canadian House of Commons' ethics committee, part of five months of hearings into the business practices of Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek.For all Antoon's notoriety and wealth—he reportedly tools around Montreal in a bright yellow Lamborghini with vanity plates—the controversial porn king has gone to great lengths to protect his own privacy. He rarely speaks in public, instead communicating through press releases. The hearings marked the first time many longtime critics of Pornhub had ever seen Antoon's face. "We are very proud that we built a product that gets 170 million people visiting a day, four million Canadians, 30% of them women," Antoon said, referring to Pornhub. "Don't you believe if those four million Canadians who come to our site every day saw something so heinous and criminal, they would be calling the police?" Antoon continued, according to a transcript of his testimony. "We created a very good product that I and our 1,800 employees who have families and children are proud of. It is not perfect."Two weeks before the fire, with the Pornhub hearings dominating Canadian headlines, Vice published a piece focused on far-right extremists' calls on alt social platforms like Gab for violence against company executives. The piece was headlined, "The Crusade Against Pornhub is Going to Get Somebody Killed."On April 22—three days before the fire—the mansion went up for sale for close to $16 million.Repeated attempts to reach Antoon and other Pornhub executives through Pornhub's public relations liaisons were unsuccessful. A company official who identified himself only as Ian and used a Gmail account did not respond to written questions about the fire or claims made about the company. A 'Tube' site revolutionBut where did Pornhub come from, and why was it so loved but also so hated? Almost immediately after YouTube debuted in 2005, a flurry of knock-offs—then known as "Tube" sites—began popping up. Along with a few friends, Antoon and a few college friends at Montreal's Concordia University launched a series of X-rated Tube sites that encouraged users to upload and share videos. "Suddenly porn went from being something people would happily pay an inflated price for to something that people would not pay anything for," said Lux Alptraum, a veteran writer and podcaster on the porn industry.   As the deluge of pirated porn flooded to Pornhub and other Tube sites, traditional porn sites saw their revenue streams dry up. Once they began to fail, MindGeek eventually became the dominant player, Alptraum said. Pornhub, the most successful of the Tube sites, became the crown jewel. "It cannot be stressed enough that these [other tube] sites were built on pirated content," Alptraum said. "It wasn't that they were creating their own content or relying on amateur content. They were allowing users to steal content from other sites and upload it."A PornHub logo is seen displayed on a smartphone screen on March 16, 2022.Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesWhile critics contend that Antoon and fellow MindGeek executives built their empire on aggressive tactics, they were also seen, even grudgingly by some, as innovators.  In 2019, a pair of prominent U.S. law professors published a paper in the New York University Law Review contending that MindGeek was on "the leading edge of data-driven creativity," and had grown more adept at data crunching and fine-tuning user experience algorithms than even Netflix.'Sick to my stomach'Around the time construction began on Antoon's mansion in 2018, strange things had begun happening to Vicky Galy, a 34-year-old paralegal more than 11,000 miles away in Hendersonville, Tennessee.People she met on the street would insist they knew her from somewhere, but from precisely where they could never recall. Strange men sat in parked cars outside her home. A new male friend on Facebook made sudden, indiscreet sexual overtures.A single mom raising a teenage son and a daughter with Down syndrome, Galy said she had made some bad decisions regarding men she met online. One of them, she said, would often record their sexual encounters, with or without her consent."There were three kinds of videos he made of me," she recalled with a sigh when we spoke. "At first, he would pull out his phone on me" during sexual encounters. "The second kind were hidden camera video during our consensual sex. The third kind were made on a trip to Vegas where I was either drugged or intoxicated." As she would later testify in February, during the Pornhub hearings, Galy told me she was floored one day to learn that at least 30 of those videos were circulating on Pornhub under some variation of her name "Vicky." (Galy was one of numerous Pornhub victims who testified before Canadian lawmakers earlier this year.) "To think of the amount of money that Pornhub has made off my trauma, date rape and sexual exploitation," Galy told lawmakers, "makes me sick to my stomach."Another was Serena Fleites, who brought several lawmakers to tears when she told them about how she had developed a crush on an older boy in eighth grade and how he begged her to send him a nude video of herself and she ultimately complied, only to learn the boy had uploaded it to Pornhub and shared it with his classmates.Victim testimony from Fleites, Galy and several women identified as "Jane Does" directly contradicted Pornhub executives' claims that the site responds swiftly to takedown requests and works diligently to remove child pornography. For some victims, like Galy, feelings of frustration and embarrassment were compounded by outrage upon learning that both her alleged abuser and Pornhub were profiting from the scheme. She said she went to the police, but that they didn't believe her. She contacted local law firms to help her sue, but each wanted a $10,000 retainer, she said, and besides, she said, "no one wanted to sue him because he was worth nothing anyway." She cut five inches from her hair and dyed it brown so she wouldn't look like the woman people recognized from the Pornhub videos, took a leave of absence from work, and she and her children moved in with her mother.  'Not having people believe me was the hardest part of this whole thing," she said. "I had a sergeant tell me, 'I'm not going to have my detectives sit and watch porn all day.'"Galy was also contacting Pornhub's legal department to get the videos taken down. "They mostly ignored me, and then kept insisting it wasn't me," she said. Two days before the Canadian hearings began, Galy said, she received an email from Pornhub's legal director saying they would delete the account."That was the happiest day of my life," Galy said. "I didn't know then that there were hundreds more videos on other sites. With some of them there's not even a way to report [an unauthorized] video like this, so I'll really never be able to get these videos down completely."  A protester holds a placard during a demonstration following the blocking of the adult website Pornhub outside the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society in Bangkok.Yuttachai Kongprasert/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesMafia RowDuring the same two years leading up to the hearings, Antoon had been quietly overseeing the construction of a massive mansion for himself and his wife and two children on a prime tract of land that bordered a cherished nature park. According to Vanity Fair, the property was within walking distance from where Antoon grew up.  Located on the northern edge of Montreal, the spot had a fraught history even before Antoon became involved—first as the site of a notorious Gangland assassination, and then as a front line between environmentalists and developers. The Mafia had moved into the neighborhood in the 1970s. Antoine Berthelet Avenue, the road just behind where Antoon would later build his mansion, became known as "Mafia Row." It was there that the Sicilian crime family led by Nicolo Rizzuto would run their operations for the next few decades. On November 10, 2010, an assassin crept onto what would later be Antoon's property, and fired a single shot through the double-reinforced pane glass windows of Nicolo Rizzuto's solarium, killing Rizzuto in his kitchen, according to mob author Peter Edwards. "This was an extremely good sniper shot," Edwards said, noting that investigators long-suspected the triggerman to be Calabrian soldier Salvatore Calautti, who himself was assassinated in 2013.The fatal shot effectively ended the Rizzuto family's three-decade long reign. (The hit series 'Bad Blood' was based on a book about Rizzuto's son and successor, Vito Rizzuto.)The assassination, like the arson fire, remains unsolved to this day—though a source told Insider that while Montreal Police are exploring theories related to Pornhub and Antoon's spectrum of critics, Mafia involvement is not suspected.   An 'eco-corridor' vs. a development Four years after Rizzuto's shooting, a different kind of war broke out on the same spot over a plan to clear 200 trees on the border of the Bois-de-Saraguay nature park.The community had been trying to create an "eco-corridor" between the river and Bois de Saraguay nature park so that boaters could dock on the riverside and then hike through trails to the nature park. While the park itself was protected from development as a national heritage site, sections of the border woodlands remained in private hands. The local government didn't have the funding to purchase and preserve the land, according to Simon Van Vliet, a reporter for Ahuntsic-Cartierville's Neighborhood Journal newspaper, which produced a three-part series on the controversy during the months leading up to the arson fire. A green alley in Montreal's Ahuntsic-Cartierville district, the district where Antoon's mansion was also located.Anne-Sophie Thill/AFP via Getty ImagesLocal property owner Francesco Lapara had other plans – to cut down the trees and subdivide his land into residential lots. Van Vliet said local officials repeatedly rejected Lapara's development applications, but he went to court and won. Antoon and his sister, Dana Antoon, a local real estate agent, purchased all four lots, according to Van Vliet's reporting. Construction began in 2018. Reached by Business Insider, Dana Antoon declined any comment on the land deals. Van Vliet described Antoon's compound as a "castle" among mansions."People were just kind of baffled by the lavishness of the place, and obviously upset about the ecological loss and the setback to the project of building this eco corridor."  Jacques LeBlue, a spokesman for Environmental Mobilization Ahuntsic-Cartierville which fought the clearing of trees on Antoon's property, seemed to echo this frustration when he said "the subject of Mr. Antoon has been a tragicomic distraction from our core activities, every time his name gets associated with ours. This only got worse with the fire." LeBleu declined further comment.Sylvia Oljemark, 81, a neighborhood resident since her birth, said local residents watched in disbelief as the structure rose up over the neighborhood."It was enormous," she said. "Enormous.""To think [local officials] could permit somebody to purchase land and build a huge structure [and] take down all the trees," she said, "it was personally reprehensible to me."No resolution  The hearings neither shut Pornhub down nor rehabilitated the public image of Antoon and Pornhub COO David Tassillo, who also testified. Arnold Viersen, a conservative MP from Alberta, said the executives' defense, which he saw as "Hey, we're just doing business here, we're just making money," was "very frustrating to us as members of Parliament.""The Canadian public was outraged at the smugness," he said. Viersen said that he has been investigating Pornhub for five years, and noted that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were equally frustrated in questioning Pornhub executives during the hearing. "It's a fairly non-partisan thing," he said. "While [Liberal MP] Charlie Angus and I don't agree on much we were both fighting on the same side of the war."Personally, Viersen said he was "incredulous that the fire happened to come in the middle of the ethics committee hearings." "I've just got a feeling it's just a masterful sympathy play," he said, though he offered no evidence that Antoon, or anyone Angus has knowledge of, had a hand in torching the mansion. "That's my intuition on it, given what I know about them. They are very good at changing people's perceptions." Last week, a Toronto personal injury law firm announced it had filed a $500 million class action lawsuit against Pornhub. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 25th, 2022