This SoftBank-funded startup was founded by a 24-year-old to glam up budget hotels, and it's just launched in the UK

Oyo founder Ritesh AgarwalOyo founder Ritesh Agarwal.Oyo

  • Indian hotel marketplace Oyo has expanded into the UK. It aims to partner with budget British hotels to standardising their decor and service.
  • Oyo offers a marketplace of mostly budget hotel rooms via its app, hoping to create a level of standardisation of service and decor at low-cost hotels.
  • The company was founded by 24-year-old Indian entrepreneur Ritesh Agarwal, and has raised $450 million to date from investors such as SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Lightspeed, and Sequoia.

Indian startup Oyo has launched in the UK to try and raise the standards of budget hotels across the country.

The UK is Oyo’s first market outside of Asia, where it has racked up a network of more than 200,000 rooms across India, Malaysia, China, and Nepal.

The startup has appointed Coco di Mama cofounder, Jeremy Warner, to run its British business, and plans to invest £40 million ($53 million) in the UK.

The startup will become available in 10 cities over the next 18 months, and already has several hotels in its launch city of London.

Oyo is like a mix of Airbnb and WeWork. The premise in the UK is that Oyo takes unloved budget hotels, brings them into its franchise under the Oyo brand, and then renovates them to a particular standard.

The startup promises to take the management load off independent hotel owners, and to boost their bookings. It takes a cut from room bookings, and benefits from adding to its huge network of rooms around the world.

The upside for hotel customers is that they can travel to a particular city and expect a consistent type of decor and service from an Oyo hotel.

The startup already has a physical presence in London and is targeting a mix of locations in the city. It has one “townhouse” in Paddington and another in Ilford, an unglamorous location in east London.

Customers can book rooms through the Oyo app, or through third-party aggregators like Booking.com.

Oyo townhouseAn Oyo Townhouse in Paddington.Oyo

Oyo has generated major hype in its home market, not least because of its youthful founder, 24-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, who bases himself Gurgaon, on the outskirts of Delhi, India.

While at university, Agarwal won $100,000 from the Thiel Fellowship, a grant for budding entrepreneurs that requires them to drop out of college. He has raised $450 million to date from top-tier backers including Sequoia, Lightspeed, Greenoak, and SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

The company is rumoured by the Indian media to be in the process of raising a further $800 million to $1 billion, at a valuation of $4 billion, although Agarwal was tight-lipped about this in a call with Business Insider.

“We continually get inbounds,” he said. “There is no specific view on capital raising right now.”

He added that Oyo wasn’t a particularly capital-intensive business and had a “healthy balance sheet,” though he didn’t provide further financial detail.

Agarwal bills Oyo as a way to rejuvenate struggling local hotels and, by extension, their neighbourhoods. The messaging has echoes of WeWork founder Adam Neumann, another SoftBank entrepreneur who regularly draws on the importance of “community.”

Agarwal said: “If you think about London, every [area] had its own neighbourhood hotel, a butcher’s… these are all slowly disappearing in the face of big businesses showing up. Oyo’s goal is to try and keep the originality of the neighbourhood hotel while upgrading them with great quality design and customer service.

“At the same time,” he added. “[Hotel] owners see significantly more return when franchised or leased by us. That’s the principle we’ve taken.”

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Apple is going to track your calls and emails and give your device a 'trust score' to combat fraud

Tim CookApple CEO Tim Cook.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • Apple is going to start using your phone call and email data in an attempt to combat fraud.
  • The data will give devices a “trust score,” and it could help Apple detect fraudulent transactions, reviews, and accounts.
  • The plans were spotted when iTunes quietly updated its privacy policy.

Apple will start using call and email data to calculate trust scores for your devices in a bid to combat fraud.

First spotted by Venture Beat, a new provision has quietly appeared updated in the iTunes Store privacy page:

“To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase. The submissions are designed so Apple cannot learn the real values on your device. The scores are stored for a fixed time on our servers.”

Essentially, Apple will assign devices “trust scores” based on phone call and email data. Gizmodo said this could help Apple police fraudulent purchases, reviews, and accounts. But as Apple makes clear, the data won’t sit on its servers forever.

The update comes at a time when US lawmakers are asking Apple how it handles the personal data of its users. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been consistently strident in his view that hoarding personal data is a bad thing,

“We felt strongly about privacy when no one cared,” Cook said in June. “We could not see the specific details, but we could see that the building of the detailed profile on people likely would result in significant harm over time.”

Business Insider has contacted Apple for comment.

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Brands like Walmart and Lowe will now pay you if recommend their products — as long as your friends end up buying stuff online

jordanglazierJordan Glazier

  • Former consultant and eBay executive Jordan Glazier is unveiling Wildlink, a platform that rewards consumers for making recommendations across social and digital channels, while driving incremental revenue for brands.
  • Wildlink automatically detects product referrals and transforms them into trackable links, which can be shared across email, text messages, social media and other peer-to-peer chat platforms like WhatsApp.
  • The links, when clicked, allow anybody to make money if the receiver ends up making a purchase from 20,000 participating brands.

It often isn’t banner ads or TV commercials, but word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family that drive consumers to make a purchase.

But there wasn’t really a way for brands to track those real world referrals. Nor was their much tangible benefit for consumers — until now.

Former consultant and eBay executive Jordan Glazier believes that he has found a way to meld word of mouth with digital shopping. He is rolling out Wildlink, a platform that rewards consumers for making recommendations across social and digital channels, while driving incremental revenue for brands.

While Wildlink can’t gauge what happens when you verbally recommend a great restaurant or flash sale to your friend, it can help brands track what kinds of sales result from people sharing recommendations digitally, per Glazier.

Plus, the company wants to spur people to make recommendations more frequently — by paying them.

Wildlink wants to turn recommendations between friends into marketing you can actually measure

Here’s how Wildlink works: According to Glazier, the platform can automatically detect product referrals using natural language processing and transform them into trackable links, which can be shared across email, text messages, social media and other peer-to-peer chat platforms like WhatsApp.

These links, when clicked, allow anybody to make money if the receiver ends up making a purchase from participating brands. All users have to do is download the Widlink app on iOS or Android, or on their desktops. 

“People predominantly use the web for peer-to-peer communication, and yet it hasn’t been effectively commercialized and all of the ad formats around it miss the mark,” Glazier told Business Insider.

“The purpose of Wildlink is to help people effortlessly get their fair share for the recommendations they make to their friends and family.”

The app, according to Glazier, is attractive for both brands as well as users. Wildlink essentially enables anyone to earn cash from their everyday purchase recommendations to friends and family.

And unlike existing rebate services, which give cash back for users’ own shopping, it rewards users for suggestions they share with others. Those who sign up also have access to a dashboard, where they can track the earnings from their suggestions, and can make anywhere between 5 to 25% commission on their recommendations.

Recommendations from trusted friends are still very powerful

On the brand side, Wildlink should help motivate word-of-mouth suggestions (the digital variety at least), which helps influence purchase decisions. According to the most recent Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report, 83% of people said that they would act on recommendations from people they know.

There’s also something in it for the biggest tech platforms. Wildlink plugs into the APIs of companies like Facebook, Snapchat and Slack, so its product links can be embedded and generate revenue. 

Of course, it won’t be easy for an unknown brand like Wildlink to get its app onto people’s already crowded phones. Especially at a time when people are more cautious than ever about sharing person data or billing information. But  neither the platforms and merchants nor Wildlink get any purchase history or profile data of the buyers, Glazier said, and the attribution is anonymized.

IMG_8284.PNGTanya Dua

Wildlink is also making adoption easier, by trying to weave its way into different mobile operating systems while keeping in mind specific user habits, Glazier said. In the case of iOS users, for example, people tend to share links by finding the share button at the bottom of the browser. So Wildlink has can be added into the share sheet, alongside other apps where users tend to share links such as Facebook Messenger.

“Our goal is to become ubiquitous and make it easy for people to earn from their referrals wherever and whenever they recommend something to friends or family,” said Glazier. 

While Wildlink officially launches today, it has been tested by a roster of big-name brands including Walmart, Expedia, Lowe’s, Neiman Marcus, Hotels.com among others over the course of the last quarter. Over 20,000 brands and merchants are already part of the Wildlink network, and are seeing promising results.

“We know that personal recommendations play an important role in travelers’ purchase choices,” said Todd Schindele, senior manager of partner marketing at Hotels.com. “It’s a powerful platform for driving new bookings for our hotel partners.”

The app’s parent company, Wildfire Systems, has also raised $2 million in a seed round led by Mucker Capital in 2017. 

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The inside story of how an old-school Scottish firm became an early investor in many of Silicon Valley’s most prized unicorns, and made a killing in the process

If you’re an investment manager, what qualifies as a mistake?

Obviously picking a stock that absolutely tanks is a regrettable decision. But to Baillie Gifford— a 110-year-old Scottish investment firm that manages $255 billion — the biggest error is not being in the game at all.

“For us, a mistake is foregone upside,” Tom Slater, the firm’s head of the US equities, said in an interview with Business Insider. “Businesses you’ve missed out on that you looked at that ended up growing, but you didn’t own them. That’s how you really destroy value for clients.”

It’s this fear of missing the next big thing that informs much of what Baillie Gifford does on the investment front. The firm is not content to wait around for a company’s stock price to surge before buying on the open market.

Instead, it’s engaged in a relentless pursuit of fledgling companies that possess enormous growth potential — many of which aren’t yet public.

A quick glance at Baillie Gifford’s flagship close-ended mutual fund — the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (SMIT) — shows this approach in action. The private company representation is immediately noticeable, with holdings in so-called unicorns like Lyft, Airbnb, and Dropbox prominently featured.

There are also companies that are either recently public, like Chinese electric-car maker Nio. Or firms that are on the precipice of an initial public offering, like Eventbrite.

But that’s not to overshadow Baillie Gifford’s investments in some of the stock market’s foremost juggernauts. Facebook, Alphabet, Netflix, and Alibaba are all present in the SMIT.

For us, a mistake is foregone upside.

And then there’s Tesla, the holding for which Baillie Gifford is perhaps best known, since it owns a bigger chunk than any institution in the world.

All of these investments have combined to generate an annualized average return of roughly 21% for the SMIT over the past 10 years. That’s almost two times the 12% annual return for the FTSE World TR Index, according to Bloomberg data.

Over the past six years — a period that better encompasses the firm’s foray into private companies — the SMIT has enjoyed a whopping 26% annual return, again nearly doubling the benchmark.

Whether it’s the index-leading performance of the firm’s mega-cap tech cohort, the immediate post-IPO returns it’s gotten from companies like Nio, or the ever-climbing valuations of Silicon Valley’s favorite unicorns, one thing is certain: Baillie Gifford is doing something right.

An important strategic realization

Before we get into how Baillie Gifford has gotten so heavily involved during the early stages of companies, it’s valuable to understand why the firm shifted their strategy in the first place.

It all started in the period following the tech bubble. After the market went bust, the century-old firm didn’t turn its back on the sector, as many did. Instead, it recognized that some of the industry’s growth characteristics were actually valid, and began hunting for cheap opportunities.

“If we got anything right during that period, it was breaking down some of the barriers that I think the industry in general had sort of imposed on itself,” Slater, who also co-manages the SMIT and serves as a decision-maker for the firm’s long-term global growth strategy, said.

“What we did quite well was snip the strings that were holding us into that straightjacket,” he added.

That led to an investment in Amazon in 2004. At a time when the company was still viewed by most as an unprofitable online retailer, Baillie Gifford saw the big-picture potential that’s been so crucial to the company’s recent success.

Yet while Amazon has performed admirably in the period since — having surged 4,300% since the start of 2005 — Baillie Gifford wasn’t yet satisfied. It asked itself why it didn’t get into Amazon way back in 1996.

It performed similar soul-searching around its Google investment. The firm had made a pretty penny buying shares in 2008, but what if it had bought on the IPO, back in 2004? By not doing so, they’d missed out on the stock already tripling.

Baillie Gifford decided it needed to get into these companies even earlier. So it set out to do so.

Getting familiar with the venture pipeline

Armed with their new early-stage initiative, Slater and his colleagues set out to make it happen.

“We realized that we needed to get to know the later stages of the venture pipeline better,” said Slater. “We put more effort into building relationships with some of the more interesting venture capitalists, and got to know their portfolio companies.”

That included Slater — an Edinburgh resident — moving his family to San Francisco for several months on three separate occasions, according to a Bloomberg report. His intention was to network and gain a better understanding of how things work in Silicon Valley.

We realized that we needed to get to know the later stages of the venture pipeline better.

And it appears to have worked, largely because, as Slater notes, companies don’t necessarily want to engage in the whole Wall Street song and dance.

“There’s a real open door there, in that these companies don’t want to play Wall Street’s game of having their stock pumped out to their best hedge fund clients,” he said. “They want to transition their shareholder base over time.”

Slater also found a receptive audience in the form of venture capitalists, who make seed investments in companies they hope will blossom into something much larger. Since these firms put so much effort into identifying and nurturing young companies, they’re similarly hesitant to cede stakes to Wall Street parties that may not share their vision.

“They want to find partners that can be long-term owners,” said Slater. “We built up relationships in that area.”

Many companies want to stay private longer

Of course, no early-stage investment idea is worth anything unless the company is on board with institutions owning chunks of shares.

But to hear Slater tell it, many upstarts — particularly in the tech space — are keen to circumvent Wall Street traditions like IPOs. Or, at the very least, they’re looking to stay private longer.

Slater points out that large-platform companies are so loaded with capital that they don’t even really need external financing.

“Breakthrough businesses enjoy huge scale without getting financial investors,” he said. “Therefore, they don’t have financiers running their boardrooms, putting pressure on them to go public.”

Staying private also saves long-term-focused entrepreneurs from having to constantly answer to an investor base that’s obsessed with the near term.

Breakthrough businesses enjoy huge scale without getting financial investors.

Slater provides the example of Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who he says has built his company into a juggernaut by thinking carefully about the future. But when Benioff is on quarterly earnings calls, many of the questions are backward-looking and near-sighted. (Note: Baillie Gifford owns a stake in Salesforce.)

“Entrepreneurs don’t want to spend their time talking about that type of stuff,” Slater said.

Meanwhile, Baillie Gifford has won companies over by focusing on the big picture. And now, given the firm’s track record as a long-term growth partner — one that won’t turn its back on a company at the first sign of trouble — the firm has found startups to be responsive to investment inquiries.

This has been a crucial development in Baillie Gifford’s stated goal of finding opportunities in their nascent stage, then buying and holding on indefinitely.

Because any number of the companies in Baillie Gifford’s portfolio could wind up being the next Amazon. And this time around, they don’t want to make the “mistake” of waiting too long.

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The original PlayStation is coming back in miniature form with 20 classic games pre-loaded

Playstation Classic The PlayStation Classic. Playstation/Flickr

  • PlayStation is launching a miniature version of its original PlayStation console in December.
  • The PlayStation Classic will be about 45% smaller than its original counterpart.
  • It will come with 20 classic games pre-loaded, including “Final Fantasy VII” and “Tekken 3.”

PlayStation just hit the nostalgia button — big time.

Sony is launching a miniature version of the original 1994 PlayStation console, called PlayStation Classic.

The Classic will be about 45% smaller than the original PlayStation, and come with 20 games pre-loaded.

Confirmed titles include “Final Fantasy VII,” “Jumping Flash,” “Ridge Racer Type 4,” “Tekken 3,” and “Wild Arms.” PlayStation was unable to confirm any more when contacted by Business Insider.

Playstation classic size comparison The PlayStation Classic will be about 45% smaller than the original PlayStation. PlayStation/Flickr

Gamers on Twitter are already speculating on the rest of the lineup.

Some fans also noted that the controllers included in the PlayStation Classic are also original, i.e. not Dualshock controllers with analogue sticks.

The announcement of PlayStation’s nostalgia-stoking launch comes a year after Nintendo released a miniature version of its Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), called the “Classic Edition.”

The dinky PlayStation will be available for purchase for $99.99, or £89.99 in the UK, on 3 December.

You can watch PlayStation’s trailer for the PlayStation classic here:

[embedded content]

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10 things in tech you need to know today

bird brusselsScooter company Bird is launching in Brussels.Bird

Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Wednesday.

1. The ACLU accused Facebook of allowing gender discrimination in job ads. The ACLU claims that Facebook broke federal and state law by allowing women to be excluded from job ads on its platform.

2. iPhone XS reviews are starting to come in, and they are widely favourable. It seems the major improvement can be found in the camera, especially with portrait mode and the new “smart HDR” feature.

3. Tesla says the US Department of Justice asked for documents after Elon Musk’s “funding secured” tweet about taking the company privateTesla is facing a criminal investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California over CEO Elon Musk’s statements about taking Tesla private, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

4. Scooter unicorn Bird is now in Brussels as it speeds up its international expansionThe dockless scooter company is quickly expanding across Europe in a bid to outgun well-funded rivals such as Lime, Uber, and Taxify.

5. Elon Musk announced that SpaceX will livestream its 2023 moon mission in virtual reality, in real time. “It’ll feel like you’re there in real-time minus a few seconds for speed of light,” Musk tweeted.

6. Netflix named the CEO of Business Insider’s parent company to its boardNetflix appointed Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, to join its board of directors.

7. Vernon Unsworth, the diver suing Elon Musk for defamation, plans to file a separate claim in the UK. Defamation law stricter in the UK than in the US, and the burden would be on Musk to prove his claims that Unsworth is a “pedo.”

8. “Fortnite” streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins said he once received a $40,000 donation while playing the gameTyler “Ninja” Blevins will be the first professional gamer to appear on the cover of ESPN The Magazine, gracing the front of the October issue.

9. A startup that provides Viagra on-demand just raised $88 million and is now trying to get people to stop smokingThe startup behind men’s health company Roman now wants to help people quit smoking with a new service that provides nicotine gum, a prescription drug, and an app to track progress.

10. Renault-Nissan is teaming up with Google to put Android in car dashboardsUsers will get Android features such as Google Maps, Waze and the hands-free Google Assistant, without having to connect a phone.

Have an Amazon Alexa device? Now you can hear 10 Things in Tech each morning. Just search for “Business Insider” in your Alexa’s flash briefing settings.

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Former GM exec Bob Lutz predicts conspiracy theorists will soon be asking 'Who killed Tesla?' (TSLA)

elon musk with bob lutz at North American International Auto Show January 12, 2010Tesla CEO Elon Musk and former General Motors vice chairman Bob LutzREUTERS/Mark Blinch
  • Bob Lutz, the former vice chairman of General Motors and prominent Tesla critic, would like you to know that he still believes Tesla’s days are numbered.
  • Lutz said in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday that the totality of the electric-car maker’s financial, administrative, manufacturing, and legal problems signal Tesla “is headed for the graveyard.”
  • The remarks come at another challenging time for Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, as US authorities investigate his claim that he had “funding secured” to take his company private. Tesla is also working overtime to crank out as many of its mass-market Model 3 sedans as it can.
  • “They will never make money on the Model 3 because the cost is way too high,” Lutz said Tuesday. “He’s got 9,000 people in that assembly plant producing less than 150,000 cars per year. The whole thing just doesn’t compute.”

Former General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz says he thinks Tesla “is headed for the graveyard.”

He pointed to a handful of Tesla’s problems in a CNBC interview on Tuesday. The totality of the electric-car maker’s financial, administrative, manufacturing, and legal problems, Lutz suggested, mean that Tesla’s days are numbered.

The remarks come at a challenging time for Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, as US authorities investigate his claim that he had “funding secured” to take his company private. Tesla is also working overtime to crank out as many of its mass-market Model 3 sedans as it can.

“They will never make money on the Model 3 because the cost is way too high,” Lutz said Tuesday. “He’s got 9,000 people in that assembly plant producing less than 150,000 cars per year,” he said, referring to Musk. “The whole thing just doesn’t compute.”

Lutz quipped that the company would be the subject of a “Who killed Tesla?” movie “in another year or two.”

Indeed, Tesla has some daunting challenges ahead, including a massive amount of debt, including $920 million in convertible bonds that will come due by March 1, depending on where Tesla’s share price ends up.

The company also faces a growing number of competitors that are moving into the electric-car space in earnest.

New examples from Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Audi have emerged. Lower-end competitors like the Chevy Bolt, which have the benefit of General Motors’ massive manufacturing outfit, made it to market a full year before the Model 3. And the Nissan Leaf became the best-selling electric car in the world in 2017, with 300,000 sold since its introduction in 2010.

On the sales front, there could still be some promising news in store for Tesla. In the second quarter of 2018 alone, Tesla produced 28,578 Model 3 sedans, exceeding production of both the Model S and Model X, combined.

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A long-dormant high-speed rail project meant to connect Las Vegas and Southern California has a new owner

brightlinetrainfrontBrightline

  • A private, Florida-based transportation company said it plans to acquire a long-dormant high-speed rail project designed to connect Las Vegas to Southern California.
  • Brightline Trains plans to take up the XpressWest project in hopes of bringing an electric-powered train to the West Coast.
  • The company currently operates high-speed trains in Florida, connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

A private, Florida-based transportation company said it plans to acquire a long-dormant high-speed rail project designed to connect Las Vegas to Southern California.

Brightline Trains plans to take up the XpressWest project, in hopes of developing an electric-powered train service for the West Coast, The Wall Street Journal reported. Brightline already operates high-speed trains in Florida, connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.

It was not immediately clear how much Brightline paid for the rights to the XpressWest project. It had already received many of the state and federal approvals it needed to get underway. The project is expected to run 185 miles along Interstate 15, the main artery between Southern California and Las Vegas.

Initially, the train will run from the Las Vegas Strip to the California desert city of Victorville, which sits about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

XpressWest, which was originally conceived in 2005 by famed Las Vegas Strip contractor Tony Marnell, stalled due to a lack of funding. Brightline officials addressed that in a press release on Tuesday:

“Estimates have shown the XpressWest project to cost $7 billion, but Brightline officials believe they can cut that in half.” Ben Porritt, a company spokesperson, told Business Insider on Tuesday.

Experts have expressed doubt about whether the high-speed train project is financially viable. Some pointed to a bullet train project meant to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco — the costs of which have ballooned to $60 billion, according to the latest estimates.

But Brightline officials highlighted a study conducted by the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority, an agency that supports the project. Its study claims as high-speed train could generate about $1 billion in annual revenue by 2035.

Brightline is expected to start building the rail line in 2019, and power it up by 2022.

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13 rules to help your business survive a game-changing tech threat, by an exec who went through it firsthand

RobotsYouTube

To hear the experts tell it, if your business is connected to healthcare, energy, financial services manufacturing or call centers, then there’s a chance you’ll soon be toast.

A group of companies, including Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and Intel are investing big money to develop artificial intelligence and other game-changing technology. These new AI superpowers are expected to pay your industry a visit in the not-so-distant future, leaving key parts of your product obsolete and the economics of your business in tatters.

The good news is that some people have faced the dramatic changes brought on by a technological tsunami  and seen their sectors not only survive, but eventually flourish again.

Cary Sherman, CEO and Chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, the lobbying group for the three top music labels, is one of those survivors. 

The advent of digital music files and online sharing that started in the late 1990s plunged the music industry into its darkest period — in 2009, at the low point, US annual music sales fell to $6.3 billion, less than half of the $14.6 billion posted for 1999.

Now, nearly a decade later, annual music sales are growing again and consumers are paying for streaming services that provide access to an unprecedented trove of music. 

It wasn’t easy. Sherman and the record labels endured numerous false starts, surprises and setbacks. They erred. The number of labels fell from five to three. They laid off hundreds of workers and alienated fans. They were mocked and vilified by the tech press

What follows is the story of how recorded music clawed its way back. Sherman’s account is a playbook of tips for other industries that may soon find themselves in the fight of their lives:


Business Insider Intelligence Exclusive FREE Report: The 5 Ways AI Will Change U.S. Healthcare


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3 compelling reasons why we haven't found aliens yet

Aliens have always captured our imaginations. The universe is large and filled with other planets but somehow it seems like humans are alone. So we decided to break down three theories on why we haven’t found any aliens yet. Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Odds are, somewhere among the estimated 100 billion planets in our galaxy, intelligent alien life has taken hold. So the question is, why haven’t we found even a hint of it? While scientists could stick with the classic reasoning that alien life simply doesn’t exist, or maybe it just doesn’t exist near us, mounting evidence to the contrary has inspired an increasing number of experts to explore new avenues of possibility.

In 2017 a team out of the University of Oxford proposed the Aestivation Hypothesis. It’s the idea that most aliens are hibernating, sort of like a bear but for longer. The scientists reason that just about any advanced civilization will eventually merge with machines, forming a fully digitized society that can think, act, and function on levels beyond our imagination. The only problem with that is cooling. Processing systems here on Earth, for example, become 10 times more efficient when they’re in an environment that is 10 times colder. So digital aliens would see the logic of hibernating for a few trillion years or so while the universe expands and cools. That way, they can then devote more processing power toward important activities, like conquering the galaxy, instead of simply keeping their systems from overheating.

Another idea proposed in 2016 is what’s called the Gaian Bottleneck Hypothesis. It addresses the fact that many young rocky planets no older than one billion years have extremely unstable climates, and eventually grow too hot or too cold for life to exist long-term. Take Venus, Earth, and Mars, for example. Four billion years ago, each planet had the right conditions for life, and may have even harbored simple microorganisms. But as far as we can tell, only life on Earth survives today; the reason, according to the Bottleneck Hypothesis, is that early life on Earth evolved rapidly, releasing large amounts of gases like oxygen into the atmosphere that ultimately helped stabilize the climate. But this behavior is likely the exception than the norm. So perhaps the real reason we haven’t found aliens yet is because, well, they’re all dead.

But what if life could flourish in a completely different environment, safe from extreme temperature fluctuations and radiation? That’s what planetary scientist Alan Stern proposed in 2017, about a year after evidence suggested that Pluto harbors an underground ocean. In fact, worlds like Pluto, Europa, and Enceladus, that have an icy shell above a vast subterranean ocean, may offer a better incubator for life than Earth-like planets, which are more vulnerable to extreme temperature changes and high-energy radiation that strikes the surface. If this turns out to be the case, any intelligent life that may be swimming on these worlds would be shut off from the rest of the universe, potentially unable to communicate.

Whatever the reason may be, we must answer the question of how we can improve our search for what would be the grandest discovery in human history.

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