How brands can benefit as voice streamlines product discovery, drives sales, and boosts customer loyalty (GOOGL, AAPL, AMZN, MSFT)

Not too long ago, if your friend had a smart speaker like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant in their living room, it seemed like a rare novelty. Within a matter of months, however, smart speakers have started becoming household staples — and they’re still only at a fraction of their growth potential.

Business Insider Intelligence

One of the biggest drivers of adoption has been increased functionality. Smart speakers aren’t just changing the music and turning on the lights; they’re helping consumers find new products and make purchases — and they’re quickly becoming a preferred method of shopping.

In fact, nearly a quarter of consumers globally already prefer using a voice assistant over going to a company website or mobile app to shop. This share will jump to 40% by 2021, according to Capgemini.

Consumers are on board with the prompt, convenient nature of shopping with smart speakers — and brands who join them stand to reap massive rewards. The Voice in Retail Report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, highlights the value voice brings to the shopping funnel and how retailers can implement it throughout the customer journey.

Here are three ways brands can capture consumers with voice technology:

  • Driving product purchases: Voice assistants make spending faster and easier when consumers are unable to use their hands. The ability to make a purchase on any channel and the addition of personalized, intelligent elements to the shopping experience are simplifying the transition from product discovery to product purchase.
  • Heightening customer loyalty: Brands can leverage voice assistants in the post-purchase phase to track delivery status, automate part of the return process, interact with customer service, offer feedback, and collect consumer behavioral and transactional data.
  • Shifting consumers’ spending behaviors: Smart device ownership has a snowball effect, so as the smart device ecosystem reaches the mainstream, consumers will flock to connected cars, smart home devices and appliances, and connected virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets.

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Shoppers are interested in using voice assistants for every stage of the customer journey, from initial product search and discovery to post-purchase customer service and delivery status. And retailers that take advantage of consumers’ desire to leverage voice will be in a stronger position to heighten customer engagement, increase conversion times, drive sales, and boost operational efficiency.

The Voice in Retail Report from Business Insider Intelligence examines the trends driving the adoption of voice commerce, details the role of voice throughout the customer shopping journey, outlines how brands can benefit from implementing voice in their strategies, and explores what’s ahead for the technology in retail.

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NASA will retire its new mega-rocket if SpaceX or Blue Origin can safely launch its own powerful rockets

illustration space launch system sls rocket launching clouds nasa msfcAn artist’s depiction of NASA’s Space Launch System rocketing a crew toward orbit.NASA/MSFC

  • NASA is building a super-heavy-lift rocket called the Space Launch System to send astronauts back to the moon.
  • The SLS program has seen multiple delays and cost overruns, and the rocket is not reusable.
  • Elon Musk’s and Jeff Bezos’ aerospace companies SpaceX and Blue Origin, respectively, are developing comparable yet reusable (and presumably more affordable) giant rocket ships.
  • If SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket or Blue Origin’s New Glenn rockets come online, one NASA executive said the agency would “eventually retire” SLS.
  • For now, though, NASA says it’s focused on completing its Commercial Crew Program to test-launch American spaceships.

NASA is building a giant rocket ship to return astronauts to the moon and, eventually, ferry the first crews to and from Mars.

But agency leaders are already contemplating the retirement of the Space Launch System (SLS), as the towering and yet-to-fly government rocket is called, and the Orion space capsule that’ll ride on top.

NASA is anticipating the emergence of two reusable, and presumably more affordable, mega-rockets that private aerospace companies are creating.

Those systems are the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which is being built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX; and the New Glenn, a launcher being built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

Read more: Elon Musk and SpaceX are building a monster rocket for Mars. Here’s how big it is compared to 20 familiar objects.

“I think our view is that if those commercial capabilities come online, we will eventually retire the government system, and just move to a buying launch capacity on those [rockets],” Stephen Jurczyk, NASA’s associate administrator, told Business Insider at The Economist Space Summit on November 1.

However, NASA may soon find itself in a strange position, since the two private launch systems may beat SLS back to the moon — and one might be the first to send people to Mars.

The super-size struggles with SLS

space launch system sls rocket scale model wind tunnel testing uv ultraviolet pink nasa ames dominic hart acd16 0195 013Patrick Shea inspects a 1.3% scale model of the NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in a wind tunnel.NASA/Ames/Dominic Hart

Space Launch System is often called a super-heavy-lift rocket. This means it’s designed to heave a payload of more than 55 tons (roughly the mass of a battle tank) into low-Earth orbit.

“We need a [super-]heavy-lift launch capability,” Jurczyk said. “Without it, we’re not going to have a safe, reliable, and affordable architecture and implementation for human exploration.”

Several iterations of SLS are planned through the 2020s, and the first is called Block 1. This rocket is expected to stand about 322 feet tall and be able to lift about 70 tons of spacecraft hardware and supplies into orbit.

NASA hopes to test-launch the first Block 1 rocket in June 2020 on a flight called Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). The mission aims to prove SLS is safe and reliable by sending an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the moon and back to Earth.

A crewed Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) would follow several years later.

space launch system sls exploration mission 2 orion spaceship moon lunar free return diagram nasaHow NASA plans to pull off its Exploration Mission-2 flight with the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spaceship.NASA

But so far NASA has spent about $11.9 billion on SLS, and the agency is projected to need $4-5 billion more than it has planned by 2021. Relatedly, the scheduled launch date for EM-1 in June 2020 is about 2.5 years behind-schedule.

An internal audit of NASA’s program found that preventable accidents, contract management problems, and other performance issues related to Boeing, the prime contractor, is largely responsible for the cost overruns and delays.

Such issues have some experts estimating an average cost of $5 billion per SLS launch, which are single-use. Presumably, SpaceX or Blue Origin could launch at with a similar capability at a fraction of that price since their vehicles are reusable.

If more hiccups come with the program, NASA may be watching SpaceX beat the agency to the moon with a crewed mission. That’s because Musk, the company’s founder, is pursuing aggressive timelines to reach the moon and Mars with BFR.

How SpaceX could beat NASA back to the moon

big falcon rocket bfr spaceship bfs booster bfb earth moon orbit spacex 30934146588_47ce17419b_oAn illustration of the SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, launching into space. Here, the spaceship is shown detaching from the booster.SpaceX

SpaceX employees have been toiling under a tent in Los Angeles to build the top half of the system, called the Big Falcon Spaceship.

Musk and Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, have both said the spaceship could be doing short launches called “hops” as soon as late 2019.

Musk also plans to modify an upper stage of his blockbuster Falcon 9 rocket into a “mini-BFR ship” to test and prove some of the more challenging aspects of the larger and fully reusable spacecraft. One is trying out a heat shield for surviving blazing-hot reentry into Earth’s atmosphere (to protect a crew and allow the spaceship to be fueled and launched again).

big falcon rocket bfr spacex scale dimensions measurementsThe planned dimensions of SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket.Olivia Reaney/Business Insider

In 2020 or 2021, he aims to launch a fully integrated version of BFR — a Big Falcon Booster with the Big Falcon Spaceship on top — into orbit around Earth. (Around the same time, Blue Origin is planning to use New Glenn, a major section of which can land back on Earth and be reused, to deliver a lander to the surface of the moon to scout for water ice.)

If SpaceX’s first orbital launch and later uncrewed missions fly without an explosion or other incident, the company intends to fly a Japanese billionaire and a group of artists around the moon in 2023.

It remains to be seen how the space agency would react to such a feat, which is essentially a creative reprise of the Apollo 8 mission of 1968. In fact, 2023 is the same year NASA plans to launch EM-2 around the moon.

big falcon rocket bfr spaceship bfs earth moon mission spacex 43895099105_6d7013a5df_oAn illustration of the spaceship of SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, flying around the moon.SpaceX

It’s also unknown what NASA would do if SpaceX launches its first unmanned missions to Mars with BFR in 2022, followed by the first crewed missions to the red planet in 2024. That’s several years ahead of when the space agency hopes to land people on the moon, and perhaps a decade sooner than NASA would attempt a crewed Mars landing.

“We haven’t really engaged SpaceX on how we’d work together on BFR, and eventually get to a Mars mission — yet,” Jurczyk said of NASA’s leadership. “My guess is that it’s coming.”

A US space agency without an American spaceship

nasa astronauts commercial crew program august 2018 AP_18215575643268Nine astronauts will fly the first four crewed missions inside SpaceX and Boeing’s new spaceships for NASA, called Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner, respectively.NASA via AP

Right now, Jurczyk said, he and others in the space agency’s leadership are laser-focused on test launches for its Commercial Crew Program, a competition for private companies to build and launch American-made spaceships.

The ultimate goal of Commercial Crew is to revive US spaceflight capabilities that the agency lost when it retired the space shuttle fleet in 2011. (Ever since then, NASA has relied solely on Russia to taxi its astronauts to and from the $150 billion International Space Station.)

Boeing and SpaceX have each designed and built seven-person space capsules, which are nearing approval for uncrewed and crewed test launches. SpaceX is currently looking to fly first with its Crew Dragon ship.

“Their first uncrewed flight test, right now, is scheduled for January, followed by, not many months later, maybe in the springtime, their first crewed flight test to the space station,” Jurczyk said.

Read more: Boeing may have used a lobbying firm to plant a scathing opinion piece about SpaceX in US news outlets. At stake are billions of dollars in NASA contracts.

Once the Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner ships prove they can launch safely and reliably, the agency’s leadership will further debate its deep-space future with BFR and Blue Origin’s New Glenn.

“How we engage will depend a lot on the pace at which those systems and capabilities develop,” Jurczyk said.

The key for NASA is to get to some kind of super-heavy-lift capability, as quickly as possible. 

“Right now we see the way to do that is through SLS, because we kind of have the head-start and use these legacy technologies and systems,” he said, referring to the fact that SLS will use space shuttle engines and other well-understood hardware.

“That’s kind of where we are,” Jurczyk added. “We know we need that kind of BFR — and whatever evolves from New Glenn — heavy-lift capability if we’re going to do human exploration of the solar system. We don’t think another approach is going to be as safe, affordable, and reliable.”

Get the latest Boeing stock price here.

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Facebook's latest scandal is the last straw that pushed some users to delete their accounts — here's how to do it

Earlier this year, the hashtag #DeleteFacebook was trending on Twitter and people were deleting their Facebook accounts en masse.

The trend came as a result of a report that revealed that data from over 50 million Facebook users was used to target voters and influence the 2016 US presidential election, as well as the 2016 “Brexit” referendum.


More recently this week, a New York Times report detailed Facebook’s mishandling of Russian influence on the 2016 election on the social media platform, as well as the employment of the Republican opposition research firm Definers Public Affairs to discredit liberal financier George Soros of “lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.”

For some users, the latest scandal is the last straw that pushed them to delete their account. You’re own personal decision of what to do with your Facebook account amid the company’s serial scandals is ultimately up to you. Keeping your account is easy and doesn’t require any change. 

Deleting your account isn’t as straightforward. If you’ve made the choice to delete your account, here’s how to do it:

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Bose's $350 noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have if you want to live in a quieter world – and they sound great, too

BI Reviews_Bose Headphones_4x3Business Insider

At $350, Bose’s comparatively expensive QC35II headphones aren’t for everyone, especially if all you want is a simple, good pair of Bluetooth headphones.

But Bose’s Quiet Comfort headphones come with noise cancelling, and they’re usually the best at drowning out unwanted ambient noise. If you’re in the market for noise cancelling headphones, the QC35II should certainly be near the top of your shortlist. 

They deliver premium audio quality, but they’re not my favorite headphones for music, as I personally prefer a little bit more bass than they deliver for bass-heavy music. But their excellent noise cancellation and extreme comfort make the QC35II my go-to pair of headphones for every day use. 

Check out the Bose QC35II headphones:

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The 9 best cars you can buy for under $20,000

Kia Forte 20182018 Kia Forte.Kia Forte

  • The market research company JD Power on November 7 released its rankings of the best vehicles from model year 2018 that cost less than $65,000.
  • The company produced four lists ranking the top vehicles in four different price segments: $15,000-$19,999, $20,000-$32,999, $33,000-$44,999, and $45,000-$65,000.
  • Of the nine top-rated vehicles that cost less than $20,000, Kia had more than any other automaker, with three.
  • While SUVs and light trucks have come to dominate the American auto market, each of the nine best vehicles under $20,000 is either a compact or subcompact car. 

The market research company JD Power on November 7 released its lists of the best vehicles from model year 2018 that cost less than $65,000. The company produced four lists ranking the top vehicles in four different price segments: $15,000-$19,999, $20,000-$32,999, $33,000-$44,999, and $45,000-$65,000.

Of the nine top-rated vehicles that cost less than $20,000, Kia had more than any other automaker, with three. Each of those vehicles placed in the top four spots on the list, which measured how satisfied owners were with their vehicles on a 100-point scale

Read more: The 10 most reliable cars of 2018

While SUVs and light trucks have come to dominate the American auto market, they tend to be more expensive than smaller cars. Each of the nine best cars under $20,000 is either a compact or subcompact car. 

“While consumer interest continues to shift towards crossovers, many cars are still proving extremely satisfying to own,” Dave Sargent, JD Power’s vice president of global automotive said in a release accompanying the lists. “The very best cars often score better for quality and appeal than crossovers at the same price point.”

These are the best vehicles from model year 2018 that cost less than $20,000.

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Venture firms are making more hires — here's what that means for entrepreneurs

  • Silicon ValleyHBO

    With the increase of capital in Silicon Valley, venture firms are bringing on more partners.

  • Some entrepreneurs say that the process of raising capital from bigger firms has grown increasingly bureaucratic. 

There’s an increase in the number of venture firms making new hires, and it’s having a ripple effect on how entrepreneurs raise capital. 

A new report from compensation data firm J.Thelander Consulting shows that 80% of venture capital and private equity firms brought on new members in 2018, a 14% uptick from last year. Much of this has to do with the amount of money flooding Silicon Valley’s funds, as a vanguard of established firms rake in several billions to be deployed over the course of the next few years.

With more money to manage comes an often necessary obligation: more people to manage it. For founders, the addition of more partners to venture firms often means more opportunities to pitch their fledgling businesses. One founder who declined to be named told Business Insider that he had pitched a top tier firm multiple times in the hopes of securing funding. Even after facing rounds of rejection from the same firm, there was still plenty of reason to persist.

As an entrepreneur, you’re literally talking to one person who might be interested in the company, and the rest of the partners will have no idea,” the founder said. “If one partner said no and they pass on you, you just have to find another way in. That’s how big these VC firms have gotten.”

The sentiment is echoed by investors, who report that there’s often a lack of coherence within established firms. “You’re seeing less and less communication across partnerships,” one investor said.

More money, more politics

Another venture capitalist who heads up a small fund said that they’d invited a bigger firm to join a deal multiple times, and each time, the various partners passed. As the round was about to close, however, the same firm suggested interest — this time by a different partner: “It was just that the right partner hadn’t seen the deal.”

When founders seek out top tier firms, many express that raising money is only one part of the goal. Almost as significant is the coveted endorsement and connections a blue chip firm like Sequoia, Andreeseen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Softbank, or NEA can offer.

But many founders say that dealing with bigger firms when they are in the early stages of building a company brings headaches of its own. “With more people comes more politics,” an early stage entrepreneur pointed out. Another founder compared working with a bigger firm to “dealing with congress,” where conflicting personalities often come into play. 

“Venture is becoming more and more commoditized as capital is becoming more commoditized,” said one founder. “More money means more hires, and an increase in bureaucracy.” 

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These are the 7 best Black Friday gaming deals you'll find in stores

best buy black fridaySpencer Platt/Getty Images

Black Friday is fast approaching and it’s the season for holiday deals on video games.

As the current generation of consoles reaches the end of its life span, now is a great time to invest in an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 for cheap and start building a library of great games.

This year seems to have surprisingly few exclusive deals, with gaming products from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo carrying nearly identical discounts across major retailers. We scrubbed early Black Friday ads from Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Newegg and more to find the most essential video game deals for the holiday.

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Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg isn't accountable to anyone, so it's time Congress took away the source of his power (FB)

facebook ceo mark zuckerbergFacebook’s corporate structure insulates CEO Mark Zuckerberg from accountability to shareholders and the public at large.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Facebook’s string of scandals over the last several years have highlighted the poor job Mark Zuckerberg has done running the company — and his lack of accountability.
  • The social networking giant’s stock structure gives Zuckerberg near-absolute control over it, because the shares he holds get far more votes than those held by ordinary investors.
  • Facebook is one of a growing number of companies that have such structures, which help to insulate insiders from outside investors and the public at large.
  • Many investors have been agitating against such structures, but little can or has been done to bar them at already public companies such as Facebook.
  • Congress can and should address the problem.

No matter how poor a job Mark Zuckerberg has done lately running Facebook, he’s almost certainly not going anywhere, because he’s effectively his own boss.

But with a small change to the nation’s securities laws, Congress could weaken his grip on the company and potentially introduce some public accountability — not only to the social media giant, but to dozens of other companies besides.

Accountability is sorely needed at Facebook, given all the scandals and fiascos the company has been embroiled in for much of the last two years. Zuckerberg and his top executives repeatedly failed to anticipate those problems then reacted poorly to them once they came to light.

Just this week, for example, The New York Times reported that Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, his top lieutenant and COO, repeatedly downplayed in public what the company had found out about the Russian-link propaganda campaign conducted on Facebook during the 2016 election. Also, amid rising criticism of the company this year, Facebook embarked on a public relations campaign to hit back at its critics, including by using the anti-Semitic chestnut of of linking them to Jewish financier George Soros.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg have denied that they tried to hide what they knew about the Russia investigation. They’ve also denied knowing about the PR campaign that was conducted on its behalf.

Facebook’s scandals have illustrated Zuckerberg’s shortcomings

The Times report alone might have led to the ouster of top executives at another company. But it focuses only on a handful of the myriad of missteps Facebook has made under Zuckerberg and his team of late. Other notable fiascos include the leak of millions of users’ personal data to Cambridge Analytica, the more recent hacking attack that compromised some 30 million accounts, and the use of its service to incite violence in Myanmar against the Rohingya people and to spread fake news and hate speech.

christopher wylie cambridge analyticaChristopher Wylie helped expose the leak of Facebook data to Cambridge Analytica.YouTube/The Guardian

Taken together, the scandals have shown vividly that while Facebook under Zuckerberg’s leadership was hell-bent on growth, it massively underinvested in, or simply gave short shrift to, concerns such as privacy, security, and the ability of malicious actors to hijack its service. He and his team have been scrambling ever since to address such problems. In the process, Facebook’s user growth has slowed, its costs have gone up, and its stock price has slumped.

Those things alone would likely have upset investors and had them agitating for a management shakeup. But each new scandal that’s arisen has highlighted Zuckerberg’s chief shortcoming as a leader. However technically proficient he may and visionary from a product perspective, he’s consistently seemed to be asleep at the switch when major problems were brewing on Facebook’s service. Whether because he was unable, unwilling, unavailable, or just unimaginative, he’s repeatedly failed to foresee and head off problems before they arose.

Take the Soros smear. Zuckerberg on Thursday said he’d been unaware until he read it in The Times the day before either about the attempt to link Facebook’s critics to Soros or that Facebook had hired the public relations firm that led the effort. You’d think the CEO of a company would be well informed about a major PR effort being conducted on his company’s behalf, particularly if it was planning to do something so controversial. But apparently not Zuck.

Read this: Heads ought to roll at Facebook over the Soros smear — starting with Zuck’s

Zuckerberg’s stock means he has all the power

It’s no wonder, then, that investors have repeatedly shown they are indeed unhappy with Zuckerberg’s leadership. Last year, a majority of independent shareholders of Facebook voted in favor of a proposal that would have required it to replace him as chairman with someone who had no ties to him or the company. A similar proposal is slated to be up for a shareholder vote again next year. Meanwhile, the company has seen numerous shareholder resolutions in recent years that have sought to take away some of Zuckerberg’s power and to provide more outside oversight the company.

Evan SpiegelLike Zuckerberg, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has shares that give him outsized control over his company.Greg Sandoval/Business Insider

Those efforts have all failed for one simple reason: under Facebook’s corporate bylaws, Zuckerberg is something like an absolute monarch. He doesn’t have to step down or cede any of his power or submit to anyone else’s oversight unless he chooses to do so. And so far, he’s chosen to maintain his complete grip on power.

Technically, what empowers Zuckerberg is Facebook’s stock structure. The company has two classes of shares — Class A, which is mostly held by everyday investors; and Class B, which is mostly held by Zuckerberg. Each Class B share comes with 10 times more votes than each Class A share. What that means is that even though Zuckerberg owns or controls about 15% of Facebook’s total outstanding shares, he gets about 60% of its votes.

That means that just by himself he can vote down any shareholder proposal, nominate anyone he wants to Facebook’s board of directors, and pretty much run the company as he sees fit.

Zuckerberg is one of a growing number of executives — many of them in the tech sector — who are insulated from investors and the public by their companies’ multi-class stock structures or by outsized voting rights. Others in that group are Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.

Investors are unhappy with dual-class structures

Many investors are getting fed up with such arrangements and for good reasons. Not only do they get little to no control over the companies they own, but research indicates that shares of companies with such stock structures underperform their peers over the long run.

Institutional investors have started to pressure individual companies such as Facebook to eliminate or agree to sunset their dual-class stock structures. They’ve also started to press exchanges and index funds to bar companies with such stock arrangements.

Natasha Lamb, Managing Partner, Director of Equity Research & Shareholder Engagement, Arjuna Capital, an activist investment fund.Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital, an activist investment firm that has challenged Zuckerberg’s power at Facebook, with little success.Natasha Lamb

They’ve had some success. A growing portion of newly public companies that have dual-class structures have sunset provisions that will end them over a period of some years. S&P Dow Jones Indices announced that going forward it will not include any additional companies in the S&P 500 or related indices that have dual-class stock structures. And FTSE Russell announced that to be listed on its indices, companies must have shares worth at least 5% of the companies’ voting rights held by outsiders or trading freely.

But none of these developments address the problem at Facebook or other companies that have refused to end or sunset their dual-class stock structures. King Zuck has simply refused to give up power, regardless of the pressure that outsider investors have tried to place on him.

Meanwhile, the S&P Dow Jones grandfathered in companies with dual-stock structures that are already included in its indices. And should the exchanges make a move to bar such companies, they too will likely give a pass to companies that are already listed.

It’s time for Congress to step in

Thirty years ago, as the number of companies with dual-class structures started to tick up, the Securities and Exchange Commission tried to force the stock exchanges to bar the practice among their listed companies. Unfortunately an appeals court struck down the rule less than two years after the SEC approved it, clearing the way for Facebook, Google, and other companies to go public with dual-class structures. The appeals court’s reasoning was that Congress hadn’t explicitly given the SEC the authority to force the exchanges to mandate companies have particular stock structures.

It’s long past time for Congress to correct that oversight. It ought to either ban dual-class stock structures among public companies outright, or make clear that the SEC can do so itself.

Doing so wouldn’t just help shareholders get a handle on Facebook. It would help make the company — and its tech peers that similarly insulate their insiders — more accountable to the public at large.

For the good of society, that accountability is long overdue.

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Tesla just had the worst year in its history, but now it's starting to look like the best tech company in the world (TSLA)

elon muskTesla CEO Elon Musk.Patrick Fallon / Reuters
  • Tesla is a hybrid of tech company and car company — and with various scandals roiling the tech sector, Tesla seems like a tech company that’s at least trying to do good.
  • Tesla endured its own self-manufactured travails over the summer.
  • But with companies such as Facebook coming under fire, Tesla can pitch a better story about its mission.

Tesla likes to think of itself as a disruptive, Silicon Valley technology company. That’s far from accurate. Despite over-the-air software updates to its vehicles and a factory in the Bay Area, Tesla is fundamentally a carmaker. 

It is, however, the most techie of car companies, and that’s actually something of a major advantage now in Silicon Valley. Because, regrettably, the true tech companies are starting to look very, very bad.

Facebook, now reeling from a devastating New York Times investigation into the social network’s leadership through numerous crises, no longer appears to be making the world more free and open. 

Google is mixed up with the military-industrial-digital complex, and Amazon’s HQ2 civic reality show has been greeted with blowback after the online retailer ended up splitting the spoils between the Washington, DC area and New York City — two locations it might have chosen anyway, without months of free press for the effort and incentives from New York state.

Twitter … ah, well, Twitter. If you like your online semi-pro wrestling to be 24/7 and no-holds-barred, you know which bird to watch.

mark zuckerbergFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Tesla’s excellent timing

And that’s just the major Internet 2.0 players. Apple still destroyed the music business, and although Microsoft isn’t the powerhouse it once was, it’s still with us and not necessarily beloved. The former model of tech misconduct, Uber, has to be delighted with Facebook now taking much of the heat. 

Tesla certainly endured a summer of discontent, what with its troubled Model 3 launch and CEO Elon Musk’s failed go-private scheme and subsequent SEC action and fines. But the company snapped its season of self-inflicted bad luck in time to turn a rare profit in the third quarter. As it turns out, the timing was excellent, given the impending tech-industry meltdown.

At base, Tesla makes stuff in the pursuit of a noble mission: to deal with a global climate catastrophe by freeing humanity from a dependence on fossil fuels. Apart from the media’s coverage of Musk’s Twitter feed, there’s almost zero commitment to advertising, the business that defines Facebook and Google.

Travis KalanickFormer Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.Thomson Reuters

Not killing other industries, and manufacturing in the USA

Unlike Amazon, Tesla isn’t obliterating legacy industries. And of course, Tesla designs and builds its cars in California, while Apple designs its devices in the Golden State, but assembles them in China.

Obviously, Tesla will in the future make cars in China, but for now, it looks like a kinda-sorta tech company that isn’t doing anything notably evil. 

I realize I’m overgeneralizing about the entire tech sector — there are obviously some decent companies and some solid people, although many of the more solid folks, such as Kevin Systrom, have run away from Facebook, perhaps as a decency preserving strategy.

That said, if you’re looking for a Silicon Valley company that’s trying to do the right thing and stands out as a result, Tesla is it. Will the company take advantage of this? That remains to be seen. But it would be justified in doing so.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Insider.

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I’ve tried every single iPhone currently available — here’s my ranking of the 7 iPhones you can buy right now (AAPL)

iPhone XSThe new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.Edgar Su/Reuters

If you want to buy an iPhone right now, you have seven different options to choose from. 

From the brand-new, futuristic iPhone XS to the old-but-good iPhone 7, the current iPhone lineup has a range of devices and price points. 

At this point, I’ve tried all seven of Apple’s current iPhones. And although the iPhone XS is gorgeous and powerful, it’s not the phone I would recommend to most people. 

It’s worth noting that in September, Apple discontinued a bunch of its older phones, including the iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, and iPhone X. If you’re curious about any of those devices, you can still see how they ranked last year.

Here’s my ranking of all the iPhones you can buy today: 

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