National / International News
It took four days, during which time the airport was closed to international traffic It involved a truck. It did not involve sacrificing a goat. Maybe it should have.
That's what Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is investing in Snapchat, Bloomberg reported, which would value the company at $15 billion. The disappearing photo and video sharing app had been reportedly fundraising at a valuation between $16 and $19 billion, but Snapchat's star is still rising fast.24.79 million
Speaking of Snapchat, that's how many views one user's "Snapchat Story" got during New York's much-ballyhooed snow storm earlier this winter. The video was folded into a compilation feature Snapchat calls "Our Stories," which are pushed out to all users for 24 hours. Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson makes the case that "Our Stories" might just be the perfect mobile advertising platform, and a threat to Facebook, Google and broadcast television.$3,120
The average refund this tax season, according to the IRS. A recent Bankrate.com survey found more people are saying they'll invest that money or use it to pay off debts than in the past. But when those checks actually arrive, more than the predicted 3 precent of people are likely to splurge.$820 million
That's what General Mills paid for organic-and-natural food company Annie's last year. It's a bellwether for the food business in general, which is trying to pivot in the wake of customers' growing dislike of processes and packaged convenience foods.52
The age of Google CFO Patrick Pichette, who just announced he would retire once a successor is in place. In the corporate world, Pichette is something of a rarity, Neil Irwin writes for the Upshot. When you're making seven or eight figures quality of life tends to plateau, making early retirement appealing. However, so few top businesspeople, athletes, or entertainers do because that's not the way someone at the top of their field tends to operate. And that's "the paradox of success."
In the 1990s, Israelis and Palestinians made temporary arrangements in the West Bank as they worked toward a peace deal. The talks are now in the deep freeze, but the arrangements are entrenched.
Officials say they've found only debris and human remains in the search of the area where a helicopter crashed in Florida Tuesday night with 11 people aboard.
If you ask Ian Olgeirson what it's like to comparison shop for a pay-TV deal, he will tell you that it's a confusing experience.
"There are times where it's difficult to figure out exactly what's included in an offer," says Olgeirson.
While that's something TV customers might be able to relate to, Olgeirson is no mere customer. He is a principal analyst at SNL Kagan and follows the pay-TV market. In other words, he's a professional.
"We certainly are in an era of increasingly complex offers," says Olgeirson, "It is difficult to gain absolute clarity on a customer service call as to what your bill will be."
The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against DirecTV on Wednesday, accusing the nation's largest satellite TV provider of failing to disclose fees it charges customers above what's promoted in its advertisements.
DirecTV denies the allegations and says its customers were fully informed of what they would be paying, but the company is hardly alone in complaints about charges.
James Boffetti, who heads the New Hampshire Attorney General's Consumer Protection Bureau, says pay-TV providers register among the top 10 most-complained-about businesses. The bureau gets about 13,000 complaints a year in total.
The complaints against pay TV providers, he says, tend to follow a general theme. "People have complaints about ... the advertising of promotional packages" says Boffetti, "And they don't find that that's what they're actually being charged by the company."
Boffetti says a lot of complaints get resolved, and are usually misunderstandings between the consumer and the company. It's hard to draw a conclusion that companies are deliberately deceiving customers, he says. To do that, companies have to be more willful.
"A lack of disclosure about significant terms in a business deal could be unfair and deceptive," Boffetti says.
Still, the complaints show there is confusion out there about pay TV offers. And Laura Martin, an entertainment analyst at Needham & Company, says that's partly because pay-TV providers are facing price pressures both from consumers and the very TV channels that they sell.
"Content providers have been investing more in original content, and that is increasing their fees to the cable operators ... Telco, cable and satellite, by double digits," says Martin. "And yet, the consumer is faced with a zero-inflation-rate environment, and therefore he doesn't want prices increasing. So we're getting margin pressure in the video part of the business, as programming costs rise faster than prices can be passed through to consumers."
And that means pay TV providers have to compete in price while also making enough to cover their costs.
All of which comes back to consumers needing to be aware, says Olgeirson, and to do their homework. He recommends asking a pay-TV representative to add up exactly what the monthly bill is going to look like both now and in 12 months before agreeing to sign up for a new service.