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Jan. 27 2016 4:53 PM

Of Course Someone Made an App for Getting a Divorce

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

A couple years ago, Uber used its technology to help couples who wanted on-demand weddings in San Francisco. Now, there's a startup that's trying to make getting a divorce just as painless.

Wevorce, a startup that has the goal of "[making] every divorce amicable," was founded by Michelle Crosby. When Crosby was a kid, her parents got divorced. But instead of being a cut-and-dry process, the divorce resulted in a drawn-out, years-long court battles.

"From a very young age, I knew how broken the system was," she told Business Insider. The worst part, Crosby says, happened when she was 9.  She was asked in court which of her parents she would choose to live with if she got stranded on a desert island.

Since then, Crosby has gone to law school and practiced family law. In 2012 she founded Wevorce, and took the company through startup accelerator Y Combinator. Based in Boise, Idaho, the female-founded, 15-person startup has helped facilitate more than 300 divorces. The company says 98 percent of these divorces stayed out of court.

Wevorce's web-based platform allows couples to go through a collaborative divorce—one in which both partners work together to decide how to split assets and figure out how to coparent. It's a way to ensure that neither party is too disappointed when they finally sign the divorce papers.

Wevorce's website has five modules, including those that deal with child custody and financials. The last step wraps everything into a legal document for the couple.

The startup is available nationwide and works with a network of 600 attorneys, counselors, and financial professionals across the country that are able to connect with families who need their help. 

On Wednesday, Wevorce announced it has raised a $3 million Series A round led by Techstars. Wevorce is planning to expand its services through a series of partnerships, including one with the U.S. military.

To date, Wevorce says it has processed over $40 million in assets through its platform. Wevorce's services start at $749. The average cost of a divorce in the US is $27,000.

Additionally, Wevorce speeds up the process of a divorce. A typical divorce takes over a year to finalize, but Crosby says Wevorce's divorces typically happen in less than 90 days. 

See alsoThis Startup Wants to Bring Super-Fast, Wireless Internet to Your Home

Jan. 27 2016 11:41 AM

These McDonald’s Mozzarella Sticks Have a Problem: No Cheese

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

McDonald's is under fire for serving mozzarella sticks that are missing a key ingredient: cheese.

Customers are posting countless pictures of hollowed-out mozzarella sticks online and accusing the burger chain of serving them "fried air."

McDonald's launched mozzarella sticks nationwide in January as part of a new promotion called McPick 2, which allows customers to pick two of the following for $2: a McDouble, a McChicken, small fries, and mozzarella sticks.

The mozzarella sticks are also available on their own, costing $1 for three sticks.

For many customers, all three of the mozzarella sticks in their orders are devoid of cheese filling, according to photos posted online.

Not all mozzarella sticks are hollow, however. We tried some in November, and all three sticks in our order contained cheese.

We reached out to McDonald's to find out why some sticks are being served without cheese, and we'll update this story when we hear back.

Here's what people are saying on Twitter.

Jan. 26 2016 1:45 PM

Wall Street Is Punishing Tesla Right Now

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Tesla shares are getting clobbered, down almost 20 percent this year after dropping another 3 percent on Tuesday to $191. That's far from their 2014 peak of nearly $300.

The latest dip is being chalked up to a research note from JPMorgan's Ryan Brinkman, in which his team reduced its expectations for Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings. (Compared with the rest of Wall Street, JPMorgan is relatively bearish on Tesla: Brinkman's target price is $180.)

The basis for this was Tesla's inability to deliver 4,000 Model X SUVs in the quarter. There are other reasons for the decline in January, most notably a move away from risky investments across the board.

The question of deliveries is important to Tesla's shareholders and is sure to be a big topic on next month's earnings call. But it is also a question both the company and the analysts seem to get wrong. Last year, CEO Elon Musk provided ambitious guidance on deliveries—55,000 vehicles—that Tesla later had to dial back.

Tesla, which will report its results next month, actually built about 500 Model X vehicles in total and delivered just over 200 in the fourth quarter. According to the automaker, it was producing roughly 250 Model X vehicles a week at the end of 2015—that translates into 1,000 a month and 3,000 a quarter, at least at the beginning of 2016.

Tesla shares endured a volatile end to 2015, and we've learned that the launch of the Model X, while on schedule, wasn't exactly easy: Both the vehicle's rear seats and its exotic "falcon wing" doors presented significant production problems.

But it wasn't as if Tesla was going to crank out more than 1,000 Model X vehicles a month immediately after launch. It's hard to understand how JPMorgan thought such production levels could be achieved, especially given that Tesla needed to keep its other car, the Model S sedan, on track. 

Tesla just made its 2015 guidance for the full year's deliveries, coming in at slightly more than 50,000. The vast majority of that was Model S vehicles.

TeslaStock_01262016
Ouch.

Screenshot via Yahoo Finance

It's possible that Tesla will be producing and delivering more than 1,000 Model X vehicles each month by the end of the first quarter of 2016. But it is not there yet.

Unlike last year, Tesla is building and selling two vehicles, and one of them is a crossover SUV, currently the hottest segment in the auto industry. So if Musk says Tesla can deliver 75,000 to 100,000 vehicles in 2016, it may be withing reach—and the Tesla bulls will have their opportunity to see the stock recover from its latest plunge.

Jan. 25 2016 5:07 PM

Oops: Uber Accidentally Revealed a Driver’s Tax Information and Social Security Number to Other Drivers

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

A bad bug in Uber's code resulted in one driver's personal tax information being accessible to U.S. drivers looking to get a head start on their taxes.

Over the weekend, Uber posted the 1099 tax information for 2015 in the Uber driver dashboard.

Soon after, drivers started reporting that the tax information on their account was incorrect. Instead, it all pointed to one woman: a driver in New Port Richey, Florida. 

Any driver who had access to their tax information could see the driver's information, including SSN and address, but their own 1099 form was missing. It's unknown how many drivers accessed the information in the short time period it was displayed.

UberDriver_01252016

The Rideshare Guy/Business Insider

Uber confirmed the bug, and shut down the part of its platform where drivers could access their tax paperwork.

While many Uber drivers were concerned that it meant their information had been leaked to others, Uber reiterated that it only affected the one individual.

"We take partner privacy very seriously and make every effort to ensure the security of personal information. Due to a bug in our system, one partner’s 1099 information was viewable by other drivers for a short period of time. The bug has been fixed and we’re deeply sorry. We are in contact with the driver whose information was affected," an Uber spokeswoman told Business Insider

Uber has promised to provide credit monitoring and other support to the affected driver. Everyone else will have to wait another week before their tax information will be posted again.

It's not the first time Uber has had a problem protecting driver's information. In May 2014, Uber said its database had been accessed by an unauthorized party and more than 50,000 drivers had their information compromised. The company recently agreed to pay a $20,000 settlement with the state of NY for not notifying its New York-based drivers in an expedited manner. 

Jan. 25 2016 1:46 PM

Why Are There So Many More Ads on Instagram?

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

If you use Instagram frequently, you will have probably already noticed a massive increase in the frequency of advertisements that nestle between your friends' selfies and plates of food.

But new data from Brand Networks has revealed the massive scale of this growth. Brand Networks is an ad network which handles social advertising for companies like American Express, AT&T, and ABInBev.

The total number of impressions on Instagram served via Brand Networks in August 2015 was 50 million. In September that doubled to 100 million. But, by December 2015, the figure was 670 million. That's more than a 13 times increase.

And Brand Networks does not think that this rise is over. The network predicts that it will deliver more than 1 billion Instagram ad impressions per month by the end of Q1 2016. Though the data is only representative of Brand Networks' ad impressions, not the whole of Instagram, it shows a clear trend for Instagram advertising in general.

This is what the staggering growth looks like in a graph:

Instagram1_01252016

Brand Networks/Business Insider

The average cost per-1000 impressions on Instagram also increased, but at a much slower rate. It rose from $5.21 in September to a peak of $7.20 in November, before dropping to $5.94 in December:

Instagram2_01252016

Brand Networks/Business Insider

Jamie Tedford, CEO of Brand Networks told Business Insider: "One thing that really surprised our analysts was the fact that almost half of the ad impressions we served in November were video ads. This content type is experiencing a meteoric ascent to prominence in Instagram ad campaigns much faster than expected. A shocking 92 percent of the ad impressions we served on Cyber Monday were video ads."

Brand Networks also provided data on the average cost per thousand impressions by industry. It will cost a brand a lot more to advertise "fashion" than "travel" or "casual dining" on Instagram:

Instagram3_01252016

Brand Networks/Business Insider

Jan. 21 2016 4:27 PM

Guess What Happened When a Texting App Turned Off Spellcheck for 72 Hours

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Millennials aren't usually heralded as guardians of the English language, and a new experiment didn't do them any favors.

Blend, a San Francisco-based group texting app, turned off its spell-checker for 72 hours last week in an effort to find out which words its users bungle the most. The app pulled data from 200,000 random users—on average between the ages of 16 and 24—for the experiment.

According to the company, some of the most frequently misspelled words were "weird," "definitely" and "Budweiser." 

In two of those cases, users were betrayed by the classic classroom rule-of-thumb: "'i' before "e" except after 'C,'" misspelling "weird" as "wierd" and "Budweiser" as "Budwieser." Meanwhile, "definitely" often emerged as the similarly spelled adverb "defiantly."

The company also sorted the results by region and found some interesting discrepancies. Users on the West Coast of the U.S. seemed to struggle with double letters, disproportionately dropping a "u" from "vacuum"  and an "s" from "possession," resulting in "vacum" and "possesion."

They also struggled to place the pesky "u" in "restaurant," typing "restaraunt" more often than their East Coast counterparts.

East Coasters had similar difficulties: "Embarrassing" shed an "r" to become "embarassing," while the "silicon" in "Silicon Valley" gained an extra "l" as "sillicon." They also stumbled with "Yuengling"—a Pennsylvania brewery with a German name—often spelling it phonetically as "Yingling."

Despite their orthographic transgressions, users can point to a silver lining to shield themselves from stodgy critics. Some of English's most notorious misusages—think "your" and "you're;" "there," "their" and "they're;" and "alot" and the preferred "a lot"—were among the words most often followed by an asterisk, which texters use to acknowledge a mistake.

Users also frequently corrected "sex" to "sec" and "duck" to another particular four-letter word, the original mistake possibly made because of the proximity of those letters on small touchscreen keyboards.

According to the data, men misspelled more often than women, and users between ages 19 and 21 were the biggest culprits of them all.

Users were more likely to spell incorrectly between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., perhaps suggesting they aren't as sharp when they're waking up and winding down for the night.

According to Blend, the cities with the worst spelling were Brooklyn, Dallas, San Mateo, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas.

Jan. 21 2016 12:49 PM

Kickstarter Hired a Journalist to Look Into Its Biggest Failure. Here’s What he Found.

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

The crowdfunding website Kickstarter hired a journalist at the start of December to investigate Zano, one of the site's biggest—and most notorious—failures. Mark Harris, whose work has appeared in The Economist and Wiredpublished his epic 13,000-word essay on the subject on Medium on Wednesday.

Zano received over $3.2 million in funding from 7,000 backers, almost none of whom ever received a working prototype of the drone, which promised to take photos and follow the user around. The Kickstarter campaign was added to a pot of money that already had about $282,000 in it, according to Harris. Much of this additional funding came from a local business owner who is thought to have lost about $353,000 on the project.

In his report, Harris lays out exactly what happened and how it happened, suggesting several steps crowdfunding sites can take to remedy the situation when campaigns fail.

Here are the takeaways:

  • The Kickstarter campaign was so wildly successful (the company initially asked for just $282,000 that the founders were overwhelmed with orders.
  • This led to mistakes, such as going straight into mass production without ordering a small sample of drones.
  • Missing a series of deadlines set on the Kickstarter page led the company to become increasingly panicked.
  • Employees, however, were not told exactly how bad things were. Two senior people who spoke with Harris say they didn't know it was bad until the last few weeks, right before CEO Ivan Reedman quit.
  • The booth at CES, which won the drone a seal of approval from Engadget, was a house of cards, with multiple lies being made up about why Zano did not fly.
  • Some of the money from the campaign is believed to have been spent on new high-end Macs, a new BMW for a son of one of the non-Kickstarter investors, and other superfluous items.
  • The demo video, which was featured heavily on the Kickstarter page, was edited to make Zano look functional. The local advertising authorities are investigating the company to see whether it intentionally misled backers.
  • PayPal, through which campaign funds were processed, refused to pass on the money until orders were fulfilled (a standard practice to prevent fraud). This meant the money from the campaign was released and then immediately went back into refunds for unhappy buyers.
  • Astoundingly, even if the company had not done anything wrong, it still would have been $1.4 million in debt after it fulfilled all orders.

Harris went on to speak to the CEO of Kickstarter, Yancey Strickler, who argued that the company could still take a 5 percent commission fee from each successful campaign—about $162,000 for Zano—but should probably look at building out support for any founder whose campaign is so wildly successful.

Jan. 20 2016 8:36 PM

Now Uber Wants Laid-Off Walmart Workers to Be Its Drivers

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Last week, Walmart announced it would be closing 269 of its stores and laying off thousands of employees. While the company has said it will try to place laid-off employees at other Walmart stores, there will inevitably still be lots of people let go.

Now it looks like Uber is making a pitch right to those thousands of laid-off and soon-to-be laid-off Walmart employees.

In a post on Uber's website, entitled "Dear Walmart associates impacted by the recent store closures," Uber pitches the merits of driving for the company directly to those laid off at Walmart.

"Changes at work are always hard, especially when they impact your schedule or the ability to support your family," the post says. "So we wanted to let everyone affected by last week’s store closures at Walmart know about the opportunity to make money driving with Uber."

Besides just offering soon-to-be-former Walmart employees a job driving for the company, Uber is tossing in a $250 sign-on bonus, provided that drivers complete 50 trips within 30 days of their accounts being activated.

Walmart's closings include 154 U.S. locations. The company is closing down these stores to shift resources to its Supercenters and smaller-format Neighborhood Market stores. All the stores will close by the end of the month.

Jan. 20 2016 2:32 PM

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Is Officially No Longer a Billionaire

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

After a month of slumping share prices for both Twitter and Square, the CEO of both companies, Jack Dorsey, is no longer a billionaire, according to Forbes.

In the past month, Twitter has fallen from $23.14 per share on Dec. 31st to $15.64 today.

Square, which went public in November, has seen shares fall from $13.09 to $8.40 in the same time frame.

Wednesday's share prices mark a new all-time low for both companies.

Dorsey was Twitter's original CEO before leaving in 2008, only to return to the company in 2011 as an executive chairman and eventually returning to the role of CEO this past July. Between his tenures at Twitter, Dorsey co-founded the mobile payments startup Square in 2009 with Jim McKelvy.

You can see the stock performances for both Twitter and Square in the charts below.

TwitterChart_01202016

Yahoo Finance

SquareChart_01202016

Yahoo Finance

Jan. 20 2016 2:03 PM

Google Is About to Make Browsing Chrome Way Faster

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Google is about to make the Chrome browser faster by changing up the compression algorithm, according to Ilya Grigorik, a web performance engineer for the company (via Gizmodo). 

The update, which is codenamed Brotli, makes Web pages smaller, saving both loading time and data usage.

According to Google, Brotli reduces the size of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code by up to 25 percent over the previous version, which was named Zopfli.  

Google touts the advantages of the smaller sizes on mobile devices, where users could have a capped data plan. 

"At Google, we think that internet users’ time is valuable," the company wrote in a blog post announcing Brotli. "And that they shouldn’t have to wait long for a web page to load." 

Chrome on Android, which is developed by Google, has around 40 percent share of the mobile browser market, slightly ahead of Safari on iOS, which has 36 percent. 

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