Analyzing the top news stories across the web

Sept. 7 2014 6:00 AM

Toronto's Brilliant Anti-Littering Ads

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Livegreen Toronto is rolling out an advertising campaign that has everyone talking right now. They're trying to stop people from littering on the streets.

The thing is, they're being really abrasive about it.

Check out the images, posted on Imgur, they're using to stop people from throwing trash all over the streets.

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So far the campaign seems to be going over pretty well with many folks in Toronto:

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Sept. 6 2014 6:30 AM

What It Feels Like to Say "No" When Someone Offers to Buy Your Startup

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

A few founders have been offered tons of money to sell their startups then walked away from the deals.  Evan Spiegel famously turned down Facebook's multibillion-dollar offer to buy Snapchat. Groupon turned down a $6 billion offer from Google.  Sometimes, it works out. Snapchat, for example, is still growing and is reportedly raising a new round of financing at about $10 billion.

Sometimes, it doesn't. Video app Viddy walked away from a $100 million offer, then lost all of its traction.  Yahoo and Facebook both offered to buy Foursquare for $100 million to $120 million  when it had raised only $5 million. Google offered to buy TechCrunch Disrupt winner Qwiki for more than $100 million. Qwiki's hype died down, and it ended up selling for half that price to Yahoo. "Of course it's a tough decision because you're trying to figure out what's the best thing to do for your company," Foursquare's Dennis Crowley said of acquisition offers. "Your company is your baby at that point. You have to make a call and weigh the pros and cons."

One startup CEO who was faced with that tough decision is Jim Payne, who walked away from three acquisition offers before he agreed to sell his ad tech company MoPub to Twitter. Fortunately for Payne, it worked out: Twitter paid $350 million to buy his 100-person company, and 36 of his employees became millionaires.

But he says walking away from one particularly serious offer was the hardest decision he has ever had to make.  The first time [I walked away from a deal], I was panicked," Payne says. "Someone is putting you all-in in poker, and whatever you consider to be your fortune is on the line. You get involved in the deal process and you start to think about the exit. It's human nature. People get attached to the idea and it's very hard to walk away."

Payne declined one very serious offer because he felt it was too early to sell MoPub, even though it would have meant financial security for him and his family.  But he says that experience allowed him to look at future deals with logic, rather than emotion. And that strategy worked when Twitter came knocking. Payne was able to ask for things, like restricted stock units for employees and the ability to keep his team on the East Coast, during the acquisition.

The end result: A $350 million buyout that made one-third of MoPub's employees millionaires, with 10 people who now have "significant" wealth.

Sept. 5 2014 2:32 PM

A Man With a Plan to Solve Late Payments

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Christian Lanng was only 19 years old when he founded his first startup in Denmark. Although it closed after just two years, it was enough to make him the youngest division head in the Danish government.  There, he was asked to keep track of the government's 25,000-plus suppliers, who were sending over 15 million invoices every year. Because most invoices were—and still are, in a lot of companies—paper-based and mailed to buyers, it was extremely difficult to manage invoices and collect payments.

That's what inspired Lanng to build an electronic invoicing platform. Through his software, companies were able to send invoices and track down payments immediately. Within 10 months, 95 percent of all companies in Denmark were using it.

Fast-forward to 2009, Lanng once again felt that entrepreneurial itch. He decided to launch his own startup, based on a similar electronic invoicing idea. He called it Tradeshift. Tradeshift offers a paperless, cloud-based invoicing software. Companies are able to digitally send invoices and collect payment through it, expediting the whole payment process.  But Lanng built Tradeshift with a bigger problem in mind: boosting cash flow cycles.

Companies usually pay suppliers in 30-, 60-, and 90-day cycles. This inevitably slows down the cash collection period, and smaller companies suffer—and often go bankrupt—because cash is not immediately available.  "More than $2 trillion are locked up in late payments in the U.S.," Lanng told Business Insider, citing an industry report.

In fact, a recent survey by Basware, another e-invoicing company, revealed that over half of the companies it surveyed were actively engaged in late payments, while a third of them believe late payment was a fact of business life."  Buyers usually delay payments because they want more cash in hand to spend on more immediate needs, like R&D or dividend payouts. Because of this delay, suppliers often take out bank loans to sustain their business, which adds cost.

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You get a 2.93 percent discount if you pay immediately, or pay the full amount if you wait 45 days to pay.

Tradeshift

To solve this late-payment culture, Tradeshift offers services that encourage companies to pay faster. One option is Dynamic Discounting, where companies can offer discounts to clients who pay early. Basically, the earlier the buyer agrees to pay, the less money is owed. Another is called Supply Chain Financing. With this, a third-party bank would pay the supplier immediately, at a low interest rate, and the buyer (who owes the money) would pay back the bank instead in 60 days or more. This benefits both sides of the deal because the supplier gets the cash immediately and the supplier gets to delay the payment.  "It's true that big companies can save a lot of money by delaying payments," Lanng says. "But they're also hurting themselves because suppliers could go out of business while waiting for payment. Companies could save up to $30 million a year easily, just by paying earlier."

Some of these features are available on other similar services, too, like Ariba (which was acquired by SAP for $4.3 billion), Taulia, or Basware.  But Tradeshift is free for all suppliers, and it has a unique social-media-like layout that makes it really easy to use. Its real-time news feed enables a collaborative commenting and work-assigning environment. And it's all open source, so you can build customized apps on top of it.

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In its first six months of launch, Tradeshift made it into over 100 countries. Now, in a little over three years, Tradeshift has become one of the fastest-growing cloud invoicing services, with more than 500,000 clients worldwide, including DHL, Dell, and the U.K.'s National Health Service.  Over the past 18 months, Tradeshift grew 300 percent, and it is projected to process over $50 billion in annual transactions. And with roughly $130 million in funding so far, Tradeshift is worth nearly $300 million.

Because of its disruptive nature, the electronic invoicing business is quickly becoming a hot industry. But Lanng is confident that Tradeshift has cracked the code and will be able to beat out larger competitors like SAP or smaller startups like Taulia.  People always ask if I'm going to sell to SAP, and I (jokingly) tell them, 'No, I'm going to buy SAP,'" Lanng said. "We think this is the future of big businesses."

See Also: A Tour of Facebook

Sept. 5 2014 9:55 AM

Mobile Payments Will Be the Defining Feature of the iPhone 6

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Mobile payments is an idea that sounds much better than it is in practice. At least for right now.

Despite the efforts of PayPal, Square, and even Google Wallet, few people have actually replaced their wallets with their smartphones, which was the original idea behind mobile payments: Since most financial transactions are electronic these days (sorry cash), we should be able to make our wallets and our phones into one single product.

Apple’s alleged mobile payments system, which was actually patented years ago as the “iWallet,” describes how users could control their financial accounts and transactions on their phones, but also be able to pay for goods directly with those devices as well, thanks to a near-field communications (NFC) chip. 

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Services like Google Wallet use NFC, though barcodes and QR codes are still more popular among mobile payments users at the moment.

Compared to other services, Apple's mobile payments platform, made secure by its proven Touch ID fingerprint scanner, iPhone users could see their credit card profiles, messages from their banks, and even schedule payments directly from their phones. 

Apple already stores a great deal of financial data in iTunes, but by giving users control over their finances in a simple app, they can learn more about their spending habits, ore even set spending limits on their children's’ devices, which would disallow kids from charging millions of dollars worth of in-app purchases.

Apple must have found a great solution, because it’s finally convinced all of the major credit card companies to work together on the service, according to Re/code. 

While the iPhone would reportedly anchor Apple’s forthcoming mobile payments service, the company’s unannounced wearable device is also expected to play a role in this service, since the wrist device will have tight integration with the iPhone. This could allow “iWatch” customers to leave their iPhones in their pockets as they pay with their wrists. 

It’s unclear if and how this service will become an extra revenue stream for Apple, but if people can actually—finally—substitute all of the items in their wallets with valid digital substitutes, it should give consumers one more reason to buy an Apple device this season.

People might be happier about having a bit more visual real estate to use their apps, but killing the credit/debit card once and for all with a simple and more efficient solution—if that's what actually happens on Sept. 9—would be a much bigger deal.

Sept. 3 2014 2:17 PM

Oh Good, Fake Cellphone Towers Are Intercepting Our Phone Calls

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Seventeen fake cellphone towers were discovered across the U.S. last week, according to a report in Popular Science. Rather than offering you cellphone service, the towers appear to be connecting to nearby phones, bypassing their encryption, and either tapping calls or reading texts. 

Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America, used ESD’s CryptoPhone 500 to detect 17 bogus cellphone towers. ESD is a leading American defense and law enforcement technology provider based in Las Vegas. 

With most phones, these fake communication towers are undetectable. But not for the CryptoPhone 500, a customized Android device that is disguised as a Samsung Galaxy S III but has highly advanced encryption. Goldsmith told Popular Science: "Interceptor use in the U.S. is much higher than people had anticipated. One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found eight different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.”  The towers were found in July, but the report implied that there may have been more out there. Although it is unclear who owns the towers, ESD found that several of them were located near U.S. military bases. 

“Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that's listening to calls around military bases? Is it just the U.S. military, or are they foreign governments doing it? The point is: we don't really know whose they are,” Goldsmith said to Popular Science.

It's probably not the NSA—that agency can tap all it wants without the need for bogus towers, VentureBeat reported:

Not the NSA, cloud security firm SilverSky CTO/SVP Andrew Jaquith told us. “The NSA doesn’t need a fake tower,” he said. “They can just go to the carrier” to tap your line.

ComputerWorld points out that the fake towers give themselves away by crushing down the performance of your phone from 4G to 2G while the intercept is taking place. So if you see your phone operating on a slow download signal while you're near a military base ... maybe make that call from somewhere else.

In an amazing coincidence, police departments in a handful of U.S. cities have been operating “Stingray” or “Hailstorm” towers, which—you guessed it—conduct surveillance on mobile phone activity. They do that by jamming mobile phone signals, forcing phones to drop down from 4G and 3G network bands to the older, more insecure 2G band.

Sept. 3 2014 11:29 AM

Will America's Shale Boom Soon End?

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

One of the most successful oil traders alive thinks America’s shale renaissance will prove to be a dud and that crude prices will hit $150 within five years. In an upcoming Bloomberg Markets profile, Andrew John Hall, who according to a 2013 Max Abelson profile is known as “God” by competitors, has been telling subscribers to his investing letters that he’s been buying up long-dated crude contracts in anticipation of a run-up in prices as America's shale oil boom recedes. 

The British-born Hall was embroiled in a fight during the financial crisis over access to a $100 million bonus payout he was due for 2009 trades from then-employer Citi. It was ultimately blocked after Citi received a third bailout. But the year before that, he’d netted $98 million.

More recently, as oil price growth has stalled, Hall’s trades have come up short, Bloomberg's Bradley Olsen writes. Assets under management at his Astenbeck Capital Management LLC hedge-fund firm fell as much as 29 percent to $3.4 billion this May from 2013. But Hall, who also remains CEO of Phibro, a trading unit Occidental Petroleum bought from Citi in 2009, is unfazed by the losses. Despite America’s massive shale oil boom, Hall is convinced prices will rise.

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“When you believe something, facts become inconvenient obstacles,” Hall wrote in April according to Olsen, taking issue with a Citi’s Ed Morse, who has predicted a shale renaissance could result in $75-a-barrel oil over the next five years. Hall has said Brent crude prices are likely to rise to as much as $150 a barrel in five years or less, according to Olsen.

The back-end of the crude futures curve already seems to agree with him. While near-term contracts continue to slide on ample supply, long-dated ones remain elevated.

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Morgan Downey

“In his counterarguments, he digs deep, delving into the minutiae of how Texas discloses oil production, the tendency of some shale wells to play out quickly and the degree to which the boom has relied on debt,” Olsen says. “The simplest of his reasons, though, is that producers have already drilled in many of the best areas, or sweet spots.” Hall predicts that growth in shale output will begin to moderate this year and U.S. production will peak as soon as 2016. “Once those areas have been drilled out, operators will have to move to more-marginal locations and well productivity will fall,” Hall wrote in March. “Far from continuing to grow, production will start to decline.”

Sept. 2 2014 3:32 PM

Here's How Long It Takes to Recoup the Cost of Your College Degree

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

College starts today for students across the country.

With tuition costs surging, we can't help but ask, "What are they thinking?"

In a new note, the New York Fed's Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz write that, looked at one way, these young people are making a sound investment as it now takes fewer years than ever for graduates to recoup their investment.

While you used to have to work nearly 25 years to earn back what you'd fronted for your degree, only about 10 years on average are now required.  

"Despite the challenges facing today’s college graduates, the value of a college degree has remained near its all-time high, while the time required to recoup the costs of the degree has remained near its all-time low," they write. 

However, that 10-year time-frame has not really budged since the late '90s.

Similarly, the value of a college degree has not increased since 2000, and has actually been decreasing of late.

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"We estimate that the value of a college degree fell from about $120,000 in the early 1970s to about $80,000 in the early 1980s, before more than tripling to nearly $300,000 by the late 1990s, where it has remained, more or less, ever since," they write. 

That value of college has stayed near all-time highs despite rising tuition costs and falling wages for graduates actually has more to do with plummeting wages among high school graduates.

In other words, the opportunity cost of not going to school are climbing. 

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We've written about the debate over the value of a college degree before, and most economists remain adamant that in nearly every scenario, obtaining a college degree (as opposed to merely taking just some college) is worth the investment.

But Abel and Deitz recognize that it still remains difficult to argue one way or the other.

"...It’s possible that some part of what we estimate as the value of a college degree isn’t driven by the skills an individual acquires while in college: people who earn a college degree may simply differ in their innate skills and abilities from those who don’t obtain a degree," they write. "Maybe some college graduates would have earned higher wages even if they had never gone to college. Separating out these two effects in research studies is extremely difficult."

We should keep our eyes on this space as the pair say they have further posts on this subject in the pipe, including one that shows that based on the distribution of wages for college graduates, college actually does not appear to have paid off for a sizable fraction of those who made the investment. 

Sept. 2 2014 12:12 PM

My Experiment in Texting Using Only Emojis

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Emoji are everywhere. The little illustrated characters that are on smartphone keyboards are taking over the world. There are shoes with emoji on them, pants with emoji on them, emoji stickers, emoji yoga, and the list goes on and on with no sign of ending. As emoji spreads into our culture, I’ve actually heard the following question: Is emoji moving to replace communicating with the written word?

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To find out, I communicated via iMessage using only emoji for five days. That meant every time someone sent me a text or I wanted to send a text, I could only use the popular tiny picture characters to respond to or start a conversation.

I wasn’t allowed to cheat by moving the conversation to Facebook message or Twitter DM, but I could send a phone emoji to indicate to the recipient of my texts that they could call me instead; I could not instigate the phone call myself. If I was trying to text someone and I saw that they were available to talk on Gchat instead, I could not cease the text conversation and pick it back up on Gchat.

I wanted to see if it was easier or harder than I expected it to be, yes, but I also wanted to see if I could influence those I was conversing with to overthrow their use of text and start using emoji while talking to me.

Spoiler Alert: It Was Hard

Communicating with emoji was way more difficult than I expected it to be. First, there was the fact that everyone who contacted me via text, or those I needed to use text to talk to, didn’t know that this was going to be my only way to communicate for five days.

There were people who were annoyed with me. There were people who gave up after a few back-and-forths. There were missed messages, mixed messages, and messed up plans. There were people who immediately just called my phone to get the conversation moving faster. And there was my mother who doesn’t have an iPhone and texts me often. 

The first emoji were created in the late nineties by Shigetaka Kurita, who at the time was working for Japanese carrier NTT Docomo. They became popular when Apple added the emoji keyboard to the iPhone 5 in 2012Every emoji is defined officially in the “emojipedia” (think of it as a dictionary for emoji), but more likely, the definitions become molded by the way they’re integrated into popular culture. For example, take the prayer hands emoji, two hands clasped together and giving off a glowing light. About a month ago, it was reported that this emoji was actually two people high-fiving, sending the internet into a tailspin. It turns out that report was probably wrong. It really is prayer hands.

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High five or prayer hands?

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The first person to text me was my colleague Alyson Shontell. She knew the experiment was happening so made a large effort to stump me with hard questions that, to be fair, no one would ever ask me via text, like “where were you born again?” She was in the room with me when she sent it, so I was able to roll my eyes at her. 

Food Emoji For Survival

Recently, Atlantic writer Kelsey Rexroat embarked on a week of only eating foods immortalized by emoji.

Though her experiment had nothing to do with communication, here’s what Rexroat found by living—quite literally—by emoji:

“Dinner is spaghetti and red wine. It’s not a far stretch from my usual diet, though I have a moment of dismay when I realize there is no cheese emoji, and I must pass up the aged Gruyere I had bought a few days earlier,” Rexroat writes.

Then there was the case of Alex Goldmark and his girlfriend Liza, who, last winter, decided that for 30 days they would only use emoji when communicating via their phones. In an interview with WNYC, the couple spoke about “what went wrong” during their experiment. Goldmark and his girlfriend explained there was an instance where plans had to be changed last minute, but Goldmark misunderstood what Liza was trying to convey to him via emoji.

This happened to me when I was trying to explain to my friend Tom that I had booked both of our tickets for a destination wedding in several months. In turn, Tom thought I got a raise.

It was extremely frustrating but it forced me to pick up the phone and call him at a time when I had a free moment to share information. With my mom, who doesn’t have an iPhone, my only means of communication was using the phone (and maybe an email here or there.)

There were very few glimmers of hope throughout this experiment, and I cherished all of them. It wasn’t always terrible, sometimes (though they were rare instances), people seemed to understand what I was trying to tell them. Take my college friend Rachel, for example, who was taking a bus from Boston to visit me in New York.  We communicated via text briefly—and flawlessly.

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Unsurprisingly, the easiest person to communicate with using emoji was my 18-year-old sister, and I only slipped once: When my editor, Jay Yarow, texted me to tell me I was late for a meeting I responded with a typed out expletive and then quickly followed up with a dozen “poo” emoji. 

My experiment wasn’t as controlled as Goldmark’s experiment with his girlfriend Liza. Instead of just altering one relationship by extensively editing my means of communication with just one person, I spread the idea across my entire social circle, the trade off being that transactions of conversation were much more shallow. One thing I agreed with while listening and reading Goldmark’s findings was that he and Liza felt that emotions were easier to communicate using emoji, whereas logistics—plans, questions—were not. And unlike Rexroat’s awesome “only eating food found in emoji” experiment, I really set out to find if replacing the written word was plausible.

The truth? It’s probably not going to happen. Emoji is better as a form of punctuation. It adds flair to otherwise normal, and boring statements in a way that a period, exclamation point, or question mark never could. 

One of the most charming elements of emoji is that, while every emoji has a technical official definition, people use them to represent different things. Quite simply, it’s a language that’s more subjective than objective. It became very clear early on that it would never replace the written word, unless as a civilization we were able to come together and assign very specific meanings to each picture that could, under no circumstance, be changed.

Aug. 31 2014 8:06 AM

New Documentary Bares Crazy Drama Between the Burt’s Bees Founders

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

If you’re familiar with the Burt’s Bees brand of lip balms and moisturizing lotions, you may be surprised to learn two things: The bearded man in the brand’s logo is a real guy named Burt (who was born Ingram Berg Shavitz) and despite its small-business image, the company is owned by the Clorox Corp.

In the documentary Burt’s Buzz, now featured on iTunes, filmmaker Jody Shapiro looks at 79-year-old Shavitz’s unusual life and adds a layer of controversy to the story of Burt’s Bees. The documentary chronicles how Burt’s Bees started as the product of a loving romantic relationship that later fell apart and ended in lasting bitterness as the company grew into a multimillion-dollar business.

These days, Shavitz passes his time with his three golden retrievers and no electricity or water heater in his Parkman, Maine, home. He leaves only to occasionally go on a promotional tour for the brand and no longer has any connection to its co-founder, Roxanne Quimby.

In fact, he says in the film, he wishes to never speak to her again.

Before he met Quimby or even had any bees, Shavitz was an independent thinker from Long Island who never seemed to fit in with everyone else. Shavitz unofficially changed his name from Ingram to Burt after graduating high school and moving to Manhattan, where he eventually became a photographer for Time and Life.

One day in 1970 he realized he was terrified of growing old in a dingy apartment and decided to pack up and head to the country, ending up in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. He grew out his hair and beard and learned the art of beekeeping.

Shavitz marked his hives with “Burt’s Bees” to keep them from being robbed and developed a reputation among locals for selling gallons of honey out of his truck on the side of the road. He met Quimby, a single mother of two boys, in 1984.

The two didn’t start off as business partners but as a couple. As Shavitz put it to the New Yorker, “She was man-hungry, and she and I, by spells, fed the hunger.”

In the film, Shavitz grows wistful when he speaks of their early days together and admits that she was the only woman he ever truly loved.

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Shavitz agreed to become the face of the company, appearing in print ads and using his engraved portrait as its logo.

Product shot via BurtsBees.com

Shavitz showed Quimby an old beekeeping book filled with beeswax recipes, and the two began selling candles in addition to honey. Locals scooped them up, and the business partners began selling more products and growing distribution. They incorporated the company in 1991.

Shavitz, who was even then more content selling just enough products to keep his simple lifestyle, never shared Quimby’s passion for business growth. But he agreed to become the face of the company, appearing in print ads and using his engraved portrait as its logo.

The film’s narrative suggests Shavitz and Quimby grew further apart as Burt’s Bees became more successful and Quimby’s vision became more ambitious.

Things came to a head in 1994, when Quimby moved the company’s headquarters to Durham, North Carolina, and Shavitz left the company, the details of which remain controversial.

Shapiro tells us he asked Quimby to be in his film, but she declined and referred him to her son, Lucas St. Clair.

In the documentary, St. Clair says his mother has said that Shavitz was not happy working for a large company and that he volunteered to leave. Shavitz agrees with the first part, but not the second.

Telling his mom’s side of the story, St. Clair says there was talk back then that his mother discovered Shavitz was carrying on an affair with one of their young employees and felt it threatened the business.

Shavitz claims that Quimby was upset to learn he had been sleeping with other women, and that she gave him an ultimatum in response: He needed to sign a contract signing over his shares of the company to her or else she would take him to court for sexual harassment.

Regardless of what actually happened, Shavitz remains bitter. “Roxanne Quimby wanted money and power, and I was just a pillar on the way to that success,” he says in the documentary.

Quimby bought out Shavitz in 1999, giving him a house valued at $130,000, according to the New York Times.

Just five years later she sold 80 percent of Burt’s Bees to AEA Investors for $173 million, and then the Clorox Corp. acquired the company for $925 million in 2007. The Associated Press reports that Quimby made more than $300 million in the Clorox deal.

Shavitz may have missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars, but Quimby says she eventually gave Shavitz an additional $4 million. In an email to the AP, she writes: “Everyone associated with the company was treated fairly, and in some cases very generously, upon the sale of the company and my departure as CEO. And that, of course, includes Burt.”

Shavitz clearly shows sadness and anger regarding Quimby in the film, but Shapiro tells us that even after spending all that time with him for the project, he’s unsure of whether Shavitz feels cheated.

“I think he feels hurt, but those might be for personal reasons, not financial,” Shapiro writes in an email. “From hearing his account, I truly believe at the time he wasn’t happy with his role in the company—as he said: He never wanted a 9-5 job, or spending all his time in a factory. I also don’t think at the time when he left the company people really understood how big it was going to get, or how much it was going to be worth.”

We reached out to Shavitz’s personal assistant Trevor Folsom to ask Shavitz what he thought of his portrayal in the film.

“Burt said, ‘Who remembers?’ ” Folsom tells us in an email, sharing a typical carefree response from the founder.

But Folsom says he knows Shavitz likes it. “He has previously answered that question by saying he loved the film and saying every person will always have their own opinion. He really enjoyed the film and never had anything bad to say about it at all. It is just him as he is always himself!” he writes.

We also reached out to Quimby’s son St. Clair, but did not receive a response by the time we published this story.

Shapiro says Shavitz is a man of apparent contradictions: He’s a peacenik who takes target practice with his handgun, a hermit and a businessman.

Shavitz makes it clear in the film that he gets paid by Clorox to make his promotional appearances.

At the film’s premiere last September at the Toronto International Film Festival, someone asked Shavitz in a Q&A following the screening why he still promotes the brand after everything he went through. “Because they pay me,” he said, according to Shapiro.

And though Shavitz seems to be telling the truth when he says he feels uncomfortable about the corporatization of Burt’s Bees, Burt’s Buzz shows us the moments when he enjoys promoting the products with his face and name on them, even if he doesn’t use them too often.

He’ll always be happiest, however, alone on his property in Maine, away from the executives, consumers, and money.

Here’s the trailer for Burt’s Buzz:

Aug. 30 2014 7:18 AM

Scots Are Selling Their Independence Votes on eBay

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

Police in Scotland are investigating the sale of votes for the country’s Sept. 18 independence referendum on eBay after multiple votes were listed online in recent weeks, Scottish Television reports.

One seller from Glasgow sold his vote for £1.04 (about $1.72) and promised to vote however the winning bidder wished.

An eBay seller from the Scottish borders listed his vote on eBay with a starting bid of £10.00 (about $16.50). The seller claimed that the sale price of the vote would be donated to charity. It was removed from the site after STV contacted the police and the Electoral Commission.

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Screenshot of eBay via STV

One eBay seller explained why he was selling his vote online, including in the eBay listing, “This is my very own unique piece of British History! It is my personal YES or NO vote for the upcoming Scottish Referendum in September. I for one, do not give a flying monkeys about any of this. This could be the deciding vote. Who knows? I am a hard working Scottish citizen with a house, a gorgeous wife and two beautiful kids who are my world. This vote will not change anything in our lives so I have decided not to vote my opinion but instead..... ONE OF YOURS! Happy Bidding”

In a statement to STV, Police Scotland confirmed that it was investigating the sale of referendum votes on eBay: “Our policing arrangements for the referendum are well in hand and will be appropriate and proportionate. Police Scotland’s priority is to ensure public safety and security. We will respond appropriately to any issues which arise. We are investigating these incidents and therefore cannot comment on the outcome of these incidents until all inquires are concluded. Where other incidents are reported they will be investigated and appropriate action taken.”

On Sept. 18 Scotland will vote on whether to remain part of the United Kingdom. A recent poll showed growing support for Scottish independence, with 47 percent of survey respondents indicating that they would vote yes to independence.

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