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Oct. 9 2015 2:33 PM

The U.S. Military Just Dealt a Huge Blow to For-Profit Education

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Apollo Education Group, the for-profit education company, is getting destroyed.


The stock was down 10 percent early Friday on the news that the Department of Defense will no longer allow service members to use federal money to attend one of its subsidiaries, the University of Phoenix. And so the University of Phoenix will also no longer be able to recruit on military bases, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“The institution will not be authorized access to DoD installations for the purposes of participating in any recruitment-type activities,” said Dawn Bilodeau, chief of the Defense Department’s Voluntary Education program. “Further, no new or transfer students at the institution will be permitted to receive DoD tuition assistance.”

Military funds are a crucial stream of income for for-profit colleges because of something called the 90/10 rule. It states that they collect no more than 90 percent of their tuition funds from federal student aid. Military funds, however, do not count as federal student aid. 

So they make up a significant portion of how for-profit colleges are able to pass the 90/10 rule. This is also why for-profit colleges were so aggressive about enrolling members of the military.

On Wednesday Apollo released an 8K saying that the DoD had put it on probation for using its logos without permission and holding events on military installations without the proper clearance.

On October 7, 2015, our wholly-owned subsidiary, University of Phoenix, Inc., was notified by the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”) that the University had been placed on probationary status in respect of its participation in the DoD Tuition Assistance Program for active duty military personnel, and that the DoD is considering whether to terminate the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding with the University (“DoD MOU”) which is the basis on which the University’s active duty military students participate in the DoD Tuition Assistance Program. While on probationary status, currently eligible enrolled students will remain eligible to participate in the Tuition Assistance Program, but newly enrolled or transfer students of the University will not be eligible. In addition, while on probationary status the University will not be permitted to engage in various activities at military installations, including job training, career events, fairs and other sponsored events.

The University of Phoenix is holding more student debt than any other college in the US, exploding from $2.2 billion in 2000 to $35.5 billion in 2014.

Think about that for a moment, and then look at this graphic from Brookings.


Brookings/Business Insider

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Oct. 8 2015 5:27 PM

This Company Is Selling Fall Leaves for $20

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

It's officially fall, and in many parts of the U.S., the leaves are beinning to change colors. But not everyone can enjoy the drama of fall leaves at their peak. 


Now, thanks to a service called Ship Foliage, even those living in warmer climates or major cities will get to experience the joy of holding a fall leaf in their hands. 

For $19.99, Ship Foliage will send you a three-leaf bundle of "Grade A foliage" from New England. Each bundle includes a red leaf, yellow leaf, and a green or mixed-color leaf.

According to Ship Foliage's website, they use a unique presevation process that "enhances the foliage color contrast and also preserves the leaves for years to come!" 

Ship Foliage founder Kyle Waring insists that his new company is not a hoax. 

"It's more than just a couple of leaves that are found in your backyard," he told "They are high-quality leaves that I hand collect." 

He added that he and his wife hike nearly every weekend, using their outings as an opportunity to collect leaves. So far they've received more than 50 orders and sent boxes to Florida and New York. 

Last winter, Waring launched a similar service called Ship Snow, Yo! which mailed boxes of fresh New England snow to people around the US. 

Oct. 7 2015 5:10 PM

Budweiser Tries to Buy Miller for $104 Billion, Gets Turned Down. Again.

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

SABMiller has rejected a third takeover offer from U.S.-Belgian rival AB InBev, which values the beer maker at $103.9 billion.


Brewing giant AB InBev went public with a takeover offer for London-listed rival SABMiller on Wednesday, revealing it already had two bids knocked back by management. But SABMiller put out a statement just hours later saying the board "unanimously rejected" the offer because it "substantially undervalues SABMiller, its unique and unmatched footprint, and its standalone prospects."

U.S. company AB InBev is the world's largest beer maker, responsible for brands like Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois, while SABMiller is the second-largest brewer in the world and makes beers like Fosters and Grolsch. AB InBev set out details of its $64.30 per share offer in a statement on Wednesday.

The latest offer values SABMiller at $103.9 billion and AB InBev says the SAB board has already rejected offers at $57.96 per share and $61 per share. SAB shares closed at $56.86 in London on Tuesday.

But SABMiller signaled pretty quickly that it would likely reject the deal. In a statement from the company shortly after AB InBev's offer, SAB said management has already met to consider a $64 a share offer speculatively floated by AB InBev earlier in the week, but it had concluded that "it still very substantially undervalues SABMiller."

SABMiller's chairman Jan du Plessis says in the statement (emphasis ours):

SABMiller is the crown jewel of the global brewing industry, uniquely positioned to continue to generate decades of standalone future volume and value growth for all SABMiller shareholders from highly attractive markets.

AB InBev needs SABMiller but has made opportunistic and highly conditional proposals, elements of which have been deliberately designed to be unattractive to many of our shareholders. AB InBev is very substantially undervaluing SABMiller.

SABMiller shares jumped over 3 percent in London on news of the bid but have come crashing back down after the rejection. Shares are currently up around 0.9 percent at 1.18 p.m. BST (8.18 a.m. ET).


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AB InBev said this morning that it is "disappointed" that SAB dismissed its two earlier offers "without any meaningful engagement." SAB shares dropped on Tuesday amid rumors that management was planning to fight any takeover offer.

AB InBev may well have gone public with this latest offer to try and drum up some shareholder pressure on SABMiller to at least engage in deal talks. The company has even gone so far as to create a fancy corporate website espousing the virtues of the deal, complete with corporate video of CEO Carlos Brito making the case.

The charm offensive did some good. SABMiller's largest shareholder, Altria, put out a statement on Wednesday morning saying it supports the deal and "urges SABMiller’s board to engage promptly and constructively with AB InBev to agree on the terms of a recommended offer."

Clearly, SAB's management didn't listen.

News of AB InBev's courtship of SAB first broke in mid-September, but this is the first concrete offer we've had.

AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito says in this morning's statement:

We have the highest respect for SABMiller, its employees and its leadership, and believe that a combination of our two great companies would build the first truly global beer company.

Both companies have deep roots in some of the most historic beer cultures around the world and share a strong passion for brewing as well as a deep seated tradition of quality. By bringing together our rich heritage, brands and people we would provide more opportunities for consumers to taste and enjoy the world's best beers.

AB InBev argues in its offer document that a merger would "generate significant growth opportunities from marketing the companies' combined brand portfolio through a largely complementary distribution network."

AB InBev also confirmed earlier today it doesn't yet have the support of BevCo for the bid. BevCo owns 15 percent of SABMiller.

Oct. 6 2015 11:57 AM

Is Apple in an Arms Race for Artificial Intelligence?

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Apple's on a buying spree as it ramps up its efforts in the tech industry's latest arms race: Artificial intelligence.


Bloomberg reports that Apple has bought Perceptio, a company that makes image-recognition technology for smartphones, its second AI deal in four days.

Perceptio was developing "deep learning" technology for smartphones, that allowed phones to independently identify images without relying on external data libraries, Bloomberg said.

Deep learning is a specialized field of artificial intelligence that's all the rage now. It allows machines to recognize patterns and learn on their own.

Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly vital as companies roll out and seek to improve "virtual assistant" services such as Apple's Siri and Google Now.

Apple may also be looking at AI to help with its plans to build a self-driving car. Apple is reportedly planning to enter the car business in 2019 with an electric—non-self-driving—car.

On Friday, Apple acquired another AI company: VocalIQ, a UK-based startup developing technology to help computers understand human speech. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are all engaged in an AI arms race, hiring experts in the field from academia and acquiring specialized startups.

Oct. 5 2015 1:14 PM

Peeple, the “Yelp for People,” Disappears From Social Media—but Its Founders Promise It’s Still Coming

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Peeple, which enables humans to rate one another as users would rate businesses on Yelp, has gone offline. The company's Twitter, Facebook, and even website are no longer accessible. The co-founders have remained silent as to why this change happened.


When attempting to access, we received a “not found” page, though some users are being sent to another landing page with the following message: “Join the positive revolution #oct12,” according to the BBC.

Oct. 12 is presumably the date when the founders of Peeple, Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough, “will be taping for an exclusive talk show and expose our concept to the world,” the duo provided in an email to the BBC.

In the email, Cordray also confirmed that the human rating app is still set to launch in November of this year on iOS and Android.

After the app-based company made its initial announcement inviting potential users to join the beta test, many people responded with scathing backlash and tweets that shunned the app.

Opposers also set a petition in motion to ban the launch of the app. 

“It's the kind of bullshit mash-up that Silicon Valley loves,” comedian John Oliver said on Last Week Tonight. He later added, “The Internet essentially exists so people can say vicious things about each other, and we don’t need another app to facilitate that.”

Others speculated that the app plans might be a hoax. On, people noted that the announcement of Peeple was abrupt, and that there was no previous mention of it on tech blogs or sites and that there were no specific details provided about the app.

Onlookers may have already gotten a teaser of what that video will discuss, after Cordray posted a response to critics of the app on LinkedIn last weekend.

In her post, the co-founder tries to position Peeple as a “positivity app,” writing that the death threats and insults she received after her interview with the Washington Post are good examples of why she did not want to promote negative feedback on her app:

I have surrounded myself with positive people for 34 years and I don’t plan on changing it now.

That’s why Peeple is focused on the positive and ONLY THE POSITIVE as a 100% OPT-IN system. You will NOT be on our platform without your explicit permission. There is no 48 hour waiting period to remove negative comments. There is no way to even make negative comments. Simply stated, if you don’t explicitly say “approve recommendation”, it will not be visible on our platform.

I want the world to be positive and this is how I’m going to inspire it by creating the world’s largest positivity app.

We have reached out to Peeple for more details and will update when we hear back.

Oct. 2 2015 4:31 PM

Apple Might Make Siri Sound Like a Real Person

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Apple just acquired VocalIQ—a startup based in the U.K. that makes artificial-intelligence software for processing natural language, the Financial Times reports.


Little else is known about the deal, such as how much Apple paid for the company. Apple issued to the Financial Times the same comment it typically shares when it's acquired a company:

Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.

It sounds like VocalIQ's technology could greatly improve Siri.

The company specializes in natural-language processing, which means its product makes it easier for computers to understand your speech the same way another human would. In other words, it could make for an even further improved Siri.

But it's not just about recognizing speech. VocalIQ says its product can help applications learn more about you the more you use them. This, in turn, would make Siri smarter about the various apps and contacts she suggests to you.

Here's what VocalIQ says on its website when describing its technology:

Every time your application is used it gets a little bit smarter. Previous conversations are central to [its] learning process — allowing the system to better understand future requests and in turn, react more intelligently. As a developer, you have the ability to change your system’s interpretation or behavior directly in your app.

Oct. 2 2015 3:17 PM

Google’s Transition to Alphabet Is Nearly Complete

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Google is officially becoming Alphabet after markets close Friday, and will start trading as such on Monday morning, the company reports on its investor relations page.


Google announced in early August that it planned to blow up its corporate structure by forming a new parent company called Alphabet to allow its different businesses to operate independently and move faster.

Google's core business—which encompasses search, YouTube, and Android—will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet, separate from smaller units like the hardware maker Nest or "moonshot" factory Google X, which will be set up as their own companies under Alphabet as well. Each division will have its own CEO, and Larry Page will be CEO of Alphabet.

Today marks the company's legal filing to officially establish that structure, although internal changes have already been under-way and this formality won't alter day-to-day operations. Alphabet's board of directors mirrors Google's.

Alphabet will report its Q3 earnings the old, Google way, but when it reports its Q4 earnings in January 2016, it will likely report two segments: Google, and all the other Alphabet businesses taken as a whole.

Here's the full statement:

Google Inc. announced today that, pursuant to its previously announced plans to create a new public holding company, Alphabet Inc. (“Alphabet”), by implementing a holding company reorganization (the “Alphabet Merger”), it expects that the Alphabet Merger will close after the close of business on October 2, 2015. Google anticipates that shares of Google Class C Capital Stock and shares of Google Class A Common Stock will begin trading as Alphabet Class C Capital Stock and Alphabet Class A Common Stock, respectively, on the NASDAQ Global Select Market on October 5, 2015. Shares of Alphabet Class C Capital Stock and shares of Alphabet Class A Common Stock will continue to be traded under the same ticker symbols under GOOG and GOOGL, respectively.

Oct. 1 2015 5:12 PM

Apple Gave the Spinning Wheel of Death a Makeover

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Apple's big new Mac update, El Capitan, doesn't look much different than its previous release Yosemite.


However, there is at least one subtle aesthetic change you may notice—Apple has changed the so-called "spinning wheel of death," as Quartz initially pointed out.

The new wheel, or beach ball as it's also commonly called, now has a flatter look.

It more closely matches the theme Apple has implemented in its new software updates in recent years. 

If you've upgraded to El Capitan, there's a chance you haven't noticed this change yet. The beach ball only appears when your Mac is frozen or is taking longer than it should to execute a certain task.

A few users who have seen the new spinning wheel posted images of it on Twitter:

Now here's what the old wheel looked like. Notice the difference?


YouTube via iAppleJailbreaker

Oct. 1 2015 1:52 PM

For One Golden Moment, This Guy Owned

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Ex-Googler Sanmay Ved was the lucky buyer of "," if only for a minute. Ved told Business Insider that he was up late and searching Google Domains, Google's website-buying service, when he noticed that was available.


Instead of a gray sad face that indicates a domain has an owner, the green happy face showed it was available. The cost to buy the most-trafficked domain in the world? Only $12.

"I used to work at Google so I keep messing around with the product. I type in and to my surprise it showed it as available," Ved told Business Insider. "I thought it was some error, but I could actually complete check out."

Ved added it to his shopping cart and, surprisingly, the transaction went through.

Instead of receiving the normal "you bought a domain" emails from the company, his Google Search Console dashboard, which has an overview of his other websites, was updated with messages for the domain owner. He also received emails with internal information, which he has since reported to Google's security team, Ved said.

"The scary part was I had access to the webmaster controls for a minute," Ved said. He frantically took screenshots along the way and detailed the whole ordeal in a LinkedIn post.

His run of was short-lived, though. Google Domains canceled the sale a minute later, saying someone had registered the site before he could, and refunded Ved the $12 that had already been charged.

"So for one minute I had access," Ved said. "At least I can now say I'm the man who owned for a minute."

Ved is not sure what happened to allow him to purchase the site. It could have been a bug in Google Domains or the company simply failed to renew its domain name when the time came. A Google representative said they are looking into the issue, but aren't currently noticing anything unusual.

Google's not the first to run into weird domain problems. In 2003, Microsoft failed to renew its "" web address, and someone else bought it. While in Google's case it was bought from Google itself and quickly canceled, Microsoft had to ask the buyer to return it to them.

While Ved's control over may have been fleeting, he's still surprised that his late-night searching led to actually buying the site. He has been a fan of the company since he worked there for 5 1/2 years before leaving to get his MBA. His profile picture on Facebook is just a picture of the Google Plus logo.

"I can't shake that feeling that I actually owned," Ved said.

Sept. 30 2015 4:47 PM

For the First Time, a Phone Carrier Is Blocking All Mobile Ads

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Shine, the Israeli mobile ad blocking company that works with mobile carriers to block ads at a network level, has announced Jamaica-based operator Digicel as its first official customer.


While Digicel is a small company, the move is potentially seismic: For the first time, an ad-blocking company will be switching off all ads on the mobile web and in apps, for all customers.

For web publishers in Jamaica, the ad-block-alypse just arrived. If the rollout is successful—from the carriers' point of view—it could spur other, larger companies to start blocking ads worldwide.

Digicel will first deploy the technology to customers in Jamaica, before rolling the "ad control" service out to other markets in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. In total it has 13.6 million subscribers across 31 markets. The system blocks display and video ads in both mobile browsers and apps. The apps part is significant, because the mobile ad blockers in the market right now can only block ads on the mobile web.

Perhaps controversially, ad blocking for Digicel customers will roll out as standard. It won't be an optional add-on, although the company says it may offer customers the ability to switch off the facility. The only sites that won't see their ads blocked will be "certain local news sites," a Digicel spokeswoman told Business Insider.

That's unless media owners enter a partnership with the carrier. Digicel is calling on the biggest advertising companies including Google, Yahoo, and Facebook to enter into a revenue-share deal. Its argument is that ads use up as much as 10 percent of a customer's data plan allowance, and those companies are not fairly compensating Digicel for use of its bandwidth. Digicel says it will reinvest that money back into its infrastructure.

If a company like Google, for example, wanted to a serve an ad to a customer on the Digicel network, Google would have to sign up to a code of conduct and share some of the associated ad revenue it from ads served with Digicel. If Google chose not to, then the ad would be blocked by Shine's technology.

While it might sound like an unreasonable proposal, companies like Google and Amazon already pay significant sums to Eyeo, the owner of popular ad blocker Adblock Plus, for their ads to appear on its "Acceptable Ads List" and pass through the blocker's filters.

We asked whether it seemed likely that many advertising vendors will sign up, considering each individual company will need to form a separate partnership with Digicel. The spokeswoman responded: "Yes, but we don't see this as a barrier. Most of the ads served come through a small number of companies mentioned in the press release...there is a precedent in the market for this business model."

Digicel also told Business Insider it doesn't plan to promote ad blocking through marketing—the service will just be switched on.

Denis O'Brien, chairman of the Digicel Group, said in the press release: "This is about giving customers the best experience and about getting access to broadband to the unconnected and allowing them to benefit from the opportunities it affords. Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook talk a great game and take a lot of credit when it comes to pushing the idea of broadband for all–but they put no money in. Instead they unashamedly trade off the efforts and investments of network operators like Digicel to make money for themselves. That’s unacceptable, and we as a network operator, are taking a stand against them to force them to put their hands in their pockets and play a real role in improving the opportunities for economic empowerment for the global population.”

O'Brien was recently described by The Guardian as the "Irish media tycoon who is rarely out of the headlines." Alongside Digicel, he also owns companies including European media holding company Communicorp, which operates a number of radio stations, and he owns a major stake in Independent News & Media, which controls the Irish Independent, The Belfast Telegraph, and Irish Daily Star. He is Ireland's richest man, having amassed a fortune worth £5 billion ($7.6 billion.)

O'Brien is known for taking on the status quo. In June, he launched legal action against the Irish state and parliament over comments made about his banking affairs by a politician under parliamentary privilege, The Guardian reported. The billionaire had previously taken out a high court injunction to prevent the Irish media reporting on his finances.

Shine, meanwhile, counts Li Ka-shing, the billionaire chairman of of Hutchinson Whampoa, as one of its investors. It originally started its life as a company devoted to creating mobile-anti virus software before pivoting recently to focus on ad blocking. While Digicel is Shine's first customer announcement, it is understood it won't be its last. Other carriers may be waiting to see the outcome of Digicel's rollout before launching their own ad blocking initiatives.

Shine's stance on ad blocking is that it is a consumer right, and the company is unrepentant about the money that publishers may lose in advertising revenue as a result.

Roi Carthy, Shine's chief marketing officer, previously told Business Insider: "We believe ad blocking is a right, full-stop. If the consumer decides to use it, we believe that it should be their right, and they should be able to do it with full integrity ... nobody [in business] has a god-given right to exist. If you own a trucking business, and gas prices rise, and you can't afford to pay your bills because you were not able to manage your business, you go out of business. There will be causalities, absolutely, but I know I'm not losing any sleep knowing remnant inventory ad networks will disappear."

Mobile ad blocking was a rare behavior until this month when Apple launched its latest software update, iOS 9, which introduced ad blocking apps to iPhones and iPads for the first time. Ad blocking apps soared to the top of the paid-for app charts on day one.

A recent report published by comScore and Sourcepoint, an ad blocker blocker, claimed one in 10 people in the US and UK block ads on their desktop computers.

Earlier this week Scott Cunningham, SVP of US trade body the Interactive Advertising Bureau, compared ad blocking to "highway robbery," Adweek reported. He also announced that the IAB has released a piece of code designed to help small publishers detect ad blocker users and serve them messages to encourage them to turn their blockers off.