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Aug. 24 2016 2:23 PM

Costco Dropped AmEx and Now Only Takes Visa. The Result Is a Gigantic Mess.

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

When Costco began transitioning from American Express to Visa as its exclusive credit card partner in June, delays and confusion had customers threatening to cancel their memberships.

Now, two months later, some Costco members say that major problems remain—and that Citi, the card issuer, and Costco aren’t doing enough to fix them.

In addition to making Visa the only credit card customers can use at Costco, the transition meant that 11 million of Costco’s 81 million members worldwide with Costco cobranded credit cards had to switch from the TrueEarnings American Express Costco card to the Costco Anywhere Visa.

Initial issues ranged from general confusion to customers not receiving their new cards to difficulty getting a customer service representative on the phone.

Aug. 23 2016 2:51 PM

Amazon Is Reportedly Making a New Music-Streaming Service for the Echo

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Amazon is developing a new music-streaming service that will be half the price of rival offerings like Spotify, but which will work only on the company’s internet-connected Echo speaker, according to a report by Recode’s Peter Kafka.

The subscription service will cost $4 or $5 a month—half of what competitors like Spotify and Apple Music charge for their streaming offerings—and could debut as soon as September if Amazon reaches deals with music labels, sources told Recode.

The Echo device, which lets users order household items, get the weather, and find other information by speaking in their natural voice, has turned into a surprise hit for Amazon.

 

Aug. 22 2016 3:03 PM

Pfizer Just Paid Billions for the Company Behind the Outrageous $129,000 Cancer Drug

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Pfizer just outbid numerous competitors for Medivation, a cancer drugmaker with just one approved drug.

The $14 billion deal, at $81.50 a share, is a notable premium to the $9.3 billion offer the pharma giant Sanofi had made earlier this year. Medivation had rejected that approach.

The high price may come as a surprise, considering Medivation was trading at $67.16 on Friday. But there are a few key drugs that both Medivation and Pfizertouted as the reason for the deal.

Aug. 18 2016 2:23 PM

Even Popeyes’ Sales Are Sagging Because of the Oil Downturn

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Popeyes’ chicken tenders and biscuits are also on the list of things oil workers are cutting spending on.

During the second-quarter earnings season, several companies that aren’t in the energy sector continued to mention declines in their businesses in oil-producing areas.

Harley Davidson saw a jump in the number of people in oil-heavy regions who were defaulting on loan payments. Caesars Entertainment said a lot of weakness was in the southeastern US.

And like The Cheesecake Factory, Popeyes demonstrates that it’s not only consumer spending on big-ticket items that has fallen.

Aug. 17 2016 2:04 PM

Smartphone Maker Xiaomi, the “Apple of China,” Is Struggling

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

The “Apple of China” is in serious trouble.

Sales in China of smartphones from Xiaomi, a once red-hot Chinese hardware startup touted as the country’s answer to Apple, fell by a whopping 38 percent in the second quarter of 2016 year-on-year, according to new data from the research firm IDC.

Xiaomi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Xiaomi’s phones are not yet available in Western markets, but the company has developed a buzzy reputation in the tech press.

The company launched in 2010, and it enjoyed meteoric growth: By the end of 2014 it was the world’s most valuable technology startup, with a private valuation of more than $46 billion. (It has since been dethroned of that title by Uber.)

Aug. 16 2016 2:48 PM

McDonald’s Put a Cap on Free Food in the Olympic Village Because Athletes Ate Too Much

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Olympic athletes are so obsessed with McDonald’s, the fast-food giant is limiting the amount of free food Olympians can order.

The McDonald’s location in the Olympic Village is free for athletes and coaches, reports the Washington Post. But due to extreme demand from hungry Olympians, the Post says the location was forced to cap the number of items that a single person could order at 20.

While 20 items may seem like plenty of food, the Washington Post reports that some customers want even more. Athletes can order extra items, but if they do, their orders drop in priority, meaning they’ll have to wait longer for their food.

Still, the promise of free food is appealing enough to Olympians that they’re more than ready to wait in a line of 50-plus people for fries, Big Macs, and McMuffins. With few other options in the area, there is always a long line outside the location, and athletes have proven they’re willing to wait.

Aug. 15 2016 5:30 PM

Audi Is Basically Cool With You Using This New Feature to Send Texts at Red Lights

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Audi has figured out a way to make sitting in traffic a less white-knuckling experience.

The luxury car maker announced Monday it’s bringing a traffic light timer to its vehicle dashboards, and will start rolling it out in some major U.S. cities by the end of the year.

Aug. 12 2016 12:15 PM

Some Rascal Masquerading as Wall Street’s Bud Fox Just Called in to a Corporate Earnings Meeting to Ask About Harambe

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

We’ve seen some crazy things on earnings calls before, but this has to take the cake.

During Ruby Tuesday’s second-quarter earnings call, an unidentified caller posed as Bud Fox, Charlie Sheen’s character from the movie “Wall Street,” and asked CEO JJ Buettgen if the burger chain’s business had been affected by the death of Harambe.

Aug. 10 2016 1:08 PM

SolarCity Is Planning to Sell Solar Roofs

Tesla is getting into the roofing business. Well, sort of.

CEO Elon Musk joined SolarCity’s second quarter earnings conference call on Tuesday. Musk is chairman of SolarCity, but Tesla is also in the process of buying the company in a deal worth $2.6 billion.

During the call, SolarCity’s CEO Lyndon Rive, who is also Musk’s cousin, said that SolarCity has plans to reveal two new products by the end of the year. Musk, though, elaborated and said that at least one of those new products is a solar roof.

“It’s a solar roof, as opposed to modules on a roof,” Musk said.

Rive confirmed that the company was indeed going to roll out a roofing integrated product.

Aug. 9 2016 12:22 PM

Japanese Messaging App Line Is Now Beating Facebook in Its Home Country

Messaging is already huge.

And Line is perfectly positioned to ride the trend to untold riches. The app—which has more than 200 million monthly active users globall—has four to five times the number of monthly active users as Facebook in Japan and is similarly popular in Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia.

David Gibson, an analyst at Macquarie Research, thinks the company’s stock price will shoot up 32 percent higher on the Japanese markets. The main attraction isn’t even the crazy popular messaging app, but rather it’s the ad platform behind it.

“Our report is differentiated from others in the market because we met with six major ad agencies to understand their attitude to the LINE Ad Platform,” Gibson said in a note to clients.

The biggest markets for mobile ads in Japan are Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo Japan. These markets are great but are not expanding, meaning prices are rising as more demand meets a stagnant supply.

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