Business Insider
Analyzing the top news stories across the web

March 27 2017 2:06 PM

Shoppers Appear to Be Ditching Whole Foods for the Organic Food at ... Kroger?

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Whole Foods is losing millions of customers to what was once an unthinkable threat: Kroger.

The organic-food chain has lost as many as 14 million customers in the past six quarters, according to Barclays analyst Karen Short. Most of those customers are instead going to Kroger and probably won't ever go back to Whole Foods, Short said in a recent research note. "The magnitude of the traffic declines ... is staggering," Short said. "As most retailers know—once traffic has been lost, those patterns rarely reversed."

March 21 2017 11:15 AM

Hackers Reportedly Tried to Steal Self-Driving Car Secrets From Chinese Web Company Baidu

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

A group of hackers attempted to steal self-driving car technology from Baidu, a Chinese web services company that has been actively pursuing self-driving cars, Bloomberg first reported.

Details on the hacking attempt are scarce, but Baidu has beefed up its cybersecurity team following the threat. Ma Jie, Baidu's head of cybersecurity, told Bloomberg that the company is supporting a group of "white hat" student hackers from Tsinghua University and has also teamed up with rivals Tencent and Alibaba to limit the likelihood of another attack.

March 16 2017 6:18 PM

Google Home Is Playing Ads, But Google Says They Aren't Really Ads

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

As Google moves toward screen-free computing powered by digital assistants and artificial intelligence, one of the big questions the company faces is how it'll translate its lucrative advertising to those platforms.

Now we're starting to get an idea.

Some users of the new Google Home connected speaker have noticed audio ads for Disney's upcoming "Beauty and the Beast" remake.

March 16 2017 12:38 PM

Spotify May Block Users From Listening to Top Hits Unless They Pay to Subscribe

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

People who use Spotify without paying may be blocked from listening to some of the hottest new music on the platform, according to a new report from The Financial Times.

The music streaming service is reportedly nearing a new deal with the major music labels. And one part of that deal would—on a temporary basis—make some of the top releases on the platform available only to users who have paid for subscriptions. So the next Frank Ocean album, say, might become available on Spotify—but unless you've paid for a subscription, you'll have to wait a while before you can actually listen to it.

These negotiations with labels are essential to Spotify's future plans. The Swedish company plans to go public, but first it needs certainty about the terms on which it uses the major labels' music on its platform. Spotify has been long resistant to the idea of restricting some of its music to just its paid subscribers. But according to the FT, it has received a concession in return—it will pay less to the labels in royalty fees on each song.

Taylor Swift refused to put her new album on the platform in 2015 because the company would not restrict it to premium-only users, an incident that sparked heated debate over how music should be valued and whether ad-supported music streaming services pay artists properly. Competitors, like Apple Music, do not offer a free tier at all—though it does provide temporary free trials to potential subscribers.

The negotiations, with Universal, Sony, and Warner, could reportedly be completed within weeks.

Spotify currently has more than 50 million paid subscribers, according to its site, and over 100 million overall. There are more than 30 million songs on the platform.

A spokesperson declined to comment to Business Insider.

March 15 2017 2:40 PM

Google Street View Will Now Take You Into an Active Volcano

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Google Street View has expanded to an extreme new location: the inside of an active volcano.

The 360-degree mapping service has launched an update that includes the island of Ambryn, part of a remote archipelago of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, it announced in a blog post published on Wednesday. Users can explore the island and the village Endu—and climb inside the island's volcano, "one of the largest boiling lava lakes in the world."

March 8 2017 2:37 PM

Disney’s CEO Quoted Hamilton to Explain Why He’s on Trump’s Business Council

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

At Disney's annual shareholder meeting Wednesday, CEO Bob Iger responded to criticisms of his place on President Trump's business council by quoting the musical Hamilton. “I want to be in the room where it happens,” Iger said, quoting the smash-hit Broadway sensation that almost certainly will get made into a movie one day (maybe by Disney).


Feb. 28 2017 5:18 PM

Walmart is Testing Technology That Would Let Customers Skip Checkout Lines

Walmart is testing a technology that would allow customers to skip checkout lines and pay for purchases with their smartphones instead, the Washington Post reports.

The so-called "scan and go" technology sounds exactly like what Amazon is planning to implement in its new chain of grocery stores, which the company is calling Amazon Go. Amazon revealed plans for its new stores in December. The company said shoppers will be able to use an app to add products to a digital shopping cart, then walk out of the building with their purchases without waiting in a checkout line. Payment for the products will be handled through the app.


Feb. 23 2017 9:55 PM

Google's Self-Driving Car Company Is Suing Uber for Intellectual Property Theft

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Google and Uber started off as friends, then became competitors, and are now adversaries in a bitter legal fight. Waymo, the self-driving-car business that is owned by Google parent company Alphabet, has sued Uber, alleging that the ride-hailing company stole its intellectual property.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in San Francisco, claims that a team of ex-Google engineers stole the company's design of its lidar system for Uber's self-driving-truck startup Otto. "We believe these actions were part of a concerted plan to steal Waymo’s trade secrets and intellectual property," reads a blog post by Waymo posted on Thursday.

"We take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully," Uber wrote in a statement to Business Insider.

Waymo said in the lawsuit that it was copied on an email, apparently inadvertently, that included machine drawings of what appears to be Uber's lidar circuit board that "bears a striking resemblance" to Waymo's own designs.

Waymo alleges that Anthony Levandowski, a co-founder of Google's self-driving car project, "downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo’s LiDAR and circuit board" six weeks before resigning from the company.

Levandowski left Google after 9 years to found Otto, which was acquired by Uber at a deal valued at nearly $680 million. Uber bought Otto in August 2016, just six months after Levandowski founded the startup.

Waymo alleges that Levandowski installed specialized software on his company laptop in order to gain access to Waymo's design server. He then downloaded 9.7 GB of highly confidential files and trade secrets that included blue prints, design files, and testing documentation, the lawsuit claims.

Waymo wrote that former Waymo employees now working at Uber and Otto downloaded "additional highly confidential information" related to its lidar system, including supplier lists, manufacturing details, and statements of work with highly technical information.

"Misappropriating this technology is akin to stealing a secret recipe from a beverage company," Waymo wrote in its blog post.

Waymo announced in early January that it was building its own lidar system in-house, which allowed it to reduce the price of the notoriously expensive system by 90%.

The lawsuit marks the the latest escalation in the bumpy relationship between the two tech giants.

Google Ventures invested $250 million in Uber in 2013, when the ride-hailing service was still in its early years. But as the two companies' business interests began to overlap, particularly around self-driving cars, the relationship began to fray. In August, Google executive David Drummond stepped down from his seat on Uber's board.

Prior to stepping down, Drummond, as well as Google Ventures CEO David Krane, had been shut out of Uber's board meetings.

Feb. 22 2017 11:55 AM

Apple’s Massive, Ring-Shaped New Headquarters Is Opening This April

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Apple has announced that its new $5 billion campus will be open to employees starting in April.

The Silicon Valley tech giant said it would take over six months to move more than 12,000 workers to the new campus, which is set on a 175-acre site. The ring-shaped facility, which Apple is now calling "Apple Park," is several months behind schedule. Construction on the main building and the surrounding parkland will continue over the summer, Apple said.

Feb. 15 2017 11:25 AM

Under Armour's CEO Bought a Full-Page Newspaper Ad to Say He Didn't Mean to Praise Trump

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is stepping up the effort to distance himself from comments he made praising President Donald Trump.

Plank published a full page ad in hometown newspaper The Baltimore Sun clarifying his previous remarks. The open letter never mentions President Trump by name, instead stating Under Armour's values in diversity, equal rights, job creation, and opposing Trump's executive order travel ban. "I personally believe that immigration is the foundation of our country’s exceptionalism," Plank wrote.