Its inevitable: The age of the internal combustion engine is ending. Growing demand for cleaner, greener transport means the fossil-fuel burning powerplants that humanity hasrelied on and refined over the last century are on the way out. But, like so many great dynasties, it’s leaving a power vacuum in its wake. Auto manufacturers the world over are scrambling to figure out whatcomes next.
The best place to find thefuture of the automobile? Its homeland. 130 years after Karl Benz patented a three wheeled vehicle powered by a single cylinder engine, Germany is home to 41 car and engine plants, which make one in every five cars sold worldwide. Cars represent the country’s biggest industry. German giantsBMW, Porsche, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz have changed the shape of the world by exploding gasoline.
Yet last week, the country turned its back on that history. The Bundesrat, which represents German states at the federal level, voted to ban all diesel and gasoline cars by 2030. Yes, in just 14 years, the country wants all new cars to be emissions-free.
OK, it’s a non-binding resolution, and India, the Netherlands, and Norway already have similar proposals on the books. But considering the importance and significance of Germany’sauto industry, it’s the boldest proposal yet.
From the outside, the automakers seem ready for the change.At this year’s Paris Motor Show, Mercedes showed off a battery-powered concept SUV, the first in a coming line of electric cars. Since VW admitted to selling 11 million over-polluting diesel cars, it can’t say enough about EVs. BMW Chairman Harald Krueger said lastweek his company will systematically electrify all its brands and model series, starting with a new Mini-E and an electric X3 crossover.
Seems grand, but these promises may be more about buying time than a full scale shift of focus.
“There are people who have a horse in each race, who are talking as much about marketing as they are about technology,” says Brett Smith, who studies advanced powertrain technology at the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan. “Its tough to cut through to what is actually happening.”
“This is a fork in the road,” agrees Mary Gustanski, VP of engineering for Delphi, a major industry supplier that specializes in electrification technologies. “The manufacturers are taking a pause to make sure they select the correct fork.”
Until recently, the diesel engine was the darling of Deutschland.Automakers promoted the energy-rich gasoline alternative as a way to reduce CO2 emissions without changing the internal combustion status quo. European regulators went along, and diesels accounted for half of car sales on the continent.
VW pretty much ruined that arrangement, but tighter EU regulations on NOx emissions and recognition of associated health concerns were already pushing diesels out of favor.
A big part of the problem is that customers aren’t clamoring for electrics. Switching from diesel back to petrol is an easier alternative, particularly while oil prices are low. But regulators around the world are demanding cleaner cars. Europe has set aggressive 2025 targets, China has ambitious 2020 goals, and the US has its increasingly stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.
Still, there’s the Tesla effect. Elon Musk has made battery power cool, and the big players can’t ignore years of salivating love for the Model S and X, along with 373,000 people plonking down $1,000 to reserve their Model 3—a car that doesn’t even exist yet. For comparison, VW sold 533,000 Golfs in Europe in 2015—the continent’s most popular car.
The mainstream public might not be buying electric cars en masse, but the thought leaders, the hip kids, and the celebrities are. Automakers have recognized they need an electric halo product, so they dont look like theyre being left behind. Witness Porsche’s Mission E, BMW’s i8, and the recently axed Audi R8 e-tron. Those limited-run cars and concepts that might hit the road maybe somedayhelp the industry look “on the case,” but leave it wiggle room if conditions change.
Take the all-electric, autonomous I.D. concept Volkswagen revealed last month in Paris. With blue tires, a disappearing steering wheel, and a price under $30,000, it’s heavy on promise, light on technical detail. VW says it’ll be ready around 2020—so if some breakthrough somehow makes hydrogen-powered cars viable (LOL), the manufacturercould still pivot to embrace fuel cells instead of batteries. Or, you know, quietly drop the whole idea if EVs fall out of fashion and those strict standards get rolled back.
Electrics may work as publicity-driving halo cars—even the $30,000 Chevy Bolt can fit this description—but automakers avoid going all-in on electrics because the profit margins stink. Batteries are expensive, and it’s hard to make money on the things—just ask Tesla.
That, and moving away from internal combustion cars requires major investment. Building a car with any element of electrification requires a new supply chain, or the ability to build components like motors in-house. When BMW talks about electrifying every car, it likely means starting with something like a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which uses a small motor and battery for an efficient power boost. Delphi builds the tech, and Gustanski says manufacturers are keen to get in on the act.
That could always change. Technology advances, and if regulations don’t relent, automakers may have no choice. The internal combustion is fading—but it will breathe oxygen and blow it up a while longer. “The automotive industry is in its hottest phase for 20, 30 or even 40 years,” says BMWs Krueger.
Despite their promises, the automakers are still on the starting blocks. And if they decide on a direction, it’ll be an interesting race to watch.
Washington (CNN)Donald Trump on Wednesday gave a major speech attacking presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and CNN’s Reality Check Team put the billionaire’s statements and assertions to the test.
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Travel blogging couple get paid up to Â£7,000 per Instagram post …
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Travel bloggers Jack Morris, 26, and girlfriend Lauren Bullen, 24, refuse to post for less than $3000 (Â£2400).
Paid Over RM53k Per Picture, Travel Blogging Couple Reveals: Don't Use Filters And Take Photos One Hour After …malaysiandigest.com
Tapping an Audience: From Blog to Books
The publishing of blogs in book form is not a new phenomenon, internationally every year hundreds of blogs, ranging from recipe, to humour, to comics, to personal are converted and published into books. But the recent successes of Emily Writes' Rants …
Google’s artificial intelligence unit DeepMind is getting serious about healthcare – with ambitious plans to digitise the NHS – but first it needs to convince patients to hand over their medical records.
Back in February, it began work with the Royal Free to create an app to help doctors spot patients who might be at risk of developing kidney disease.
The first most knew of the partnership was when it emerged some months later that it would be accessing 1.6 million patient records as part of the deal.
That led to some pretty negative headlines and questions from some of the patients involved as to why they had not been informed their data was being used in this way.
The app – dubbed Streams – is now under investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) while the National Data Guardian, which is tasked with safeguarding health data, is also looking at it.
Newly determined to forge a better relationship with the public, Google hosted its first ever patient engagement forum this week at its new headquarters in King’s Cross, pledging that it wanted, in future, to work in closer partnership with the public.
“Patients are at the heart of what we do and as we embark on this decade-long opportunity, we really need a diverse group of people to help us design the products,” said Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind and head of DeepMind Health.
The audience was polite during the presentation – making encouraging comments and seeming excited about the possibilities.
So far, DeepMind has two other continuing projects:
But, during the course of the forum, it became clear that DeepMind has much more ambitious plans when it comes to patient data, so much so that anyone attending could have been forgiven for thinking that it had won a contract to digitise the NHS.
Mr Suleyman spoke at length about a patient portal that would be accessible to both patients and doctors and available on their own smartphones.
It would allow doctors to search a patient’s entire medical history in chronological order before they arrived at their bedside. Patients may be able to input their own data, for example, if they suddenly had a change in their condition or experienced problems after an operation.
The plan shocked some audience members who had not spoken out earlier.
“What was astounding to me, was the sense of entitlement that this commercial company clearly feels to access NHS patient medical records without consent and that many in the room seemed to have accepted that unquestioningly,” said Jen Persson, a co-ordinator from campaign group Defenddigitalme.
“Patients have been left out so far of what DeepMind has done. The firm is not at the start of ‘patient and public engagement’ as it put it, but playing catch-up after getting caught getting it wrong,” she added.
The patient portal is just an idea at this stage, admitted Mr Suleyman, and his team is probably “years away from building it”.
The audience raised concerns about how safe such data would be and valid questions were asked about how DeepMind could ensure data did not get into the wrong hands.
“It may be that we stream data so it is not stored on a local device or that we have Trust-owned devices with an encrypted operating system or that data won’t be accessible outside of the Trust’s wi-fi,” offered Mr Suleyman.
But he admitted there were also big hurdles: “How do patients verify themselves, how do we handle someone forgetting their password? There is a lot of work to do.”
There is currently no national agreement between the NHS and DeepMind and the BBC understands that there was no representative from NHS England at the event.
The forum – which was a mix of formal speeches from doctors and patients who have been involved in DeepMind’s trials as well as views from the audience – also heard from a health data-sharing advocate, Graham Silk.
The businessman was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2001 and given three years to live. He found out for himself the power of having his data in the right hands when he was invited to join a trial with an experimental new drug.
He has since set up a charity to put doctors and patients in touch with new drug trials and believes that we have a hypocritical view when it comes to data-sharing.
“Millions go on Amazon every day and give away their name, address, bank account details and it is bizarre that they don’t feel the same about health data which has the power to do the most good,” he said.
He thinks data is the “lifeblood” of the NHS but cannot understand why some patients might be wary of sharing information that could ultimately save their life or the lives of others.
He wants to see a system where the NHS can earn money from selling patient data to commercial partners.
“Much of the focus of the media and others is on whether using data is safe but, if we are to improve patient outcomes, we have to utilise this precious asset.”
Perhaps the most pertinent question posed during the forum was one from a patient who asked simply: “What’s in it for Google?”
Mr Suleyman has previously told the BBC: “Ultimately we want to get paid when we deliver concrete clinical benefits. We want to get paid to change the system and improve patient outcomes,” something he reiterated at the event.
Ms Persson is not convinced.
“DeepMind couldn’t answer clearly what their business model was with these NHS Trusts and what was in it for Google.
“Given that Google spent over 400m buying the DeepMind start-up in 2014, they clearly expect to make money from something,” she said.
Google is not the only firm that the NHS shares data with but it is difficult to say how many there are as they are not centrally stored and each trust makes its own agreements.
Each one goes through a rigorous approval process.
DeepMind said that patient information is held “with the highest level of security and encryption.. and isn’t shared with Google.”
Patients can opt out of sharing data by emailing their NHS Trust’s data protection officer.
Only 148 Royal Free patients decided to do so after learning about the DeepMind partnership.
Those figures chime with a survey commissioned by medical research charity the Wellcome Foundation earlier this year to find out more about public attitudes to data sharing.
Its survey of more than 2,000 patients, conducted in April, found that most were unaware that their data was being shared with commercial organisations and that there were “red lines” that patients felt should never be crossed – such as sharing data with insurance companies.
But only 17% said that they would never consent to their anonymised data being shared with third parties, even for research purposes.
There is obviously a lot of good that can be done with patient data and advances in data mining and artificial intelligence offer an incredible new tool for doctors and care-givers.
But it is a tool that needs to be used carefully, thinks Ms Persson.
“Hospital trusts should think twice before gifting commercial companies confidential data on an ad hoc basis, without informed patient consent, without transparent oversight, and patients should be asking what precisely will it be used for, by whom, and with what safeguards.”
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Tony Romo's Retirement Creates $14 Million Cap Space For Cowboys As Official Post-June 1 Release
Blogging The Boys (blog)
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Blogging The Boys (blog)
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Buying the losers of the past decade could pay off in a world where Donald Trump is in charge of the worlds biggest economy.
Norwegian hedge fund firm Sector Asset Management, which manages about $1.7 billion, is turning its portfolios around to bet on bank, energy and materials stocks that may thrive as fiscal stimulus is about to be unleashed after years of global austerity.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has signaled massive fiscal stimulus, including tax cuts and infrastructure spending, causing bond yields to soar as investors factor in accelerating inflation.
You need someone that is crazy enough, like a Trump, Peter Andersland, founder of Sector, said in an interview on Tuesday at his office in Oslo. Someone that just says: lets do it!
Monetary policy has reached its end and fiscal expansion is now the only option to revive the economy and prevent further populism from spreading, according to the 55-year-old founder of Sector.
You must use the bazooka to get it going, he said. A QE for the people can come. A fiscal policy in coordination with central banks. Then we can get an economic impulse for some time. The question is whether thats enough to revive the animal spirit so people take the baton and start to spend money.
As rates may have reached a bottom, Sector is decreasing long exposure to stocks within consumer staples and discretionary, which have been the winners in the low-rate regime.
We avoid a lot of the winners in the past five to six years, Jannik Arvesen, 57, manager of the Sector Sigma Nordic Fund, said. Good companies, bad stocks.
The most obvious winners are now U.S. banks, according to Andersland, who manages the Global Equity Kernel Fund. The fund holds JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and regional banks such as U.S. Bancorp and Fifth Third Bancorp. European banks still have a long way to go in cleaning up their balance sheets, he said.
When long rates become higher than the short ones then the banks make money, he said. The U.S. banks have cleaned up their balance sheets.
Sector is also increasing in energy stocks on the view that the bottom in oil prices has been set. Andersland prefers the big integrated producers and holds BP Plc and Chevron Corp. among others. His global fund had a return of 7 percent through September compared with 6.6 percent for its benchmark.
We didnt have any energy, down to one to two percent, now our target is 13 percent, he said. We buy the dips within energy. You can accumulate that now along with finance and materials.
To be clear, we have not heard any sources tell us that the two companies are in talks. And reached for comment, Snap said BLAH, and Twitter said BLEURGH (actually Snap didnt respond to a request for comment and Twitter declined to comment). But theres more logic than one might think in a potential tie-up.
For starters, Twitter has had a not-so-hidden For Sale sign hanging on its front door for some time. Kara Swisher and Kurt Wagner at Re/code detailed the potential bidders last September. Interested buyers reported throughout the Fall of last year included just about everyone. At a price tag of roughly $18 billion, the deals would have been worth a stiff 60 percent premium to Twitters current valuation.
At one point Apple, Disney, Microsoft, Salesforce and Google were all rumored to be interested in making a bid for Twitters twittering masses.
If sold at the previously rumored $18 billion mark, Twitter would be a big bite for Snap to swallow, but not a complete impossibility. Notably, both firms have billions in cash, which could make a tie-up interesting from an accounting perspective. At the same time, $18 billion would constitute 56 percent of Snaps current valuation, using Google Finances tallies for both firms.
Why is Twitter for sale? While the media-popular social network has a solid user base that has continued to grow, its growing at a glacial pace. Meanwhile, investors, especially public market investors, want to invest in rocket ships, not icebergs.
In short, Twitters core product isnt growing usage quickly enough to drive a rising share price, regardless of its corporate financial performance.
It isnt hard to summon a clutch of reasons why a Twitter-Snap link-up would prove interesting.
Snap is already lining up strategic partnerships (and large investments) with big media companies like NBCUniversal, and live events like the Olympics are big part of that. Twitter has worked along similar lines to bring live sports content to its own platform.
Snaps media play already has some points on its board. As NBCUniversals chief executive wrote in a memo to his staff first reported by Re/code:
Most notably, we produced a pop-up Discover channel which featured Olympic content produced by BuzzFeed. Throughout the Rio Games, this content generated over two billion views. On the heels of that success, we are already planning an expanded partnership with Snapchat and BuzzFeed for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. Our entertainment programs have been among the first shows to launch a Snapchat series, including The Voice, SNL and E! News The Rundown. We expect to launch even more Snapchat shows with additional NBCU brands in the coming weeks.
Buying Twitter would give Snap another live platform that draws millions of viewers from the blue birds big deal with the NFL. As others have written, sports content is going to be critical for Snaps success as a platform. And as Twitter makes a push into e-sports, it could open up another significant streaming market.
(That both companies are working to bring sports video to a social network instead of bringing a social network to sports video is notable; theres likely a lesson in the move for other content verticals.)
There are other potential advantages to buying Twitter from the Snap side of things. The company has different demographics from Snaps millennial media mavens, attracting users whose income doesnt necessarily depend on an allowance from mom and dad. SnapTwitter could pitch advertisers a way to reach individuals from their youth through to adulthood inside a single social entity.
A Twitter buy also allows Snap to pitch products to a new demographic without diluting its brand: Snap could protect its dominance among millennials, while still expanding its reach without fear that a younger generation would leave the platform after seeing it overrun with olds.
For Tom Goodwin, a senior vice president of digital strategy at Zenith Media, Twitter adds a thin layer of content that makes Snap more horizontal and lets it compete with some of the other players who approach content distribution in a more multi-pronged way. It moves from being a channel to a cross-channel player.
Finally, Snaps acquisition could take the social networking fight to Facebook after being on the receiving end of several lumps from the social networking giant. A more visually minded Twitter could conceivably compete more aggressively with Instagram and be more of a challenge to Zuckerberg & co. on their own turf.
Facebook itself is more than an explicit threat to Snap. Some observers expect that Snap will eventually monetize at Facebook-like ARPU levels. That seems difficult, given the per-user information advantage that Facebook enjoys over Snap. Twitter lies somewhere in-between, implying that it might be able to help Snap push its ARPU higher than it could on its own. Perhaps.
Positives aside, there are significant problems with any scenario in which Snap comes in as a White Knight for Twitters troubled social network.
For one investor we spoke to, brand dollars are easier for a video-centric product like Snap to capture than Twitter. Whatever data Twitter has may also be meaningless for a company like Snap, the investor said. That could limit corporate synergies across ad budgets.
Another executive in the media business opined that adding Twitter could open up usership and a new audience, but at an extremely high overhead; that opinion was seconded by a banker. For the deal to work, Snap would have to gut Twitters headcount and reduce its infrastructure costs, they both said (although, given the high cost of its own infrastructure and how that impacts its bottom line the Twitter buy could give Snap instant scale).
For Snap to go down that path, there would need to be a turn in market sentiment with respect to their growth curve, the executive said of both companies.
In fact, a Snap acquisition of Twitter would probably have been viewed more favorably if the deal was done while Snap was still a private company, the executive claimed.
Beyond the problems with investors, Twitter has talent retention issues that have been widely reported in the media. Rapid-fire departures are either a vote of no-confidence in the business by those exiting, or an inability to manage the demands of keeping talent in place by management.
Finally, there are Twitters well-documented problems with the developer community and its almost comical inability to make money off its active user base. For Snap, which has been pushing away its own influencers through heavy-handed tactics, it may not be a great bet to align itself with another poor talent manager.
Still, the parlor game of who should buy Twitter continues to flit its way through the Valley. One investor friend thinks its Salesforces opportunity to lose, while another thinks the most likely buyer would be Softbanks still-forming multi-billion dollar fund or one of the big Chinese internet players (whod view the company as a massive foothold in the U.S. market).
While the Snap-Twitter tie up has a number of potential positives and downsides, its worth keeping in mind that any marriage of the two platforms would only work to cement the winner-take-most style of the social space. Consider the companies both dying and dead that Snap left in its wake. If it consumed Twitter as well, the social landscape would constrict further at least in the United States to something approaching a duopoly.
Capitalized messaging companies that have failed to raise capital in recent years total at least 12. That list of social startups has raised a combined $739 million to date. If they fail to find an exit, all that illiquid capital could disappear. And if Snap buys Twitter, the move could satiate its appetite for acquisitions for years to come.
Big bites, etc. If Snap stops buying, who else might have enough capital and gumption to get purchasing? It isnt clear. Twitter could, therefore, act as a blocking agent in the event of a union with the younger Snap.
Snap is the new kid, Facebook the big brother. If you already spurned your eldest sibling, perhaps a battlefield alliance with the middle child is a prudent possibility.
The enemy of Zuck is my Jack?
Alex Wilhelm is the editor-in-chief of CrunchBase News.
Osayi Emokpae Lasisi: 5 Reasons You Need Blog as an Entrepreneur
When I wrote my first book, many people thought it was a miracle. They couldn't imagine how I had the time to write the book, especially since I was a practicing attorney at the time. They would always ask me how I even decided to write about that …