Google Glass is Available to the General Public – Today Only

Jennifer Lawrence Google Glass

Jennifer Lawrence Makes Google Glass look (somewhat) cool. IMG: via Facebook.

It’s official – Google Glass is finally available to the public as of 9:00am ET today. Google announced their plan last week, “Every day, we get requests from those of you who haven’t found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Before today, Google Glass was only available through a limited beta-testing program, and of course, celebrities. Now, people in the United States can buy Google Glass for (high) price of $1500, but at least you can pick out your frames.To get the Glass, you have to be over 18 years of age, have a U.S. shipping address. Google has apologized to everyone else, saying it’s “just not ready yet to bring Glass to other countries.”

“Every day we get requests from those of you who haven’t found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too,” Google said in a post on Google+ last Thursday. “…We’re excited to meet our new Explorers, and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts about Glass.”

If you’re wanting to get the product, you better act fast. You’ll have just one day to buy it, and supplies will be limited.

Google Glass allows users to browse the web with it, take photos with nobody looking, navigate using Google maps – and pretty much anything you can do on a smartphone.

Think the price is too steep? Dean Takahashi from Venture Beat rounded up 16 amazing alternatives to Google Glass, which are all way cheaper and some of  cooler-looking. You also have more than one day to decide if you want to buy them.

Will you be going out and buying Google Glass with your tax refund today?

Report Finds That 44% of Twitter Users Don’t Tweet

Twitter

Twitter may have a lot of registered users, but that doesn’t mean a lot of those users actually like to tweet.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a site that monitors website activity found that 44% of Twitter’s 974 million registered users have never tweeted. About 40% of Twitter accounts have sent 10 tweets or less. Twopcharts is not able to see how many users have logged in however, it is just based on their activity.

While these are valuable numbers, they don’t mean a whole lot. A lot of Twitter users create accounts to just read tweets, but don’t actually like to tweet themselves.

The report was released on Friday, and comes after Twitter reported in February that it had 244 million active monthly users in the last three months of 2013. This means that about 730 million people have created accounts on the site, but are not active on a monthly basis.

Twopcharts has previously reported that of the 284.4 million new accounts in 2013, only 12.9% were still tweeting in February 2014.

Twitter has learned that their interface can be confusing to navigate for some, so they have been slowly rolling out a new layout which looks a lot more like Facebook and includes pop-up notifications.

On Monday, Twitter opened at just over $40 a share, but the stock grew when the co-founders said they had no plans to sell shares when the post-IPO lock-up expires on May 5.

Investing in the Digital Boom

Investing in the Digital Boom

IMG: via Shutterstock

Unlike the dot-com boom of the early 2000’s, investors are now realizing that many technological companies have solid platforms and receive tangible revenues. Many firms are looking to get a piece of this successful digital boom, including big names like TPG, Facebook, CVC Capital Partners, and KKR.

In late 2013, TPG invested roughly $90 million into Uber, a phone app that people can use to get a driver to pick them up at their GPS location and take them to their destination. Many big-name companies are investing in phone apps, the largest being Facebook’s high profile acquisition of WhatsApp—at $16 billion.Uber

King, the creator of the highly successful Candy Crush Saga, has established itself as no small firm. Creating and selling merchandise outside of its digital realm, the London-based Apax received a $3 billion profit, having invested $29 million initially in the company back in 2005.

CVC Capital Partners is looking at getting into technology deals in medium sized groups. Henry R. Kravis and his company KKR, a private equity firm, is also planning to make the jump into such investments. KKR plans to invest in small yet fast growing technology companies, which is outside of what the investor usually seeks. Some tech companies tend to be riskier investments. They tend to be smaller, less mature and involve themselves in backing swift expansion.

The knowledge that so many digital firms can go ‘viral,’ expand quickly, and go global, has big name investors eager yet cautious. Many acknowledge that becoming a high tech investor requires a deep knowledge of the technology. Many investment companies have the capital, however most struggle with the technological expertise to identify soon-to-be successful tech firms.

Walmart Plans to Make Organic Foods Cheaper

Organic Walmart isn’t really thought of as the one stop shop for organic or healthy food – but they are trying to change that.

Starting this month, the company aims to drive down the price of organic food nationwide in about 1,000 stores with its new in-house line of 100 or so products in exclusive partnership with Wild Oats.

“There will be no premium for the customer to purchase organic products,” said Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of grocery at Wal-Mart U.S. “They will be able to purchase organic at non-organic prices. We’re removing the premium associated with organic groceries,” adding that “customers have been asking for this.”

Organic products and kitchen stables such as olive oil will cost 25 percent less than their competitors, based on price comparisons of 26 national brands.

“It’s not just the Whole Foods of the world. They’re finding more and more organic foods at Safeway and Kroger, and they’re happy about that, because not everybody feels they have the resources to shop at a store like Whole Foods,” said Amy Sousa, a senior research analyst.

Walmart providing affordable organic products into affordable organics will force competitors like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to drop their prices if they want to stay in the game.

Wild Oats used to have it’s own grocery stores in the 1980s. Whole Foods acquired them in 1987 for $565 million. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission forced Whole Foods to divest its holdings. Wild Oats CEO Tom Casey described the company’s exclusive Walmart partnership as “a movement,” adding: “We’re passing on scalable savings.”

Yahoo to Make Its Way Into Original Programming

Yahoo TV

While Yahoo has been focused on acquiring companies lately (do Tumblr, EventLife, or Distill ring a bell?) they are going to have a new focus soon – original programming.

Yahoo is close to ordering four high-quality online TV series with budgets of as much as a “few million dollars” per episode, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. This would put Yahoo in competition with big companies such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

Although a lot of people may not know it, Yahoo has offered originally programming in the past, but has only creates short web series. Yahoo announced an exclusive deal for the entire video catalogue of Saturday Night Live around this time last year and followed that up a few months later with the hiring of news anchor Katie Couric.

“While our video offering is still nascent, we have made some good progress in 2013,” Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, told investors in an earnings call in January. “With our continued commitment to expanding our video offering, we believe we are well positioned to grow video revenue in 2014.”

Yahoo was first rumored to be looking to buy Dailymotion, and is now reportedly looking to buy News Distribution Network (NDN).

“You can produce a good long-term business, but you should have a fully baked out strategy. Otherwise there will be a lot of money lost making something that most people would deem successful,” Wieser says. “If you are spending a couple million dollars on a half-hour episode, you can’t afford to have misses. You need to have hits.”

Yahoo’s video audience in the U.S. increased by 14% year-over-year, according to data from comScore. It is still behind competitors such as Facebook and Google.

Only time will tell with Yahoo. While Netflix has been extremely successful with Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, they have made several other attempts that have not been as popular.

Which States Have the Highest and Lowest Taxes?

New York City, NYC

Want to live in NYC? Be prepared to pay a lot of taxes.

Taxes are something that everyone complains about, regardless of what party you join. It’s something you have to pay, yet you don’t really have a say as to what they go towards. Taxes vary depending on what state you live in, and some tax rates are even higher or lower in different cities.

During the 2011 tax season, Americans paid 9.8% of their income in state and local taxes — on top of taxes collected by the federal government. This number, according to a report by the Tax Foundation, was up from 9.3% in 2000.

For the most part, taxes are higher on the East Coast, and lower for residents in Midwestern and Southern states. Residents in New Jersey and New York paid more than 12% of their income in state and local taxes, while Wyoming residents paid less than 7%.

To identify the states with the highest and lowest tax burdens, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state and local tax burden as a share of state residents’ income, as provided by the Tax Foundation.

The states with the highest include Wisconsin, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. New York had the highest state and local tax rate in fiscal 2011. On average, 12.6% of residents’ income went to either state or local taxes. The state charges residents with an individual income tax rate of 6.85% if they earned more than $205,850 a year, and a rate of 8.82% if they earned more than $1,029,250 a year.

The states with the lowest tax rates include Louisiana, Texas, South Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming. In fiscal 2012, Wyoming only collected $2.6 billion in taxes, which is the lowest in the United States. Like several other states with low tax burdens, Wyoming has no individual income tax.

Do you live in a state with a really low or really high tax rate?

Alliance of Angels

Alliance of Angels

Alliance of Angels

The biggest entrepreneurial companies in the world wouldn’t have garnered the success they have without a strong business strategy, a leading team of innovators, and the know-how to get ahead. Even the most successful businesspeople and entrepreneurs need a guardian angel to help them get to the top, that is, an “angel investor.” “Angel” investors are people who have the means and experience to provide start-ups with the advice and funds to bring their vision to life. One of the largest networks of these kinds of investors can be found in the Pacific Northwest, at the Alliance of Angels.

“The Alliance of Angels is one of the largest and most active angel groups in the Pacific Northwest,” explains the organization’s website. “We have invested more than $80M into 200 companies since our inception in 1997 and celebrated more than 30 exits,” of the success the organization has achieved. Each year, the Alliance of Angels invests around $10 million into various companies focused on clean technology, information technology, and life sciences. The companies that it has invested in have become some of the biggest names in their industries, a testament to the eye for innovation that Alliance of Angels possesses.

The investors that make up the Alliance of Angels are seasoned entrepreneurs, senior business executives, and hedge fund managers who have backgrounds in successful companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile, and more. The Alliance of Angels prides itself on being active in the realm of entrepreneurial investing, and with successful businesspeople like Dennis Adler, Robin Elenga, and Joe Heinrich at the helm, it’s no surprise that the organization is one of the most influential angel investment networks in the country.

One of the things that make Alliance of Angels such a prolific investment network is its investors’ ability to recognize entrepreneurial potential. The organization’s portfolio is brimming with tremendous success stories; the start-ups and entrepreneurial endeavors that the angel investors have supported have become some of the biggest names in global business. Julep, Full Circle Farms’ organic produce subscription program, Pharmitas, CultureMob, and nearly 200 other companies have found immense success because of Alliance of Angels.

One of the organization’s biggest success stories pertains to the electronic signature company, DocuSign. Explains Keith Krach, CEO of DocuSign, “DocuSign has basically become a verb. It is like, ‘Send me the stuff I need to sign, and I’ll DocuSign it,’” of the way that the company has become one of the most trusted global standards in electronic signatures. With more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies utilizing its services, DocuSign absolutely dominates the industry, but could not have done so without the help of angel investors like those at Alliance of Angels.

6 Dead in Chile Earthquake

2014 Chile Earthquake

People stay on higher grounds in a tsunami safety zone after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake shook the region, in Iquique city, north of Santiago March 16, 2014. IMG: REUTERS/Cristian Vivero

Wednesday morning hundreds of thousands of people returned home after evacuating Chile’s low-lying coastal areas when authorities called off a tsunami alarm, as damage from a massive overnight earthquake was almost minimal. The major earthquake, with a magnitude of 8.2, struck off the coast of northern Chile Tuesday, killing six and triggering a tsunami that pounded the shore with 7-foot waves. The people who died were crushed by collapsing walls or killed by heart attacks.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was shallow at 12.5 miles below the seabed and struck about 950 miles from the capital, Santiago. The most heavily affected area appeared to be the mining port of Iquique near the Peruvian border. President Michelle Bachelet told troops and police reinforcements to maintain order while repairing the landslides blocking roads. Many of the 900,000 people evacuated still have memories of the deadly February 2010 earthquake and tsunami that struck the country’s central-southern regions.

“The government of Chile has been working hard to improve the awareness of people living along the coast to the threat from tsunamis and on what to do if one is approaching,” said Steven Godby, an expert in disaster management at Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, England.

Lululemon Offers ‘Spray-On Yoga Pants’ as an April Fool’s Joke – We Hope

Yoga pants are all ready pretty tight and revealing – they purpose (initially) was to actually do yoga or work out in them. Lululemon chose to poke fun at their see-through yoga pants, by “debuting” a new line: spray-on yoga pants.

Clearly an April Fool’s joke, Lululemon embraced a recent gag video created by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, by displaying the spray-on “pants” on its website:

Lululemon "Spray-On Pants"These pants go for a whopping $1,200 per can, but man are they worth it! These “next-to-naked” pants are allegedly already sold out.

It was nice to see the companies’ sense of humor, after having issues with a recall of pants that were too sheer last year. During the original spoof, which aired last Thursday, Kimmel claimed the controversial pants are “so tight that they cut off circulation to the part of your brain that decides how much money its OK to spend on yoga pants.” With pants starting at $80, they can be a bit spendy!

Here’s Kimmel’s original spoof:

China’s Non-Bailout Could Strengthen China’s Financial Structure

China

IMG: via Shutterstock

China has finally, for the first time ever, allowed an onshore company to default on a bond payment rather than bailing it out. China, still struggling with the fallout of a credit boom that began back in 2008 from stimulus packages, has slowly begun to allow small, commonly privately owned, businesses to default on their debts.

The reason behind this, says China’s premier Li Keqiang, is to address the issue of “moral hazard” in the economy. While he says the government is taking steps to ensure it doesn’t pose a threat to a broader financial structure, many analysts are concerned it might prompt a “Lehman moment” and cause investor panic.

With China likely to see a series of defaults as its government accelerates financial deregulation, the government hopes to take steps to ensure they do endanger wider financial systems.

Many rating agencies have given their opinions on what this could mean for China’s economy. Moody’s CEO Raymond McDaniel and his team have given their two cents: “People believe that if you let a LGFV [local government financing vehicle] default, there could be a chain reaction,” said Ivan Chung, a credit officer with Moody’s. “So they believe the government will do something and not let them go under at this moment.”

With the clear indication from China that they will indeed let some business go under, some are saying the perception of the financial sector is strengthened, not hindered, by such decisions. With the world economic collapse in 2008 still firmly in most investors minds of the United States’ “too big to fail” bailouts happening at taxpayer expense, many believe the knowledge that such a bailout won’t ever happen again can bolster confidence in the government and in turn, its financial sector. Banking practices having become much more secure with the understanding that the US government will not allow such bailout to happen again.

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