Over the past couple years, more tech giants have recognized the dramatic lack of diversity in their workforces as a problem. Google (largely white and male from top to bottom) is trying to establish itself as a leader in this space. A key initia... Read the rest of this entry »

Couple Talking, Laughing

In preparation for Valentine's day, Spotify has released a list of the most-streamed love songs on its service.

Spotify also released a new feature called Love Notes, a way to send a kind of valentine to your loved one through Spotify. The tool sends someone a romantic playlist depending on your preferences. 

The songs that appear most on "love" playlists on Spotify feature a strange mix from heartbreak ballads to heartfelt crooning — and even "No Diggity" by Blackstreet? 

Here is the list of the top 10:

  1.    “Love Yourself” – Justin Bieber
  2.    “All of Me” – John Legend
  3.    “Photograph” – Ed Sheeran
  4.    “Sorry” – Justin Bieber
  5.    “Could You Be Loved” – Bob Marley and the Wailers
  6.    “Not a Bad Thing” – Justin Timberlake
  7.    “Pony” – Ginuwine
  8.    “Say My Name” – Destiny’s Child
  9.    “Rude” – MAGIC!
  10. “No Diggity” - Blackstreet

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shakespeare in love miramax

Just in time for Valentine's day, Spotify has released a list of the best songs make love to. These are not the best "love songs," mind you, but the best ones for the bedroom in particular. 

To find the top tracks, Spotify's data scientists looked through the "sex" playlists on its service to see which songs popped up most frequently. The list was dominated by hip-hop.

Here are the top 10:

  1. “Don’t” – Bryson Tiller
  2. “Marvins Room” – Drake
  3. “The Morning” – The Weeknd
  4. “Or Nah” (featuring the Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and DJ Mustard) – Ty Dolla $ign
  5. “Lotus Flower Bomb” (featuring Miguel) – Wale
  6. “L$D” – A$AP Rocky
  7. “Crew Love”– Drake
  8. “Sorry” – Rick Ross
  9. “Swimming Pools” (Drank) – Kendrick Lamar
  10. “Love Yourz” – J. Cole

And here is the embed in case you want to listen right away:

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Tesla Model X

On Wednesday, after reporting earnings, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors that the Model X SUV's delays were because of the vehicle's extreme complexity.

In fact, the Model X proved to be so difficult that it became a pain for Tesla.

"There was some hubris with the Model X," Musk said. "We over-engineered the car."

According to the Tesla CEO, everything from the seals around the windows to the construction of the second-row seats proved to be hurdles.

But Musk said that the company overcame these issues, which led to a redesign of certain window seals and the insourcing of seat construction.

There aren't any fundamental issues with the Model X, Musk said. In fact, the Silicon Valley tycoon claimed that the vehicle is the "best car ever" made.

"I'm not sure anyone will make a car like this again," he said. "I'm not sure Tesla will make a car like this again."

The Model X's complexity was something Musk brought up at the car's launch in September. At that time, Musk told journalists that it was so hard to put together that Tesla probably shouldn't have made it in the first place.

In spite of the long delays experienced by the program, demand remains strong for the SUV. According to Musk, the company has made efforts to suppress demand for the X and control its order backlog, which has ballooned to tens of thousands of cars.

SEE ALSO: We're going to get our first look at Tesla's $35,000 Model 3 next month

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Elon Musk

Tesla confirmed on Wednesday that its $35,000 entry-level Model 3 will be unveiled on March 31.

But what we will see in March is the prototype. Production and customer deliveries of the 3 won't begin until late 2017.

And by the time Tesla's 3 enters series production, it won't be alone in the marketplace.

General Motor's $37,500 Chevrolet Bolt will start rolling through assembly lines a full year ahead of the 3.

Like the Model 3, the Bolt comes with a price tag in the mid-$30,000 range and the ability to go 200 miles on a single charge.

So will Chevy's one-year head start be trouble for Tesla? Not if you believe Tesla CEO, Elon Musk.

"I would like to point you to the large luxury sedans segment," Musk said during Tesla's investors call. "If the Model 3 behaves at all like the Model S in its market segment, it doesn't seem like we are going to be demand constrained."

What Musk referred to was the 2015 US sales data for the S, in which it outsold all of its large luxury-sedan competitors by a large margin. According to Tesla, it sold more than 25,000 Model S sedans in the US last year, while its nearest competitor in the segment, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, sold just under 22,000 cars.

But it should be noted that none of the S's rivals are electric vehicles. On the other hand, the 3 has a direct rival from GM, which happens to be one of the biggest, oldest players in the automotive business.

Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017

The Model S and Model X crossover SUV are unique vehicles in their respective segments, as there are no offerings from original equipment manufacturers competing against the two cars.

Tesla expects the 3's affordability and 200-mile range to appeal to the general consumer with the hopes that it will help the company greatly expand its sales volume over the next few years.

GM unveiled its Chevrolet Bolt prototype last year, and the production version was revealed last month.

Business Insider had the opportunity to experience a preproduction variant of the Bolt a few weeks ago at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and found the car a lot of fun to drive.

SEE ALSO: Musk on the Model X: 'I'm not sure Tesla will make a car like this again'

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JetBlue Airbus A321

JetBlue Airways announced on Wednesday that it will launch a Silicon Valley-based venture capital subsidiary.

Called JetBlue Technology Ventures, the company will be led by former Olympian-turned-pilot-turned-airline-executive, Bonny Simi.

"JetBlue has always been an innovative airline," Simi told Business Insider.

"This is a great way for the company to look towards the future."

The new company wants to invest in tech innovations that will evolve JetBlue's customer experience and move forward the travel industry at large. 

As such, JetBlue Technology Ventures won't function like a traditional fund, Simi said.

"We are an operator and we are looking for strategic investment," She added.

"The goal is not necessarily to make a boatload of money. Having other investors could alter the goals the fund is trying to achieve."

The subsidiary will launch with a "multimillion dollar" investment from JetBlue and will be wholly-owned by the airline.

JetBlue's venture capital arm will operate from the heart of Silicon Valley, where it will be steeped in a clutch of transportation industry startups.

According to Simi, JetBlue Technology Ventures will do more than just give money to startups. It's also touting the strength of JetBlue's brand cachet. The company has said it will explore partnerships with other venture capitalists on investments. 

Simi will report to JetBlue CIO Eash Sundaram.

Ultimately, JetBlue's latest venture is an ambitious move to present itself as more than just an airline.

SEE ALSO: Musk on the Model X: 'I'm not sure Tesla will make a car like this again'

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Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is one of the most powerful figures in tech with a net worth of roughly $57 billion. Today, his "Everything Store" sells over $100 billion worth of goods per year. Unfamiliar with Bezos' story?SEE ALSO:&... Read the rest of this entry »

VevoVevo wants to become the next MTV, and has released a new app for Apple TV that pushes, incrementally, in that direction. The company also released a new Android app as well.

Many people know Vevo as the company that provides all the official videos to YouTube (yes, that little icon at the bottom). But since 2013, when it launched its first app, Vevo has tried to be more than that.

CEO Erik Huggers gave a glimpse of Vevo's vision in a press announcement for Thursday’s app releases. “We continue to invest in what we believe is the premium platform for music videos and related original content,” he said. This platform he’s talking about sounds a lot like MTV before it went all-in on reality TV.

What's changed

Vevo has been quietly building a multi-platform brand apart from YouTube for a few years, though it hasn’t quite captured the public’s imagination. But as television streaming boxes like Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV become more popular among young cord-cutters, Vevo has a chance to become a true “channel” in a way it's not on the smartphone.

Because it’s built around music videos, Vevo could have a natural tvOS advantage over music-focused rivals like Spotify and Pandora — an advantage it certainly doesn’t have on smartphones. Even on a laptop, using YouTube to search for the next Vevo clip feels more natural than letting a Vevo app choose. But streaming boxes could be a place for Vevo to build a lasting brand. Just put on the app and lean back.

It’s not surprising, then, that head of product Mark Hall says he’s much more excited about the Apple TV app than the Android one. It feels like a place Vevo could make progress.

What Vevo needs to do

Hall says the key to Vevo’s success as its own entity lies in harnessing the power of its massive catalog (which Vevo has courtesy of its major label founders).

“Right now, Vevo is great if your taste is aligned to the Top 40,” Hall says. But the service has over 160,000 videos, and Hall says he wants to unlock that potential by making Vevo’s apps smarter and more personally relevant to users. This is a sentiment we have heard echoed at streaming companies like Spotify and Pandora.

Vevo is always careful with how it talks about YouTube, and Hall is no exception to the rule. Google owns part of Vevo and YouTube drives the vast majority of its traffic. But it’s clear that things like Apple TV have Vevo imagining a brand identity separate from YouTube.

“We are at 1% of our product ambition,” Hall says. But it’s a start.

SEE ALSO: 16 Netflix hacks that will take your binge-watching to the next level

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matt brittin google

Google's European boss Matt Brittin testified to MPs on Monday about the Californian giant's tax affairs.

Accompanied by Google's global head of tax Tom Hutchinson, Brittin was at times questioned aggressively by the Public Accounts Committee, following public outcry about Google's £130 million tax bill — which critics argue amounts to a 3% tax rate.

Topics ranged from Google's global structure to simplification of tax law, and even Brittin's salary.

Here are some of the key points:

Brittin couldn't name his salary

  • Brittin got savaged early on over his own paycheck, when he was asked — and failed to provide — his salary. "I don’t have the figure but I’ll happily provide it," the exec said. "Don't you feel a bit embarrassed by this," MP Meg Hiller asked, "that you don't even know what you're paid?"

We got more data about the deal

  • Of the £130 million Google paid in tax to HMRC, £18 million was interest. None was fees.
  • The UK is responsible for 10% of Google's global sales — higher than anywhere else in the world. The figure was raised following a question about Italy and France, whose tax authorities are reportedly trying to negotiate higher tax settlements with Google than the one paid in the UK. Brittin: "We’re not confirming those rumours as to what’s happening."
  • The £130 million tax settlement is Google's largest ever. Brittin: "We’ve never paid an audit settlement larger than the ones we’ve just agreed to."

Google admits it's in Ireland for tax reasons

  • Brittin suggested that one of the reasons Google had its European HQ in Ireland (with its lower tax rates) was because of how many languages staff can speak. He acknowledged that "lower tax rates was one of the factors, so was lower property costs, high-cost internet across the Atlantic."
  • Google denies that its corporate structure — routed through Bermuda — in any way affects the amount of tax it pays.

MPs questioned the execs aggressively

  • At one point, MP Caroline Flint — a former minister — questioned Brittin and Hutchinson. She asked whether Google thought the tax deal was fair, and when Hutchinson answered in the affirmative, she asked pointedly: "Then why weren't you paying it in each of the tax years?" "That's a good question," Hutchinson acknowledged.
  • Challenged again over the £130 million figure, Brittin said that "we can't legally pay more tax in the UK" because there's no mechanism to do so. "That's simply not true," countered MP Richard Bacon.
  • Brittin says he is "sure" that Google officials will have discussed tax in meetings with ministers, although he stressed HMRC's decision was reached independently. "I'd be surprised if it didn't [come up] given the scrutiny."

Brittin calls for simpler tax rules

  • Brittin repeatedly called for a simplification of global tax rules, echoing his comments made in The Telegraph this morning
  • Google disputes the "characterisation" of the £130 million bill as a "deal" with HMRC. It's "not a deal, it's the amount of tax we're required to pay," said Brittin.

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Satya Nadella

Microsoft has signed up more than 70 smartphone manufacturers to preinstall its services onto phones, up from 20 in May last year.

In a blog post announcing the milestone, Nick Parker, the man in charge of relationships with smartphone makers, wrote that Microsoft had been "working hard to win over the hearts and minds of our partners and customers," culminating in 74 original equipment manufacturers signing up.

The partners, which include Acer, LG, Samsung, and Sony, will ship Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype on devices starting soon.

Essentially, Microsoft will have its most important products on millions of new phones.

This is an important move for the company because it means the failure of Windows Phone matters less, and it aligns with CEO Satya Nadella's vision for how Microsoft will function in the future.

Nadella told BuzzFeed that individual sales did not matter if other people supported Microsoft's services.

"If you think of this more like a graph," he said, "these [devices] are all nodes. Sometimes the user will use all of these devices … sometimes they'll use only one or two of our devices and some other platforms — so be it."

Windows Phones have shipped just 110 million handsets in their lifetime, while Apple's iOS and Google's Android have shipped a combined 4.5 billion units.

Sorry, Windows Phone. 110m lifetime sales - 4.5bn iOS & Android phones sold in the same period pic.twitter.com/CO03XWhYJg

— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) January 28, 2016

This is a problem for Microsoft as, by and large, it's easiest to get people to use a product if you can just bundle it on a phone. Apple Maps, which is the default app on iPhone, is beating Google Maps for precisely this reason.

Parker wrote that bundling Office on smartphones was "a cornerstone of our broad services strategy, to bring an array of Microsoft services to every person on every device."

Microsoft, according to Parker, is encouraging its partners with "opportunities to realize new revenue streams." He does not elaborate, however, on where these will come from.

Satya Nadella

For Microsoft, the incentives are most likely a small price to pay.

The company announced that about 340 million people were using Office on iOS and Android devices in the three months leading up to January, while a further 900 million were using Skype in total.

Microsoft now charges users for a subscription to Office, called Office 365, which totals about $90 (£62) a year. The company is also giving away Windows 10 free, rather than charging customers for a license per copy.

This strategy, which is set to expire in July (unless the company chooses to extend it), is a big change for Microsoft and requires a shift in strategy.

Analysts, however, are positive about the new Microsoft.

Pacific Crest released a research note after Microsoft's earnings that described the company as "a safe haven in an uncertain market," while Goldman Sachs reiterated its opinion that the company was successfully negotiating a turnaround.

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