TIME

Watch Fortune’s Live Year-in-Review Show

Fortune’s first ever live show will begin today at 3pm Eastern.

Welcome to Fortune’s first ever live show Fortune Live: 2014 Year in Review, hosted by Fortune assistant managing editor Leigh Gallagher. The show will start streaming on this page at 3pm Eastern time.

The opening roundtable will feature Fortune editor Alan Murray, assistant managing editor Brian O’Keefe and tech editor Andrew Nusca discussing the biggest stories of 2014.

Then Disney CEO Bob Iger will talk with Fortune writer Michal Lev-Ram about technology and the creative process.

The Exchange Interview: Technology mogul Robert Herjavec chats with Leigh Gallagher about his hit show Shark Tank, plus the emergence of cyber security as a preeminent issue for business at large.

Watch as Fortune contributor Sue Callaway test drives the Lamborghini Huracon.

Plus: senior editor Jennifer Reingold and writer Dan Roberts share their business predictions for next year.

The full show and excerpts will be available to watch on-demand after it streams live.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

T-Mobile to Refund $90 Million for Unwanted Charges

A T-Mobile banner in New York City on Sep. 27, 2014.
A T-Mobile banner in New York City on Sep. 27, 2014. Daniel Bockwoldt—Daniel Bockwoldt/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The mobile phone company had originally called the complained “unfounded and without merit”

T-Mobile agreed to refund its customers at least $90 million for placing unwanted third-party charges on phones, the Federal Trade Commission announced Friday.

If approved by a U.S. District Court, the wireless carrier’s agreement to refund customers for so-called “mobile cramming” would resolve a FTC lawsuit that was initially filed in July, when the company was accused of billing customers for unwanted charges, including horoscope, love tip and celebrity gossip services. T-Mobile allegedly received 35% to 40% of each charge, the FTC said in its July lawsuit, and it was reportedly difficult for consumers to get the refunds they were seeking from the company.

Along with T-Mobile resolving the lawsuit, the phone carrier will also pay additional fines, including $18 million to attorney generals across the U.S. and $4.5 million to the Federal Communications Commission, according to the FTC.

“Mobile cramming is an issue that has affected millions of American consumers, and I’m pleased that this settlement will put money back in the hands of affected T-Mobile customers,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

A representative from T-Mobile was not immediately available for comment on Friday.

But the company’s top executive has previously commented on the case. After the complaint was filed by the FTC on July 1, T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere made the following statement on the company’s website: “We have seen the complaint filed today by the FTC and find it to be unfounded and without merit. In fact, T-Mobile stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and launched a proactive program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want.”

He added, “We believe those providers should be held accountable and that the FTC’s lawsuit seeking to hold T-Mobile responsible for their acts is not only factually and legally unfounded but also misdirected.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME apps

Picture This: Instagram Could Be Worth $35 Billion

The Instagram logo is displayed on a smartphone on Dec. 20, 2012 in Paris, France.
The Instagram logo is displayed on a smartphone on Dec. 20, 2012 in Paris, France. Lionel Bonaventure—AFP/Getty Images

Photo-sharing service owned by Facebook could be worth that whopping amount, according to a new estimate by a Wall Street analyst

Instagram, the photo-sharing service owned by Facebook, could be worth a whopping $35 billion, according to a new estimate by a Wall Street analyst.

Citi’s Mark May issued a new valuation estimate for the popular app, far above the bank’s prior $19 billion valuation, a loftier view on the asset that May attributed to Instagram’s announcement last week that it had reached more than 300 million total users.

“While Instagram is still early in monetizing its audience and data assets and its financial contribution to Facebook is minimal today, we believe that it is quickly gaining monetization traction and would contribute more than $2 billion in high-margin revenue at current user and engagement levels if fully monetized,” May wrote in a research report.

The sky-high valuation makes Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram look like a slam-dunk. The social-media giant only paid $1 billion for Instagram in a cash-and-stock deal.

And Facebook’s move to make money off Instagram is just getting started. Instagram began to roll out ads in its photo stream in late 2013, with video ads debuting on the platform roughly a year later. Citi’s May expects that 2015 will be the first year that Facebook begins to develop “more meaningful off-Facebook revenue streams,” and that includes efforts to make more money off Instagram.

Even with Instagram’s likely higher valuation, it is still a relatively small piece of Facebook, which is overall worth more than $220 billion. But the photo-sharing service’s new valuation estimate by Citi would suggest it is worth more than Twitter, which has fewer monthly active users and a market capitalization of almost $24 billion.

That valuation gap could potentially widen. May said that he expects Instagram could continue to rapidly add users and expects the gap in total viewers between Instagram and Twitter will continue to widen. By the end of 2015, May forecasted that Instagram could have 420 million users verses Twitter’s 319 million.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME stocks

Biggest Gains for U.S. Stocks in Years

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Dec. 18, 2014.
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Dec. 18, 2014. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

The rally marked the biggest two-day increase for the Dow Jones index in three years

U.S. stock indexes surged Thursday, with the Dow rallying over 400 points, driven higher by reassurances from the Federal Reserve that it won’t imminently raise interest rates.

The broad S&P 500 index posted its biggest jump in nearly two years, extending a Fed-fueled rally from the previous day, as tech shares gained after stronger-than-expected results from business software giant Oracle.

The Dow Industrials also posted big gains following a rally in the prior trading session, marking the biggest two-session percent increase for blue-chip index since November 2011, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed the day up 421 points, or 2.4%, while the S&P 500 gained 48 points, or 2.4%, and the Nasdaq composite added 104 points, or 2.2%.

Stock indexes rallied as investors continued to find good cheer in the Federal Reserve’s accommodative approach to monetary policy. On Wednesday, the Fed said it would be patient about the timing of its first rate hike, suggesting its expected increases will be slow and steady.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME technology

Amazon Is Now Delivering to New Yorkers in Less Than an Hour

Getting batteries — or tens of thousands of other daily essentials — just got a bit easier

If you live in Manhattan, getting batteries — or tens of thousands of other daily essentials — just got a bit easier, and you don’t even have get off your couch.

Amazon announced today the launch of Prime Now, a one-hour delivery service for customers who are members of Amazon’s Prime service. Using a smart phone app, members of the service will be able to get items such as “paper towels, shampoo, books, toys and batteries” delivered within one hour, according to a company news release.

One-hour delivery will cost $7.99, while those who are a bit more flexible can get two-hour delivery for free. The service is available seven days a week between 6 a.m. and midnight.

“There are times when you can’t make it to the store and other times when you simply don’t want to go. There are so many reasons to skip the trip and now Prime members in Manhattan can get the items they need delivered in an hour or less,” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said in a statement.

Prime Now is powered by Amazon’s growing network of fulfillment centers. It is launching in parts of New York, and will be available in other cities next year.

Major retailers are battling to improve their delivery times. Earlier this week, Amazon extended the deadline for placing Christmas orders to this Friday. Walmart, meanwhile, announced today that shoppers could place an order on Walmart.com up till Dec. 23 and get free pickup in stores on Christmas Eve.

Who knows what these deals will mean for the companies’ margins, but the deals are definitely good for one group: holiday shopping procrastinations.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME stocks

Cruise Line Shares Sail Higher as U.S., Cuba Relations Improve

Carnival's Breeze cruise ship stands docked prior to departure in Miami, Florida on March 9, 2014.
Carnival's Breeze cruise ship stands docked prior to departure in Miami, Florida on March 9, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Investors place bet on cruise operator shares even though tourism is still banned

Shares of cruise-line operators sailed to big gains on Wednesday as investors placed a bet that improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba could lead to new opportunities for tourism.

Shares of Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean all rose in early trading Wednesday, outpacing the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after the Obama administration said it plans to lift many of its existing travel restrictions on Cuba.

The new regulations will make it easier for Americans to visit to Cuba under the 12 categories of travel that are currently allowed, The Wall Street Journal reported, though it isn’t immediately clear if or when the island will be open for mass tourism. Some kinds of tourism are still banned, according to various media reports,.

Still, Cuba is appealing to companies with the most to gain from the increased travel. The tropical island’s attractive beaches and proximity to the United States makes it a potential vacation hotspot. The Caribbean is already the largest cruise line market in the world, and Americans hop on the industry’s bulky ships more than any other nation.

Some of the cruise line operators already have strong links to the Caribbean. For example, nearly all of Norwegian’s ships serve the region. The Caribbean also makes up roughly 35% of Carnival’s passenger capacity, more than any other region. That means that if the U.S. were to allow its citizens to freely visit Cuba, many of the cruise industry’s ships are already in prime position to dock at Havana and other Cuban cities.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

Bacardi, Exiled From Cuba in 1960, Is Hopeful for Change

A limited-edition bottle of BACARDI Superior rum on Dec. 18, 2013 in Miami, Florida.
A limited-edition bottle of BACARDI Superior rum on Dec. 18, 2013 in Miami, Florida. John Parra—Getty Images/2013 John Parra

The rum maker says it supports the restoration of human rights in Cuba

Bacardi, the spirits maker that was founded in Cuba and later exiled from the country in 1960, says it hopes for better lives for Cubans following the Obama Administration’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with the Caribbean island.

“We hope for meaningful improvements in the lives of the Cuban people and will follow any changes with great interest,” Bacardi said in an e-mailed statement. “In the meantime, we continue to support the restoration of fundamental human rights in Cuba.”

Bacardi says it’s taking a wait-and-see approach on Cuba after the United States on Wednesday said it would open an embassy on the island nation following the release of a U.S. government subcontractor from prison. It marked the most significant change in the U.S.-Cuba relationship in decades.

Bacardi, which makes rum, Dewar’s Scotch and Grey Goose vodka, has close historic ties to Cuba even though it hasn’t operated there for more than five decades. The company was founded in Santiago de Cuba in 1862, and in 1910, became the nation’s first multi-national company when it opened bottling operations in Spain.

When Prohibition started in 1920, Cuba and Bacardi benefited from increased influx of Americans to the island for a stiff drink.

But relations between the company and Cuba soured greatly in 1960, when Bacardi’s operations were nationalized by the government following the Communist takeover there. At that point, Bacardi had operations in five other countries, including the U.S. and Mexico, and was able to bounce back. The company is now headquartered in Bermuda, but still touts its Cuban history.

“Bacardi is proud of its Cuban roots,” a company representative said in a statement on Wednesday. “We have the utmost respect and sympathy for the Cuban people with whom we share a common heritage.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

China’s Baidu Inc. Confirms Investment in Uber

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (L) and Baidu Chairman and CEO Robin Li at a signing ceremony and press conference in Beijing on Dec. 17, 2014.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (L) and Baidu Chairman and CEO Robin Li at a signing ceremony and press conference in Beijing on Dec. 17, 2014. Greg Barker—AFP/Getty Images

The ride-hailing app will have to work on a new maps system and faces a stiff challenge from local rivals

China’s Baidu Inc. confirmed Wednesday it had taken a stake in ride-hailing app Uber Technologies Inc., but still refused to say how much it had invested, and what kind of stake it had got in return.

Chinese public radio had speculated that Baidu’s investment could be up to $600 million, representing half of the $1.2 billion it raised in a new round of funding earlier this moth.

At a joint press conference in Beijing, Baidu’s founder Robin Li and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said that they would work together to build a presence in the Chinese car-booking market, which is growing fast from a low base but is currently dominated by Baidu’s biggest internet rivals, Alibaba Group Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

In a joint statement, the two companies said Baidu will connect its map and mobile-search features with Uber’s service. The Google map app that Uber runs on across the rest of the world is banned in China.

“The goal of this agreement is not for the sake of investment alone, it is more for strategic cooperation and commercial cooperation,” Bloomberg reported Li as telling a joint press conference in Beijing. “Some people think that for investments, Baidu only goes for the full acquisition or taking a controlling share and that Baidu would not take a minority investment. This is a misunderstanding.”

So far, Uber is only present in nine Chinese cities and focuses on the premium segment of the market. It said in July it would expand to 14 cities in the near future.

The start of what could be a major new departure for the U.S. company is a welcome break from the governance scandals and regulatory problems it has been embroiled in recently across the world.

Kalanick told the press conference that Uber is working “pretty well” in China today and doesn’t have any pressing regulatory issues in the nation, according to Bloomberg.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

American Apparel Fires Dov Charney, Names New CEO

Dov Charney, former CEO of American Apparel.
Dov Charney, former CEO of American Apparel. Keith Bedford—Bloomberg/Getty Images

American Apparel has fired CEO Dov Charney six months after suspending him for alleged misconduct.

The clothing retailer said on Tuesday that it had appointed Paula Schneider, a veteran fashion executive, as his replacement. Schneider has previously worked at clothing group Warnaco and women’s apparel company Big Strike, will take the reins of the struggling clothing retailer on January 5, 2015.

American Apparel says it has terminated Charney, who was removed from the CEO role in June after the company alleged he had misused corporate money and violation of sexual harassment policies. Over the years, Charney has faced repeated accusations of sexually harassing employees and of discriminating against less attractive staff on the grounds that they undermined the corporate aesthetic.

Charney had been serving as a consultant to the company in recent months, but American Apparel said on Tuesday that he has been terminated for cause.

Charney, who founded American Apparel 25 years ago, was initially replaced by interim CEO John Luttrell, who also served as the company’s chief financial officer. But, Luttrell was removed from both roles in September, when turnaround expert Scott Brubaker of restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal took over as the new interim CEO. Brubaker will continue in that role until Schneider takes over in early January.

David Danziger, co-chairman of American Apparel’s board, said in a statement that the retailer “needs a permanent CEO who can bring stability and strong leadership in this time of transition, and we believe Ms. Schneider fits the bill perfectly.”

Once one of the trendier, youth-focused retailers in the industry, American Apparel has seen its sales fall off in recent years. The company’s same-store sales declined 7% last quarter and it reported another net loss.

In a statement, Schneider said “My goal is to make American Apparel a better company, while staying true to its core values of quality and creativity and preserving its sweatshop-free, Made in USA manufacturing philosophy.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME technology

The 5 Hottest Toys Americans Are Searching for Right Now

Operations Inside A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Location Ahead Of Black Friday
A Microsoft Xbox One game console at a Wal-Mart ahead of Black Friday in Los Angeles on Nov. 24, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Disney’s ‘Frozen,’ Xbox One and the Skylanders game set to be among the top sellers this year

The upcoming holiday shopping season is crucial for the $22-billion U.S. toy industry, and early data suggests Disney’s “Frozen,” as well as electronics such as Xbox One and the Skylanders game, will be among the top sellers this year.

Data provider Experian Marketing Services has given Fortune a look at the hottest toy searches for the week ended Nov. 22, and “Frozen” handily tops the list. With the Christmas holiday just a little over four weeks away, consumers who wait too long could find it challenging to scoop up some of the top sellers.

“The holiday shopping season [is] more and more condense,” said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of toy-focused website TTPM.com. It used to last 12 weeks, and then eight, he added. “Now it is a five-week season.”

Silver estimates that last year as many as 50 toys were sold out at some point during the holiday season, as retailers can find it challenging to restock shelves so quickly. But many of those supply shortages were temporary, and no one item became impossible to find. Retail executives at chains such as Toys ‘R’ Us say they are well positioned after months of merchandise planning to ensure they can meet demand.

Roughly half of all Americans plan to buy toys as gifts this year, according to a recent Nielsen poll of more than 2,200 adults. Alhough that indicates there will be a lot of interest, observers such as Fitch Ratings have said toy promotions will remain intense, as traditional brick-and-mortar retailers such as Toys ‘R’ Us compete with online retailers, including Amazon AMZN -0.89% .

Here are five toys that are dominating America’s search engines just a few days before the holiday season kicks into high gear.

Activision Blizzard’s ‘Skylanders’ videogame property has been a hot seller since its debut in 2011.
Courtesy of Activision Publishing, Inc.

1. Frozen

Walt Disney’s “Frozen” leads Experian’s list, with the search term “Frozen dolls” gaining 181% in popularity on a week-over-week basis. “Frozen” is so popular that interest in the princess line has topped Barbie, the first time the fashion doll didn’t top the National Retail Federation’s holiday “Top Toys” survey in its 11-year history. Disney, which owns the “Frozen” property, benefits most from this craze though Mattel, and Jakks Pacific will also see stronger sales for the brand as they manufactured the dolls, costumes and other items based on the popular film. Retailers are also ready to meet demand (Toys ‘R’ Us, for example, has 250 “Frozen” items on its website).

2. Dareway

Scooters often turn in a strong holiday performance and this year is no exception, as a $200 scooter called the Dareway ranks as the second most popular toy search. The Dareway looks like a mini-Segway and is designed for kids that weigh 89 pounds or less. Famosa, the toy maker behind the Dareway, claims the toy is essentially a hybrid–mixing features of a scooter and ride-on-cars. The item first hit shelves two weeks ago and has already sold out three times (it was supposed to come to market earlier in the year, but had some issues getting imported from Spain). Toy experts have pointed out that scooters remain a popular toy as they encourage kids to play outdoors.

3. Skylanders Trap Team

Activision Blizzard’s “Skylanders” videogame property has been a hot seller ever since its debut in 2011, and each year the franchise is expanded with a new line of physical collectible toys that can interact with a video game. Though the technology that Activision first developed has led to knock offs by Nintendo and Disney, this list indicates Activision’s line remains the most popular. Searches for the “Skylanders Trap Team” have risen 30% for the latest week, Experian said. The newest version of the franchise has games available for traditional consoles such as the PlayStation and the Wii, as well as mobile versions for Android, iOS and Fire OS.

4. Max Tow Truck

Among the top five toys, only the Max Tow Truck is new to the scene. It ranked 4th on Experian’s latest list, but wasn’t among the top 10 hottest searches in the prior week. That suggests that interest has notably spiked for this toy, a truck that costs about $60. Made by Jakks Pacific, the truck can pull and push up to 200 pounds and is stocked at all the major toy retailers. Of course, Jakks also developed an app for this toy.

5. Xbox One

The Xbox One made headlines late last month when a special promotion touted a $50 limited-time price cut to the console, bringing the price down to $349 for the holiday season. The price cut could be generating greater interest in the console, though searches tumbled 47% from the prior week. And while PlayStation 4 hasn’t generated as many searches as the Xbox One, the former device has been selling better. The PlayStation 4 has reportedly sold 13.5 million units through September, while the International Business Times said there are estimates that around 5 million Xbox One units have been sold. (Microsoft doesn’t release sales data for the Xbox One.)

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

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