TIME India

Indian Woman Sues Uber in the U.S. Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape

Members of All India Mahila Congress, women's wing of Congress party, shout slogans and carry placards during a protest against the rape of a female passenger, in New Delhi
Members of All India Mahila Congress, women's wing of Congress party, shout slogans and carry placards during a protest against the rape of a female Uber passenger in New Delhi on Dec. 8, 2014 Anindito Mukherjee—Reuters

Uber has been the subject of controversy all around the globe

An Indian woman who says she was raped by an Uber driver while she was traveling in his cab in December is suing the San Francisco–based online firm in a U.S. federal court in California, claiming it failed to put in place basic safety procedures while running its car service in India.

In her lawsuit, filed on Thursday, the New Delhi woman called the app-based service the “modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking.” The unidentified plaintiff also calls for Uber to overhaul its safety practices, and seeks unspecified damages in the case, according to Reuters.

The news agency quoted Uber as saying that it’s “deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime.”

Earlier, the woman was reported to have enlisted the services of Douglas Wigdor, a high-profile U.S. lawyer who represented Nafissatou Diallo, the New York City hotel maid who accused the former International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault. Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office went on to drop all charges against Strauss-Kahn, while a civil suit was settled out of court.

The rape allegations against the New Delhi Uber driver had prompted protests in the Indian capital, which became the focus of concerns about the safety of women after the horrific gang rape and murder of a student on a moving bus in late 2012.

[Reuters]

TIME Companies

How Amazon Just Posted its First Profit in Months

Key Speakers At The "Ignition: Future of Digital" Conference
Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc. and founder of Blue Origin LLC, speaks at the Ignition: Future Of Digital conference in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Bloomberg/Getty Images

Amazon Prime is looking like a big win for the e-commerce empire

Amazon investors got a breath of fresh air Thursday when the e-commerce giant announced it made a profit for the first time after two consecutive quarters of steep losses. The company made $214 million in the fourth quarter and saw its revenue rise 15% to $29.3 billion, sending the company’s stock up 13% in after-hours trading.

So what can Amazon thank for its profitable quarter? It’s looking more and more like Amazon Prime.

Amazon’s membership program appears to be paying off in spades for the company. Prime members get free two-day shipping, access to unlimited music, TV shows and movies — some of it exclusive — and a host of free ebooks and a slew of special deals. And it turns out Prime subscribers, who increased in number 53% last year, buy more from Amazon, watch more on Amazon, and spend more time on Amazon.

“When we raised the price of Prime membership last year, we were confident that customers would continue to find it the best bargain in the history of shopping,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told investors Thursday, referencing a March 2014 decision to increase Prime’s price to $99 a year from $79.

Amazon jealously guards precise data about Prime members’ purchasing habits, but outside research groups have done plenty of speculating. According to a paper released this week by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, Amazon Prime members number around 40 million in the U.S. and spend about $1,500 per year, compared to about $625 per year for non-members. If that estimate is in the right ballpark, Prime members are a huge boon for the company.

“Amazon Prime members spend more than other customers, on average shopping 50% more frequently, and buying more expensive items each time,” said Josh Lowitz, a co-founder of CIRP who helped conduct the study.

It’s no wonder Amazon treats its Prime members so well. This quarter, the company announced several new benefits for them: A free two-hour delivery service called Prime Now in select areas, unlimited photo storage in Amazon’s cloud, and a new television show produced by Woody Allen exclusively for Prime members. Those bonuses could very well help Amazon sign up yet more Prime members, potentially keeping the company in the black for yet another quarter.

TIME Companies

Shake Shack Prices IPO Above Expected Range

A Shake Shack restaurant in New York City.
A Shake Shack restaurant in New York City. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Shares will begin trading on NYSE Friday under the symbol "SHAK"

Shake Shack, the popular burger chain founded in New York City, priced its initial public offering at $21 a share late Thursday, according to a company press release.

The price is above the range the company had anticipated as late as Wednesday, when it raised its expected IPO price range to $17 to $19 a share from a previous range of $14 to $16.

The company, founded in 2004 by restaurateur Danny Meyer, filed for its IPO at the end of December, with the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SHAK.” The chain’s stock will begin trading on NYSE Friday.

Also on Wednesday, the burger chain increased the number of shares it plans to sell, from 5 million shares to 5.75 million. At the new price, the company’s initial offering could bring in more than $120 million.

Previous reports have said Shake Shack could be aiming for a $1 billion valuation in the IPO.

As Fortune has reported, Shake Shack recorded about $79 million in sales over the first nine months of 2014. The chain has 63 locations around the world, including restaurants in London and Dubai, though annual sales volume at the chain’s seven Manhattan locations is about 50% higher than at its other locations.

In 2014, Shake Shack opened 10 new company-operated U.S. locations and a dozen new international licensed restaurants. The company has said it could eventually grow to 450 locations.

J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are among the banks underwriting the company’s IPO.

– Reuters contributed to this report

(This story has been updated)

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Advertising

This Is How To Make Your Super Bowl Ad Go Insanely Viral

Super Bowl
Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after his team won Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Elsa—Getty Images

Make sure the ad packs an emotional much and gives people a specific reason to share

Super Bowl XLIX won’t just be about the Patriots battling the Seahawks. We’ll also see Sprint vs. T-Mobile, Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi and Toyota vs. Nissan. Since the big game itself is often a blowout, the advertisements could very well offer more spectacle than the gridiron bout.

But the way we view Super Bowl ads has changed drastically in recent years. It’s no longer enough for advertisers to drop a great 30-second spot in the first quarter and hope for watercooler buzz the next day. The success of Super Bowl ads is now largely measured by how many views and shares they can rack up online, often well before kickoff.

What separates a decent Super Bowl ad from a great one that people need to share with their Facebook friends? We talked to experts at Unruly, a video ad tech firm that tracks social sharing of advertisements, to discover the secrets that help Super Bowl ads go viral.

Bet Big on Emotion

The Super Bowl ads that gain the most traction online are the ones that try to evoke one or two emotions very strongly instead of trying to hit several different notes at once. In particular, ads that try to evoke happiness or warmth have performed well in recent years, says Richard Kosinski, Unruly’s U.S. president.

Last year’s “Puppy Love” by Budweiser, which featured an unlikely but adorable friendship between a Clydesdale horse and a dog, was the most-shared ad from the game. While many ads try to be humorous, Kosinski says comical ads are rarely shared as much as heartwarming ones, because it’s harder to write jokes that people universally find funny.

Get the Ad Out There Early

The week before the Super Bowl is actually the best time to debut ads for the game. Unruly has found that Wednesday is the ideal day, because video ads generate the vast majority of their views in their first 72 hours online. Launch too early, and interest in the ad will have dissipated before the Super Bowl. Launch too late, and the ad won’t have enough time to disseminate across social media before the game itself.

Increasingly, brands are choosing to debut their ads well ahead of kickoff. Even those that don’t want to reveal the entire commercial will often post teasers online before the ads air.

Give People Reasons to Share

Ads that provide a specific social motivation for viewers to share them tend to perform better. In the U.S., Unruly has found ads that let viewers share a passion with others, present a product or service that would be useful to friends or express some trait of their own character spread the furthest across social media. The 2011 spot by Volkswagen featuring a miniature Darth Vader, for instance, was a chance for Star Wars fan to revel in one of the series’ most iconic characters. That ad is the most-shared Super Bowl spot of all time, according to Unruly:

Don’t Be Afraid of Branding

Super Bowl Sunday is the one day when Americans are excited to see brand messages, so there’s no need to be coy about the fact that an ad is an ad. Last year, Chrysler had a would-be hit with a patriotic ad about American resilience that was narrated by Bob Dylan. But the spot was so broad in reach and so light on Chrysler branding that more people thought it was about revitalizing Detroit than buying Chrysler cars, Kosinski says. He says Unruly found no negative effect on sharing for companies that place their brands at the very start of their ads.

TIME Earnings

Amazon Just Made a Profit for the First Time in 6 Months

The packaging process at the Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, Calif. on Nov. 21, 2014.
The packaging process at the Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, Calif. on Nov. 21, 2014. Stephen Wilkes For TIME

The company beats expectations on earnings but misses on revenue—and, crucially, turns a profit

The fourth quarter earnings report for Amazon is in, and it’s caught analysts by surprise.

Amazon reported earnings per share of 45 cents, handily beating expectations of 18 cents, on revenues of $29.33 billion, up 15% but missing expectations of $29.68 billion. The company turned a profit of $214 million, a slight decline from the same quarter a year ago but a stark reversal from last quarter.

Here’s what you need to know about its latest earnings report.

What you need to know: The Internet retailer spooked investors last quarter by missing expectations on both earnings and revenue and offering bleak guidance for the quarter. We’re seeing a shift here, and it’s nearly all upside: the company’s shares were up more than 10% in after-hours trading.

As for guidance, Amazon expects net revenue for its fiscal first quarter 2015 to be between $20.9 billion and $22.9 billion—growth between 6% and 16% compared with the same quarter in 2014—and operating income to be between $50 million and a loss of $450 million. The figure includes about $450 million for stock-based compensation and amortization of intangible assets.

The big number: 53%—the increase in paid membership, worldwide, for Amazon’s Prime service that combines delivery of physical goods and digital media. The company sunk billions into Prime’s shipping component and another billion into its Instant Video component.

“When we raised the price of Prime membership last year, we were confident that customers would continue to find it the best bargain in the history of shopping,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “The data is in and customers agree.”

What you may have missed: Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing arm, saw usage growth of almost 90% compared to the same quarter a year ago. The money’s not far behind: Amazon’s “Service” revenues for the fourth quarter were up 38% year over year to $6.2 billion.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Advertising

Steve Buscemi Plays A Very Compelling Jan Brady in Snickers Super Bowl Ad

"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"

Tom isn’t the only Brady making an appearance in Super Bowl 2015.

Snickers’ big game ad inserts the company’s “you’re not you when you’re hungry” trope into its most inspired scenario yet: The Brady Bunch.

Machete star Danny Trejo plays Marcia in ad agency BBDO’s reinterpretation of the show’s iconic “Marcia gets hit in the face with a football” scene. (Note: No footballs were deflated in the making of this ad.)

But the true standout is Steve Buscemi, who brings his trademark nuance and complexity to the role of Jan Brady.

We hope that Buscemi is available for Snickers’ Super Bowl sequel: An ode to George Glass.

MONEY Fast Food

5 Problems That’ll Challenge McDonald’s No Matter Who’s CEO

A McDonald's restaurant in Encinitas, California.
Mike Blake—Reuters

The McDonald's McFamily will have a new head honcho in early 2015, and he has his work cut out for him.

Amid slumping sales and years of losing customers to Chipotle and other fast casual contenders, McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson announced this week that he would be retiring in March. “It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything,” Thompson said in a press release.

His replacement, current chief brand officer Steve Easterbrook, will take over a McFamily with many problems to address—problems that, given McDonald’s muddled sense of mission of late and overarching changes in demographics and the marketplace, have seemed difficult if not impossible to solve. Among the issues that need attention:

Millennials
Generally speaking, millennials love food and dining out, and yet their preferences—customizable options, transparency, and fare that’s healthier, more sustainable, and altogether superior compared to any cheap cookie-cutter fast food joint—are the exact opposite of what McDonald’s is known for. McDonald’s has made some moves clearly aimed at winning over millennials, including ventures into personalized, make-your-own burgers and potentially adding brunch menu items (brunch is a Gen Y obsession). McDonald’s has also dramatically expanded the menu over the years with the hopes of drawing in more young customers. Yet many of these initiatives have proven to be costly, and they’ve failed to make McDonald’s a top choice among millennials—who tend to favor Starbucks, Chipotle, and other more upscale fast casual contenders over McDonald’s or any old-fashioned fast food establishment.

No Hot New Product
Around this time last year, business reporters were proclaiming that McDonald’s desperately needed to add a “miracle” product to the menu like Wendy’s did with its Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. That once-limited-time-only burger proved such a hit that Wendy’s added it to the permanent menu last summer. Other recent monumental successes in the fast food world include Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos line of tacos.

Of course, McDonald’s has regularly rolled out plenty of new menu items with the hope of them breaking out as phenomenal best-sellers. But new contenders like fish nuggets and habanero Quarter Pounders have come up way short of being runaway successes, and another recent menu addition, overpriced chicken wings, was a huge flop. The Wall Street Journal has reported that McDonald’s most recent “bona fide blockbuster” new product, which stayed on the menu and impacted sales in a significant way, was the McGriddle pancake breakfast sandwich, introduced back in 2003.

Pricing
McDonald’s decades-long value pitch is that it’s a quick and inexpensive place to eat, and that reputation has hurt the fast food giant lately in two ways: 1) It’s difficult to raise prices and offer “premium” items like the doomed Angus burger because the customer base, accustomed to cheaper prices, won’t pay up; and 2) because McDonald’s food is fast and cheap, the assumption is that the quality must be low. As one fast food franchise consultant told the Associated Press, “It’s the whole perception people get when you sell something cheaply.”

McDonald’s needs its coffee giveaways and low-price value menu to pull in diners even though these items result in little to no profits. Yet to increase profits and better compete with the likes of Starbucks, Panera Bread, and Chipotle, McDonald’s is constantly trying to entice customers into spending more on “gourmet” and “premium” options like espressos and McWraps. As a result, service has slowed, lowering the value proposition at the same time, and McDonald’s pricing doesn’t make sense to many customers. When there are a bunch of burgers for under $2 in the Dollar Menu & More section, it’s puzzling why anyone would pay $5 or so for what seems like a very similar burger on the regular menu.

Focus
This problem is closely related to how McDonald’s pricing is all over the map. That, along with the fact that the McDonald’s menu has expanded to the point of being unwieldy and slowing down operations, has left franchisee owners angry and deeply concerned that the company has lost its sense of focus. McDonald’s recently announced intentions to scale back the menu and put some items on the chopping block. But such a measure could create its own problems. After all, some of the items likely to be downsized or cut, including espressos and McWraps, were added to menus to woo millennials and consumers who otherwise probably wouldn’t dine at McDonald’s.

Haters
During the Golden Globes, McDonald’s aired a “Signs” commercial campaign showing how different restaurant locations posted messages in support of local causes, the troops, and 9/11. Loads of people took to social media to say how much they hated the ad. Last year, McDonald’s introduced a new Happy Meal mascot and Ronald McDonald got a makeover. Both efforts were declared “terrifying,” while the former was also categorized as “nightmarish” and the latter was described as the face of the “saddest place on Earth.”

Heck, even when McDonald’s launches a broad “transparency” campaign answering questions about where its food comes from and how it is processed, the company is bashed for admitting to unhealthy practices and because of skepticism about other things still being hid.

The point is: People love to hate McDonald’s. In a story I wrote about the reaction on social media to the new Happy Meal mascot, Steve Connelly, of the Boston ad agency Connelly Partners, put things in perspective by explaining there are legions of opinionated consumers out there who consider McDonald’s “a piñata” rather than simply just another brand or place to eat. Many people will “keep bashing the hell out of them every chance you get because they stand for evil and are making the nation fat. Sometimes I think if McDonald’s came up with a cure for cancer they would get bashed for it.”

Surely, McDonald’s hates how much hate it attracts. And it’s up to the new leadership to figure out how to change perceptions that have built up over generations in the U.S. and abroad. They have to find a way to convince the haters to stop hating.

TIME Advertising

Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel Grapple With Newfangled ‘Internet’ in BMW Ad

Does "@" mean "at" or "around"?

Back in 1994, “Internet” was not yet an everyday word, as Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel humorously demonstrate in this Super Bowl ad for BMW.

In the spot, the pair are seen grappling with online lingo such as “Internet,” “.com,” and the “@” symbol in footage from a shoot of the Today show. “What is Internet anyway?” Gumbel asks frustratedly at one point.

Cut to today and the two are cruising in a BMW i3 that they find equally perplexing. The implication here of course is that the technology in BMW’s new vehicle will one day be as widely known as the Internet is today. We’ll see about that, but BMW has at least drawn the parallel in a humorous way. We only wish they hadn’t overreached with the twerking joke at the very end, which dates the ad even more than the 1994 file footage.

 

TIME apps

iPhone and Android Finally Have a Full-Featured Outlook App

It's Microsoft's latest move to make cross-platform apps

Microsoft freed Outlook email from the confines of the office PC on Thursday, releasing for the first time fully-featured Outlook apps for iPhones, iPads and Android devices.

The new Outlook apps are now available for download through Apple’s iTunes and the Google Play store. While Microsoft previously offered versions of Outlook for iOS and Android, neither had the power of this new software.

Outlook for iOS and Android Microsoft

Microsoft’s move comes on the heels of its decision to release a motherlode of its flagship software from Word to Excel as mobile-friendly apps that work across a range of devices.

“To date, we’ve seen more than 80 million downloads of Office on iPhone and iPad worldwide,” Microsoft said in a public statement. “We have received tremendous customer request for Outlook across all devices, so we are thrilled to fulfill this for our customers.”

The new Outlook mobile app includes familiar features, such as swipe gestures for rapid archiving and machine learning algorithms that learn which emails the user is most likely to read and pushes them to the top of the inbox. What sets the app apart is a built-in calendar, enabling the user to schedule an appointment within the app, rather than laboriously copy and paste event details in a second, calendar app.

Microsoft on Thursday also released new versions of its Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for Android tablets.

TIME Research

IBM Thinks it Can Make Your Food Safer: Will it Work?

85536344
Getty Images

IBM plans to sequence the microbiomes of food ingredients to prevent outbreaks earlier

Our food system is by no means bulletproof when it comes to pathogens. In just the past year, the United States saw major outbreaks of listeria in caramel apples and salmonella in nut butters, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million Americans suffer from some kind of food-borne diseases annually. Meanwhile, food-borne illness results in $9 billion in medical costs and another $75 billion in contaminated food that’s recalled and tossed out every year. Regulatory agencies have acknowledged that more needs to be done.

One strategy comes from IBM, which announced on Thursday that it’s partnering with Mars on a project called the Sequencing the Food Supply Chain Consortium. Their goal, which will likely take at least three years to accomplish, is to sequence the makeup of various foods and then enter that information into a database. The thinking is that if they can establish, at the molecular level, what a given ingredient is supposed to look like, systems can be put into place to catch brewing problems before contaminated foods make it to your table.

“The hypothesis is that [this process] offers you a microscope into what’s happening in that [food] environment,” says Jeff Welser, vice president of IBM Research. “Any deviation from that might indicate there’s a problem.” IBM says it will take into account variations that could occur in ingredients based on where in the world the product is coming from, and what time of year it is.

“A key challenge for food safety experts today is that typically when they test food they only really have a chance of finding what they set out to look for,” says David Crean, global head of technical food safety development at Mars. “If they are testing for Salmonella, they won’t find Listeria.”

The process is highly time- and data-intensive, and not necessarily something companies will want to put their foods and ingredients through constantly, but IBM thinks the science could be developed into a simple test. “You ought to be able to do this when you’re doing normal testing during the day, like for E.coli. The goal is to find the markers that give you a safety-check barcode, if you will, and if you see a change then it lets you know we need to do further testing,” says Welser.

Within three to five years the consortium estimates it will have more companies involved as well as some version of the testing process available for commercial use. They plan to engage with regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when it’s determined the process works well.

The FDA says it is prioritizing food safety, and in 2011 the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama. The FDA says it’s the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in over 70 years and the goal is to shift focus from responding to contamination to prevention. The FDA is supportive of whole genome sequencing as a way to find bacteria in food.

“Overall this seems to be a great basic science project,” says Jonathan A. Eisen, a professor at University of California, Davis. “Personally I believe we need major efforts in characterizing the communities found in and on food, and that a full characterization of the microbes in the facilities where food is produced would be great. This is the first I have heard of a company planning to do this on a large scale.” Eisen is not involved in the consortium, but has researched the suite of microbes in food.

The concept is ambitious, but could be a new way to keep our foods safer than they are currently.

Read next: Most Americans and Scientists Tend to Disagree, Survey Finds

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