TIME snapchat

‘We Need to IPO,’ Says Snapchat Founder

Evan Spiegel
Jae C. Hong—AP Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel poses for photos, in Los Angeles on Oct. 24, 2013.

After declining an acquisition offer from Facebook in 2013, the startup's founder says he has closed the door to all future offers

Snapchat CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel has revealed the most definitive plans yet about the financial future of his messaging app.

“We need to IPO, we have a plan to do that,” he said Tuesday. “An IPO is really important.”

Spiegel’s comments on stage at the Code tech conference in Southern California, show that he is serious about an initial public offering for Snapchat. The app has made a splash by letting users send photos and short videos that disappear after the recipient sees them.

Although Spiegel teased the audience with the idea of an initial public offering, he remained vague about any of the details. There was no mention of when such an IPO would take place — whether months or years in the future — or how big it would be.

Spiegel swatted away questions about selling Snapchat to a larger company down the road. He famously turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook in 2013. At the time, Spiegel was called “arrogant” and “foolish.” But he’s since built up Snapchat from a silly app for teens to a media company with large advertisers and partners like CNN and Vice. Earlier in 2015, Snapchat introduced Discover, a separate section in its app where users can consume bite-sized news content from its partner publishers.

On stage, Spiegel also explained that part of Discover’s purpose is to entertain users, in many cases between sending and receiving messages from their friends. The goal of filling up more of users’ time also explains why the company is now moving toward focusing on how long users spend on the service instead of merely the number of them who login. But with that said, Spiegel shared that his service now has more than 100 million daily active users, and that 65% of them — that’s 65 million — send photos or videos every day.

His point was obvious. In his view, Snapchat isn’t just for adolescents sending silly messages.

TIME celebrities

Kris Jenner Wants to Trademark the Word ‘Momager’

Kris Jenner attend the 2015 NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Upfront at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on May 14, 2015 in New York City.
Joe Stevens—Retna Ltd./Corbis Kris Jenner attend the 2015 NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Upfront at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on May 14, 2015 in New York City.

Kris Jenner is owning her reputation as a momager – literally.

The Keeping Up with the Kardashians matriarch has just filed legal documents to trademark the word “momager” and embracing a nickname that has stuck ever since her family’s rise to fame, she confirmed to PEOPLE.

If her filing is granted, she would have the right to sue anyone who uses the moniker without permission, the site explains.

The nickname is an apt description for Jenner, 59, who has managed her six children for years, shrewdly building an empire and keeping the public interested in the antics of her famous family, including helping daughter Kim Kardashian West to amass a reported $28 million in 2014, per The New York Times, which recently profiled the Hollywood power broker.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Google

How Google is Helping Amputees get 3D-printed Prosthetics

Google
Virginia Mayo—AP Google

The tech giant has promised to donate in a big way to causes trying to help people with disabilities

When it’s not busy building self-driving cars or sci-fi glasses, Google sometimes does a little good like pledging a $600,000 grant to the Enable Community foundation to provide free prosthetics to those who need them.

The grant is part of a new initiative, Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, that the tech giant announced Tuesday. Google said it will donate $20 million from its non-profit arm, Google.org, to “nonprofits using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities,” according to a blog post.

Enable Community, one of the two initial recipients of grants, connects volunteers who use 3D printing to create and customize prosthetic limbs for those who need them.

Google also announced a $500,000 grant for World Wide Hearing, an organization that will test and develop a low-cost kit for diagnosing hearing loss and fitting hearing aids. The kit will rely on smartphones to make the help affordable and accessible to people in developing countries.

Google’s research and development division, Google X, has already delved into how technology can help improves the lives of people with disabilities. For example, it acquired Lift Labs last year, which has created a spoon that automatically adjusts for shaking by people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative tremors. The spoon’s mechanism vibrates to counter the user’s tremors and enable them to eat more easily.

TIME Smartphones

This Creepy New Malware Tracks Your Subway Ride

Passengers read their smart phones in Beijing on March 8, 2015.
Zhang Peng—Getty Images Passengers read their smart phones in Beijing on March 8, 2015.

Even if you don't have cell phone service underground

A team of Chinese researchers has developed a way to surreptitiously track your subway rides by tapping into your smartphone data.

The Nanjing University scientists designed software that captures your smartphone’s motion sensor data and matches it to a subway map, inferring your location with up to 92% accuracy, according to the report published last week. Since accelerometers aren’t as protected as other phone functions like GPS, hackers may still be able to steal data even if there’s limited cell service underground, the study suggests.

Researchers emphasized that their results highlight how vulnerable motion sensors are to hacking. “If an attacker can trace a smartphone user for a few days, he may be able to infer the user’s daily schedule and living/working areas and thus seriously threaten her physical safety,” the authors wrote. “Another interesting example is that if the attacker finds Alice and Bob often visit the same stations at similar non-working times, he may infer that Bob is dating Alice.”

Other research has shown how hackers can steal accelerometer data to determine what a smartphone user is typing.

 

TIME Vox

Online Publisher Vox Acquires Tech News Site Recode

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook talks to tech writer Walt Mossberg during an Apple event in San Francisco
© Robert Galbraith / Reuters—REUTERS Walt Mossberg, Recode's co-founder (right foreground), speaks with Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The deal adds to Vox Media's growing news operations and gives it a powerful tech conference business

Online news publisher Vox Media said on Tuesday that it’s acquiring Recode, an influential tech news site, adding to a growing wave of consolidation in the tech media world.

Exact terms of the all-stock deal for Recode’s parent, Revere Digital, were not disclosed. But it appears that Recode will remain fairly intact and that its two well-known founders, journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, will continue to lead their team under the same brand name. Recode’s product reviews team, however, will move over to another one of Vox’s tech publications, The Verge, and Mossberg will write for both sites, The Verge co-founder and editor-in-chief Nilay Patel said.

The news was announced at Recode’s flagship conference, Code, which kicked off Tuesday in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

This acquisition is just the latest in a roller-coaster year tech-focused news sites. On March 9, GigaOm, a nine-year-old blog founded by journalist Om Malik, abruptly shut down (Fortune has since hired six of its former writers). On Tuesday, Austin-based Knowingly said it had acquired some of GigaOm’s assets and will relaunch the site in August. Last week, TechCrunch owner AOL sold to Verizon for $4.4 billion, bringing up questions about the future of TechCrunch and Engadget, another tech blog under the AOL umbrella. AOL has since said there will be no immediate changes.

As part of Vox Media, Recode will have access not only to its new owner’s bigger audience — Vox’s sites had 53.2 million unique US visitors in April, according to comScore, compared with only 1.5 million for Recode — but also its company resources like marketing and ad sales, Swisher and Mossberg noted in announcing the news. Recode will join Vox’s other properties, including the tech news site The Verge and the sports-focused SB Nation.

Both Recode and The Verge will have divided responsibilities with Recode covering the business side of the tech industry while The Verge will drill down into its products. “We have focused on the business of tech, while The Verge has focused on covering tech from a lifestyle perspective,” Swisher and Mossberg said.

Vox Media has raised $107.6 million in funding to date.

TIME Apple

A Chinese Scion Outfitted His Dog in Apple Watch Bling

They're the gold versions, too

China isn’t exactly known for its kindness to dogs — but at least one canine is being showered with riches.

Wang Sicong, the son of one of China’s richest men, Wang Jialin, posted photos online of his dog wearing two gold Apple Watches on Monday. The gold Apple Watches retail between $10,000 and $17,000, and having two for a dog seems to be exactly the kind of extravagance deplored by China’s government. Still, it’s hard to be disgusted at Wang’s show of wealth once you see how happy his dog looks:

According to the caption, Wang’s dog is generally satisfied with the gifts, even if there’s not one on each paw: “I have new watches! I’m supposed to have four watches since I have four long legs. But that seems too uncouth so I kept it down to two, which totally fits my status. Do you have one?”

TIME Food & Drink

How Your Favorite Fast-Food Meals Are Changing

Chains from Taco Bell to Pizza Hut are throwing out the additives and embracing the natural ingredients

Are the days of pink slime, antibiotic-fed chicken and other fast food controversies over?

On Tuesday, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut announced that they will begin to nix all artificial colors and ingredients from their food. The restaurants, both owned by Yum! Brands, are the latest in a string of fast food outlets shaking up their menus to prove to increasingly health-conscious customers that what they’re eating is, in fact, “real food.”

But are these changes actually making your favorite fast food meals different? Here’s a look at five of the nation’s favorite guilty pleasures, and how exactly they’re changing:

1. Taco Bell’s Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme

The nacho cheese on Taco Bell’s most popular item will lose its artificial food coloring — Yellow No. 6 — as the chain strips out all artificial ingredients from its menu. Some of the tastes in the taco’s seasoned beef, which Taco Bell’s menu says may contain artificial flavors, will also be replaced with natural flavors.

It’s arguable that customers may not notice the difference in taste from artificial to natural flavoring, but that’s not to say the move won’t have an impact: For decades, experts have blasted artificial colors and ingredients for their links to health problems, such as hyperactivity in children, allergic reactions and even cancer.

2. Pizza Hut’s Cinnamon Sticks

The pizza chain’s popular sweet snack contains an anti-foaming agent called dimethylpolysiloxane, according to its ingredients statement. Small amounts of the artificial ingredient can be found in the oil used by several fast food chains in order to prevent splattering oil while cooking.

For years customers have noted how the scary-sounding silicone compound is used in Silly Putty. However, the additive has been deemed safe by the FDA, and numerous studies show no link between dimethylpolysiloxane and decreased health. Even so, it’s likely to be stripped from Pizza Hut’s menu.

3. McDonalds’ 20-piece Chicken McNuggets

The box of golden-brown nuggets — only $4.99 in many stores — is one of countless chicken dishes at McDonald’s that’ll be affected by the company’s announcement in March to stop sourcing chickens raised with antibiotics.

The direct harm to humans of eating antibiotic-fed meat is still up for debate, but the FDA has long argued that excessive, unnecessary antibiotic use could eventually lead to antibiotic resistance, putting humans at risk for drug-resistant diseases. It’s not been proven either that naturally-raised meat tastes better, or even that different.

4. Subway’s $5 Footlong

Subway announced last year that a mysterious, hard-to-pronounce chemical — azodicarbonamide — would no longer be used in its bread. In reality, though, azodicarbonamide, a “bread conditioner” that improves texture, is safe: the chemical is FDA-approved and found in many breads.

More importantly, though, the move was one of several steps that Subway has taken to make its bread more natural — including pro-health initiatives like fortifying bread with vitamins, and eliminating high fructose corn syrup in some items.

5. Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl

Your Chipotle meal will soon be made without genetically modified ingredients — a move that has drawn controversy to the fast casual chain, long a leader in featuring healthier, environmentally-friendly foods.

While GMOs are generally regarded as safe by the FDA, some experts warn that they may hurt the food chain and environment. Others say that GMOs are the reason why millions of people in the world aren’t going hungry, and have blasted Chipotle’s campaign as being bad PR for science.

TIME Hormel Foods

Hormel goes organic with latest big food acquisition

Hormel sliced turkey is seen for sale in Westminster
© Rick Wilking / Reuters—REUTERS Hormel sliced turkey

Deal is latest by big food company for a smaller 'natural' rival.

Hormel Foods is paying $775 million to buy organic processed meats maker Applegate Farms, the latest deal by a food giant for a smaller rival in the grocery aisle.

“A growing number of consumers are choosing natural and organic products,” said Hormel Foods Chief Executive Jeffrey Ettinger.

The deal will add Applegate’s deli meats, frozen burgers and dinner sausages to Hormel’s [fortune-stock symbol=”HRL”] portfolio of brands, which already includes Spam, Skippy peanut butter and the company’s namesake meats. The acquisition, which is expected to lift future profits, won’t add too much to Hormel’s sales. Applegate’s annual sales are expected to reach $340 million in 2015, a sliver of the roughly $9.3 billion Hormel records annually.

But the acquisition of Applegate is important for two key reasons. It is the latest deal by a “Big Food” maker for a smaller player. Smaller food makers have reported sharp sales growth as grocery shoppers at times turn away from legacy, established brands. Recent deals have included Hershey’s [fortune-stock symbol=”HSY”] acquisition of beef jerky maker Krave, Post Holdings’ [fortune-stock symbol=”POST”] deal for MOM brands, and Hormel’s own $450 million deal last year for Muscle Milk maker CytoSports.

Food companies are spending big on newer brands to lure consumers that want food they consider to be healthier. Applegate plays into the feel-good attitude that has been pervasive in the category. For example, Applegate says it produces meats that are “raised humanely without antibiotics and hormones.” The company’s webpage features an interview with CEO Stephen McDonnell talking about how he and other consumers want meats that don’t contain bad ingredients.

And like the Hershey deal for Krave, Hormel’s acquisition of Applegate is another big bet on protein. Industry analysts like NPD Group have flagged rising interest in protein, with studies showing nearly half of primary grocery shoppers have purchased protein-enriched foods and many are willing to pay more for those products.

Applegate will operate as a standalone subsidiary after the transaction is completed. The company has 100 employees, located primarily in Bridgewater, N.J.

TIME Companies

Why AOL’s CEO Is Getting a $59 Million Bonus

Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL Inc., speaks during an interview with Fox Business Channel in New York
© Brendan McDermid / Reuters—REUTERS Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL Inc., speaks during an interview with Fox Business Channel in New York December 3, 2014.

His new long-term contract with Verizon includes a 'Founders' Incentive Award'

We already knew that AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong stood to make a bundle from his company’s $4.4 billion sale to Verizon Communications. Thanks to new documents filed Tuesday, we also know that Armstrong’s payout includes a “Founders’ Incentive Award” worth about $59 million.

The bonus stems from Armstrong’s deal with Verizon [fortune-stock symbol=”VZ”] — a long-term contract that will keep him employed with the telecom giant — which stipulates the AOL CEO will get stock equal to 1.5% of AOL’s [fortune-stock symbol=”AOL”] market value once and if the sale is finalized. AOL’s market value was around $3.9 billion when the deal was announced, which means Armstrong would get about $59 million in stock options. Half of them would vest three years after the deal closes, while the remaining half vest after four years.

Armstrong, who collected about $6.9 million in compensation from AOL last year, has a 6.7% ownership stake in that company, which would be worth about $84 million based on current market value.

Tuesday’s filing also confirmed previous reports that Verizon had considered pursuing a joint venture that would have given Verizon access to AOL’s advertising technology business, which is seen as a key component to the deal.

[Re/code]

MONEY Travel

Airline Miles Are Now So Hard to Use That People Are Paying Consultants for Help

Delta Airlines Inc. Terminal Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

"Award booking consultants" promise to help confused travelers spend their airline rewards points as efficiently and easily as possible.

Booking airline rewards tickets has gotten so difficult that travelers are paying consultants as much as $200 a pop for help redeeming their miles.

Travel site Skift reports on growing number of “award booking consultants” who, for a fee, will help confused consumers get the most out of their rewards points. One site, BookingGuru.org, charges $50 to arrange a seating upgrade, $80 for an award ticket within North America, and $200 for snagging a points ticket that involves multiple cities or overseas stopovers.

“Booking free seats with frequent flyer miles is more difficult than ever before as airlines have further complicated the rules and fewer seats are available,” explains BookingGuru’s website. “Do not fret though because when the airlines tell you no or tries to charge you higher rates, Booking Guru is usually able to find an option at a lower cost!”

Skift notes that points consultants, unlike travel agents, are generally not accredited by any organization. But rogue as these specialized agents may be, the site adds that “$200 for that peace of mind and a confirmed, somewhat-free ticket, can arguably be worth the investment.”

Now if they could only do something about the rest of air travel’s miseries.

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