MONEY Travel

New Bill Could Cap Airline Checked Baggage Fees at $4.50

Passengers line up to check in for a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 in New York.
Mark Lennihan—AP Passengers line up to check in for a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 in New York.

Somehow, though, the most likely result is higher fees paid by travelers.

On Wednesday, Congressman John Mica (R-FL) introduced legislation into the House that would severely limit how much airlines can charge passengers for checking baggage on flights.

The airline industry collected a whopping $38 billion in fees last year, with checked baggage charges—which are typically $25 and up for a service that was included in the cost of a ticket not long ago—providing a big chunk of that revenue. Mica’s bill, however, would cap the cost of checking a piece of luggage on a flight at just $4.50.

Or more specifically, the bill would mandate that airlines “may not collect from a passenger a fee for an item of checked baggage on a flight in passenger air transportation if the amount of the fee exceeds the total amount of passenger facility charges that could be imposed.”

A passenger facility charge (or PFC) is the fee that airports can tack on each time a flier travels through an airport. They are limited to $4.50 for each leg of a journey, and, in the case of a flight with multiple layovers, are capped at a maximum of $9 per one-way trip and $18 per round trip. The money is used—or at least is supposed to be used—to fund airport infrastructure maintenance and improvements.

Why does Mica want baggage fees lowered to the same level as PFCs? “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” the Congressman said in a press release. It appears as if his true intention isn’t to lower checked baggage fees so much as it is to use the threat of such legislation as a way to make an increase in PFCs more palatable to the airlines. Mica and others say that the airlines have been getting rich on baggage fees (and other fees, and higher fares), but that baggage revenues in particular are “not contributing to the airport improvement fund. So, taxpayer revenues now pay the difference to operate and maintain the air control and air service systems.”

Not surprisingly, the airlines see things differently, and don’t want PFCs increased because the added costs discourage travel without providing any direct benefit to the airlines. “What’s good for travelers is to not nearly double the tax they pay to step foot in an airport when airports have more than enough resources to invest in infrastructure today,” Airlines for America spokesman Vaughn Jennings said, per Bloomberg. “That is why airports can’t point to a single project that’s not moving forward due to a lack of resources.”

Above all, if there’s an increase in fees passed on to travelers, the airlines want to be the ones making the decisions—and reaping the rewards. As for the prospect of a bill passing that would cap baggage fees at $4.50, don’t hold your breath.

TIME Companies

Financial Times Group Sold to Japanese Media Giant

Nikkei Inc. is the largest business media group in Asia

(LONDON) — Pearson PLC, the owner of the Financial Times, says it has agreed to sell FT Group to Nikkei Inc. for 844 million pounds ($1.3 billion). It says the amount is payable in cash.

Nikkei Inc. is the largest independent business media group in Asia, with flagship newspaper Nikkei as its core.

Pearson chief executive John Fallon says Pearson has been a proud proprietor of the FT for nearly 60 years but that in the current news environment, the best way to ensure the FT’s journalistic and commercial success is for it to be part of a global, digital news company.

Fallon says Pearson will now focus fully on its global education strategy.

Nikkei Chairman and CEO Tsuneo Kita says he is “extremely proud” to team with the FT.

TIME Banking

This Is the Most Valuable Bank In The World

A woman walks past teller machines at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco, California.
Robert Galbraith—Reuters Wells Fargo promised to enact new Temporary Leave Underwriting Guidelines and educate their loan officers.

Forget the big investment banks, it's all about the basics here.

Forget those flashy big-name banks that always snag headlines. The title for world’s most valuable bank goes to Wells Fargo & Co.

The San Francisco-based bank recently zoomed past Industrial & Commercial Bank of China as the bank with the largest market value worldwide, reported the Wall Street Journal. Wells Fargo is worth $301.6 billion. That’s $40 billion more than J.P. Morgan Chase and almost $120 more than Citigroup.

As China’s stock market struggles and the relative strength of the U.S. economy continues to grow, it’s been a boon to American banks like Wells Fargo. ICBC and Wells Fargo have continually battled for the global top spot, and Wells Fargo first passed it in value in 2013. But, Chinese banks are facing new growth obstacles as the economy inches along, slowing down their expansion significantly from long-running double-digit growth. ICBC shares have fallen about 19% in the past three months, the WSJ reported.

Wells Fargo’s stock has gained 12.4% so far this year, making it the seventh-largest stock in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. However, when it comes to the largest U.S. bank by assets, that title is still held by J.P. Morgan.

Wells Fargo’s booming market value is a credit to its relatively simple style of business. It doesn’t rely on subprime loans, complex derivatives or risky trades funded by borrowed money. Instead, it focuses on its core units like consumer lending, banking services and mortgage origination. That straight-forward approach may be why Warren Buffett has long been the bank’s largest shareholder (and one of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies).

READ MORE: The big banks of the Fortune 500 that keep getting bigger.

TIME Music

Apple Is Giving Away Free Beats Headphones

Apple Beats Back to School
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Beats headphones are sold along side iPods in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City.

Part of Apple's annual back to school deal

Apple launched its annual back to school promotion on Thursday, offering a free pair of Beats Solo2 headphones alongside certain purchases.

Eligible products for the Beats deal are the iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Pro, according to Apple’s Back to School 2015 terms and conditions. Only qualified education individuals are eligible for the promotion, which Apple defines as higher education students, parents and employees, or K-12 employees, board members and officers.

Participating customers will receive an instant credit of $199.95, which may be applied to a pair of Beats Solo2 headphones ($199.95) or a pair of Beats Solo2 wireless headphones ($299.95). Customers who select the latter will be responsible for paying the remaining $100 balance.

The promotion is available in U.S. Apple Stores from July 23 to Sept. 18. It’s also available in the U.S. Apple online store from Aug. 6 to Sept. 18.

Read next: The Apple-Beats Deal: 7 Things You Should Know

TIME Lebron James

LeBron James Scores a Major Hollywood Deal

Basketball legend teaming up with Warner Bros., report says

Basketball legend LeBron James has a career in film and television pretty much prepared after he hangs up his basketball jersey.

James’ production company, SpringHill Entertainment, is partnering with Time Warner’s Warner Bros. Entertainment, The Wall Street Journal reports.

James has already proven his acting chops, such as in the recently released movie “Trainwreck.” But the deal with Warner Bros. mints him as a budding entertainment industry executive.

“To be able to partner with Warner Bros. will allow me to do some things I’ve always dreamed of,” James told the newspaper.

James and business partner Maverick Carter started SpringHill Entertainment in 2013 and were looking for a studio partnership before signing with Warner Bros.

“This is not a vanity deal,” Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros.’ CEO, told the paper. “Warner Bros. always needs to be thinking about bringing fresh perspectives and diverse voices into the company.”

The deal will enable Warner Bros. and SpringHill to co-produce and co-own all created content. The specifics of the deal weren’t released, however.

“This is not about making a movie or a couple of TV shows,” Carter told the publication. “We want to build a company.”

News of the deal had news outlets speculating that “Space Jam 2” may be in the works — a sequel to the 1996 classic movie Space Jam from Warner Bros. that starred Michael Jordan.

There have been other NBA stars who’ve cemented their status as business powerhouses. Magic Johnson has a burgeoning business, which Fortune wrote about last year.

TIME Media

Top Hollywood Movie Studios Smacked With Antitrust Charges

Disney, Warner Bros., Fox and more are accused of violating European law

Is the European Union about to add Hollywood’s finest to its collection of antitrust scalps?

After 18 months gathering material, the European Commission’s Competition directorate has accused six of Hollywood’s largest movie-makers of sabotaging the E.U.’s single market by signing country-specific deals with pay-TV providers.

The first so-called “statement of objections” have been sent out to the studios because of their licensing contracts with Sky U.K., the main operating asset of Sky Plc, but investigations into pay-TV providers in France, Germany, Spain and Italy are still ongoing and may yield further accusations.

The pay-TV companies in Germany and Italy are now 100%-owned owned by Sky, although they weren’t at the time the investigation was launched. Vivendi SA’s Canal Plus is the company under investigation in France.

The Commission’s beef is a variation on a theme of the charges it has laid at the door of Russian gas monopoly PAO Gazprom, in that country-specific deals forbid the free flow of goods and services, denying consumers the freedom of choice and, ultimately, their pricing power.

The accusations could be one of the first serious blows struck by the regulators in a campaign to modernize the E.U.’s digital economy, an area where Europe is badly lagging. The new Commission earlier this year identified the breaking down of nationally-defined copyright and licensing laws as one of the key elements of that campaign.

A prime example of this is the phenomenon of ‘geo-blocking': at present, a subscriber to an online pay-TV service in, for example, the U.K. can’t access that service in France or (more importantly for expatriated civil servants, lobbyists and politicians) Belgium because copyright and licensing law is still handled by national governments.

The Commission says it wants to ensure that users who buy online content such as films, music or articles at home can also access them while travelling across Europe.

The objections sent out this week by the E.U. don’t go as far as cutting that particular Gordian knot in one fell swoop. Instead, they zero in on contractual clauses which stop providers from selling outside a specific country. The regulators’ expectation is that if they pull on this loose end enough, the knot will unravel in time as the broader effort to modernize the Digital Single Market gains momentum.

In theory, if customers have the right to buy across borders, then the prices for products such as ESPN or Sky Atlantic will even themselves out across the E.U..

In practice, though, even after the contractual hurdle has been cleared away, companies will still be able to say ‘no’ on commercial grounds to customers who are trying to get a better deal than the one offered in their home countries (if, for example, the administrative cost would outweigh the benefits for the company).

The six studios to have received the so-called “Statement of Objections” are:

  • Walt Disney
  • 20th Century Fox
  • Warner Bros.
  • Paramount Pictures (a unit of Viacom Inc.)
  • Sony Pictures
  • NBCUniversal (Comcast Corp.)

Sky Thursday confirmed it had received the Commission’s objections and said: “We will consider this and respond in due course.”

Under the E.U.’s rules, it can fine companies up to 10% of their global annual revenue for antitrust violations.

This article originally appeared on

TIME Under Armour

Stephen Curry Sneakers a Slam Dunk for Under Armour

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors
© USA Today Sports / Reuters—USA Today Sports Sneakers tied to NBA player Stephen Curry (in white) have helped fuel strong footwear sales at Under Armour.

Footwear sales fuel strong growth at the athletic gear maker

Under Armour can thank NBA all-star Stephen Curry for helping propel the athletic-gear maker’s sales to new lofty heights.

Footwear sales surged 40% in the second quarter, the best performing category at Under Armour, a gain that was helped by the company’s relationship with the Golden State Warriors point guard. Sales for that category were helped by expansion in the running business and ongoing excitement around Curry’s signature shoes.

Under Armour’s business has been surging for years now, with sales exceeding 20% for 21 straight quarters. Apparel and accessories sales also increased dramatically in the latest quarter, helping results exceed Wall Street’s expectations. Overall revenue jumped an impressive 29% to $784 million.

Part of what is powering Under Armour’s results is a consumer trend in apparel that favors athletic gear, which is increasingly worn not only during athletic pursuits, but also in more casual settings that have nothing to do with sweating. That has helped the results for Under Armour, Nike, and other competitors.

But Under Armour has also made some wise endorsement investments. The company swooped up Curry after Nike reportedly didn’t fight too hard to keep him in their roster, and that move has paid off as Curry has been a star in the NBA. Other notable athlete relationships with superstars have included PGA Tour pro Jordan Spieth, who won this year’s Masters and U.S. Open, and ad campaigns with American Ballet Theatre’s first-ever African American female principal dancer Misty Copeland.

Another notable growth area: connected fitness, an area where Under Armour has already invested $710 million. Revenue from connected fitness more than doubled in the latest quarter, to $13.6 million. That figure is modest for now, but analysts and industry observers say “social fitness” — the trend among younger athletes to work out in groups and share their workouts via mobile apps — will only continue to proliferate over time.

TIME Workplace & Careers

10 CEOs Who Prove Your Liberal Arts Degree Isn’t Worthless

HBO, Starbucks, and Disney's CEOs were once disgruntled liberal arts majors, too

Hearing a son or daughter say they’re majoring in the liberal arts has never made more parents’ hearts sink into their stomachs. STEM degrees appear atop nearly every ‘best majors’ list, President Barack Obama has made jabs at the usefulness of a humanities degree, and college dropouts have colonized the Fortune 500. So when unemployed English majors joke that no degree would be better than one in liberal arts—they might actually not be kidding.

But there is life after liberal arts — just ask these 10 CEOs. From a self-proclaimed “completely unemployable” history major, to a B-average communications student at a No. 91-ranked state school, to a hippie philosophy dropout who wanted to fix capitalism, here’s how these formerly disgruntled liberal arts majors beat everyone else to the helms of some top companies.

  • Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO

    Howard Schultz Starbucks CEO
    Stephen Brashear—Getty Images Howard Schultz speaks during an annual shareholders meeting March 18, 2015, in Seattle, Wash.

    Degree: B.S. in Communications, Northern Michigan University, 1975

    On worrying about his post-college job prospects: A first-generation college student, Schultz grew up in a working-class family in the Projects of Canarsie in Brooklyn, and later attended NMU on a football scholarship. “During senior year, I also picked up a few business classes, because I was starting to worry about what I would do after graduation. I maintained a B average, applying myself only when I had to take a test or make a presentation,” Schultz wrote in his 1999 business memoir, Pour Your Heart Into It. To my parents, I had attained the big prize: a diploma. But I had no direction. No one ever helped me see the value in the knowledge I was gaining.”

    On getting his start in business: After graduating from college in 1975, like a lot of kids, I didn’t know what to do next… I took some time to think, but still no inspiration came,” Schultz wrote in his memoir. “After a year, I went back to New York and got a job with Xerox, in the sales training program. I learned more there than in college about the worlds of work and business.” After three years, Schultz joined a Swedish drip coffee maker manufacturer before moving to Starbucks as director of marketing in 1982. He has served as CEO since 2008.

    On success: It took years before I found my passion in life,” the coffee exec wrote. “But getting out of Brooklyn and earning a college degree gave me the courage to keep on dreaming.” Schultz added: “I can’t give you any secret recipe for success. But my own experience suggests that it is possible to start from nothing and achieve even beyond your dreams.”

  • Andrea Jung, Former Avon CEO

    Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products Inc., accepts the Leadership in the Corporate Sector award during the Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony marking the culmination of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York
    Lucas Jackson— Reuters Andrea Jung accepts the Leadership in the Corporate Sector award at the Clinton Global Citizen in New York on Sept. 23, 2010.

    Degree: B.A. in English Literature, Princeton University, 1979

    On whether she had ever imagined being a Fortune 500 CEO: A trailblazer for female CEOs, Jung finds it hard to believe how a Princeton bookworm came to lead the world’s largest direct cosmetics seller, where she was chief from 1999 to 2012. “What I find myself doing [now] was pretty unimaginable for me in 1979, after I finished my much-loved thesis on Katherine Mansfeld and my junior papers on Virginia Woolf,” Jung told students in a 2012 speech at her alma mater.To be standing here, and saying, ‘I now run a $10 billion global company’—I would’ve said, ‘Couldn’t be possible, that is not an imagined career path, not an imagined journey.’ Things have certainly taken a wonderful, but different, path.”

    On being an English major: “Because I was an English major, I loved journalism, I thought perhaps I’d go back to journalism school or law school,” Jung said during her speech. But her friends told her about a training program at Bloomingdale’s to gain experience in marketing and merchandising before hitting the books once more. “I fell in love with the business and the consumer,” Jung recalled. So she ditched her grad school plans, and dove into the women’s apparel, accessories and cosmetics industry. “The rest is history.”


  • Michael Eisner, Former Walt Disney Company CEO

    Disney CEO Michael Eisner
    Hector Mata—AFP/Getty Images Disney CEO Michael Eisner (R) and his hand-picked successor Robert Iger pose for a photograph in Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on July 17, 2005.

    Degree: B.A. in English Literature and Theater, Denison University, 1964

    On the importance of liberal arts: “Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick,” argued Eisner, who served as Disney CEO from 1984 to 2005, in a 2001 interview with USA Today.

    On failed dreams and unemployment after college: “After graduating from Denison, I set off on the ocean liner Mauritania for Paris, figuring that I’d find some café to write in, live the bohemian life for several years, and turn out plays that would eventually find their way to Broadway,” Eisner recalled in his 1999 autobiography, Work in Progress. Realizing quickly that he didn’t have the talent to become the “next great American playwright,” Eisner moved to New York to find a steady job. “The only problem,” he recalled, “was that I couldn’t get a job… My inability to land a job left me feeling lonely, dislocated and slightly frantic.”

    On starting off at a $65/week job: A few months later, in late 1964, Eisner received his first job offer, an NBC clerk where he logged the times each commercial appeared on air, and whether they were black-and-white—for just $65 per week. “It was far better than being unemployed,” he wrote in his autobiography. Later, he quickly scaled the corporate ladder at ABC and Paramount Pictures, before serving as Disney’s chief from 1984 to 2005. As the New York Times said of Eisner’s skill set in a 1998 article: “Eisner is unusual among entertainment moguls because he has had both creative and corporate experience. He knows how you put a show together and avoid going broke doing it.”



  • Richard Plepler, HBO CEO

    Richard Plepler HBO CEO
    Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Richard Plepler speaks during the 2011 Summer TCA Tour on July 28, 2011, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    Degree: B.A. in Government, Franklin & Marshall College, 1981

    On drawing inspiration from his liberal arts studies: HBO’s chief since 2013, Plepler recalled in a commencement speech this year at his alma mater that, when trying to land his first job, he turned to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings. “I believed, with Emerson, that if a man planted himself on his convictions and hopes that, ‘the huge world will come ’round to him.’ I always felt that, and all these years later, still do,” he said. “I decided to do everything in my power to secure a job, however lowly, in the nation’s capital. I got in my little Honda, and I drove to Washington, used all my energy and power of persuasion to try to talk my way onto the staff of a young U.S. Senator from my home state of Connecticut, Christopher Dodd.”

    On the chance encounter that led to his HBO career: After four years in D.C., Plepler moved to New York City in 1987 and started a one-man consultancy. One night, at a Chinese restaurant, he looked up and saw Benjamin Netanyahu, then the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. That year had marked the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, a topic familiar to Plepler, who then decided—on the spot—to pitch to him a documentary film about the conflict. “He barely looked up from his dumpling,” Plepler admitted. “He finally asked me to sit down, he listened, nodded and after a variety of happy accidents in the coming weeks and months, I produced a film… The film captured the imagination of the then Chairman of HBO, who invited me to join the company.”

    On what young grads can learn from reading Game of Thrones: As Plepler said during his speech: “While the road ahead, to quote from Game of Thrones, is ‘dark and full of terrors,’ it is hardly insurmountable.”

  • Carly Fiorina, Former Hewlett-Packard CEO

    Carly Fiorina HP CEO
    John G. Mabanglo—AFP/Getty Images Carly Fiorina responds to media questions after an HP shareholders meeting in Cupertino, Calif., on March 19, 2002.

    Degree: B.A. in Medieval History and Philosophy, Stanford University, 1976

    On becoming CEO of a leading computer company: Armed with a Stanford history degree yet still “completely unemployable,” Fiorina worked short stints as a receptionist, English teacher and secretary. At 25, she landed a sales rep job at AT&T, and quickly rose up in the IT and tech industry, eventually becoming HP’s chief from 1999 to 2005. When asked in a 2001 USA Today interview whether her degree was of any use, Fiorina said how studying the transformation from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance helped her approach the ongoing technological revolution: “We have, in fact, seen nothing yet.”

    On being proud of her liberal arts background: “While I joke that my medieval history and philosophy degree prepared me not for the job market, I must tell you it did prepare me for life,” the 2016 Republican presidential candidate said in March, speaking of education policy. “I learned how to condense a whole lot of information down to the essence. That thought process has served me my whole life… I’m one of these people who believes we should be teaching people music, philosophy, history, art.”

    (Fiorina also earned an MBA from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1980; and an MS from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1989.)


  • John Mackey, Whole Foods Co-CEO

    John Mackey Whole Foods CEO
    Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images John Mackey speaks at the World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C., on April 6, 2011.

    Degree (dropped out): B.A. in Philosophy and Religion, The University of Texas at Austin, 1977

    On the benefits of being a literary hippie and college dropout: “I accumulated about 120 hours of electives, primarily in philosophy, religion, history, world literature, and other humanities. I only took classes I was interested in, and if a class bored me, I quickly dropped it,” Mackey wrote in his 2013 book, Conscious Capitalism. Mackey, a shaggy-haired yogi, meditator and vegetarian living in a commune, ended up not taking a single business class: “I actually think that has worked to my advantage in business over the years. As an entrepreneur, I had nothing to unlearn and new possibilities for innovation.”

    On philosophy and founding Whole Foods: During his college years, Mackey drifted into a progressive political philosophy that taught him “both business and capitalism were fundamentally based on greed, selfishness, and exploitation,” the self-described “classical liberal” wrote in his book. That, he said, was the motivation for his girlfriend and him to open a natural foods store, Safer Way, in 1978. In two years, they renamed it Whole Foods Market.

  • Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO

    Susan Wojcicki YouTube CEO
    Kimberly White—Getty Images for Vanity Fair Susan Wojcicki speaks at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on Oct. 9, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif.

    Degree: B.A. in History and Literature, Harvard University, 1990

    On majoring in the humanities: Wojcicki, an early Google employee who became YouTube’s CEO in 2014, credits her parents — both of whom were teachers — with encouraging her broad interests: “Their goal wasn’t to become famous or make money… They found something interesting, and they cared about it. I mean, it could be ants, or it could be math, or it could be earthquakes or classical Latin literature,” the California native told Fast Company in 2014. “No one in my family had ever worked in business beforehand. So there was the expectation that I would just go into academics.”

    On becoming one of the most powerful women in tech: Wojcicki had originally planned on getting a PhD after graduation, but her career path changed when she discovered the power of technology her senior year at Harvard, when she took the school’s popular intro computer science class. “CS50 changed my life,” she recalled in a video encouraging students to take the class. “When I graduated from Harvard in 1990, I went to Silicon Valley, and I got a job, and I’ve been working in tech ever since.”

    (Wojcicki also earned an MS in Economics from University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1993; and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1998.)

  • Steve Ells, Chipotle Co-CEO

    Steve ells chipotle CEO
    Victor J. Blue—Bloomberg via Getty Images Steve Ells on a Bloomberg Television interview in New York on June 27, 2014.

    Degree: B.A. in Art History, University of Colorado Boulder, 1988

    On his liberal arts education: “In college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I studied art history and had a great time, but I didn’t have any sort of career aspirations,” recalled Ells in a 2004 interview with Westword. “I never took business classes in school. I never really thought about the economics of a restaurant — only the food and the experience,” Ells added in a 2011 video interview about Chipotle’s beginnings.

    On founding the now-$20 billion burrito chain: After college, Ells, who had always been passionate about cooking, attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1990. When he launched Chipotle three years later, he had to play catch-up with his business smarts. “Raising money for Chipotle was really my MBA,” Ells said in a 2009 Wall Street Journal interview.People asked a lot of questions about the business that forced me to take a critical look at how it ran.”

  • Alexa Hirschfeld, Paperless Post Co-Founder

    Alexa Hirschfeld Paperless Post Ceo
    Ramin Talaie—Bloomberg/Getty Images Alexa Hirschfeld speaks at the Empowered Entrepreneur Conference in New York on Oct. 18, 2011.

    Degree: B.A. in Classics, Harvard University, 2006

    On quitting her first job to co-found Paperless Post with her brother: The e-vite service was conceived in 2007 by her younger brother, James, while the Harvard undergrad was planning his 21st birthday party. He then called his sister, who had planned to leave her first job as an editorial assistant at CBS, where she was often stuck opening mail. “I wanted to be in something that was not figured out yet,” Alexa said in a 2011 interview with Cosmopolitan. “I imagined that if I were, there would be more room for creativity.”

    On developing Paperless Post: “[James and I were] really focused on not having lives that were really awful and conventional,” Alexa told the Harvard Crimson in a 2011 interview. But starting out wasn’t exactly easy, she said: “The gestation period was really painful. It felt like, ‘Is this ever going to be real?’ We sat in my parents’ living room and we didn’t celebrate any holidays for two years — we both lost a lot of weight.”

    On how her non-technical skills helped her in the tech field: “We’re very contrary to the Internet,” Hirschfeld said in a 2013 interview with The Huffington Post. “So these people who were the scions of the Internet did not get it. They were like, ‘Why would you care what it looks like? Wouldn’t you just want a calendar invite? Why would you want to have an image?’ Like, you know, the Internet’s not about that — we left those formalities back in the real world.”

  • Jack Ma, Alibaba Chairman

    Jack Ma Alibaba CEO
    Andrew Burton—Getty Images Jack Ma poses for a photo outside the NYSE prior to Alibaba's IPO on Sept. 19, 2014 in New York City.

    Degree: B.A. in English, Hangzhou Normal University (Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute), 1988

    On struggling to put his English degree to use: After graduating from college — it took Ma three tries to even pass China’s college entrance exam — Ma faced a string of over 30 job rejections, including a rejection from Kentucky Fried Chicken. He was eventually was hired to teach English at a local college for $20 a month, while also running a small translation company and peddling flowers, books and clothes to support himself on the side. Ma’s English skills later caught the attention of some entrepreneurs, through whom he learned about the Internet. In 1999, he and 17 friends founded, the global wholesale online marketplace. Its $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest ever.

    On why liberal arts education matters, especially for China: With entrepreneurship and innovation critical for China’s future, Ma has emphasized repeatedly why Chinese education needs to be less pre-professional. As Ma shared in an internal speech to his Alibaba employees: “I told my son, ‘You don’t need to be in the top three in your class. Being in the middle is fine, so long as your grades aren’t too bad.’ Only this kind of person has enough free time to learn other skills.”


Here’s the Latest Annoying New Fee from AT&T

A man uses his phone outside the AT&T store in New York's Times Square, June 17, 2015.
Brendan McDermid—Reuters

$15 every time you get a new phone?

Starting August 1, some new AT&T customers will have to pay higher fees for activating their mobile phones, while others will be subjected to entirely new fees that previously didn’t exist.

The new fee hikes, first reported by Droid Life, will cause activation charges on one- and two-year contracts with subsidized phones to rise from $40 to $45. As recently as last summer, mind you, the activation fee was $35 for such plans.

Customers who are interested in the AT&T Next payment plan have even more reason to be upset by the company’s pricing changes. Next has been promoted as a way for wireless customers to get frequent phone upgrades without the requirement of a long-term contract or full upfront payment for phones. It’s essentially a payment program, in which customers pay off the phone and service plan in one monthly lump installment, with no down payment and no activation fee.

Well, there was no activation fee. As of August 1, that’s expected to change. AT&T will be adding a $15 activation fee every time a new Next subscriber upgrades his or her phone; a $15 activation fee also applies to customers who are new to Next and are bringing their own phones.

AT&T told The Verge that customers who have signed up for one of the company’s wireless plans before August 1 won’t be subjected to the new fees “at this time.” That could give you reason to sign up and activate your phone before the end of July. Then again, there’s no guaranteeing the fee won’t be passed along to all AT&T customers before you know it.

Be sure to check out our recommendations for the Best Cellphone Plans before making any decision.

Read next: Our National Robocalling Nightmare May Soon Be Over


McDonald’s Promotions, New Menu Items Fail to Jolt U.S. Sales

Christoph Schmidt—Christoph Schmidt/picture-allian

Burger chain remains under pressure from rivals

Sales at McDonald’s U.S. stores slipped again in the second quarter, as efforts to generate business with new featured menu items and promotions failed to lift traffic at the fast-food operator’s restaurants.

The burger chain, which is facing pressure as more consumers defect for rival chains such as Chipotle [fortune-stock symbol=”CMG”], reported same-store sales for the second quarter dropped 2% in the U.S., while operating income for that region dropped 6%. Analysts had projected a less severe 1.5% drop, according to Consensus Metrix.

President and Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook, who took on the effort to steer a turnaround at McDonald’s earlier this year, attempted to strike a positive tone despite the muted results.

“We have made meaningful progress since announcing the initial steps of McDonald’s turnaround plan in early May,” said Easterbrook. “While our second quarter results were disappointing.”

McDonald’s on Thursday said in the U.S., local market tests would continue for all-day breakfast as well as a move to streamline the menu to make service speedier. The world’s largest restaurant company has been testing limited-time menu items, like the third-of-a-pound burger, and also has made some brand image moves like reviving the Hamburglar character and pledging to stop selling chicken raised with some antibiotics.

Overall, McDonald’s reported revenue slipped 10% to $6.5 billion, though it would have increased 1% excluding the strong U.S. dollar. Earnings were also down 10% to $1.26 per share. Those results were better than what analysts had predicted.

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