TIME Media

Amazon Outbid Netflix For Its Most Successful Show

Golden Globes 2015 - Transparent
Jeffrey Tambor stars in Transparent Amazon Studios

Transparent could've been on Netflix

Amazon has been raking in accolades for its new show Transparent, which stars Jeffrey Tambor as a transgender parent that comes out to her children. But the show could have belonged to Netflix.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told the Huffington Post that Amazon outbid his company for streaming rights to Transparent, which first aired its pilot on Amazon in February. The show has since been hailed by critics, recently picking up a Golden Globe for best TV series.

Amazon’s success with Transparent demonstrates just how competitive the market for premium television is becoming. In the same interview, Hastings told the Huffington Post that Netflix managed to outbid HBO for House of Cards, while HBO ended up snagging the rights to True Detective.

[The Huffington Post]

TIME Companies

Lukewarm Reviews Dampen Amazon’s Diaper Plans

Diaper
Close up of baby grabbing feet Stephanie Neal Photography—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Amazon is putting a hold on its Elements diaper sales to make improvements

Amazon is temporarily discontinuing the “Amazon Elements” diaper brand that it launched six weeks ago after tepid customer reviews.

In an email to customers, Amazon said that it had removed the diapers from its website as it makes “some design improvements to the diaper.” The diapers got mediocre reviews on Amazon, according to GigaOM.

The diapers were the first in Amazon’s new lineup of “Elements” environmentally-friendly products, which feature labels that customers can scan on the company’s mobile shopping app to learn about where the item was sourced.

When the diapers first launched, Amazon said it was responding to demand among Amazon Prime customers for products including diapers as well as information about where products are sourced.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s the Only Secret to Being Truly Successful

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Your significant other has a huge impact on your success. Science says so

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Your customers are hugely important. And your key employees. As well as the industry you’ve chosen, politics, macroeconomics, and education.

And luck.

While all those are important factors in the success of your business (or career) and your earning power, here’s one factor you probably haven’t considered:

Your spouse.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that people with relatively prudent and reliable partners tend to perform better at work, earning more promotions, making more money, and feeling more satisfied with their jobs.

That’s true for men and women: “Partner conscientiousness” predicted future job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of promotion (even after factoring in the participants’ level of conscientiousness.)

According to the researchers, “conscientious” partners perform more household tasks, exhibit more pragmatic behaviors that their spouses are likely to emulate, and promote a more satisfying home life, all of which enables their spouse to focus more on work.

As one researcher said, “These results demonstrate that the dispositional characteristics of the person one marries influence important aspects of one’s professional life.” (In nonresearch terms, a good partner both sets a good example and makes it possible for you to be a better you.)

I know that’s true for me. My wife is the most organized person I know. She juggles family, multiple jobs, multiple interests—she’s a goal-achieving machine. Her “conscientiousness” used to get on my nerves, until I realized the only reason it bugged me was because her level of focus implicitly challenged my inherent laziness.

I finally realized the best way to get more done was to actually get more done, and she definitely helps me do that.

And I try to do the same for her. Since my daily commute is two flights of stairs, I take care of most of the house stuff: laundry, groceries, cleaning (I don’t do all the cleaning, but I make sure it gets done), etc., so when she comes home she can just behome.

So, while she’s still much more conscientious and organized than I am, she’s definitely rubbed off on me in a very positive way.

Which of course makes sense: As Jim Rohn says, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with—and that’s particularly true where our significant others are concerned.

Bad habits rub off. Poor tendencies rub off. We all know that. But good habits and good tendencies rub off too.

Plus, if one person is extremely organized and keeps your household train running on time, that frees the other up to focus more on work. (Of course, in a perfect world, both people would more or less equally share train-engineer duties so that both can better focus on their careers, whether those careers are in the home or outside.)

Keep in mind, I’m not recommending you choose your significant other solely on the basis of criteria like conscientiousness and prudence. As the researchers say, “Marrying a conscientious partner could at first sound like a recipe for a rigid and lackluster lifestyle.”

Nor am I suggesting you end a relationship if you feel your partner is lacking in those areas.

But it does appear that having a conscientious and prudent partner is part of the recipe for a better and more rewarding career.

So instead of expecting your partner to change, think about what you can do to be more supportive of your significant other. Maybe you can take on managing your finances, or take care of more household chores, or repairs, maintenance, or schedules.

After all, the best way to lead is by example, and in time you may find that you and your significant other make an outstanding—and mutually supportive—team.

How awesome does that sound?

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Small Habits Can Transform Your Life

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Don’t let little time wasters or poor habits bring down your performance

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When you’re starting a business as a young entrepreneur, it seems like there are an infinite number of tasks to juggle. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of the details, no matter how tiny or tedious. Small changes, like reducing the amount of time you spend each day managing email or your remote team, can quickly add up, meaning you can spend your time growing your business instead of your to-do list.

Managing Time Wasters

One of the most insidious time sucks in the modern workplace is at your fingertips every day, and worse, it’s legitimately work related. Ask almost anyone what they spend the most time on while at work, and the answer is bound to be email. Email is the basis of communication in the 21st century workforce. Why not make sure you’re being as efficient as possible when you’re doing something so important?

Professional email etiquette is just as crucial as efficiency, and it’s more than just good manners; it’s good management. For instance, knowing how to start and end a professional email takes a lot of the guesswork out of communicating with co-workers, clients and customers. A professional greeting lets the recipient know that the topic is business, and a cordial and appropriate sign-off can eliminate the need for unnecessary responses as well as the need to go back and read them.

Knowing when to CC or BCC someone can also go a long way in saving time on email distribution. Create folders to keep all emails of a certain type together, and regularly archive emails that you have handled but that still contain information you may need to refer to later. Email search will also save you tons of time when tracking down old emails, so make regular use of this feature even if your inbox is completely organized.

Checking your email the right way can also help keep you on task. A good way to do this is to set aside certain points of the day to check your email, and check it at only those times — if that’s realistic for your situation. Try setting your email program to only check for messages at your decided times if self-control isn’t enough to keep you from clicking that envelope.

Developing Good Habits

Structuring your day and managing your workflow are the two pillars of any successful productivity strategy. Tasks should be outlined at the beginning of every day or at the end of the previous day, and nobody in the office should ever be unsure of what they are supposed to be doing. Setting productivity goals at the start of each day gives both you and your employees concrete objectives to work toward instead of an endless procession of menial tasks.

Good physical habits are often an underrated part of an entrepreneur’s success. As clichéd as it may sound, a good diet, moderate exercise and the appropriate amount of sleep will actually help you feel better and miss work less often, maximizing your potential as a leader and decision maker. Work habits are important as well, and business owners in particular must evaluate their methods on a regular basis to ensure they’re still best for the business. A clean physical and digital workspace minimizes distractions and promotes clarity of mind, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.

Putting your business in the best position for success means managing your resources wisely, and time is the most valuable and irreplaceable asset a business has. Time truly is money, and making sure not to waste either in the early stages of growth can make the difference for your company.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Startups

Lyft Is Ditching the Classic Furry Pink Mustache

A woman is driving a car for the rideshare company Lyft with a fake jumbo pink moustache that attaches to the grille of the car, in June 2014. Lyft is said to be 30% cheaper than cabs. Photo by: Frank Duenzl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Frank Duenzl/picture-alliance/dp

It's the end of an era

In a snub to the mustachioed, the ride-sharing service Lyft is shedding the signature pink lip warmers from the grills of its vehicles in favor of more conservative insignia.

Lyft’s trademark mustaches are being replaced by miniature interior ones, small “glowstaches” mounted on the inside of Lyft vehicles, Wired reports. Lyft competes with Uber and has raised $300 million in funding. The whimsical pink mustaches became a common sight on cars on the streets of San Francisco beginning in 2012, when the company was founded, and have been a trademark of Lyft’s brand since.

The new glowstache is meant to reflect a more mature Lyft. “It was this big giant fuzzy thing,” Lyft President John Zimmer said of the old mustache. “If you were going to an important business meeting, it might not be the best way to roll up.”

[Wired]

 

TIME Davos

What Obama and Davos Plutocrats Have in Common

A logo sits on a glass panel inside the venue of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 19, 2015.
A logo sits on a glass panel inside the venue of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 19, 2015. Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg—Getty Images

Global wealth has changed dramatically. It's time our tax code should, too

If President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night and the chatter at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which opened Wednesday, are any indication, inequality will be the hot economic topic for another year running.

The president’s proposals for changes to parts of the US tax code that mainly benefit the wealthy revives the conversation Warren Buffett started a few years back with his op-ed about why his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does. (Answer: She works for wages, whereas the Oracle of Omaha earns money on money itself, in the form of capital gains, interest income, etc.) At the WEF in Davos, where world leaders meet every year to hash out the big geopolitical and economic issues of the day, one of the most talked about reports is Oxfam’s new brief looking at how the 85 richest people on the planet have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50%, a huge jump from last year when it took a full 388 plutocrats to equal that wealth. Some 20% of the billionaires come from the world of finance and insurance, a group whose wealth increased by 11 % in the last twelve months. And $550 million of it was spent lobbying policy makers in places like Washington, something Oxfam believes has been a major barrier to tax and intellectual property reform that creates a fairer economic system.

Plenty of those plutocrats are here on the Magic Mountain, and some are undoubtedly checking in with their tax planners. I expect that we’ll hear lots more in Davos this week about how to restructure tax codes for the 21st century, mainly because the nature of wealth and how it gets created has changed so dramatically. Today, more than ever since the Gilded Age, money begets money; income earned from wages has been stagnating for years, or decades even, depending on which type of workers you tally. Meanwhile, changes in the tax code and corporate compensation over the last 30 years or so has concentrated more financial resources at the very top of the socio-economic food chain. Indeed, financial assets (stocks, bonds, and such) are the dominant form of wealth for the top 0.1 %, which actually creates a snowball effect of inequality.

As French economist Thomas Piketty explained so thoroughly in his now famous 693 page tome on wealth inequality, Capital in the 21st Century, the returns on financial assets greatly out-weigh those from income earned the old-fashioned way—by working for wages. Even when you consider the salaries of the modern economy’s super-managers—the CEOs, bankers, accountants, agents, consultants and lawyers that groups like Occupy Wall Street railed against—it’s important to remember that somewhere between 30% to 80 % of their incomes are awarded not in cash but in stock options and stock equity. This type of income is taxed at a much lower rate than what most of us pay on the money we receive in our regular checks. That means the composition of super-manager pay has the booster-rocket effect of lowering taxes (and thus governments’ ability to provide support for the poor and middle classes) while increasing inequality in the economy as a whole.

MORE How 7 ideas in the State of the Union would affect you

It’s a cycle that spins faster and faster as executives paid in stock make short-term business decisions that might undermine long-term growth in their companies even as they raise the value of their own options in the near. It’s no accident that corporate stock buybacks, which tend to bolster share prices but not underlying growth (you know, the kind that creates jobs for you and me), and corporate pay have gone up concurrently over the last four decades. There are any number of studies that illustrate the intersection between the markets, our tax system, and wealth gap; one of the most striking was done by economists James Galbraith and Travis Hale, who showed how during the late 1990s, changing income inequality tracked the go-go NASDAQ stock index to a remarkable degree.

As Piketty’s work shows, in the absence of some change-making event, like a war or a Great Depression that destroys financial asset value, the rich really do get richer–a lot richer–while the rest of us become relatively worse off. One of the few levers that governments have to combat this trend is the tax code. While Piketty argues for a global wealth tax, something that will likely never happen, President Obama’s stab at capital gains taxes and trust taxes is probably just the opening round in a tax debate that will go on throughout this year, and into the 2016 presidential race.

I say, bring it on—given that the nature of wealth has changed, it’s high time the tax system should too.

TIME Video Games

Nintendo to Shut Down Club Nintendo Rewards Program

Mario , Luigi
Mario and Luigi take the field at Sun Life Stadium before the face-off between Florida State and University of Miami on Nov. 15, 2014. Jeff Daly—Invision for Nintendo

But members will be treated to more downloadable content in coming months

Nintendo announced plans Tuesday to shut down its rewards program, Club Nintendo, after six years of operation in North America.

The scheme allowed members to earn free items — such as downloadable games, posters or character figures — in exchange for loyalty “coins” collected by registering products or completing surveys.

The company plans to release new downloadable content until the official end date on June 30, including their Flipnote Studio 3D software, which allows users to create and share three dimensional animations.

“We want to make this time of transition as easy as possible for our loyal Club Nintendo members, so we are going to add dozens of new rewards and downloadable games to help members clear out their Coin balances,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Nintendo says it will announce a new customer loyalty program at a later date.

TIME Media

2015 Will Be the Year Netflix Goes ‘Full HBO’

The streaming service is putting an increasing emphasis on original shows

“The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos famously told GQ in 2013. Back then, no one, including Sarandos himself, knew whether anyone was actually interested in watching original shows made by the company that used to mail them DVDs.

Today, Netflix’s bet looks doubly smart—other tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft and AT&T are making similar investments in original programming, while television stalwarts like CBS, ESPN and, yes, HBO are planning to offer their popular shows to viewers who don’t want to buy a pricey television bundle. The once-separate worlds of “television” and “online video” are going to collide this year, so it’s no surprise Netflix is battening down the hatches with a big rollout of exclusive original shows.

In his quarterly letter to shareholders released Tuesday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote that the company is planning 320 hours of original programming this year, triple the amount Netflix released in 2014. In addition to third seasons of early standouts like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, Netflix will also debut new shows like Marvel’s Daredevil action series and the new Tina Fey-backed comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

This will be the year when Netflix-original shows transform from a novelty to an expectation among subscribers.

This rapid shift in focus isn’t just coming because Netflix execs suddenly crave becoming creative auteurs—it’s a shift necessary to sustain the company’s business model. Licensing costs have soared as content makers realized the value of streaming rights and deep-pocketed competitors like Amazon entered the market. At the same time, HBO and others offering stand-alone versions of their channels to cord-cutters will change what viewers expect of cheap subscription services.

Great premium, original content is more necessary than ever — but it’s harder than ever to get a hold of. No wonder Netflix is trying to bankroll the content itself.

Indeed, Netflix noted in its shareholder letter that its original shows have been some of the most cost-efficient in the company’s stable. “Our originals cost us less money, relative to our viewing metrics, than most of our licensed content, much of which is well known and created by the top studios,” the company wrote.

The only trouble with Netflix’s plan is ensuring all this content they’re rolling out is stuff people will actually enjoy watching. The company has cast House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black as hits without divulging how many people actually watched them. It’s trying to do the same with Marco Polo, even though many critics have panned the show (Netflix has shot back at critics by pointing out that the audience rating for Marco Polo on Rotten Tomatoes is nearly as high as that of Game of Thrones).

As the company’s older shows grow long in the tooth, Netflix will have to keep infusing its lineup with new, buzzy shows. That’s a challenge traditional cable networks have faced for decades, and one HBO in particular has been skilled at navigating. Can Netflix do the same? This is the year we find out.

TIME Media

Average Movie Ticket Price Hit All-Time High in 2014

Rose to $8.17 in 2014, slightly up from 2013

Movie ticket prices in the United States continued their upward annual climb in 2014, despite last year’s summer box office slump.

The average price in 2014 was $8.17, an all-time yearly high, but only a slight increase from the 2013 average of $8.13, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) said in a statement Tuesday. That figure has steadily increased since the mid-1990s, when tickets were around $4.

“Over most of the year, the average was lower than the equivalent quarter on 2013, with the exception of the third quarter when we had a big hit with Guardians of the Galaxy in 3D and large format screens,” NATO Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Patrick Corcoran said in a statement.

Five years of rising ticket prices was one of the chief reasons fewer people went to the movies last year, according to a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Box office revenues from 2014 were also down compared to those of 2013, as several highly anticipated sequels like Transformers: Age of Extinction raked in fewer profits than their predecessors.

Last year’s slumps were capped off by Sony’s decision to stream The Interview online on Christmas Day following threats. While the online revenues likely haven’t covered the movie’s costs yet, they’ve already topped $40 million as of this week.

TIME Companies

Netflix Shares Surge as Subscriber Growth Picks Up

Netflix Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings
The Netflix website and logo are displayed on laptop computers arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2014 Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Interview will make a Jan. 24 debut on Netflix

Netflix closed out 2014 on a high note, posting a 26% gain in fourth-quarter revenue while adding more than four million subscribers in the year’s final quarter. Here are the key points from Tuesday’s Netflix earnings report:

What you need to know: Netflix pulled in $1.48 billion in fourth-quarter revenue, up from $1.18 billion during the same quarter last year, according to a letter to the company’s shareholders. The online video streaming service collected $5.5 billion in revenue for the full year, representing a 26% increase from 2013’s $4.4 billion in sales.

Netflix also saw its fourth-quarter profits soar 72% — to $83.4 million, or $1.38 per share — up from $48.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. For the full year, the company collected profits of $266.8 million, or $4.44 per share, which more than doubled the previous year’s tally.

The big number: As usual, the market’s reaction to Netflix’s earnings hinged on the extent to which the company grew its customer base. Netflix didn’t disappoint in the fourth quarter, adding 4.33 million subscribers — accelerating from a 4.07 million increase during the same quarter last year. In total, the company has 57.4 million subscribers globally.

Shares of Netflix spiked in after-hours trading as investors reacted to the strong financial numbers and user growth. After falling by nearly 25% over the past six months, the company’s stock jumped more than 15%, approaching nearly $400 per share.

Netflix shares plunged in October, despite increased profits, when the company fell short of its own projections by adding just over 3 million new subscribers in the third quarter. Earlier in the year, share prices surged when the company topped 50 million subscribers for the first time during the second quarter. Despite worries over stops and starts in Netflix’s user growth rate, the company said on Tuesday it added 13 million new members in 2014 — a personal best. The company expects to add more than 4 million subscribers again in the current quarter, which would bring the global total to 61.4 million users.

International growth has been key to Netflix finding new customers and more than half of its fourth-quarter user growth came overseas. In their letter to shareholders, CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells said that Netflix will launch in Australia and New Zealand later this quarter. The executives also wrote that they want to “complete our global expansion” — which would put Netflix in about 200 countries (it’s currently in 50 countries) — by the end of 2016 while still remaining profitable, “which is earlier than we expected.”

What you might have missed: Hastings offered shareholders his usual rundown of updates on Netflix’s competitors, noting a lack of information about the timing and pricing for HBO Go’s pending standalone service. The letter also included something of an understatement: “Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Yahoo are all increasing their original programming efforts,” a nod to how the companies are following Netflix’s footsteps in developing original shows.

Amazon has been working diligently to rapidly expand its portfolio of original streaming content, including signing iconic writer-director Woody Allen to helm his first-ever television series exclusively for its Prime Instant Video service. Over the weekend, Amazon also said it plans to put out roughly a dozen original films each year — first, in theaters, followed shortly by online releases through Prime.

“In general, Internet TV is going mainstream, which both increases the size of the market and brings new competitors,” the executives wrote. “It couldn’t be a more exciting time in our industry!”

Hastings and Wells spent far more time touting their own original content, including the upcoming full-length feature film sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as well as a handful of new television series and the return of popular series House of Cards. (The letter even ends with a congratulatory note to Cards star Kevin Spacey for his recent Golden Globe win for acting on the show.)

Meanwhile, somewhat buried in the letter is the announcement that Sony’s controversial comedy The Interview will make a Jan. 24 debut on Netflix, less than a month after its limited release in theaters and through video-on-demand.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

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