TIME Nepal

What Mount Everest Victim Dan Fredinburg Said About Visiting Nepal in 2013

Dan Fredinburg

The Google executive, who died in an avalanche in Nepal, spoke to TIME.com two years ago

Dan Fredinburg, the Google executive who was killed over the weekend by an avalanche on Mount Everest following the massive earthquake in Nepal, spoke to TIME.com two years ago about braving extreme altitude, mudslides and earthquakes to make the views from the planet’s highest peaks available to everyone with an Internet connection.

“Different adventurers and people who want to explore from the comfort of their homes have the opportunity to explore and see these different corners of the world,” Fredinburg told TIME in March 2013, when Google Maps’ Street View launched a collection of interactive galleries featuring the world’s tallest mountains — such as Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro and Argentina’s Aconcagua — for which he helped collect images. “The goal as a team is to make sure we had the opportunity to provide users with maps that are more accurate and usable,” he said.

Fredinburg’s sister Megan announced Saturday on Instagram that he had suffered a fatal head injury during an avalanche caused by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. Fredinburg was the privacy director for Google X, but he also told TIME about his work as a Google Adventurer — an unofficial title for Google employees whose love of the outdoors led them to turn their international trips into data-gathering opportunities for Google Maps.

The late executive described surviving a 6.9-magnitude earthquake while collecting data for the Everest Base Camp Street View map that he said gave him a new perspective on life:

“As I was out in the dark, you could hear people screaming and running for cover. That is an eye-opening experience … These people accept their fate as predetermined. To see them panicking and fearing something, it tests your own ability to stay calm in situations like that and not panic as well.”

MONEY Odd Spending

People Are Paying Thousands (Even Millions!) for Phone Numbers

Phone number on napkin
Getty Images

Somebody just paid $2.2 million for a set of digits.

Over the weekend, a United Arab Emirates telecom called Du hosted an auction in Dubai, inviting customers to place bids on 70 desirable mobile phone numbers—ones that end in a string of 2s, say, or multiple 5s in a row. Apparently, some people will pay quite a pretty penny for such standout numbers.

The crown jewel of the auction, 052-2222222, began at a price of Dh250,000 (about USD$68,000), but was bid up immediately to Dh1,000,000 ($272,000), and eventually sold for the equivalent of $2.2 million in U.S. currency. “Yes, I’m going to use the number, with pride,” said the man with the winning bid, Mohamed Hilal.

While it’s unclear why anyone would feel a phone number—even a pretty cool one—is worth such a huge sum, the phenomenon is hardly limited to one specific country or culture. In 2003, a Chinese airline paid $280,000 at auction for the right to use the number 8888 8888. Many Chinese believe that 8 is a lucky number, so an eight-digit number consisting only of 8s is presumably doubly lucky—or perhaps lucky by a factor of eight.

Various versions of arguably the best-known phone number in American pop culture history, 867-5309—thanks to Tommy Tutone’s 1981 hit song—have gone up for sale over the years. One New Jersey DJ, who says he got the number 201-867-5309 simply by requesting it, and received dozens of random phone calls daily from total strangers, placed it up for online auction in 2009. The asking price was pushed up past $365,000, but apparently some of the bidders weren’t legitimate. The number sold for $186K, reportedly to an ’80s-themed fitness chain called Retrofitness.

Last week, the Washington Post reported on how services such as PhoneNumberGuy.com enable anyone to “Buy Your Own Awesome Phone Number!” Sometimes, all this means is having the “cool” area code—310 in Los Angeles, 212 in New York City, 202 in Washington D.C., and so on—rather than the newer, B-list area codes more commonly given out nowadays. Getting any old phone number with the extremely in-demand 212 area code in Manhattan will run at least $75, according to the site 212AreaCode.com.

Some businesses especially feel it’s important to have an “original” area code to be taken seriously in their city. And when a popular area code is paired with an “awesome” number that is super easy to remember (seven of a kind of all the same digits, say, or a simple pattern), or that ends with four digits that translate to a desirable word (HOME, PAIN, HURT), sales can easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Yet as the San Francisco Chronicle reported over the weekend, the FCC maintains that no one actually owns their phone numbers in the U.S.—and that selling them is illegal. “Numbers are not for sale,” an FCC spokesperson explained. “There are rules about this.”

Ed Mance, who runs the Phone Number Guy, told the Chronicle that he is simply “offering a service” that covers the “search, activation and account transfer” of a number, but that technically, no sales of phone numbers are taking place. His site’s FAQ page insists that the service is “Completely, 100% legal.”

The site lists hundreds of “Vanity” numbers, ending in four digits that spell out HEAT, CARE, SOLD, ROOF, or LIMO, for $299 and up, and at last check 14 different “Seven of a Kind” numbers are available for $17,999 to $35,000. Mance says that if a seven-of-a-kind number featuring all lucky sevens (777-7777) ever went on the market with a Las Vegas area code, that could be a true payday—summoning as much as $150,000.

TIME technology

Watch This Guy Spray-Paint His Apple Watch to Make It Gold

Casey Neistat's latest video on the latest trend

The gold Apple Watch, like the one Beyoncé was recently seen wearing, probably costs more than you’re willing to spend. Casey Neistat, a filmmaker and YouTube star, had the same thought. So instead of buying one that way, he got a little creative.

Neistat found some gold spray paint, took the straps off the watch then taped off its face and back. Then, he carefully sprayed on both sides. Afterward, when he took the tape off and put the straps back on, the difference didn’t seem too noticeable from the real thing. But perhaps he shouldn’t show it off to jewelry experts; they’re likely to see something’s not quite right.


Here’s How Much It Costs to Be an Apple Early Adopter

Tom Nicholson—Rex Features via AP Images

Apple early adopters have historically paid a big premium for early access to less-than-fully-baked products. Is the Apple Watch worth it right now?

Our long, smartwatch-less, national nightmare is finally over.

The Apple Watch was officially released today. That doesn’t mean you can walk up to the counter and buy one yet—watches may not be coming to retail outlets until May—but now is as good a time as any to ask the all-important question: Should you, gentle reader, become an Apple Watch early adopter?

The answer may simply come down to your feelings about the product, which the reviewers tell us is a cool, somewhat flawed, but legitimately mainstream first foray into wearable technology. If the idea of literally strapping an Apple mobile device to your body doesn’t sound very appealing, then the decision isn’t complicated: Skip it for now. At the other end of the spectrum are tech junkies like me for whom a first-generation Apple Watch isn’t a question at all, but an inevitability.

But for many normal people who make rational purchasing decisions based on costs and benefits—let me know what that’s like sometime!—the Apple Watch presents a real dilemma: Do you take the plunge and get in early on the smartwatch trend, or do you wait until the kinks have been worked out?

A short history of Apple price cutting

Your decision should largely depend on two variables: How much cheaper and better will the Apple Watch be in the future, and how long will one have to wait until that future arrives?

A look at Apple’s major new product categories going back to the beginning of the millennium gives us some insight into both of these unknowns.

The original iPod. Released in October of 2001, it cost $399 and shipped with five gigabytes of storage. A year and a half later, the first major hardware revision—which introduced the dock connector and a greatly improved and less break-prone interface—doubled the base model’s storage and dropped the price down to $299.

The iPhone. A cautionary tale for early adopters if there ever was one. Launched in late June 2007 with the 8 gigabyte model retailing for $599, the iPhone’s price was cut to $399 less than three months later. And just over a year after the original release, Apple shipped the iPhone 3G at $199, a 66% price reduction.

Apple TV. Not all of Apple’s new product categories have seen their price fall quite so fast. The Apple TV didn’t get cheaper for three and a half years; but between March 2007 and September 2010 it went from basically a $299 media center PC to a $99 streaming box.

The iPad. Some might argue that the price of the iPad hasn’t changed much at all. More than four years after its release, the base model still sells for the original sticker price of $499. That said, the many consumers who waited two and a half years for the $329 iPad Mini feel they made a very wise decision—and it’s hard to argue considering that sales estimates suggests it’s the iPad most people actually wanted.

So what’s the bottom line? Well, I crunched the numbers together (you can see my admittedly unscientific methodology in the footnote below) and found that since 2000, the average major new consumer-product category from Apple fell 48% in price between the original launch and the first major price cut, which on average took 2 years and 3 months.

Here’s two graphics I put together with the data:



(Source: Money research, Apple.com)

One might look at the graphic and argue that the average obscures two dramatically different stories: The iPhone and Apple TV experienced very large price cuts, while the iPad and iPod saw more modest reductions. But even the smallest price drop, the iPod’s, was 25% in less than 18 months.

So there’s a clear lesson in the big picture: Early adopters have paid a significant premium to be among the first to own a new line of Apple devices.

The Product-Isn’t-Good-Yet Tax

Then there’s another big cost to early adopters: purchasing something that’s about to get a lot better very soon.

To a certain extent, this phenomenon is built into every electronics purchase. The computer you buy today won’t be quite as good as the computer you could buy a few months, let alone years, from now.

But it’s especially true when it comes to brand new product categories. It isn’t just that the price of Apple’s post-2000 innovations fell when the first serious revisions hit the market. It’s that the new and less expensive versions were much better than the originals.

It’s hard to believe now, but the original iPhone didn’t ship with an app store, group messaging, high-speed internet, or even the ability to copy and paste text. It was also exclusive to one carrier, AT&T, which at the time was notorious for spotty service. “The iPhone was crippled when it first came out,” recalls Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple executive interviewed in the recently released biography, Becoming Steve Jobs. It was only a year later, when the iPhone 3G was released, “that the iPhone was truly finished.”

One could argue the Apple Watch is similarly crippled. Cupertino’s latest widget completely depends on the iPhone for a GPS and data connection, turning the watch into a slightly souped-up timepiece when worn on its own. It’s not hard to imagine that a future Apple Watch model that could exist indepently, making it a truly revolutionary device instead of an (extremely advanced) accessory.

The question for prospective early adopters, then, is how long are they willing to wait until the Apple Watch is also “truly finished.” And how much are they willing to pay right now?

*Here’s how I crunched the numbers: The average includes the iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV. I didn’t consider the Macbook and Macbook Pro to be new products because both were extensions of a previous product line—the iBook and Powerbook, respectively—and launched at the same price points as their predecessors. I didn’t include the iPod touch, which Apple considers an extension of the iPod brand, for the same reason. I counted the original iPhone’s 8GB as the base model because the 4GB version was discontinued after less than three months.


Microsoft Looks to the Cloud as Sales of Windows Tumble

It used to be that software giant Microsoft could count on its flagship Windows operating system as a big contributor to its bottom line. With Windows bundled on millions of new personal computers, the company could count on a lot of easy money to basically activate the pre-installed software.

But, as reflected in its latest earnings report, Microsoft is feeling the sting of consumers shifting away from PCs, which cuts into the company’s lucrative licensing business model.

Indeed, while the company’s overall sales grew to $21.7 billion for the past quarter from $20.4 billion during the same period last year, its Windows licensing business has taken a hit. Revenue from the business version of Windows dropped 19% while the Windows consumer edition fell 26%.

So what’s picking up the slack? The answer is that nebulous term known as the cloud, which generally refers to companies using their own data centers to provide computing, networking and storage power to others.

For Microsoft, this means not just the computing and infrastructure-related services it sells through Azure, the name of its cloud service. But also products that Azure powers like the Office 365 product suite, analytics services for companies that want to crunch numbers, and even an e-discovery service—a new business line for Microsoft tailored for lawyers who need to sift through thousands of corporate emails for evidence, for example.

During an earnings call with investors, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella downplayed the decline of Windows licensing sales and instead touted the company’s burgeoning cloud business, which more than doubled in sales from the previous year and now has an annualized revenue run rate of $6.3 billion.

Nadella sees Microsoft’s cloud business as a big contributor to the company’s revenue and a way to open up new markets. For example, Nadella said that selling Office 365 via the cloud means that consumers and small businesses without the sophisticated IT of big corporations can buy more sophisticated versions of the product that would otherwise require complex infrastructure to operate.

And once a company buys into one of Microsoft’s cloud services, Microsoft can then use it as a foothold to sell them additional products.

Of course, Microsoft isn’t alone in this line of thinking. Rival cloud providers like Google and Amazon Web Services have all been busy over the past year creating new cloud services powered by their massive data centers to land more customers.

What used to be a war between the cloud giants over which one could provide customers with data center storage at the lowest possible price has been steadily morphing into which cloud provider has the best services that companies can tap into. So while Microsoft has been losing cash when it comes to Windows and the old software licensing model, it’s steadily making that up by selling access to its data centers and the software services built on top.

But with Amazon, Google and even IBM seemingly doing the same thing, it’s not going to be a piece of cake for Microsoft to come out on top.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

MONEY Kids and Money

How to Save on Your Kid’s First Cell Phone

Children are getting phones at younger ages than ever. But the earlier you give in, the longer you'll be paying wireless bills.

When Dallas mom Jan Valecka’s twins hit that contentious tween age, the rite of passage she dreaded most was a relatively new one: when to get them cell phones.

“They were starting to see all their friends get smartphones and iPads,” says Valecka, a financial planner at her own firm. “They started lobbying hard.”

She caved when they started 5th grade and got them basic cell phones. The boy-and-girl twins are now 13 and in 7th grade. Their upgrade to smartphones costs Valecka about $75 a month each.

Valecka is hardly alone in dealing with the emotional and financial consequences of giving kids smartphones. A quarter of U.S. 8-and 9-year-olds now have them, according to the 2015 Parents, Kids & Money survey by Baltimore money managers T. Rowe Price. And a new study from Pew Research Center discovered that only 12% of American teens age 13 to 17 do not have a cell phones of any type.

To make the correct call, though, do the math to be sure you are ready for far-reaching consequences. After all, it’s not just a one-time purchase that parents are agreeing to, but a stiff monthly charge that could last for many years to come.

If you get your 12-year-old a plan that costs, say, $50 a month, that will set you back $4,200 though age 18. And that’s not even including any ancillary costs like equipment and upgrades, repairs and app purchases. Data overages, especially if your kids are heavy video watchers, could inflict significant extra damage.

Indeed, 23% of households report paying much more for their kids’ phone plans than they originally expected, according to a study by the National Consumers League.

That doesn’t have to be the case if you are thoughtful about how your decisions will affect household finances. Here are some suggestions:

1. Start with baby steps

A basic cell with phone and texting capability can be very reasonable indeed; Sprint, for instance, offers a WeGo starter phone for only $9.99 a month.

There are also prepaid plans available, with varying restrictions on minutes and data, and low-cost handsets. T-Mobile, for instance, offers a $40-a-month prepaid plan with unlimited talk, text and data on its own network, and 1 GB of nationwide LTE data. With hard limits in place, parents are essentially saving themselves from any unwanted bill surprises.

Consider it something of a trial period: If your kids prove responsible with their new gadgets, and aren’t constantly calling or texting their buddies late into the night, then you can talk about graduating to more elaborate phones and plans.

When you are all ready, every major carrier offers a version of a family share plan, like Verizon’s More Everything and AT&T’s Mobile Share Value. Additional lines cost less money than standalone packages, but contracts are often involved.

At that point the training wheels are off—and if you are sharing your family data package with your teenager, be prepared to blow through some usage limits.

2. Have the money talk

“The question that must always be discussed is, ‘Who will pay for what?'” says Mark La Spisa, a planner with Vermillion Financial in South Barrington, Illinois. “It’s critical to talk about it in advance of a child receiving their first phone.”

For an 8- or 9-year-old, it is unfair to expect anything beyond a token contribution. But teens who have their own income from part-time or summer work can start chipping in to cover part of the bill.

Also consider who the phone is really benefiting. If it is mainly for the parents’ peace of mind, that’s one thing. But if it is only for their enjoyment, and parents are not deriving any benefit at all, then “then they should be footing the bill,” says personal finance expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade, author of Money Rules.

3. Resist the lure of the constant upgrade

For her own kids, Vaz-Oxlade pays the bills, because she wants to get in touch with them. But she draws the line at hopping on the “hamster wheel” of getting them the latest-and-greatest gadgets on the market. That’s just throwing away money, in her opinion.

As a result she, her son and her daughter are all still using trusty iPhone 4s they got a few years ago.


PayPal Eclipses eBay’s Marketplace Ahead of Spin-Off

As it prepares to spin off PayPal over the summer, eBay reported stronger than expected first quarter earnings Wednesday thanks to its growing payments business. But eBay’s marketplace is declining, which doesn’t bode well for its success after saying goodbye to PayPal.

Indeed, the report hammered home the divergent trajectories of the two businesses in one nugget of data. PayPal, the one-time upstart in the corporate family, has finally eclipsed eBay’s marketplace in revenue.

Sales in EBay’s bazaar of antique vases, used cars and outlet clothing fell 4% to $2 billion. Meanwhile, PayPal’s revenue grew 14% to $2.1 billion, slightly edging out its sister division.

The payments arm has long been the fastest growing business for eBay. The core marketplace business was still growing, although at a slower rate than PayPal. But while digital and mobile payments take off, the marketplace business has recently floundered amid stiff competition from Amazon and others. The changing of the guard was inevitable.

In anticipation and under pressure from investor Carl Icahn, eBay decided to spin-off PayPal, the company it acquired more than a decade ago. CEO John Donahoe explained that the once-symbiotic relationship between the two divisions wasn’t as tight as it used to be and that they could do better alone while focusing on their respective businesses.

While all signs point to PayPal emerging from the spinoff as a healthy company, it will likely be a different story for eBay. Without PayPal, eBay would merely be a slow-growth business at best and a possible acquisition target, and a possible acquisition target of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba could be an interested buyer as it looks to expand to the U.S.

Short term, however, Devin Wenig, the future CEO of eBay’s marketplace business, mentioned another challenge for eBay’s marketplace. Recent changes by Google to its search algorithm has negatively impacted product listings in results and that eBay is looking to fix the problem.

Thankfully for eBay, it doesn’t look like the company will face competition from PayPal anytime soon. Earlier this month, the company revealed additional terms of the split, with eBay and PayPal entering into a deal that prohibits them from competing against each other after they’ve parted ways. PayPal is blocked from creating its own marketplace for physical goods, while eBay has promised to steer clear of building a payments system. As part of the agreement, the two companies will share data around payment risk and security.

In prelude to the split, eBay and PayPal still report their earnings as a combined company. Its overall quarterly revenue increased 4% from a year earlier to $4.45 billion, in line with analyst expectations. Profits excluding certain expenses came in at $943 million or 77 cents per share, slightly higher than the 70 cents that analysts had predicted.

EBay’s core marketplace quarterly revenue declined for first quarterly decline since 2009. Gross merchandise volume for fell 2% to $20.1 billion. International volume, which was always touted as a huge growth opportunity for eBay, was down 4% in the quarter.

As expected, PayPal had a strong quarter in which payment volume rose 18% to $61 billion and the number of transactions grew 24% to over 1 billion. Mobile payments through PayPal are up 40% year-over-year and now represent 30% of all transactions.

PayPal isn’t immune from competition either, especially on mobile, with Apple Pay, fast growing payments unicorn Stripe, Google and others all vying to power payments for consumers. We’ll see how Wall Street values both PayPal and eBay in the coming months.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Social Media

Anyone Can Now Send You a Direct Message on Twitter

App stock
Lauren Hurley — Association Images The Twitter App is shown on an Apple iPhone 4S.

They don't have to follow you first

Starting this week, Twitter users will now have the option to receive direct messages from any of the other 288 million people who have signed up for the service.

Previously, only individuals that followed each other on the social network and microblogging platform were able to exchange private missives.

However, the option to receive direct messages from non-followers is currently turned off by default. To begin receiving messages from any and everyone, users will have to change their own settings manually.

MONEY stocks

My $505,845 Mistake

Netflix on phone and envelopes
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images

This is why you have to "buy and hold."

Pull up a stool, and let me tell you a bittersweet tale about the one that mostly got away. It was 2002, and I finally got Netflix NETFLIX INC. NFLX 1.38% . I was skeptical when it went public in May of that year. I bashed it — viciously — a few weeks later, but my tune changed a few months later when I became a subscriber and an investor.

Netflix was starting to build out its network of distribution centers, and that means that the laughable weeklong roundtrip delivery cycle for someone on the East Coast between disc rentals could be shortened to as little as two days.

It also didn’t hurt that the same stock that I blasted when it was in the high teens in June had fallen into the mid-single digits by October. I bought in, wagering roughly $2,500 to pick up 500 shares. For once in my life I had actually nailed the bottom on a stock.

By the time that Netflix declared a 2-for-1 stock split two years later, my cost basis on what would have been 1,000 shares dropped to about $2.50 a share. The key nugget in that lesson is “would have been” because I had unfortunately sold most of my shares well before the split.


Hurts so good

Identifying great growth stocks is sometimes easier than mustering the patience to see that greatness play out. In my case, I got trigger happy when Netflix began to bounce back. I sold 80% of my stake too soon. It felt right at the time. It always does.

The only thing that makes this tale bearable is that I kept 100 of my original 500 shares. It didn’t seem right to punch out entirely, especially when Netflix was disrupting what was then a thriving DVD rentals market. Those 100 shares became 200 after the stock split in 2004.

However, I sold half of my remaining shares a few years later. Netflix was the biggest winner in my portfolio, but I wanted to raise some money to join a luxury destination club. That was another bad call, of course. The vacation club I went on to join would go on to file for bankruptcy, but seeing that get wiped out was no match for the regret that I have for cashing out in the first place.

The glass is a tenth full

One can argue that I shouldn’t complain. I still have 100 shares at a cost basis of $2.50. Some folks are lucky to see a 10-bagger or a 20-bagger in their investing tenures, and here I am as the proud owner of a 200-bagger following Thursday’s pop.

It’s hard to be resentful in knowing that I turned $250 — a tenth of my initial $2,500 investment — into more than the average person makes in a year. However, I can’t lie and say that there isn’t a bittersweet twinge whenever my stock moves higher the way it did on Thursday afteranother blowout quarter. The split-adjusted 900 shares that I sold along the way would be worth $505,845 as of Thursday’s close, and that obviously would’ve gone a long way toward retirement, dreaming, or giving my kids one less reason to be resentful.

TIME Innovation

This Is How Tech Will Totally Change Our Lives by 2025

Get ready to sell your own data and use algorithms on the job

The ever-increasing hunger for data will fundamentally change the way we live our lives over the next decade. That’s according to a new report by the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit think tank that has released a set of five predictions for the ways tech will change the future.

Personal data will continue to be shared, bought and sold at an ever-quickening pace, perhaps with more benefits to consumers. In the future, people might be able to personally sell info about their shopping habits or health activities to retailers or pharmaceutical companies, according the report. The Internet of Things is also expected to continue to expand, with predictions that everything from cars to coffee cups will be connected to the Internet by 2025.

Increasingly sophisticated algorithms will help workers in knowledge fields such as law and medicine navigate large bundles of information. Automation could either enhance these jobs or replace them outright, depending on how different professional fields advance.

Multisensory digital communications will also become more common in the future. The Apple Watch, which sends notifications via a wrist tap and allows users to transfer the rhythm of their heartbeat to other watches, offers a peek at the way senses aside from sight and sound may be used to communicate.

Finally, privacy tools and technology will likely improve in response to the vast amounts of data that users are constantly sending and receiving from the cloud. Striking a balance between leveraging data to increase efficiency and protecting the privacy rights of individual users will be an ongoing tension in the coming years.

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