Ford pays $200,000 to check out a Tesla Model X

DETROIT/SAN FRANCISCO — Ford Motor Co. paid $199,950 — $55,000 more than the sticker price — to buy one of the first SUVs made by Tesla Motors Inc., according to vehicle registration documents obtained by Bloomberg.

The white Model X is a Founders Series with a vehicle identification number indicating it was the 64th one made at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif. The vehicle, with Michigan plates, has been spotted recently in the Detroit area. Registration records show that Ford purchased the vehicle March 1. The original owner, a California coin dealer, bought it as part of Tesla’s customer-referral promotion.

Automakers often buy cars made by competitors for road testing and for “tear-downs” to reveal components and materials and how they’re put together. But it’s unusual to pay such a high price — almost $212,000 after Michigan sales tax and title — for such an early model.

“Wow, I hope that investment pays off in some good intelligence,” Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for researcher, said of the premium Ford paid. “If you’re going to be one of the early buyers, you’re probably going to pay well over list. But that’s significant.”

Krebs suspects other major automakers, such as General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp., are also among early buyers of the Model X. Automakers are looking for ways to make highly profitable SUVs more fuel efficient as they race to meet a federal mandate to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Ford is investing $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles and will add 13 electric cars and hybrids by 2020.

Future SUVs

“We’re going to definitely see more electrification and light-weighting,” Krebs said. “Those are the things I suspect Ford would be taking special note of as they develop their sport utilities of the future.” 

Krebs said she hopes CEO Mark Fields and Executive Chairman Bill Ford — as well as the automaker’s top engineers and designers — get some seat time in the Model X.

“Everybody should be exposed to one of your hottest competitors,” Krebs said.

Tesla’s first Model Xs are limited-edition Founders Series — fewer than 100 of them were made — that typically go to board members and close friends of the company like Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Those are followed by the Signature Series models, which require a $40,000 deposit from customers and start at $132,000. The window sticker price on the all-wheel-drive Model X P90D that Ford purchased is $144,950, including the $10,000 Ludicrous Speed Upgrade that boasts a 0-to-60 miles per hour time of 3.2 seconds.

Original owner 

The original owner of the Model X that was ultimately purchased by Ford was Wayne Skiles, 71, who owns and operates the Carousel Coin & Jewelry Exchange in San Bernardino, Calif. Skiles owns a Model S sedan and participated in Tesla’s Model S referral program. Customers who referred at least 10 friends to purchase a Model S were able to buy a Model X Founders Series for a base price of $116,700.

“I sold 11 Model Ss. So I got a Founders Model X and immediately flipped it for a profit,” said Skiles in a phone interview. “The car never came to California. I flew to Chicago, took physical delivery of the Model X, and immediately drove it to a dealer in Chicago and sold it.”

Ford bought the vehicle from Corporate Auto of Auburn Hills, Mich., according to the documents.

“It is a common industry practice among many automakers to buy production vehicles for testing as soon as they are released,” said Ford in a statement. “Sometimes, this means automakers pay more than sticker price to acquire them as quickly as possible.”

Quality concerns 

Tesla officially launched the Model X at a splashy event in late September, years after the vehicle’s early 2012 unveiling. The company announced that it delivered 2,400 of the SUVs in the first quarter as it continues to ramp up production. But early models are not without flaws: Several customers have reported issues with sensors on the “falcon-wing” doors that open vertically. Consumer Reports on Tuesday published a report about quality problems on early models. Tesla shares slipped 2.6 percent on Tuesday to $247.37, paring their year-to-date gain to 3.1 percent.

“We are committed to making the world’s most reliable cars,” Tesla said in a statement Tuesday. “While we have seen some issues with early Model X builds, the issues are not widespread, and we are working closely with each owner to respond quickly and proactively to address any problems. We will continue to do so until each customer is fully satisfied. This commitment is one of the reasons why 98 percent of our customers say they will buy another Tesla as their next car.”

Earlier this month, Tesla issued a recall on 2,700 Model Xs made before March 26 to repair the third-row seats after strength tests done by the automaker found a potential defect. Tesla has advised customers not to let anyone sit in those seats while the car is in use.

Musk has said that the Model X’s unique features were difficult to engineer and relied heavily on parts suppliers. Tesla said this month that Model X deliveries missed first-quarter expectations because of parts shortages stemming from “Tesla’s hubris in adding far too much new technology” to the Model X.

WTF is freebooting?

WTF is freebooting?

Facebook is under fire from some of the video creators whose content has helped the social network emerge as a social video powerhouse.

In the past year, Facebook has grown from 1 billion to 8 billion views per day. In doing so, the platform has established itself as a potential rival to YouTube. But while a lot of people might be watching — or at least scrolling by — autoplay videos on Facebook, many of those videos shouldn’t be there in the first place. It’s a real issue, and it has a name: freebooting.

WTF is freebooting?
 It’s a form of piracy. Freebooting is whenever a Facebook user uploads a video they don’t have the rights to. It is different from, say, posting a link to a YouTube video to your wall.

And why is this a problem?
 There’s a concern that the practice cannibalizes viewership for a video creator, who might be monetizing that piece of content on other platforms like YouTube. If a Facebook user freeboots the same video, there’s no compensation. Also, if you see a video on Facebook, you’re less likely to watch it on YouTube or elsewhere.

“We’re seeing a good portion of [Facebook’s] video content uploaded by fans, not the content owners,” said Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV. “Individual creators and major media companies need to be put back in control and they need tools and solutions to track the content, block it or monetize it.”

How did this happen?
 Creators argue that Facebook essentially endorsed this practice. By making changes to its algorithm, videos that are uploaded directly to Facebook are more likely to be seen than a YouTube video.

OK, but how often is this actually happening?
 It’s difficult to know exactly how widespread freebooting is. One thing’s for sure: Facebook pages that publish non-original content — whether it’s officially licensed or freebooted — perform better than those that only offer original content. According to Tubular Labs, the most-watched original content creator on Facebook in September was BuzzFeed, which generated 562 million views. While that’s impressive, three different Facebook pages known for publishing other people’s videos — Unilad, Shaadow Sefiroth and StreetFX — all did more views than BuzzFeed.

Sounds like it’s time to lawyer up. Can’t imagine major media being OK with this.
 That’s the problem. Facebook offers content-recognition tech for companies like Disney and Viacom, who also happen to be Facebook advertisers and happen to have armies of lawyers. Indie creators are on their own. They have to find freebooted videos on their own and request Facebook to take them down.

Didn’t YouTube have a similar copyright issue?
 It did. But YouTube now has a system called Content ID, which both large media companies and individual creators can use to ensure that no one is illegally uploading their content. Last November, YouTube said it has already paid content owners more than $1 billion via Content ID.

I imagine Facebook is working on something similar.
 When VidCon co-founder Hank Green complained about how Facebook treats video, the company responded and said it has a “team working on it” and expects to share more information later in the summer. In August, Facebook announced that it was working with a handful of digital publishers and media companies to test tech and plans to make it widely available.

“Facebook needs to fix this sooner rather than later,” said one online video insider. “It’s about fairness. It’s about creating an environment where these smaller content providers can prosper in a way that YouTube is already providing — that’s not asking for too much.”

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The Facility is an underground compound made up of luxury apartments

Colin Furze’s underground bunker, which he recently completed, is pretty sweet. It has a well-stocked kitchen, not-so-private bathroom, bed, generator, flat-screen TV, drums … pretty much everything you need to survive a disaster, or just to enjoy as a cool place to hang out in with your friends. But his homemade bunker has nothing on 123 Private Drive in Tifton, Georgia.

The 12-bedroom, 12-bathroom underground structure at that address was built in 1969; its owners updated it to meet government standards in 2012. The bunker can apparently withstand a 20-kiloton nuclear blast. But that doesn’t mean you can’t wait for the end of the world in style; the first floor has a common area “similar to a luxury hotel.” I would definitely read a book titled after its nickname, “The Facility.”

It might be better described as an underground (45 feet down) compound, as it has four luxury apartments, five staff bedrooms, a 15-seat home theater, conference rooms, a first-aid room, and a commercial kitchen. Above ground, there’s a 100-yard firearm range, so you can practice for the zombies. To keep the lights on, it has a three-phase power plant and backup solar system. “Above ground, The Facility offers 2,000 square feet of commercial space, a renovated 1,000-square-foot caretaker’s home, and below ground the facility offers 14,000-square-feet of living and working space,” according to a press release.


The Harry Norman Realtors is listing “the only hardened and privately owned underground bunker in the United States today” for $17.5 million. That’s a lot of moolah. “The type of buyer would [be] someone who is of substantial wealth and [likes] privacy, or [is] with the government,” real estate company’s public relations manager, Jeanne Shannon, told The Blaze.

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Dyson launches $500 air purifier that lets you monitor domestic pollutants from a smartphone

Dyson shot to fame for its bagless vacuum cleaners more than two decades ago, and in the intervening years the U.K. company has launched everything from hand-dryers and heaters to washing machines and air multipliers. Exactly a year ago today, Dyson launched its first ever air purifier — the device launched only in China at first, a country long plagued by pollution, with more than one million premature deaths attributed to bad air, according to some studies.

Today, Dyson is introducing a brand new version of the air purifier to the U.S. and other markets around the world. The $500 Dyson Pure Cool Link is similar to the first incarnation, except this one can connect to your smartphone to let you control the contraption and view stats relating to all those nasty pollutants in your home. While users can manually control the purifier, an automatic mode can be enabled to react when the air quality hits a predetermined level.

Consisting of a 360-degree glass high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter, the purifier controls the airflow to maintain a preset target air quality, and it also doubles as a fan to keep rooms cool in the warmer months. There are two versions — the “tower” incarnation is aimed at larger rooms or for putting on the floor, while the “desk” version is smaller and designed for placing on tables or desks.

Dyson Pure Cool Link

Above: Dyson Pure Cool Link

Using their engineers’ expertise in fluid dynamics and filtration systems, Dyson claims the purifier fan “automatically removes 99.97% of allergens and pollutants as small as 0.3 microns” from the atmosphere in your home.

Though the Pure Cool Link isn’t the first connected air purifier on the market, it represents Dyson’s first ever “connected” product in the U.S. and only its second foray into the so-called “Internet of Things (IoT)” following its robotic vacuum cleaner launch in Japan last year.  Indeed, 2016 is gearing up to be the year that was for connected products, with smart doorbells, ovens, beds, and fridges hitting the headlines in recent months.

Dyson App

Above: Dyson App

With its connected air purifier, Dyson is vying for a market that’s growing increasingly wary of pollution hazards — and this isn’t limited to the great outdoors. Anyone living near heavy traffic, for example, can be breathing in harmful particles in their sleep. Some studies suggest that ultrafine particles (UFPs) — particles of 100 nanometers (NM) or less in size —  emitted from car exhausts can lead to ailments such as heart disease. But more than that, pollutants from deodorants and cleaning solvents to scented candles and mold can also contribute to domestic pollution.

“We think it is polluted outside of our homes, but the air inside can be far worse,” said Dyson founder James Dyson. “Dyson engineers focused on developing a purifier that automatically removes ultrafine allergens, odors and pollutants from the indoor air, feeding real-time air quality data back to you.”

The Dyson Pure Cool Link purifier will be available in the U.S. from today (March 30) through, and from April 11 in retailers. It also goes on sale across Europe and Asia tomorrow.

Dyson has previously announced plans to invest a third of its profits back into research and development (R&D), and set aside a $2.3 billion fund back in 2014 for “future technologies.”

MoreBreaking news from Microsoft’s biggest event of the year.


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More Young People Watch DJ Khaled’s Snapchat than America’s Highest-Rated Show #ochen

I’m in awe right now.

In a recent article on the power of Snapchat, Bloomberg revealed that DJ Khaled, one of Snapchat’s heaviest hitters, has a bigger millennial audience than The Big Bang Theory, TV’s #1 show.


“The other day the grass was brown, its green cuz i ain’t give up. Never surrender.”

“Khaled’s videos attract 3 million to 4 million viewers each. Given how Snapchat skews overwhelmingly tween to late-millennial, that means about the same number of young people that are watching him admire flowers are watching the biggest network sitcoms. According to Nielsen, roughly 3.3 million people age 12-34 watch The Big Bang Theory.”

To put things in perspective, The Big Bang Theory pays each of its three main actors an astounding $1,000,000 per episode. Khaled, on the other hand, gets out of bed at 11 a.m. and films himself eating sausage or riding his Jet Ski. “They don’t want you to eat breakfast,” he tells his audience each morning in bumbling tones that are sometimes inaudible due to him stuffing his mouth with egg whites and turkey sausage.

According to Bloomberg, advertisers are struggling to reach anyone under their 30s. And the fact that the abominable snowman armed with a $500 phone and some funny one-liners can attract more millennial viewers than one of TV’s most popular show (which has a $100m+ budget) is, put lightly, kind of scary.

“The audiences of CBS, NBC, and ABC are, on average, in their 50s,” Bloomberg explained. “Cable networks such as CNN and Fox News have it worse, with median viewerships near or past Social Security age. MTV’s median viewers are in their early 20s, but ratings have dropped in recent years.”

Dj Khalid Snapchat


When Snapchat reached out to legacy media companies like CBS and NBC, as well as some of the world’s largest ad agencies, many of them don’t even know where to start.

“I’ll be honest, I had no idea what they were talking about half the time,” one ad exec said about a Snapchat training session. Because of this, “marketers are understandably anxious, and [Snapchat’s CEO] and his deputies have capitalized on those anxieties brilliantly by charging hundreds of thousands of dollars when Snapchat introduces an ad product.”

What’s even more amazing is that Khaled hadn’t even heard of Snapchat 12 months ago…

I’ve gotta hand it to DJ Khaled. Like it or not, he’s single handedly changing the game and making legacy media companies freak out. Guess he really is “da best.”

What do you all think? Personally, I rarely use Snapchat. I’m 26 years old, so right in the target demographic, but just haven’t taken to it. Let me know in the comments! And as always, subscribe to The Hustle for more business goodness like this.

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How a simple SIM card makes farmers more efficient—and possibly saves lives

How a simple SIM card makes farmers more efficient—and possibly saves lives

India’s GreenSIM initiative exposes rural farmers to tech and essential real-time info.

 by  Julianne Tveten 

Farmers harvest peanuts in the village of Addakal, India.


A handful of years ago, Chandrakala Kongala, a farmer in the rural village of Kommireddipalli in the southern Indian state of Telangana, faced a devastating problem. In one fell swoop, an unanticipated downpour had ravaged her peanut crop.

Farming wasn’t a leisurely pursuit for Kongala; it was her livelihood. Living in a remote area with limited access to transportation, she was ineligible to enter the mainstream job market. If the crops failed, she’d be left with no source of income.

During the following growing seasons, Kongala was flourishing. She was cultivating a variety of crops, at times harvesting earlier than anticipated. Eventually, she came to own a one-acre farm yielding hundreds of pounds of crops per harvest (her rice yield, for example, has jumped from 120 to 165 pounds). By spring of this year, she was earning 20,000 to 30,000 rupees per season ($300 to $450)—a lavish sum in a community of farmers subsisting on one to two dollars a day.

What changed? The weather may have been more temperate, but the most important factor had nothing to do with the land or the climate. Instead, it was a device familiar to much of the developed world: the SIM card.

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Netflix opens its Recommended TV program globally and raises the bar for inclusion

Netflix has announced today that its Recommended TV program will be launching globally this year, as the video-streaming giant also lifts the lid on new criteria for inclusion and announces the first TV manufacturers to gain the coveted Netflix logo for 2016.

First announced last January before launching a few months later, the “Netflix Recommended TV” initiative is touted as an independent evaluation of TVs that make watching Netflix (and, by default, some other streaming services) a better experience.

But Netflix is now introducing new criteria to the mix. For example, some Sony Android TVs and Roku devices support Instant On and TV Resume functionality, features that let them wake up quickly and “remember” where things left off. And some TVs also ship with a Netflix button on the remote control itself.

Netflix Recommended TV

Above: Netflix Recommended TV

Netflix has a list of seven core criteria that it uses to assess manufacturers’ TVs, of which it says at least five must be met for manufacturers be able to use the Netflix logo on their wares. The company has today revealed the first TVs to garner the Netflix Recommended TV logo for 2016 — LG (UHD TVs with webOS 3.0) and Sony (Android 4K UHD TVs).

Ultimately, Netflix is focusing on the speed of the experience — getting users from sitting down to watching the latest “Better Call Saul” with the deftest of touches. And the company says that none of the 2015 models that passed the test initially would meet the new guidelines.

A lot has changed since Netflix launched the Recommended TV program last year — for starters, Netflix is now available in just about every market in the world. And this is perhaps why Netflix is now opening the recommended program beyond the U.S. and into the global arena — both the LG and Sony TVs will be sold in all countries where Netflix is available, which is effectively everywhere.

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Report: The FAA is Way Overstating the Risk Drones Pose to Airliners

The FAA is Way Overstating the Risk Drones Pose to Airliners


In December, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a strict set of guidelines for small drones operating in U.S. airspace including a requirement that hobbyists register their drones with the government. 

Any drone weighing more than 250 grams—or roughly half a pound—must be piloted by a registered drone operator. Additionally, the new rules restricted certain areas from drone flights and required that the pilots keep them in sight at all times. 

The reason, according to the FAA: safety. Aside from the potential danger to people and property on the ground, small drones—even those weighing just a few pounds—are seen as a potential danger to civilian and commercial aviation. An uptick in reports by commercial airline pilots of “near-misses” with drones bolstered that argument. 

But a study released Monday by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University suggests the FAA is overstating the risk by small drones to manned aircraft. In fact, it’s way overblowing it. 

The study found that, based on existing data, an incident in which an aircraft is damaged by a drone weighing 4.5 pounds should happen once every 1.87 million years of drone flight time. An injury or fatality? About 100 times less likely than that.

It’s only fair to note that there exists no real data on exactly how damaging a collision with a drone might be for, say, a 737 jetliner. But the FAA has decades of data on detailing aircraft collisions with birds, and it’s from that data that the Mercatus researchers draw their conclusions.