Netflix is reportedly close to buying Luc Besson’s movie studio

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Netflix may get a lot more from filmmaker Luc Besson than that rumored multi-movie deal. Sources speaking to France's Capital have claimed that Netflix is in "advanced talks" to acquire EuropaCorp, the studio co-founded by Besson back in 2000. Whil…
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Are You Considering Buying the New 9.7-Inch iPad Because of the Apple Pencil Support?

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Earlier this week, Apple unveiled a brand new 9.7-inch iPad. Continue reading
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6 Ways to Make Buying a House More Affordable in This Tech Age

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Colorful residential row houses in US capital before sunset in late autumn.

If you feel that buying a house has become less affordable in recent years, it’s not your imagination. A Harvard University study found that nearly 40 million Americans live in housing they can’t afford, meaning they’re spending more than 30 percent of their income on the place they own or rent. That represents a 146 percent increase over the past 16 years.

As the Harvard study found, home prices have gone up — by as much as 50 percent in some areas — but wages haven’t maintained the same pace. That means millions of Americans who dream of owning a home have felt themselves hampered by not just student debt and credit card debt but also by their reduced buying power.

The trick, then, is to find ways to make buying a house more affordable — and most of these have nothing to do with your income. Over the past six months I purchased a new home and then sold my old home. I’ve learned a lot about how to find homes online. In todays tech age buying a house is possible and finding the right deal is possible. Here is how I did it.

  1. Cut the commission.

Commission on real estate transactions sits at just over 5 percent nationwide. That’s a big chunk of change to fork over right as you’re moving into a new home that may need repairs or furnishing. Some people avoid commission by working with a friend who’s a realtor — and willing to give up his or her agent or broker fees.

Another option is to use a service like Beycome, which removes the middleman (aka the realtor) and allows buyers and sellers to interact directly. The platform digitizes the standard FSBO transaction by helping with listings, scheduling home tours, and finalizing the deal with a contract.

  1. Boost your credit score.

It’s no secret that a higher credit score results in a lower interest rate. Boosting your credit score from “fair” to “good,” for example, could make mortgage payments feasible — and improving your credit score could also help you qualify for loans or lines of credit for things you may want to do to the house in the future, such as replace furniture or build an addition.

To raise your score, pay all your bills on time, keep your credit card balances low, and avoid opening up new lines of credit when possible — every “hard pull” on your credit affects your score.

  1. Look for the best numbers.

Don’t settle for the first loan rate you’re given — shop around to see which lender can give you the lowest rate. Some people successfully counter one lender’s offer with another’s to get the rate they want with the lender they want. The other number you can look to lower alongside your interest rate is your down payment; determine whether the homes you’re looking at qualify for special programs. Some of these ask for down payments as low as 3 percent; the USDA Rural Development ProgramVA loans, and the Navy Federal Credit Union all offer zero-payment loans.

  1. Invest in DIY.

Fixer-upper homes and do-it-yourself projects haven’t just fueled HGTV; they’ve also helped lots of new homeowners quench their thirst for a home. Some repairs or renovations are, without a doubt, costly — replacing a roof or overhauling an entire kitchen can represent a big upfront cost.

But many houses on the market need TLC — say, a new coat of paint — or simply need to be tweaked in stages to meet a new owner’s preferences. Being your own general contractor means you get to spend money simply on materials, not on labor or mark-ups, meaning more money stays in your pocket. Each improvement will also result in more equity for you, so your hard work will result in real money earned down the road.

  1. Protect your investment.

One price that sometimes surprises new homeowners is the cost of home insurance. To keep the cost of a homeowner policy low, talk to your insurance company about bundling your home and car policies for a reduced rate.

You can also protect your home investment by looking for credits beyond the purchase price. A common credit is one awarded for overdue repairs, but some people are also able to earn credits for closing costs or home warranties. All of these options can reduce the overall cost of purchasing the home.

  1. Rein in your expectations.

If you’ve saved up for a home for years, you likely have your heart set on something very specific: Victorian style, lots of turrets, window seats built in for every kid, original hardwood floors. But the term “starter home” exists for a reason — most people need to “trade up” to a bigger home down the line.

It’s important to spend less than you can truly afford to cushion yourself against a market crash and to be able to save for the other priorities you might have, like retirement or college. Look for what meets your needs and makes you happy — while that 1990s ranch home may look a bit cookie-cutter compared to your beloved Victorians, if it’s in a good school district, close to work, and big enough for your family, it may be the smartest choice.

Buying a house may be less affordable than it once was, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. By looking for ways that you can increase the spending power of the money and credit you currently have, you can improve your chances of buying a house you can truly afford — and be happy to call home.

The post 6 Ways to Make Buying a House More Affordable in This Tech Age appeared first on ReadWrite.


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Foxconn is buying a renowned Apple accessory maker for $866 million

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Long-time Apple device manufacturer Foxconn is about to get even closer to Apple — thanks to its acquisition of well-known iPhone accessory maker Belkin. According to a new report, Belkin International will be bought by FIT Hon Teng, a Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Foxconn for a massive $866 million. The acquisition also includes Linksys and […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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Rent the Runway’s CEO says when you’re buying clothes, you’re really renting them

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Jennifer Hyman

The startup plans to offer its rental logistics service to other clothing brands.

Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman says often when you’re buying clothes, you’re really just renting them.

“When you buy something for $ 9.99 and you know that it’ll fall apart after you wear it once … you’re going into the shopping experience knowing that you’re renting. So all I’m doing is making the rental process more efficient,” she said at Recode’s Code Commerce event in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.

That’s also why Rent the Runway’s subscription business now accounts for more than half of its annual revenue after just two years. The service — for $ 159 a month, women can rent as often as they want, four pieces at a time — is growing at a rate of over 150 percent a year, according to Hyman.

“I think about our subscriber growth, and that’s the metric I’m obsessed with,” she said, while not providing whole figures.

She did suggest in 2016 when she started the subscription service that it would generate more than $ 20 million annually and that it could eventually exceed the company’s first offering — women renting higher-end items for special events — in a few years.

That kind of growth has sparked interest from some clothing labels, she said, and the company plans to start offering its “wardrobe in the cloud” service to other brands. That also spotlights a larger ambition, what Hyman calls a “reverse logistics” business.

“We’re in the 100 percent return business,” she said. “This is driving millions of new customers into brands; most of our customers are wearing brands they’ve never tried before. We’re saying here’s a new revenue stream for you that not only gives you money, but also gives you customers and data.”

She did not specify which clothing brands plan to use its rental logistics service, but Hyman did highlight some other details:

  • Rent the Runway includes over 550 brands.
  • Subscribers to the service use Rent the Runway 150 days a year on average.
  • The chief complaint among subscribers is they want items turned around more quickly, which suggests customers are likely to use the service as much as 200 days a year.
  • The company plans to open a new distribution facility in Dallas.
  • Rent the Runway has served 8.5 million customers since it started eight years ago and has raised $ 210 million so far.

But her company’s rapid success has also inspired a somewhat surprising mission statement: “We want you to buy less stuff.”

Recode – All

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8 Ways You Can Justify Buying an iPad Pro

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Apple’s incredible 12.9″ iPad Pro doesn’t come cheaply. To pick one up at your nearest Apple retail store, you’ll need to drop at least $ 799.00 before taxes. Its steep price could leave you questioning whether you and your family really need one. Of course, there’s no doubt that the iPad Pro is a luxury device, […]
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Google Shopping’s ‘gun’ ban blocked people from buying wine

Google Shopping banned weapon listings way back in 2012, but users have just been noticing it — and have learned that the filtering has been a little too aggressive. Visitors from the US and elsewhere have discovered that the shopping search page h…
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Is Apple Buying Cobalt Directly from Miners to Make Safer Batteries?

Apple is currently holding discussions to secure long-term supplies of cobalt, a metal used in smartphone batteries, according to a new report. Reportedly, Apple is in talks to begin buying cobalt directly from mining companies. Cobalt, a hard silver-gray metal, is an essential material in the production of lithium-ion batteries used across Apple’s product lineup. […]
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Pandora Delivers Premium Audio Marketplace for Programmatic Ad Buying

Pandora, the largest music streaming service in the U.S., announced this week that it has built a premium marketplace that will allow advertisers to purchase its audio inventory programmatically across mobile and desktop.

The pilot program is launching with Volkswagen and will expand to include additional advertisers and partners in the coming months.

“The launch of our programmatic audio marketplace will give advertisers the unique opportunity to efficiently reach Pandora’s audience—the largest set of listeners in the U.S.—in a targeted way, within a brand-safe environment,” said John Trimble, Chief Revenue Officer at Pandora. “With the rise of voice-activated devices, the demand for quality audio inventory is rapidly accelerating. This offering positions us for growth by meeting the needs of our current buying partners and unlocking market opportunities in the near future.”

As the pilot moves towards general availability, audio will join Pandora’s existing display and video inventory available for purchase programmatically, giving media buyers the opportunity to:

  • Reach over 73 million monthly active listeners in an efficient and targeted way, by leveraging Pandora’s first-party data and over 2,000 proprietary targeting segments, while also allowing advertisers the option to apply their own data-sets.
  • Effectively bid on premium inventory across Pandora’s audio, video and display ads through a private marketplace.

“Cars and music both have a way of eliciting an emotional connection. At Volkswagen we’re always looking to effectively reach drivers consumers in ways that move them while maintaining scale in a brand-safe environment,” said Jim Zabel, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Volkswagen. “By working with Pandora for its programmatic audio pilot we’ll now have the opportunity to efficiently reach a large base of listeners with the quality first-party data that our campaigns require.”

The post Pandora Delivers Premium Audio Marketplace for Programmatic Ad Buying appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

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Apple is buying cobalt for iPhone batteries before Tesla takes it all

Apple iPhone batteries

According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple is in talks with mining companies to secure long-term supplies of cobalt, a key element in the lithium-ion batteries that power virtually every gadget the company makes.

Apple doesn’t make its own batteries (yet), so buying up the raw materials is an unusual step for the company. But it’s a necessary evil, and it’s all thanks to Tesla and the explosion in popularity of electric cars.

Although the electric car market is still relatively small right now, auto manufacturers are preparing for a steep increase in demand for electric vehicles in the next few years. That will stress the world’s supply of cobalt, and that reality is reflected in the current price. Bloomberg notes that Cobalt prices have soared from a little over $ 20,000 per metric ton back in September 2016 to $ 80,000 per metric ton right now.

That’s caused the companies that rely on cobalt the most to go directly to the miners and sign contracts to ensure future supplies, while also locking in a price to hedge against future price increases. Two-thirds of the world’s cobalt production comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a region not exactly known for its stability.

So on the surface, the Bloomberg report looks like Apple doing the responsible thing and ensuring it has a consistent supply of an important manufacturing product at a reasonable price. But given Apple’s recent interest in designing all its own modems and processors for use inside its gadgets, it also raises the possibility that the company could start involving itself more in the battery manufacturing process.

Currently, Apple contracts out the battery manufacturing for the iPhone, just like it does with the bulk of components. But as battery science continues to improve and battery quality control becomes ever more important, it’s easy to believe Apple could want to exert more and more control over the manufacturing process — and locking down the necessary resources to do so would be a good first step.

Apple – BGR