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Technology

mit team robot heliosPatrick Fallon/Reuters

It's been hard to miss the rally in technology stocks this year.

The S&P 500 sector is up about 24% year-to-date, outpacing the broader index's 10% rally.

Even stock pickers, whose funds have suffered outflows to more passive strategies since the end of the recession, are having a strong year thanks to bets on stocks like Facebook and Apple.

But tech's outperformance has also brought sharp drawdowns. Stock investors are expected to brace for these kinds of swings, but the swings have been worse in the tech sector.

That's why Bank of America Merrill Lynch advises investors to bet on the next move higher by using options, which reflect expectations for volatility.

"In the last six months alone, tech suffered four daily drawdowns exceeding three standard deviations, the highest number in such a short time span in history," the bank's global equity-derivatives research team said in a note Wednesday.

This has raised the sector's realized volatility above the broader market year-to-date, BAML said.

Screen Shot 2017 09 06 at 3.40.32 PMBank of America Merrill Lynch

That's one sign of how fragile the sector is. Another sign is that several measures of its valuation are at their highest level since the tech bubble in 2000. Also, since so many stock pickers have come to love tech stocks, they make the sector vulnerable to sharp sell-offs when many of them decide to sell at the same time.

"Hence investors who want to position for further upside may wish to do so via options to reduce the risk of sharp sell-offs, especially given mounting geopolitical stress and potential debt ceiling/government shutdown risks," Bank of America said.

The problem is that tech options are expensive because the sector is more volatile than the rest of the market. The solution, Bank of America said, is to look for the stocks with relatively low option volatility.

The table below, for example, shows stocks with three-month at-the-money forward call options implied volatility below the 25th percentile over the past year.

Screen Shot 2017 09 06 at 3.48.26 PM Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Original author: Business Insider
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tim and eric's bedtime stories Eric Wareheim in season two of "Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories." Adult Swim

It is no exaggeration to say that the comedy duo of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim has produced some of the most gut-wrenchingly funny and disturbing television in the history of the medium. 

After meeting in film school at Temple University in the '90s, Tim and Eric found a home at Adult Swim in the mid 2000s, where they released a string of innovative, 11-minute shows, including the animated "Tom Goes to the Mayor" and the absurdist sketch comedy "Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!"

In the first season of their latest show, "Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories," the pair crafted ten diverse and darkly hilarious short films. One episode featured Bob Odenkirk ("Better Call Saul") as a doctor specializing in toe removal, and another found Jason Schwartzman ("The Grand Budapest Hotel") confronting a demented billboard ad that comically distorted the actor's face.

Eric Wareheim talked to Business Insider about the "creepier" second season of "Bedtime Stories" and the process of making a 10-year anniversary episode of "Awesome Show," which premiered in August. We also touched on his burgeoning wine business, his experience acting on Netflix's "Master of None," and the two feature films he's writing. 

Season two of "Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories" premieres Sunday at midnight EST on Adult Swim. 

John Lynch: The “Awesome Show” anniversary episode was fantastic. As you're switching between sketch comedy and the cinematic structure of “Bedtime Stories,” do you find it’s easier to be in one of those modes than the other at this point?

DG4rYK3WAAAmDYx The "Tim and Eric Awesome Show" ten-year anniversary episode. Adult Swim

Eric Wareheim: Yeah, we hadn’t done the sketch show for a while. We’d been in story mode, doing “Bedtime Stories,” and I was doing “Master of None.” As soon as we got back to sketch mode, we spent a week doing “Awesome Show” and had so much fun because it’s such a different energy. It’s really quick, you get to be really crazy, and you don’t have to develop characters. It was easy to switch back, and we had a blast doing it. We were pretty much just crying on set every day, crying from laughing. A lot more laughter when you’re making sketch comedy. You get to the joke really quick.

Lynch: Do you feel it’s more rewarding, in a way, to find humor within the structure of “Bedtime Stories?"

Wareheim: They’re both equally rewarding. I can’t say one is better than the other. But as former film students, making “Bedtime Stories” is satisfying in the way that it looks like a film, sounds like a film, and there are really great actors involved. Sometimes “Bedtime Stories” feels almost like a trick, where you get settled in like, “Oh, I’m watching something pleasant here,” and then you’re like, “Oh, my God. This is happening?” But with “Awesome Show,” the video element just looks so wild that you know something wild is going to happen. With “Bedtime Stories,” you’re tricked into feeling like you’ve seen it before, if you’ve seen movies and dramatic TV.

Lynch: Would you say that this season is darker than season one? I’ve only seen the trailer, but that was the impression I got, that it’s more ... Cronenberg.

Wareheim: Yeah, it’s more kind of ... Lars Von Trier. More reflective of our culture and society right now. Things are getting crazy. Things are getting nightmarish, and that’s reflected in our show. As two guys getting older, dealing with these heavy issues, we’ve kind of naturally put that into our stories. And yes, the new season is darker, creepier, but also pretty funny.

Lynch: How did you approach this season of "Bedtime Stories" differently than the first one? Were there things you brought over from it?

Wareheim: Well, yes, we brought in the same style, the same soundscapes, same score, same kind of energy. But we learned a lot from season one. We know what works now, and we feel that season two is a whole new world that we’re super excited about.

Lynch: I think your fans really like the versatility of your sensibilities. Do you have any sense of whether diehard fans of "Awesome Show" appreciate "Bedtime Stories" to the same degree?

Wareheim: You know, we’ve been walking our fans through our library since “Tom Goes to the Mayor,” which is very different than “Awesome Show,” and “Bedtime Stories” is very different than “Awesome Show” as well. But they all have these similar themes, and I feel like if you’re on board with a couple of these themes, and you’re a fan, you can go with us to other places. And that’s the hope of anyone’s career is to have it be dynamic and not staying the same. I’m glad we took seven years off and didn’t make “Awesome Show.” We came back, and I feel like this special is one of the strongest “Awesome Shows” we’ve made.

Lynch: The post-production editing that’s so prominent on “Awesome Show” and “Tom Goes to the Mayor,” it’s used to a lesser degree on “Bedtime Stories.” Do you feel like you’ve exhausted that tool in a way?

Wareheim: No, I don’t. I feel like with the “Awesome Show” special we tried to do some new things, which I was totally surprised at from our editors, to go to new places. We’ve seen a lot of people try to recreate what we do, and no one’s really done it quite yet. I wish people would take our editing style and take it to the next level, but I don’t think we’re done with it yet. There are more places to go.

Lynch: Your style is definitely trending toward being more cinematic, and you've done a feature film in the past. Do you see another feature on your horizon?

Wareheim: Yes. I'm writing two feature films right now. It's the most exciting thing that's happened to me. I went to film school because I wanted to be a filmmaker. Tim and I made a film, and it was really hard, but this is my personal passion. They're going to be a combination of drama and comedy, in a very dark, dark way. We've been making so much sh-t, so we're going to take a couple months the rest of this year to do some writing.

Lynch: When you're in that film mindset, do ideas germinate in the same way that a "Bedtime Stories" episode does, and then you build on it?

Wareheim: Yeah. It all comes from experiential things. For example, when I was in New York shooting "Master of None," I encountered a lot of wild, amazing things, and I'm turning those things into a feature. And it's just like "Bedtime Stories" is based off of our real fears or real things that have happened to us, and then we exaggerate them for dramatic effect. That's where everything comes from. 

Lynch: Definitely. My phone was a breaking up a bit at the end there. Sometimes these phone interviews feel like I'm Ed Begley in the "Cinco-Fone" sketch from "Awesome Show." 

Wareheim:  [a weary laugh]  Yeah. Definitely, a Cinco communication system. 

Lynch: On another note, you’ve also been a successful music video director throughout your career. Are there any recent music videos that you’ve admired?

Wareheim: Sh-t. I can’t think off the top of my head really. I don’t watch that much comedy, and I don’t watch that many music videos. Not to be all high falutin about it, but I like to keep my voice pretty pure and try not to follow the trends and stuff like that. I'm sure there are some great music videos out there.

Lynch: I understand you also have a wine company that you're looking to build. What's been the operation behind that, and how do you approach it?

Wareheim: Well, if you've been following my Instagram for the last five years, you know I'm a real fan of food and travel and culture, and wine is like the base of a lot of culture I feel. I've learned so much about different places through wine, and I wanted to do something amazing in America and do it naturally. There's a new kind of wine making, it's not new, but it's a style that's just becoming popular called natural winemaking. And I wanted to be a part of it, and I want to give back to the world. One of the wines is actually a Dr. Steve Brule Sweetberry wine, if you know that sketch. That was sort of the start of this business, but I have a winemaker Joel Burt, who's a genius, and we said to ourselves, "Let's make good wine. Let's not make it a joke." And that's what happened. Now we have a whole line of wines coming out in the fall that are incredible.

my two babies ©·

A post shared by Eric Wareheim (@ericwareheim) on Sep 2, 2017 at 3:47pm PDT on Sep 2, 2017 at 3:47pm PDT

Original author: John Lynch
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170905 UPREZ AND EXPORT PROMO STILLS.Sub.11_1Thumb Candy Media
Snapchat's latest original is a fashion-based reality show which will feature two aspiring stylists competing against one another to craft the perfect look. The show will be hosted and judged by celebrity stylist Sophie Lopez, the stylist for actress Kate Hudson  "Nail The Look" is being produced by Thumb Candy Media, a newly formed digital division of television production company B17 Entertainment. 

As Snapchat looks to grow its stable of original series, it has set its sights on beauty and fashion content.

The platform's latest original will feature two aspiring stylists competing against one another to style the perfect look based on a given theme. The reality series will be hosted by celebrity stylist Sophie Lopez (the stylist for actress Kate Hudson among others), who will critique their final looks, offer tips on what styles to buy as well as how to wear them.

"Nail The Look" premieres on Snapchat Discover tomorrow on September 7, coinciding with the start of New York Fashion Week. The show will air every Thursday for the next eight weeks, with stylists putting together outfits based on a new theme every episode, from a job interview to an outdoor music festival.

The first episode will see two aspiring stylists attempt to come up with the perfect streetwear look for New York Fashion Week.

"Nail The Look" is being produced by Thumb Candy Media, a newly formed digital division of television production company B17 Entertainment. Thumb Candy is being led by B17 principals and veteran TV producers Rhett Bachner and Brien Meagher, who have served as producers for a variety of popular shows including ABC’s Emmy-nominated "Shark Tank" and AMC’s "The Pitch," among others.

“Snapchat understood the power of mobile from a programming perspective and was willing to take chances on a variety of content and formats,” Bachner told Business Insider. "We’re firm believers in the platform."

"As producers, we go where the eyeballs are," added Meagher. "And right now, all eyeballs are on Snapchat."

"Nail The Look" is Snap's latest bid to become a destination for exclusive shows, with the company planning to have as many as three shows airing per day on Snapchat Discover by the end of the year. In recent months, Snap has announced deals with a number of leading TV networks and entertainment studios to develop and produce shows exclusively for Snapchat.

Snapchat’s efforts seem to be striking a chord. Shows have an especially strong reach with younger users on average, with 75% of daily viewers between the ages of 13-24, according to the company. Further, originals are also seeing significant growth in viewership, the company said. NBC's "The Voice" on Snapchat, for example, has grown 45% in viewership in its second season.

While Snap hasn’t explicitly specified a bent toward nonfiction programming, news and reality TV genres seem to have been an ongoing focus for the company compared to scripted shows, at least for now. In addition to "Nail The Look," the platform also has a makeover show in the works, Business Insider has learned.

"It’s not a surprise that Snap is focusing on reality content, given the fact that its core audience has grown up with it," said Tom Buontempo, president at social agency Attention. "And there are inherent speed and cost efficiencies compared to scripted content."

Further, reality and unscripted content just makes business sense, since it often revolves around news and current events, which are inherently “social” by design, he added.

"It encourages frequent tuning in," said Buontempo. "You can also see the opportunities to build packages around cultural moments and marry it with live programming, while capturing the earmarked ad revenue along the way."

Thumb Candy is one of the first independent production companies tapped by Snap to produce original Shows Discover. B17 and partner Core Media Group are working to develop and produce additional shows for Snap’s mobile-first audience, and have assembled a staff of 12 video and graphic artists as well purchased equipment specifically to support, record and edit vertical video.

“It’s an unlearning process from how you approach traditional TV production, you really have to rethink your practices for mobile,” said Bachner. “The mobile viewer is looking for storytelling that is less filtered and less produced, but from a photography or graphic standpoint, we still need to push stylistic boundaries.”

Get the latest Snap stock price here.

Original author: Tanya Dua
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Google Street View Car A Google Street View car. Flickr / Sancho McCann

You're about to see a lot more on Google Street View — and Street View's about to see a lot more of you.

Google has upgraded the cameras for its mapping service for the first time in eight years, with the new kit capturing sharper imagery with more detail as of August.

According to a profile in Wired, the new cameras are so sharp they might be able to see a store's opening hours from a sign. And they're feeding all that granular data back to Google's machine learning algorithms.

As per usual, the new cameras will sit atop Google-branded cars capturing information about the world. They capture still HD images on either side of the car.

Better imagery should mean the service becomes more useful. Google's mapping vice-president, Jen Fitzpatrick, said people no longer just search for their own addresses on Google Street View.

"People are coming to us every day with harder and deeper questions," she told Wired. Such as: "What's a Thai place open now that does delivery to my address?"

Google has already invested huge amounts into artificial intelligence and machine learning, and is using that technology to scan Street View data to answer conversational queries.

Eventually Fitzpatrick wants people's questions to become even more conversational, like asking what the pink-coloured building down the road is.

"These are questions we can only answer if we have richer and deeper information," she said.

What is less obvious is what else Google can figure out from the new Street View data, and how it might use the information.

Wired reports that a team of Stanford researchers — including Google's own chief scientist at its cloud division Fei-Fei Li — found they could use Street View data to predict income, race, and voting patterns. The team used software that analysed the make, model, and year of cars from Street View photos.

At the time, the team said: "Using the classified motor vehicles in each neighborhood, we infer a wide range of demographic statistics, socioeconomic attributes, and political preferences of its residents."

What could Google figure out by itself with even more detailed data?

When Wired asked Google if it planned anything similar, a spokesperson only said the firm was always looking for ways to use Street View data to improve the company's platforms — including beyond maps.

Get the latest Google stock price here.

Original author: Shona Ghosh
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Mark ZuckerbergFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.Reuters Images

Facebook is offering music publishers hundreds of millions of dollars so that its users can legally use popular songs in videos they upload, Bloomberg reports.

Citing several people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg claims that Facebook has been negotiating with music publishers for several months, with former YouTube exec Tamara Hrivnak leading the discussions for Facebook.

Video content has become incredibly popular on Facebook over the last few years but many of the videos posted on the social media platform contain music that Facebook doesn't have the rights to.

Music rights holders currently have to ask Facebook to take down videos that breach copyright laws but it looks like Facebook is keen to find a solution to the matter.

Facebook has reportedly promised to create a system that can identify and tag music that breaches copyright. However, Bloomberg sources allegedly said it could take two years to build, adding that the time frame is not realistic for either side.

Therefore, Facebook is keen to make a deal sooner rather than later with the music publishers in a bid to avoid further annoying users who've seen their videos removed.

The Bloomberg report comes as Facebook is rolling out a new video hub on its platform called Watch, which is intended to go head-to-head with YouTube and could provide Facebook with billions of dollars in additional ad revenue.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, told investors on the company's second quarter earnings call that video is becoming increasingly important to Facebook, and said that it will overtake text and photo sharing on the platform in the future.

Music rights holders have seen their fortunes rise in recent years off the back of a number of deals with large tech companies, such as Apple, Spotify, and SoundCloud. 

Original author: Sam Shead
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