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We talked to the professor who fought Cambridge Analytica to get his data back in Netflix’s ‘The Great Hack’ about why privacy rights in the US are lagging behind the rest of the world

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  • A new Netflix original documentary, “The Great Hack,” provides an inside look into the Cambridge Analytica scandal as it unfolds, with exclusive interviews from whistleblowers and journalists. 
  • The film also follows David Carroll, a Parsons professor who fights to get his own data back from Cambridge Analytica and has become a leading advocate for data rights in the United States.
  • Business Insider spoke with Carroll about the fight for data rights and what he thinks those in the U.S. should do to improve data-protection laws ahead of the 2020 election.

It’s been well over a year since it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users to target advertising for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. 

But David Carroll still hasn’t been able to get his data back. 

Carroll, an associate professor at Parsons School of Design, filed a legal claim against the company after the scandal, demanding to see what information was in his profile. 

British laws allow users to request their own data if it has been processed in the UK. Even though the U.S. does not afford such data rights, Cambridge Analytica had processed the data in the UK, and Carroll believed he was entitled to it. 

However, after Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy and was liquidated, a British court did not grant Carroll access to his data. But he hasn’t given up — today, he is still engaged in the fight for his data, and remains optimistic that he may gain access through the British Information Commissioner’s Office in the fall. 

His pursuit is depicted in “The Great Hack,” a new Netflix original documentary that provides an inside look into the Cambridge Analytica scandal and follows Carroll as it all unfolds. 

 

The film also features interviews with Cambridge Analytica whistleblowers Brittany Kaiser and Christopher Wylie, as well as Carole Cadwalladr, the Guardian journalist who first broke the story. 

Business Insider spoke with Carroll about the fight for his own data, what the U.S. can do to improve data privacy ahead of the 2020 election, and the broader struggle for data rights. 

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Your attempt to retrieve the data that Cambridge Analytica collected on you is a leading storyline in “The Great Hack.” What can people do to protect their individual data and what have you learned from your struggle? 

My pursuit is a highly individualized narrative, which obscures the reality that it’s a story about all of us. Quitting your Facebook account doesn’t do anything. You can try to do the work of going through all your settings and being really hygienic about your data, but it’s only going to reduce the scope of data leaking all over the place. It’s certainly not going to have a total effect that people might want. 

Climate change is a better metaphor for the problem because individuals cannot solve the problem with their own behavior, nor are they really responsible to do that. It’s not feasible. We can’t stop climate change as individuals, it does require a collective response. 

Data protection is a structural problem. We don’t have effective ways to hold companies accountable and to enforce when they commit data crimes because we don’t even have a way to define, let alone prosecute, these data crimes. We can see that the existing tools we have are not succeeding at what they’re supposed to do. They’re not fit for purpose. 

There have been growing calls for new legal frameworks to address how technology has changed our society. The EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) last year. Why doesn’t the U.S. have something similar? 

Europeans have data rights. Americans don’t have the same rights. The irony is that if Cambridge Analytica had not exported the data to England and kept it in the U.S., I would have had no recourse at all. I could have asked for my data and they could have denied the request with no obligation to respond. 

Some of that is a product of history — the EU is a relatively new political construction. In the charter of human rights that founded the EU, data protection rights are listed as a fundamental right that’s equivalent to freedom of speech, freedom to marry, all these other basic human rights. That’s why Europe has a 20-year lead on creating the infrastructure for businesses to provide for these rights. 

We’re really behind. The law that I used is before the GDPR, it’s the UK Data Protection Act of 1998. It’s fascinating that before the dawn of the commercial internet, countries in Europe were ahead of the game and were creating data rights and establishing the enforcers well before we even realized we would need it. 

How optimistic are you about a federal privacy law? Some states are beginning to pass measures, but it doesn’t seem that we’ll have national regulation any time soon. 

I don’t feel optimistic, either. But what’s happening at the state level is extremely interesting to me. The California law, the New York privacy bill that’s even stronger, and the Illinois biometric lawsuit around facial recognition against Facebook, these show that states can exert some appropriate pushback, especially when there is no federal law. 

If more state bills pass, especially in big states like New York and California that have economic power in the market, and where the tech companies are located, that’s really significant. The industry lobby will then also pressure Congress to pass something, because they want a federal law that preempts the states. The tech industry does not want a patchwork of harsh state laws to comply with — that terrifies them.   

What has changed since the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the 2016 election? Do you think we are better prepared for 2020, or are we going to be dealing with the same problems? 

Facebook’s ads library now tries to create some transparency with political ads. It gives you the ability to at least see what is being run and who it’s being targeted to. The requirement to register and publish political ads for the sake of transparency is a good step forward, and the pressure on Facebook to do that is critical.

The recent story about finding the word ‘invasion’ in thousands of Trump campaign ads shows that negative, hyper-targeted campaigning is still in full swing. But at least we can see it this time, whereas last time, it was all super targeted — you wouldn’t know it was even there. 

The problem is there’s still a lot of unattributable activity that we can’t know who is behind. Cambridge Analytica boasted that they produced media that would never be recognized as political ads, through fake blogs and unattributed videos. 

Ultimately, it’s a problem of privacy asymmetry, and it has to be rebalanced. An advertiser can mount a covert influence campaign on one of these platforms, and they are shrouded in privacy. Facebook protects their privacy more than their users because the advertisers are the real customers. That inverse relationship is really at the core of the problem. Advertisers deserve less privacy and everyone else deserves more. 

As daily users of these platforms, what can people do? Where should people’s focus be in the fight for data rights?  

Researchers have shown that even when people read privacy policies, they do not understand them. We need requirements to make the terms and conditions readable, as if they were a nutrition label, so you can figure out at a glance what are the advantages and risks of making a choice. 

You wouldn’t go to the grocery store and buy food products that didn’t have the ingredients listed. This is something we expect in other parts of our lives. Why don’t we expect it for the tech services we increasingly depend on? 

Right now, we can’t even begin the challenge of becoming an educated consumer. It’s a step-by-step process. We first need to have basic fundamental rights, like the right of access. We should be able to demand from any organization or company, ‘Give me the data you have on me because you’re legally obliged to do it.’ All the other rights stand upon that foundation.

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Nintendo’s Switch is beating Xbox and PlayStation across the board, according to the latest sales numbers (NTDOY)

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The Nintendo Switch has dominated video game sales this year, taking advantage of a slow year from Microsoft and Sony. Both of Nintendo’s primary competitors are gearing up to launch their next-generation consoles next year, opening a broad window for Nintendo to sell millions of its hybrid portable console in the meantime.

The Switch is now two years old and Nintendo continues to roll out exclusive releases from its high-profile franchises. Six of the top 10 best-selling games in July were Nintendo exclusives, based on data collected by the NPD Group from July 7 to August 3.

The Switch was also the best-selling console of the month, continuing a trend that made it the best-selling console of 2018. The Nintendo Switch pro controller also outsold the PlayStation 4 in July, though the PS4 controller remains the best-selling controller of the year so far.

Nintendo is also preparing to launch a cheaper, portable-only version of the Switch on September 20, which will likely boost the console’s popularity even further during the holiday season.

Read more: Nintendo just announced a less expensive, new version of the wildly popular Nintendo Switch — and it arrives in September for $200

“Fire Emblem: Three Houses” was released on July 26 and was the second best-selling game of the month, while Nintendo’s “Super Mario Maker 2” earned the third spot on the list. Another Nintendo exclusive, “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order,” capitalized on the popularity of Marvel’s Avengers and was the fourth best-selling game after a July 19 launch.

July’s biggest release was “Madden NFL 20.” Though the game officially launched on August 2, players who preordered the game were able to play a few days early. According to the NPD Group, “Madden” has been the best-selling game in the month it was released for 20 straight years, and is the best-selling sports franchise of all time.

These are the best-selling games of July 2019:

SEE ALSO: Nintendo just announced a less expensive, new version of the wildly popular Nintendo Switch — and it arrives in September for $200

10. “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” (Nintendo)

9. “Mario Kart 8” (Nintendo)

8. “Mortal Kombat 11” (Warner Bros. Interactive)

7. “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” (Nintendo)

6. “Grand Theft Auto V” (Take 2 Interactive)

5. “Minecraft” (Microsoft)

4. “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order” (Nintendo)

3. “Super Mario Maker 2” (Nintendo)

2. “Fire Emblem: Three Houses” (Nintendo)

1. “Madden NFL 20” (Electronic Arts)

WeWeek, how Google Cloud pays its salespeople, and Ancestry DNA’s ambitions

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Hello!

It might have felt like the week of WeWork, with the coworking company unveiling its filing for an IPO on Tuesday. There’s lots to be said about the company, and my colleague Olivia Oran has a great breakdown of all of our coverage right here. We’ll of course have lots more in the coming weeks and months.

But WeWork wasn’t the only deal story this week. 

The same day WeWork filed, CBS and its sister company Viacom announced they had agreed to merge in an all-stock deal that would create a combined company with around $28 billion in revenue. Ashley Rodriguez got the skinny on what Viacom employees are saying about the blockbuster CBS merger and think will happen next.

She also reported that while Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s power grab during the merger has put some employees at ease, Wall Street has concerns about the leadership structure. And she talked to M&A experts to break down what Viacom and CBS could buy next, from ad-tech to James Bond.

On Wednesday, Becky Peterson broke the news that $2.4 billion scooter startup Lime is raising more money, and its next check could come from SoftBank. Speaking of the Japanese mega-investor, it also emerged Wednesday that SoftBank invested $110 million in a startup trying to solve a problem in renewable energy with a giant brick-lifting crane.

On Thursday, the $3.2 billion cybersecurity company Cloudflare filed to go public, confirming Becky’s earlier report that it was eyeing a September IPO just months after raising an $150 million funding round.

The timing is inauspicious. Markets have been going haywire the past few weeks, and as Rosalie Chan reported, Cloudflare’s China business hinges on a partnership that’s threatened by the trade war

The same day, Jeremy Berke broke the news that buzzy cannabis-delivery startup Eaze is looking to raise a new round that could value it at $400 million. And Alex Nicoll had the news that Andreessen Horowitz-backed Flyhomes snagged $141 million to expand its next-gen brokerage.

To finish the week off, on Friday $3.2 billion teeth-straightening company SmileDirectClub filed to go public. Lydia Ramsey identified the investors who stand to make the most.

So much for a quiet August!

— Matt

Quote of the week

“I learned more about healthcare in my experience in 18 months as a patient than my entire decade as an adviser.” — Mariya Filipova, vice president of innovation at the health insurer Anthem, explains how being diagnosed with a kidney tumor 18 months ago changed her approach to her work.

In conversation

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As investors either flee the market or hunt harder than ever for opportunities, Eric Freedman — who manages $170 billion as the chief investment officer of US Bank Wealth Management — is looking for ways to keep the ship steady.

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Facebook sends legal warning to developer who made an Instagram location-tracking app to demonstrate data issues

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As it gears up to take on the video-streaming market with a 2020 launch, Quibi is going on an aggressive hiring spree.

Healthcare, Retail, Transportation

Ancestry’s DNA test has traced the family histories of more than 15 million people. Now the genealogy giant plans to get into healthcare.

Ancestry, the family-history website, is preparing for a big move into healthcare, an area the 36-year-old firm has largely avoided.

A groundbreaking drug made from cannabis has brought hope for kids with rare seizure disorders. We talked to parents, doctors, and the company’s CEO to find out if it lives up the hype.

Aubrie Krowel, who’s now four, had her first seizure at eight months old. They worsened as she got older, sometimes lasting as long as an hour or two.

Uber spent over $200,000 on balloons — now its CEO is getting rid of them to cut costs as nervous engineers worry about layoffs

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi held an all-hands meeting on Tuesday, and the big topic under discussion was cost cutting.

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Huawei’s US chief security officer says he’s been called a traitor for defending the Chinese tech giant. But he says his goal is to ‘promote a safer cyberspace’

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  • Andy Purdy, Huawei’s US chief security officer, once served with the Homeland Security Department where he helped launch the National Cyber Security Division.
  • He says he’s been called a traitor for his role at the Chinese tech giant, even though he maintains that his goal is to “promote a safer cyberspace.”
  • Experts disagree with the way he frames Huawei’s dilemma and the roles of governments, including the US and China, in addressing the challenges of cybersecurity.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

As one of Huawei’s top executives in America, Andy Purdy, the Chinese tech giant’s US chief security officer, has come up with a distinctly American response to those who would call him a traitor. He repeats PeeWee Herman’s famous line: “I know you are, but what am I?”

Purdy is nothing like the dorky comic TV character he quotes to hit back at bashers on social media. And there is certainly nothing funny or frivolous about his role at Huawei, or his odd odyssey from US Homeland Security Department official to spokesman for the Chinese behemoth on center stage of the Tech Cold War, . 

“We’re on the precipice of whether we are going to turn in the direction of more isolationism or Cold War stuff which is not going to help anybody,” Purdy told Business Insider in an interview.

He made the statement the day before President Trump told reporters, “We’re not going to be doing business with Huawei,” reaffirming the ban on US agencies and companies buying Huawei’s products.

Symbol of China’s rise in tech

Huawei, a symbol of China’s rise as a tech power, has been a prominent target of the Trump Administration. In December, Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on US charges that she violated trade sanctions. Given the enormous control the Chinese government, and specifically the ruling Chinese Communist Party, has on the country’s economy, Huawei has also been accused of being a potential conduit for spying for Beijing.

All these have kept Purdy busy in the last few months as he emerged as the most visible Huawei spokesperson in the US. His message has been consistent: that Huawei is a tech behemoth caught in the middle of a trade war between China and the U.S.

“We’re getting used as a pawn in the trade talks,” Purdy said. “It isn’t helping anybody.”

Purdy says his message to President Trump would be: “I couldn’t agree more that addressing national security risks is absolutely critical. But we shouldn’t cut our nose to spite our face.”

That’s because the ban on Huawei hurts American consumers and workers, he argues. He said Huawei has around 40 major US customers, mainly telecommunications carriers operating in rural areas. As a result of the ban, those customers will likely be hit with higher prices. The ban could also hurt US suppliers, he said.

“If we can’t buy the stuff from the US, we’ve got to find it somewhere else or develop more of it ourselves,” Purdy said.

He denied that Huawei is a tool of the Chinese government. In fact, he stressed, Huawei’s hope is to help come up with policies and standards that countries like the US and China could adopt to maintain stronger, more secure networks that no one would be able to hack into. It’s a “comprehensive approach,” he said, that “has to be applied to everybody.”

It would certainly also apply to the US which is also known for hacking into the networks, he said. Purdy points to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations on a clandestine NSA program for acquiring data from tech giants,including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. He also cited allegations that the NSA hacked into software and networking gear from companies like Microsoft, Cisco and Huawei for spying operations.

“People ask me: ‘Should we trust China? Should we trust Huawei?'” he said. “I say, ‘We shouldn’t trust anybody.'”

“I’m basically an advocate for safer cyberspace in America,” he added.

‘We shouldn’t trust anybody’

Experts from various fields — technology, cybersecurity, and intelligence — disagree with the way Purdy frames Huawei’s dilemma, the challenges in cybersecurity, and the roles of governments, particularly the US and China, in securing and infiltrating networks.

“Huawei is in the crosshairs of the international trade war, however they are not innocent,” analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research told Business Insider. “Purdy knows how the US government works and how the Chinese government influences Huawei. Neither side is innocent in global espionage.”

But “in the cybersecurity realm, the question is not whose tech is secure, it’s whose national allegiance do you trust,” he added. And the choice is clear, Wang said: a generally open and decentralized system like the US, or a closed centralized one like the one in place in China.

Charity Wright, a Texas-based cyber-threat intelligence analyst, echoed a similar view. “Technology is becoming a tool of the state,”  she told Business Insider. But “China’s government is infamous for having deep roots inside domestic technology companies.”

China vs. US

Analyst Steve Allen of S2C Partners, who has done business in China and with companies that have operated there for years, said Huawei “is not resident evil.” “They are merely playing by government rulebooks,” he told Business Insider. “The only difference is, it’s the Chinese government versus the US government.”

While the US has not had a stellar history on different areas, including respecting the privacy of citizens, it is also widely accepted that China’s government has an even worse record, experts say.

“In the end, it is simply that we can’t believe the Chinese government would behave better than the US government has in the past,” Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley told Business Insider.

“If the Chinese government says ‘Huawei, do X,’ they have to do that. After all, China is the government currently engaged in soft ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs in the east, and a bunch of other bad acts. There is no way Huawei could meaningfully reject a Chinese government request. Which means the real question that you should ask Mr. Purdy is: ‘Do you honestly trust the Chinese government to behave substantially better than the US government has in the past?'”

Unusual odyssey

Purdy’s own past makes his current role at Huawei striking, even surprising. He worked for years in the federal government. In fact, he once played a key role developing US cybersecurity policy.

In fact, he was part of the team that drafted the US cybersecurity strategy under President George W. Bush in 2003. Purdy, a lifelong Republican, also helped set up  the National Cyber Security Division of the newly-created Department of Homeland Security.

How did he end up working for a Chinese corporation? In a way, a Republican president paved the way

Purdy, who is in his 60s, was in college when Richard Nixon embarked on a bold attempt to establish diplomatic ties with China in the early 1970s in what is now considered one of his notable achievements in an otherwise tumultuous administration that ended in scandal and his resignation. The Nixon diplomatic offensive set the stage for stronger economic ties that subsequently propelled the growth of the US and Chinese tech industries.

Purdy even played a minor role in a highlight of the Nixon outreach to China during the US visit of the Chinese table tennis team. The tour included a stop at William and Mary University in Virginia where Purdy was among the students to welcome the visiting Chinese players. He’s shown shaking hands with one of the visitors in a photo featured in the college paper.

Andy Purdy Huawei greeting Chinese ping pong team

“That was part of the ping pong diplomacy back in the day,” he said. “That was a time when we were cautious in our optimism about the idea of opening up a relationship with China and the hope that could mean for the future.”

“If we’re going in a different direction, that could hurt all of us,” he said. “That’s what I fear most.”

Huawei’s man in Washington

In a way, hiring someone like Purdy to represent Huawei in the US was a smart move for the Chinese tech giant, experts say

“Andy Purdy’s background is impressive and he has the kind of credibility on this subject that could benefit Huawei’s message going forward,” Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc. told Business Insider. “But he has a lot of historical bias to deal with which makes this his task more difficult.”

Allen of S2C Partners also said Purdy is a “good guy for Huawei to present in Washington D.C.” at a time of heightened xenophobia.

“Especially with Trump’s nativist base, the last thing you want is a Chinese face speaking halting English,” he said. “But in the big scheme of things, realpolitik rules.”

While Purdy turns to a comic figure from American pop culture to hit back at critics, Allen thinks the words of a warrior-philosopher from ancient China offer important insights into the brewing tech cold war.

I think Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ is on everyone’s reading list,” he said.

One Sun Tzu passage if particularly noteworthy in the current climate, he said: “All warfare is based on deception.”

Got a tip about Huawei or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], message him on Twitter @benpimentel. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

 

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Infrared saunas have become so popular that Amazon is selling these bizarre-looking foldable spas that people can take with them anywhere (AMZN)

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  • Infrared saunas have gained popularity in recent years, especially as celebrities have increasingly used them for pain and stress release.
  • Boutique spas in New York City can charge as much as $70 for a single session, but an increasing number of cheap infrared saunas have cropped up on Amazon.
  • They’re one of many surprising products Amazon can deliver to your doorstep — along with cheap houses that take just two days to build. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Infrared saunas have emerged as one of the hottest wellness trends in recent years — and not just because they make you sweat. Celebrities from Lady Gaga to Selena Gomez have used them to relieve pain and release toxins. Boutique spas have cropped up around the country from New York to Los Angeles, where patrons pay around $70 for a single session.

They’ve become so popular, in fact, that you can actually purchase one of your own on Amazon. The online retail giant offers a wide variety of infrared saunas on its website, from elaborately built cedar structures that can cost upwards of $2,000 to portable, collapsible saunas that resemble wearable tents and cost less than $200.

This portable infrared home spa from SereneLife, a company that sells everything from mailboxes to trampolines on Amazon, is an example of the latter. The Amazon listing describes it as a portable sauna kit capable of heating up to 140 degrees that you can pack up and take with you. It includes a chair and a heating foot pad, and a zipper on the front that lets you get in and out of the sauna. There are two arm holes on the front as well.

Companies such as Radiant Saunas and Durasage sell very similar products that resemble zip-up tents with just enough room for one person.

Amazon Sauna 2

Read more: The 21 most expensive products Apple has ever sold

Infrared saunas use light to create heat and warm your body directly rather than heating the air around you like a traditional sauna, according to the Mayo Clinic. While several studies have found health benefits in using infrared saunas to treat chronic conditions, additional studies are necessary to confirm these results, as the Mayo Clinic also notes. 

But if you’re going to opt for an at-home sauna you’ve ordered online instead of going to a spa, you should be careful. While SereneLife’s product — which Amazon has deemed worthy of the Amazon’s Choice badge — has received some positive reviews, at least one recent review indicated that the sauna’s electric unit overheated and started producing smoke.

Others, too, have received troubling customer reviews, such as this model from Radiant Saunas. One reviewer said the sauna caught fire after preheating it for the third time, although it has a four-star rating overall based on other positive reviews.

Infrared saunas are just one of several unexpected products Amazon can deliver to your doorstep. The tiny home kits that Amazon sells for a fraction of the price of the average American home— such as this $19,000 cabin kit that takes two days to build and this $37,000 expandable container home — have gone viral in recent months.

SEE ALSO: Amazon sells a $37,000 tiny home that expands with the click of a remote — here’s what it looks like inside

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9 visionary predictions tech execs like Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs made before 2000 that came true

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  • Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos all made predictions before the turn of millennium that are still coming true.
  • Jobs predicted that we would carry around “slates” with “agents,” like today’s iPhones with Siri. Gates foresaw smart advertising. Bezos knew Amazon would grow beyond book-selling.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Silicon Valley tech moguls Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos made predictions before the new millennium that are still coming true today. 

Here are 9 prescient predictions made by tech execs before the turn of the century.

SEE ALSO: Jeff Bezos donated $100 million to fighting homelessness — and in an unusual move, he’s letting the charities control how it’s spent

Steve Jobs

Jobs predicted that we would carry around “slates” with “agents” — basically, iPhones with Siri.

Prediction (1984): “The next stage is going to be computers as ‘agents,'” Jobs told Newsweek’s Access Magazine. “In other words, it will be as if there’s a little person inside that box who starts to anticipate what you want.”

“I’ve always thought it would be really wonderful to have a little box, a sort of slate that you could carry along with you,” Jobs told Newsweek.

Today: The iPhone was released in 2007, and the iOS digital assistant Siri launched in 2010.

Sources: Business Insider, The Daily Beast, Business Insider

Jobs also predicted car dealerships without inventory — which Tesla does today.

Prediction (1996): “Take auto dealerships. So much money is spent on inventory — billions and billions of dollars. Inventory is not a good thing. Inventory ties up a ton of cash, it’s open to vandalism, it becomes obsolete. It takes a tremendous amount of time to manage. And, usually, the car you want, in the color you want, isn’t there anyway, so they’ve got to horse-trade around. Wouldn’t it be nice to get rid of all that inventory? Just have one white car to drive and maybe a laserdisc so you can look at the other colors. Then you order your car and you get it in a week,” Jobs said to Wired.

Today: Tesla opened its first showroom in 2008 in Los Angeles, and its stores famously have very few cars on-site. Buyers can order their custom vehicle with a salesperson or online. 

Sources: Business Insider, Wired

Jobs’ version of storage on email is a lot like cloud storage today.

Prediction (1996): “I don’t store anything anymore, really. I use a lot of e-mail and the Web, and with both of those I don’t have to ever manage storage. As a matter of fact, my favorite way of reminding myself to do something is to send myself e-mail. That’s my storage,” Jobs told Wired.

Now: Apple rolled out iCloud in 2011. Now, automatically saving our files on the internet through cloud services, like Google Drive and Dropbox too, is the norm. 

Sources: Business Insider, Wired, Apple

Bill Gates

Gates predicted the prevalence online home monitoring.

Prediction (1999): “Constant video feeds of your house will become common, which inform you when somebody visits while you are not home,” Gates forecasted in his book “Business @ the Speed of Thought.” 

Today: Amazon’s Ring doorbell security cameras are being widely adopted in the US, and some local police departments even have access to the resulting footage, creating something of an unofficial surveillance network of video doorbells

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

Gates caught on early to the idea of smart advertising — so smart, in fact, that users worry their phones are listening to them.

Prediction (1999): “Devices will have smart advertising. They will know your purchasing trends, and will display advertisements that are tailored toward your preferences,” Gates wrote in “Business @ the Speed of Thought.” 

Today: There’s a widely held belief that Facebook and Instagram listen in on people’s smartphones, and then serve advertisements based on their speech.

Sources: Business Insider, Business Insider.

Gates figured job-hunting would move online — and now we have LinkedIn.

Prediction (1999): “People looking for work will be able to find employment opportunities online by declaring their interest, needs, and specialized skills,” Gates predicted in “Business @ the Speed of Thought.” 

Today: LinkedIn would launch just four years after Gates made that prediction, in 2003. The number of American workers with LinkedIn profiles was 154 million in February 2019, according to Hootsuite.

Sources: Business Insider, Hootsuite, LinkedIn

Jeff Bezos

Bezos said Amazon would not be a direct competitor of Barnes & Noble forever.

Prediction (1999): “I bet you a year from now they will not consider us direct competitors,” Bezos said to Wired. “Clearly they do today, but we’re on different paths … We’re trying to invent the future of e-commerce, and they’re just defending their turf.”

Today: Amazon is a robust e-marketplace with offerings well beyond books — hardware, video and music streaming, and logistics are just a few pieces of Amazon’s vast empire. 

Sources: Business Insider, Wired,

Bezos predicated that “the vast bulk” of store-bought goods would be purchased online — and now we order our toilet paper on Amazon.

Prediction (1999): “The vast bulk of store-bought goods — food staples, paper products, cleaning supplies, and the like — you will order electronically” Bezos predicted in a Wired interview about the year 2020.

Today: Amazon Prime Pantry launched in 2014, which offers “low-priced grocery and household essentials” from laundry detergent to shampoo.

Sources: Business Insider, Wired, Amazon, CNN Business

Bezos foresaw a network of appliances connected to the internet — and now we have smart homes tricked out with Alexa devices.

Prediction (1999): “I’m a big believer in this notion of sort of appliances, that there’ll be lots of little things that are connected to the internet … There’ll be a whole bunch of things sort of connected to the network,” Bezos told Charlie Rose.

Today: Homes are now serviced by Alexa-enabled devices, from speakers to home security systems.

Sources: Business Insider, Charlie Rose

Lisa Eadicicco, Kif Leswing, Matt Weinberger, and Paige Leskin contributed to earlier versions of this story.

This former Googler says he’s so tired of the astronomical housing prices in San Francisco that he bought land in Austin, Texas instead (GOOG, GOOGL)

Source: Business Insider On:

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  • Former Google marketing manager, Adam Singer, says after living in the Bay Area for over a decade, he’s had enough of the astronomical home prices and the city not making strides to improve living conditions. 
  • In a recent tweetstorm, Singer aired his hang-ups with San Francisco and announced that after a trip to Austin, he and his wife purchased land and would be moving to the Texas state capital. 
  • “None of my San Francisco or Bay Area friends were surprised,” Singer told Business Insider of his relocation. “They’re like, ‘It’s totally reasonable to leave.’ No one’s fighting to keep me here.” 
  • A recent report by the real estate company Compass found that to afford a median-priced home in the San Francisco Bay Area, a person would need to earn more than $340,000 per year. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Adam Singer is tired of San Francisco. 

The former Google marketing manager says after living in the Bay Area for over a decade, he’s had enough of the astronomical home prices and the city not making progress to improve living conditions. 

In a tweetstorm last Wednesday, Singer aired his hang-ups with San Francisco and announced that after a trip to Austin, he and his wife (and their rescue dog, Dash the Dingo) would be moving to the Texas capital, which is increasingly known for its hot startup scene as much as it’s bar-b-que.

 

“So Austin suburbs are beautiful. Houses really reasonably priced. Easy ride to the city. Great food and music scene nearby. What’s the catch,” Singer tweeted. “For same price of your SF rental you can afford basically as much house as you want here. Crazy.” 

Singer says he recently purchased land in Austin and will be working with a local design center on the construction of his home. 

Read more: 11 facts about San Francisco’s housing market that will make you glad you live somewhere else

With housing prices in the San Francisco Bay Area continuing to reach record highs, many, like Singer, are questioning whether it’s worth it to live in the region at all. A recent study found that 44% of Bay Area residents polled said they’re likely to leave within the next few years. High housing prices were the top reason residents were feeling the pressure to move.  

Another report by the real estate company Compass found just how costly it can be to buy a home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Including mortgage payments, taxes, and insurance, owning a median-priced home in the Bay Area runs around $8,500 per month. And in order to afford that kind of monthly expense, a person would need to earn more than $340,000 per year, the report said. 

The former Googler told Business Insider in an interview this week that after two years of househunting across the Bay Area, seeing the type of homes they could actually afford became all too frustrating. 

“I’m not paying two million dollars to live in some [baby] boomer’s starter home next to a strip mall,” Singer said, in reference to certain houses he looked at south of San Francisco, near San Jose. 

In Austin, Singer says he was able to find “gorgeous” homes for under a half-million dollars. 

A “NIMBY” state

The former Googler puts much of the blame of San Francisco’s housing prices on city officials who he says don’t want to increase the number of condos and apartments in the area. Other cities, like Austin and Seattle, Singer says, have been able to keep housing prices from reaching untouchable rates because they’ve been willing to develop. 

“People think supply and demand economics don’t exist as soon as you get into the Bay Area,” Singer said. “It’s not a thing here.” 

Singer also points the finger at long-time San Francisco residents who bought their homes years before prices spiked. Those owners are cashing on the demand from renters, Singer says, and thus have little incentive to advocate for the city to increase its supply of homes. 

“For the people who already own here, I think they quietly don’t give a f—-,” Singer said. “They have theirs. Whether they want to admit it or not, this is a NIMBY state. What they will accomplish — they will squeeze out the middle of San Francisco.” (NIMBY is an acronym for “not in my backyard,” often used to describe opposition to development in a particular area.”) 

On top of the extravagant housing costs, the Bay Area faces major problems like how to best support its homeless population and provide adequate transportation options for residents, Singer says. He also sees much of what initially appealed to him about San Francisco — like local cafes and eateries — being displaced trendy restaurants with “$500 prix fixe menus.” 

Good weather and FOMO

So why are some San Franciscans still choosing to stick around? 

Besides the weather, Singer says he thinks some people, especially those in tech, stay in the Bay Area because of FOMO, or fear of missing out. The thought, he says, is that if you’re not in San Francisco, you won’t have the chance to work for top tech companies like Uber or Pinterest or Google

That might be true for those just starting their careers, said Singer, who now works as a digital marketing lead at the biotech company Invitae. But for someone who has worked at a company for at least a couple years and has proven to be a “linchpin” for their teams, Singer says it’s unlikely that a company wouldn’t let that person work remotely. 

“The unwritten rule at any given mega-corp is if you’re a talented individual contributor, they will let you work from whereever you want,” Singer said. “It is not posted on their website. They will not admit that to you ever. But I’ve never seen that not be true at any big company.” 

As for reaction to his Austin relocation, Singer tells us that none of his friends or family were all to shocked. 

“The biggest reaction is, ‘Why did you stay in San Francisco so long?’ from all my non-San Francisco friends,” Singer said. “None of my San Francisco or Bay Area friends were surprised. They’re like, ‘It’s totally reasonable to leave.’ No one’s fighting to keep me here.” 

SEE ALSO: What life is really like in the most expensive place in the US, where the typical home costs $1 million and it feels like everyone works in tech

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A VC who worked on Microsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype says it provided a valuable lesson about why the best startups are ‘bought not sold’

Source: Business Insider On:

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  • Paul Murphy is a partner at VC fund Northzone in London. He worked at Microsoft during its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype.
  • That experience, alongside helping to realize the fund’s exit from Spotify during its IPO last year, helped shape his vision for what makes the best companies.
  • “The best businesses are bought not sold,” Murphy told Business Insider in an interview.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype was one of its biggest acquisitions of the past decade, and for Paul Murphy, who worked on the deal, it was a sign of the best practices for a business.

The $8.5 billion acquisition came about as part of an irreconcilable moment for Microsoft. Despite being one of the biggest companies on the planet, with billions on its balance sheet and thousands of employees, it could not create a product as good or successful as Skype, forcing the acquisition.

This was a lightbulb moment for Murphy who spent eight years at Microsoft and is now a general partner at Stockholm-headquartered VC fund Northzone.

“It taught me that the best companies are bought, not sold,” he told Business Insider in an interview. “They had a business model that couldn’t be replicated, even by Microsoft, and I take the same approach to investing, I want to invest in companies that are one of a kind.”

Murphy served as chief of staff to Kurt DelBene, president of Microsoft Office, at the time of the Skype deal. He created presentation slides, speeches, and analyses to help get the deal signed off by the board and sat in on high-level meetings as part of the acquisition.

Satya Nadella

Skype had an established customer base, good user experience, great software and a strong software team which made it an essential purchase for Microsoft — even at something of a premium. The same can be said of Spotify, according to Murphy, which went public last year having fundamentally changed the music industry.

The company was part of Northzone’s portfolio until 2018 and now serves as an example of a business model that refused to copy others to succeed. Everyone from Apple to Jay-Z’s Tidal has now tried to move into the streaming market as consumers move away from owning music.

That disruption and ambitious thinking is key for Murphy, who was formerly CEO and cofounder of games company Dots. “I came to invest in Europe to work with crazy ambitious founders who want to build companies that are going to lead globally,” Murphy said. 

He says that his investment in Berlin-based electric scooter firm Tier is a good example of a business which takes the right kind of risk.

“These guys are one of those companies where you’re still taking a leap of faith, but they have everything they need to succeed,” Murphy added. “Instead of trying to make just a few cities profitable, they are taking the riskier approach, competing with incumbents and beating them by focussing on unit economics and execution, aiming for a global leadership position.”

SEE ALSO: This is the 17-slide pitch deck a vegan crypto startup used to raise $10 million in funding

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How the ‘Jio effect’ brought millions of Indians online and is reshaping Silicon Valley and the internet

Source: Business Insider On:

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  • Something is happening in India which could completely reshape internet culture. Millions of Indians gained regular access to the internet for the first time over the past three years.
  • This is thanks to the “Jio effect,” after regional mobile operator Reliance Jio launched extremely cheap data tariffs in 2016, costing as little as Rs 15 ($0.21) per GB.
  •  Indians went from consuming an average of 700mb of data per month to 11GB, according to Counterpoint Research analyst Neil Shah.
  • This has led to unintended consequences like Indian music label T-Series overtaking YouTube star PewDiePie to become most-subscribed YouTube channel.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

The “Jio effect” is little known outside India, but it’s already reshaping the way Silicon Valley does business.

The phenomenon is named after the arrival of Reliance Jio, a mobile network operator that launched in 2016 with extremely cheap data plans.

The network was founded by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and the telco went from zero customers to becoming the biggest mobile operator in the world with more than 300 million subscribers. To put this in context, Reliance Jio’s customer base is about as big as the entire US population.

Mukesh Ambani Reliance

Jio’s radical move was this: making 4G available to millions of Indians for free in 2016. It began charging nominal amounts for data in 2017 and, by then, the Indian appetite for internet content knew no bounds in part thanks to the availability of budget Android smartphones. Initially, Jio made no money, but it has now become profitable.

“Jio has changed the consumption habits for hundreds of millions of consumers,” said Neil Shah, an analyst at Counterpoint Research. “More people are using smartphones as their first device, unlike developed markets where the PC is the first device.”

Shah estimates that thanks to Jio’s pricing, Indians have gone from consuming just 700MB of data per month to 11GB. This would let you watch about 30 episodes of “Game of Thrones.”

“You can get around 28GB of data for just a couple of dollars,” says Shah. “And in that sense, once you have cheaper data and a smartphone, you’re going to consume more content.”

reliance jio

Unlike the West, Indian smartphone adoption is still growing in the double digits as people buy their first internet-connected device. “More and more people are using smartphones as their first device, unlike developed markets where the PC is the first device,” says Shah.

This is significant. According to Pew Research, around 81% of Americans own a smartphone, meaning there isn’t much room to grow. The smartphone probably isn’t their first internet-connected device either.

Most consumers outside of India won’t have really noticed what this means for the wider internet, but one incident really put the Jio effect on the map: this year’s battle between Indian record label T-Series and Swedish vlogger PewDiePie to become most-subscribed YouTube channel.

PewDiePie’s war with T-Series hit the Super Bowl, as YouTuber Mr Beast turned up to the game with ‘Sub 2 PewDiePie’ shirts

T-Series is a long-established Indian record label, producing music videos in various Indian languages as well as highly successful blockbuster films, all targeted at the home market.

PewDiePie, by contrast, is a 29-year-old gaming vlogger and representative of a specific Western YouTube demographic — the self-referential, meme-loving, and occasionally offensive gamer.

Up until March 2018, PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, was by the far the most popular YouTuber and inspiration for hundreds of other smaller creators who riffed off his offbeat humour and occasionally tasteless pranks.

Read more: How T-Series went from making cassette tapes to dethroning PewDiePie and becoming the biggest channel on YouTube

But the cumulative impact of millions of Indians discovering their favourite Bollywood music on YouTube kicked in, and T-Series became the most popular YouTube channel. It has cemented its lead five months on, with 108 million subscribers versus PewDiePie’s 98 million.

Because cheap bandwidth is essentially unlimited, Indians are treating YouTube as their de facto streaming service, according to Shah. With access to the internet for the first time, they’re turning to YouTube to find their favourite Indian language songs.

“Most users have warmed up to YouTube to consume content, not just video, but music,” he says. “They are going to YouTube rather than Spotify. People like T-Series or Star Network are seeing growth in video as well as music content.”

Neeraj Kalyan, president of T-Series, told Business Insider: “The recent growth of internet in India has increased the consumption of Indian content and, because of the decreased data costs, increase internet penetration, and higher bandwidth, this has been a real catalyst.

“In 2016, there was mobile internet available in tier one or tier two cities, but now it’s in tier three to tier five cities and villages, which had never experienced internet. So now the consumer is excited, and he’s experimenting with everything, and it’s resulted in an increase in consumption.”

It isn’t just YouTube. India is now producing its own Silicon Valley-style internet giants, such as retail firm Flipkart — majority acquired by Walmart for $16 billion — online supermarket Grofers, payment firm Paytm, and Uber rival Ola.

Narendra Modi Mark Zuckerberg India

Silicon Valley is also feeling the impact of the Jio effect.

Facebook, for example, began talking about the Jio effect indirectly in late 2016. The firm first mentioned the impact of cheap data in India on its Q3 2016 earnings call when CFO Dave Wehner said: “We’re seeing the introduction of low price data plans in markets like India and Mexico contributing [to user growth].”

Facebook would continue to talk about the impact of India’s “promotional free data plans” on its user growth in every subsequent earnings call for a year. And the firm has described India as its biggest growth market in every quarter since Q3 2016, according to call transcripts analysed by Business Insider.

Google is also playing nice with Jio. Its CEO Sundar Pichai attended the wedding of Akash Ambani, son of Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani, earlier this year.

And the firm has been flagging the massive growth in Indian Android users since early 2017, not long after the launch of Reliance Jio. The firm said there more than 300 million new Android users from markets such as India and Brazil. At the beginning of this year, the firm said India was the fastest-growing market for YouTube. Its companion app, YouTube Music, had more than 15 million downloads.

Join the conversation about this story »

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The best noise-isolating headphones you can buy

Source: Business Insider On:

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  • Noise-isolating headphones skip the fancy tech and cut out ambient noise naturally.
  • The best noise-isolating headphones are comfortable to wear, but still effectively block outside noise.
  • That’s why we’ve chosen the Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones as our top pick.
  • They look great, have excellent sound quality, and isolate noise.

Noise-cancelling headphones are getting more and more popular because they block out ambient noise, but there plenty of reasons why you might not want a pair. Noise-cancelling technology can often change the sound quality of the headphones, plus, headphones with active noise cancellation are often more expensive. 

So what should you get instead? Well, it’s worth considering a pair of noise-isolating headphones. What’s the difference? Well, it’s essentially that noise-cancelling headphones use special technology to cancel outside noise by using microphones to listen to outside noise and then use audio processing technology to “cancel” that noise with inverse sound waves.

In contrast, noise-isolating headphones simply physically block outside noise by covering your ear or sealing your ear canal. In other words, no special technology is needed in noise-isolating headphones, so the audio is more natural sounding. 

Technically, almost all headphones are noise isolating to some extent, but some are better at blocking outside noise by nature of their design. Because over-ear headphones cover your full ear, they usually do a good job of isolating noise. In-ear headphones that fit snugly and seal off your ear canal entirely are also effective at blocking ambient sounds, though they may not be as comfortable for long-term wear.

Noise-isolating headphones come in wireless, wired, in-ear, and over-ear styles. There are a lot of great options out there, and it can be overwhelming to choose just one pair.

Thankfully, however, we’ve done the research so that you don’t have to. Based on our research and testing, these are the best noise-isolating headphones money can buy. 

Here are the best-noise isolating headphones you can buy:

The best overall

The Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones look great, sound great, block most ambient noise, and come at a reasonable price.

The Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones have long been the go-to pair for many people who want noise isolation. The headphones have a lot going for them, including a great design and excellent sound quality.

The first thing you’ll notice about anything is its design, and the Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones look great. The headphones feature a black design with silver accents, and you’ll notice right away that they have plenty of padding in the earcups and under the headband. The headphones are adjustable, so they’ll fit on any-shaped head.

Perhaps the best thing about the headphones is how they sound. The headphones offer a nice rounded bass, with well-tuned mids and a ton of clarity and detail in the high end. They’re pretty good at blocking outside noise. They’ll cut out most higher frequencies, and while they won’t cut out everything, they’ll definitely make a moderately noisy environment much more manageable. 

The Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones have gotten plenty of great reviews since their launch a few years ago. For example, CNET gave the headphones a score of 8.7, and this pair sits with an average of 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Pros: Excellent design, great sound quality, relatively inexpensive

Cons: A little bulky

The best wireless headphones

The Master & Dynamic MW60 headphones look and sound great, and while they’re expensive, we think they’re well worth the price.

Perhaps you’re looking for a pair of great wireless noise-isolating headphones, in which case it’s well worth considering the Master & Dynamic MW60 headphones. Master & Dynamic has been developing some of the best-designed and most interesting headphones over the past few years, and the MW60 headphones are among its best offerings.

One of the best things about Master & Dynamic MW60 headphones is their design. The headphones are made premium materials like leather and they have a unique look, thanks to the silver accents. 

Perhaps more important than the look of the headphones is how they sound, and Master & Dynamic has outdone itself with the MW60 headphones. The headphones offer a nice bass response that doesn’t go over the top, plus there’s good midrange tuning and solid highs. The noise isolation on these headphones is very good and they easily cut out most outside noise without needing any active noise cancelation.

Since their release, the Master & Dynamic MW60 headphones have gotten excellent reviews, with Wired giving them an impressive 9/10 and Headphone Review giving them a still very impressive 8.1/10. The downsides? Well, the main one is that the headphones are a little pricey.

Pros: Excellent design, great sound quality, comfortable

Cons: Expensive

The best in-ear headphones

The Etymotic Research HF3 headphones aren’t the most comfortable, but they sound good and offer excellent noise isolation.

If you’re looking for a pair of in-ear headphones solely for the purpose of noise isolation, then the Etymotic Research HF3 headphones are absolutely worth buying. 

Let’s start with the design. The headphones have a minimalistic black design, with ribbed ear tips to help make for better noise isolation. They feature a standard three-button remote part-way down the cable, and won’t look out of place in any ears.

The sound of the headphones is pretty good, too. Perhaps the best thing about the sound is the detailed and clear high end, but the headphones offer decent bass response and well-tuned mids too. The noise isolation on these headphones is very good because they’re effectively blocking the ear canal.

So what are the downsides to these headphones? Well, they’re not the most comfortable. After all, they’re built to completely block the ear canal, so they may feel a little uncomfortable after long periods of listening. Still, despite the downsides, the headphones scored an impressive five stars on What Hi Fi.

Pros: Great sound quality, good noise isolation

Cons: Expensive, not the most comfortable

The best sports headphones

The Optoma NuForce Be Sport4 headphones look pretty good and sound great, too, plus they’re wireless, making them great for sports use.

There’s nothing worse than hearing the music playing over the speakers at the gym when you’re trying to get into the groove of your own music. That’s where noise-isolating headphones can be helpful for sports. If you want a great pair of sports-focused noise-isolating headphones, then the Optoma NuForce Be Sport4 headphones are worth considering. 

The headphones are wireless, so you don’t have to worry about being constrained by wires while working out, plus they’re good at staying in your ears, so you don’t have to worry too much about them falling out when you work out. 

In terms of sound, the headphones boast a nice boosted bass response and a relatively detailed high-end, making for a dynamic listening experience.

The headphones have gotten plenty of great reviews too. TechRadar scored the headphones a hefty five stars, while Trusted Reviews game them a more conservative but still very impressive 8/10. There aren’t too many downsides to these headphones, other than the fact that they may have some build quality issues according to Amazon reviews.

Pros: Well-designed, good sound quality, inexpensive

Cons: Some build issues

The best on-ear headphones

The Sennheiser HD 25 headphones are a classic option for DJs, offering excellent sound quality and good noise isolation compared to other on-ear headphones.

Perhaps you’re looking for a pair of headphones that’s relatively portable but not uncomfortable and with decent sound quality. In that case, it’s worth considering the Sennheiser HD 25 headphones. The headphones feature a sleek black design, a great sound, and they’re pretty good at cutting out any outside noise despite their over-ear design.

There are a ton of things that make these headphones great, but perhaps the most important is the sound quality. Sennheiser has a history of delivering great-sound headphones and these are no exception to that rule, offering plenty of clarity in the upper end and a good amount of bass.

The noise isolation on these headphones is good for on-ear headphones, but it probably won’t compare to over-ear or in-ear headphones on this list thanks to the fact that on-ear headphones have a harder time creating a seal to your ear canal.

The Sennheiser HD 25 headphones have gotten excellent reviews over the years, and have become the industry standard DJ headphones. They sit with an average rating of 4.3 stars on Amazon, which is very impressive. 

Pros: Nice design, good sound, well-built

Cons: Noise isolation doesn’t compare to in-ear or over-ear headphones

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