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#villainspiration

2018-03-13 16:55:18














Phantom Secure was a phone company by day… and a criminal lifestyle brand by night.
The Hustle Tues, Mar 13
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CEO of shady phone security company arrested for conspiring with drug cartels

Last week, Motherboard reported that the FBI had arrested Vincent Ramos, CEO of Phantom Secure, a Canadian company that sells modified, hyper-secure cell phones on charges including “conspiracy to distribute narcotics” and “aiding and abetting.”

Phantom offers next-level encryption to its clients, who according to the FBI include a list of seedy characters like Hells Angels, members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, and other “upper echelon members” of international criminal groups.

Now, your typical cell phone company can’t be held responsible for the crimes committed by its customers, but Phantom’s corner isn’t exactly squeaky clean.

The FBI argues that Ramos knew exactly how his phones were being used, and in fact created Phantom for the purpose of facilitating criminal activity.

Better than burners

Phantom promises phones that let users go “off the grid” by removing cameras and microphones from their devices, and installing software called Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) that reroutes messages overseas through private, encrypted networks.

The company also removes GPS navigation and allows users to remotely wipe devices — pretty much all the things you need to commit the perfect digital crime.

So, how much did Ramos know?

To catch Ramos in the act, Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (AKA horse cops) posed as drug traffickers purchasing Phantom devices and asked if the phones would protect them “sending MDMA to Montreal” (the company assured them it was “totally fine”).

They also requested that Phantom wipe a phone under the guise that one of them had been arrested with evidence on the device.

But, the nail in the coffin is a conversation special agents posing as drug traffickers had with Ramos last February, where Ramos assured them that they made devices “specifically for this [drug trafficking] too.”

Oh, they also have an aspirational, crime-themed Instagram

Phantom hasn’t exactly been bashful about their target clientele, posting regularly on a company-linked Instagram (since removed) pictures of their devices with assault rifles, iconic TV criminals, and memes reading “Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.”

Pro tip for aspiring villains: If you want to get away with murder, don’t post murder-themed memes on social.

Yeah, you should probably lay low for awhile…

Dropbox IPO lands between $7B and $8B — a disappointing drop from its peak valuation

Yesterday, Dropbox announced their bags are packed, their terms are set, and they’re hoping to hit the stock market next week.

According to The New York Times, the cloud storage company plans to raise as much as $648m in the IPO, giving the company a valuation of around $7.5B.

All eyes are on Dropbox as they take the plunge

Dropbox will be one of the first penguins to jump off the private sector ledge at a time when big ’corns like Uber and Airbnb are considering going public.

But Dropbox’s valuation comes in well below the company’s $10B appraisal from 4 years ago, suggesting what many private unicorns fear: that Wall Street isn’t as jazzed about tech companies as venture capitalists are.

Or maybe it’s just them…

Cloud computing has blown up since Dropbox hit the scene in 2007 as the los lonely boys of a then-untapped market.

Now, they’re competing with some of the biggest companies in the world, which may have influenced Dropbox’s down-round listing (though, some feel it was overpriced back in 2014).

That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean the company is doomed. Last year they officially broke $1B in annual revenue and have more than 500m registered users in 180 countries.

According to Santosh Rao, the head of research at Manhattan Venture Partners, “It doesn’t have the mass appeal of a Facebook, but I think in a niche market, it has its presence.”

More of a Twitter than a Facebook

Commercial delivery drones are “a lot closer” to reality than skeptics think

For years, companies like Amazon and UPS have jousted with the US government over the safety concerns and regulatory challenges of delivery drones, while simultaneously working out development kinks.

Per the WSJ, the Federal Aviation Administration has approved “at least 10” drone initiatives, which could result in operational commercial delivery drones as early as May.

A lot of red tape

The FAA classifies drones as “unmanned aerial vehicles,” and early drone delivery efforts were thwarted by regulations that barred these devices from commercial use.

By June 2017, the Senate proposed legislation that would allow for commercial drone delivery — and in October, the president ordered the FAA to look into legality measures.

Last week, Earl Lawrence, the head of the FAA’s drone-integration office, said delivery drones are “a lot closer than many of the skeptics think,” and FAA officials said the agency “is open for business” to companies interested in submitting drone proposals.

What would this mean?

Once fully implemented, drone delivery systems could result in much faster deliveries at a fraction of the cost of ground or air shipping — as little as $1 per item.

It could also dramatically cut down delivery costs for businesses: Amazon spent an estimated $20B on shipping last year alone, largely thanks to outsourced delivery costs.

Hold the drone

University of Arizona uses machine learning in ID cards to detect who might drop out

Does hanging out in the library really mean you’ll do better in school? The University of Arizona wants to find out.

Their new ID card tracking system keeps a record of how often students interact in social settings on campus (like how frequently they use the campus rec center), what they buy to eat, and their academic performance.

According to the University, the data allows them to usually predict (quite accurately) within a freshman’s first 4 weeks if they will return as a sophomore and eventually graduate.

Don’t get put on the list

Based on the data, the university creates a list every quarter of freshman in danger of dropping out and shares it with the students’ advisors, who do their best to intervene.

So far, their efforts have been pretty successful. After 3 years of collecting freshman data, their predictions have been 73% accurate. And, in 2017 the school’s retention rate rose to 86.5% — about 11% higher than the national average.

But, is monitoring meal swipes ethical?

Like any predictive technology, there are some major ethical concerns about violation of student privacy.

The social data the school gathers includes timestamps and locations, and according to Gizmodo, the university never discloses how card swipes and payments are used to monitor student behavior on their policy site.

Honestly, we’re just concerned they might catch on to the old “make a sandwich take a sandwich” dining hall scam we ran back in the day.

Or 5 sandwiches…
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Note: These are not advertisements or affiliate links. The Toolbox section is where we write about products that we truly love and have used for starting/growing our business.

Hustle for dat muscle

If there’s one thing I hate in life it’s overpaying for stuff. If there are 2 things I hate in life, it’s the social anxiety of interacting with other people at the gym.

Here are my favorite non-gym fitness products that are just as good, if not better, than their expensive counterparts.

Letscom Tracker ($29.98) vs. Fitbit Alta HR ($148.95)

I use the Letscom to track my sleep, stay within a certain heart rate during workouts, and count steps. You can also get Facebook alerts and texts, but I prefer to keep that turned off. The Letscom is as sturdy as a Fitbit with similar features but cheaper.

Aaptiv ($10/month) vs. SoulCycle or Barry’s Bootcamp (~$35/class)

I work out better with someone yelling in my face and music blasting in the background — that’s why I love Barry’s Bootcamp. But $35 a class is a small fortune. Aaptiv is a voice-guided workout filtered by time, music, and activity. Feels just like a Barry’s class without paying $0.50 a sweat drop.

AppSync Smart Scale ($37.99) vs Weight Gurus smart scale ($49.99)

There are tons adequate smart scales out there, but most of them are bluetooth. Buy one with WiFi. Each time you step on the scale your weight will sync to your phone automatically. Sync to your favorite health apps and track your weight.

OK folks, there you have it. My favorite fitness apps that maximize savings and minimize forced awkward gym small talk.

— Sam “Still using this bench?” Parr, CEO of The Hustle

PS: Have your own gym hack? Comment here and let us know.

Spread the word →

In our brand new section Early/Mid/Late, we take a look at some of the trends and products floating around and place them on the much-loved adoption curve. Think of it as your bite-sized, weekly-trend gauge. This week: 401k investing, crypto heaters, and sustainble Legos.

Early: Growing your 401k with zero effort from Blooom [AD]

Apparently, funding your company 401k doesn’t mean your money is in good hands — hidden fees and less-than-stellar investment decisions can kill your positive 401k vibes.

Blooom (with 3 “o’s”) let’s anyone get a grip on retirement by having a professional pick and manage their funds and minimize their investment fees, taking the guesswork out of your largest retirement asset. Just sync Blooom with your account and kick back; you’re on your way to a bright future. [Blooom]

Mid: Heating your home with fresh crypto gainz

If you thought we’d reached peak crypto, think again. Bandwagoners on the crypto craze are still finding new ways to cash in. This time around, it’s the space heater.

The $3.6k QC-1 crypto heater from Qarnot promises to not only create money from thin air by mining cryptocurrencies, but heat that air too radiating the excess heat from its computations straight into your apartment. [Fast.co]

Late: Jumping on the sustainability train

Keeper of the plastic beach, Lego has (finally) revealed their first 25 sustainable lego pieces. Unlike the millions of oil-based plastic blocks that came before, these lucky 25 are made from sugarcane-based polyethylene.

It’s a long overdue gesture, but the Danish company recently dumped $155m into a sustainability center and has promised to make all bricks sustainable by 2030.
[Wired]

This edition of The Hustle was brought to you by

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Sapira’s pocket coils (springs) move independently of each other supporting you in just the right way, no matter your preferred sleeping position — side-sleeper-arm-under-the-pillow, we see you.

And Leesa is so confident in their snooze pads, they’ll let you take the Sapira for a 100-night trial risk-free — if that isn’t the best logs you ever saw, send it back without question.

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The post #villainspiration appeared first on The Hustle.

Read more

Hustle for dat muscle

2018-03-13 16:39:41

If there’s one thing I hate in life it’s overpaying for stuff. If there are 2 things I hate in life, it’s the social anxiety of interacting with other people at the gym.

Here are my favorite non-gym fitness products that are just as good, if not better, than their expensive counterparts.

Letscom Tracker ($29.98) vs. Fitbit Alta HR ($148.95)

I use the Letscom to track my sleep, stay within a certain heart rate during workouts, and count steps. You can also get Facebook alerts and texts, but I prefer to keep that turned off. The Letscom is as sturdy as a Fitbit with similar features but cheaper.

Aaptiv ($10/month) vs. SoulCycle or Barry’s Bootcamp (~$35/class)

I work out better with someone yelling in my face and music blasting in the background — that’s why I love Barry’s Bootcamp. But $35 a class is a small fortune. Aaptiv is a voice-guided workout filtered by time, music, and activity. Feels just like a Barry’s class without paying $0.50 a sweat drop.

AppSync Smart Scale ($37.99) vs Weight Gurus smart scale ($49.99)

There are tons adequate smart scales out there, but most of them are bluetooth. Buy one with WiFi. Each time you step on the scale your weight will sync to your phone automatically. Sync to your favorite health apps and track your weight.

OK folks, there you have it. My favorite fitness apps that maximize savings and minimize forced awkward gym small talk.

The post Hustle for dat muscle appeared first on The Hustle.

Read more

University of Arizona uses machine learning in ID cards to detect who might drop out

2018-03-13 16:02:25

Does hanging out in the library really mean you’ll do better in school? The University of Arizona wants to find out.

Their new ID card tracking system keeps a record of how often students interact in social settings on campus (like how frequently they use the campus rec center), what they buy to eat, and their academic performance.

According to the University, the data allows them to usually predict (quite accurately) within a freshman’s first 4 weeks if they will return as a sophomore and eventually graduate.

Don’t get put on the list

Based on the data, the university creates a list every quarter of freshman in danger of dropping out and shares it with the students’ advisors, who do their best to intervene.

So far, their efforts have been pretty successful. After 3 years of collecting freshman data, their predictions have been 73% accurate. And, in 2017 the school’s retention rate rose to 86.5% — about 11% higher than the national average. 

But, is monitoring meal swipes ethical?

Like any predictive technology, there are some major ethical concerns about violation of student privacy. 

The social data the school gathers includes timestamps and locations, and according to Gizmodo, the university never discloses how card swipes and payments are used to monitor student behavior on their policy site

Honestly, we’re just concerned they might catch on to the old “make a sandwich take a sandwich” dining hall scam we ran back in the day.

The post University of Arizona uses machine learning in ID cards to detect who might drop out appeared first on The Hustle.

Read more

Commercial delivery drones are “a lot closer” to reality than skeptics think

2018-03-13 15:59:29

For years, companies like Amazon and UPS have jousted with the US government over the safety concerns and regulatory challenges of delivery drones, while simultaneously working out development kinks.

Per the WSJ, the Federal Aviation Administration has approved “at least 10” drone initiatives, which could result in operational commercial delivery drones as early as May.

A lot of red tape

The FAA classifies drones as “unmanned aerial vehicles,” and early drone delivery efforts were thwarted by regulations that barred these devices from commercial use.

By June 2017, the Senate proposed legislation that would allow for commercial drone delivery — and in October, the president ordered the FAA to look into legality measures.

Last week, Earl Lawrence, the head of the FAA’s drone-integration office, said delivery drones are “a lot closer than many of the skeptics think,” and FAA officials said the agency “is open for business” to companies interested in submitting drone proposals.

What would this mean?

Once fully implemented, drone delivery systems could result in much faster deliveries at a fraction of the cost of ground or air shipping — as little as $1 per item.

It could also dramatically cut down delivery costs for businesses: Amazon spent an estimated $20B on shipping last year alone, largely thanks to outsourced delivery costs.

The post Commercial delivery drones are “a lot closer” to reality than skeptics think appeared first on The Hustle.

Read more

Dropbox IPO lands between $7B and $8B — a disappointing drop from its peak valuation

2018-03-13 15:56:16

Yesterday, Dropbox announced their bags are packed, their terms are set, and they’re hoping to hit the stock market next week.

According to The New York Times, the cloud storage company plans to raise as much as $648m in the IPO, giving the company a valuation of around $7.5B

All eyes are on Dropbox as they take the plunge

Dropbox will be one of the first penguins to jump off the private sector ledge at a time when big ’corns like Uber and Airbnb are considering going public.

But Dropbox’s valuation comes in well below the company’s $10B appraisal from 4 years ago, suggesting what many private unicorns fear: that Wall Street isn’t as jazzed about tech companies as venture capitalists are.

Or maybe it’s just them… 

Cloud computing has blown up since Dropbox hit the scene in 2007 as the los lonely boys of a then-untapped market. 

Now, they’re competing with some of the biggest companies in the world, which may have influenced Dropbox’s down-round listing (though, some feel it was overpriced back in 2014).

That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean the company is doomed. Last year they officially broke $1B in annual revenue and have more than 500m registered users in 180 countries.

According to Santosh Rao, the head of research at Manhattan Venture Partners, “It doesn’t have the mass appeal of a Facebook, but I think in a niche market, it has its presence.”

The post Dropbox IPO lands between $7B and $8B — a disappointing drop from its peak valuation appeared first on The Hustle.

Read more

CEO of shady phone security company arrested for conspiring with drug cartels

2018-03-13 15:46:26

Last week, Motherboard reported that the FBI had arrested Vincent Ramos, CEO of Phantom Secure, a Canadian company that sells modified, hyper-secure cell phones on charges including “conspiracy to distribute narcotics” and “aiding and abetting.”

Phantom offers next-level encryption to its clients, who according to the FBI include a list of seedy characters like Hells Angels, members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, and other “upper echelon members” of international criminal groups.

Now, your typical cell phone company can’t be held responsible for the crimes committed by its customers, but Phantom’s corner isn’t exactly squeaky clean. 

The FBI argues that Ramos knew exactly how his phones were being used, and in fact created Phantom for the purpose of facilitating criminal activity.

Better than burners

Phantom promises phones that let users go “off the grid” by removing cameras and microphones from their devices, and installing software called Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) that reroutes messages overseas through private, encrypted networks.

The company also removes GPS navigation and allows users to remotely wipe devices — pretty much all the things you need to commit the perfect digital crime.

So, how much did Ramos know?

To catch Ramos in the act, Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (AKA horse cops) posed as drug traffickers purchasing Phantom devices and asked if the phones would protect them “sending MDMA to Montreal” (the company assured them it was “totally fine”).

They also requested that Phantom wipe a phone under the guise that one of them had been arrested with evidence on the device.

But, the nail in the coffin is a conversation special agents posing as drug traffickers had with Ramos last February, where Ramos assured them that they made devices “specifically for this [drug trafficking] too.”

Oh, they also have an aspirational, crime-themed Instagram

Phantom hasn’t exactly been bashful about their target clientele, posting regularly on a company-linked Instagram (since removed) pictures of their devices with assault rifles, iconic TV criminals, and memes reading “Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.” 

Pro tip for aspiring villains: If you want to get away with murder, don’t post murder-themed memes on social.

The post CEO of shady phone security company arrested for conspiring with drug cartels appeared first on The Hustle.

Read more