Metromile’s pitch is straightforward: Your insurance premium should be based on exactly how much you drive. The more miles you put on your car, the more you pay, because the odds are higher you’ll have a claim. Drive less, pay less.
Insurers have long asked policyholders to report mileage, but that information typically influences the bill only when drivers renew for another term. Metromile’s new customers get the Metronome, a mileage-tracking device that plugs into a car’s data port. The company uses the information to customize its rates.
SolarCity's innovation wasn't technological but financial. Instead of selling solar systems outright, which can cost $20,000 or more, SolarCity would install them for free and then sell the electricity the panels generated to customers at a fixed rate over the life of a 20-year contract.
Given that utility rates are expected to rise, customers taking advantage of so-called power-purchase-agreement contracts are able to avoid the prohibitive up-front cost of solar and save money over the life of their contract. SolarCity also offered solar leases, not unlike car leases, in which customers pay a fixed monthly price for their systems. "With a lease, you immediately start saving, and from Day One you pay less for electricity than you were before," says Shayle Kann, vice president for research at Greentech Media. The model--now used by most solar installers--opened a huge new market.
Of course, subsidies help. The federal government offers a 30% tax credit on solar systems, and states provide additional incentives. Some states also have net-metering laws, which require utilities to pay solar-system owners for any excess electricity they feed back into the grid. That's what has some utilities concerned about distributed solar. If solar can keep growing, a significant percentage of utility customers will begin producing more and more of their own energy--and paying less to utilities. Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, argues that if utilities don't evolve, SolarCity will become a threat.
seriously…China’s Kandi Technologies has developed a gigantic version stocked with cars, delivered on-demand as part of an electric vehicle sharing program.
Located in the city of Hangzhou, in the east of the country, the first of the buildings have already opened for business, where citizens can take advantage of a Zipcar-style sharing system. Participants in the scheme receive a card linked to their account, and by visiting one of the facilities and swiping the card, the machines inside each building then automatically deliver one of Kandi’s electric cars to the ground floor. For around CNY 20, users can borrow the vehicle for an hour. Kandi hopes to have 50 of the facilities opened by March this year, with 750 garages — equal to 100,000 cars — planned in total for Hangzhou.
“In 2008, the French national railway company SNCF was facing a huge challenge: European passenger railways were about to be liberalized in 2010, and the company’s monopoly on the French—and European—market was about to end. To remain competitive, SNCF had to learn to innovate faster, better, and cheaper.”
“Of the 20 pilot projects that TGVLab has carried out since its inception in 2008, half have been successfully implemented and scaled up by SNCF. These include smartphone-based productivity tools currently used by 10,000 TGV ticket inspectors and TGV Family, train cars reserved for families, with onboard entertainment provided by partners such as Disneyland Paris (which collaborated with SNCF at the launch of the service).
One successful project that we particularly liked for its frugal nature was an SMS-based system that enables train crews to communicate with hearing-deficient passengers. To accomplish this goal, SNCF was initially planning to refit all its TGV train cars with video monitors, a project that would have cost millions of euros and would have taken years to complete. Instead, the ingenious SMS-based system tested and proposed by TGVLab cost the company only a few hundred thousand euros and was implemented across its entire train fleet in just a few months.”
Mr. Breyer is an investor in Circle Internet Financial, one of the host of start-ups trying to find a way to make bitcoin a widely adopted currency for retail payments. The company was started by Jeremy Allaire, a serial entrepreneur, and it aims to be a payment processing system for online and physical merchants, similar to the service PayPal offers online. Along with his venture firm, Accel Partners, and another called General Catalyst Partners, Mr. Breyer has invested $9 million in the company.
In March, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, part of the Treasury Department,issued guidelines telling businesses involved in the exchange of digital currencies that they needed to register as money services businesses and comply with a variety of rules to prevent money laundering. New York’s Department of Financial services began an inquiry in August to determine guidelines for digital currency businesses, issuing nearly two dozen subpoenas to start-ups, investors and others involved in the emerging field.
Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-a-Porter, the fashion e-retailer has a journalist background and has been quoted as saying “I thought I’d abandoned my dream of being an editor; it was a couple of years until I realized that I was just doing the 21st century version with an interactive magazine that’s entirely shoppable.”
In my interview with him for The Digital Enterprise, Dr. Paul-Bernhard Kallen, CEO of Hubert Burda Media, one of Europe's largest magazine publishers described how their business model has evolved over the last couple of decades. Today, e-commerce sites, rather than traditional publishers, are the primary competition according to him.
Now Wired magazine in collaboration with MasterCard and Rakuten fulfillment takes the concept more mainstream.
“The ShopThis! with MasterPass technology allows us to experiment with how readers can go from product discovery to ownership, without ever putting the issue down…Our goal is to deliver the ability to purchase from WIRED seamlessly, and this relationship represents a crucial first step in converting our content to commerce.”
In Sweden, which printed Europe’s first bank notes in 1661, bills and coins represented just 2.7 percent of the economy in 2012, compared with an average 9.8 percent in the euro area and 7.2 percent in the U.S., according to the Bank for International Settlements. Many Swedes think 2.7 percent is too high. “We could and should be the first cashless society in the world,” Björn Ulvaeus, a former member of Abba, says on the website of a Stockholm museum dedicated to the Swedish band. Situation Stockholm, which costs 50 kronor ($8) and whose cover stories feature Swedish celebrities such as pop star Robyn and actress Noomi Rapace, already can be bought via a text-message service.`
The new owner of the Globe is one of a number of wealthy, newly minted newspaper owners who believe journalism is vital to a community and newspapers are not lost causes. Like Amazon.com founder and Chairman Jeff Bezos at The Washington Post and former greeting-card executive Aaron Kushner at the Orange County Register,Henry speaks of spending money to make the paper more vital rather than engaging in round after punishing round of cutbacks that weaken the product.
Ownership by wealthy individuals rather than publicly held companies that are so wedded to the quarterly numbers give these institutions what Bezos calls "runway," time to look for creative solutions to the thorny problems that plague the industry.
Giant online retailer Amazon.com Inc. is turning up the heat on rivals this holiday season and beyond under a new deal with the U.S. Postal Service for delivering packages on Sundays.
Starting this week, the postal service will bring Amazon packages on Sundays to shoppers' doors in the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas at no extra charge. Next year, it plans to roll out year-round Sunday delivery to Dallas, New Orleans, Phoenix and other cities.
The postal service's Sunday package delivery business has been very small, but the arrangement with Amazon for two of the retailer's larger markets, Los Angeles and New York, should boost work considerably.
To pull off Sunday delivery for Amazon, the postal service plans to use its flexible scheduling of employees, Brennan said. It doesn't plan to add employees, she said.