Lemonade wants to rewrite the insurance policy itself

Lemonade has made some big moves in the world of insurance. The company uses AI and bots to sell insurance, and has flipped the business model to ensure that Lemonade is never in conflict with customers filing insurance claims.

But the product itself, the actual insurance policy, hasn’t changed much at all. For decades, insurance companies have been held to long, tedious legalese in their insurance contracts. In Lemonade’s case, the document is more than 40 pages long and incredibly difficult to understand.

For a company that wants to make buying insurance as easy and as consumer-centric as possible, the very product they sell is in complete opposition to that. Which is why Lemonade is re-writing the policy from scratch.

“I’m a recovering attorney, and I’ve been clean for 20 years,” said Lemonade CEO and cofounder Daniel Schreiber. “I think my English is pretty good, and I have a passing familiarity with insurance and generally I can’t understand this insurance policy. To do the next big thing in insurance means changing insurance. It’s not been done in generations. This is a historic document that’s been optimized around lawyers.”

So Lemonade has re-written the whole thing to read like a blog post. Policy 2.0, according to Schreiber, is meant to give consumers a clear and easy way to understand what is and what is not covered in their insurance policy.

But, in a little bit of a twist, Lemonade is open-sourcing the policy on GitHub. Anyone, from state regulators to consumer advocacy groups to Lemonade competitors or even interested customers can make edits and contributions to the policy. Plus, Lemonade is opening up use of the policy to other insurance providers under the GNU’s Free Documentation License.

Part of this has to do with transparency to consumers, but another part is simply about Lemonade’s greater mission of making insurance simple.

“We sold you a policy on your phone,” said Schreiber. “We want a policy that makes sense on a five-inch screen.”

I asked Schreiber whether or not there is any concern over rewriting a policy in more plain language when historically, lawyers use specific language to stay within the realms of legal precedent and remove any grey areas that may be litigated.

“Anytime you abandon language that’s been litigated for years you invite legal uncertainty,” answered Schreiber. “But we think if you’re optimizing for the consumer, giving them clarity into exactly what’s covered and exactly what isn’t, you won’t feel cheated if we can’t cover things because you’ll see that you had that info all along, in plain English.”

One hurdle, however, will be regulators. A good deal of the language in that 10,000 word-long insurance policy is legally required to be in the document. This change from Lemonade requires the company to work with regulators to allow the new policy to be sold, and that conversation differs from state to state.

That’s why Schreiber believes Policy 2.0 won’t be available for purchase until sometime in 2019, rolling out on a statewide basis as is approved by regulators.

That said, Schreiber said he’s already in conversation with regulators and is seeing willingness to be flexible on this.

When Policy 2.0 does come to the main stage, current Lemonade subscribers will be able to immediately change over to the new policy or keep their original policy.

Lemonade has raised a total of $180 million, including a whopping $120 million round led by Sequoia from December.

Check out the latest featurette for Star Wars: A Solo Story

On May 25, the latest installment of the Star Wars theatrical franchise will drop in theaters.

Shooting Star Wars: A Solo Story hasn’t been all roses, with Ron Howard stepping in to take over for directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and reshooting many scenes. But the show must go on!

Yesterday, Lucasfilm released a featurette with interviews from the cast and crew talking about the making of the film and Han Solo as a character.

The featurette also includes some new footage beyond what we’ve seen in the trailers, such as Han fighting alongside Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton), alongside previously teased scenes like the train heist on Vandor and the scene where Han Solo wins the Millenium Falcon from Lando (Donald Glover).

Central to the featurette, and the film in general, is that the story takes place in a type of world we haven’t seen yet on Star Wars, where the galaxy is completely under the control of the Empire, Howard reminds us. These circumstances push Han Solo, already a free spirit, to become the character we’ve come to know and love.

Check out the featurette below:

Twitter also sold data access to Cambridge Analytica researcher

Since it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed the personal data of millions of Facebook users, one question has lingered in the minds of the public: What other data did Dr. Aleksandr Kogan gain access to?

Twitter confirmed to The Telegraph on Saturday that GSR, Kogan’s own commercial enterprise, had purchased one-time API access to a random sample of public tweets from a five-month period between December 2014 and April 2015. Twitter told Bloomberg that, following an internal review, the company did not find any access to private data about people who use Twitter.

Twitter sells API access to large organizations or enterprises for the purposes of surveying sentiment or opinion during various events, or around certain topics or ideas.

Here’s what a Twitter spokesperson said to The Telegraph:

Twitter has also made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned and operated by Cambridge Analytica. This decision is based on our determination that Cambridge Analytica operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices. Cambridge Analytica may remain an organic user on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.

Obviously, this doesn’t have the same scope as the data harvested about users on Facebook. Twitter’s data on users is far less personal. Location on the platform is opt-in and generic at that, and users are not forced to use their real name on the platform.

Still, it shows just how broad the Cambridge Analytica data collection was ahead of the 2016 election.

We reached out to Twitter and will update when we hear back.

Battle royale smash-hit Fortnite’s next move could be super

Fortnite Battle Royale has transcended your average video game to become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. In fact, the third-person shooter saw a peak 3.4 million concurrent players in March, with the servers buckling under the pressure. Fortnite Battle Royale also holds the record for individual streamer numbers on Twitch with Ninja’s stream featuring Drake.

Part of that has to do with the popularity of Battle Royale games in general, and part of it has to do with the Epic Games’ ability to add small details (like these dances) to a colorful, fun-to-watch world.

But perhaps most importantly, Epic Games seems to be obsessive about keeping the game fresh, whether it’s adding new player skins, new areas of the map, or new equipment within the game. In that vein, Fortnite
BR is structured in seasons, lasting three months each, that add a new flavor to Battle Royale.

Season 3, with a space theme, ends on April 30. But beyond space-themed skins, Epic has also layered in a little storyline, with a comet set to hit the game map. As part of this, meteors have been gradually getting closer to the map, and recently hitting it. TVs throughout the game are broadcasting an emergency message. Rooftops and mountain peaks now have telescopes and lawn chairs where people supposedly set up to check out the incoming comet.

The question on every Battle Royale players mind? Will a comet strike the map? Will it hit Tilted Towers, the figurative ‘downtown’ of the map and the most popular landing spot by far? The mystery surrounding this comet, which has had no effect on the actual game, has made Fortnite Battle Royale all the more top of mind to players and spectators alike.

In just a few days, we’ll get our answers as Season 4 begins.

Epic Games has teased Season 4 via Twitter with a graphic that seems to hint at a Superhero-themed season. Within a streak of fire (the comet?) is the image of a person in an Iron Man-esque mask. Or perhaps he looks more like the Flash. Today, Epic tweeted out another image that might hint at a new skin, with a female character who look strikingly similar to Wonder Woman.

Again, Epic Games is staying as relevant as possible. The Marvel universe is thriving, and Avengers: Infinity War comes out today.

Forbes contributor Paul Tassi posits that the comet and the Super Hero theme are interconnected. Perhaps the comet is the superhero, landing to usher in Season 4. Maybe the superhero is arriving to save the world from the comet. Or maybe the comet strikes, aliens land with it, and Season 4 centers around a battle between aliens and superheroes.

Honestly, anything could happen. But the fact that people, myself included, care enough to spend time creating and wading through various theories indicates that Fortnite’s Battle Royale is not slowing down anytime soon.

Facebook’s mission changed, but its motives didn’t

In January, Facebook announced that it would be changing its feed algorithm to promote users’ well-being over time spent browsing content. That’s a relatively new approach for a company whose ethos once centered around “move fast, break things.”

It wasn’t all that long ago (approximately a year and a half before the algorithm change) that Facebook VP Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, published an internal memo called “The Ugly,” which was circulated throughout the company. In it, Boz made it clear to employees that connecting people (i.e. growth) is the main focus at Facebook, at all costs.

Buzzfeed first published the memo, which said:

Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.

And still we connect people.

The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.

He goes on:

That isn’t something we are doing for ourselves. Or for our stock price (ha!). It is literally just what we do. We connect people. Period.

That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in. The work we will likely have to do in China some day. All of it.

Facebook launched in 2004 and ushered in a honeymoon period for users. We reveled in uploading photos from our digital cameras and sharing them with friends. We cared about each and every notification. We shared our status. We played Farmville. We diligently curated our Likes.

But the honeymoon is over. Facebook grew to 1 billion active users in 2012. The social network now has over 2 billion active users. A growing number of people get their news from social media. The size and scope of Facebook is simply overwhelming.

And we’ve been well aware, as users and outsiders looking in on the network, that just like any other tool, Facebook can be used for evil.

But there was still some question whether or not Facebook leadership understood that principle, and if they did, whether or not they actually cared.

For a long time, perhaps too long, Facebook adhered to the “Move fast, break things” mentality. And things have certainly been broken, from fake news circulated during the 2016 Presidential election to the improper use of user data by third-party developers and Cambridge Analytica . And that’s likely the tip of the iceberg.

The memo was written long before the shit hit the fan for Facebook. It was published following the broadcast of Antonio Perkins’ murder on Facebook. This was back when Facebook was still insisting that it isn’t a media company, that it is simply a set of pipes through which people can ship off their content.

What is so shocking about the memo is that it confirms some of our deepest fears. A social network, with a population greater than any single country, is solely focused on growth over the well-being of the society it’s built. That the ends, to be a product everyone uses, might justify the means.

Facebook has tried to move away from this persona, however gently. In late 2016, Zuckerberg finally budged on the idea that Facebook is a media company, clarifying that it’s not a traditional media company. Last year, the company launched the Journalism Project in response to the scary growth of fake news on the platform. Zuckerberg even posted full-page print ads seeking patience and forgiveness in the wake of this most recent Cambridge Analytica scandal.

While that all seems like more of a public relations response than actionable change, it’s better than the stoic, inflexible silence of before.

After Buzzfeed published the memo, Boz and Zuckerberg both responded.

Boz said it was all about spurring internal debate to help shape future tools.

Zuck had this to say:

Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We’ve never believed the ends justify the means.

We recognize that connecting people isn’t enough by itself. We also need to work to bring people closer together. We changed our whole mission and company focus to reflect this last year.

If Boz wrote this memo to spark debate, it’s hard to discern whether that debate led to real change.

The memo has since been deleted, but you can read the full text below:

The Ugly

We talk about the good and the bad of our work often. I want to talk about the ugly.

We connect people.

That can be good if they make it positive. Maybe someone finds love. Maybe it even saves the life of someone on the brink of suicide.

So we connect more people

That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.

And still we connect people.

The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.

That isn’t something we are doing for ourselves. Or for our stock price (ha!). It is literally just what we do. We connect people. Period.

That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in. The work we will likely have to do in China some day. All of it.

The natural state of the world is not connected. It is not unified. It is fragmented by borders, languages, and increasingly by different products. The best products don’t win. The ones everyone use win.

I know a lot of people don’t want to hear this. Most of us have the luxury of working in the warm glow of building products consumers love. But make no mistake, growth tactics are how we got here. If you joined the company because it is doing great work, that’s why we get to do that great work. We do have great products but we still wouldn’t be half our size without pushing the envelope on growth. Nothing makes Facebook as valuable as having your friends on it, and no product decisions have gotten as many friends on as the ones made in growth. Not photo tagging. Not news feed. Not messenger. Nothing.

In almost all of our work, we have to answer hard questions about what we believe. We have to justify the metrics and make sure they aren’t losing out on a bigger picture. But connecting people. That’s our imperative. Because that’s what we do. We connect people.

Snap goes through second round of layoffs this month

Snap Inc is laying off around 100 employees within the advertising and sales department, according to CNBC. This is the second reported round of layoffs this month, with the company laying off around 100 people from the engineering department in early March.

Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan told CNBC the following:

Over the past two years our company has grown a tremendous amount. Late last year we asked senior leaders across Snap to look closely at their teams to ensure they had the right resources and organizations to support their missions. As a result, new structures have been put in place for Content, Engineering, Sales and many other parts of Snap. These changes reflect our view that tighter integration and closer collaboration between our teams is a critical component of sustainably growing our business. While this process has required us to make some really tough decisions, we believe that rigorously ensuring our team structure always aligns with our goals will make us stronger.

This comes at an interesting time for Snap. While the company could potentially benefit from the #deletefacebook movement (not that it’s a shining beacon of consumer privacy), it is also facing its own backlash over an unwanted design update to the popular camera/communications app.

As my colleague Matthew Lynley noted earlier this month, Snap wants to be a camera company. This is a bit of a leap from the company’s strategy as of 2015, with the launch of Discover, which was more of a media play.

Since Spectacles, with its spike of popularity and quick drop off to forgotten consumer gadget, Snap seems much more focused on how we use the camera to communicate with one another. Now that the company is public, and has a duty to shareholders, that vision may require some retooling in the corporate structure.

We reached out to Snap for comment and will update when we hear back.

Tesla’s new navigation system will roll out this weekend

Owning a Tesla comes with plenty of perks, but there is still one major pain point for most Tesla owners: navigation.

Even though these cars feel like they’re from the future, the navigation systems on board look like any old navigation system you might have seen in a car or on a smartphone, with some of the information in desperate need of an update.

But after promising a navigation update last year, Elon Musk seems to be prepping for its release. Early this morning the Tesla CEO tweeted:

Back in December, Musk said that the new system will be “light-years ahead of current system.”

Musk’s comments on the new nav system suggest that this will go beyond map updates and will instead rethink navigation from top to bottom within Tesla vehicles.

Tesla Maps, as the nav system is called, will roll out this upcoming weekend.

Zuck apologizes for Cambridge Analytica scandal with full-page print ad

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has taken out a full page ad in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and six UK papers today to apologize Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter.

The ad starts in bold letters, saying:

“We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.”

The ad was published on Sunday, following Zuck’s first public acknowledgement of the issue on Facebook and a subsequent media tour earlier this week.

Congress has also put Mark Zuckerberg on notice to potentially come speak with them, with Senator Kennedy of Louisiana encouraging Zuck to “do the common sense thing and roll up his sleeves and take a meaningful amount of time talking to [them].”

For those of you still unsure what’s going on with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, you can see a full play-by-play here.

Here’s the full transcript from the print ad:

We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.

You may have heard about a quiz app built by a university researcher that leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014. This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time. We’re now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

We’ve already stopped apps like this from getting so much information. Now we’re limiting the data apps get when you sign in using Facebook.

We’re also investigating every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this. We expect there are others. And when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.

Finally, we’ll remind you of which apps you’ve given access to your information — so you can shut off the ones you don’t want anymore.

Thank you for believing in this community. I promise to do better for you.

Mark Zuckerberg

Internet Association wants in on the lawsuit challenging Net Neutrality repeal

The Internet Association has filed to intervene in the on-going lawsuit against the FCC challenging the repeal of net neutrality protections.

The Internet Association is a trade association that represents some of the world’s biggest internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox, and Netflix. The IA’s motion focuses primarily on why the IA, and the companies it represents, should be able to participate in the lawsuit.

But let’s take a step back.

In December, the FCC voted 3-2 in favor of gutting Obama Administration-era protections against data throttling and blocking by ISPs. In other words, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon employee, and others at the FCC, believed that ISPs should be allowed to charge extra for a fast lane, which would stifle competition.

The order became official in February of this year, opening the door for the fight against the repeal to begin.

Between the vote and the official order, a lawsuit was filed by 22 state attorney generals, seeking to block the net neutrality repeal.

In March, the 9th Circuit consolidated these various challenges (15, in total) to the FCC’s repeal. The IA said earlier this year that it wouldn’t file a lawsuit as a plaintiff, but did plan to participate in the lawsuit.

According to the filing, the IA is focusing on three major areas: the removal of rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization distort competition and places the burden on consumers, the removal of well-established, bright line net neutrality rules harms internet companies’ ability to reach customers across the country, and the new rules harm future growth in the internet ecosystem as a whole.

Here’s what Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman had to say in a prepared statement:

The internet industry will continue to fight for net neutrality protections that help consumers, foster innovation, and promote competition for the entire online ecosystem. The entire sector is committed to preserving an open internet and will continue to defend these protections in every venue available. This is also an issue that unites Republicans and Democrats in all 50 states.

On the other side of the coin, some industry groups that support the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality have also filed to intervene.

Apple’s autonomous vehicle fleet has nearly doubled in the last two months

Apple seems to be ramping up its autonomous vehicle efforts, nearing doubling the number of vehicles in its fleet since January.

The company now has 45 autonomous vehicles in California registered with the DMV, according to the Financial Times. This makes Apple’s AV fleet the second largest in the state of California, outsized only by General Motors.

In April 2017, Apple received its first permit to test three autonomous vehicles. By January of this year, the company was testing 27 autonomous vehicles, and in just two months the company has nearly doubled its efforts, with plans to start testing vehicles in Arizona.

That said, regulatory hurdles may be rising. On Sunday night, one of Uber’s autonomous test vehicles was involved in an accident, fatally colliding with a pedestrian in Tempe Arizona.

This is the first time an AV accident has resulted in a human death, and Uber has suspended testing of its fleet in all the cities where it operates.

In the wake of this incident, regulators may take a more measured approach to deployment.