Investors grill Altria CEO over $12.8 billion bet on e-cigarette giant Juul

Altria shareholders grilled CEO Howard Willard on his $12.8 billion bet on e-cigarette giant Juul at the company’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday. Analysts and investors worried Altria paid too much for its 35% stake in the company and very little say over its operations, especially with the e-cigarette giant facing regulatory scrutiny. Willard on Thursday defended the terms of the deal, saying the e-cigarette market wasn’t growing much before Juul entered it. Altria’s own MarkTen products


Altria shareholders grilled CEO Howard Willard on his $12.8 billion bet on e-cigarette giant Juul at the company’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday. Analysts and investors worried Altria paid too much for its 35% stake in the company and very little say over its operations, especially with the e-cigarette giant facing regulatory scrutiny. Willard on Thursday defended the terms of the deal, saying the e-cigarette market wasn’t growing much before Juul entered it. Altria’s own MarkTen products
Investors grill Altria CEO over $12.8 billion bet on e-cigarette giant Juul Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-16  Authors: angelica lavito
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, juul, bet, altria, practices, billion, stop, investors, ecigarette, say, regulatory, young, vaping, 128, shareholder, giant, ceo, grill


Investors grill Altria CEO over $12.8 billion bet on e-cigarette giant Juul

A pedestrian walks by an advertisement for JUUL on the door of a smoke shop in New York.

Altria shareholders grilled CEO Howard Willard on his $12.8 billion bet on e-cigarette giant Juul at the company’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday.

Analysts and investors worried Altria paid too much for its 35% stake in the company and very little say over its operations, especially with the e-cigarette giant facing regulatory scrutiny.

Willard on Thursday defended the terms of the deal, saying the e-cigarette market wasn’t growing much before Juul entered it. Altria’s own MarkTen products hardly gained traction, prompting Altria to stop selling them in the fall before signing the deal with Juul.

“I’m very pleased for the opportunity to make the investment and believe it will pay dividends down the road,” he told analysts.

For more on investing in health-care innovation, click here to join CNBC at our Healthy Returns Summit in New York City on May 21.

Juul finds itself facing public and regulatory scrutiny from critics who say the company fueled a teen vaping “epidemic.” A number of lawsuits accuse Juul of intentionally hooking teens on nicotine, the Food and Drug Administration is investigating the company’s marketing practices and on Wednesday, the North Carolina attorney general sued Juul.

“JUUL targeted young people as customers. As a result, vaping has become an epidemic among minors,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement. “JUUL’s business practices are not only reckless, they’re illegal. And I intend to put a stop to them. We cannot allow another generation of young people to become addicted to nicotine.”

Willard in response to a shareholder question on how Altria would make itself less vulnerable to Juul’s legal risks said Altria was aware of early litigation when he made the investment in Juul. He said Altria is committed to reducing youth e-cigarette use, including with its support of raising the minimum tobacco buying age to 21.

A judge on Wednesday ruled the Food and Drug Administration needs to start reviewing applications for e-cigarettes. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in 2017 pushed the deadline to 2022, though the FDA earlier this year said it would move that up to 2021.

Willard said Altria will study the decision and he expects the legal process to continue through the next few months or possibly even years with appeals.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-16  Authors: angelica lavito
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, juul, bet, altria, practices, billion, stop, investors, ecigarette, say, regulatory, young, vaping, 128, shareholder, giant, ceo, grill


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We asked the Democrats running for president how they would negotiate with China on trade. Here’s what they said

China has not been forthright in even admitting that intellectual property theft and technology transfer occurs. On the intellectual property theft, we know that much of the IP theft is state-backed. We should address cybersecurity and intellectual property theft issues directly with China and use the WTO to negotiate trade disputes and establish clear enforcement mechanisms. As we press China on trade and intellectual property theft, we need to demonstrate our resolve in ways that actually help


China has not been forthright in even admitting that intellectual property theft and technology transfer occurs. On the intellectual property theft, we know that much of the IP theft is state-backed. We should address cybersecurity and intellectual property theft issues directly with China and use the WTO to negotiate trade disputes and establish clear enforcement mechanisms. As we press China on trade and intellectual property theft, we need to demonstrate our resolve in ways that actually help
We asked the Democrats running for president how they would negotiate with China on trade. Here’s what they said Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-14  Authors: tucker higgins
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, practices, property, running, negotiate, democrats, wto, trade, american, president, asked, theft, rights, heres, intellectual, china, chinas


We asked the Democrats running for president how they would negotiate with China on trade. Here's what they said

China’s President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. Nicolas Asfouri | AFP | Getty Images

With trade negotiations between the U.S. and China stalled and an escalating trade war threatening global markets, President Donald Trump has said that the Chinese are “DREAMING” that he will be defeated by a Democrat in 2020. But Democrats have not said much about their own plans for negotiating with the Chinese. To learn more, CNBC asked the 21 top Democrats running for president about their views. We asked them what they believe is working under Trump — and what they would change. We also asked whether human rights issues in China, where the U.S. has said more than a million Muslims are held in concentration camps, should be part of any trade deal. Lastly, we asked about what they would do about China’s efforts to tighten its military grip on the South China Sea, where more than $3 trillion of trade passes annually. Below, unedited, are our questions and the answers we received from the seven Democrats who responded. Those Democrats are Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam and spiritual coach Marianne Williamson. Two other Democrats provided partial responses. A spokesperson for Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., provided an excerpt from the senator’s platform that is included as a response to the first question. An aide to Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke wrote in a statement: “Holding China accountable should not come at the expense of American workers. That is why we must not settle for any deal that does not respect intellectual property, level the playing field in the Chinese market, nor end unfair trade practices. We must advance progress based on shared interests and core democratic values.” Joe Biden, the Democratic front runner, did not respond to CNBC’s survey as of publication time but has dismissed China’s economic competitiveness while on the campaign trail, earning some criticism from his fellow contenders. “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” Biden told a crowd in Iowa earlier this month. He described himself as a “fair trader” and said he has been “arguing for a long time that we should treat other countries the way in which they treat us, which is, particularly as it relates to China: If they want to trade here, they’re going to be under the same rules.” CNBC provided the questions to each campaign on May 6. What do you think is the best approach to addressing China’s practices with regard to intellectual property theft, technology transfer, industrial subsidies and other matters in which the two countries are at odds. Is it through multinational organizations like the World Trade Organization and the United Nations? Will you take any action unilaterally? If so, what action? Sanders: It is in the interests of the United States to work to strengthen institutions like the WTO and the UN rather than trying to go it alone. American concerns about China’s technology practices are shared in Europe and across the Asia-Pacific. We can place far more pressure on China to change its policies if we work together with the broader international community and the other developed economies. International institutions also offer China a template for reforming its own internal intellectual property and industrial practices. Swalwell: I’m a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, so I’ve seen first-hand the economic espionage that China commits and the adverse impact it has on American businesses. China has not been forthright in even admitting that intellectual property theft and technology transfer occurs. Nor is China transparent on its industrial subsidies. Curbing China’s dishonest practices must be a part of any negotiation; as president, I would hold China accountable. On the intellectual property theft, we know that much of the IP theft is state-backed. In order to combat this we must take a multi-pronged approach — both defensive and offensive. We must have a strong enforcement mechanism with which to hold China accountable for their actions and continue to impose penalties when theft occurs. China has made promises to institute reforms of their policies governing IP rights, technology transfers and cyber-theft of trade secrets in the past but we know these are not being imposed. Read more: Eric Swalwell of California joins 2020 presidential race The legal and diplomatic approaches have not been completely effective, it is critical that we implement other actions such as developing early warning systems, particularly when it comes to the stealing of defense technology. This can be done through private-public partnerships. We must also be ready to take counter action when a theft is detected. It is vital that we continue to have a multinational approach to addressing these issues. We can’t go it alone; we must involve allies — and other victims of China’s practices — such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

While the U.S. does not have to go through the World Trade Organization and can invoke Section 301 if they are to impose tariffs against China (even though it still has to file a simultaneous complaint with the WTO), the WTO can still be a useful partner. In fact, the WTO has an obligation to enforce the rules they have set up, otherwise it is left to the United States to impose punishment. We should hold the WTO to its obligation. It is also important that U.S. companies acknowledge when theft is occurring by China. In the past, companies have not wanted to impinge on their business with China so they’ve turned a blind eye. I would ensure that reporting this theft it is a win-win for American companies through fair trade practices. Lastly, government departments must coordinate with each other and with U.S. companies. The departments of Commerce and the Treasury, the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. State Department must all be aligned to tackle the problem of IP property theft in coordination with the private sector. I would continue to make sure the Justice Department brings criminal cases against the companies that violate trade agreements and steal our trade secrets and intellectual property. I would boost our Trade Representative’s investigation of China’s activities by adding more staff and funding. Ryan: When it comes to China stealing intellectual property from the United States, there is no doubt that multinational organizations need to play a part in holding them accountable. These actions are a serious national security and economic risk for the United States. At the same time, I think our government must take further action when it comes to creating safeguards against China’s actions. That is why I have cosponsored legislation the Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act, which would hold China accountable and create necessary regulations when it comes to trade with China, including prohibiting the sale of national security sensitive technology and intellectual property to China. Read more: Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan — who once tried to take down Nancy Pelosi — is running for president Delaney: China has acted like pirates, stealing intellectual property, building illegal islands, and not playing by the rules. I will build a broad coalition of U.S. allies and have a unified front against China (this will involve working with multinational organizations but also doing a lot more), I will unify our business community against these practices by preventing them from depositing intellectual property funded by taxpayers into joint ventures with China, and I will re-enter the TPP to compete with China. We can hold China accountable and have a productive relationship with them. Read more: What being a successful businessman taught Rep. John Delaney about politics Moulton: These options aren’t mutually exclusive. We should address cybersecurity and intellectual property theft issues directly with China and use the WTO to negotiate trade disputes and establish clear enforcement mechanisms. Protecting our international property is a national security issue, and we need to build a cyberwall to protect against Chinese and Russian attacks. We should start by strengthening the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center created under President Obama and improve the information-sharing between the private sector and government on cyber threats. As we press China on trade and intellectual property theft, we need to demonstrate our resolve in ways that actually help American workers. Donald Trump has shown he knows nothing about trade. An initial analysis of the net effect of the tariffs is that they are costing the United States economy $1.4 billion a month, and the cost of the tariffs is being passed on to U.S. farmers, companies, and consumers. Read more: Seth Moulton is the latest Democrat running for president. Here are his biggest policy priorities, from green jobs to a public option The United States led the 15 years of negotiations that enabled China to join the WTO and we should reap the benefits of that successful diplomatic effort. Our negotiators secured unprecedented changes to China’s economic and trade policies as conditions for membership, including requiring a dramatic opening of China’s telecom, banking, and insurance sectors, along with the lowering of tariffs on key agricultural products to almost zero. The point is: WTO leverage works. China’s membership in the WTO has been a huge boon to the United States, with U.S. exports to China increasing by 500 percent and agricultural exports increasing by 1000 percent since China joined the organization. Going forward, the WTO should absolutely be involved in establishing trust in trade negotiations and in providing the mechanisms for the enforcement of trade agreements. Bennet: Instead of slapping tariffs on our allies and perpetrating a trade war, Michael believes we need to do the hard work of building coalitions to counter Chinese predatory economic practices, like intellectual property theft and economic espionage, that harm American workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers. In order to compete with and counter an increasingly authoritarian China, Michael believes we must reinvest in our alliances, champion democratic values like the rule of law and human rights, and sharpen our efforts to combat technology threats that undermine U.S. economic and national security.

Messam: The strained trade relations between the U.S. and China is a complex issue that should be confronted with a measured and sober disposition. The combined approach of multinational organizations and unilateral action should be leveraged to protect intellectual property, technology assets, and trade secrets. Before engaging trade wars that could have detrimental impacts to American businesses and our economy, we must seek to solve our trade differences diplomatically. Where multinational organization negotiations don’t work, I would seek specific and direct trade remedies not limited to: • tariffs • blockade on imports of stolen intellectual property Read more: Little-known Florida mayor becomes the latest Democrat vying to take on Trump in 2020 Williamson: The United States Intellectual Property is some of the most valued in the world. According to the USTR, by stealing our intellectual property, China costs American businesses between $225 billion and $600 billion annually. We must use all tools at our disposal to ensure China respects intellectual property law. This will include working with and leveraging the power of the international community to make certain that China engages in fair trade. The U.S. government must also enlist the help and cooperation from American businesses to help solve this problem. Increased internal controls, more robust screening and standardized best practices will make it more difficult for Chinese agents to operate. Many opportunities are a matter of simple theft. More diligence will help curb crimes of opportunity. Lastly, a firm no nonsense stance against China on every front will be necessary to send a clear message that these practices won’t be tolerated. Should a trade deal with China address human rights issues? If not, will your administration address human rights in China and, if so, how? Sanders: Yes. Labor protections are very weak in China, and the rights of workers are an essential component of human rights. The Trump administration has proven itself indifferent to labor rights, and apparently would prefer that American workers are reduced to the position of Chinese workers, rather than that labor everywhere enjoy basic protections and strong standard of living. The Trump administration has also done nothing to pressure China over its abhorrent treatment of the Uighur and Tibetan peoples. Future trade negotiations should, for example, target American corporations that contribute surveillance technologies that enable China’s authoritarian practices. Swalwell: Yes, a trade deal must have a component to address human rights activity. We must be a model for the world and call out countries such as China that violate human rights. Ryan: Yes. As the United States negotiates any future trade deal with China, we must address the human rights violations. The actions we have seen from the Chinese government when it comes to the inhumane treatment of the ethnic minorities is inexcusable. And no future trade agreement can ignore these violations. Delaney: Human rights are a priority to the Delaney Administration.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-14  Authors: tucker higgins
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, practices, property, running, negotiate, democrats, wto, trade, american, president, asked, theft, rights, heres, intellectual, china, chinas


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Consumer watchdog agency sues two large credit-repair firms, alleging unlawful fees and deceptive practices

The nation’s consumer watchdog agency is suing the owners of two large credit-repair companies, accusing them of taking unlawful fees from consumers and engaging in deceptive and abusive sales tactics. The lawsuit also alleges that deceptive methods were used to get customers to sign up for credit-repair services at both firms. Signage is displayed inside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, March 4, 2019. The suit says the unnamed fi


The nation’s consumer watchdog agency is suing the owners of two large credit-repair companies, accusing them of taking unlawful fees from consumers and engaging in deceptive and abusive sales tactics. The lawsuit also alleges that deceptive methods were used to get customers to sign up for credit-repair services at both firms. Signage is displayed inside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, March 4, 2019. The suit says the unnamed fi
Consumer watchdog agency sues two large credit-repair firms, alleging unlawful fees and deceptive practices Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-03  Authors: sarah obrien, douglas holtz-eakin, president of the american action forum, alicia h munnell, director of the center for retirement research at
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, creditrepair, sues, services, firms, large, lexington, bureau, watchdog, unlawful, fees, law, practices, complaint, consumer, deceptive, consumers


Consumer watchdog agency sues two large credit-repair firms, alleging unlawful fees and deceptive practices

The nation’s consumer watchdog agency is suing the owners of two large credit-repair companies, accusing them of taking unlawful fees from consumers and engaging in deceptive and abusive sales tactics. In a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Utah, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accused CreditRepair.com and Lexington Law, their owners and various affiliated entities, of violating telemarking laws by collecting fees from consumers before they were legally permitted to do so. The lawsuit also alleges that deceptive methods were used to get customers to sign up for credit-repair services at both firms. In its complaint, the bureau said it is seeking to stop the upfront fees, end deceptive representations used through marketing the services and obtain relief for harmed consumers.

Signage is displayed inside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, March 4, 2019. Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Under federal law, companies can charge fees for credit-repair services only once the promised results have been achieved and proven with a credit report six months later. The lawsuit says that at the time of enrollment with Lexington Law or CreditRepair.com, consumers are charged a fee for a copy of their credit report and told that the fee — which has ranged from $9.99 to $14.99 since July 2011 — is required to begin the credit-repair process. Ongoing monthly fees range from $79.95 to $129.95. The complaint also says that Lexington Law and CreditRepair.com relied on a shared network of marketing affiliates that used deceptive tactics to get consumers to enroll.

For example, the CFPB said, from at least 2012 through 2017, a partner identified as “HSP1” offered consumers low-interest mortgages, access to rent-to-own housing or other products and services, none of which it actually could do. The suit says the unnamed firm was simply an affiliated call center with the purpose of transferring potential clients to Lexington Law. More than 100,000 consumers signed up for Lexington Law’s credit-repair services through that unnamed firm’s efforts, the complaint says. The lawsuit claims the defendants either knew about the misrepresentations or had “reckless indifference” to them or an awareness of the high probability of their existence. More from Personal Finance:

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Tread carefully when lending money to family and friends “Despite this knowledge, the … defendants continued to sign up consumers through the affiliate or participated in the affiliate’s deceptive conduct,” the complaint states. The two firms plan to fight the accusations. “We find ourselves a bit perplexed,” said Eric Kamerath, a spokesman for the companies. “In a system that already is weighted heavily against the consumer in favor of opportunistic and opaque processes, why would the [bureau] choose to prevent consumers from getting professional help?”

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Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-03  Authors: sarah obrien, douglas holtz-eakin, president of the american action forum, alicia h munnell, director of the center for retirement research at
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, creditrepair, sues, services, firms, large, lexington, bureau, watchdog, unlawful, fees, law, practices, complaint, consumer, deceptive, consumers


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Insiders describe aggressive growth tactics at uBiome, the health start-up raided by the FBI last week

uBiome co-founder and co-CEO Jessica Richman, who was placed on administrative leave in May 2019 pending an board investigation into the start-ups billing practices. Marc Harris, a South Carolina resident, started getting bombarded with ads from a health start-up called uBiome last year. This was a common practice at uBiome, a health-care start-up raided by the FBI last week, according to company insiders. uBiome says its tests bring unprecedented health information to consumers and help them “t


uBiome co-founder and co-CEO Jessica Richman, who was placed on administrative leave in May 2019 pending an board investigation into the start-ups billing practices. Marc Harris, a South Carolina resident, started getting bombarded with ads from a health start-up called uBiome last year. This was a common practice at uBiome, a health-care start-up raided by the FBI last week, according to company insiders. uBiome says its tests bring unprecedented health information to consumers and help them “t
Insiders describe aggressive growth tactics at uBiome, the health start-up raided by the FBI last week Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-02  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, insiders, growth, practices, company, patients, raided, health, aggressive, test, billing, fbi, tests, ubiome, week, harris, tactics, medical, startup


Insiders describe aggressive growth tactics at uBiome, the health start-up raided by the FBI last week

uBiome co-founder and co-CEO Jessica Richman, who was placed on administrative leave in May 2019 pending an board investigation into the start-ups billing practices.

Marc Harris, a South Carolina resident, started getting bombarded with ads from a health start-up called uBiome last year. Harris, who’s in his mid-50s, has a rare gastrointestinal disorder, so he often searches for new information related to his disease. He figured the company targeted him based on his search history or other info he was looking for.

Harris ordered the SmartGut test from uBiome, which promised to provide new insights into the bacterial makeup of his gut so that he could make improvements to his health. Harris thought he’d receive one test. Instead uBiome sent six kits in the mail, with an email noting the company would track his “microbiome changes over time.”

After that, he said, uBiome sent him more than three emails every week pushing him to send back the samples. He ended up returning two, and received an Amazon gift card in return. He didn’t finish the full six. His doctor didn’t see the value in the test, and he didn’t learn anything new.

So Harris was surprised to see the test billed to his insurance five times, with the cost amounting to $2,970 per test. He shared with CNBC a copy of his insurance claims history, as well as multiple email communications from uBiome.

This was a common practice at uBiome, a health-care start-up raided by the FBI last week, according to company insiders. uBiome was routinely billing patients such as Harris multiple times without their consent, prompting insurance plans to start rejecting these claims. The company also pressured its doctors to approve tests with minimal oversight, according to insiders and internal documents seen by CNBC. The practices were in service of an aggressive growth plan that focused on increasing the number of billable tests served.

Venture-funded direct-to-consumer health companies such as uBiome have come under fire for failing to provide sufficient support to patients before prescribing medical testing. Many health experts are concerned about so-called “doc in a box” practices, where companies approve medical tests without communicating with patients outside of a checklist-style survey. Critics say this practice means patients are less likely to get diagnosed with underlying conditions, and say that some of these companies are cutting corners with regulations that are designed to protect their users. Prescribing tests without sufficient medical oversight can also lead to unnecessary tests that burden an already overtaxed health system.

Proponents argue that most patients don’t spend more than a few minutes with a doctor even in person, and many lack access to a medical clinic, so these services can help underserved patients. uBiome says its tests bring unprecedented health information to consumers and help them “take greater control over their health.”

uBiome’s billing practices came to a head last week when the FBI searched the company’s San Francisco offices and seized employees’ computers. An FBI spokesperson confirmed that the raid at the company’s 360 Langton St. offices was part of “court-authorized law enforcement activity.”

On Wednesday, uBiome said that its co-CEOs and founders Jessica Richman and Zac Apte are on “administrative leave” and that the board would launch an independent investigation into uBiome’s billing practices. John Rakow, the company’s general counsel, has taken on the role of interim CEO.

uBiome declined to comment, beyond pointing to the press release announcing the investigation and Rakow’s appointment. Rakow did not respond to requests for comment.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-02  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, insiders, growth, practices, company, patients, raided, health, aggressive, test, billing, fbi, tests, ubiome, week, harris, tactics, medical, startup


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Insiders describe aggressive growth tactics at uBiome, the health start-up raided by the FBI last week

uBiome co-founder and co-CEO Jessica Richman, who was placed on administrative leave in May 2019 pending an board investigation into the start-ups billing practices. Marc Harris, a South Carolina resident, started getting bombarded with ads from a health start-up called uBiome last year. This was a common practice at uBiome, a health-care start-up raided by the FBI last week, according to company insiders. uBiome says its tests bring unprecedented health information to consumers and help them “t


uBiome co-founder and co-CEO Jessica Richman, who was placed on administrative leave in May 2019 pending an board investigation into the start-ups billing practices. Marc Harris, a South Carolina resident, started getting bombarded with ads from a health start-up called uBiome last year. This was a common practice at uBiome, a health-care start-up raided by the FBI last week, according to company insiders. uBiome says its tests bring unprecedented health information to consumers and help them “t
Insiders describe aggressive growth tactics at uBiome, the health start-up raided by the FBI last week Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-02  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, billing, insiders, startup, growth, harris, week, ubiome, raided, medical, tests, patients, practices, aggressive, health, company, tactics, test, fbi


Insiders describe aggressive growth tactics at uBiome, the health start-up raided by the FBI last week

uBiome co-founder and co-CEO Jessica Richman, who was placed on administrative leave in May 2019 pending an board investigation into the start-ups billing practices.

Marc Harris, a South Carolina resident, started getting bombarded with ads from a health start-up called uBiome last year. Harris, who’s in his mid-50s, has a rare gastrointestinal disorder, so he often searches for new information related to his disease. He figured the company targeted him based on his search history or other info he was looking for.

Harris ordered the SmartGut test from uBiome, which promised to provide new insights into the bacterial makeup of his gut so that he could make improvements to his health. Harris thought he’d receive one test. Instead uBiome sent six kits in the mail, with an email noting the company would track his “microbiome changes over time.”

After that, he said, uBiome sent him more than three emails every week pushing him to send back the samples. He ended up returning two, and received an Amazon gift card in return. He didn’t finish the full six. His doctor didn’t see the value in the test, and he didn’t learn anything new.

So Harris was surprised to see the test billed to his insurance five times, with the cost amounting to $2,970 per test. He shared with CNBC a copy of his insurance claims history, as well as multiple email communications from uBiome.

This was a common practice at uBiome, a health-care start-up raided by the FBI last week, according to company insiders. uBiome was routinely billing patients such as Harris multiple times without their consent, prompting insurance plans to start rejecting these claims. The company also pressured its doctors to approve tests with minimal oversight, according to insiders and internal documents seen by CNBC. The practices were in service of an aggressive growth plan that focused on increasing the number of billable tests served.

Venture-funded direct-to-consumer health companies such as uBiome have come under fire for failing to provide sufficient support to patients before prescribing medical testing. Many health experts are concerned about so-called “doc in a box” practices, where companies approve medical tests without communicating with patients outside of a checklist-style survey. Critics say this practice means patients are less likely to get diagnosed with underlying conditions, and say that some of these companies are cutting corners with regulations that are designed to protect their users. Prescribing tests without sufficient medical oversight can also lead to unnecessary tests that burden an already overtaxed health system.

Proponents argue that most patients don’t spend more than a few minutes with a doctor even in person, and many lack access to a medical clinic, so these services can help underserved patients. uBiome says its tests bring unprecedented health information to consumers and help them “take greater control over their health.”

uBiome’s billing practices came to a head last week when the FBI searched the company’s San Francisco offices and seized employees’ computers. An FBI spokesperson confirmed that the raid at the company’s 360 Langton St. offices was part of “court-authorized law enforcement activity.”

On Wednesday, uBiome said that its co-CEOs and founders Jessica Richman and Zac Apte are on “administrative leave” and that the board would launch an independent investigation into uBiome’s billing practices. John Rakow, the company’s general counsel, has taken on the role of interim CEO.

uBiome declined to comment, beyond pointing to the press release announcing the investigation and Rakow’s appointment. Rakow did not respond to requests for comment.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-02  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, billing, insiders, startup, growth, harris, week, ubiome, raided, medical, tests, patients, practices, aggressive, health, company, tactics, test, fbi


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Apple defends itself against claims of anti-competitive practices

Apple said Sunday that it removed several parental control apps from its App Store platform because they put user privacy and security at risk. The statement was made in response to a New York Times story that suggested Apple had pulled the apps for anti-competitive reasons. Using MDM to track and limit phone use isn’t the intended purpose of MDM, Apple says. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said earlier this year that the fact that some apps Apple develops competes with developers on the


Apple said Sunday that it removed several parental control apps from its App Store platform because they put user privacy and security at risk. The statement was made in response to a New York Times story that suggested Apple had pulled the apps for anti-competitive reasons. Using MDM to track and limit phone use isn’t the intended purpose of MDM, Apple says. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said earlier this year that the fact that some apps Apple develops competes with developers on the
Apple defends itself against claims of anti-competitive practices Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-04-29  Authors: kif leswing
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, app, apple, apps, defends, mdm, intended, practices, removed, store, times, claims, anticompetitive, control


Apple defends itself against claims of anti-competitive practices

Apple chief design officer Jony Ive (L) and Apple CEO Tim Cook inspect the new iPhone XR during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on September 12, 2018 in Cupertino, California.

Apple said Sunday that it removed several parental control apps from its App Store platform because they put user privacy and security at risk.

The removed apps, according to Apple, were abusing a kind of technology intended for company-owned work phones called Mobile Device Management (MDM), which can give an app developer access to information including user location, browsing history, and what photos and videos have been taken with the camera.

The statement was made in response to a New York Times story that suggested Apple had pulled the apps for anti-competitive reasons.

The response, published on Apple’s website, is another example of how the company is walking a tightrope given its control of the App Store and its safety and security priorities along with new accusations from politicians and rivals that Apple uses its power over the software distribution platform to favor its own apps.

Apple said in its statement that it “is incredibly risky—and a clear violation of App Store policies—for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer’s device.”

Most of the apps highlighted by the Times report enabled parents to limit the amount of the time they and their children spent on their iPhones and Android devices, and two developers have filed a complaint with the European Union’s competition office.

Apple continued: “Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security.”

One of Apple’s App Store guidelines says that “Apps should use APIs and frameworks for their intended purposes and indicate that integration in their app description.” Using MDM to track and limit phone use isn’t the intended purpose of MDM, Apple says.

Apple released software in 2018 called Screen Time that enables users to track which apps they use the most and restrict access to distracting apps. It’s installed by default on iPhones. “I think it has become clear to all of us that some of us are spending too much time on our devices,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said last summer.

In the weeks after Screen Time was released, 11 of the 17 most-downloaded screen-time and parental control apps were removed and restricted, according to the Times.

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said earlier this year that the fact that some apps Apple develops competes with developers on the App Store is possibly anti-competitive. Spotify, which competes with Apple Music, has also accused Apple of anti-competitive practices.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-04-29  Authors: kif leswing
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, app, apple, apps, defends, mdm, intended, practices, removed, store, times, claims, anticompetitive, control


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Apple defends itself against claims of anti-competitive practices

Apple said Sunday that it removed several parental control apps from its App Store platform because they put user privacy and security at risk. The statement was made in response to a New York Times story that suggested Apple had pulled the apps for anti-competitive reasons. Using MDM to track and limit phone use isn’t the intended purpose of MDM, Apple says. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said earlier this year that the fact that some apps Apple develops competes with developers on the


Apple said Sunday that it removed several parental control apps from its App Store platform because they put user privacy and security at risk. The statement was made in response to a New York Times story that suggested Apple had pulled the apps for anti-competitive reasons. Using MDM to track and limit phone use isn’t the intended purpose of MDM, Apple says. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said earlier this year that the fact that some apps Apple develops competes with developers on the
Apple defends itself against claims of anti-competitive practices Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-04-29  Authors: kif leswing
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, control, apple, mdm, anticompetitive, practices, app, claims, store, times, intended, removed, apps, defends


Apple defends itself against claims of anti-competitive practices

Apple chief design officer Jony Ive (L) and Apple CEO Tim Cook inspect the new iPhone XR during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on September 12, 2018 in Cupertino, California.

Apple said Sunday that it removed several parental control apps from its App Store platform because they put user privacy and security at risk.

The removed apps, according to Apple, were abusing a kind of technology intended for company-owned work phones called Mobile Device Management (MDM), which can give an app developer access to information including user location, browsing history, and what photos and videos have been taken with the camera.

The statement was made in response to a New York Times story that suggested Apple had pulled the apps for anti-competitive reasons.

The response, published on Apple’s website, is another example of how the company is walking a tightrope given its control of the App Store and its safety and security priorities along with new accusations from politicians and rivals that Apple uses its power over the software distribution platform to favor its own apps.

Apple said in its statement that it “is incredibly risky—and a clear violation of App Store policies—for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer’s device.”

Most of the apps highlighted by the Times report enabled parents to limit the amount of the time they and their children spent on their iPhones and Android devices, and two developers have filed a complaint with the European Union’s competition office.

Apple continued: “Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security.”

One of Apple’s App Store guidelines says that “Apps should use APIs and frameworks for their intended purposes and indicate that integration in their app description.” Using MDM to track and limit phone use isn’t the intended purpose of MDM, Apple says.

Apple released software in 2018 called Screen Time that enables users to track which apps they use the most and restrict access to distracting apps. It’s installed by default on iPhones. “I think it has become clear to all of us that some of us are spending too much time on our devices,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said last summer.

In the weeks after Screen Time was released, 11 of the 17 most-downloaded screen-time and parental control apps were removed and restricted, according to the Times.

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said earlier this year that the fact that some apps Apple develops competes with developers on the App Store is possibly anti-competitive. Spotify, which competes with Apple Music, has also accused Apple of anti-competitive practices.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-04-29  Authors: kif leswing
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, control, apple, mdm, anticompetitive, practices, app, claims, store, times, intended, removed, apps, defends


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Apple and Qualcomm are about to begin their massive, multi-billion dollar patent trial

Apple and its allies on Monday will kick off a jury trial against chip supplier Qualcomm in San Diego, alleging that Qualcomm engaged in illegal patent licensing practices and seeking up to $27 billion in damages. Qualcomm, for its part, alleges that Apple forced its longtime business partners to quit paying some royalties and is seeking up to $15 billion. Qualcomm has spent the past two years mounting a pressure campaign of smaller legal skirmishes against Apple, seeking – and in some cases obt


Apple and its allies on Monday will kick off a jury trial against chip supplier Qualcomm in San Diego, alleging that Qualcomm engaged in illegal patent licensing practices and seeking up to $27 billion in damages. Qualcomm, for its part, alleges that Apple forced its longtime business partners to quit paying some royalties and is seeking up to $15 billion. Qualcomm has spent the past two years mounting a pressure campaign of smaller legal skirmishes against Apple, seeking – and in some cases obt
Apple and Qualcomm are about to begin their massive, multi-billion dollar patent trial Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-04-15  Authors: sean gallup, getty images news, getty images
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, massive, patent, seeking, chips, qualcomm, multibillion, licensing, begin, practices, business, chip, trial, apple, dollar, supplier


Apple and Qualcomm are about to begin their massive, multi-billion dollar patent trial

Apple and its allies on Monday will kick off a jury trial against chip supplier Qualcomm in San Diego, alleging that Qualcomm engaged in illegal patent licensing practices and seeking up to $27 billion in damages.

Qualcomm, for its part, alleges that Apple forced its longtime business partners to quit paying some royalties and is seeking up to $15 billion.

Filed by Apple in early 2017, the lawsuit in federal court revolves around the modem chips that connect devices like the iPhone or Apple Watch to wireless data networks. Qualcomm has spent the past two years mounting a pressure campaign of smaller legal skirmishes against Apple, seeking – and in some cases obtaining – iPhone sales bans for violating its patents.

The trial before Judge Gonzalo Curiel will play out on Qualcomm’s home turf of San Diego, where for decades the city’s National Football League team played in Qualcomm Stadium and nearly every business district hosts the mobile chip firm’s logo.

For Apple, the trial is about the freedom to determine its own technology path for blockbuster products by buying chips without having to pay what it calls a “tax” on its innovations in the form of patent licensing fees to Qualcomm that take a cut of the selling price of its devices.

For Qualcomm, the trial, along with similar allegations from U.S. regulators in a January court hearing, will determine the fate of its unique blend of selling chips and licensing more than 130,000 patents.

Licensing generates most of Qualcomm profits. The model propelled Qualcomm from a small contract research and development shop when founded in 1985 to a global chip powerhouse important enough to U.S. national security that President Donald Trump personally intervened to prevent a hostile takeover of the company last year.

“This is the day of reckoning that Qualcomm has been very fortunate to avoid for many years,” said Gaston Kroub, a patent attorney with Kroub, Silbersher & Kolmykov who is not involved in the case. “In Apple, they’ve finally come up against a potential licensee that has the resources and the will to put Qualcomm’s business model and licensing practices on trial.”

Qualcomm requires device makers to sign a license to its patents before it will supply chips, which it views as a commonsense measure to ensure it does not do business with companies violating its patents. But Apple and other device makers around the world have called the “no license, no chips” policy a form of “double dipping” – that is, charging for the same intellectual property once during licensing discussions, and then again in the price of the chips where the patents are embodied.

Apple and allies are asking for an end to that practice and a refund of about $9 billion – an amount that could be tripled if a jury finds in Apple’s favor for antitrust allegations – for contract factories such as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd’s Foxconn, who paid the royalties and were reimbursed by Apple. Apple alleges the practices kept rivals like Intel Corp out of the market for years.

“Even very big companies like Intel have felt at a disadvantage,” said Michael Salzman, an antitrust attorney with Hughes Hubbard & Reed not involved in the case.

Qualcomm will argue that it had been working successfully with contract factories for years before Apple introduced its iPhone. But Apple used its heft in the industry to get those factories to break their longstanding contracts with Qualcomm, depriving it of at least $7 billion in royalties it was due, the chip supplier alleges.

The chip supplier will also argue that its licensing practices have been consistent for decades and only came under fire when Apple, known in the electronics industry for pushing suppliers to contain costs, took issue with it. A victory would secure Qualcomm’s status as a major technology provider for 5G, the next generation of mobile data networks coming online this year.

“I don’t think (a Qualcomm victory) would be great for Apple, but if it’s about money, they’ve got plenty of money,” said Stacy Rasgon, an equity analyst for Bernstein who follows Qualcomm. “For Qualcomm, it’s an existential attack on the meat of their business model.”


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-04-15  Authors: sean gallup, getty images news, getty images
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, massive, patent, seeking, chips, qualcomm, multibillion, licensing, begin, practices, business, chip, trial, apple, dollar, supplier


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US and China are said to be outlining deal to end trade war

One source cautioned that the talks could still end in failure. The United States has accused Beijing of forcing U.S. companies doing business in China to share their technology with local partners and hand over intellectual property secrets. On currency, U.S. officials including Mnuchin have warned China against devaluing its yuan to gain a competitive advantage after the Chinese currency weakened significantly against the dollar last year, partly counteracting Trump’s tariffs. Reuters reported


One source cautioned that the talks could still end in failure. The United States has accused Beijing of forcing U.S. companies doing business in China to share their technology with local partners and hand over intellectual property secrets. On currency, U.S. officials including Mnuchin have warned China against devaluing its yuan to gain a competitive advantage after the Chinese currency weakened significantly against the dollar last year, partly counteracting Trump’s tariffs. Reuters reported
US and China are said to be outlining deal to end trade war Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-02-21  Authors: jim watson, afp, getty images
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, source, practices, reviews, deal, war, china, including, states, outlining, end, united, talks, officials, trade


US and China are said to be outlining deal to end trade war

The MOUs cover the most complex issues affecting the trading relationship between the two countries and are meant, from the U.S. perspective, to end the practices that led Trump to start levying duties on Chinese imports in the first place.

One source cautioned that the talks could still end in failure. But the work on the MOUs was a significant step in getting China to sign up both to broad principles and to specific commitments on key issues, he said.

The United States has accused Beijing of forcing U.S. companies doing business in China to share their technology with local partners and hand over intellectual property secrets. China denies it engages in such practices.

Trump administration officials also object to non-tariff barriers in China, including industrial subsidies, regulations, business licensing procedures, product standards reviews and other practices that they say keep U.S. goods out of China or give an unfair advantage to domestic firms.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has pushed for China to open its financial services markets to more foreign firms, including credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, which have waited years for China to make good on promises to allow them to operate there.

On currency, U.S. officials including Mnuchin have warned China against devaluing its yuan to gain a competitive advantage after the Chinese currency weakened significantly against the dollar last year, partly counteracting Trump’s tariffs.

The two sides were discussing an enforcement mechanism for the deal, the source said. Reuters reported last month that the United States was pushing for regular reviews of China’s progress on pledged trade reforms and could reinstate tariffs if it deems Beijing has violated the agreement.

The parties also were looking at a 10-item list of ways that China could reduce its trade surplus with the United States, including by buying agricultural produce, energy and goods such as semiconductors, according to two other sources familiar with the talks.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-02-21  Authors: jim watson, afp, getty images
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, source, practices, reviews, deal, war, china, including, states, outlining, end, united, talks, officials, trade


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US and China are said to be outlining deal to end trade war

One source cautioned that the talks could still end in failure. The United States has accused Beijing of forcing U.S. companies doing business in China to share their technology with local partners and hand over intellectual property secrets. On currency, U.S. officials including Mnuchin have warned China against devaluing its yuan to gain a competitive advantage after the Chinese currency weakened significantly against the dollar last year, partly counteracting Trump’s tariffs. Reuters reported


One source cautioned that the talks could still end in failure. The United States has accused Beijing of forcing U.S. companies doing business in China to share their technology with local partners and hand over intellectual property secrets. On currency, U.S. officials including Mnuchin have warned China against devaluing its yuan to gain a competitive advantage after the Chinese currency weakened significantly against the dollar last year, partly counteracting Trump’s tariffs. Reuters reported
US and China are said to be outlining deal to end trade war Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-02-21  Authors: jim watson, afp, getty images
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, source, practices, reviews, deal, war, china, including, states, outlining, end, united, talks, officials, trade


US and China are said to be outlining deal to end trade war

The MOUs cover the most complex issues affecting the trading relationship between the two countries and are meant, from the U.S. perspective, to end the practices that led Trump to start levying duties on Chinese imports in the first place.

One source cautioned that the talks could still end in failure. But the work on the MOUs was a significant step in getting China to sign up both to broad principles and to specific commitments on key issues, he said.

The United States has accused Beijing of forcing U.S. companies doing business in China to share their technology with local partners and hand over intellectual property secrets. China denies it engages in such practices.

Trump administration officials also object to non-tariff barriers in China, including industrial subsidies, regulations, business licensing procedures, product standards reviews and other practices that they say keep U.S. goods out of China or give an unfair advantage to domestic firms.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has pushed for China to open its financial services markets to more foreign firms, including credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, which have waited years for China to make good on promises to allow them to operate there.

On currency, U.S. officials including Mnuchin have warned China against devaluing its yuan to gain a competitive advantage after the Chinese currency weakened significantly against the dollar last year, partly counteracting Trump’s tariffs.

The two sides were discussing an enforcement mechanism for the deal, the source said. Reuters reported last month that the United States was pushing for regular reviews of China’s progress on pledged trade reforms and could reinstate tariffs if it deems Beijing has violated the agreement.

The parties also were looking at a 10-item list of ways that China could reduce its trade surplus with the United States, including by buying agricultural produce, energy and goods such as semiconductors, according to two other sources familiar with the talks.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-02-21  Authors: jim watson, afp, getty images
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, source, practices, reviews, deal, war, china, including, states, outlining, end, united, talks, officials, trade


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