College rankings have made school less affordable, less equitable, and more miserable for students. The pandemic exposed just how broken the system is.

Silhouettes of people struggling to hold up a giant U.S. News & World Report logo on a red background
The incentives around college rankings forced universities to take actions during the pandemic that made student experiences worse and more expensive.

  • College rankings don’t measure aspects of universities that are the most beneficial for students.
  • They’re mainly based on factors that are determined by wealth, access, privilege, and selectivity.
  • The pandemic showed how truly broken the system is, yielding worse experiences for students.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Early September is a blisteringly busy time for colleges and universities, with the start of the new semester and a whole new class of students kicking off the year of studies. But while everyone else is celebrating the start of something new, administrators are wracking their nerves over the results of something old, something they devote a considerable amount of prep to – their own big exam, the one that makes up an enormous amount of their grade: Will this be the year they take a big hit on the US News and World Report rankings?

Though circulation was down to 1.1 million in 2010 from 2 million in 2005, the once-powerful newsweekly commands an outsized presence in our popular understanding of universities.

“US News, of course, was the first one to really monetize rankings. They made huge big business out of rankings,” said Susan Paterno, author of the new book, “Game On: Why College Admission Is Rigged and How to Beat the System“.

When US News develops a rating, they select what is valuable in higher education. When they decide what’s valuable, colleges react, and try to get the numbers up. And when getting the numbers are this important, when they’re translated into a zero-sum ranking against their peers, colleges are incentivized to do things that make the college experience worse and more expensive for students, applicants, and faculty in order to appease that algorithm.

The birth of rankings

In the 1980s, two businesses emerged that would change higher education permanently: the test prep business, which was largely forged by Stanley Kaplan, who founded the company bearing his last name, and the beginning of the US News and World Report rankings.

As US News began to assign scores to universities using the test scores of admitted students as a proxy for quality, colleges began to desire more and more applicants who tested high.

The universities offered merit-based scholarships and financial incentives to those students, and as a result affluent parents of college applicants would pay for test prep for their kids to get those incentives.

“Even though that metric had nothing to do with the quality of the education that the particular college or university was providing – it was really just a number that describes kids in high school – that metric became the foundation that US News used to measure quality,” Paterno said. “But it was a bogus measure, really.”

Only 20% of the score on its Best Colleges rankings comes from academic instruction and faculty resources.

Optimizing this 20% may still lead to negative outcomes for students. Paying faculty more can raise the sticker price of colleges. Optimizing class size to appease US News can lead to things like capping classes and thus limiting the number of large, efficient lectures, or constraining the ability of students to get into entry-level courses.

It appears US News has more influence on class size than many professors. In 2014, Northeastern University’s former president Richard Freeland told Boston Magazine in 2014, “You get credit for the number of classes you have under 20 [students], so we lowered our caps on a lot of our classes to 19 just to make sure.”

How the pandemic and college ratings caused a perfect storm

When the pandemic set in, the college experience imploded overnight. All the academic and interpersonal hallmarks of a college education – landscaped verdant campuses, faculty-student mentoring, research opportunities, everything from sports to labs to parties to dorms – was all flattened to the width of an LCD screen.

Everyone was paying full sticker price to go to the same college, Zoom University.

During the pandemic, students needed academic flexibility. Thanks to the rigors of rankings, they did not get it.

professor gestures to students on video call
Associate Professor Carol Dysinger of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts conducts a remote office hour for filmmaking grad students at her Brooklyn apartment on May 29, 2020.

When graduation and retention is 35% of their score, colleges simply could not afford to have students transfer out, or defer their graduation, or pause their enrollment, because that could have a disastrous impact on their completion rate.

One-fifth of the score comes from a survey sent out to admissions offices asking for assessments of peer universities, and another fifth is an implicit reckoning of institutional wealth – per-student spending, alumni giving, admitted student selectivity. Improving per-student spending also has the knock-on effect of pushing colleges to spend more, which has to be paid for by tuition.

“If you look at how US News ranks, they had no definition of academic excellence, so they created one,” Paterno said. “And how did they create that? They didn’t measure actual learning at all. Instead, they measured students’ selectivity, test scores and grades, institutional resources.”

“And that’s: how wealthy are you?”

Robert Morse, chief data strategist at US News, disputed the incentives Paterno described.

“It’s an incorrect premise to say that our methodology only incentivizes colleges to enroll affluent students. Schools will do better in the U.S. News Best Colleges ranking if they enroll and graduate high proportions of Pell Grant students vs those that only enroll very small percentages of Pell Grant students,” Morse said in an email.

Five percent of the US News score is related to Pell Grant student performance.

“It is also an incorrect assertion to imply that graduation rates only represent institutional wealth,” Morse said. “Graduation rates are highly important to students and their parents. When a student enrolls in a school their intent is to graduate with a diploma. If a school is only graduating half their students, that is an important indicator of poor outcomes and is independent of the type of students and their economic background.”

girl adjusts graduation cap at college wearing a sash that says zoom university
Katherine Koeppel, 22, a psychology major who graduated from USC in May, on campus in Los Angeles on July 2, 2020. She had a Zoom logo embroidered onto her sash, a reminder of how she attended class her last semester because of the pandemic.

Bad for students, worse for applicants

The rankings make life even worse for applicants. The incentives are obvious, Paterno says: If you have two applicants of equal academic merit, and one comes from difficult circumstances and the other is affluent, who is more likely to graduate in four years? With 35% of the university’s score at stake, this isn’t hypothetical.

“Graduation rates are a very controversial metric,” Paterno said, “because it it gives colleges incentives to reject students they think won’t complete.”

During a pandemic – and especially during a year in which the number of college applications are through the roof – which applicants stood to gain and which stood to lose?

Another 5% is a newer figure that discerns how much money graduates owe. Making this a factor is an excellent way to push universities into accepting more wealthy or affluent people who don’t need to take loans.

“They don’t really want to accept students with hardships that might cause them to drop out,” Paterno said.

The pandemic turned the college application process from a merely Kafkaesque nightmare to an abattoir of despair.

Having dropped their testing requirements, universities received an onslaught of applications. One survey of applicants from consulting firm Art & Science Group found 20% were on some kind of wait list. While just 18% of middle- or lower-income kids were on a wait list, 32% of applicants from higher-income households were.

Some wait lists are still active today: the Applying to College subreddit inventories this anxiety, with applicants venting about “extended waitlists” in the University of California system, at Johns Hopkins, Duke, and more.

The US News applicant performance rating, worth 7%, doesn’t measure the quality of the instruction at the college but rather the standardized testing and class ranking of the people who are admitted. Even that, Paterno said, is a proxy for finances, namely the budget to recruit and advertise and offer scholarships to desirable high performers.

student with a face mask attends a college class in their dorm on zoom
Freshman Kyalynn Moore-Wilson sits at a desk in her dorm room before joining a Zoom meeting for an Introduction to Psychology course as classes begin amid the coronavirus pandemic at the University of New Mexico on August 17, 2020.

The incentives for colleges and universities are clear: with 35% of the score derived from the fraction who stick around, make it incredibly financially painful for students to take a break during the pandemic and don’t gamble on students who are financially precarious. With 20% derived from money, don’t cut tuition or offer breaks. With 5% from graduate indebtedness, only take the richest applicants. Remember, you’ve got a reputation to maintain: that’s 20% of your score, after all.

Is there a good rating system out there?

The current rating system that Paterno argues is fundamentally broken is, even still, the result of years of improvements.

This includes the removal of the acceptance rate, which was responsible for lots of applicant misery and a heap of third-party mailers going out to applicants the universities knew would likely fail to make the grade. In order to get their acceptance rate down, colleges and universities would mount colossal ad campaigns and direct mail to drive the applicant counts up.

Developing a new and improved rating system is fraught, as the Obama administration learned during a 2013 rollout of a federal college rating system that was eventually scrapped.

Even the best-intentioned arbiters face an uphill battle in trying to assign an arbitrary rating and ranking to a college, probably because the idea of reducing a colossal institution to a fragmentary rank completely misunderstands what a university actually is, and further sets up incentives that undermine their abilities to accomplish their actual mission.

There’s no indication that the market for ratings is slowing down. Following the outstanding commercial success of their college rankings, US News has since expanded to medical schools, law schools, and even high schools.

If anything, the market for ratings is only growing – their database now includes preschools and elementary schools, too.

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Insider spoke with 8 of the most powerful Black women in money management about microaggressions, mentors, and career triumphs

From left: Kim Lew, president and CEO of the Columbia Investment Management Company, Dekia Scott, CIO of Southern Company, Tina Byles Williams, CEO CIO and Founder of Xponance, and Michaela Edwards, partner and portfolio manager at Capricorn Investment Group with magenta circles and a faded white grid behind them on a purple background
From left: Kim Lew, president and CEO of the Columbia Investment Management Company; Dekia Scott, CIO of Southern Company; Tina Byles Williams, CEO CIO and founder of Xponance; and Michaela Edwards, partner and portfolio manager at Capricorn Investment Group.

Institutional investors control a combined $70 trillion in assets – and the majority of people managing that massive money pile are white, male, or both.

Insider spoke with eight Black women in high-powered asset-management roles who collectively control billions of dollars in assets. They shed light on whether the industry’s diversity problems are fully understood. They also discussed victories and pivotal moments in their careers:

  • “I’m fully aware that when you ask the random person, ‘What comes to mind when you think of an investment manager?’ I’m pretty sure that the image that comes to mind doesn’t look like me,” said Tina Byles Williams, the founder, CEO and CIO of Philadelphia-based asset manager Xponance. “It probably doesn’t look like a woman, and it surely doesn’t look like a Black woman. That is the opportunity and the burden.”
  • “I unapologetically take up space,” said Dominique Cherry, head of capital markets at the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement. “You just make a decision that you’re going to take up as much space as needed until that point that your presence is recognized, your voice is heard, and hopefully you can bring a couple of young people along the way with you.”

SUBSCRIBE TO READ THE FULL STORY: 8 of the most powerful Black women in money management on microaggressions, mentors, and finding their voice on Wall Street

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5 pitch decks that legal-tech startups used to raise millions

legal tech lady justice code 4x3
The legal-tech space has raised nearly $1 billion in funding so far this year.

  • Funding for legal-tech is nearing $1 billion for 2021 so far.
  • VC firms, private equity, and even traditional law players are pouring money in.
  • Check out these 5 pitch decks for examples of how legal-tech startup founders sold their vision.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As law firms and their clients seek to digitize and streamline work, VCs have been opening their wallets to the growing legal-tech space. The total value of deals in the global market to date this year clocks in at at least $974 million – already surpassing the $603 million figure from 2020, according to data from PitchBook.

Private equity firms are also increasingly eyeing legal tech, investing more than $3.6 billion in Q1 of 2021 alone, according to market intelligence platform Bodhala.

Here’s a look at our legal-tech pitch deck collection.

Adrian Camara
Athennian’s CEO and founder, Adrian Camara.

Athennian, which helps law firms and legal departments manage data and workflow around legal entities, raised a $7 million CAD (more than $5.5 million USD) Series A extension in the beginning of March, nearly doubling its initial $8 million Series A round last year.

Athennian’s revenue and headcount more than doubled since the original Series A, according to founder and CEO Adrian Camara. He declined to disclose revenue numbers, but said that the sales and marketing team grew from 35 people in September to around 70 in March.

Launched in 2017, Athennian is used by nearly 200 legal departments and law firms, including Dentons, Fastkind, and Paul Hastings, to automate documents like board minutes, stock certificates, and shareholder consents.

The Series A extension was led by Arthur Ventures. New investors Touchdown Ventures and Clio’s CEO, Jack Newton, also participated in the round, alongside Round13 Capital and other existing investors. To date, Athennian has raised $17 million CAD, or around $14 million USD, in venture capital funding, per Pitchbook.

Here’s the small but mighty pitch deck that nearly doubled legal tech Athennian’s Series A to $12 million.

Evisort’s CEO and co-founder Jerry Ting.

Contract tech is the frontrunner in the legal tech space, as companies across industries seek to streamline their contract creation, negotiation, and management processes.

Evisort, a contract lifecycle management (CLM) platform, raised $35 million in its Series B announced late February, bringing total funding to $55.5 million. The private equity firm General Atlantic led its latest funding round, with participation from existing investors Amity Ventures, Microsoft’s venture firm M12, and Vertex Ventures.

Founded in 2016, Evisort uses artificial intelligence to help businesses categorize, search, and act on documents.

Its CEO Jerry Ting founded Evisort while he was still attending Harvard Law School. He spent one summer working at Fried Frank, but soon realized that he didn’t want to be a lawyer because he didn’t want to spend excruciating hours manually reading fifty-page contracts. He did, however, recognize how important they are to corporations, and co-founded Evisort as a tool to locate and track valuable information like a contract’s expiration date and obligations like payment dates.

Evisort’s CEO walks through the 11-page pitch deck that the contract software startup used to nab $35 million from investors like General Atlantic – and lays out its path to an IPO

Contractbook_founders_2 min
Niels Brøchner, Jarek Owczarek, and Viktor Heide founded Contractbook to offer a client-centric tool to manage contracts,

Try to imagine the contracts negotiation process, and one might conjure up a scene where a sheaf of papers, tucked discreetly into a manila folder, is shuttled from one law office to the mahogany table of another. With a stroke of a fountain pen, the deal is sealed.

Those old-school methods have long been replaced with the adoption of PDFs, redlined versions of which zip from email inbox to inbox. Now, contracting is undergoing another digital shift that will streamline the process as companies are becoming more comfortable with tech and are seeking greater efficiencies – and investors are taking note.

Contractbook, a Denmark-based contract lifecycle management platform, late last year raised $9.4 million in its Series A investment round, led by venture capital titan Bessemer Venture Partners. In November 2019, Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, led Contractbook’s $3.9 million seed round.

Founded in Copenhagen in 2017, Contractbook uses data to automate documents, offering an end-to-end contracts platform for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Niels Brøchner, the company’s CEO and cofounder, said that Contractbook was born out of the notion that existing contract solutions failed to use a document’s data – from names of parties to the folder the document is stored in – to automate the process and drive workflow.

Here’s the 13-page pitch deck that Contractbook, which wants to take on legal tech giants like DocuSign, used to raise $9.4 million from investors like Bessemer Ventures

Kiwi Camara DISCO headshot
Kiwi Camara, CEO and cofounder of Disco.

Cloud-based technology is having its moment, especially in the legal industry.

As attorneys have been propelled to work remotely amid the pandemic, data security and streamlined work processes are top-of-mind for law firms, leading them to adopt cloud technology.

Investors are taking note. Disco, a cloud-based ediscovery platform that uses artificial intelligence to streamline the litigation process, snapped up $60 million in equity financing in October.

Its Series F, led by Georgian Partners and also backed by VC titans like Bessemer Venture Partners and LiveOak Venture Partners, brings total investment to $195 million, valuing the company at $785 million.

Launched in Houston in 2012, Disco offers AI-fueled products geared towards helping lawyers review and analyze vast quantities of documents, allowing them to more efficiently determine which ones are relevant to a case.

The CEO of Disco, a legal tech that sells cloud-based discovery software, walked us through a 20-page pitch deck the startup used to nab $60 million

Dan Broderick BlackBoiler
Dan Broderick, cofounder and CEO of BlackBoiler.

BlackBoiler is an automated contract markup software that’s used by Am Law 25 firms and several Fortune 1000 companies.

The software uses machine learning to automate the process of reviewing and revising documents in “track changes.” This saves attorneys the time they would typically spend marking up contracts that often use standard boilerplate language.

As a pre-execution software used in the negotiation and markup stage of the contracts process, BlackBoiler has carved out a unique space in the $35 billion contracts industry, said Dan Broderick, a lawyer who cofounded the company in 2015 and is now its CEO.

Broderick walked Insider through the pitch deck the company used to attract funding from investors, including DocuSign as well as 10 attorneys that run the gamut from Am Law 50 partners to general counsel at large corporations.

Check out the 14-page pitch deck that contract-editing startup BlackBoiler used to nab $3.2 million from investors including DocuSign

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A couple says their Tesla Solar panels caused relentless leaks that led to mold 10 times the healthy limit, $115,000 in damages, and a long-running legal battle

Elon Musk watching water leak out of a Tesla solar panel roof on a purple background.
When their solar panels caused leaks, Jamie Fedorko and Sabrina Ferrer say they had a nightmare experience with Tesla.

  • Married couple Jamie Fedorko and Sabrina Ferrer bought a house in 2019 that had Tesla Solar panels installed.
  • Since then, their roof has sprung multiple leaks, and their house developed a mold infestation.
  • The couple have filed for arbitration to end their contract with Tesla, the only way to potentially end their lease. Tesla has denied the allegations in the arbitration.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On Christmas Day 2020, married couple Jamie Fedorko and Sabrina Ferrer woke up to water trickling into their house in Hudson Valley, New York. Overnight, a rainstorm had melted snow drifts on their roof, and water was seeping into a guest bedroom.

They weren’t surprised. They’d been dealing with recurring leaks for almost a year, and had spent that year running after the company they believed was the root of the problem – Tesla. Elon Musk’s Tesla is best known for its electric cars but it also has a solar energy division, called Tesla Energy, which had installed solar panels on the roof before the couple bought the house.

“My heart sank,” Ferrer told Insider, describing the moment she noticed the leak. “I knew that we’d have to spend the entire day on the phone with Tesla trying to convince someone to come out on a holiday.” The couple discovered another seven leaks that Christmas Day, she said.

The couple say they have now faced 18 months of recurring, damaging leaks, a severe mold infestation that forced them out of their home for three months, and an ongoing dispute with Tesla over how much money Tesla will pay for repairs.

The couple are fed up, they told Insider. They want to ditch the panels – which they believe have caused multiple leaks – and kill their solar-panel contract. But they feel as if they’re effectively trapped in a lease that Tesla won’t let them easily escape, they said.

In April, the couple filed a petition for arbitration, which is the only way for them to get out of their contract, per their lease agreement. In arbitration, two parties agree to resolve their dispute outside of court, usually through an official arbitrator.

The petition asked that the company end the lease and cover an alleged $115,000 in damages. Tesla made a settlement offer of $33,000 compensation in February, as confirmed by a document viewed by Insider. Fedorko said the couple rejected the offer because they wanted the $115,000 they believe they’re owed, and because they wanted a settlement that ended their lease.

The couple first submitted their petition in April, followed by an amended version in May. Tesla responded on June 18, on the final day of a 20-day deadline following the May filing. Insider viewed Tesla’s response, which contained broad denials of the allegations in the petition.

Arbitration responses typically include these, but the couple’s lawyer Tom Mullaney told Insider he was hoping for more.

“Tesla’s answer contains all it is required to give, and no more,” Mullaney said in an email. “I was not surprised to see it, but I was hoping for substantially more from a self-styled, socially conscious company whose customers are suffering from significant damage to their physical environment caused by its products,” he said.

Fedorko said his immediate reaction to Tesla’s response was that he remained “baffled.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier if instead of doing what we’re doing, Tesla simply worked directly with their paying customers whose lives have been upended by Tesla itself?”

Tesla did not respond to repeated requests for comment from Insider.

While Fedorko and Ferrer’s experience is extreme, they aren’t alone in their frustration with Tesla Energy. In recent interviews with Insider, several Tesla Energy system owners described what they saw as shockingly unresponsive customer service, even after contacting the company to resolve serious issues, such as leaks.

Fedorko’s panels, which were removed seven months ago so the roof could be fixed, are now lying in the couple’s backyard.

Tesla Solar panels lying in Jamie Fedorko's backyard.
Tesla Solar panels lying in Jamie Fedorko’s backyard.

The leaks began seven months after the couple moved in

Fedorko and Ferrer bought their Hudson Valley house – the first house they’d ever owned – in June 2019 for $570,000. To close the deal, they had to assume the lease of the Tesla Solar panels sitting on the house’s roof, Fedorko said.

The couple first discovered a leak in their house in January 2020, he said. Water was seeping into the kitchen, and when Fedorko climbed into the attic he realized the solar panels would have to be removed to properly inspect the roof, he said.

According to a “site visit agreement” viewed by Insider, Tesla charges $200 to send a crew out to investigate problems with solar panels. If the crew then discovers the panels have caused the damage, the fee is waived. Tesla also limits the company’s liability for “direct damages” to $500.

Tesla told Fedorko the earliest it could send a crew was four to six weeks, he said. Unhappy with the idea of six weeks’ worth of water leaking into his kitchen, Fedorko hired local contractors to take the panels off and reseal the roof.

Read more: We visited a futuristic microfactory for Arrival, the $11 billion electric van maker ripping up the Tesla playbook

Once the contractors had resealed the roof in January 2020, everything seemed fine for four weeks – and then two leaks appeared: one in the same spot, and another in a different part of the kitchen, Fedorko said. This time, Tesla sent out a crew of two within two days: one person to fix the roof and another to patch up drywall that had cracked due to the leak, he said.

Fedorko said Tesla reimbursed the fee for the visit, and Insider viewed a correspondence in which a Tesla representative agreed the company would cover an invoice for $480 related to repairing damage caused by the January leaks.

The house sprung leaks three more times in the spring and summer, and then again on Christmas Day, Fedorko said. In an email dated January 15 of this year and viewed by Insider, a Tesla executive resolutions specialist, a kind of dedicated customer service rep, detailed the apparent causes for leaks that occurred in February, July, and December 2020 – all of them to do with the solar panels.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk with a hardhat.JPG
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Fedorko said he was so exasperated by the spring and summer leaks that in August 2020 he asked Tesla about removing the system and killing the contract.

Tesla said there was no out-clause, and that he’d have to take the company to arbitration.

This isn’t unusual for solar-panel companies. Lease contracts for solar panels often come with arbitration clauses rather than simple out-clauses. “Most solar lease contracts are difficult to cancel without legal action,” Nick Liberati, communications manager for solar panel comparison site Energy Sage, told Insider.

Exhausted, the couple let the matter rest. “We just said, all right, whatever. Let’s hope that this last fix worked and we’ll let it go,” Fedorko said.

Mold problems

In October 2020, the weather cooled, and the couple turned on the heating more regularly. As they did so, an unpleasant smell began permeating the house, they told Insider.

A month later, Fedorko paid for an H-VAC company to come and inspect the heating system. The company found water had breached the heating ducts, leading to a mold infestation. The heating appeared to be blowing spores around the house, causing the smell, Fedorko said.

Insider viewed a report ordered by the couple’s homeowner insurance company, in which an inspector gave his opinion that “water intrusion” through the roof was the source of the mold. Insider also viewed a January bill from a local H-VAC company that said the system had been compromised by “water incursion.”

In January, the couple got an independent assessor to determine whether the mold posed a health risk. According to that assessor’s report, as viewed by Insider, the mold levels in the attic were 100 times higher than the level considered safe for human habitation. In the rest of the house, they were 10 times higher than the recommended safe level, per the report. This was especially alarming for Fedorko, because he suffers from asthma.

Tela solar panels on top of a hospital roof in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Tesla solar panels on top of a hospital roof in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The couple moved out immediately, temporarily staying with an elderly uncle while they looked for a place to rent, Fedorko said.

Work on the mold didn’t start until February because the couple tried to get Tesla to cover the costs of the work before it started, but could not convince the company to do so. The company made its offer of $33,000, but that didn’t cover the full costs of the mold remediation.

Eventually, they decided they could wait no longer.

To get rid of the mold, the couple had to replace the roof shingles and the decking, which had become infested. Next, they had to have their HVAC system repaired, and finally pay for mold remediation throughout the whole house.

“This was by far the most costly, time consuming portion of the repairs,” Fedorko said. The mold removers had to go through the entire house deploying purification machines and scrubbing rooms by hand. A bill viewed by Insider showed the mold remediation alone cost $41,900.

The couple said they had to stay out of the home for three months.

Although Tesla offered to pay for many of the leaks – most explicitly, via its $33,000 compensation offer – it denied that the leaks led to the mold infestation.

Fedorko sent the reports he’d gathered on the mold to Tesla, which then sent out an engineer and an adjuster. The adjuster told Fedorko that the mold wasn’t caused by the roof leaks – it was the dryer venting into the house’s attic space, Fedorko said.

A letter from a heating company later contracted by Fedorko said that this was not the case.

“We found that the dryer was already venting to the exterior of the home and was not venting into the attic. An old pipe which is no longer in use and had already been corrected may have led someone to incorrectly believe otherwise,” the letter said.

Once Tesla’s Solar panels came off, they could see the extent of the damage

The panels have been off the roof since December 30, 2020, when Tesla sent out a crew to inspect the roof after the Christmas Day leaks.

“We agreed to remove the entire system to assess the condition of the roof, which we’d never done before,” Fedorko said.

“Once the panels were off, it was staggering. The roof had soft spots, replacement shingles, it was not in good shape and the foreman said right to my face that the roof clearly wasn’t in solid condition to begin with.”

In a January 2021 report, an independent inspector hired by Fedorko said there were pre-existing problems with the roof, and that the panels shouldn’t have been installed until the roof had been replaced. The report also said the way the panels were installed would have contributed to “seepage.”

The couple told Tesla to leave the system off until the roof was fixed, and are determined not to put them back on, they said. They have since paid to replace the roof, and continue to pursue Tesla for reimbursement of their expenses and an end to their lease.

In an email viewed by Insider, the couple’s executive resolutions specialist said billing had been paused, but not lifted. There was a “high probability” the couple wouldn’t be reported to a credit bureau, the specialist said.

“The house is fine now,” Fedorko said. “It’s not raining in my living room every time it rains, so that’s helpful. But I’ve worked really hard to make back what we’ve lost.

“We just feel sort of stupid about the whole thing, in the last year and a half, people are suffering so immensely […] but the emotional, personal toll has been no joke,” he added.

Now, 11 months after they first asked Tesla about ending the contract, the couple is awaiting a schedule for the arbitration process. Meanwhile, the panels are still lying dormant in their backyard.

“We couldn’t sell our home if we wanted to.”

Do you work at Tesla Energy or are you a Tesla Energy customer? Contact this reporter at or Always use a non-work email.

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If you want to see just how badly workers in the US get screwed over, just look at how baseball players are treated

A baseball flying through in the air with red dollar signs threading at its seams on a purple background
Minor League Baseball conditions are causing players to speak out.

  • Earlier this month, minor league baseball players nearly had to sleep in their cars because of low pay and no housing.
  • That’s part and parcel for how minor leaguers are treated around the industry.
  • The way baseball treats workers is symptomatic of the way American labor is treated across industries.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On June 15, player advocacy group Advocates for Minor Leaguers called out the Baltimore Orioles for their treatment of Double-A affiliate the Bowie Baysox.

Baysox players, Advocates for Minor Leaguers tweeted, were “considering sleeping in their cars” because the team wouldn’t pay for housing and the cost of a hotel would come to 80% of their two week paycheck after taxes.

Hours later, players were informed that the price was now actually half of what they had been initially told to expect. Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias denied to the press that the players had ever been in danger of sleeping in their cars, telling reporters that was just “not accurate.”

It’s hard to take that denial seriously, however. Minor League players have been subjected to mistreatment and poor pay for decades. Congress codified that maltreatment in 2018, including a provision in the $1.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act that exempts teams from having to pay minor leaguers overtime or for spring training. The deck is stacked against minor league players, who are fighting for an elusive chance to make it to the majors and a real paycheck.

This is the American way. Around the country, workers are subjected to poor conditions, worse pay, and sold unrealistic promises of better futures. Rich owners of baseball teams deny their employees in the minors adequate pay and shelter despite the relatively low cost of doing so – just like billionaires like Jeff Bezos overwork and underpay their employees in other industries.

Food and Shelter

Minor League players face difficult working conditions, Advocates for Minor Leaguers executive director Harrison Marino told me. Most players make about $15,000 a year – seasonal pay that comes with a contractual obligation to perform services all year. Many, if not most, minor leaguers have to find other jobs in the offseason just to make ends meet while they continue to train.

Housing is extremely difficult given the rung-by-rung movement of most minor leaguers towards the majors and for the pittance they are paid. While teams pay for player accommodations on the road, players are expected to provide for themselves and find housing as needed when playing at home. This presents myriad issues, not least that a player can bounce around from city to city as they advance in their career because a team’s affiliates will not be all in one region.

For instance, a player in the San Francisco Giants organization would in theory have to travel from its Low-A affiliate team – the first rung on the minor league ladder – in San Jose to its High-A team in Eugene, Oregon (562 miles away) to its Double-A team in Richmond, Virginia (a 2,873 mile trip), and finally to the Triple-A team in Sacramento (a 2,783 mile trip). All while finding new housing every time they move up (or down) levels.

The food situation is often hardly better. On June 1, Advocates for Minor Leaguers posted photos from Oakland Athletics minor leaguers showing their post-game meals: a cheese sandwich from May worthy of the infamous Fyre Festival and, more recently, what appeared to be an attempt at a taco. The A’s claimed they had ended the relationship with the vendor, “several weeks ago.”

There’s not much players can do.

“Because players are tied to their MLB club for seven seasons, they can’t seek a better deal with a different club,” Marino told me. “When it comes to MLB teams’ treatment of Minor League players, it really is a race to the bottom.”

America’s Game

Because of its monopolistic position over the sport of baseball, Major League Baseball is the only viable buyer for baseball player labor. That gives the league outsized power and control over its labor pool to an extent most other companies can only dream of. In practice, this means a relationship between worker and boss that is tilted overwhelmingly toward the powerful.

Minor leaguers have faced an extreme version of that relationship for decades. Steve Hamilton, a major leaguer, told Studs Terkel in 1974’s “Working” that the unbalanced relationship between players and owners was even harder on the players in the minors – who didn’t, and don’t, have a union, unlike major league players.

“They insist on knowing you as a thing,” said Hamilton. “It’s easy for them to manipulate.”

Reflecting Pool

Poor treatment and low pay are endemic in nearly every US industry, and the tension between how workers are treated and business owners are compensated has become more and more apparent in recent years. Conversations around income inequality that exploded into the mainstream more than a decade ago have matured and begun to target the systemic underpinnings of the American economic system.

Baseball isn’t even the worst offender. The gig economy, particularly driver services like Uber and Lyft, has led to a less stabilized and less secure workforce even as the people at the top of those companies rake in profits. Hourly pay for a driver at Uber – like Minnesota Twins pitcher Randy Dobnakout did before getting signed – comes to a little under $10 an hour after taxes, according to an EPI study; the company further depresses wages by refusing, unless forced, to provide benefits for workers.

Companies around the country dangle the opportunity of promotions and power in front of workers in order to entice them into dead-end jobs because, technically, the possibility exists that they can advance – though only around 10% will. But for the majority of working people in the US, the American dream seems barely worth imagining.

No wonder, then, that there’s a labor shortage. The service industry is facing severe difficulty in getting people to return to work, and the response from many restaurateurs and caterers is to call for an end to COVID-related unemployment benefits. The song remains the same: for bosses and owners, the workers are disposable, whether they’re short order cooks, drivers for Uber, or minor league baseball players,

“Baseball occupies a unique position in our cultural landscape,” Marino said. “For the past 150 years, labor relations in baseball have both reflected and shaped labor relations in the United States more broadly.”

Today, conditions are better than they were in the past – the plight of the Minor League players notwithstanding. But the deck is still stacked against workers, just as it is across almost every industry in America.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Great Wall Street reads for the long weekend

Hello readers,

We rounded up our trending stories and big reads for you to enjoy over the long weekend. Here are just some of the highlights:

And a quick programming note: we’re working on this year’s list of Wall Street rising stars. Here’s how to nominate someone.

If this email was forwarded to you, sign up here to get your daily dose of the stories dominating banking, business, and big deals.

Law firm Paul Weiss’ relationship with Apollo has been lucrative. Insiders say it’s also sowed tensions within the firm and altered its DNA.

Brad Karp, chair of Paul Weiss, and Leon Black, former CEO of Apollo Global Management with an alternating pattern of Paul Weiss and Apollo Global Management's logos on a blue background

Over the past decade, law firm Paul Weiss has boosted its profits with the help of legal fees from its large private-equity client, Apollo Global Management. The account also changed the law firm’s culture, insiders say, and opened it up to criticisms about its independence.

Read the full story here.

From ‘vanilla’ skirt suits to ‘too-tight’ shirts: Female lawyers describe how it’s impossible to win when it comes to professional dress codes

A large hand holding a gavel with a woman of color with her hands on her hips and a white man next to her with a spotlight over him on a purple background.

In prisons and courtrooms across the US, strict dress codes disproportionately affect female-presenting lawyers. As in-person prison visits and courtroom trials begin to reopen, women are contending with renewed concerns over how their wardrobes influence their work.

Read the full story here.

Which Wall Street banks have raised pay – and which have yet to budge

headhunters and recruiters sourcing talent for wall street 2x1

At least three banks hiked base pay this week by up to $25,000 for junior investment-bankers. The moves come on the heels of a wave of raises and special bonuses across Wall Street earlier this year as firms battle for young talent.

See our full rundown here.

JPMorgan warns rival investment banks: MarketAxess, Tradeweb, and Bloomberg are ‘real competitors’

hedge fund trader

JPMorgan says third-party trading platforms pose a competitive threat to banks’ trading floors, and compared the disruptive effect to how Skyscanner and Tripadvisor have upended the travel industry.

Keep reading here.

We found the 12 go-to digital health bankers. They broke down how tech is driving record deals and the next generation of giants.

Digital Health Ecosystem Thumbnail_2x1 copy

We spoke with some of the industry’s top bankers at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Piper Sandler, Lazard, and five other leading firms to get a sense of what’s behind record deal activity.

Read more here.

These 10 execs will determine the future of bank branches. Here’s how they’re thinking about more than 24,000 locations.

woman atm credit card

From M&A to accelerating digital strategy, the pandemic has changed banks’ approach to branches. Some have looked to deals to broaden their footprint, while others are expanding on their own.

We highlighted the 10 execs leading branch strategy at the biggest US banks. Get the full rundown here.

Torrid’s Liz Muñoz started as a patternmaker. Now she’s one of the only Latina CEOs leading a publicly traded US company.

Torrid CEO Liz Muñoz at the New York Stock Exchange, celebrating the company's IPO.
Torrid CEO Liz Muñoz.

On the morning of Torrid’s initial public offering on July 1, CEO Liz Muñoz arrived at the New York Stock Exchange wearing a ripped jean jacket, a black dress, and safety-pin earrings, all from the plus-size fashion brand. She sported bright-purple hair and black nail polish.

“I’m sure I’m not blending in, but who wants to blend in anyway?” she told Insider.

You can read our full story here.

Other stories readers loved this week

Read the original article on Business Insider

Nominations are now open for Insider’s next class of Wall Street rising stars

We're looking for the next crop of rising stars on Wall Street.
We’re looking for the next crop of rising stars on Wall Street.

  • Insider is putting together a power list of the young talent on Wall Street.
  • We want to spotlight the standouts in investment banking, investing as well as sales and trading.
  • Please submit your ideas through this form by August 6th.

We’re seeking nominations for Insider’s list of rising stars on Wall Street, and we want to hear from you.

Submit your suggestions below or via this form.

We’re looking for the leaders of tomorrow, those making notable contributions or accomplishments and setting themselves apart from their class in investment banking, investing, and sales and trading.

In the past, we’ve had people with a variety of roles and experiences from companies including Apollo Global Management, Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and the New York Stock Exchange.

Take a look at our 2020 list here.

Criteria and methodology

Our selection criteria: We ask that nominees be 35 or under, based in the US, work front-office roles, and stand out from their peers. Editors make the final decisions.

Please make your submission below or through this form by August 6th to have your selection considered for the list. Please be as specific as possible in your submission.

Please email Michelle Abrego at mabrego@insider. com with any questions or issues submitting your nominations.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Trump-loving insurrectionist and a convicted stalker are among 36 QAnon supporters running for Congress in 2022

2022 congressional candidates Omar Navarro, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert with warped Qs and the Capitol building behind them on a purple background
Omar Navarro (L), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (C), and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

  • At least 36 QAnon-supporting candidates intend to run for Congress in 2022, Media Matters said.
  • Some of the candidates are diehard QAnon fans, while others signal their support subtly.
  • Experts told Insider that this shows how QAnon has evolved into a major political force.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In July 2020, JR Majewski made national headlines after transforming his 19,000-square-foot lawn into a massive Trump re-election banner. When the Air Force veteran from Ohio appeared in a television interview with Fox News, he was wearing a QAnon T-shirt.

Several months later, as Congress met to certify President Joe Biden’s election win, Majewski was among the thousands of Trump supporters who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington DC, later admitting to breaching police barricades and walking up to the base of the Capitol building.

Majewski is now trying to return to the Capitol, but this time as a congressman representing the 9th district of Ohio, a seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Marcy Kapur.

Read more: QAnon followers are already spreading Epstein-like conspiracy theories about John McAfee’s reported suicide

Since he was first spotted wearing the “Q” T-shirt, Majewski has made several more references to the conspiracy theory, posting QAnon images and hashtags on his social media channel, and live streaming videos with the well-known QAnon influencer RedPill79.

Majewski is one of many congressional candidates running in the 2022 midterm elections who have given credence to QAnon, which the FBI described as a far-right group with “anti-government, identity-based and fringe political conspiracy theories,” The Washington Post reported.

Ohio man JR Majewski stands on his Trump-themed lawn
J.R Majewski is interviewed by FOX News about his Trump-themed lawn in Port Clinton, Ohio, on July 12, 2020.

A Media Matters investigation published earlier this month revealed that 36 candidates in 17 states have either openly endorsed QAnon, made subtle references to, or distanced themselves from the conspiracy theory despite repeatedly displaying their support on social media or in video interviews.

Thirty-three of the candidates are running as Republicans while two are independents and one is still deciding whether to run as a Republican or an independent, the investigation found. The state with the most QAnon-believing candidates is Florida with nine candidates, followed by California which has six candidates, although these numbers are still subject to change.

On the list are a handful of incumbents in Congress, including the gun-loving Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who helped bring the conspiracy theory into the mainstream.

The diehard QAnon supporters

Around a dozen congressional candidates have openly affiliated with the QAnon conspiracy theory, including Daniel Wood of Arizona, Darlene Schwaffar of Florida, and Mayra Flores of Texas.

In this cohort is also Reba Sherill, a health and wellness advocate who in 2020 unsuccessfully ran in Florida’s 21st congressional district – home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. She is running again as a Republican candidate for the US Senate in the midterms.

As a big Trump fan, Sherrill used to gather with other supporters on a bridge near Mar-A-Lago to wave in homage at the former president’s motorcade whenever he was in town, The Washington Post reported.

She is an ardent QAnon believer and has made the conspiracy theory central to her largely self-funded campaign.

The self-described “Q patriot” focuses her campaign on child trafficking, matching with QAnon’s false belief that Trump is fighting a “deep state” cabal of human traffickers in the United States, Yahoo News reported.

Sherrill has also referred to the more extreme adrenochrome theory – the belief that Democratic elites harvest the drug from children by torturing them and drinking their blood – in a now-deleted post on her website.

The Flordia native told Yahoo News that the “mainstream media tries to paint people who talk about human trafficking and child sex trafficking as being some kind of crazy lunatics.”

“This is not a conspiracy, this is reality,” she insisted. “It’s not some fictitious thing.”

Another congressional candidate who believes in the human trafficking theory is Omar Navarro, a convicted stalker running for California’s 43rd congressional district.

Navarro, who also featured in HBO’s “Q: Into the Storm” documentary series, is one of the more recognizable faces of the QAnon world.

The California native, who last year spent six months in jail after pleading guilty to a stalking charge, told Insider in an interview that he believes in “some things” that “Q” says, including the human trafficking trope.

“I do believe that there’s human trafficking going on right now. I do believe that Hollywood has participated in some of this with pedophilia on and it’s something obviously we can’t ignore,” he said.

Navarro, who has gone viral multiple times on Twitter for his far-right and homophobic views, has previously pushed the debunked Pizzagate theory. He told Insider: “I feel like there are certain things going on. There’s something shady in that pizza shop.”

The Californian also defended using the popular QAnon slogan WWG1WGA (“Where we go one, we go all”) in a tweet posted on October 3, 2020, saying he ended up deleting it because he didn’t want Twitter to ban him.

“I always have to worry about my free speech and what I say on Twitter,” he said.

The fear of being removed from social media platforms is not holding back QAnon fan Jo Rae Perkins, who is running for the Senate in Oregon, where she unsuccessfully ran in 2020.

Perkins, who discovered QAnon messaging boards in 2017 and describes them as a “source of information.” She has also posted a video of herself taking a “digital soldier oath” in front of a WWG1WGA sticker, CNN reported.

In a video interview with Right Wing Watch last year, Perkins compared the “Q” posts to secret codes used during World War II and said believing in Q is like believing in Jesus Christ, VICE reported.

The camouflage candidates

Around eight candidates have consistently and blatantly pushed elements of the QAnon conspiracy theory in the past but have, in some way, tried to distance themselves from it. These include Josh Barnett, Bobby Piton, Jon McGreevey, and Billy Prempeh.

Most famously, firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the freshman Congressperson who received the support of Former President Donald Trump after her primary runoff victory in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, is one of these candidates.

In the past, Greene has proliferated bizarre fantasies that are on-brand with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

She has accused Hillary Clinton of sexually assaulting a child before slicing off her face and wearing it as a mask. She once suggested that the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been replaced by a body double years ago, and has said that California wildfires might have been started by space lasers.

marjorie taylor greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene holds a news conference to apologize for her recent remarks equating mask mandates with the Holocaust in Washington DC, on June 14, 2021.

Greene pushed these ideas so fervently that she became a “correspondent” for a conspiracy news website between 2017 and 2018, NBC News reported. In one of her posts for the now-defunct “American Truth Seekers” website, the controversial lawmaker called Q a “patriot.”

She also told her social media followers that Q “is worth listening to” in a now-deleted video from 2017.

But while Greene once proudly broadcast some of QAnon’s wildest ideas, she has since tried to publicly distance herself from the conspiracy theory.

In August 2020, Greene said that QAnon no longer represented her current position. “No, I don’t [consider myself a QAnon candidate]. I think that’s been the media’s characterization of me,” she told Fox News.

But that didn’t stop Twitter from temporarily locking her account in January 2021 when it culled QAnon accounts after the deadly Capitol riot.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, a contemporary of Greene and a rising star in the GOP, has also tried to walk back her support of the conspiracy theory she had formerly championed.

Known to some as the “QAnon Congresswoman,” Boebert has said that she is “very familiar” with QAnon and has praised the conspiracy theory. “Everything that I’ve heard of Q, I hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values,” she said during an appearance on QAnon web show SteelTruth in May 2020.

But after winning the Republican nomination for Colorado’s 3rd District, she told Fox 31 News that she’s “not a follower.” She did not, however, disavow a central tenet of the QAnon ideology – that the “deep state” is actively working against Trump. “I believe there are people working in the administration that at least appear to be actively undermining President Trump,” she said in 2020.

AP lauren boebert
Rep. Lauren Boebert smiles after joining other freshman Republican House members for a group photo at the Capitol in Washington DC, on January 4, 2021.

Publicly disavowing QAnon whilst continuing to advocate for some of the conspiracy theory’s nonsensical beliefs is an oft-used “camouflage” tactic by the far-right, Media Matters president Angela Carusone told Insider.

Some candidates might be doing so to appear more palatable to a wider audience and to avoid “political blowback” while maintaining their base of QAnon donors, he said.

“When candidates walk back their QAnon commitment, I think you have to view that with real skepticism,” Carusone advised. “They do things in a careful and concerted way.”

QAnon is a political tool to raise money and attract voters

While some candidates publicly disavow QAnon in a bid to appeal to a more mainstream audience, others subtly signal their support for it as a means to bring conspiracy theorists into the fold, to donate and vote for them.

“Many don’t even mention Q directly,” Jack Bratich, an associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, told Insider. “It’s become a kind of background story for adherents, who can signal to each other that they are part of this shadowy movement.”

Insider identified around a dozen candidates who have expressed their support for QAnon in less than explicit ways, via retweets, subtle nods to slogans, and the use of specific hashtags. These include Steve Von Loor, Tricia Flanagan, Sam Peters, and Anthony Sabatini.

qanon sign dc
Crowds gather outside the Capitol for the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. .

Several candidates included the hashtag #WWG1WGA in their tweets. Others included the letter “Q” in response to posts from QAnon-affiliated accounts.

Tricia Flanagan, for example, wrote “ThanQ” in response to a QAnon account. Sam Peters used the #QArmy hashtag in August 2020.

“I’m certain that there are some of these individuals that don’t actually care or believe in it, but they see it as an opportunity,” Carusone said.

“I think there are some candidates who are certainly just being political,” Carusone went on. “They’re crassly seeing a potential political donor base or power base.”

QAnon is ‘on the rise’ in congressional politics

It’s clear that the influence of QAnon in congressional politics is “on the rise,” Carusone said. “And they’re aggressively moving to take over parts of the Republican party, local committees, school boards, local races too.”

Bratich said it shows how deeply QAnon has “settled” into the Republican party. “As a movement, it has expanded to try and take over the party,” he said. “It’s not central to the GOP but it’s no longer a marginal component either.”

QAnon is now a major force in American politics, Carusone agreed. “And, basically, I think we’re kind of screwed.”

Here is a full list of all 36 QAnon supporters who are running for Congress in 2022.

  • Josh Barnett, Arizona
  • Daniel Wood, Arizona
  • Jamie Byers, California
  • Mike Cargile, California
  • Ignacio Cruz, California
  • Peter Liu, California
  • Omar Navarro, California
  • Buzz Patterson, California
  • Lauren Boebert, Colorado
  • Darren Aquino, Florida
  • Vic DeGrammont, Florida
  • Christine Quinn, Florida
  • Anthony Sabatini, Florida
  • Christine Scott, Florida
  • Reba Sherrill, Florida
  • Lavern Spicer, Florida
  • Darlene Swaffar, Florida
  • MTG, Georgia
  • Bobby Piton, Illinois
  • Philanise White, Illinois
  • Jon McGreevey, Maryland
  • Danielle Stella, Minnesota
  • Sam Peters, Nevada
  • Mindy Robinson, Nevada
  • Tricia Flanagan, New Jersey
  • Billy Prempeh, New Jersey
  • Antoine Tucker, New York
  • Steve Von Loor, North Carolina
  • JR Majewski, Ohio
  • Mark Pukita, Ohio
  • Joe Rae Perkins, Oregon
  • Bobby Jeffries, Pennsylvania
  • Robert Lancia, Rhode Island
  • Mayra Flores, Texas
  • Jonny Teague, Texas
Read the original article on Business Insider

Wall Street’s gatekeepers: 350 headhunters hiring for jobs in trading, dealmaking, and investing

headhunters and recruiters sourcing talent for wall street 4x3
Business Insider compiled top headhunting firms and Wall Street recruiters by specialty.

  • Wall Street hiring has been red-hot in recent months.
  • Insider has compiled a searchable list of more than 350 Wall Street recruiters.
  • The database includes headhunters who focus on traders, dealmakers, portfolio managers, and bankers.

Wall Street headhunters have been plenty busy this year.

Buy-side trading firms have been snapping up a slew of star derivatives traders from investment banks. Top healthcare bankers are in high demand, with one recruiter describing search requests from clients as being “extremely, extremely active.” And the market for quant and data-science specialists has perhaps never been hotter.

Business Insider spoke with its network of sources and mined online data from over 80 recruiting firms to compile a list of more than 350 headhunters that source talent for Wall Street firms.

Our database includes recruiters who focus on front-office investment professionals: traders, dealmakers, portfolio managers, and investment bankers.

SUBSCRIBE NOW TO ACCESS OUR DATABASE: 350 headhunters to know if you want to land a job in trading, dealmaking, and investment management

Read the original article on Business Insider

Everything to know about Amazon’s advertising business, which is $21 billion and growing

amazon advertising executive 2x1

Marketers cut ad spending in the pandemic, but e-commerce advertising has boomed as people shop more from home – with Amazon leading the pack.

EMarketer said Amazon claimed 10.3% of the US digital ad market in 2020, up from 7.8% in 2019 – competing with Google and Facebook for ad budgets. That growth has attracted Walmart, Instacart, Walgreens and other retailers that have joined Amazon in vying for a slice of the pie.

Here’s the latest on what we know about Amazon’s moves to grow its advertising business.

How big is advertising for Amazon?

Amazon made about $21.5 billion from advertising in 2020, up from roughly $9.3 billion in the year-ago period.

While that amount is a tiny sliver of Amazon’s revenue from retail sales and Amazon Web Services, its cloud business, advertising is one of its fastest-growing areas. The tech giant continues to cut into advertisers’ search budgets that mostly go to Google.

The pandemic’s impact on Amazon

While advertisers have slashed TV and some digital budgets during the pandemic, Amazon’s advertising has grown as people do more of their shopping online. Amazon has also increased the advertising potential of Twitch, its live-streaming service whose viewership has grown during the pandemic.

Ad tech’s role in Amazon’s ad business

Advertisers and sellers often cite a lack of data and tools as challenges in advertising on Amazon, which has given rise to a cottage industry of firms that specialize in helping marketers navigate the site. Meanwhile, Amazon has pushed further into programmatic advertising with its OTT arm that sells ads in some Fire TV apps.

Ad measurement

Amazon has loads of data about how people shop and has offered advertisers more data to help buy and target ads. Still, advertisers say that Amazon’s data can be limited and continue to find new ways to measure ads.

Who runs Amazon’s ad business?

Amazon is notoriously secretive as a workplace. As Amazon’s advertising ambitions have grown, it’s cultivated a team of execs who pitch advertisers on its ad business.

They include several longtime Amazon employees, including Colleen Aubrey, who is part of Amazon’s executive suite. Amazon has also hired big names from ad agencies and brands over the past few years to build teams that work directly with advertisers.

How to get a job at Amazon

Amazon is consistently looking for advertising talent, but its heavy focus on culture makes it hard for outsiders to break into the company.

We talked to insiders about how to ace the interview process.

Read the original article on Business Insider