You should be terrified that Amazon is going to eat your industry, but there’s a secret to surviving it, says a guy who experienced it (AMZN)

Jeff Bezos

  • Lanham Napier spent 14 years as the CEO of Rackspace, going head-to-head with Amazon in the last years of his reign. 
  • He shares some tough advice for executives looking over their shoulder at Amazon’s growing dominance in all sorts of markets: you are right to be afraid.
  • But there is a one proven way to compete he says, and it involves beating Amazon at its own game.

For 14 years, Lanham Napier was the face of Rackspace, a web hosting and cloud company that was one of the most successful tech companies in Texas…until he ran smack dab into a nemesis named Amazon.

Napier has some tough advice for executives looking over their shoulder, afraid that Amazon will come in and crush their market as it gains dominion over one industry after another: books, retail, voice systems, home services,  IT/cloud computing, movies, groceries, health care, and so on. 

“Amazon is playing for keeps and they are a tough competitor. So this notion of people being fearful, I think that fear is accurate and they should own that fear. I mean it. Don’t ‘happy talk’ yourself — people happy talk themselves all the time, ‘oh, it’s not going to be that bad.’ B.S. It’s going to bad,” Napier told Business Insider.

He should know. He joined Rackspace as CFO in 2000 when the company was two years old, was promoted to CEO in 2006, and left in 2014. While he was there, Rackspace grew from $1.5 million in revenue to $1.5 billion by 2013.

Napier says that he was classmates in grad school with Andy Jassy, the executive running Amazon Web Services, the retail giant’s juggernaut of a cloud services firm. 

During that time, he watched Amazon’s fledgling cloud computing business rise in power. By 2014, the year Napier left, Rackspace was duking out with Amazon Web Services cloud — and losing. It was clear by then that cloud computing was the future of IT and that Amazon, which had pioneered the concept, was eating Rackspace and the whole IT industry alike. 

Napier had seen the threat of Amazon coming. In 2010, when AWS was still new, he launched a counterattack. That’s when Rackspace teamed up with NASA for an effort called OpenStack, an open source cloud platform. OpenStack quickly won support from many IT industry giants, with the notion that they were banding together to take on Amazon.

OpenStack does still enjoy some popularity, particularly with companies that still maintain at least some data centers, in addition to deployments in the cloud. Still, if the goal of OpenStack was to slow down Amazon, it doesn’t seem to have worked.

BuildGroup Lanham Napier

As Rackspace lost ground to Amazon, its investors soured, and it went private in 2016 in a $4.3 billion leveraged buyout. Rackspace later cried uncle and actually teamed up with Amazon, assisting companies with moving their IT systems onto Amazon’s cloud. It does the same with other clouds, like Microsoft’s and Google’s, too. 

To be fair, Rackspace wasn’t the only would-be Amazon cloud competitor to give up the ghost. Cisco and Hewlett Packard Enterprise — both big OpenStack boosters — shuttered their Amazon rivals before too long, as did VMware. 

Amid the disruption, Napier can’t help feeling some admiration for his old rival.

“Amazon, and Jeff Bezos, and Andy Jassy — what those folks have done is amazing. And they are some of the most talented human beings walking the earth, clearly,” he said.

But he also doesn’t believe that Amazon is unstoppable. 

The trick to beating the tech giant is the “network effect,” he says. That means companies must turn their customers into a community, with data collected across the whole ecosystem used to help the individual. This in turn causes customers to bring in other customers. And the bigger the ecosystem gets, the smarter and better the whole system gets.

“This is Amazon’s power: they have the most scale, huge demand economies. So inside our communities, our communities being the customers we serve, we have to have our view, our capabilities. Otherwise, people will just get steamrolled,” he said.

In software, he offers GiHhub as an example of a company doing the network effect well.

Github / Satya NadellaGitHub offers programmers a way to store, share and work together on their coding projects. Its very-active community has reached a critical mass — programmers go to GitHub to find hot new software projects, and conversely, it’s become a place to show off your coding expertise. 

“This [business] would be a natural for AWS to get into,” he says, pointing to the large number of developers that use AWS for their startups and pet projects.

But GitHub grew fast, and is now the largest player in the market. And so, it’s less surprising that Microsoft just bought Github for $7.5 billion, more than triple its last private valuation.

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Microsoft just bought a startup it invested in — and it built its business on a key Google technology (MSFT)

mark hammond bonsai

  • Microsoft has purchased Bonsai, an artificial intelligence startup based in Berkeley, CA. 
  • Microsoft was actually an investor in Bonsai, through its M12 corporate arm. 
  • Notably, Bonsai’s tech is built on top of TensorFlow — an AI technology originally developed at Google. Microsoft doesn’t seem to mind very much.

First, Microsoft invested. Then, Microsoft acquired. 

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Bonsai, an artificial intelligence startup based in Berkeley, California.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. All told, Bonsai had raised a relatively modest $13.6 million since it started up in 2014. 

There are a few notable things about this acquisition. First, Bonsai was an investment from Microsoft Ventures, which has since renamed itself M12. Plus, Bonsai CEO Mark Hammond is himself an ex-Microsoft employee, working on Windows 95 and the first-ever version of Internet Explorer. 

Second, Bonsai’s whole business is built on TensorFlow — a free, open source artificial intelligence technology originally created at Google, which has gone on to become mega-popular with software developers. TensorFlow is actually an alternative to Microsoft’s own CNTK toolkit for AI developers.

Still, when Bonsai raised its last funding round in 2017, Hammond told Business Insider that Microsoft didn’t consider the fact that it was powered by Google to be a dealbreaker. Microsoft is more interested in serving its customers than pushing any one technology, Hammond said. 

“The barrier for them is the objective,” he said at the time. “Microsoft’s vision and messaging match with ours surprisingly well.”

Specifically, Bonsai specializes in what Hammond has called “machine teaching,” which is basically technology for training AI and other autonomous systems, figuring out how to fine-tune them for better performance. Late last year, Bonsai beat Google’s DeepMind in training a robot arm how to stack up blocks. 

In doing so, Bonsai says that it can help developers build more AI, faster. 

This jibes with Microsoft’s overall push into artificial intelligence, as it tries to make its Azure cloud platform the premiere home for developers building smarter apps for consumers and businesses. Indeed, Hammond and the entire Bonsai team is expected to stay on through the acquisition. 

As far as working with Google’s TensorFlow goes, this isn’t the first time that Microsoft has purchased a startup in a similar boat. In 2017, Microsoft purchased Deis, a startup building on Kubernetes — a software tool that was, again, created by Google and that became an open source phenomenon. Last we heard, Deis is still at it, helping Kubernetes run better on Azure.

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‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ star Daniella Pineda says her character’s lesbian reveal was cut from the film

dr rodriguez jurassic world 2

  • “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” star Daniella Pineda did an interview with Build on Friday and discussed her role in the movie.
  • Pineda plays a character named Dr. Zia Rodriguez.
  • The actress said that a scene between her and Chris Pratt was cut from the movie because it was “not relevant to the story” and there were time constraints. 
  • The moment would have indicated that Pineda’s character is a lesbian. 

Daniella Pineda plays a paleo-veterinarian in the much-anticipated summer blockbuster “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” Her character, Dr. Zia Rodriguez, is a lesbian, but audiences won’t know it from watching the film when it hits theaters on June 22.

During an interview with Build on June 15, the actress explained that a line of dialogue that would have revealed her character’s sexual orientation was cut from the final edit of the movie.

“I understood why they cut it — for sake of time. It’s me and Chris Pratt, and we are in a military vehicle with all of these mercenaries,” Pineda said. “I look at Chris and am like, ‘Yeah. Square jaw. Good bone structure. Tall. Muscles. I don’t date men, but if I did, it would be you. It would gross me out, but I would do it.'”

“It was cool, because it was a little insight into my character, but they cut it,” she added.

The 31-year-old defended the decision to cut the line by explaining that it was “not relevant to the story.” Pineda went on to say she’d like to see the inclusion of more LGBTQ characters in “big-ass movies” in the future.

A representative for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” didn’t immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.

The decision to nix a reference to a queer character is all too common when it comes to Hollywood’s mega-budget movies. Actress Tessa Thompson revealed in a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone that references to her character’s bisexuality was cut from “Thor: Ragnarok” because it “distracted from the scene’s vital exposition.” Similarly, Florence Kasumba, who played Ayo in “Black Panther,” told Vulture that a scene where she flirted with a female general was scraped from final cut of the movie.

GLAAD’s annual report on representation in Hollywood was released in May and showed a significant drop in LGBTQ characters featured in major studio films in 2017. According to Deadline, the report found that out of 109 movie releases from major studios, only 14 movies featured LGBTQ characters. According to the report, 2017 marks the lowest percentage of queer characters represented in large studio films since GLAAD began keeping track in 2012.

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Infotainment technology is driving car owners crazy

Jaguar F PACE 16

  • Infotainment system in cars were again cited as a problem category in the 2018 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.
  • Infotainment systems showed fewer problems versus the 2017 study, but they continue to be the biggest negative in the first 90 days of ownership.
  • Infotainment is here to stay, so automakers will have to get used to making improvements.

Everybody seems to want more infotainment feature in new cars — but those features aren’t always living up to expectations. In fact, as they’ve become more prevalent and complex, they’ve also become a bigger hassle.

When I learned to drive, my car had an AM/FM radio — and I was lucky to have FM. That’s how basic entertainment “technology” was in vehicles in the 1980s. 

Now, car owners enjoy so many options in new infotainment systems that they might not even be aware that old-fangled terrestrial radio is even in there (it is).

Automakers have responded to consumers’ tech obsession with a constantly-expanding set of features. At Business Insider, we’re fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your perspective) in that we get to sample nearly every single infotainment system on the market. We also name an Infotainment System of the Year as part of our Car of the Year program. Audi has won two years in a row.

None of this means that infotainment systems are necessarily helping car companies with their reputations; in some cases, the tech could be hurting them.

J.D. Power is out with its 2018 Initial Quality Study (IQS), a decades-old annual analysis of problems that owners experience with new vehicles. For years, the story with the IQS was how much better Japanese automakers typically performed over their US rivals, raising the question of whether Detroit could catch up.

Detroit has caught up on the mechanical front, and a big theme from the 2018 study is how much South Korean brands have improved, outpacing Japan, the US, and Germany.

Infotainment tech continues to make trouble

2017 Infotainment System of the Year

Infotainment — including GPS navigation, Bluetooth integration, USB connectivity, voice recognition, and user interfaces — is an ongoing issue for car owners, however. J.D. Power noted 22 problems per 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days of ownership. That was a modest improvement from the 2017 study, but still much worse that other categories, such as interior, engine, and exterior.

We review so many infotainment systems that we tend to get used to their quirks and sometimes gloss over things that might be frustrating to less-experienced users. For the most part, I’ve found almost all systems to be about the same as far as features. How those features are managed tends to make the difference. 

Despite having a reputation for vehicle quality, Japanese brands lag their US competition on this front and struggle to compete with the Germans, who tend to favor overly complicated interfaces. My colleague Ben Zhang and I frequently compare notes on, say, a Lexus vehicle, savoring its marvelous quality while scratching our heads over the brand’s iffy infotainment.

Even the best systems have issues

Telsa Model S interior screen infotainment

This isn’t to say that even the best infotainment systems are all that great. I recently renewed my relationship with a Tesla Model X and Tesla’s massive central touchscreen, which controls almost all vehicle functions. After ten minutes, I was as usual grumbling at the screen and wishing I had some simple buttons or knobs to adjust the climate control.

The only standout system in my book is General Motors’ — a touchscreen-based interface that used a small group of buttons for backup. Audi’s MMI-Virtual Cockpit is stunning, but it entails a learning curve to access its high-tech glories.

On a drive last weekend, while testing Acura’s revamped infotainment system, I found my mind wandering back to my old car-radio-and-that-was-it days. True, I had to keep paper maps handy. True, the radio stations available in a given area could be quite limited. True, my car wasn’t as reliable and I lacked a connection to emergency services if I got into an accident. But the tech, such as it was, worked. There wasn’t much to complain about. 

The genie is out of the bottle on infotainment, so the only way I’m going to roll back progress is to buy an ancient Chevy. But you know what? I’ll bet the radio works just fine.

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We compared AMC’s new monthly subscription plan against MoviePass, and it’s a close battle (AMC, HMNY)

movie theater Shutterstock final

On Wednesday, AMC Theatres amped up the movie subscription rivalry it has with MoviePass by announcing AMC Stubs A-List, a $20-a-month service that lets you see three movies per week.

The announcement didn’t just ruffle the feathers of MoviePass, but made moviegoers pause for a brief moment and figure out if it was worth it to sign up for another service. 

AMC’s service (launching June 26) may be double what MoviePass is, but you get more perks like being able to see IMAX and Real 3D movies, and see the same movie multiple times. However, with MoviePass you get to see more movies per month at less of the cost, and you can go to almost any theater in the US to use the service (not just AMC theaters). 

Conflicted? Us too. Here’s the tale of the tape:

amc versus moviepass monthly plans samantha lee

Honestly, there’s no clear winner here. 

But if you’re looking long term, it’s possible AMC will be the better play. AMC is the largest theater chain in the world. That has its perks. Soon after announcing the launch of Stubs A-List, IMAX announced that it would be in full cooperation with the service and that there would be no added charge to see IMAX movies through the A-List service. 

And in an earnings call Wednesday afternoon, AMC CEO Adam Aron, while promising that “our program will be profitable,” noted that those who come in early on the service will be guaranteed that $20 monthly price for the next year. Aron foresees the membership price going up or down depending on the marketplace.

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As ‘Solo’ bombs at the box office, future ‘Star Wars’ standalone movies for characters like Boba Fett and Obi-Wan are reportedly on hold

star wars obi-wan

  • According to Collider, future “Star Wars” standalone movies are being put on hold to focus on “Episode IX” and what the next trilogy will be.
  • The Hollywood Reporter reported last month that Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi movies were in development. Now we may not be seeing them any time soon.
  • “Episode IX” comes to theaters next year. Lucasfilm has already announced that Rian Johnson will create a new trilogy, and that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will produce a new series, as well.


Future “Star Wars” anthology movies like “Rogue One” and “Solo” may not be coming to theaters any time soon.

Collider reported on Wednesday that standalone movies previously thought to be in development, such as Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi movies, are being put on hold to focus on next year’s “Episode IX” and the next trilogy of films. 

Lucasfilm was not immediately available for comment. 

The Hollywood Reporter reported in May that “Logan” director James Mangold was attached to write and direct a Boba Fett spin-off movie, and that an Obi-Wan movie was also in the works with Stephen Daldry in talks to direct. But this new report from Collider indicates that those movies might be on the backburner after “Solo” disappointed at the box office.

“Solo” is expected to lose Disney at least $50 million after a turbulent run in theaters that fell well below box-office predictions. This was preceded by a troubling production in which director Ron Howard was hired to replace original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller well into filming. 

The franchise’s other standalone movies have also experienced production trouble. “Chronicle” and “Fantastic Four” director Josh Trank was fired from a standalone movie. And while “Rogue One” managed to be a box-office success, Tony Gilroy was brought in for extensive reshoots.

Lucasfilm has already announced that “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson will write and direct a new “Star Wars” trilogy and that “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B Weiss will write and produce a new series of films. It seems that Lucasfilm will now focus on what the next set of films will be after the J.J. Abrams-directed “Episode IX” hits theaters next December. 

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AT&T wants all the major TV networks and cable companies to plug into its ad platform – not just Time Warner brands (T)

Brian Lesser

  • AT&T ad chief Brian Lesser talked to Business Insider at Cannes about the telecom’s plans following the closure of the Time Warner acquisition.
  • Basically, AT&T wants to build a tech and targeting platform that gets used by all the key players in TV, including other cable providers and non Time Warner networks.
  • ‘People don’t realize how big our addressable TV business is.’
  • Even with TV ratings in decline and streaming surging, ‘Content that is subsidized by brands is not going to go away.”

First things first. While AT&T is reportedly closing in on a $1.6 billion deal to acquire the ad tech firm AppNexus, according to the Wall Street Journal, Brian Lesser –who runs AT&T’s advertising division AdWorks – politely declined to comment.

Still, there’s plenty for Lesser to talk about now that the union of AT&T and Time Warner is complete. Lesser left the programmatic ad buying firm Xaxis in 2017 to help build out AT&T’s budding but still under the radar ad business.

And now with Time Warner in the fold, Lesser has massive ambitions for television advertising. He wants to reinvent how it’s delivered (using data and tech) and ultimately he wants AT&T to build the ad tech infrastructure that could serve all the major TV networks and cable distributors (not unlike what Google has done with digital ads).

Business Insider caught up with Lesser at Cannes to talk about the future of TV advertising. Here are some of his comments:

AT&T quietly has close to a $2 billion TV ad business through DirecTV

“I think a lot of people don’t understand that we run a significant advertising business today. AdWorks is close to a $2 billion business, and its growing significantly – high teens growth. And that is the biggest addressable television business in the country.”

Wait, what’s addressable TV?

Cable and satellite TV providers typically have two minutes per hour of commercial time that they get to sell. And these companies can beam different ads to different neighborhoods or households (like people who have kids and might want a minivan) using cable boxes or satellite dishes. This is not to be confused with “connected TV,” which encompasses ads in TV apps like Hulu or Crackle.

eMarketer says that addressable TV ad spending should surpass $3 billion next year.

Watching TV

For starters, AT&T wants to turn on more addressable ads in Turner networks

DirecTV can deliver addressable ads to over 15 million homes. It wants to do as much of this as it can on Time Warner’s cable networks e.g. TNT, TBS, TruTV, etc.

charles barkley tnt inside the nba

“Here’s my thesis. Advertisers need a more effective way to reach people with ads in TV and video. TV is still very very popular. Advertisers just want it to work harder for them. They want it to behave more like the digital ads they like…and they want the quality it offers. But for the most part, they are disappointed with the options they have in the market.”

“You can do interesting things in TV, but not across multiple sources of inventory.”

But, here’s the challenge. AT&T can’t simply turn on addressable ads across all of its newly owned cable networks. That’s because those networks are distributed by other cable and satellite companies besides DirecTV – like Spectrum in New York or Cox in the Midwest – and AT&T doesn’t control the ads flowing through those systems.

At least not yet. Lesser said he wants to make deals with other cable companies to either deliver ads through their pipes, or as an alternative it could license its ad tech to those companies.

“We now have the potential for much more addressable TV…If we build a platform that allows us to aggregate inventory on the supply side, and make it easy for advertisers to access on the demand side, we hope to partner with other [distributors].”


AT&T wants all the big TV networks – not just Time Warner channels – to eventually plug into its ad platform

“Ultimately we are stronger if we can create one connected marketsplace for addressable television rather than asking advertisers to buy it from multiple companies.”

Could other non Time Warner networks (like Viacom or NBCUniversal) be part of this connected marketplace? “Over time, our ambition is to partner with other media companies that might want to be part of this connected marketplace.”

Lesser isn’t worried about declining TV ratings and the push toward streaming

What about this idea that the generation being raised on Netflix and streaming is never going to need or tolerate interruptive ads?

“That’s wrong. It’s just wrong. The economics don’t work. You can’t pay for all of the content that is being developed through subscription services. That doesn’t mean that advertising as we know it is the solution. But content that is subsidized by brands is not going to go away.”

AT&T wants to make it clear that it’s very serious about advertising, and plans to do more with digital ads

Lesser pointed to the way AT&T has organized the company into three buckets: one focused on communications (like the wireless network), Warner Media, and the ad division.

“I think AT&T is different [than some of the other media and telecom giants] as evidenced by the fact that is has a standalone ad unit that reports up to our chairman and CEO.”

Again, Lesser couldn’t discuss any potential acquisitions. But he said that AT&T’s data (like where its wireless consumers live and how old they are), could be used to target people with ads all over the web – in a privacy compliant fashion.

“We will be as good as anyone is using data to indentify an audience.”

pepsi coke ad

Lesser actually spent a bunch of the past few months helping AT&T justify its case for the deal before the DOJ

“I was very involved in the litigation. That’s not something I had planned for obviously. When I joined the company on October 1 we didn’t know we were going to get sued by the Justice Department. Once we did, I became part of the core litigation team to help make our case…on why advertising is a big part of the value we are going to bring consumers.”

Wait, you’re really going to make ads better for consumers?

“I believe there’s a paradox we now live in,” he said. “There’s never been as much great content as there is now. It’s never been delivered over more channels and devices. Advertising is as good as its ever been in terms of how targeted it is. And the world has never needed advertising more because all of this content can’t be paid for by subscription services.

“And so more content means we need advertising to pay for it. And yet people for the most part still hate advertising. If we’re successful in delivering advertising that’s more relevant to consumers and engaging, then there’s no need for less content.”

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‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman did the Wakanda salute because his ‘disappointed’ mother asked him to

chadwick boseman wakanda salute avengers infinity wars


Chadwick Boseman is less likely to do the “Black Panther” Wakanda salute these days — but he’s willing to make an exception for his mother.

Boseman posted a boomerang video on Instagram on Wednesday, taken at Italy’s Arco della Pace. In the boomerang, Boseman was seen doing the salute with an indifferent facial expression. 

“Mom said she was disappointed that I didn’t do the salute at the #MTVAwards, so #WakandaForever from the Arco della Pace a Milano,” Boseman wrote in the caption.

Mom said she was disappointed that I didn’t do the salute at the #MTVAwards, so #WakandaForever from the Arco della Pace a Milano.

A post shared by Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) on Jun 20, 2018 at 8:50am PDT on


Boseman recently appeared at the MTV Movie and TV Awards that aired on Monday evening. At the show, he took home awards for best hero and best performance (for his role as T’Challa/Black Panther). During his acceptance speeches, Boseman opted against doing the Wakanda salute — and co-star Michael B. Jordan jokingly revealed why

“He personally asked me to ask y’all to stop asking him to say ‘Wakanda Forever’ out on the streets,” Jordan said during his speech for best villain. “Y’all taking this forever thing a little too seriously.”

Boseman told ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel that fans have been completely obsessed with getting him to do the salute.

“If I don’t want to do it, I have to not leave the house, pretty much,” he said. “I’ve been chased in cars.”

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This highly toxic plant causes burns and blindness – and it’s spreading across the U.S.

Giant_hogweed_2 (1).JPG

  • Giant hogweed is a towering perennial plant capable of causing blindness and severe burns.
  • Invasive and aggressive, the plant starves off surrounding plant life by depriving it of sunshine. It is hardy and difficult to remove.
  • The hogweed has been historically confined to certain areas of the country — but was recently discovered in a new state for the first time.

It’s highly toxic, invasive, and for the first time ever, it’s been spotted in the state of Virginia.

The giant hogweed which bears a strong resemblance to the marginally less dangerous cow parsnip and the harmless  Queen Anne’s Lace is a flowering perennial plant which reaches heights of 20 feet. Originally introduced to North America from its native Asia as a decorative plant at the start of the 20th century, the giant hogweed’s M.O. consists of rapidly overtaking surrounding plant life and hoarding the sun for itself.

Though historically confined to a half dozen states in the northeastern and northwestern corners of the U.S., the plant has been steadily spreading elsewhere. Earlier this month, scientists from The Massey Herbarium at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University penned a Facebook post announcing they’d identified Virginia’s first giant hogweed. Later that day, the organization updated its page to clarify that as many as 30 plants had been found at a private home in Clarke County.



While the environmental impact is certainly concerning, the giant hogweed is dangerous in other ways. Contact with its clear, toxic sap can produce third-degree burns and permanent blindness, particularly when combined with sun exposure.

The skin becomes irritated almost immediately, with blisters typically forming within 48 hours of contact. These take weeks to heal and can leave permanent scars.

Michael Flessner, assistant professor and extension weed science specialist at Virginia Tech, says he’s not too worried. “It’s a dangerous plant but I’m not overly concerned about it,” he told VTNews. “This seems to be an isolated incident.” Furthermore, there are no documented incidents of the hogweed causing permanent blindness, though its capacity to do so is generally undisputed.

That said, the Washington Post recently reported other sightings of hogweed within the state. The hazardous plant lives 3 to 5 years and is especially hardy, meaning it can grow just about anywhere and is especially difficult to remove. Another lovely detail: Before death, a single hogweed plant can release up to 120,000 seeds capable of traveling long distances through water and wind before finding a new place to call home.

If you believe you’ve come across giant hogweed, do not try to remove it yourself. Consult the NYSDEC hogweed identification guide to confirm your suspicions (the hogweed has purple splotches along its stem) and report sightings to local environmental authorities, who can safely remove the pest using protective gear.

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‘Fortnite’ players are furious at Sony for locking accounts to the PlayStation 4 — an exclusionary tactic that’s burning years of goodwill with fans

PlayStation owners are furious at Sony, and they’ve started a hashtag to air their grievances: #BlameSony.

The reason? Sony is locking “Fortnite” accounts on PlayStation 4 to its service, PlayStation Network.

If you tie your “Fortnite” account to PSN, you’re unable to use it — and anything you’ve earned in game or, more importantly, purchased in game — anywhere else.

Nintendo Switch owners learned this the hard way last week when the game finally arrived on Nintendo’s eShop last week:

Fortnite (Switch error message)

Compounding the issue is the fact that “Fortnite” accounts tied to all other platforms — from the Xbox One to the Nintendo Switch to iPhone and PC/Mac — can be used interchangeably.

For example: You can buy the game’s “Battle Pass” on Xbox One, complete a bunch of challenges, then continue completing challenges from the Nintendo Switch (or the iPhone, or a computer). Like “Minecraft” and “Rocket League” before it, “Fortnite” is the latest example of truly “cross-platform” games — where one account is carried across all platforms, from smartphone to home console to PC, with progress and stats and in-game purchases included.

“Fortnite” can even be played across competing platforms — except for Sony’s PlayStation 4, which doesn’t work with the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch versions of the game. Thus, #BlameSony.

It’s the latest example of Sony taking an exclusionary stance with gaming on the PlayStation 4 that’s out of step with what consumers expect in 2018.

Why lock PlayStation 4 “Fortnite” players to the PS4? “The stated reason internally for this was money.”

“Fortnite” is a free game.

The main way Epic Games makes money on “Fortnite” is by selling in-game stuff, like the $10 Battle Pass. Every time Epic Games sells a Battle Pass through the PlayStation 4 version of “Fortnite,” Sony takes a cut of that sale. If you buy a Battle Pass in “Fortnite” on Xbox One, Microsoft takes a cut of that sale. So if you buy a Battle Pass on Xbox One, then play the game on PlayStation 4 with that Battle Pass, you’ve given Sony’s competitor money for something that you’re using on PlayStation 4.

And Sony, apparently, isn’t too big on that idea.

“When I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money,” Amazon Game Studios head John Smedley said on Twitter this week. Smedley worked at Sony for 13 years as the head of Sony Online Entertainment; he left the company in 2015. “They didn’t like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a PlayStation,” he said.

In 2017, Microsoft opened “Minecraft” to cross-platform play. That changed everything.

This all started with “Minecraft.”

The Microsoft-owned blockbuster is available on pretty much everything that plays games, from consoles to phones to handhelds. It wasn’t always owned by Microsoft, but Microsoft made a commitment to maintain the game on all platforms. A new version of the game even launched on Nintendo’s Switch console last year.

Microsoft — maker of the Xbox One, and direct competitor to Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Nintendo’s Switch — publishes “Minecraft” on Sony and Nintendo (and Apple and Google) platforms in addition to its own Xbox consoles.

More importantly, even though Microsoft owns “Minecraft,” the game can be played across competing devices. “Minecraft” players on Xbox One can join up with players on iPhone, Nintendo Switch, Android, and PC/Mac — even if you’re playing in a virtual reality headset! But Xbox One can’t play with PlayStation 4, and vice versa. Microsoft wants the PlayStation 4 version of the game to work with the others, but talks have thus far resulted in nothing.

“Minecraft” was the first of several major games to offer cross-platform play; “Rocket League” and “Fortnite” followed soon after. It’s telling that some of the biggest games in the world are the forerunners of cross-platform play.

Microsoft’s move with “Minecraft” was a small change with huge implications. Player expectations changed forever.

Why don’t more online multiplayer games function across platforms? If “Overwatch” is the same game on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, why can’t I play with a friend?

The answer is obvious, if illogical: Because Sony and Microsoft are competitors. Of course their consoles don’t work with each other. It’s a basic principle that goes back to the original Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System.

But it’s 2018. If iPhone and Android users are able to play games together, why aren’t Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 users able to play games together? 

That question has come into stark relief with the launch of “Fortnite” on Nintendo’s Switch.

“I just get stuck in who this is helping,” Microsoft head Phil Spencer told me in an interview last week. “Say you’re not into gaming, and it’s your kid’s birthday. You buy them a console. I buy my kid a console. We happen to buy consoles of different colors — you bought the blue one, I bought the green one. Now those kids want to play a game together and they can’t because their parents bought different consoles. I don’t know who that helps.”

See the rest of the story at INSIDER