Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for SoulCycle(NEW YORK) -- SoulCycle is planning an initial public offering, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.
The company, which began as an indoor cycling studio in New York City, now has 300,000 unique riders in 38 U.S. studios, the documents indicate. In 2012, the company says it conducted 25,000 classes involving 969,000 riders. Those figures increased to 81,000 and 2.9 million in 2014.
SoulCycle made $112 million in 2014.
Goldman, Sachs & Co., Merill Lynch, and Citigroup are among the underwriters on the IPO, along with William Blair & Company, Cowen and Company and RBC Capital Markets.
JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A mixed day on Wall Street as unemployment claims jumped higher last week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 5.41 to a close of 17745.98.
The Nasdaq ended the session at 5128.78, gaining 17.05 from its open, while the S&P 500 close up 0.06 to 2108.63.
SoulCycle is preparing to file for its initial public offering, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Unemployment claims jumped by 12,000 in the last week, though the four-week moving average is down 3,700, which analysts say indicates a healthy economy. The government also said that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.3 percent from April to June.
Taser International(NEW YORK) — The type of body camera worn by the Cincinnati police officer accused of murder is seeing robust sales, according to the company, which released its earnings report Thursday.
Officer Ray Tensing was arraigned today for the murder of Samuel DuBose during a traffic stop on July 19. Tensing's body camera video shows the encounter with DuBose, who was pulled over for missing a front license plate. Tensing claimed that he was dragged by DuBose's car, but footage from the officer's camera and another officer do not seem to corroborate his story. DuBose was shot once in the head, police said.
The University of Cincinnati police purchased about 80 cameras last August from Taser International, which reported Thursday it had a 154 percent increase in unit sales compared to the previous 12-month period. Those sales were primarily in the U.S., though London made a purchase in April, the company noted.
"That was our camera," Steve Tuttle, spokesman for Taser International told ABC News Thursday, referring to the body cam used by Tensing and his fellow officers. "In high-risk situations, they reduce doubt and uncertainty. As in the case yesterday, the truth is the truth."
As of June 30, more than 3,500 law enforcement agencies are using more than 52,700 of Taser's Axon body-worn cameras, the company said Thursday as part of its second-quarter earnings report. Now, 26 major cities have Taser's Axon cameras, including Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami and San Francisco.
Taser International, based in Phoenix, Arizona, entered the market indirectly by putting cameras on some of its Taser weapons in 2005. Then in 2009, it released its first body-worn camera. Today, it faces competition from smaller startups, such as Digital Ally, which is based in Lenexa, Kansas.
The camera systems can be pricey for both the hardware and the software. The cameras retail for $399 for a single-unit body camera and $599 for a "flex" camera that can be worn elsewhere on the body. Taser also makes money from its video cloud storage solution Evidence.com. From April to June, 77 percent of Axon camera customers purchased Taser's Evidence.com subscriptions, the company said Thursday. The company offers three tiers of pricing for its cloud storage solution, from $15 a month per police officer to $89 a month per cop for unlimited storage, according to its website.
Andrew Uerkwitz, equity analyst with Oppenheimer and Co., said he wasn't surprised by the body camera sales, pointing to their use by governments and law enforcement agencies. Uerkwitz said Taser has a long history of supporting law enforcement agencies with technology and is "well positioned" to be the primary body camera supplier. Taser is facing competition from startup competitors that target smaller police departments, he said.
"Managing video and other electronic evidence is becoming more critical and over time will be more important than just hardware cameras. The availability to manage evidence has help set Taser apart from competition as it has a strong platform," Uerkwitz said.
Amazon(NEW YORK) — Amazon is bringing its one-click ordering system to everyday life with its Amazon Dash button.
The push-to-order buttons are now available to Amazon Prime members for $4.99, with 18 different buttons -- each covering a household product. (You may recall they were announced on April 1, leading many to wonder if it was Amazon's idea of an April Fool's joke.)
The buttons are branded with some of the most common household products made by participating brands, letting users easily re-order everything from Huggies diapers to Tide detergent.
Each Dash button comes with adhesive so it can be stuck in a convenient place for when it's time to reorder. The buttons only respond to a single press, meaning that you won't have to worry about any trigger-happy kids accidentally ordering 50 rolls of paper towels.
The battery-powered buttons work by connecting to a home Wi-Fi network. Users then use their Amazon app to set up their buttons and what they want to order (for instance, what size of diapers). From there, all they have to do is press the branded button for the product they want to re-order.
After a Dash alert has been sent, Amazon will send a notice to the buyer's phone, making it easy to cancel if they want to change their order.
If the customer presses the button when they are running low, the goods will then be delivered to them just in time so they never run out of a particular household product.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You used to just send a text message. Not anymore.
Mobile users are flocking to amped-up messaging services like Snapchat, Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime. The options are myriad and Yahoo is jumping into the fray with an innovation of its own: Streaming video plus chat, but no audio at all. It’s typing, reading and watching, all silently.
Called Livetext, it transmits video between users then overlays their typed text messages on the video. The big differentiator is that no sound is transmitted. While silent video seems counterintuitive, the Sunnyvale, California Internet giant says it’s great is for reactions, show and tell, and situations when talking wouldn’t be acceptable.
Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of video, design and emerging products, says the best part of the app is that users can accept a live text “in any context whatsoever.”
“I’ve done it in meetings, on a plane, actually, it worked, or in any kind of public space because without the audio, you’re actually really engaging in a private discussion … what we found was if we remove that audio that actually people were connecting as if they were texting but receiving the expressiveness of the person they were communicating with,” he said.
While video chatting services like Skype, FaceTime and Viber have flourished, there’s an element of formality to video chatting and some complain it’s awkward; that they don’t know where to look or that it seems rude to multitask while talking.
But text messaging is on a tear. According to research from The Economist published in March of this year, mobile messaging is big and getting bigger. They say 20 billion people a day send SMS messages, while WhatsApp is used to send 30 billion messages daily. The Snapchat website says two billion videos are watched daily on its messaging service and that they have 100 million active users. Emoji use is growing and Facebook says its messenger service has 600 million active users.
So Yahoo’s entry into a growing and diversifying messaging environment makes sense, especially as CEO Marissa Mayer pushes to make all of Yahoo’s products and properties “a daily habit.”
Added Cahan: “We definitely find that our early adopters are closer to the millennials and some of the teens in the sense that those tend to be the folks that are the early communicators and frequent communicators … We view live text as really the emotional connection and reaction from video with the simplicity and ease of texting and we combined those two to form a new form of communication.”
The app can be downloaded free from iTunes and the Google Play store starting Thursday.
AbleStock.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans are keeping their cars vehicles longer than ever before, new data shows.
According to IHS Automotive, the average age of all passenger cars and light trucks in the U.S. is now 11.5 years, a slight increase from last year.
This rising age is partly due to the growing reliability of automobiles and the recession.
“As long as we have tracked average age, it has gradually risen over time due to the increasing quality of automobiles,” Mark Seng, the global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive, said in a statement. “For the five to six years following the recession, however, average age increased about five times its traditional rate, which we attribute to the nearly 40 percent drop in new vehicle sales in 2008-2009."
"We’re now seeing average age begin to plateau and return to its traditional rate of increase as consumers have recovered from the great recession and have begun buying new vehicles again,” Seng added.
IHS predicts the average age of vehicles on the road will jump to 11.6 years in 2016, and then stall a bit before hitting 11.7 in 2018.
Angry Birds 2 was released Thursday, July 30, 2015. (Rovio)(NEW YORK) — Angry Birds are taking flight once again.
The latest edition, Angry Birds 2, includes everything players loved about the first game, with some additional surprises including sharper graphics, multi-stage levels and if you can believe it, even more destruction.
"Angry Birds 2 doubles down on the core tenets of the original that our fans loved: destruction and more destruction!" Patrick Liu, the game's creative director "At the same time it adds a whole new layer of emergent strategy game play for both old and new fans to master."
Another change in the latest version of the game: Players now have the power to choose which bird they hurl at the pigs. Crashing into enough pigs will fill up the Destruct-O-Meter and allow players to earn even more foul to fling.
An arsenal of new spells are also on hand, including blizzards, magic ducks and hot chili peppers.
One potential downside of the game are the in-app purchases needed to quickly revive a character. Players who don't pony up the cash will instead have to wait half an hour for their character to regenerate.
Want to give it a try? Android users can head over to the Google Play store, while iPhone devotees can find it in the App store.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Topshop is the popular British-based retailer that’s known for its skinny jeans -- and even skinnier mannequins.
The retailer is now saying it will no longer use a particular skinny style of mannequin after a concerned shopper posted a photo on Facebook that showed a jeans-clad mannequin in the retailer’s Cribbs Causeway store in Bristol.
Along with the photo, poster Laura Berry explained her extreme dissatisfaction with the mannequin’s proportions, writing in part on July 22: “We come in all shapes and sizes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being the size you naturally are. I believe we should all feel comfortable in our own skin. Having said that, this mannequin is quite frankly ridiculously shaped. Young women aspire to the somewhat cult image your store offers … Yet not one mannequin in your store showed anything bigger than a size 6. Intact I'm not even sure the one in the picture is even that. So today, I'm calling you out Topshop, on your lack of concern for a generation of extremely body conscious youth.”
The post later caught the attention of Topshop, which posted a swift response on Facebook. The retailer explained that the mannequin in question was based on a standard U.K. size 10 and whose overall height of 187 centimeters (6 feet, 1 inch tall) was “taller than the average girl” and “stylized to have more impact in store.”
But the company, which did not reply to ABC News' request for comment, heard the criticism loud and clear, also writing that it was important to showcase a healthy sized image.
“We have taken yours and other customers’ opinions and feedback on board and going forward we are not placing any further orders on this style of mannequin,” the retailer added in its post. “The views of our customers are extremely valuable and we apologise if we have not lived up to the levels of service that we aim to deliver.”
Robyn Silverman, a body image expert, said that mannequins’ size can have an impact.
“The more people are exposed to very thin mannequins… the more likely they're going to have body image problems,” she said, adding: “Let's have mannequins that represent all of us.”
In an interview with the program BBC Points West, Berry said that her posting of the picture was an emotional decision.
“I hoped other women see it, read it and feel as though they're not alone if they feel that way while shopping,” she said.
The Topshop mannequin in question reportedly wears a U.S. women’s size 4/6. The average American woman is 5-foot-4 and wears a size 12/14.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Some "newly discovered evidence" may be just the silver bullet that could put the classic song "Happy Birthday to You" in the public domain.
The decades-old song that nearly everyone in America can sing is owned by music company Warner/Chappell, which charges licensing fees to people who use it commercially. One of those customers is filmmaker Jennifer Nelson, who produced a documentary movie about the song called Happy Birthday.
Nelson wasn't so pleased about paying $1,500 to use the song in the film, so she sued Warner/Chappell in the hope of having the tune in the public domain for all to use for free.
She filed a class action lawsuit under her company Good Morning to You Productions in June 2013 in Los Angeles federal court. But lawyers for her side are pointing to a 1920s children's music book called The Everyday Song Book from music publisher The Cable Company, which includes a song called "Good Morning and Birthday Song." Book editions with the song go as far back as 1922, the lawyers claim in the lawsuit.
The tune can be traced to sisters Mildred and Patty Smith Hill, who in the late 1880s wrote a song with the same melody called “Good Morning to All.” In 1988, Warner/Chappell bought Birchtree Ltd., a company that held the rights to the birthday song.
The new information about the 1920s songbook was not highlighted when both sides of the case had to produce facts during the discovery process by June 27, 2014. But this week, attorneys for the plaintiffs asked the court to consider "newly discovered evidence mistakenly withheld by [the] defendants during discovery as well as evidence discovered by [the] plaintiffs."
"The songbook that we tracked down shows that the publisher authorized the publication of the lyrics to 'Happy Birthday to You' in 1921 or 1922," one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, Daniel J. Schacht, told ABC News. "That puts them in the public domain in 1949 or 1950."
The new information came just in time for the plaintiffs. Judge George King had planned to hold a hearing this week about whether or not the song's writer, Patty Hill, abandoned her rights to the lyrics.
In the recent document filed by the plaintiffs, they call the songbook "proverbial smoking-gun evidence," because it predates the music company's 1935 copyright.
The lawyers for the plaintiffs say that the songbook documents "conclusively prove that any copyright that may have existed for the song itself" had "expired decades ago."
Warner/Chappell and the attorneys that represent the company did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.
MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former supermodel Jane Birkin, who said she no longer wants to be associated with Hermès' Birkin handbag, inspired the ultra-luxury product through a random encounter on a plane.
Birkin said she doesn't want her name to be on the bag after PETA released a report about the farming methods of crocodiles and alligators that make the French product. Crocodile Birkin bags can cost around $60,000 in Hermès stores and leather Birkin bags can retail for around $10,000.
According to Agence France-Presse, Birkin said: "Having been alerted to the cruel practices endured by crocodiles during their slaughter for the production of Hermès bags carrying my name, I have asked the Hermès Group to rename the Birkin until better practices responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag."
The story of how the bag, carried by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, was named after her began on an Air France flight in 1981 to London. At the time, she was sitting next to Jean-Louis Dumas, the chief executive of Hermès.
"I'm not quite sure what type of bag I had with me -- my husband, Jacques Doillon, had reversed his car over my basket, crushed it on purpose not two days before," Birkin told The Telegraph in March 2012. "Little did he know that on this airplane journey, when everything fell out of whatever bag I had, the man next to me said, 'You should have one with pockets.' I said: 'The day Hermès makes one with pockets I will have that', and he said: 'But I am Hermès and I will put pockets in for you.'"
She then told The Telegraph that she drew a prototype on an airplane sickbag.
Birkin said about the naming, "I was very flattered!" according to The Telegraph. The company gives money as a form of royalty to Birkin to charities of her choice. In 2012, that figure was 30,000 British pounds or about $47,000, according to the British newspaper.
On Wednesday, Hermès said it agrees with Birkin's shock at PETA's investigation of cruelty to animals.
"Jane Birkin has expressed her concerns regarding practices for slaughtering crocodiles. Her comments do not in any way influence the friendship and confidence that we have shared for many years," Hermès said Wednesday, according to Vogue. "Hermès respects and shares her emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast."
Hermès and Birkin's representatives did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News.
Delta Airlines(NEW YORK) -- For a few very frequent fliers, an upgrade no longer means a seat in first class. On Delta, the very best customers will have the option to fly private instead.
The airline calls the option to fly private "a new surprise-and-delight program" limited to Medallion members traveling on select commercial Delta flights. Being a Medallion member on Delta requires a minimum silver-level spend of $3,000 per year and 25,000 miles or 30 flight segments. The highest level of membership requires a $15,000 spend per year and 125,000 miles or 140 flight segments.
But by opting to travel in a private jet, “you are removed from the airport aggravation,” Delta Private Jets COO David Sneed told ABC. “You’re whisked away onto the airplane, the door closes, and we taxi toward the runway.”
The private upgrade opportunities will be limited to select passengers in specific markets where an available Delta Private Jets aircraft is otherwise not in use, the airline said. Customers will be contacted by Delta Vacations via email and offered the upgrade for a fee, which includes transportation to the airport’s private aviation area and complimentary on-board catering.
The cost of the upgrade is between $300 and $800.
Delta hopes that once passengers experience private travel, they won’t want to go back.
“If you’ve never been on a private jet, it’s very difference from what you experience in the commercial space,” Delta Private Jets president Erik Snell told ABC. “You’re essentially buying the entire plane, whereas on the commercial side, you’re buying a seat.”
“Private travel offers concierge-level services that Delta’s premium customers are sure to appreciate, and Delta Vacations is pleased to offer opportunities for these experiences,” said John Caldwell, president of Delta Vacations. “This is an innovative way for us to thank valued Delta customers for their loyalty.”
The new program, which the airline said is patent-pending, is a joint effort of Delta, Delta Vacations and Delta Private Jets.
Because Delta is the only U.S. airline that also owns a private jet company, Snell said, it’s uniquely positioned to offer the upgrade.
stu99/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks rose higher on an indication from the Federal Reserve that it may be ready to raise interest rates later this year.
The Dow closed up 120 points while the NASDAQ rose 23 points. The S&P added 15 points.
Facebook reported its latest earnings after the close - it's second quarter numbers beat expectations.
If you're planning to make a big purchase, something you'll need to finance, you may want to do it soon. The Federal Reserve has indicated it could raise interest rates later this year but it still wants to see more growth in the economy. It won't offer a timetable for the increase.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Microsoft really wants to make Windows 10 omnipresent in the lives of its users.
With the release of Windows 10 Wednesday, Microsoft is emphasizing a computing experience that can move seamlessly between the PC and almost any smartphone, including iPhone and Android devices.
While Windows 10 stands out for a variety of functionality upgrades and a sharp new browser, the software upgrade released today also includes a phone companion app, allowing users to connect whatever smartphone they own to their Windows 10 PC.
Windows phones don't require anything extra, however Android and iPhone users will be guided through a few additional steps to get their smartphones integrated.
The result: All of the files from a Windows 10 PC will also be accessible via smartphone and anything taken on the smartphone can also be located from a Windows 10 equipped computer.
That means any notes taken and edited can be synced across the devices and every photo taken on a smartphone can also be accessed on its partner PC -- no extra downloading necessary.
Perhaps the juiciest development of all: Cortana can now hone in on Siri's turf. Microsoft's digital personal assistant is available through the Windows 10 phone companion app at launch in select markets, however she won't be able to be called hands-free.
Cortana will instead live in an app form on Android and iPhone devices that have opted to download the service. She will be able to remind you of certain tasks and answer questions, however there will be some limitations.
"Some features require access to the system that aren't currently possible with iOS or Android, so things like toggling settings or opening apps won't initially be available in the Cortana companions for those platforms," a Microsoft blog post said. "Similarly, the ability to invoke Cortana hands-free by saying 'Hey Cortana' requires special integration with the device’s microphone, so that feature will be limited to Windows Phones and PCs."
Microsoft hopes to upgrade a total of one billion people in the coming years.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two of the most expensive decisions consumers make -- buying a car and buying a house -- took the top spots of the most complained-about transactions in an annual consumer survey released Wednesday, but thanks to some recent high-tech data heists and stolen tax refunds, identity theft is tipping the scales of the fastest growing issue to worry about.
Complaints about purchasing issues and shoddy work on cars and homes helped propel those categories to the top of an annual survey released by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI) of state and local consumer protection officials.
But swiping identities was named the fastest-growing consumer gripe by state and local consumer protection officials in the survey.
Referring to the “epidemic of data breaches” in recent months, Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at CFA, noted the “particularly fast-growing and troublesome” rash of stolen tax refunds. Providing identity theft insurance after the fact is not enough, Grant said.
“What’s needed is to require better security for consumers’ personal information to keep it from being stolen and used in the first place,” she said.
The group’s top 10 consumer complaints in 2014 were:
1. Auto. Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, “lemons,” faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes. 2. Home Improvement/Construction. Shoddy work; failure to start or complete the job.
3. Credit/Debt. Billing and fee disputes; mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud; credit repair; debt relief services; predatory lending; illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.
4. (Tie) Retail Sales. False advertising and other deceptive practices; defective merchandise; problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates; failure to deliver; (Tie) Utilities. Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas services.
5. Services. Misrepresentations; shoddy work; failure to have required licenses; failure to perform.
6. Landlord/Tenant. Unhealthy or unsafe conditions; failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities; deposit and rent disputes; illegal eviction tactics.
7. Home Solicitations. Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations; do-not-call violations.
8. (Tie) Health Products/Services. Misleading claims; unlicensed practitioners; failure to deliver; (Tie) Internet Sales. Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices; failure to deliver online purchases.
9. Fraud. Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, imposter scams and other common frauds.
10. Household Goods. Misrepresentations; failure to deliver; faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances.
The head of NACPI told ABC News at the group’s annual gathering in Colorado this week that complaints about car sales always rank high.
“Most people need a vehicle and you rely on your vehicle,” said Amber Capoun, president of NACPI. “You as a consumer, you walk in intimidated. You’re making this big purchase and you don’t think you can bargain with them.”
Transactions having to do with housing are similarly ripe for problems. In addition to complaints about home construction and remodeling, consumers report getting scammed by traveling repair crews that zoom in after a big storm and try to grab insurance money without finishing the repairs.
CFA also says the new “sharing” economy is creating problems for consumers who aren’t sure who is responsible when a transaction on a ride-sharing or online room-booking service goes sour. Most laws govern business-to-consumer transactions, and the new sharing marketplace can muddle that.
Consumer agencies in the survey pointed to debt collection as one of the most egregious areas, with consumers complaining about fraudsters bothering them for money they don’t even owe in addition to real debt collectors using abusive tactics to collect money on legitimate accounts. Debt collection is a frequent theme in complaints to The ABC News Fixer.
Colorado’s deputy attorney general, Jan Zavislan, told ABC News that Internet fraud also continues to bedevil government agencies because it’s virtually impossible to recoup people’s lost money when scammers are based overseas and cover their tracks with falsified URLs and spoofed phone numbers.
Zavislan added that he never trusts an online business that won’t provide a real world address: “What legitimate business doesn’t want you to know where they are?”
The consumer groups culled complaints from 37 state and local government consumer agencies in 21 states across the country. Those agencies received a total of 281,000 consumer complaints last year and report a total of $123 million saved or recovered for consumers through mediation or enforcement actions. The entire CFA/NACPI report can be viewed here.