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“I want to see sales force productivity improve again,” said Barrington Research analyst Jeff Houston, who has a “market perform” rating on Angie’s List shares. He adds, “For the past two quarters, revenue has come in just under Street consensus but it was in line with guidance, and that’s one concern.”

Why is that a problem? For Angie’s List, growth is a necessity given its massive spending on marketing. In 2012 alone, the company shelled out $80.2 million in marketing to convince people to sign up for the subscription-based service. Total operating expenses that year far outpaced its $155.8 million in sales. The result was a $52.9 million loss.

Losing money isn’t new for Angie’s List. The company has been in the red for each of the past five years, according to its 2012 annual report. The company hasn’t yet reported its 2013 financial results.

In order for Angie’s List to grow, consumers need to feel they are receiving unbiased, honest reports in exchange for shelling out fees that can be as high as $40 a year. But the site is increasingly coming under criticism for failing to prominently disclose its biggest revenue source: advertising fees from the service providers who are rated by consumers.

Businesses that pay Angie’s List are pushed to the top of search results, Consumer Reports senior editor Jeff Blyskal told CBS MoneyWatch. That isn’t evident to users of the site. Consumer Reports, which competes with Angie’s List, reviewed the site along with Yelp and other rivals last fall.

“When you are paying for something, you expect to get what you pay for,” Blyskal said. “There’s a contract or bargain there — I’ll give you my dollars and you’ll be honest with me.”

In the case of Angie’s List, “they should be more upfront about their advertising.”

Following Blyskal’s assessment of the company in Consumer Reports, Angie’s List promoted itself by noting, “Businesses don’t pay,” a claim it appears to have since taken off the site.

But businesses do pay — and quite a bit. For the first nine months of 2013, businesses provided a whopping 73 percent of the company’s revenue, or about $129.3 million. Subscriber fees, at $47.6 million, comprised the remaining 27 percent of sales.

“None of the actions taken by Angie’s List to date has been in response to Consumer Reports’ assertions or litigation, both of which are baseless,” an Angie’s List spokeswoman wrote in an email. “The company’s public filings contain robust disclosures regarding its operations and the manner in which it generates revenue.”

That’s not stopping critics from questioning Angie’s List’s business model. One lawsuit filed in December alleges that, “contrary to Angie’s List’s repeated Class Period statements that the online reviews providing the membership fees side of its business were unbiased …, the Company was consistently deriving more than half its revenues from the service provider side of the business.”

Angie’s List believes the allegations are without merit, the spokeswoman wrote. “We will vigorously defend against them,” she said.

Angie’s List has another headache to cope with: competition from free review services. Aside from Yelp, which focuses on restaurant and entertainment reviews, there’s Porch.com, a “home improvement network,” and Google Local.

As Angie’s List ramps up marketing to fend off competitors and woo new customers, it’s pulling in less per customer. Per-member annual revenue for Angie’s List’s pre-2003 markets is $43. That’s plunged to just $13 per year per customer for markets Angie’s List expanded to after 2010, according to its annual report.

Still, Houston of Barrington Research said he is optimistic about the company’s prospects.



More Americans than ever have never married: survey

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:22am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A record 20 percent of adult Americans, or 42 million people, have never married, marking a U.S. demographic and social shift, according to an analysis released on Wednesday.

The rise in never-married adults is caused by several factors, including later ages for marriage and more people living together and raising children outside of wedlock, the report by the Pew Research Center said.

In 2012, 23 percent of men and 17 percent of women 25 and older had never been married, marking a widening gap between the sexes. In 1960, 10 percent of men and 8 percent of women had never married, said the Pew report.

“Shifting public attitudes, hard economic times and changing demographic patterns may all be contributing to the rising share of never-married adults,” Pew said. The analysis was based on Census Bureau data and a Pew survey.

The trend is especially pronounced among black Americans. Thirty-six percent of blacks had not been married in 2012, four times the level in 1960.

The share of never-married adults for whites has roughly doubled over the same period to 16 percent and for Hispanics to 26 percent, the Pew survey said.

About half, or 53 percent, of never-married adults said they would like to marry eventually, down from 61 percent in 2010, Pew said.

Men and women are looking for different qualities in potential spouses. Among never-married women, 78 percent say finding someone with a steady job would be very important.

For 70 percent of men, sharing similar views about raising children is more important than finding someone with a steady job.

Pew said the percentage of never-married adults has climbed as the gap in earnings between men and women has narrowed since 1980.

The median hourly wages for men 25 to 34 years old are down by a fifth over the same period. Young men’s participation in the work force has also dropped since 1960.

The median age at first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 20 and 23 respectively in 1960.

The Pew survey was carried out from May 22 to 25 and from May 29 to June 1 among 2,003 adults 18 and older. The margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Symbiotic Relationships | Buzzle.com

Symbiotic relationships is a term frequently used in biology to denote relationships between any two entities who are dependent on and need each other to endure and thrive. There can be situations where both species benefit from each other (mutualism), or only one benefits while the other is unaffected (commensalism), or one benefits while the other is harmed (parasitism), or neither of the species benefit (competition) and last but not least, both are unaffected (neutralism). Keep reading for more on the interesting symbiosis examples explained below.

Symbiotic Relationships in the Tundra

It may not boast of being as biodiverse as the rainforest biome, but the examples of symbiotic relationships in the tundra show us just how interesting this biome is.

Mutualism Relationships

Mutualism relationships are characterized by positive reciprocal relationship between two species, for survival. It helps the species to survive through the challenges of mother nature, and adapt for several future generations.

Examples of Commensalism

Commensalism is a type of symbiotic relationship between two organisms, in which one of the organisms benefits and the other is neither benefited nor harmed in any way. In this article, we will look at some interesting examples of…

Relationship Between Acacia Tree and Ants

The relationship between acacia and ants is an example of mutualism. The following Buzzle article discusses the acacia-ant connection in detail.

Symbiotic Relationships Examples

There are many symbiotic relationships examples in nature. In fact, every living being in nature is dependent on the other. When this dependency for survival is mutual between certain organisms then it is said that they share a…

How to Grow Mycorrhizal Fungi

Mycorrhizal fungi boosts plant growth by absorbing more nutrients from soil. Here is how to grow these beneficial fungi in the roots of your plants.

Types of Symbiotic Relationships

You get to see three different types of symbiotic relationships in nature, namely mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism. In this Buzzle article, we will discuss each of these types along with some examples, which will help you…

Symbiotic Relationships in the Desert

A brief write-up on symbiotic relationships in the desert biome, along with examples, which will give you a better idea of ‘symbiosis’ as well as the ‘desert biome’. Continue reading….

What is Symbiosis

If you are alien to the biological concept of symbiosis, we will explain it to you, while emphasizing on the different types of symbiotic relationships and some examples of each of them.

Examples of Parasitism

A compilation of some examples of parasitism which will help you get well-versed with the details about this symbiotic relationship between two organisms.

Symbiotic Relationships in the Rainforest

The examples of symbiotic relationships in the rainforest biome provided in this article will help you understand the concept of symbiosis in the ecosystem.

Examples of Mutualism

Going through these examples of mutualism will help you understand this biological interaction which has a crucial role to play in smooth functioning of an ecosystem.

What are Symbiotic Relationships?

Have you wondered about the symbiotic relationships that many species share with each other? In this article, we tell you about the phenomenon of symbiosis and the different types of symbiotic relationships that exist in the…



Newest Critics Of FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan: The FCC Commissioners Who Voted For It

Newest Critics Of FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan: The FCC Commissioners Who Voted For It – Consumerist

fccprotestThe controversial and problematic current suggestion for net neutrality — a two-tiered, “fast lane” approach to the rule — was approved in the FCC in May on a 3-2, strict party-line vote. Since then, however, the proposal has gotten seemingly more unpopular by the day. Congress hates it. The internet hates it. Nearly all of the record-smashing 3.7 million comments to the FCC hate it. But the newest, and most meaningful, opposition might have just popped up from an unexpected source: two of the three FCC commissioners who voted for it.

When the FCC approved the rule, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler had support from the two other Democrats on the Commission, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel. This week, though, both have given remarks indicating that they don’t think the prosed rule is the right fit, as Ars Technica reports.

In a brief speech (PDF) she gave at a Congressional forum, commissioner Rosenworcel outright trashed the idea of fast lanes, saying, “We cannot have a two-tiered Internet with fast lanes that speed the traffic of the privileged and leave the rest of us lagging behind.” She added, “I am pleased that Chairman Wheeler has recently acknowledged that all options, including Title II, are on the table,” and alluded to the fact that 3.7 million comments from the public (the vast majority of which denounce a two-tiered approach and call for Title II classification) need to be carefully considered as part of the proceeding.

Commissioner Clyburn, speaking at the same event, spoke to the need for mobile data plans to be held to the same neutrality standard as wired broadband. She pointed out that a high percentage of low-income Americans use only mobile devices for internet access, rather than home computers. “Given these trends,” said Clyburn, “I will be focusing my review on how different proposals will impact the consumer’s experience. What is the impact on a consumer whose mobile broadband may be her only access to broadband? If we have lower standards for mobile, will providers make clear that the experience may be different?”

This is not the first time Clyburn or Rosenworcel have worried publicly about preserving net neutrality. Clyburn specifically supported classifying broadband connections under Title II back in 2010, but the FCC backed away from that reclassification effort and instead went with the more vague Open Internet Rule that a federal court was able to toss out early this year.

This year, during the run-up to the May meeting where Wheeler’s two-tiered proposal was approved, both Rosenworcel and Clyburn expressed worries about the rule. Very literally: “I have real concerns about FCC Chairman Wheeler’s proposal on network neutrality,” Rosenworcel said, seven days before voting for it anyway.

Although it’s clear that none of the four FCC commissioners are entirely on board with chairman Wheeler’s plan, Clyburn’s and Rosenworcel’s objections are substantially, drastically different than those of the two remaining Commission members, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly. The former pair are both in favor of passing some kind of rule, preferably one that bans paid prioritization outright. They object to the current proposal on the grounds that it doesn’t go far enough to protect the public interest.

Pai and O’Rielly, however, are strongly against putting any kind of regulation in place. Both believe that the FCC does not have the authority or scope to regulate internet connections in any of the ways a net neutrality proposal would intend. In fact, commissioners Pai and O’Rielly both prefer the FCC to take a hands-off, non-interventionist stance at basically all times, as Pai’s chief of staff made clear in a speech (PDF) about municipal broadband this summer.

That means that when push comes to shove, for any kind of rule at all to pass Wheeler will once again need commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel on board.

Wheeler himself remains the last true wild card at the FCC, as far as net neutrality goes. Although he proposed the terrible two-tiered rule to begin with, in recent weeks he’s appeared not particularly wedded to it. Last week he told a Congressional committee that Title II regulation is “very much on the table,” adding, “I will assure you that Title II is very much a topic of conversation and on the table and something that’s we’ve specially asked for comment on.”

In recent weeks, Wheeler has also become significantly more vocal speaking up in favor of increasing the minimum threshold of broadband speed, increasing competition in broadband networks, and using the FCC’s authority to override state laws that block the expansion of municipal broadband. All three stances are more consumer-friendly than the current status quo, and all are deeply uphill political battles for Wheeler in the current high-money, bitterly partisan Washington environment.

The FCC is continuing to process the tidal wave of public comments that came on on net neutrality before last Monday’s deadline. They are also continuing to host a series of roundtable discussions about the policy, technological, and economic implications of an open internet rule (or the lack thereof). The next roundtable will take place on October 2. And since 2014 is an election year, the collective attention span of D.C. has shifted off of the several major dockets currently before the FCC and back to the states, where everyone in Congress is away campaigning.

That means any new rule proposals, or any revisions to the current proposal, are still many weeks, if not months, into the future.

[via Ars Technica]

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