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CRISPR’s Nobel Prize sent gene-editing stocks into overdrive



Biotech stocks continued to surge on Wednesday after two scientists responsible for gene-editing tool CRISPR received this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

CRISPR-powered stocks Intellia Therapeutics (NTLA), Editas Medicine (EDIT), and Beam Therapeutics (BEAM) have now jumped 13%, 11%, and 6% respectively.

CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP), co-founded by one of the Nobel winners Emmanuelle Charpentier, is also up more than 11% since Wednesday morning.

Collectively, these four CRISPR stocks are now worth nearly $12.2 billion  up from $6.5 billion in February with nearly $430 million added to their market values overnight.

Now valued beyond $7.1 billion, CRSP is by far the biggest CRISPR-centric company on the market. And it’s the best performing of the four above, having returned 65% so far. Tennessee-headquartered NTLA is second with 63%.

Wall Street rates CRISPR-powered stocks

CRISPR offers a relatively cheap and relatively method of editing practically any kind of DNA (animal or otherwise).

As one might expect, it’s already triggered a myriad of moral, ethical, and legal troubles for scientists, but researchers say the tool could lead to cures for a wide array of genetic diseases.

[Read: Esports and gaming stocks are returning more profit than Bitcoin]

CRISPR, stocks

For what it’s worth, Bank of America (BoA) finds the hype justified, at least in the short-term. BoA analysts reportedly issued their first rating to CRSP earlier this week: “Buy” with a price target of $110 (current price $96).

Goldman Sachs also rated NTLA for the first time last month when it labelled it a “Buy” and set its price target to $33 (current price $23), according to finance portal Finviz.

None of this is investment advice. Don’t pretend it is, because it’s not. Always do your own research.

Published October 8, 2020 — 16:01 UTC


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Halide gets a major update with upgraded RAW processing and new pricing



Halide has launched a new version of its popular iPhone camera app, now dubbed Halide Mark II, and it comes with a lot of new features. Those include a redesign, upgraded RAW processing, and a new pricing model.

Halide says Mark II features a “bottom-up redesign” with the goal of staying out of your way. All of the photo controls should now be within your thumb’s reach, no matter what model of iPhone you’re using the app with. There’s a new typeface, and even the preview of the last shot you took that sits in the bottom-left corner of your screen matches the curvature of your iPhone’s screen. It’s all meant to feel familiar to people who use Apple’s default camera every day — but as always, Halide packs in a ton of advanced photography tricks.

The new Mark II version of the app can now capture both RAW and the iPhone’s computationally processed photos at the same time through a feature Halide calls Coverage. Most photo filter and social media apps don’t accept RAW images, but the benefit of RAW is that you get a photo without any processing applied that you can edit later. The benefit of Coverage means you get two images when you take one photo — one you can post right away, and one you can edit later. Coverage will be off by default, however.

Mark II also gains a new Instant RAW feature, which “intelligently” develops a single RAW image through a 17-step process without you having to adjust sliders or levels yourself. “Instant RAW can work as a midpoint between a completely unedited RAW and a totally processed JPEG,” Halide said in today’s announcement blog. The company tells The Verge an Instant RAW image will look different than the JPG you might get from an image with Apple’s Smart HDR processing applied. Halide’s processing approach was modeled after how film photography develops, the company says. (You can still send your RAW images to other apps like Darkroom for more thorough editing if you want.)

Image: Halide

Halide says Mark II is also “ProRAW ready,” which means it should support the new format when Apple releases it later this year for the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. Halide is also introducing a 10-day course in the app to help people learn more about photography via the features in the app and by explaining photographic concepts. The course is intended for “new and experienced users alike,” according to the blog.

All of these changes come with a shift in pricing, however. The original version of Halide was a one-time paid app, but now, there are a few different ways you can pay for it.

If you’ve already paid for Halide, you get Mark II for free as well as a year-long subscription with all of the perks that includes. (A bit more on that later.) If you previously paid for the app and tried to upgrade to Mark II earlier today but were seeing a prompt to pay, check again. Halide tells The Verge this was due to a bug, and an update to fix the issue is rolling out now.

If you’re a new Halide user, you have a couple of options. You can pay once for the app, which costs $30 at launch and $36 at some point in the future. Halide says it plans to raise that one-time price as new features are added to the app.

Halide is also offering subscriptions, which the company calls “memberships.” At launch, you can pay $9.99 for a year of access to the app’s features. That price will go up to $11.99 “in the near future.”

Halide expects it will up that subscription price eventually as well but says you’ll keep whatever price you first paid if you decide to pay for another year of membership down the line. Memberships will have “perks above and beyond the core Halide experience,” which includes special app icons. But if you just want to kick the tires on the new app before paying, it’s now free to download with a one-week free trial.

Overall, it seems like a pretty meaty update for Halide fans, and the educational tools seem helpful for those of us who have wanted to try more advanced mobile photography but haven’t known where to start. Halide Mark II is available now on the App Store as an update to the original app.


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Mixtape Podcast: Proposition 22 and the labor divide



California’s Proposition 22 is the most funded and perhaps one of the most contentious ballot measures in the state’s history.

To date, the Yes on 22 side has put north of $185 million into the initiative. The proposition, funded by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates, would ensure workers remain independent contractors. A Prop 22 defeat would reconfigure fully how gig working companies classify their workers.

On the first episode of Season 3 of Mixtape, we talked to two gig workers, one on each side of the proposition.

Vanessa Bain is an Instacart shopper who is opposed to Proposition 22. Earlier this year, she co-founded Gig Workers Collective, a nonprofit to fight for fair pay and better treatment for gig workers.

She says the future of labor is at stake.

“I would argue the future of our democracy as well. The reality is that it establishes a dangerous precedent to allow companies to write their own labor laws,” Bain continues. “There’s an obvious conflict of interest there… This policy was created to unilaterally benefit companies at the detriment of workers.”

Surprising exactly no one, Doug Mead, an Uber Eats and Postmates driver who lives in Palm Springs and sits squarely in the Yes on 22 camp, feels differently.

“It’s really the government — their intent to remove a person’s control over how they want to be compensated. And that to me just makes no sense whatsoever,” Mead told us. “I should be in control of how I want to be compensated and by who.”

Uber, which was one of the three original companies (along with Lyft and DoorDash) to fund the proposition with $30 million, would see its business model change drastically if the proposition is defeated.

Earlier this month, Megan spoke with Shin-pei Tsay, Uber’s director of policy, cities and transportation, about a number of topics, including Proposition 22. She says she understands the dilemma that drivers grapple with on both sides but ultimately believes that the flexibility drivers currently have is worth protecting.

“But it isn’t perfect,” Tsay says. “We should be supporting workers more than the existing system enables currently, and so this is sort of a middle way of, you know, protecting that flexibility but also offering some benefits.”

The benefits Tsay is referring to is the 120% of minimum wage, 30 cents per engaged mile, and healthcare subsidies dependent upon the number of hours worked if Prop 22 passes.

And if it doesn’t pass? Or if the company is forced to devise some magical hybrid classification that benefits all drivers, whether they want to be full employees or independent contractors?

“I think it’d be really challenging in our analysis, essentially, we would have to start to ensure that there’s coverage, to ensure that there’s the necessary number of drivers to meet demand. There would be this forecasting that needs to happen — we would only be able to offer a certain number of jobs to meet that demand, because people will be working in set amounts of time.”

Tsay says that the matter at hand is to make the situation better rather than trying to “tinker around with two kinds of imperfect definitions.”

“This is something that a lot of companies have to look at. And what we’re trying, what we’re going up against is [that the] current system in place is very binary. And so I think it has to be, again, in partnership with cities, with states, with the federal government — we have to solve this together. This is not something that we just can come up with. And I don’t think the private sector should just come up with it on its own.”

Both Bain and Mead are also thinking about the potential impact the proposition will have on the future of labor outside of your Ubers and Lyfts. And they both invoked Starbucks of all places and for very different reasons.

“I understand the other side’s point of view in terms of, there are apparently some drivers out there who don’t feel like they’re making enough money,” Mead told us. “But they’re asking for things, to me, that are just ridiculous. They want to get paid for waiting for a ride? Really? Who gets paid to wait on a job?

“If I’m a barista at Starbucks, there are going to be times when there are no customers in the store. However, I’m also taking that time to present the product that’s being sold to the customers, to set up the displays in the stores, to help clean the store. So I’m still working, even if there’s no customers. Now all of that work has already been done, and there are still no customers. Guess what? The manager is going to send me home. They’re not going to allow me to stay there while there’s nothing to do. So I’m not going to get paid to wait. Why should I get paid to wait now as an independent contractor? That makes zero sense to me.”

Bain uses the same example but in a drastically different way. And one that takes the labor movement head on.

“I have no doubt that … if Prop 22 were to succeed, we would see similar types of maneuvers from companies like Starbucks or Walmart, where we’re gonna end up with piece rate work in all of the service industry. Where we’re going to be paid per transaction that we bring up if we’re a cashier. Or we’re going to be paid per latte that we craft, if we’re a barista.

“If all it takes is putting the hiring process and the bossing into an app on your phone to rewrite labor laws, every company on the planet is going to be doing that. There’s so much more, unfortunately, at stake here than just Uber and Lyft and ride share and grocery delivery and how you’re going to get your DoorDash orders. Literally the future of labor is at stake.”


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How Your Credit Score Is Determined



Illustration for article titled How Your Credit Score Is Determined

Photo: Elena Scotti (Shutterstock)

When most people talk credit scores, they’re talking about your General FICO score—the one lenders are most likely to use. FICO is tight-lipped about the formulas they use to calculate our scores, but we know the general categories they track and how important they are to that calculation. Here are those categories, and what you need to know about them.


Payment history is 35% of your score 

Your payment history makes up 35% of your score and it’s pretty much what it sounds like: your history of paying debt in full and on time. The way FICO sees it, this history is a good indicator of how well you handle debt in general. According to CreditCards.com, your payment history is based on seven main factors:

Payment information on various types of accounts, including credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans and mortgages.

The appearance of any adverse public records, such as bankruptcies, judgments, suits and liens, as well as collection items and delinquencies.

How long overdue any delinquent payments have become.

The amount of money still owed on delinquent accounts or collection items.

How much time has passed since any delinquencies, adverse public records or collection items.

The number of past due items listed on a credit report.

How many accounts are being paid as agreed.

FICO determines all of this by analyzing your credit report (which is why your report is far more important than your score). It’s not easy to know when a late payment will pop up and affect your score, as there are no set rules for when creditors have to report late payments. Some might not report your missed payment for 60 days, while others will report it after 30. You can always check your credit report to ensure there are no payments outstanding, but generally, if you have a history of on-time payments, you should be in the clear.


Credit utilization is 30% of your score

Credit utilization is the amount of credit you have available to you that you’re actually using. This percentage—available credit to used credit—is called your credit utilization ratio. For example, a $1,000 purchase on a credit line of $10,000 gives you a credit utilization ratio of 10%. The lower your utilization, the better your score (except for 0% because it doesn’t give lenders a credit history to scrutinize) and experts say you should not have a ratio higher than 30%.

Because your credit limit is part of the credit utilization equation, closing an old credit card can sometimes work against your FICO score. That said, people still choose to close old cards and get dinged on their score rather than pay an annual fee for a card they don’t even use. However, it’s best to avoid cancelling credit cards just before applying for a mortgage or any other line of credit.


Some credit experts suggest opening a bunch of cards to boost your score. Even though it sounds counterintuitive and risky (the temptation to spend!), raising your overall credit limit indeed boosts your FICO score because of credit utilization. Just remember that good financial habits are more important than a credit score.

Some people will tell you it’s important to revolve a balance to build credit, but experts agree: that’s a myth. Credit card analyst Jeanine Skowronski said it best at Forbes:

“You absolutely, positively don’t have to carry a balance,” says Skrowronski, who recommends paying your credit card on time and in full each month. The only thing you’re doing by carrying a balance is paying interest — and with the average national interest rate at 15% that can add up quickly.


Length of credit history is 15% of your score

The length of your credit history doesn’t make up a huge portion of your score, but it’s still important. According to CreditCards.com, this is the “length of time each account has been open and the length of time since the account’s most recent action.” Here are three main factors that affect your length of history:

  • How long your accounts have been open overall.
  • How long certain types of accounts have been open.
  • How long it’s been since you’ve actually used those accounts.

This factor makes it impossible to have a perfect credit score if you’re new to credit, as you need credit on your report for at least six months to begin generating a history. FICO wants to see a long history of credit usage so they can gauge your long-term financial habits.


New credit and credit mix are 10% each

New credit and credit mix are two different factors. With new credit, FICO is looking at a few different things:

  • How many new accounts you’ve opened in the past 6-12 months: “If you have been managing credit for a short time, don’t open a lot of new accounts too rapidly. New accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your FICO Scores if you don’t have a lot of other credit information. Even if you have used credit for a long time, opening a new account can still lower your FICO Scores,” says FICO.
  • Recent inquiries: An inquiry is when a lender pulls your report to check it. It doesn’t have a huge impact on your score though, and the activity will usually drop off of your report after two years. Plus, FICO only looks at inquiries from the past year.
  • How long it’s been since you opened a new account: According to FICO, your score “may consider the time that has passed since you opened a new credit account, for specific types of accounts.”
  • How well you’ve bounced back from past payment problems: “Late payment behavior in the past can be overcome; re-establishing credit and making payments on time will raise a FICO score over time.”


Credit mix is kind of vague, but essentially it means that a history of different kinds of debt is good for your score. FICO says that borrowers with a good mix of credit—cards, car loans, mortgages, student loans—are usually less of a risk to lenders. FICO says:

“The credit mix usually won’t be a key factor in determining your FICO Scores—but it will be more important if your credit report does not have a lot of other information on which to base a score.”


While there are other credit scores out there, most lenders rely on FICO, and even if they don’t, the scoring models will use similar factors. Keeping tabs on your FICO score should give you a good gauge on your credit worthiness in general.

This story was first published in 2017 and was updated on October 22, 2020 with more current information.



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