bad business
May 21, 2018

A tech company that received more than $3 million from supporters through Kickstarter and Indiegogo announced this weekend that it has run out of money, and thousands of people who pre-ordered their product — headphones with surround sound used for virtual reality — are out of luck.

Ossic sold 22,000 pre-orders for its OSSIC X headphones, which cost between $200 and $300, but only 250 backers ever received a pair. The headphones were an "ambitious and expensive product to develop," Ossic said, and "what made this project so exciting, and ultimately ended up being its Achilles heel, was the complexity and scope." Over the last six months, "dedicated" employees worked for free, "doing anything they could to try and make the company succeed," Ossic said, but it wasn't enough.

The company, which also received millions of dollars from angel investors, said it would need more than $2 million in additional funds to be able to deliver headphones to everyone who placed a pre-order. "Inventing something new while also developing complex hardware is expensive," Ossic said, adding that the "unknowns that come from ground-up development with so many new features ultimately stacked up to create delays and cost overruns." In 2016, Ossic said these headphones of the future would be able to sense ear shapes and customize sound for each person, Business Insider reports. Catherine Garcia

August 9, 2017

Pencils? Check. Backpack? Check. Notebook? Check. Gun? Huh?

Patrons at an unidentified Walmart were greeted with a back-to-school display featuring several guns and a sign reading "Own the School Year Like a Hero," and once a photo of the display started making the rounds online, angry social media users blasted Walmart, demanding to know what message they were trying to get across.

The company responded by calling the display "truly awful," and spokesperson Charles Crowson told CNN Money on Wednesday Walmart is "not happy" that the sign appeared above the guns. The original poster did not not say which store they were in when they saw the display, and Crowson said the company is "working diligently" to figure out where it is so the sign can be taken down. Catherine Garcia

April 10, 2017

In a letter sent to employees on Monday night, the CEO of United Airlines stood firmly behind the actions taken by the flight crew of an overbooked flight headed from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday evening and the Chicago aviation officers who dragged a screaming passenger off the plane.

Several passengers filmed the incident, which started after the airline asked four customers to give up their seats so flight crew members who needed to get to Louisville could board the plane. When no one accepted, United picked random passengers to go, and one of them, a 69-year-old man who said he was a doctor and had to get to Louisville to see patients Monday, refused to go. Officers were called and forcibly removed him from the plane, dragging him through the aisle as he screamed. The man later returned to the plane with a bloody face.

United gave a terse statement after the footage went viral, saying the customer "refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate," and the Chicago Police Department released a statement claiming the passenger fell. United CEO Oscar Munoz didn't do his company any favors with the letter he wrote to employees, declaring that the flight crew "followed established procedures" in having the man dragged off the plane. He claimed the passenger was "politely asked to deplane," but he was "disruptive and belligerent" and "defied" officers. Munoz said there are lessons to be learned from the dramatic incident, but told his employees he "emphatically stand[s] behind all of you." Catherine Garcia

April 30, 2015

For every bottle of Ethos water Starbucks sells, 5 cents is donated to the Ethos Water Fund, which supports water, sanitation, and hygiene education programs in developing countries. In a twist, that water comes from an area of California experiencing "exceptional drought."

Starbucks says it has raised $12.3 million through sales of Ethos, which it acquired in 2005. The water comes from private springs in the Northern California town of Baxter, and it is bottled in Merced at a plant owned and operated by the Safeway grocery chain, Mother Jones reports. No one knows how much water is bottled there since the city of Merced considers that classified information (Starbucks uses another water source in Pennsylvania for bottles sold on the East Coast), and while Starbucks told Mother Jones that it "uses a private spring source that is not used for municipal water for any communities," the Merced plant does have to use water in order to manufacture the product — in a report, the International Bottled Water Association found that it takes an average of 1.32 liters of water to make a liter of bottled water.

The water from Baxter is from a private source, but that doesn't mean communities aren't losing out, says Mary Scruggs of the state's Department of Water Resources, since "you capture and pull it out before it ever makes it" downstream. Residents in Merced are starting to speak out against the practice, with one saying during a recent city council meeting, "You might think that in the midst of a drought emergency, diverting public fresh water supplies to bottle and selling them would be frowned upon." Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads