6 upgrades for your next email campaign

6 upgrades for your next email campaign

Social media marketing and other marketing platforms might be growing at a phenomenal rate, but email marketing is still very much alive and well in today’s world.

The question to ask yourself is this: are your emails actually getting the response you want? If not, then perhaps it’s time to take a new direction. Check out these six actionable upgrades that you can implement next time you create a campaign.

1. Be clear and define your email’s purpose

Clarity is critical to the success of any email blast. This might not seem like an upgrade, yet you might be surprised at how often businesses fail to clearly define the goals of their emails.

In fact, the name itself—email blast—implies something that doesn’t have a lot of thought behind it. ‘Who am I speaking to?’ is the most important question any marketer should ask themselves before they begin writing an email. If you don’t know who your audience is, it’s almost impossible to create content that’ll resonate with them.

2. Use better images

Staged stock photos just aren’t personal enough in these days of social media marketing. If you’re going to use images in your email blast—and you should—then use something unique; something that shows the personality of your brand and the message you are trying to send.

You can create something yourself, have a professional photographer do it, or leverage user-generated content. If you do use stock photos, try to go beyond the overused ones to find something that feels more real.

3. Make it personal

Firstly, no one wants an email from a no-reply email address; it feels far too impersonal. Ideally, the email should come from a real person in your organization, such as you, your CEO or a member of your customer service team, giving the reader the feeling that they can have a two-way conversation if they wish.

You also want to make the most of the data you have to personalize your emails. You can do basic things like including the subscriber’s name, or you can go much further by tailoring the content of each email to reflect that subscriber’s interests, geographic location, birthday, past purchases, and customer behavior and profile. Customer data is the most powerful tool that will allow you to segment your contacts and deliver meaningful information to them.

4. Make your call-to-action clear

Make it big, make it bold, and make it obvious. No matter what your call-to-action is, you need to get it out there in a very obvious way. Anyone who looks at the email should know what they are supposed to do within a matter of seconds. This is especially important when it comes to those who are viewing emails on mobile devices, because it needs to be easy to tap, too.

5. Send it out at the right day/time

The day and time you send out your email will vary depending on your target audience. For example, stay-at-home parents with small children will have a different best-time than an executive working for a large corporation. This is where dotmailer’s Send Time Optimization tool comes into its own; it remembers when subscribers open their emails and delivers future sends at the times they’re most likely to be read.

6. Promote in-store

If you have a bricks-and-mortar location for your business, you have the perfect way to gather email addresses. You can ask for email addresses at the cash register or you can run an in-store contest or raffle. E-receipts are also becoming more popular and provide a mechanism to collect customers’ email addresses, connecting valuable offline and online purchase data.

These are just a few upgrades you can give your email campaigns to increase their effectiveness and get the results you are looking for. Check out our resources library for heaps of free content downloads that will help you to advance your email marketing.

By Isabel Stewart, Marketing Executive at Dotmailer

George Hotz is giving away the code behind his self-driving car project

George Hotz is giving away the code behind his self-driving car project

Famed iPhone and PlayStation cracker George Hotz is resurrecting the DIY autonomous car project he canceled in October. But this time, there’s a twist: instead of selling a physical product, Hotz’s Comma.ai is releasing the company’s self-driving software, as well as the plans for the necessary hardware, which Hotz calls Comma Neo. All of this code will be available for free — in fact, it is already on Github.

Hotz framed the self-driving software, called Open Pilot, as an “open source alternative to [Tesla’s] Autopilot” during a press event that was held in a San Francisco house that serves as Comma.ai’s headquarters. He claimed that the Open Pilot and Comma Neo combination “provides almost all the same functionality as Autopilot 7,” which is the second-most-recent version of Tesla’s self-driving software.

People who want to tinker with Comma Neo and Open Pilot will need much more than the Github code, though. The Neo side of the project requires a special OS (called NeOS), and the only Android phone that can run it is the OnePlus 3. Hotz says that this is because it’s the only phone that’s open enough (it’s bootloader unlockable) and that has the specs (particularly the Snapdragon 820 processor) and cameras capable of running Comma.ai’s software. They’ll also need to 3D-print the Comma Neo housing.

“We’re not shipping a product,” Hotz said. “We’re shipping alpha software really for research purposes only. We do not provide any guarantees.”

Earlier this year, Hotz announced ambitions to create and sell a $999 after-market kit called “Comma One” that could add semi-autonomous capabilities to Honda Civics and some Acura cars. Over the summer, Comma.ai demoed this tech to various outlets, including The Verge. Most were impressed by the idea, but were careful to point out apparent shortcomings, like how the system handled itself poorly in city driving situations.

Comma One faced increased scrutiny as Comma.ai got closer to releasing the product. In response, Hotz talked down some of the autonomous vehicle hype in a blog post, likening Comma One to the existing features like “lane keep assist” and saying that it “will not turn your car into an autonomous vehicle. It is an advanced driver assistance system.” Hotz also stated that Comma One “does not remove any of the driver's responsibilities from the task of driving.”

One week later, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent Comma.ai a letter regarding concern that Comma One “would put the safety of [Comma.ai’s] customers and other road users at risk.”

“We strongly encourage you to delay selling or deploying your product on the public roadways unless and until you can ensure it is safe,” Paul A. Hemmersbaugh, NHTSA’s chief counsel, wrote in the letter. Hemmersbaugh also took umbrage with Hotz’s claim about driver responsibility, and subtly referenced the trend of Tesla customers pushing their cars’ semi-autonomous features in unsafe ways as evidence. Hotz responded by canceling Comma One, tweeting that he’d “much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn't worth it.”

During today’s press conference, Hotz said that Comma.ai decided to go open source in an effort to sidestep NHTSA as well as the California DMV, the latter of which he said showed up to his house on three separate occasions. “NHTSA only regulates physical products that are sold,” Hotz said. “They do not regulate open source software, which is a whole lot more like speech.” He went on to say that “if the US government doesn't like this [project], I’m sure there are plenty of countries that will.”

Hotz compared Open Pilot to Android, and said that it’s really aimed at “hobbyists and researchers and people who love” self-driving technology. “It’s for people who want to push the future forward,” he said. When asked how or if Comma.ai plans to make any money off of this project, Hotz responded: “How does anybody make money? Our goal is to basically own the network. We want to own the network of self driving cars that is out there.”


The Internet Archive is building a Canadian copy to protect itself from Trump

The Internet Archive is building a Canadian copy to protect itself from Trump

The Internet Archive, a digital library nonprofit that preserves billions of webpages for the historical record, is building a backup archive in Canada after the election of Donald Trump. Today, it began collecting donations for the Internet Archive of Canada, intended to create a copy of the archive outside the United States.

“On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change,” writes founder Brewster Kahle. “It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a web that may face greater restrictions. It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase.”

The Internet Archive provides some of the most comprehensive preservation of our digital ephemera, for both intellectual study and practical use — including journalistic fact checking. Kahle estimates it will cost “millions” of dollars to host a copy of the Internet Archive in Canada, but it would shield its data from some American legal action.

The future of privacy and surveillance under the Trump administration remains unpredictable, but the president-elect has shown support for greater law enforcement surveillance powers and legal censorship, including “closing that internet up in some ways” to fight terrorism. “Somebody will say, 'Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.' These are foolish people,” he said in a 2015 speech. (This morning, he also suggested that burning the American flag — a constitutionally protected action — should be punished by loss of citizenship.)

Kahle notes that moving the internet archive would both insulate it from efforts to take down specific content, and make it harder to request data on user activity — something that more traditional librarians fought when American surveillance powers expanded under George W. Bush. And whatever happens, a Canadian copy would create more redundancy for data that can be seemingly ubiquitous but deceptively fragile. “The history of libraries is one of loss,” writes Kahle. “The Library of Alexandria is best known for is disappearance.”

Twitter brings ranked conversations to mobile devices

Twitter brings ranked conversations to mobile devices

Twitter introduced a new design for replies today that ranks conversations in your timeline according to signals including whether you follow the person who replied and whether the author replied. The personalized ranking means that different people will see a different set of replies by default, although you can still expand the tweet to see every reply. The feature is new to mobile, devices, though Twitter previously brought this design to the web in ... June 2015? Huh.

It's now easier than ever to see the buzz around your Tweet with reply counts and organized conversations: https://t.co/GM7DBEZbJr. pic.twitter.com/FgaH2I4nsI

— Twitter Support (@Support) November 29, 2016

The sort-of-new take on replies ranks more popular replies higher than others, so if you deliver a sick burn to a brand, more people will see it by default. The new design also includes conversation counts, so you can see which tweets are generating the most abuse and harassment at a glance. (Also fun and productive conversations, sometimes!)

Twitter is a free app and you can download it on Android and iOS, if you want.

Exclusive: Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei Reveal Their Plan for Media Domination

Exclusive: Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei Reveal Their Plan for Media Domination

New Media

Exclusive: Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei Reveal Their Plan for Media Domination

For starters, their new company will be called Axios, which means worthy in Greek. And Allen will return with a newsletter that “cuts across our topic areas.”
November 30, 2016 5:00 am
Left, by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Redux; Right, by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The much-anticipated new media venture from Politico co-founder and former C.E.O. Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, the founding father of its Playbook newsletter (the lifeblood of the enterprise for years), has been shrouded in mystery since the duo departed earlier this year. VandeHei seemed to suggest its broad contours through various well-placed hints and intimations. Now, he and his partners are unveiling the company name and its mission statement, neatly rolled out ahead of VandeHei’s appearance at a Recode conference later today.

The name: Axios. The mission statement: “Media is broken—and too often a scam.”

If you added an emphatic “Sad!” at the end of that sentence it might credibly pass as the latest tweet from President-Elect Donald Trump. But, as recent polling has shown the public’s trust in journalists to be at rock bottom, VandeHei and company certainly see opportunity there. Axios stands for “worthy” in Greek. As such, the new company promises to deliver content deserving of its readers’ attention. And that starts with the articulation of a seemingly new approach to media strategy.

As VandeHei sees it, the current news-media landscape can be bifurcated into two major categories. There are the existing big-media companies, such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others, who are “sitting on a hyper-expensive and extensive blob of technology that is outdated, that is filled with archives and so much information about your customers that you can’t get rid of it.” These companies, he added, “are reliant on a type of advertising that you know is going to die, but you can’t leave it because it’s short-term revenue.” He continued: “They are in a very difficult and painful transition. The reality of it is just setting in, and the amount of upheaval is going to be profound, and it drains not just resources but emotions and enthusiasm.”

Then, there are the news and media start-ups that have been built during the last 10 years, such as BuzzFeed and Business Insider, which rely on a model that VandeHei describes as “just give me a lot of traffic, I swear to God I will find a business model.” As it happens, when one news outlet gets a lot of traffic, other companies follow the model, and then, eventually, “the law of supply and demand kicks in,” which means that the price those outlets can charge for advertising “goes down, down, down,” according to VandeHei. In that scenario, such companies will either go out of business or combine. We’ve seen some of that with the Huffington Post, the granddaddy of the start-ups being purchased by AOL, which was subsequently bought by Verizon, who later bought Yahoo (not without some regrets). Vox bought Recode. Business Insider sold to Axel Springer. Bill Simmons’s Ringer has failed to gain traction, proving that individual brands are not ironclad guarantees that an audience will follow. (Simmons’s show on HBO premiered on June 22, and was canceled in November.)

For VandeHei, too many media companies have fallen into the traffic trap, or as he has eloquently put it, the “crap trap.” What Axios is trying to do is occupy the space that VandeHei feels The New York Times and The Economist could have commanded if they weren’t tethered to their old print roots. He has joked with potential investors that Axios is best described as what you get if the “Economist mated with Twitter,” and “smartly narrated all the good stuff its own reporters missed,” according to someone familiar with the conversation. In late summer, Axios secured $10 million in financing. The round was led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures, the venture-capital firm integral to the launch of the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed. Also backing the venture is NBC News, which is a media partner and whose president, Andy Lack, will sit on the board. Other funders include Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective, Greycroft Partners, and David and Katherine Bradley, owners of Atlantic Media.

In particular, Axios wants to focus on business, technology, politics, and media trends through hiring people “who are authentically wired and smart in those topic areas,” as Allen was uniquely suited when he began Playbook. (Dan Primack, who authored the daily Term Sheet newsletter for Fortune, just joined Axios. Primack’s Term Sheet was so popular, in fact, that it hosted its own N.C.A.A.-tournament-bracket pool for its readers.) VandeHei and his co-founders have talked openly with job candidates and investors about the eye-opening lessons of “smart brevity” that he has learned from We the People, a news service on Snapchat that VandeHei has produced in partnership with NowThis News.

VandeHei, who declined to go into details about exactly how the organization would be structured, appears focused on creating good content that this is specifically designed to live on other platforms, such a Snapchat and Facebook. While the Axios site will not fully launch until late January, closer to the presidential inauguration, the site, with sign-ups for e-mails and news alerts, goes live later today. Primack will likely launch his tech-deals newsletter before the launch, probably around December. There will subsequently be another newsletter on the business and politics of health care, written by David Nather. Allen will reprise his newsletter writing gig with one that “cuts across our topic areas,” VandeHei said.

Meanwhile, VandeHei seems to be mostly defining Axios by what it is not. After talking to VandeHei about why anyone would want to launch a new media venture in 2017, with mass layoffs hitting major news organizations and Vice’s co-founder Shane Smith calling for a “bloodbath” in the industry, he e-mailed me: “If we look anything like everyone else a year from now, we are screwed. That is why we plan innovative twists on content, platform, audience and monetization.”

The most significant problem facing news producers, VandeHei told me, is that “there is more good information out there than at any point in humanity, but it’s harder than ever to get to it.” The key to Axios, he elaborated, will be exploring the “collision” between tech and areas such as bureaucracy, health care, energy, and the transportation infrastructure.” He added, “Google and Facebook are gobbling up the media business—they now control two-thirds of the ad market—and conventional publishers are tanking. The media business needs radical overhaul, not knock-offs or wishful thinking.”

Though VandeHei hopes that Axios will eventually garner half of its revenue through subscriptions—presumably through selling high-priced packages to corporations and professionals in specialized fields—he acknowledged that this part of the business has not yet been finalized. “We won’t have a subscription on day one,” he said, adding that Axios would build a model “very quickly.” “What will differentiate us is a very unique twist on how we go about getting content and the platform we built to disseminate that content and how we go after very specific audiences with a level of precision.”

But some of the mystery that shrouded the company in its earliest days of development seems likely to persist, at least for a little bit longer. VandeHei won’t say what the unique twist is, but he lays out the key points in the manifesto, which describes a media company that values short, specialized, high-quality news items that are easily shareable. VandeHei notes that all the 27 people listed in his memo “left cool, safe jobs to start a new company.” VandeHei has said he hopes the company will have 50 employees at launch time. We at the Hive are among those watching closely to see what, in the putative year of the bloodbath, they have joined.

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Americans Believe Media Is the Most Unethical Industry

Why This CEO Pumped The Brakes On Growth Before Stepping On The Gas

Why This CEO Pumped The Brakes On Growth Before Stepping On The Gas

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Why This CEO Pumped The Brakes On Growth Before Stepping On The Gas


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Photo Courtesy of SendGrid

This month SendGrid, a cloud-based customer communication platform, announced the opening of its new global headquarters in downtown Denver. A leader in email deliverability, SendGrid has 40,000 paying customers and delivers over 30 billion emails each month for internet and mobile-based customers like Airbnb, Pandora, HubSpot, Spotify, Uber and FourSquare and more traditional enterprises like Intuit and Costco.

This move consolidated three separate offices while more than doubling the capacity of the company’s previous Colorado footprint. Currently they have just over 300 employees spread across Colorado and California and plan to grow to 900 by 2020.

Rapid growth at this scale doesn’t happen responsibly unless the financials are solid. SendGrid projects crossing $100 million in revenue next year and has already booked two profitable quarters. IPO preparations are underway.

SendGrid CEO Sameer Dholakia joined in 2014 when the company had roughly 200 employees. Despite an eagerness to capitalize on the upside potential, his first move as CEO was to throttle back the investment in growth.

“On the financial side, I wanted us to increase our rate of spending at no rate faster than revenue growth,” says Dholakia, who has 20 years of experience in bringing high growth, disruptive cloud and enterprise software solutions to market. “We weren’t doing that in 2014.”

He started by slowing hiring, he says, because talent acquisition is the single most important decision made every week . Then he installed new leaders over every major function of the business who could convey a clear direction and future focus. “New talent doesn’t appreciate a lack of organization or a lack of clarity on priorities,” Dholakia explains. “They want to know how they’ll develop new skills or they’ll bounce out quickly.”

With this new layer of management in place, he commenced a major cultural shift regarding recruiting. He taught hiring managers to view attracting, developing, and retaining talent as central to their roles and insisted that they always make the trade-off that benefits the long-term.

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6 ways to maximize your impact on Giving Tuesday

6 ways to maximize your impact on Giving Tuesday

6 ways to maximize your impact on Giving Tuesday

What's This?
Image: Cargo/ImageZoo/Corbis
2016%2f06%2f30%2fea%2f201503270cheadshot_20.ff394.2e0b1By Matt Petronzio2015-11-30 23:00:28 UTC

'Tis the season to make a difference.

Since its inaugural year in 2012, Giving Tuesday has seamlessly joined Black Friday and Cyber Monday as one of the biggest events kicking off the holiday shopping season — but with a charitable twist. The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving moves beyond the year-end's typical consumerism and reminds us the holidays also call for giving back.

But as Giving Tuesday grows in popularity, and more organizations and businesses alike join the fray, it can be difficult to wade through the options and figure out how to do the most with your charitable dollars.

To help you maximize your philanthropic potential this Giving Tuesday, we've rounded up six things to think about before you click that "donate" button.

1. Find organizations where your donation really counts.

Just released our updated charity recommendations. Details at https://t.co/boNExVSuDl

— GiveWell (@GiveWell) November 20, 2015

The charities and nonprofits that can benefit the most from Giving Tuesday donations are small, underfunded and ones often implementing hyperlocal solutions to big issues. But these organizations usually can't afford big marketing efforts — which can make them hard to find.

Luckily, there are resources to help you surface them. GiveWell, a charity evaluator that thoroughly researches and vets nonprofits based on a range of criteria, rounds up an annual "top charities" list. The list is short, but impactful — you can be sure your donations to these organizations will help greatly.

Other charity watchdogs are your friends during the giving season. These sites navigate the nonprofit terrain for you, and organize clear stats surrounding a charity's real impact. Try Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and ProPublica's Nonprofit Explorer, among various others.

2. Research what amount would make the biggest difference.

Once you find a worthy organization, don't just check off a random amount on a donation form — look into how much money is needed to make a tangible impact.

For example, if a $2.50 net protects two people from malaria in the developing world, know that a $50 donation could directly impact 40 people. If it costs 50 cents to provide a meal to a Syrian refugee child for a day, know that your donation of $182.50 can feed that same child for a year.

This is where the "other" field on donation forms comes especially in handy.

3. Beware gimmicky campaigns.

You can't fake it til you make it in #causemarketing. It has to be in your org's DNA. #DS2015

— Ad Council (@AdCouncil) February 5, 2015

Just like Black Friday and Cyber Monday before it, Giving Tuesday has become prey for businesses hoping to turn a profit — except this time, they capitalize primarily on a consumer's good nature.

Be wary of Giving Tuesday campaigns from big companies and chains. While the intentions may very well be good, keep an eye out for causewashing — or when businesses claim your purchase contributes to a tangible social impact, but doesn't make nearly as much of a difference as it claims (think Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

Be critical of all campaigns, and put in the necessary research to confirm your entire donation actually contributes to a good cause.

4. Make sure you're not being scammed.

Today is #GivingTuesday: but don't let scammers trick you into a fake "charity" scam. Tips from @FTC: http://t.co/p0tZ4lM35g

— Scam Awareness (@EndScamming) December 2, 2014

There's causewashing, and then there are straight-up scams. If there's one thing May's big cancer charity scam taught us, it's that even the most worthy-sounding charities could be using your well-intentioned donations for personal luxuries.

It also reinforced that we need to be diligent in making sure charities are legitimate before we donate. Look for red flags, Google the organization's financials, make sure you don't donate over the phone and consult those convenient charity watchdogs. These precautions are worth the extra effort.

5. Remember it's not just about money.

People everywhere are #GivingHours for #GivingTuesday! Pledge & learn more https://t.co/9hE76oyGiC @plus_socialgood pic.twitter.com/pnqPi1Ypfz

— #GivingTuesday (@GivingTues) November 25, 2015

In many cases, donations are the best way to support a charity, especially when it's underfunded and can barely afford overhead costs. But you should also find out whether there are other ways you can help, like donating your time and skills.

Use Mashable's guide on how to find volunteer work online, which includes resources that help you find both in-person and remote opportunities.

6. Think beyond Giving Tuesday.

It's Wednesday, but #GivingTuesday doesn't have to end! If you can, please support your favorite nonprofit during this giving season!

— Equal Voice News (@EqualVoiceNews) December 4, 2013

It's important to remember your charitable efforts shouldn't begin and end on Giving Tuesday. Consider your donation an investment in an organization — hold it accountable, track its progress, sign up for updates and consider showing support throughout the year, if you have the means.

Use Giving Tuesday as a jumping-off point to establish a relationship with an organization and its cause. You could be making a lasting difference.

Topics: Business, Giving Tuesday, nonprofits, philanthropy, Social Good
An overview of the bot landscape

An overview of the bot landscape

Bots landscape. Bots landscape. (source: Lev Mass).

Bots are a growing segment of software that acts as an agent on a human’s behalf. These tasks range from ordering online, to making dinner reservations, to handling customer service requests, to helping employees be more productive in the workplace.

Historically, most bots have used simple rules-based approaches to present an output for a given input (such as presenting the weather). But today, with advances in server-side processing power and improvements in implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), bots are starting to provide real value to consumers. The tide has finally turned and bots are entering the mainstream consciousness, especially after the recent announcements at Facebook’s annual conference F8.

This is the year of the bot, with many companies looking to automate boring, repetitive, or manual tasks. Imagine not having to dial a 1-800 number but instead texting your wishes to your airline (or better yet the airline anticipating your needs and texting you). This kind of service can be powered by bots, and we’re sure to see more applications in the near future. Just about every venture firm and corporation is trying to wrap their heads around where they can leverage bots and how to plan a bot strategy.


The idea behind bots dates back to Alan Turing’s early research on computing machinery and intelligence in the 1950s. Turing laid out the idea behind what is now known as the Turing test, whereby a human and a computer would interact entirely by written messages. Turing posited that if the human recipient couldn’t tell the human and the computer apart, then the computer should be labeled as intelligent.

The first wave of bots were based on rules programmed into the software and were used to automate simple, repetitive tasks. However, bots have advanced to the point where they are streamlining support cases, explaining frequently asked questions, scheduling appointments, and completing orders. Originally, these tasks required multiple inputs from a human to answer rule-based logic questions. But with advancements in AI and leveraging deep learning, bots are now able to perform more complex tasks and write their own commands on the fly using massive data sets to answer even more complex queries.

Transactional bots

The potential uses for bots are tremendous given the breadth of potential applications. Over the past few years, most bots just delivered information to the user in a question/answer format and were not truly conversational. A user interacted with the bot, and it pulled data from its own database and surfaced it to the user. An example of this kind of bot is the North Face bot, which helps customers find the right jacket based on inputs that are specific to their plans—in other words, location, climate, projected activities, and so forth.

However, the real value of bots is in their agency to act on your behalf. Bots with agency can help consumers save time by interacting with services on their behalf. A perfect example would be a Slackbot that files tickets for a software development team or completes a customer service request. Because there are so many possible uses, especially for businesses, expect to see a massive increase in these kinds of transactional bots that pass data back and forth between separate platforms.

A move toward the consumer

Currently, most of the focus on bots is on messaging apps. Users’ time spent in messaging apps has recently surpassed time spent in social networks. More than 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app on their phones.

This new medium of interacting with intelligent computers has spawned the term “chatbot.” Slack and Facebook (and others) are working to create a whole new ecosystem based on this premise as a more efficient medium of communication and productivity.

The market for bot applications is huge and will parallel the pool of users already using chat as a channel to interact with friends and family. Why not use it to complete tasks in your daily life? When you have a channel that gives you access to more than a billion people, developers start to take notice.

The future of bots

Most business models for chatbots are still emerging, but as we look to Asia—where WeChat has hundreds of millions of users—we find applications that let you transact within WeChat. Even though it is still early for ecommerce in chat applications, we are seeing interesting use cases, such as selling children’s books and apparel. In these use cases the brand is making a personal appeal to their consumers in chat. In the modern economy, we are all presented with the paradox of choice; bots are a great application to help surface actionable insights or refine our options and take action.

Amazon is leveraging this power with Echo, to help people seamlessly interact with commerce and their world. In doing so, it also nicely helps people transact on Amazon. By removing the need to look at prices when you order by voice, Echo abstracts the desire for the product from the cost, even as—in some cases—the cost is slightly elevated to compensate for the ease of ordering.The more seamless integration of voice ordering also increases velocity of commerce done through the Echo. As with all services, there is no free lunch.

Imagine using the agency power of chatbots to save your most precious resource: time.

Because time is money, people will pay to automate many tedious aspects of their lives, and thus the potential for customer-facing businesses to provide new services and means of services is very promising. Saving the consumer time is just one of the compelling use cases of bots.

The future is not just one of building standalone bots or bots on platforms. The big question is: What will the inflection point be with bots? When the Apple App Store launched, it catapulted apps to the mainstream—now we can’t imagine a smartphone without apps. It remains to be be seen what the dominant distribution mechanism will be for bots. This is quite literally a billion dollar question.

The first step in building the future of bots is understanding the landscape today. The below is one way to visualize the developing landscape.

Diagram of Bot Space Figure 1. Diagram of Bot Space. Source: Lev Mass.
Article image: Bots landscape. (source: Lev Mass).
Lev Mass

Lev Mass

Lev Mass is a Venture Partner at XSeed Capital. Prior to joining XSeed, Lev ran operations and business development for the Cloud Group at Yahoo!. While at Yahoo!, Lev helped start what is now Hortonworks, a leading big data company.

Who owns your genetic information when you’re a twin?

Who owns your genetic information when you’re a twin?


Do Your Family Members Have a Right to Your Genetic Code?

When a woman gets her genome sequenced, questions about privacy arise for her identical twin sister.

Twins Samantha Schilit (left) and Arielle Schilit Nitenson (right) at Nitenson’s wedding in 2013.

In August 2015, Samantha Schilit went to her primary care doctor to get a blood draw. A PhD candidate at Harvard specializing in human genetics, she was itching to unlock the secrets of her genes with a test called whole-genome sequencing, which provides a full readout of a person’s DNA.

Patients must give their informed consent before undergoing whole-genome sequencing or any other genetic test. But there are no laws that restrict what patients can do with their own genetic information, or that require patients’ family members to be involved in the consent process. This raises questions about who owns an individual’s genetic code, since family members share many genetic traits and may harbor the same genetic abnormalities associated with certain diseases.

When Schilit got her test results back a few months later, she didn’t consider that her identical twin sister Arielle Schilit Nitenson, a PhD student in neuroscience at Brown University, would have concerns about the test. The two co-authored an article in the Journal of Genetic Counseling about their experience.

“Your genes don’t really belong to you,” Nitenson says. As identical twins, Schilit and Nitenson share nearly the same genome. So any important information Schilit learned from the test would also be relevant to Nitenson.

But unlike her sister, Nitenson wasn’t as eager to learn what possible mutations might be lurking in her DNA, and she was worried about who would have access to the data. She didn’t want her information to be used for research purposes or by an insurance company to discriminate against her. Congress passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in 2008, but while it prevents genetic discrimination for employment and health insurance, it doesn’t cover life, disability, or long-term care insurance.

David Flannery, medical director at the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, an organization made up of genetics professionals, says concerns about privacy and sharing of genetic data aren’t new. But these issues have become more complex since whole-genome tests became commercially available in 2013. These tests produce huge amounts of data, only a tiny fraction of which scientists are able to link to disease risk.

As it turned out, the results of Schilit’s test showed that the twins had a pretty healthy genome. They found out they were genetic carriers for only a handful of mild medical conditions, but one of them became dangerous when Nitenson became pregnant with her first child earlier this year. One of her genetic mutations could cause problems during labor. The genetic abnormality means that certain common pain alleviation methods and delivery techniques pose a risk for Nitenson and her baby. Armed with that knowledge, Nitenson, now 28 weeks pregnant, told her obstetrician so they could make an alternative plan for her delivery.

Nitenson didn’t want to disclose the genetic abnormality over concerns for her unborn daughter’s privacy, even though her sister was willing to divulge that information publicly. But Schilit and Nitenson came to an agreement about what they are both comfortable sharing and what should be kept private.

Laura Hercher, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College who teaches ethical issues in genetic counseling, says the way the twins handled their genetic information is the best-case scenario for a family in which a member undergoes genetic testing.

The consent process for whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing is “all over the map,” she says. Some companies that manufacture these tests have their own consent forms, while clinics and health-care systems that offer genome sequencing have their own procedures for communicating to patients the possible benefits and consequences of genetic testing. Most tests require a physician’s signature for authorization, regardless of whether the doctor has any special training in genetics.

Schilit says she mentioned her twin to the physician who ordered the test, but she says “there was never a conversation about my twin and the implications” of the test results for her.

Hercher says doctors are responsible for telling patients to notify family members if genetic mutations related to certain serious diseases are discovered in a genomic sequencing test. But ultimately, “family members don’t have veto powers” over a relative’s decision to get genetic testing, she says.

Emily Mullin

Emily Mullin Associate Editor, Biomedicine

I am MIT Technology Review’s associate editor for biomedicine, reporting from Washington, D.C. I look for stories about how biotechnology and innovations in medicine are changing our health and livelihoods—and at what cost. I am alsoMore interested in the degree to which these advances affect health equity around the world. Previously, I was a contributor at Forbes and an associate editor at FierceBiotech. Get in touch at emily.mullin@technologyreview.com.

The Queen’s New Gambit: Chess as a Great American Spectator Sport

The Queen’s New Gambit: Chess as a Great American Spectator Sport

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  • Author: Jason Fagone. Jason Fagone Culture
  • Date of Publication: 02.12.13. 02.12.13
  • Time of Publication: 6:30 am. 6:30 am

The Queen’s New Gambit: Chess as a Great American Spectator Sport

At age 21, Susan Polgar became the first woman to earn the title of grand master in the way men always had, by proving she could hold her own in competition against other grand masters. Photo: Peter Hapak

Julian Schuster first heard the rumor a year and a half ago. Susan Polgar, the legendary grand master known to journalists as “the Queen,” was unhappy in her current position as Texas Tech’s chess coach. She was feeling unappreciated. She had made this known to certain people in the tight-knit world of chess, and the news had traveled from one of these confidants, a foreign grand master living in Texas, to the ears of Schuster, a passionate fan of the game, in St. Louis.

He knew her story, of course; it had achieved the status of legend. Her father raised her and her two sisters to be chess prodigies. In the 1980s, the three Polgar sisters began showing up at tournaments and crushing all comers, men and women alike. At age 21, Susan, the eldest of the three, became the first woman to earn the title of grand master in the way men always had, by proving she could hold her own in competition against other grand masters. Once, over the course of 16 hours and 30 minutes, she played 326 chess games simultaneously, winning 309 of them—a world record at the time. She blazed a trail for women in the game.

Beyond her career at the board, Polgar had made a name for herself as a dominant coach—arguably the dominant coach—in the thriving if mostly invisible world of American collegiate chess. In 2007, at the age of 38, she took her first coaching job, at Texas Tech, whose team was then unranked. By 2010 she had led the Knight Raiders’ all-male squad to the President’s Cup, known as “the Final Four of college chess”; the following two years the Raiders won it all, topping not just Yale and Princeton but the two traditional chess powerhouses, the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

But the conflicts between Polgar and Texas Tech over the kind of issues usually associated with big-time football programs—scholarships, resources, the future of the team—were real, as Schuster, provost of Missouri’s Webster University, would soon learn. A small private school with an unusually dense network of international campuses, Webster lacked a chess team, despite the fact that its main campus was located just outside the city limits of America’s new chess capital. St. Louis is home to the top-ranked player in the US, 25-year-old Hikaru Nakamura, as well as one of the game’s most deep-pocketed benefactors, 68-year-old multimillionaire Rex Sinquefield, who stepped up to build the most opulent chess venue in the country and probably the world, the 6,000-square-foot, $1 million-plus Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

In the summer of 2011, Schuster, a native of the former Yugoslavia who grew up hearing tales of the Polgar sisters’ heroics, invited Susan to St. Louis. He gave her a tour of the Webster campus and, later, talked to her about the resources the school could provide if she decided to coach there. Polgar liked what she heard. In February 2012, she announced that she would be transferring to Webster as its new chess coach. But not only that; eight of her players would be transferring too. Webster would be picking up their scholarships. It was unprecedented: A college chess coach was shifting allegiance from one university to another and bringing a significant chunk of her team with her. No volleyball coach, no tennis or baseball coach, had ever done anything close. News of the deal made The New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, and even that custodian of the sporting zeitgeist, ESPN.com.

Polgar’s sudden departure from Texas Tech surprised her fellow collegiate chess coaches, but they couldn’t deny that the move made sense for Webster; they knew how useful chess could be for a school looking to boost its intellectual reputation. Today’s collegiate game is dominated by a slate of elite squads at schools most people have never heard of. Places like UT Dallas, which has no football stadium but does have a Chess Plaza where graduating players get their pictures taken next to enormous chess pieces, and UMBC, which uses money from the school’s beverage contract with Pepsi-Cola to offer hefty Pepsi-Cola Chess Fellow scholarships to students with extraordinarily high chess ratings. The coaches for these and other top-ranked teams regularly travel abroad to recruit talented young players from Eastern Europe; they identify high schools in the US and elsewhere that can serve as feeder programs; they take calls from hedge funds wanting to offer jobs to their best players.

But among the top coaches in collegiate chess, Polgar has established herself in just five years as the most aggressive: a flamboyant personality, a fierce competitor, and a dogged recruiter. All told, her team at Webster now includes eight grand masters, who hail from the US, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Germany, Hungary, Israel, and the Philippines. This is an unheard-of concentration of talent for a single team. The next strongest squad, at UT Dallas, has only four grand masters. (To put that in context, there are nine grand masters in the entire country of Canada.) As soon as Polgar’s new team began competing, it was ranked number one in the country; no wonder that in the national championships of collegiate chess, which will be decided next month, Webster goes in as the top seed. But Polgar has set her sights beyond dominance of the collegiate game.

It’s been a long time since Americans really cared about chess. The last big spike of interest came in 1972, when one of our own, Bobby Fischer, faced down the Soviets’ top gun over a board in Iceland. Inspired by Fischer’s victory, a generation of smart, shy kids hurried out to buy chess manuals. Then Fischer went nuts. The Cold War ended. Chess was still, fundamentally, a game where two people sat at a table and thought a lot, and America was still a culture without a deep legacy of chess appreciation. Polgar wants to change that. She wants to win the hearts of soccer-addled adolescents and cable TV executives; she wants Americans to think of chess as a sport every bit as legitimate as golf or poker. All chess needs to break through, she believes, are some compelling public faces—and her all-star team of collegians might fit the bill. Engineered from childhood to be a grand master, Susan Polgar is trying to engineer an unlikely chess resurgence in the US.

The Game of Kings

Mouse over the numbers to learn what every faithful chess fan should know.


The design of chess pieces used in international competition is based on the Staunton pattern, patented in 1849 and named after the world’s leading player at the time.

The quickest possible checkmate, aptly dubbed the Fool’s Mate, occurs in two turns. Moving these two pawns forward, for example, leaves the king exposed and unable to escape.

The pawn’s double step—advancing two squares on its first move—wasn’t permitted until the 13th century.

There are 20 possible first moves, made by either a pawn or a knight. From these, information theorist Claude Shannon calculated the number of unique possible chess games at 10120.

When chess first appeared in India around the sixth century, the bishop was an elephant.

In an earlier Persian version of the game, the queen was a male adviser to the king.

Illustration: Veeg

The first thing to understand about Polgar is that she’s a savvy self-promoter and entrepreneur. She has a brand, and in chess circles it’s everywhere. Her elaborate personal website links to an album of more than a hundred public- domain competition photos and glamour shots: Polgar posing with an oversize knight piece. Polgar in an elegant black dress and high heels. Polgar shaking hands across the board with Garry Kasparov. She writes books—Chess Tactics for Champions and Breaking Through: How the Polgar Sisters Changed the Game of Chess, both co-authored with her husband, Paul Truong, a former chess prodigy from Vietnam. She has hosted her own 10-volume DVD set, Winning Chess the Easy Way With Susan Polgar. She runs a popular chess blog, Chess Daily News, and tweets prolifically, reporting on top-level chess matches with a Madden-esque enthusiasm and flair for suspense.

Not surprisingly, people in chess tend to have strong opinions about Polgar. Is she well liked in the collegiate world? “It depends upon to whom you speak,” says UT Dallas chess program director James Stallings, laughing. “We all have our admirers, and we all have our detractors. Certainly she’s done a lot for chess. The move from Texas Tech to Webster was unusual. I don’t think we’ve ever had that happen before, and we may never see it again.” Says UMBC’s Alan Sherman, “I think the way it happened was not very good. There is a stipulation in the rules of college chess that you’re not allowed to recruit from other schools.”

Polgar does the chess equivalent of studying game film, looking for patterns in the play of opposing kids and passing on what she learns.

Polgar insists that she broke no rules. Some of the Texas Tech students decided to stay, some to leave, but none were recruited—”Each of them made their own decision without our influence,” she says. And even her critics admit that, by leaving Texas Tech and establishing a program at Webster, she has added to the number of strong chess schools. Texas Tech hardly closed down its program when she left; instead, it hired a new director, Al Lawrence, the former executive director of the US Chess Federation, and a new coach, a grand master named Alexander Onischuk, who happens to be the fourth-ranked chess player in the country. (Lawrence didn’t return a phone call.) And just last fall, another St. Louis-area university, Lindenwood, launched a chess program of its own, hiring a Syrian-born grand master as its coach and immediately bringing in a young Indian chess star to lead its team. Far from diminishing the world of college chess, Polgar looks to have launched a sort of arms race.

For a lesser-known school, the logic of investing in collegiate chess is compelling and simple: It’s a cheap way to build a brand. “The joke used to be that UT Dallas is one of the best-kept secrets in the state of Texas,” says Stallings, a former salesman who took over the UT Dallas chess program in 2006. Among the state’s public universities, only UT’s flagship in Austin had students with higher SAT scores, “but people didn’t know about us.” UT Dallas lacked a Division I football or basketball team; there was no chance to get on TV. Stallings expanded the program by aligning his goals with the university’s, forging links between the team and the wider community. He lent out his players to faculty scientists, who performed MRI studies on their brains, and he got the school’s cheerleaders and pep band to perform at matches. Over the years, the school ponied up more and more scholarship money for Stallings to recruit top players. “It’s just like in any sport,” he says. “You seek out the best.” For the past six years, Stallings has traveled to the European Youth Chess Championships, and he offers a yearly scholarship to the best boy and the best girl age 16 or under. Since 2000, Dallas has taken first place or tied for first in the President’s Cup five times.

Top coaches like Polgar don’t exactly teach their players chess strategy; the players already know what they’re doing. But a coach can help around the margins. Several hours a week, Polgar studies the chess equivalent of game film. Chess players tend to hone their skills on the Internet now, as poker players do; because chess websites record and save those games, it’s easy to analyze the styles of top players, probing their openings and endgames, searching for weaknesses. Polgar looks for patterns in the play of kids from opposing schools and passes along what she learns to her team. Mostly, though, she tries to encourage the students to do their own analysis. “Obviously they are very sharp already and very knowledgeable themselves,” she says. “I think I can help them more in guiding them in the psychological aspect of the game, or what may be unpleasant for a certain opponent.” Asked for an example of psychological advice, Polgar laughs. “That, I think, is a professional secret.”

Where she really shines is in recruiting, a chess coach’s number one job. Polgar’s talent for attracting top players owes a great deal to her name and reputation but also to her polyglot charm—she speaks five languages fluently, plus some Hebrew and Esperanto—which helps her attract young players who are already ascendant overseas. Polgar and her husband, Truong, are magnets for ringers. “I think they have a wonderful skill to connect with the players and to connect between the players,” explains Israel’s Vitaly Neimer, an international master (one cut below grand master) who played for Polgar at Texas Tech and transferred to Webster as a sophomore. Collegiate chess is an appealing path for talented young players because it lets them develop their game while maintaining some semblance of a normal life: classes, roommates, frisbee in the quad. As soon as Polgar announced she was moving to Webster, she and Truong started getting emails from players around the world. “They contact us,” Truong says, “because they understand.” One recruiting coup led to another. After Polgar snagged a shy, dark-haired 24-year-old named Manuel Leon Hoyos, who just happens to be the top chess player in all of Mexico, Hoyos reached out to his friend Fidel Corrales Jimenez, ranked third in Cuba and 174th in the world—”another rock star,” Truong says—and just like that, Webster gained another young grand master.

Susan Polgar with members of her Webster University chess team.
Photo courtesy: Paul Truong

One evening in May, about 100 people gather at a building on Webster’s campus for what amounts to a chess pep rally. Inside, men and women pick at desserts with icing shaped like chess pieces. The president and provost of the university sit on a makeshift stage along with the star of the show, Polgar, looking elegant in a sequined dress, blue blazer, and black high heels.

Onstage is Schuster, a wiry man with a thin mustache. He introduces Polgar as “arguably one of the strongest players in the history of chess.” She thanks him and points to her players in the crowd, asking them to stand: Georg Meier, a grand master from Germany; Neimer; and Ray Robson, a lanky, freckled 18-year-old often considered to be America’s next great chess hope. (When Polgar first met Robson in 2009, at a tournament she organized in Texas, she was so impressed with his play that she declared him “the next Bobby Fischer.”) A university employee presents the players with black Puma jackets embroidered with a newly designed logo for the chess team. Everyone claps and whoops.

Eventually the college president takes the stage and asks the crowd for two volunteers: one to take on Robson in an exhibition game and one to play Polgar herself. Two men raise their hands. The audience applauds their bravery, and soon 30 or 40 people gather around a chessboard at the back of the room.

“Chess really used to have that geeky, nerdy image—all guys with huge beards, smoking pipes,” Polgar says. “Today they’re good-looking young men.”

Robson is up first. He sits across from one of the volunteers, Masoud Assali, a public-safety officer at Webster. To level the playing field somewhat, Robson removes his glasses so a cream-colored blindfold can be tied over his eyes. He’ll have to remember the position of all the pieces as the game progresses.

“c5,” Robson says.

He is playing black. Truong picks up a black pawn and moves it two spaces forward.

Assali thinks for a few seconds. Then he reaches out and moves a white knight. Truong calls out a letter and a number that tells Robson how his opponent moved—universal chess notation. Robson doesn’t hesitate. “d6,” he says. Truong advances another black pawn.

It goes on like this for several minutes: Assali taking his time, Robson calling out moves almost immediately. White pawns are captured; black advances. Robson soon encircles his opponent’s king. Assali nods with a gracious smile: checkmate.

“Beautiful,” Schuster says, glass of red wine in hand, shaking his head. “Robson could have taken a rook, but instead he played it in the most elegant way possible.” Schuster winks: “He is the One.”

Polgar’s exhibition is next. For a handicap she’ll play not with a blindfold but with a time restriction: She’ll have only two minutes total to make all of her moves, while her opponent, a chess coach at a local prep school, will have five minutes.

She moves a pawn and presses the button on her timer. Click.

Polgar’s opponent frowns. He presses his fist into his chin. Finally, he moves. His hand touches the timer—click

Click. Polgar has already responded. Sixty moves and six minutes in, her opponent topples his king, admitting defeat.

Webster’s recruitment of Polgar and her players is just one in a string of recent investments that are transforming St. Louis into a chess mecca. Parents of ambitious young chess players are starting to move their families here—people like Abdul Shakoor, who came to St. Louis last September from Columbus, Ohio, so that his 12-year-old daughter, Diamond, could train with elite players. “The influx of money in St. Louis is a very significant factor in chess today,” says Alan Sherman, director of the chess program at UMBC.

Much of that influx can be traced back to one guy: Rex Sinquefield, the silver-haired investment wizard. “I would love to be able to say I’m a grand schemer,” he says. “I’d love to be able to say, like the Emperor in Star Wars, ‘Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.'” But it wasn’t like that, he insists. “It just happened.” By bringing people together to play the game he loves, he wound up putting his hometown at the center of the US chess scene.

Raised in a St. Louis orphanage, Sinquefield learned to play chess when he was 13. After spending some time away from the game, he got back into it in a major way several years ago—and, frustrated that St. Louis lacked a physical chess club, he ponied up more than $1 million to build the Chess Club and Scholastic Center from scratch. It wasn’t just that he wanted a nice place to play; he believed in the power of chess to keep old brains healthy and nurture young ones. “You have to use every part of your reasoning process,” Sinquefield says. “You have to develop your memory. You have to calculate. You have to develop patience, intellectual patience.”

The facility he built is a 20-minute drive from the Webster campus, in the Central West End of the city. You can’t miss it; right across the street is the largest chess piece in the world, a 14-and-a-half-foot-tall plywood king. The center is important not just because it’s popular in St. Louis but because it has fleshed out what a mass-market future for chess might look like. There’s a reason the US Championship has been held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center for the past four years. Upstairs in the “tournament hall” are up to 40 boards, neatly arranged in a black-and-white-walled space flooded with natural light—the antithesis of the smoky chess clubs of old. But the most important part of the center is the basement, which features a Monday Night Football-style TV booth where the resident grand master (the day I visit, it’s Benjamin Finegold, the 37th-ranked player in the country) can view all the boards in real time and provide color commentary on a video feed that’s piped back to the plasma screens lining many of the walls upstairs.

Mike Wilmering, the center’s communications director, says the feed is ESPN-ready. “They show poker,” he says. “They show the spelling bee.” Polgar chooses an even more established TV staple as a comparison. “I have all the respect in the world for golf and golf players,” she says. “I think watching golf is not the most exciting thing, but look at all of the resources it gets.” (ESPN, for now, is noncommittal: “If there’s an audience for chess and covering an event makes business sense, we would entertain it,” the network told Wired.) This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. “Chess really used to have that geeky, nerdy image,” Polgar says. “All guys with huge beards, smoking pipes and cigarettes. I mean, when I was a little girl, that was the image of the world champions. Today they’re intelligent, good-looking young men.” The top-ranked player in the world is a boyish, polite, apparently well-adjusted Norwegian, Magnus Carlsen, who looks like he could have been cast in one of the Twilight movies. And many of Polgar’s own players are notably telegenic. Neimer, for example, is lean and confident, with a high-wattage smile; Cuba’s Corrales Jimenez has dark curly hair and chiseled looks.

“I mean, soccer has 200 international federations within FIFA,” Truong says. “The World Chess Federation has 170, which is the second most in the world. Yet we don’t have a marketing brand. In America everything’s about marketing and promotion.” Major sports leagues build brands around their stars. Doing that for young chess stars might be an inherently impossible task. Or maybe it hasn’t been done because—until now—no one’s been bold enough to try.

Contributing editor Jason Fagone (@jfagone) wrote about the development of Nerf guns in issue 20.10.

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California is cracking down on cow farts

California is cracking down on cow farts

California is cracking down on cow farts

What's This?
A cow gives the stink eye at the New Hope Dairy in Galt, California.A cow gives the stink eye at the New Hope Dairy in Galt, California.
Image: AP photo/Rich Pedroncelli
By The Associated Press2016-11-29 10:57:44 -0500

California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm. The nation's leading agricultural state is now targeting greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows and other livestock.

Despite strong opposition from farmers, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in September that for the first time regulates heat-trapping gases from livestock operations and landfills.

Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.

"If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming," said Ryan McCarthy, a science advisor for the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules to implement the new law.

Livestock are responsible for 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with beef and dairy production accounting for the bulk of it, according to a 2013 United Nations report.

Cows are seen feeding at the New Hope Dairy in Galt, California, Nov. 23, 2016.

Cows are seen feeding at the New Hope Dairy in Galt, California, Nov. 23, 2016.

Image: AP photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Since the passage of its landmark global warming law in 2006, California has been reducing carbon emissions from cars, trucks, homes and factories, while boosting production of renewable energy.

In the nation's largest milk-producing state, the new law requires dairies and other livestock operations to reduce methane emissions 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. State officials are developing the regulations, which take effect in 2024.

"We expect that this package ... and everything we're doing on climate, does show an effective model forward for others," McCarthy said.

But dairy farmers say the new regulations will drive up costs when they're already struggling with five years of drought, low milk prices and rising labor costs. They're also concerned about a newly signed law that will boost overtime pay for farmworkers.

"Enteric fermentation" is the digestive process by which cow and other livestock break down food and emit methane.

"Enteric fermentation" is the digestive process by which cow and other livestock break down food and emit methane.

Image: U.S. EPA

"It just makes it more challenging. We're continuing to lose dairies. Dairies are moving out of state to places where these costs don't exist," said Paul Sousa, director of environmental services for Western United Dairymen.

The dairy industry could be forced to move production to states and countries with fewer regulations, leading to higher emissions globally, Sousa said.

"We think it's very foolish for the state of California to be taking this position," said Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager for the Milk Producers Council. "A single state like California is not going to make a meaningful impact on the climate."

Regulators are looking for ways to reduce so-called enteric emissions — methane from the bodily functions of cows. That could eventually require changes to what cattle eat.

But the biggest target is dairy manure, which accounts for about a quarter of the state's methane emissions. State regulators want more farmers to reduce emissions with methane digesters, which capture methane from manure in large storage tanks and convert the gas into electricity.

A methane digester at the New Hope Dairy in Galt, California, Nov. 23, 2016.

A methane digester at the New Hope Dairy in Galt, California, Nov. 23, 2016.

Image: AP photo/rich pedroncelli

The state has set aside $50 million to help dairies set up digesters, but farmers say that's not nearly enough to equip the state's roughly 1,500 dairies.

New Hope Dairy, which has 1,500 cows in Sacramento County, installed a $4 million methane digester in 2013, thanks to state grants and a partnership with the local utility, which operates the system to generate renewable power for the grid.

But co-owner Arlin Van Groningen, a third-generation farmer, says he couldn't afford one if he had to buy and run it himself.

"The bottom line is it's going to negatively impact the economics of the California dairy industry," Van Groningen said of the new law. "In the dairy business, the margins are so slim that something like this will force us out of state."

State officials say they're committed to making sure the new regulations work for farmers and the environment.

"There's a real opportunity here to get very significant emissions reductions at fairly low cost, and actually in a way that can bring economic benefits to farmers," Ryan said.

Topics: california, california air resources board, Climate, climate regulations, cow farts, dairy cows, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, livestock, manure, methane, methane emissions, World