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9 Ways to Grow Your Email Audience With Video

We get a ton of questions about using video and email together effectively. So we asked our friends at Wistia for their best tips on how to get started.

Kristen Craft, Wistia’s director of partnerships (and a fellow craft beer lover), breaks it down for us in this special guest post…

Cookies and milk, chips and salsa, peanut butter and jelly. Each of these things is great on its own, but when paired up, they’re so much better. The pairing process seems to almost supercharge each individual flavor.

In the world of marketing, video and email are the same way. Each one is terrific on its own, but when used together, they’re even more powerful than the sum of their parts.

So, what makes the combination of video and email so potent?

Video can make your emails far more appealing — This applies even before someone sees the content. BambooHR, a Utah-based HR software firm, gets its highest open rates when using the word “video” in subject lines. We’ve heard similar feedback from other marketers.Video is an extremely compelling call-to-action — Including a friendly, fun still image from the video is a great way to entice readers to click. We ran an A/B test that produced a 300% increase in click-through rates when using video versus a graphic.Email can amplify your video efforts — If you’re already making video, consider sharing that content via email, rather than just putting it on your website. (And if you’re not putting video on your website, you’re missing out! Here’s an extra-large free account to make it easier.) Use email to drive people back to your site, so they can continue to learn about your company, product, and mission.

To get the greatest effect, ensure your video strategy is integrated with your email strategy. For instance, if you use email to drive webinar signups, test a short video as part of the webinar email campaign.

Don’t be daunted, even if you’re new to video. There are some small, inexpensive things you can do that will make your videos look and sound great.

Here are five tips to help get you started with video, even if you’re short on gear, budget, and expertise:

No matter how well you know your topic, don’t try to wing it on camera. Scripting your video in advance will ensure that your message is as compelling as possible. Plus, it’ll keep your video snappy without the distraction of “ums,” “ahs,” and “likes” that naturally occur in most people’s daily speech.

Try memorizing your script, or if that feels too difficult, break it into bite-sized chunks and record them individually. You can always edit the clips together with some b-roll footage in between.

People often ask us what camera they should buy. The truth is, you probably already have a terrific camera in your pocket. Most smartphone cameras shoot HD video, and the quality is excellent.

Don’t buy a fancy new camera and spend precious time trying to learn how to use it. You’ll just be creating new hurdles for yourself. That said, it’s definitely worth investing in a basic tripod or stand for your phone. Nothing is more distracting than shaky footage. You can even hack this by stabilizing your phone on top of a tall, stationary object.

Here’s a test for you: which scenario gives you better video footage, a terrific camera with bad lighting or a smartphone camera with terrific lighting? If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll probably guess the latter, and you’re correct!

Good lighting goes a long way. It’ll make your footage as sharp as possible, and it’ll also eliminate any distracting shadows and lines from your subject’s face. We put together a “basic recipe” for a $100 lighting kit using items you can grab at Home Depot. If you’re on an even tighter budget, find a big window on a sunny day and have your subject stand facing the light.

Your message is the most important part of the video, so make sure it comes through loud and clear. First, eliminate background noise. Find a quiet location, ideally one where you can’t hear anyone or anything else. Printers, HVAC units, even outdoor traffic can really muddy your messaging.

Once you’re recording, we recommend using an external microphone, rather than the one built into your camera. Here’s a primer on how to choose an external mic. The name of the game is proximity: get the mic as close to your subject as possible, and you’ll be in good shape.

Don’t agonize over your first video: this one isn’t going to be a masterpiece, but I can promise that you WILL get better with time. Use analytics to help you identify where you want to improve and iterate on those areas. Your first videos will give you the chance to assess what your audience likes best, then you can focus on the topics they find most appealing.

Video analytics can tell you a ton: focus on overall play rates, which indicate how compelling the topic itself is, and the average engagement rates (or percent viewed) within a video, which indicate how interesting the content is. Pay attention to where people stop watching. If it happens toward the end, tighten up your conclusion. If it happens towards the middle, try to shorten your videos. Testing and iteration will help you become a pro in no time!

Video is an awesome tool to drive more leads, and the AWeber-Wistia Turnstile integration makes it simple to collect video viewers’ email addresses and add them to your AWeber lists. Here’s a quick look at how Turnstile works, and how you can use it to grow your email audience.

If you’re ready to try it out for yourself, here’s a bonus: Try a full-featured Wistia account for 45 days, absolutely free.

There’s no better way to get started with video than to dive in and experiment. So test these ideas out, post a comment and let us know how they’re working for you — and share the videos you create with us, we’d love to see them!

For even more hands-on video advice, visit the Wistia team at our ASCEND Digital Marketing Summit Oct. 22-24, 2014!

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Hunter Boyle leads business development for AWeber. A veteran content and conversion strategist, he’s helped thousands of marketers optimize their digital initiatives. Connect with Hunter on Twitter and LinkedIn. Subscribe to This Blog by Email There are no trackbacks for this post yet.

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HBO Announces New 'Game Of Thrones' Season 5 Cast Members At Comic Con

HBO introduced a series of new characters for the upcoming season 5 of its hit series Game of Thrones at Comic Con on Friday.

Many of the new additions are relatives of the (spoiler alert) departed Oberyn Martell. Alexander Siddig (The Fifth Estate) will play his older brother Doran Martell. Toby Sebastian will play Doran’s son Trystane Martell, while DeObia Oparei joins as Areo Hotah, the loyal leader of  Doran Martell’s palace guard.

We also get to meet Oberyn’s three “bastard” daughters: Rosabell Laurenti Sellers will play Tyene Sand, Jessica Henwick will play Nymeria Sand, and Keisha Castle-Hughes, from Whale Rider, will play Obara Sand.

Nell Tiger Free will replace Aimee Richardson as Myrcella Baratheon, ostensibly the daughter of Cersei and Robert Baratheon, although fans of the show can surely guess the true identity of her father. She was bethrothed to Tyrstsane Martell as part of the political machinations during the recent wartime.

Jonathan Pryce, veteran of films like “Brazil” and “Pirates of the Carribbean,” stars as The High Sparrow who has served the poor in King’s Landing and may provide a bit of needed compassion to the world of Westeros.

HBO also released a season four gag reel of the famously intense show at Comic Con.

For the best-curated news about sports and entertainment, follow me on Twitter (@allenstjohn).

Allen St. John is the author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, 

America's New Industrial Boomtowns

David Peebles works in a glass tower across from Houston’s Galleria mall, a cathedral of consumption, but his attention is focused on the city’s highly industrialized ship channel 30 miles away. “Houston is the Chicago of this era,” says Peebles, who runs the Texas office of Odebrecht, a $45 billion engineering firm based in Brazil. “In the sixties you had to go to Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. Now Houston is the place for new industry.”

With upward of $35 billion of new refineries, chemical plants and factories planned through 2015 for Houston and the surrounding Gulf Coast, companies like Odebrecht, which runs chemical plants and is working on a new freeway in the area, have converged on the nation’s oil and gas capital. They are part of the reason why the Texas metropolis ranks first on our list of the best large cities for manufacturing.

Houston, with 255,000 manufacturing jobs, is not yet the country’s largest industrial center; it still lags behind the longtime leaders Los Angeles, with 360,000 manufacturing jobs, and Chicago, home to 314,000. But it is clearly on a stronger trajectory. Since 2008, Houston’s manufacturing workforce has expanded 5% while Los Angeles has lost 13% of its industrial jobs and Chicago’s factory workforce has shrunk 11%.

Why Manufacturing Matters

Whether America is on the path to a sustainable industrial expansion or is just seeing a weak bounce back has been widely debated, but the recent numbers are impressive. Since 2010 the U.S. has added 647,000 manufacturing jobs. New energy finds have led to the construction and expansion of pipelines and refineries, and has sparked foreign industrial investment reflecting electricity costs that are now well below those in Europe or East Asia. Besides Houston, also ranking high on our big cities list are two other energy towns, No. 5 Oklahoma City and No. 10 Ft. Worth, Texas. Our mid-sized cities list is led by Lafayette, La., with nearby Baton Rouge in 11th place.

Evangelists of the “information economy” may think that industrial jobs are passé, as epitomized by a recent Slate article that recommended that working-class people from places like Detroit should move to areas like Silicon Valley or Boston where they can make money cutting the hair and walking the dogs of high-tech magnates. But the notion that U.S. manufacturing is doomed, and that the jobs are of lower quality than those in high-tech centers, is largely bogus; even in Silicon Valley the majority of new projected jobs are expected to pay under $50,000 annually. In contrast manufacturers pay above-average wages, in some cases due to unionization, but in many others because of the increasing sophisticated skills required by today’s factories.

Although we will likely never see a boom in factory employment on the scale experienced in the last century, the demand for blue-collar skills is projected to increase in future years. Among all professions for non-college graduates, manufacturing skills are most in demand, according to a study by Express Employment Professionals. By 2020, according to BCG and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation could face a shortfall of around 875,000 machinists, welders, industrial-machinery operators, and other highly skilled manufacturing professionals.

Southern Comfort

Our research suggests that much of this growth will be in metro areas in the South and the Great Plains that are known for friendly business climates. New industrial investment is tending to go to places that are largely non-union, and feature lower taxes and light regulation. Epitomizing this trend is the No. 2 city on our large metro area list, Nashville-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., where manufacturing employment is up 6% since 2008. Nashville has become a hotbed for foreign investment in manufacturing, with the expansion of the Nissan facilities in nearby Smyrna, as well as a host of suppliers.

This is occurring, in part, because some large companies are shifting production to America from China in response to rising Chinese wages as well as sometimes unpredictable business conditions there.

Investment inflows, both from overseas and domestic companies, have boosted other standout southern industrial hubs, as well as the smaller metro areas on our mid-sized city list, notably Mobile, Ala. (third place), with its expanding industrially oriented port, and No. 14 Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, S.C., which has been a beneficiary of major new foreign investment as well as the expanded presence of U.S. aerospace giant Boeing. The South also is home to our No. 1 small manufacturing city, Florence-Muscle Shoals, Ala.

 The Resurgence of the Rust Belt

The progress is not confined to the Sun Belt. The resurgence of the U.S. auto industry has revived the economy of Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich., also known as “automation alley.” The home to many parts suppliers, engineering and tech support for the car industry, this area has enjoyed an impressive 12.7 percent growth in manufacturing jobs since 2008, placing it third on our big cities list.

Detroit, the center of the auto industry, ranks a respectable 16th on our big city list, but the big improvements in the Rust Belt are occurring in mid-sized cities such as Lansing-East Lansing, Mich. (eighth), Grand Rapids (ninth) and Ft. Wayne, Ind. (10th).

But arguably the strongest Rust Belt recovery has occurred in Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., third on our small cities list. Since 2008 Elkhart’s industrial employment — much of it in the recreational vehicle industry — has expanded 30%, one of the most dramatic employment turnarounds of any place in America. Unemployment has fallen to 5% from a recession high of 20.2%.

Hong Kong Protesters Reject 'Fake Democracy' From China


Protesters filled the streets of Hong Kong’s business district on Tuesday to show their support for democracy and vent their frustrations against a government they feel is all too willing to sacrifice their interests and freedoms.

Marking the 17th anniversary since the former British colony returned to Chinese sovereignty, huge crowds chanted slogans and marched behind a banner that demands Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the city’s top leader, step down in favor of popular elections.

Organizers of the rally, the Civil Human Rights Front, estimated that some 500,000 people may take part this year, the highest turnout for the annual event since 2003.

According to RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong), Zhang Xiaoming, the Director of Beijing’s Liaison Office, said the central government’s promise to adopt universal suffrage in the city won’t be swayed by the size of the rally.

A steady stream of sentiments like these from the administration of the current chief executive has only managed to stoke concerns over the city’s future. Indeed, many now fear the race to become the city’s next chief executive will be limited to a small pool of handpicked candidates deemed suitable by Beijing. The government’s insistence on rejecting any proposal that would undermine the powers of the nominating committee stipulated in the city’s mini-constitution is seen as a clear signal that Hong Kong is being offered what many protesters are calling “fake democracy.”

In the 17 years since the handover, residents have become increasingly frustrated by a political system that produced three highly unpopular chief executives. Last week, almost 800,000 people voted in an unofficial “referendum” to select alternative methods of allowing the public to nominate some candidates. The clear signal voters were sending back to Beijing is that they want free and fair elections, with no unreasonable restrictions on who can run this city in the future.

Beijing’s increasing interference in the city’s affairs is another source of growing concern in recent years, especially as the agreement China had signed with the U.K. had promised to allow the city to operate in the same way it did before the handover under the so-called “one country, two systems” concept.

The most recent example of China’s campaign to tighten control over the city came in the form of a white paper issued by Beijing on June 10 that emphasized its authority over Hong Kong. Many voters and protesters cited the white paper as the reason for their participation, stating that it was a direct challenge to the city’s autonomy.

China's Xiaomi Becomes World's 5th Largest Smartphone Maker

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun speaks during a product launch on May 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Global smartphone sales are still growing, but the market’s star performer in the last three months wasn’t Apple or even Samsung. It was China’s Xiaomi.

The young electronics firm run by billionaire Lei Jun captured a remarkable 5% global market share in the last three months, according to new figures from Strategy Analytics, shipping 15.1 million smartphones in the quarter. It now has a 5.1% share of the market, up from 1.8% this time last year.

This is the first time Xiaomi has risen to 5th place in global market share, according to Strategy Analytics’ Woody Oh. “Xiaomi’s Android smartphone models are wildly popular in the Chinese market and it shifts millions of them every quarter through its extensive online and operator channels.”

The company primarily sells its phones and tablet computers through so-called flash sales on its site, stimulating demand by touting that thousands of devices like its Mi3 smartphone have sold out within seconds of being offered to the public.

CEO Jun is known for emulating Steve Jobs’s presentation style and dress code, even concluding a recent public launch with the famous Apple slide saying, “one more thing.” The company’s Mi4 smartphone also bears a strong resemblance to the iPhone, and it’s website has many similarities to Apple’s. The copycat style has irked some, but it seems to be working.

Xiaomi’s next big step is to expand outside of China, targeting consumers in Asia and Europe. ”It will have to invest big money to familiarize western consumers with its unfamiliar brand name,” says Oh. Last year Xiaomi poached Hugo Barra, former product head at Google’s Android division, to help lead its international expansion, though Barra has of late been busy defending his new employer against a barrage of copycat claims from the West.

Xiaomi can at least afford to continue focusing its efforts on China, where Apple is betting that its recently inked partnership with leading carrier China Mobile will lead to greater sales. The global smartphone market saw strong demand in Asia and Africa, and sluggish volumes in North America and Europe thanks to changes in the operator subsidy mix, Strategy Analytics says.

Samsung remains the global leader with a 25.2% share of the global market in Q2 of this year, followed by Apple with 11.9%, China’s Huawei with 6.8% and Lenovo with 5.4%. Lenovo’s market share didn’t grow much from last year, the researchers said and it’s smartphone growth has more than halved in the past year. “It’s rapid expansion seen in recent quarters is coming to an end.”

Globally, smartphone shipments grew by 27% year-on-year to reach a record 295 million units in the second quarter, while Android captured a record 85% share of all new smartphones shipped in the last quarter.

Breaking: Paralympian Oscar Pistorius Sentenced To Five Years For Culpable Homicide

Farai Gundan Farai Gundan Contributor I cover entrepreneurs, women, rising-stars & rich of African descent full bio ?

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Contact Farai Gundan The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

J.Crew's Jenna Lyons On Why Public School Is Killing It Right Now: It's Not Only About The Clothes

Jenna Lyons recently hosted a party in New York to celebrate three of the fashion industry’s brightest rising stars.

The president and creative director of J.Crew, Lyons has achieved cult status among style bloggers, fashion critics and jet-set groupies who admire her nonchalant style and refreshingly direct-but-kind demeanor. So when she points at a label she considers well-done, people notice.

This night was one such time, not only because it highlighted the opening of the first-ever CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund shop but because of who in particular it highlighted. Along with pieces from Marc Alary and Juan Carlos Obando, J.Crew debuted a tiny new collaboration with Public School, the Manhattan-based label that won the 2013 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year award. (Such notables as Billy Reid and Alexander Wang have previously won the title – it’s no small thing.)

Dao-Yi Chow (40) and Maxwell Osborne (31), the duo who started Public School as a small menswear label in 2008, have won high praise and popular support for their expert tailoring and the unique way they combine European minimal sensibilities with a cool native New York style. They’ve been known for a few years to fashion-insider and downtown types who love their clean, androgynous look but they are less known on a mass scale than, say, Wang or Rick Owens. That’s about to change–Osborne and Chow are working to enter the womens fashion market in a significant way this year, and partnerships with such big brands as J.Crew only accelerate that process.

But ask Lyons what makes Public School so strong as a label and she’ll mention a lot more than the clothing.

“At every point, every juncture, they were spot-on—unshakable,” Lyons said. She was wearing one of the two pairs of slouchy pants she bought from the Public School collection. (“I bought one pair a little too small so they’re short and I can wear them with heels and one longer pair that I can wear with sneakers.”) She spoke about how an essential part of gaining commercial and critical success as a fashion brand has nothing to do with fabric. It has to do with how you carry yourself on a daily basis.

“You work really closely with people when you’re creating things, so we were able to see Maxwell and Dao-Yi in a lot of different settings, and they were always so precise, very together, very smart,” Lyons said. “They were always on the same page with what they wanted to present. Very focused.”

It seems like common sense, but such implacability during stressful situations isn’t exactly common. What’s more, Lyons added, the Public School guys are unusually open and aware of their weakness as designers and businessmen. That maturity impressed her—and benefited the entire J.Crew team as they helped create the capsule garments.

“They told us, ‘Here are the things we think we’re good at, and here are the things we need help with, things we need to work on,” Lyons said. “That was great—a lot of designers don’t know or won’t admit that kind of stuff, but it made our job a lot easier.”

Osborne agreed, grudgingly. “Jenna said we had to do womens,” he said, laughing. “She told us how much potential there is to expand when you’re designing for women. We were a little hesitant at first, but it stretched us a lot. We had fun with it.”

The J.Crew x Public School line has nine different pieces including skirts, vests, sweatpants and T-shirts—all for women. All sold out within hours.

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Sky Scrappers: For Savvy Durst Family, World Trade Center Deal Is A Pinnacle

Douglas and Jody Durst on the 80th floor of One World Trade (David Yellen for FORBES)

Douglas Durst stands 80 floors above the place in Manhattan that, thankfully, is known less and less as Ground Zero and more as One World Trade Center, a 1,776-foot symbol of American pride and the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. He can see across the length of Manhattan, then over to New Jersey and then east, all the way to Greenwich, Conn., which juts into Long Island Sound 40 miles north. One hundred feet below, a helicopter looks like a child’s toy.

The mind-numbing views come with a catch: Precious few people are signing up to enjoy them.

Since the Durst Organization stepped in three years ago to manage the building and leasing of New York’s symbol of post-9/11 recovery, only six tenants have signed up for space. Come November, when the building opens and magazine publisher Condé Nast moves in, the tower will be just 60% leased, Durst says. To boost that low figure the asking price for the tower’s middle floors recently dropped by 10%, to $69 per square foot.

For the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the citizens of those two states that ostensibly control it, that’s bad news: By latest count it’s shelling out nearly $4 billion to build One World Trade and $10.8 billion more to develop the rest of the site. For the Dursts, on the other hand, it doesn’t matter much. They have just a 10% equity stake in the tower and a 99-year contract to run and lease it–all with little financial risk. Whether the building rents out next week or several years down the road, they win in the end: One World Trade will provide steady, solid revenue for future generations of their family real estate business, while growing in value at the same time. From a financial standpoint One World Trade is a third of a mile of pure upside.

Savvy deals like this have made the Dursts one of New York City’s great real estate dynasties, worth a collective $4.4 billion, according to FORBES, thanks to a real estate portfolio that includes 11 Manhattan skyscrapers, such as One Bryant Park, the third-tallest building on the island at 1,200 feet. Douglas’ grandfather created the Durst Organization nearly 100 years ago; his father, Seymour, built the family’s first skyscraper; Douglas played a major role in reshaping Times Square and now One World Trade. Frequently described as eccentric, some of the 33 family members who control this empire empire have interests far afield of real estate: Seymour was obsessed with the national debt, so he built a giant illuminated National Debt Clock near Times Square; Douglas, an environmentalist, owns an organic farm; Anita, his daughter, a former avant-garde actress, provides low-cost studio space in family and other buildings. And then there is Robert Durst, no longer part of the family business, who was a suspect in the disappearance of his wife and in two murders, though convicted of none.

Aside from eccentricity the family shares another trait: a professed disdain for wasteful government spending and market intervention–and an uncanny knack for profiting from it. In 2007, when the “Freedom Tower,” as it was then being called, was still a messy hole in the ground, Durst, together with Anthony Malkin (whose family controls the Empire State Building), took out a full-page ad in New York newspapers urging governor Eliot Spitzer to slow construction down. Their argument: The Port Authority should wait to build the most important tower on the site until the four other towers were complete, so that One World Trade might capitalize on the others’ success. Durst and Malkin also railed against a plan (one that was ultimately jettisoned) to house government agencies in One World Trade: “Why, now, is the government planning to pay for the construction of an overly expensive design to be occupied by government agencies at overly expensive rents, all at the expense of taxpayers’ money which could be put to better uses?”

But when politicians plowed ahead, Durst won the contract to run the building anyway. And why not? “I was against it before it was built,” admits Durst, clad in a hard hat, black octagon-shaped glasses and his trademark green tie and socks, with a wry grin. “If there’s going to be subsidies handed out they should come our way.” … “That’s always our feeling.”

THE DURST’S FAMILY TALE BEGINS WITH Joseph Durst, a tailor, who traveled from what is now Poland in 1902 and arrived in New York with three dollars to his name. Within a decade he was a partner at dressmaker Durst & Rubin. The family legacy first took shape in 1915, when he bought his first building, in Manhattan’s Garment District.

Joseph and his wife, Rose, had five children; three followed their father into the family business. Seymour, the eldest, moved the Dursts into skyscrapers, buying up small parcels under assumed names to eventually create blocks of land ripe for major development.

“He was a really wonderful man: quiet, discreet, invisible,” says Jerry Speyer, one of the two founding partners of New York’s Tishman Speyer, the real estate company that controls Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building. “He had an incredible amount of courage when it came to putting real estate together, assemblages and so on.”

Seymour’s personal life was touched by tragedy: In 1950 his wife, Bernice, then 32, plunged to her death from the roof of their Scarsdale home, leaving behind four small children (Douglas, the second child, was just 6). Seymour never remarried, pouring himself into real estate and his many hobbies, including protests against unnecessary government encroachments.

To this end he formed the “Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center,” fighting the Port Authority’s development of the tract his family now runs. In 1968 the committee took out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times , depicting the Twin Towers with a now-chilling rendering of an airplane heading for the skyscrapers’ upper floors. The point was not to predict a terrorist attack but to criticize the towers’ potential interference with flight navigation and television reception. Of course, they had other reasons for fighting the project. While now wistfully cherished, in the early 1970s the World Trade Center was basically 10 million square feet of government-funded office space that was dumped into the New York market–just as the city slid into a bitter recession.

Their fight against the Trade Center foreshadowed an even bigger public battle. Durst was among several prominent developers who had quietly rolled up dozens of parcels throughout Times Square. Some of his tenants were a seedy lot, including peep show operators, “massage parlors” and purveyors of all the other vices immortalized in seemingly every gritty movie of the 1970s. By 1984 one single block on 42nd Street was generating 2,300 crimes a year.

As with the World Trade Center, a quasi-governmental entity tried to change the game–dictating a $2.6 billion redevelopment, powered by $240 million in tax abatements granted to a different real estate kingpin, George Klein. Once again the Dursts went to war, filing three lawsuits, allegedly funding more than 40 others (the Dursts denied it) and inflaming the court of public opinion. (“Perhaps all that new office space will simply provide more consumers for the drug trafficking and other illicit activities that now characterize one of the most notorious blocks in the world,” wrote Seymour in a 1988 op-ed.) Helped by the poor economy, in the end they got what they wanted: redevelopment was stalled for most of the 1980s.

Then, in 1994, with the real estate market blooming, they pounced. Douglas bought the development rights from Klein–one of the city’s appointed developers and a target of a Durst lawsuit–picking up $100 million of the very tax breaks that the family had vigorously protested. “Yes, it’s ironic,” Durst told the New York Observer at the time, mirroring what he says now about the World Trade Center. “But we didn’t put the tax breaks in place. If they’re there, we’ll use them.” Four Times Square, smack on 42nd Street, was the family’s biggest project, and Douglas’ baby (Seymour died in 1995, with Douglas as the clear successor; older brother Robert left the business). He landed Condé Nast, which had previously been on Madison Avenue, as the anchor tenant, and the Disneyfication of Times Square moved apace. “It’s an amazing family,” says Steve Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York since 1986. “Are they controversial? I think if you’re not controversial, you’re not good at what you do.”

After that building came online in 1999, the Dursts moved their efforts to a bundle of lots they owned next door. Bank of America Bank of America approached the family, hoping to build a corporate headquarters on the site, financing half the construction and agreeing to occupy most of the building. The Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, a $2 billion, 51-story skyscraper with a 300-foot spire on top, was the first in North America to achieve LEED Platinum certification, complete with composting on the roof, high-tech air filtration systems and its own heat-and-power plant. By 2010, when the tower was completed, the Dursts were lords of 10 million square feet of Manhattan office space and 1.5 million square feet of residential rentals–all with less than 30% debt in an industry where 50% is considered conservative, thanks to their long tradition of building primarily with their own money.

Bungie Reveals How Many Players Have Beaten Destiny's Vault of Glass Raid

Destiny’s raid has been the source of much joy and frustration among players since its launch nearly a month ago. Joy for those who have gotten to experience and beat the most challenging, most innovative, most rewarding content of the game. Frustration for those whose schedules don’t allow them to organize a 6-man raiding party to beat a raid that can take anywhere from two to ten hours, depending on your skill level and knowledge of what’s inside.

I always wondered about how with Bungie’s lack of Raid matchmaking and how challenging the content is, how many players would actually attempt and complete the Raid in its current form. Now we have answers from Bungie themselves. Here are the vital stats (via the Bungie Weekly Update and Kotaku):

Destiny averages 3.2M players every day with an average playtime of 3 hours a day(!)

1,970,807 players have attempted the Raid on Normal

472,082 players have defeated the Raid on Normal

202,729 players have attempted the Raid on Hard

36,181 players have defeated the Raid on Hard

Honestly, this is more than I anticipated in all categories. 1.9M attempts out of 3.2M active players is a pretty solid ratio. So is 472K who have actually beaten it. That’s about 15% of daily active players who have beaten the Raid, meant to be the top-tier challenging content of the game. Given these numbers, it seems it’s working as intended.

vault of glass

And yet, I’m still convinced the Raid needs matchmaking, both in-game and out of game.

Out of game, there are a number of pretty solid third party sites that have sprung up which try to connect players together in order to form raiding or Nightfall parties. Destinylfg, ThatWizardCamefromtheMoon, and so on. Still, it is inexcusable that none of these sites were set up by Bungie themselves ahead of time when it was them who made the “friends only” matchmaking rule in the first place. A Bungie site would have the budget to be a lot more in-depth and effective than these third party sites (though they’ve done a great job), and should have existed from the beginning.

And yet, the problem remains with these sites that if you’re going online to try and find anywhere from 1-5 strangers to round out your team, why is there simply not randomized matchmaking in the game in the first place? Finding a group of strangers online is more or less randomized matchmaking itself, only stupidly annoying to organize compared to an automated in-game system.

I understand the downsides of Raid matchmaking which always come up each time this topic is raised. There’s little to stop you from getting throw into the game with lower level players or poorly communicative teammates, but honestly, that happens already regardless. And while sure, many match-made teams will likely disintegrate and most won’t reach end the end of the Raid, at least it would give players a chance to experience the content in a way that doesn’t force them to go on outside forums looking for a group, or sending random invites to everyone they see in the Tower. And I’m willing to bet that even randomly matchmade groups could grow to become a tightly knit team if they communicate and perform well. That’s already happened to me many times on matchmade Strikes, where I’ve stuck with the same group mission after mission, and had a pair of new friend requests waiting for me when I was finished. Why couldn’t that happen for the Raid as well?

Again, this comes down to something I was talking about earlier this week, that Destiny’s next update needs to be heavily social-focused, as it’s too hard to make friends effectively in the game.

I just don’t see the downside in inserting matchmaking into high level events like Raid, Nightfall and Heroic Strikes. Right now some players don’t get to experience this content at all because of those restrictions. With matchmaking, sure, it may prove to be more challenging and frustrating than with a tightly knit group of your buddies or max level strangers, but at least the challenge is presented, not avoided entirely. Worst case scenario you don’t beat the mission and you’ll come back another day, but at least you got to try. Best case you find a good group that you stick with until the end, and you’ll probably make a few friends after an ordeal so harrowing.

Even if these Raid numbers are higher than I may have anticipated, I still believe matchmaking is a must. There’s no point hiding what is far and away the best content of the game from half or more of your players due to arbitrary restrictions that require players to manually organize their own teams outside of the game.

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How should Destiny spend its $500M budget? I explain below:

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PPG Factory Buyer Fuyao Reports Gain In 2nd-Qtr Profit

Fuyao Glass Industry Group, a big China automobile and industrial glass maker that has been stepping up its investments in the U.S. of late,  has reported a double-digit increase in second-quarter profit.  

Revenue by rose by 11% to 3.3 billion yuan, or $529 million, and net profit gained 28% to $93 million, according to company figures posted today.  For the first half of 2014, revenue rose by 11% to $1 billion and net profit climbed 24% to $161 million.

Fuyao’s China-traded shares have soared by 40% in the past year, far outperforming a 10% increase in main index of the Shanghai Stock Exchange during the same period.

The company’s latest step in the U.S. came this month. PPG Industries announced that it would sell most of the assets of its Mt. Zion, Illinois glass-making facility to Fuyao for an undisclosed amount.  Fuyao earlier this year also announced plans to invest approximately $200 million in a former GM plant in Ohio.

Its investments in the U.S. are part of a larger wave of Chinese investment abroad by businesses seeking overseas growth.  Among them, Wanda Group, led by China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, this month announced plans to invest $900 million in a real estate development project in Chicago.

Chairman Cho Tak Wong ranked No. 1,372 on the 2014 Forbes Billionaires List with wealth of $1.2 billion.

Fuyao’s main customers are GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota and Mercedes.

The Mt. Zion plant was built in 1959 and convert for float-glass production in 1978, according to a PPG announcement.  

– with Maggie Chen

– Follow me on Twitter @rflannerychina

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