LeBron James joins other celebrities who launched schools

With the launch of a public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, LeBron James has joined a long list of celebrities who have sought to leave their mark on education centers.

The NBA star, who recently left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, was on hand Monday to welcome children to the I Promise School, built in a partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron City Schools. The school launches with a group of third- and fourth-graders and plans to expand to serve first through eighth grades by 2022.

James has said the school, with a non-traditional schedule and year-round programming, can have a lasting impact for children facing the kinds of challenges he faced during a rough childhood. James grew up without a father, and he missed a lot of school because he and his mother lacked transportation.

Here is a look at some of the other celebrities who have been involved in creating schools, sometimes with mixed results:


The NFL Hall of Famer co-founded a multi-campus charter school called Prime Prep Academy in Texas in 2012. He coached there and served in other capacities but had a rocky relationship with administrators and was twice fired and rehired. The school’s enrollment slid amid financial and administrative problems, and it closed in early 2015.


The singer has funded at least a half-dozen schools for children in her native Colombia over the past two decades with her foundation, Pies Descalzos, which means Barefoot in Spanish. Those institutions included a $6 million school she dedicated in 2009 in her hometown, Barranquilla, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. She said then that her foundation’s work is about “breaking the myth that quality education is the privilege of the few.”


The Lakers legend announced in 2011 that he was partnering with for-profit EdisonLearning Inc. to lend his name and business skills to promote dropout recovery centers. The effort expanded to at least 17 Bridgescape schools in six states within a couple years with the goal of reducing school dropout rates in urban areas. The company and Johnson parted ways after five years, but EdisonLearning says four Bridgescape Learning Academies still operate with the Chicago Public Schools.


The singer and his wife, teacher Susan Benedetto, founded the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in 2001 in New York, naming it after the legendary singer, who was Bennett’s best friend. The public performing arts high school in Queens, which gets support from Bennett’s nonprofit group, admits students based on auditions. It boasts a high graduation rate, with alumni who have gone on to study at a variety of top arts colleges.


The actor-rapper and his actress wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, founded the private New Village Academy in the Los Angeles area in 2008. Pinkett Smith said she was moved to start the school after developing home-schooling programs for their own children, but it was embroiled in controversy over rumors the curriculum used instructional methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The couple and school leaders denied any connection to the church. The school reportedly closed in 2013. Representatives for the couple couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.


The tennis great ran the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy for at-risk youth in his hometown, Las Vegas. In 2016, the academy was turned over to an out-of-state operator, and it has been rebranded Democracy Prep at Agassi Campus. The school change was compelled by a Nevada state initiative that targeted low-performing schools. The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education also is tied to an investment fund that helps charter school operators get access to buildings and facilities around the country.


The performer and entrepreneur added another role in 2016 as founder of the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School in the New York neighborhood where he was born. He said it was a dream come true to create the school, which is part of a group of schools aimed at supporting historically disadvantaged students.


The rapper, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, has been a celebrity ambassador for the Sports and Leadership Academy, which has locations in Miami and Henderson, Nevada. He’s appeared at ceremonies for the schools, which focus on sports medicine, marketing, business and management. The academy is overseen by the Sports and Leadership Academy Foundation, and he is not a financial donor.


The pop star founded the charity Raising Malawi in 2006 to help vulnerable children in that impoverished southern African nation. Its work has included helping to build schools there. It also funded a children’s wing at a hospital that opened last year.

USC facing 300 plaintiffs in lawsuit against ex-gynecologist; faculty wants embattled president gone

As of this week, more than 300 people are now suing the University of Southern California over its alleged failure to prevent sexual abuse by a former campus gynecologist, reports said.

And faculty members renewed a push Wednesday for the university’s president to make good on his plans to resign.

The gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, 71, was the subject of repeated complaints that he groped female students during campus office visits and made lewd, inappropriate comments about women’s bodies during his three decades at the student health center. He also allegedly improperly photographed students.

Complaints made as early as 1990 were not fully investigated until 2016, said California’s state Department of Education, which is investigating USC’s response to allegations against Tyndall.

FILE - In this Tuesday, May 22, 2018, file photo, people enter the University of Southern California's Engemann Student Health Center in Los Angeles. More than 50 former and current students of the University of Southern California say in a new lawsuit that the school mishandled complaints that a longtime gynecologist engaged in inappropriate behavior during pelvic exams. The court filing Monday, July 23, 2018, by the firm D. Miller and Associates brings the number of people suing USC and Dr. George Tyndall to more than a hundred. Tyndall's denied wrongdoing and hasn't been charged with a crime but police are investigating dozens of allegations. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)


“It is unconscionable that a world-class institution like USC would ignore repeated red flags and allow Dr. Tyndall to remain in a position where he could continue his abuse of students,” said Mike Arias, managing partner of a law firm that on Tuesday filed a lawsuit on behalf of 54 former USC students alleging sexual abuse.

Meanwhile, in the two months since USC President C.L. Max Nikias agreed to step down, many faculty members have grown concerned that he might not be leaving, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A petition dated Wednesday and signed by nearly 700 faculty members was addressed to the trustees. It said there had been “no follow-up” in naming an interim president or searching for a permanent replacement, the paper reported.

“We find ourselves in a state of turmoil and uncertainty,” the petition said, noting that students return to campus in less than three weeks. “President Nikias cannot be the one who stands up to greet new students at the Convocation.”

Faculty members had written two months ago that they wanted Nikias to “step aside to allow new leaders to heal the damage to the university, restore trust of the community, and help us to move forward,” the Washington Post reported.

University board Chairman Rick Caruso could not be reached for comment Tuesday or Wednesday, according to the Post.

Dr. Yaniv Bar-Cohen, president of the academic senate, told colleagues in a letter to the faculty Monday that “there appears to be broad faculty consensus that it would be inappropriate for Nikias to continue in office during the search for a new permanent President,” the Times reported.

“It’s just not acceptable to go back on what was already announced two month ago. … We really can’t move forward until we have new leadership.”

– Ariela Gross, USC law and history professor

“It’s just not acceptable to go back on what was already announced two month ago,” Ariela Gross, a USC law professor said. “We really can’t move forward until we have new leadership,” the Post reported.

A university spokeswoman declined to comment on Nikias’ status or whether trustees formed a presidential search committee, the report said.

Tyndall could not be reached for comment this week, but he has previously denied wrongdoing.

He has not been charged with a crime, but police were investigating allegations from dozens of women and more than 400 students who made complaints through a university hotline. USC has said it is cooperating with the investigations.

“A blind eye was turned towards these women’s pleas for help. … USC’s inexcusable inaction gave Dr. Tyndall the opportunity to abuse countless more patients over many years.”

– Andy Rubenstein, attorney

“A blind eye was turned towards these women’s pleas for help,” attorney Andy Rubenstein said in a statement this week. “USC’s inexcusable inaction gave Dr. Tyndall the opportunity to abuse countless more patients over many years.”

The Times reported that in a secret deal last summer, top university administrators allowed Tyndall to resign quietly with a financial payout.

USC also did not report Tyndall at the time to the Medical Board of California, the paper reported. The university told the Times in a statement that it was “under no obligation” to report him, but “in hindsight,” USC should have reported him.

USC Annenberg suspends use of Moonves’ name on media center

The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism will temporarily suspend the use of the media center’s name: The Julie Chen/Leslie Moonves and CBS Media Center.

In a statement Wednesday, Dean Willow Bay says, “In recognition of the sensitivities surrounding recent allegations against Mr. Moonves, he and Ms. Chen have requested that USC Annenberg temporarily suspend use of the media center’s name until the investigation concludes.”

In an article last week in The New Yorker, six women alleged sexual harassment or misconduct by the CBS Corp. CEO between the 1980s and late 2000s.

Moonves acknowledged making advances that may have made women uncomfortable but said he never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.

The state-of-the-art media center’s name was changed in 2015 after a pledged gift from CBS, University of Southern California alumna Chen and her husband, Moonves.

Moonves’ alma mater, Bucknell University, has also removed some references to him on its website.

Fresno State professor blames newspaper’s ‘biased’ reporting for ‘inhumane and cruel’ hate mail

The contentious California professor who bashed former first lady Barbara Bush after her death shared a slew of hate mail she received in the months following the inflammatory remarks — and blamed “biased” journalists for her “inhumane” treatment, a report said Wednesday.

Randa Jarrar, an English professor at California State University, Fresno (aka Fresno State), declined an interview with the Fresno Bee, but not before telling the paper she forwarded the 54 email messages to show how its “unethical” reporting instigated “violent” public reaction against her.

“I want you to see how your paper’s unethical and biased reporting feeds into inhumane and cruel treatment towards the people you write about,” Jarrar wrote. “It is violent and inhumane.”

The Bee said that while it was unable to confirm the original senders of the forwarded emails, the content of many of the messages appeared threatening and harsh. They included derogatory remarks about Jarrar’s Palestinian and Egyptian heritage.

Some samples of the reader responses to Jarrar:

“Barbara Bush was a woman of Grace and compassion you on the other hand are fat Arab Pig you may not think you’re going to get fired but I wouldn’t bet that you won’t wind up Underground you’re a disgrace and should be punished appropriately,” one email read, according to the Bee.

“I want you to see how your paper’s unethical and biased reporting feeds into inhumane and cruel treatment towards the people you write about. It is violent and inhumane.”

– Randa Jarrar

Another read: “You belong in a cage as a sex-slave for ISIS & other Sunni jihadis. And if you ever want to return to your native slum, setup a ‘go fund me’ account for a 1-way ticket to Cairo & i’ll give you $200.”

A third read: “You’re an embarrassment to the university and contribute nothing at all to creating a better peaceful world. Here’s hoping nothing but the worst for you fatty.”

But not everyone disagreed with Jarrar’s views.

“I support your honest statements on Bush,” one email stated. “Both her husband and son are war criminals. If I can be of help please let me know. It makes me sick that she is being hailed as some kind of kind funny hero.”

In April, Jarrar drew public backlash for calling Barbara Bush an “amazing racist” who raised a “war criminal” – a reference to her son, President George W. Bush — only an hour after the news of the former first lady’s death was made public.

“[E]ither you are against these pieces of s— and their genocidal ways or you’re part of the problem,” Jarrar said in a follow-up tweet. “I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have.”

Jarrar’s Twitter had been set to private since April’s comments, but last week Campus Reform captured a screenshot of a tweet demanding “white editors” resign from positions of power.

“We don’t have to wait for them to f— up,” Jarrar allegedly wrote. “The fact that they hold these positions is f— up enough.”

According to the Bee, Jarrar is scheduled to resume teaching at the university in the fall. In April, Fresno State’s president decided that Jarrar’s views were protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

How to get rid of ants: Expert-approved tricks to eliminate them from your home


It doesn’t matter if you’re a homeowner or a renter, knowing how to get rid of ants is an incredibly useful skill. Why? Because these creepy crawlers are resilient, and once they realize a home is an excellent source for food, they will keep coming back. Ants leave behind a trail of pheromones for their little buddies to follow. So what may have started out as a small problem can quickly become an ant army invasion in your home.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to eradicate your ant problem once and for all.

Types of ants that invade homes

There are many different ants that can cause problems, but the ones that typically show up in homes are seeking water and food during the warm-weather months, according to Matt Zehner, the technical services manager for Rentokil Steritech, a national pet-control service. Here are a few common species:

  • Odorous house ants: They are usually dark brown or black and are extremely attracted to sugary foods. They stink when crushed, hence their name.
  • Pavement ants: They are blackish brown with paler legs. “These ants will eat almost anything: other insects, seeds, melon, honey, bread, meats, nuts, and cheese,” say Zehner. They are known to climb masonry walls so they can enter a home.
  • Carpenter ants: “They are large, black, or dark brown ants that must have a constant water source to survive,” Zehner says. They also tend to nest in rotted wood, so if you see them around your home, there may be a structural problem.

How to get rid of ants

The good news is that keeping ants out of your house is a relatively simple three-step process.

  1. Cut back the foliage. Ants love to climb trees and shrubs, and they use them as bridges to get inside. “Cutting back on all the greenery that touches your home will make it tougher for ants to enter,” says Louis Brust, a real estate agent and former exterminator based in Myrtle Beach, SC.
  2. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth. Protect the exterior perimeter of your house with food-grade diatomaceous earth. What’s this, you ask? “Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms,” Brust says. “When spread around the outside of the home, ants and other insects that cross the substance will die.” This soil sucks the moisture out of their bodies so they die of dehydration. “While it is toxic for ants, it won’t hurt people, pets, or your garden,” says architect John Mochelleof New York.
  3. Seal your home. To keep more critters from infesting your home, you’ll need to block their points of entry. “Sealing all possible routes in is essential to stopping an infestation,” says Sydney Crawley, public health entomologist at Scotts Miracle-Gro. Mochelle says to seal all cracks around windows, door frames, floorboards, pipes, and open seams in the walls and foundation with caulk. “You can use silicone caulk as a quick fix, but for huge gaps and large amounts of damage, you may need professional repairs,” says Johnny Harper from J and J Home Inspections in Nashville, TN.

Other tips for keeping ants away

Ants are always looking for food, so eliminating access is critical. Cleaning is a big part of avoiding an infestation.

“Picking up crumbs by vacuuming, sweeping, and wiping should be a daily routine,” Harper says. Storing sweets, pantry staples like honey, and even fruit typically left on the counter in airtight containers is also essential. Even your pet’s food can attract ants, so don’t leave out bowls with crumbs.

Essential oils can also drive back ants from your home. Harper suggests mixing a half-teaspoon of cinnamon essential oil with 1 cup water and applying it to doorways, windowsills, or anywhere you’ve seen ants. Peppermint essential oil can also repel ants; just dab it in the areas where ants are gathering.

Another natural ant killer? Vinegar. Combine equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and use it where you see infestations. Keep in mind it could take an hour to work.

This ‘Fixer Upper’ country farmhouse can be yours for $475G

This Season 1 "Fixer Upper" home could be yours for $475G.

“Fixer Upper” slammed the sliding barn door shut after five glorious seasons packed with shiplap. Yet the show’s legacy lives on.

Another renovation sensation from the design duo Chip and Joanna Gaines has just landed on the market in Crawford, TX.

Cast your mind back to 2014, when “Fixer Upper” was in its debut season on HGTV. The Magnolia empire was still a glimmer in the Gaineses’ eyes, but the decrepit farmhouse the couple renovated for a Baylor professor and his wife turned out to be one of their most impressive projects ever.

Now the resulting gorgeous, rustic home can be yours for $475,000.

Owners Devon and Hannah Jonklaas feared that the house might be a teardown when Chip and Joanna first showed it to them. However, they were soon convinced that the 3.65-acre lot and the wood and stone structure had potential, so they negotiated on the $220,000 asking price, eventually paying $197,000, and placed their trust in Chip and Jo. Smart move.

Chip and Jo proceeded to spend close to $48,000 on the renovation. When all was said and done, Chip estimated the new resale value for the home to be around $305,000.

But that was four long years ago. Now real estate prices in Waco, Texas and nearby areas are booming, thanks in no small part to “Fixer Upper” as well as the Gaines-led attractions like The Silos and Magnolia Table restaurant.

The property’s current price comes out to $164 per square foot, which isn’t much higher than the median $148 for homes in Crawford.

But your average Crawford home hasn’t had the magic of a Chip and Joanna makeover. Their “Fixer Upper” crew was able to preserve the home’s original charm and truly make it into a showpiece.

The episode was titled “Country Farmhouse Goes From Scary to Sensational,” and it’s easy to vouch for its accuracy. The 2,889-square-foot home now has four bedrooms and three baths, but those are simple numbers. The true story is how Chip and Joanna worked their magic and made this farmhouse fabulous.

With the success of HGTV's 'Fixer Upper', Waco, Texas has seen a huge tourism boom thanks Chip and Joanna Gaines' popularity

The home’s original cedar and stone exterior was brought back to life on the show with some pressure washing, sanding, staining and resealing.

“Relatively little of the original wood had to be replaced,” Chip said in the episode.

They updated an outdated country kitchen by removing the wall separating it from the dining room. They then spruced up the space with new stainless-steel appliances, light blue-gray cabinetry, brushed-nickel hardware, and an island with a black granite countertop.

The living room redo was also a work of art. They added sliding barn doors, scrubbed the stone fireplace and painted the built-in shelving white. They also replaced the blue carpeting with wood flooring, which made a world of difference.

Other features were added, included exposed wood ceiling beams, a balcony off the master bedroom, a bonus room and an inviting front porch.

Chip had deemed the project “a piece of paradise in the country.” It will be fascinating to see how long it takes a buyer to snap it up.

Arizona town building tiny homes for teachers who can’t afford to live closer

A small town in Arizona is building a tiny home community for teachers, like Sydney Scharer, to help with affordable housing issue.

A school district in Arizona is building a tiny home community for cash-strapped teachers who can’t afford local housing.

The small town of Vail, located about 25 miles southeast of Tucson, has an average home price of $258,000 and no apartments within the 425-square-mile school district, CityLabreports.

This leaves many of the local school teachers, whose salaries range from about $38,000 to $46,000, commuting from Tucson in order to live somewhere they can afford rent.

“The lowest rent you can find for a house in Vail is $1,200,” Sydney Scharer tells CityLab. Scharer teaches fifth grade at Senita Valley Elementary School and makes $38,000 a year.

The only way to afford rent was for her and her fiancé to live in a 600-sqaure-foot apartment about a 30 minute drive from work for $850 per month. “It was the closest thing we could get to Vail and still keep our rent reasonable,” she said.

But now, thanks to a new housing community, Scharer, and soon others, will be able to live in a neighborhood of two dozen 300- to 400-square-foot homes on district land.

Tens of thousands of teachers from Arizona marched on the capitol Thursday demanding massive funding increases.

The tiny home community is being built on five acres near what’s set to become the town city center. Scharer and her fiancé just moved into the site’s first tiny home, a one-bedroom, 400-square-foot property she’s renting until her own customized tiny home is complete. On a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, her monthly payments will be about $700 a month.

The homes will be available both for purchase and rent, with the project being supported mostly by local investors. The district is spending $200,000 on infrastructure, and teachers and staff will pay $125 a month to cover the cost of renting the land, which will include utilities and internet, CityLab reports.

John Carruth, the school district’s associate superintendent, told CityLab he acknowledges that the issue is not only limited to housing options, but teachers’ salaries. Arizona ranked last in the country for elementary teacher salaries, and 49th for high school, AZ Centralreports.

“The best model is to compensate teachers so that they can afford a home like anyone else can,” Joe Thomas, president of Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, told City Lab. “I don’t think it’s any more complex than that.”

“I think it’s a creative approach, but I don’t know if it values the work and the contribution that educators make in the community. Maybe if we can just move away from tiny school budgets,” he said.


Carruth said the district already contributes 89 percent of its budget to employee salaries and that a 10 percent bump wouldn’t be enough to solve the affordable housing issue. “The majority of our teaching stuff is under 35. They’re dealing with this. We’re trying to solve something we can control,” he said.

QB sneak? Robert Griffin III selling 7-bedroom Texas mansion for $2.6M

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III throws a pass during an NFL football training camp practice at the team's headquarters, Friday, July 20, 2018, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III is hoping to score a sale of his massive estate in Conroe, TX, for $2.6 million.

The mansion wasn’t in the QB’s grasp for long. He’d purchased the waterfront property in 2016 for $2.25 million, according to real estate records.

Now that the 28-year-old Heisman Trophy winner is in camp with Baltimore, he may not need to relax at the lakefront retreat that’s located just a few hours’ drive from his childhood home, in Copperas Cove.  But he’ll pocket a small profit if the home sells for its asking price.

Let’s see what the spacious spread has to offer…

Built on just over an acre in 2007, the Mediterranean-style mansion has seven bedrooms and 10 baths. It features a two-story foyer, game room with wet bar and wine grotto, home theater, study, playroom, and four balconies. The chef’s kitchen has a spacious island, “ornate” cabinetry, and high-end appliances.



The master suite boasts a master bath with dual vanities, a garden tub, and rain shower. The backyard sports a covered patio, beach-entry pool with swim-up bar, spa, outdoor kitchen, and bathroom. There’s also a private dock with two boat slips.

This isn’t the only real estate deal the former Redskins star has tackled. He recently sold a Florida mansion he used as a training retreat. The 13,000-square-foot property inReunion was sold for $3.2 million in June. Griffin had purchased the place in 2017 for $2.85 million.

Also in 2017, he listed his farmhouse-style property in Leesburg, VA. The space is rented through 2022 and is described as an “investor’s dream.” The 9,000-square-foot luxury home is still available for purchase for $2.7 million.

Griffin got his pro start with Washington, winning the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Injured in 2015, he was released by the team and then joined the Cleveland Browns, where he also suffered through an injury-filled season. He spent 2017 as a free agent and signed with the Ravens in the off-season.

Lance Loken of Houston Portfolio Real Estate represents the listing.

Apple value edges towards $1tn as shares hit new record

Apple shares hit a record at the start of trading on Wall Street, pushing the market value of the tech giant closer to the $1 trillion mark.

The shares rose more than 5% to above $200, close to the roughly $206 price needed to make it a $1tn company.

The rise came after Apple reported strong demand for its most expensive iPhones, boosting quarterly revenue despite just 1% growth in shipments.

The average iPhone price hit $724 (£552), well above the expected $694.

The firm said its $999 iPhone X – launched last year – remained its most popular iPhone model in the quarter and had driven the higher sales price.

Revenue growth of 31% in Apple’s services business, which includes the App store, Apple Music and Apple Pay, also boosted the firm’s performance.

Overall the tech giant’s revenue jumped 17% year-on-year to a quarterly record of $53.3bn (£40.6bn), with every region except Japan reporting double digit growth.

Profits rose to $11.5bn, up 32% compared to the same period in 2017.

“The lesson Apple’s management has learned from the iPhone X, is when you sell a smartphone for more than $1,000 you can sell fewer units and still reap the financial benefits,” said analyst Thomas Forte from DA Davidson & Co.

Graphic: How Apple has grown since 2001
Presentational white space

If Apple’s momentum continues, it could be the first US company to hit a $1tr market value.

Globally, PetroChina reached that milestone in 2007, though the market cap, which is generally calculated by multiplying the number of shares in a company by its current share price, was measured using the price of its Shanghai-listed shares, not those traded elsewhere, and has since fallen.

Apple already claims a market capitalisation of about $980bn, making it the world’s most valuable company, ahead of Amazon, Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft.

To reach the $1tn threshold, Apple will need to see further increases to its share price – though exactly how high the price has to climb depends on how many shares Apple has.

That is changing as the firm is engaged in a generous share buyback programme, which it expanded by $100bn in May.

Tariff tensions

The company is also vulnerable to trade tensions between the US and China, which have led to new tariffs and rattled global stock markets.

The US is mulling additional duties on $200bn in Chinese imports, which could affect Apple’s operations. In recent days, state media in China have also had reports that fault Apple for not doing enough to counter spam in its messaging service.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook told financial analysts on Tuesday that the firm is assessing the risk from the latest US tariff proposal but has not felt direct effects from the higher duties already put in place.

“Our view on tariffs is that they show up as a tax on the consumer and wind up resulting in lower economic growth and sometimes can bring about significant risk of unintended consequences,” he said.

However, he said he was optimistic that “this will get sorted out”.

Global ranking

Apple sold 41.3m iPhones in the April through June period, up 1% from last year.

The appetite for the firm’s most expensive phones marked a contrast with the world’s largest smartphone seller Samsung, which disappointed investors by warning of lower than expected sales of its high-end Galaxy S9 .

But Chinese tech company Huawei, which reported 15% revenue growth in the first half of this year, overtook Apple to become the world’s second-biggest smartphone seller in the quarter, according to market research firms Canalys and IDC.

WhatsApp starts charging business users

WhatsApp Business API

WhatsApp is launching new pay-to-use tools for businesses to communicate with their customers.

The move will allow its owner, Facebook, to make money from WhatsApp, which has lacked a revenue stream since dropping subscription fees.

Companies will be able to provide information and services, such as delivery dates or boarding passes, to customers via the platform.

In return, the businesses will pay a fee for a confirmed delivery.

The messages are set to cost between 0.5 cents to 9 cents (0.3p to 7p) a message depending on the country the user is based in. They can be automated or provided by human customer assistants.

The price means they will often be more expensive to use than more basic SMS-based texts.

Like other messages sent via the platform, they will be encrypted, meaning WhatsApp will not be able to read them itself.

However, the Wall Street Journal reported that companies would be allowed to store copies of the messages elsewhere in a decrypted state.

Transport company Uber, the online store Wish and travel service Booking.com are among the first companies to adopt the new facilities.

Facebook paid $19bn to buy WhatsApp in 2014 and there has long been speculation about how Facebook intended to make money from it.

The move comes three months after WhatsApp’s former boss Jan Koum announced he was quitting the service he had co-founded.