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Elon Musk"s dad says he is proud of his son after all and that he initially said he wasn"t because he misheard the interviewer"s question

When asked recently if he was proud of his son, Elon Musk's dad, Errol, said he wasn't since their family has done "a lot of things for a long time." Errol Musk, Elon's Musk's father.GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP) (Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty Images/Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue In a recent interview, Elon Musk's dad, Errol, said he wasn't proud of the billionaire because their whole family has done "a lot of things for a long time." In an interview with The Daily Mail published Friday, Errol walked back his remarks, saying he actually is proud of Elon. Errol said he initially said no because he misheard the question: "I thought she asked, 'Were you expecting this coming?'" Elon Musk's dad says he is, in fact, proud of his son, despite his previous claim to the contrary.In an interview earlier this week on Australia's "The Kyle and Jackie O Show," 76-year-old Errol Musk was asked if he's proud of the Tesla and SpaceX CEO.Errol responded, "No, well, you know, I mean, we are a family that have been doing a lot of things for a long time. It's not as though we suddenly started doing something."Errol went on to say Kimbal, Elon's younger brother, is his "pride and joy," though he added, "But Elon has in fact sort of really surpassed the mark."In a new interview, which The Daily Mail published Friday, Errol said the only reason he initially said he wasn't proud of Elon was because he misheard the question. "I didn't actually notice her question about being proud. I thought she asked, 'Were you expecting this coming?'" Errol told The Daily Mail."It was a bit more confusing because the other chap (Kyle), who was a nice fellow, was laughing a lot so I never quite picked up what she (Jackie O) was saying while I was talking," he continued, referring to the TV show's hosts. "It was only when I listened to the recording afterwards that I realized."Errol clarified that he is proud of Elon, saying, "If you ask any parent if they are proud of their son, you are proud of them from the day they are born."In his interview with The Daily Mail, Errol also said Elon had texted to ask him to "keep quiet" after the previous interview. Errol has made headlines in recent weeks for his remarks in several interviews, including his revelation that he's had a second child with his 35-year-old stepdaughter. The elder Musk has also said he's been asked to donate his sperm to create more people like Elon.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 6th, 2022

Mar-a-Lago raid live updates: The FBI raid at Trump"s Mar-a-Lago serves as a reminder of a "lawless president," Democratic strategist says

Former President Donald Trump confirmed that the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. Trump was out of state when federal agents raided his property in Florida. Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images The FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on Monday, sparking a firestorm. Nancy Pelosi said no person is "above the law" after the raid, but Republicans condemned it as politically motivated. Republican lawmakers and right-wing organizations are now using the search to fundraise.  The Mar-a-Lago FBI raid serves as a reminder of a 'lawless president,' a Democratic strategist saysPeople walking outside Mar-a-Lago in March 2017Darren SamuelsohnThe FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home puts Trump at the center of midterm elections debates, ensuring voters will hear about his legal problems from now until November.Republican and right-wing groups are already using the raid for fundraising and calling for defunding the FBI while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pledged to investigate the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland if Republicans take back the House.As they rally support for Trump, Democrats say the FBI's reported search for classified materials that Trump allegedly brought to his home from the White House will serve as yet another reminder of his scandals and massive legal problems for voters."This raises the stakes in the midterms as people see how dangerous the GOP has become," said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist. "This isn't about political advantage for one party or the other, it's a reminder of what happens if a lawless President is allowed to take power, aided and abetted by MAGA Republicans in Congress."Read MoreFBI seizes cell phone of Trump ally and Pennsylvania Republican Scott Perry, lawmaker claimsRep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., takes a question from a reporter at a news conference held by the House Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 23, 2021.AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-RhoadesA key ally of former President Donald Trump is claiming that federal agents seized his cell phone a day after they executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, though it is not known if the two are connected.In a statement provided to Insider, Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said that on Tuesday morning, "while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone."Perry denounced the alleged seizure, first reported by Fox News, but did not say what reason the FBI gave him for taking the phone."I'm outraged — though not surprised — that the FBI under the direction of Merrick Garland's DOJ, would seize the phone of a sitting Member of Congress," he stated.KEEP READINGTrump supporters protest FBI raid on a bridge outside Mar-a-Lago: 'It is us against the government'Trump supporters gather on Monday on a bridge leading to Mar-a-Lago.Kimberly Leonard/InsiderFollowing the FBI raid of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, several dozen Trump supporters gathered Tuesday on a bridge that extends outside the private estate.  Just a small crowd of supporters had gathered as of 2 p.m. Several people who said they were part of Club 45 — an independent Trump-supporting organization — said more people would assemble from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., after people were done working for the day. Traffic was becoming more backed up by 3 p.m. By 5 p.m., about 60 people had gathered on the bridge.Several Trump supporters told Insider they'd heard that Trump would be driving by himself later in the day to get back into Mar-a-Lago and assess his belongings, though a local police officer refuted the rumor to Insider. In interviews, Trump supporters said they thought the FBI raid was politically motivated and would ultimately grow Trump's support, but said they weren't concerned about a civil war. Many repeated false claims that there was widespread fraud during the 2024 election. KEEP READINGHere's what it's like to traverse the members-only grounds of Mar-a-Lago, from a reporter who's been thereInsider DC bureau chief Darren Samuelsohn in March 2017 at Mar-a-Lago, while working as a White House reporter for Politico. Also pictured is the backyard of Donald Trump's private club.Darren SamuelsohnMemories of Mar-a-Lago came flooding back Monday night when the news broke that the FBI had executed a search warrant on Donald Trump's permanent residence.My visits there as a White House reporter for Politico more than five years ago came during the earliest days of Trump's presidency. They gave me an up-close look into all of the controversy and celebrity hoopla that surrounded a man who just months earlier had become the most powerful person on the planet.In all, I made three trips in March 2017 to go inside Trump's exclusive South Florida resort.READ MOREMitch McConnell declined to comment on the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago as conservatives increasingly call out his silenceSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesWith former President Donald Trump fuming over an FBI raid of his Mar-a-Lago residence, the American people have yet to receive comment from the most powerful elected Republican in Washington: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.McConnell has yet to issue a statement on Monday's raid, and he dodged a question about it at a Tuesday press conference related to flooding in Eastern Kentucky."I'm here today to talk about the flood and the recovery from the flood," he said when asked for his reaction to the raid. READ MOREWhat's in Trump's search warrant? A grab-bag of potential federal charges, a longtime DOJ prosecutor predictedMar-a-Lago one day after the FBI raid.Kimberly Leonard/InsiderThe feds knew they had only one chance to search Mar-a-Lago — so they carried a big net, Gene Rossi, for three decades a federal prosecutor out of northern Virginia, predicted.The search warrant that got them inside the waterfront Palm Beach estate of former President Donald Trump may have only been one-page long — but the warrant would have authorized FBI agents to seize evidence related to multiple federal statutes, Rossi said."I would be shocked," Rossi told Insider if the search warrant did not list the federal statutes for insurrection, for sedition, and for obstruction — three charges Trump could potentially face for alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021 siege on the Capitol.Keep ReadingRepublicans revive false claim that DOJ called parents 'terrorists' after Mar-a-Lago raidRep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from OhioKevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesRepublicans who are furious with the FBI after the agency's search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence are reviving a false talking point that pits the Department of Justice against parents.Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin called the raid "stunning" in a tweet and said, "This same DOJ labeled parents in Loudoun County as terrorists."On Fox News, Rep. Jim Jordan, the House Judiciary Committee's highest-ranking Republican, made a similar claim about Attorney General Merrick Garland.Since last year, Republicans hoping to use culture wars to boost their chances in the midterm elections have said that the Biden administration and Democrats have branded parents who protest at school board meetings as domestic terrorists.Read Full StoryMar-a-Lago raid prompts elected Republicans to openly acknowledge that Trump will likely run for president againWhile Republicans slam the FBI's raid of Mar-a-Lago, many are also finally admitting in public that Trump is likely to run for president again in 2024.Trump has hinted at the prospect for months now, leaving Republicans reluctant to comment or speculate on the matter. "President Trump is likely going to run again in 2024," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, wrote on Twitter."Joe Biden is trying to use the FBI to subdue his top political opponent because they are afraid of him running in 2024," Republican Rep. Diana Harshbarger wrote on Twitter. Read Full StoryPence defends Trump and expresses 'deep concern' over FBI's Mar-a-Lago raidThen-President Donald Trump shakes then-Vice President Mike Pence's hand after a 2019 rally.Zach Gibson/Getty ImagesFormer Vice President Mike Pence defended Donald Trump after FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago."I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump," Pence wrote on Twitter.He continued: "After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed."Read Full StoryTrump nominated the FBI Director who led Mar-A-Lago search: 'He will make us all proud'Former President Donald Trump nominated Christoper Wray for FBI Director in 2017.Brandon Bell/Getty Images, MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesChristopher Wray, the FBI director who authorized the Mar-a-Lago search was picked for the gig by then-President Donald Trump in 2017.Trump, at the time, called Wray a man of "impeccable credentials.""We will have a great FBI director. I think he's doing really well and we're very proud of that choice. I think I've done a great service to the country by choosing him," Trump said in a speech during a 2017 visit to France. "He will make us all proud, and I think someday we'll see that and hopefully someday soon."Now, Wray is feeling pressure from GOP lawmakers in the wake of Monday's raid. Read Full StoryRepublicans are fundraising off the FBI's raid of Trump's 'beautiful Florida home' at Mar-a-LagoShortly after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, Republicans and right-wing groups used the opportunity to boost political fundraising efforts.A volley of emails from GOP lawmakers, political action groups, and other organizations denounced the FBI's search warrant and slammed the Biden administration."Biden's FBI raided President Trump's beautiful Florida home," the Republican National Committee wrote in a fundraising email, adding that "it's hard to believe it but it's true." Read Full StoryLindsey Graham says 'nobody's above the law' after FBI raid, but added that he's 'suspicious' of the investigationSen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).Ting Shen - Pool/Getty ImagesSouth Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced a balanced reaction in response to the FBI's search warrant of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home compared to some of his colleagues."We're a nation of laws. Nobody's above the law. That's for darn sure," the Republican told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. The Trump ally said, however, that he's "suspicious" of the Justice Department's investigation and called it "dangerous territory." Read Full StoryEx-RNC chairman calls Marjorie Taylor Greene a 'shitforbrains' Republican for demanding the FBI be defundedRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from GeorgiaDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesMichael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, slammed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia for saying the FBI should be defunded. After the FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, Greene tweeted "DEFUND THE FBI!"Steele quoted her tweet and said: "Trump failed to return classified docs requested by the National Archives. A federal judge issued a search warrant for probable cause of a crime. This is not some rando move by the FBI so you shitforbrains Republicans calling for 'defunding the FBI' for once try to be less stupid."Read Full StoryTrump family members react to FBI search, calling it 'political persecution'Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesMembers of the Trump family took to Twitter and Fox News to voice their response to the FBI's search of former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home."Biden's out of control DOJ is ripping this country apart with how they're openly targeting their political enemies," Donald Trump Jr. wrote. "This is what you see happen in 3rd World Banana Republics!!!"Eric Trump told Fox News on Monday night that he was the "guy who got the call," that the FBI was executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, calling it "political persecution.""Every day, we get another subpoena," he said. Read Full StoryA dozen House Republicans plan to dine with Trump in Bedminster on TuesdayFormer President Donald Trump is hosting a dozen of the most conservative House Republicans at his New Jersey golf club Tuesday night for a dinner meeting.Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks is reportedly leading the group, set to meet just one day after the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago.Read Full StoryTrump talked about his 'strange day' while calling into a tele-rally for Sarah Palin hours after the FBI raidFormer President Donald Trump campaigns for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a rally in Anchorage, Alaska on July 9, 2022.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesAfter the raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, former president Donald Trump called into a tele-rally for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — a long-time political ally who is now seeking an open House seat in the state's August 16 special election."Another day in paradise. This is a strange day. You probably all read about it," Trump said during a roughly 15-minute call, according to the Anchorage Daily News.Palin thanked Trump for checking in, despite the news of the raid.  Read Full StoryPelosi says FBI raid on Trump was a major step and that 'no person is above the law'—TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 9, 2022House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home as a major step, and said that not even a former president is "above the law."She is the highest-ranking Democrat to comment on the search, which took place on Monday.Pelosi was interviewed about the Monday raid on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, where she was asked by host Savannah Guthrie if the search struck her as a "pretty serious step" for the Department of Justice to take.Pelosi replied: "Yes I think it does."She said later in the interview that Democrats "believe in the rule of law, and that's what our country is about and no person is above the law, not even the president of the United States, not even a former president of the United States."Read Full StoryMichael Cohen was jubilant after the FBI searched Trump's home, says he is finally being 'held accountable'Michael Cohen in July 2018 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMichael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, posted a celebratory video after FBI agents conducted a search of the ex-president's property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. As news broke of the raid Cohen posted a selfie of himself grinning on Twitter, and in a video later posted on TikTok spelled out what he thinks the development could mean for his former boss."I can promise you only one thing, that whatever information that it is that they took from him, it's information he didn't want exposed," he said.He said Trump would frequently stash away compromising information in places he thought it was "impervious." "Let's just all rejoice the fact that this man who has avoided, legitimately avoided, any responsibility for anything is now going to be held accountable," said Cohen. "And it goes right back to the democratic adage 'no one is above the law.'"Read Full StoryMary Trump says her uncle is panicked by FBI raid and never believed the DOJ would take actionMary Trump speaking on MSNBC on August 8, 2022MSNBCThe niece of former President Donald Trump, Mary Trump, said that he is in "panic" after the FBI raided his home in Florida late on Monday. Trump "may have been told it was coming," but he would not have believed that the FBI would actually do it, Mary Trump told MSNBC on Monday.She has for years been a vocal critic of her uncle, who has attacked her in turn.Mary said that the raid would have been "a bit of a shock" to Trump, citing what she, a psychologist, called his "narcissism and sense of entitlement.""He may have known, been told it was coming, but he could not possibly believe it was coming, because it never has. So I think that's where that panic is coming from."Read Full StoryKevin McCarthy threatens to investigate DOJ over Trump FBI raid if Republicans retake the HouseHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to investigate the DOJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland, using powers the Republican Party would gain if it retakes the House in November.In a statement Tuesday, McCarthy denounced the search conducted by FBI agents in Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort."I've seen enough. The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization," McCarthy said in a statement."When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned.""Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar," McCarthy said.Read Full StoryA law forbidding presidents from destroying or mishandling records could be why FBI agents searched Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago homePolice direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida.AP Photo/Terry RennaThe FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort appears to be over material that Trump brought back to Florida after leaving the White House.The search appears to be over material that Trump brought back to Florida after leaving the White House. That decision spurred a federal investigation, and likely the search on Monday, linked to the Presidential Records Act.Under the act, presidential records are public property and presidents are obliged to store them properly, and not to destroy them.Read Full StoryThese GOP lawmakers say they're pro law-enforcement but voted against giving congressional medals to police. Now they're excoriating the FBI on Trump's behalf.Former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at the LIV Golf Invitational on July 30, 2022.Jared C. Tilton/LIV Golf via Getty ImagesIn June 2021, 21 Republican lawmakers stood in opposition to legislation that would have awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who risked their lives at the Capitol during the January 6 riot.On Monday, a number of these GOP lawmakers joined a chorus of voices asking for the FBI to be destroyed and defunded for executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. Here's what these lawmakers said about the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago — and how it contrasts with their pro-law enforcement stance. READ MORERepublicans rail against the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the FBI to be destroyed and defundedRepublican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona were among several Republican lawmakers calling for the FBI to be destroyed or defunded.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe far-right faction of the Republican party is up in arms about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the agency to be defunded and destroyed. Trump ally and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was one of the first to tweet her disapproval of the search, posting on Twitter: "DEFUND THE FBI!"Colorado lawmaker Lauren Boebert tweeted that she wanted the GOP to "set up a Select Committee to investigate the FBI's politically-motivated raid on Mar-a-Lago and on ALL the fraudulent persecution of President Trump from our government."House Republicans' calls to defund and destroy a law enforcement organization stands in contrast to legislation their party introduced in May 2021 to "back the blue" in opposition to a progressive push to defund the police. As recently as May 2022, top-ranking Republicans like Rep. Elise Stefanik were still pushing the "back the blue" slogan — something that both Greene and Boebert have themselves staunchly supported.READ MORELawyers received instructions to secure Trump's document room months before the FBI search at Mar-a-LagoFormer President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally on April 2, 2022, near Washington, Michigan.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesMonths before the raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, former President Donald Trump's lawyers recieved instructions to "secure the room" in which he stored his documents, sources told CNN.The sources told CNN Trump aides added a padlock to his basement after investigators met with his lawyers at the Florida resort.Read MoreEric Trump says he was the 'guy who got the call' that the FBI was executing a search warrant at Mar-a-LagoEric Trump said on Monday night that he was the one who informed his father Mar-a-Lago was being searched.Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesTrump — speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity — said he was "the guy that got the call this morning." "I called my father and let him know that it happened," Trump said. "So I was involved in this all day." After the search, Eric Trump complained to Hannity that he thought there is "no family in American history that has taken more arrows in the back than the Trump family." "Every day, we get another subpoena," Trump said. "That's what this is about today, to have 30 FBI agents — actually, more than that —descend on Mar-a-Lago give absolutely, you know, no notice. Go through the gate, start ransacking an office, ransacking a closet. You know, they broke into a safe. He didn't even have anything in the safe. I mean, give me a break." READ FULL STORYFeds likely obtained 'pulverizing' amount of evidence ahead of searching Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, legal experts sayFormer President Donald Trump speaks at a "Save America" rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on August 5, 2022.AP Photo/Morry GashFor months, as new details emerged about the end of the Trump administration, the Justice Department confronted criticism over its slow, cautious approach to investigating the former president.Again and again, Attorney General Merrick Garland met that criticism with what has almost become his personal mantra: The Justice Department, he says, will follow the "facts and the law."On Monday, the facts and the law led FBI agents to former President Donald Trump's home.Read Full StoryTrump's 2024 rivals are swooping in to support him, claiming the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago is politically-motivatedFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis — largely thought of to be one of Trump's key rivals for the GOP presidential ticket in 2024 — tweeted in support of the former president.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesTrump's potential rivals for a 2024 ticket quickly came to his defense on Monday night after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely thought of to be one of Trump's key rivals in a 2024 GOP primary, tweeted his support for the former president around an hour after Trump's statement about the FBI search dropped on Truth Social. "The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves," DeSantis tweeted, adding that he thought the US was becoming a "banana republic."DeSantis was referencing an ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden's finances. Biden has not been charged with a crime and denies any wrongdoing.READ FULL STORYTrump supporters protest the execution of a search warrant against the former president outside Mar-a-Lago and FBI headquartersSupporters of former President Donald Trump hold flags in front of his home at Mar-A-Lago on August 8, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. The FBI raided the home to retrieve classified White House documents.Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty ImagesAfter the FBI executed a search warrant on Donald Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, supporters of the former president gathered outside the Florida resort and FBI headquarters to protest.Though it was initially unclear which of several pending investigations into the former president the warrant was related to, ABC News cited sources saying it was in connection to 15 boxes of potentially classified documents Trump took with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago at the end of his presidency. Read Full StoryTrump was perched in Trump Tower as he decried 'unauthorized raid on my home' at Mar-a-Lago resort: CNNTrump Tower in ManhattanSpencer Platt / Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump was in the comfort of his Trump Tower in New York City as federal agents executed a search warrant on his home in Mar-A-Lago, Florida, according to CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins.The search warrant was carried out in the early hours of Monday morning and was first reported by Florida Politics. Trump confirmed the search warrant in a statement, calling it an "unauthorized raid on my home.""Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before," his statement said. "After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate."Read Full StoryThe Biden White House was unaware that the FBI was going to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home until the former president announced it on social mediaFormer President Donald Trump speaks to the press at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 22, 2018.Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty ImagesThe Biden White House was unaware that the FBI was going to search former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, White House officials said.The former president accused the bureau of prosecutorial misconduct in a statement and suggested the search was part of a politically motivated plot to stop him from running for president in 2024.A senior White House official told CBS News' Ed O'Keefe that the Biden administration wasn't made aware of the search warrant until Trump released his statement about it."No advance knowledge," the official said. "Some learned from old media, some from social media."Read Full StoryDonald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home was searched by the FBI. Take a look inside his exclusive resort that the public never sees.Donald Trump outside the entrance of Mar-a-Lago on December 21, 2016.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesDuring former President Donald Trump's time in the White House, his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach presidency exclusive resort was often referred to as "the winter White House."Now, it's just his house.Following the end of his presidential term, Trump decamped to the ornate resort. Mar-a-Lago has hosted a number of high-powered visitors over the years, as it has seemingly always served as the Trump family's gilded weekend getaway. Mar-a-Lago has served as a lavish backdrop to host important dignitaries with its elaborately decorated halls. It was built to impress.Case in point: the property was closed for 57 days amid the coronavirus pandemic after visitors like the press secretary to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Brazil's Chargé d'Affaires Ambassador Nestor Forster tested positive for the coronavirus in March.Here's a look inside the sprawling complex, which was built in the early 20th century, where the Trumps have hosted opulent holiday parties and watched Super Bowls alongside members of the exclusive private club.Read MoreTrump says FBI accessed his safe during raid at Mar-a-Lago: 'They even broke into my safe!'Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. CPAC began in 1974, and is a conference that brings together and hosts conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders in discussing current events and future political agendas.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump said the FBI went through his safe when they executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. "They even broke into my safe!" Trump said in a Monday statement confirming the search.Read Full StoryThe FBI executed a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago homeRepublican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump speaks to the media at the Mar-A-Lago Club on March 1, 2016 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump held the press conference after the closing of Super Tuesday polls in a dozen statesJohn Moore/Getty ImagesFederal agents descended on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property in Florida on Monday, Trump announced in a statement.The former president denounced the raid as politically motivated, although he himself appointed the FBI's director, Christopher Wray.Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 9th, 2022

Dr. Birx Praises Herself While Revealing Ignorance, Treachery, & Deceit

Dr. Birx Praises Herself While Revealing Ignorance, Treachery, & Deceit Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, The December 2020 resignation of Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator under Trump, revealed predictable hypocrisy. Like so many other government officials around the world, she was caught violating her own stay-at-home order. Therefore she finally left her post following nine months of causing unfathomable amounts of damage to life, liberty, property, and the very idea of hope for the future.  Even if Anthony Fauci had been the front man for the media, it was Birx who was the main influence in the White House behind the nationwide lockdowns that did not stop or control the pathogen but have caused immense suffering and continue to roil and wreck the world. So it was significant that she would not and could not comply with her own dictates, even as her fellow citizens were being hunted down for the same infractions against “public health.”  In the days before Thanksgiving 2020, she had warned Americans to “assume you’re infected” and to restrict gatherings to “your immediate household.” Then she packed her bags and headed to Fenwick Island in Delaware where she met with four generations for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, as if she were free to make normal choices and live a normal life while everyone else had to shelter in place.  The Associated Press was first out with the report on December 20, 2020.  Birx acknowledged in a statement that she went to her Delaware property. She declined to be interviewed. She insisted the purpose of the roughly 50-hour visit was to deal with the winterization of the property before a potential sale — something she says she previously hadn’t had time to do because of her busy schedule.  “I did not go to Delaware for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving,” Birx said in her statement, adding that her family shared a meal together while in Delaware.  Birx said that everyone on her Delaware trip belongs to her “immediate household,” even as she acknowledged they live in two different homes. She initially called the Potomac home a “3 generation household (formerly 4 generations).” White House officials later said it continues to be a four-generation household, a distinction that would include Birx as part of the home. So it was all a sleight-of-hand: she was staying home; it’s just that she has several homes! This is how the power elite comply, one supposes.  The BBC then quoted her defense, which echo the pain experienced by hundreds of millions:  “My daughter hasn’t left that house in 10 months, my parents have been isolated for 10 months. They’ve become deeply depressed as I’m sure many elderly have as they’ve not been able to see their sons, their granddaughters. My parents have not been able to see their surviving son for over a year. These are all very difficult things.” Indeed. However, she was the major voice for the better part of 2020 for requiring exactly that. No one should blame her for wanting to get together with family; that she worked so hard for so long to prevent others from doing so is what is at issue.  The press piled on and she announced that she would be leaving her post and not seeking a position at the Biden White House. Trump tweeted that she will be missed. It was the final discrediting – or should have been – of a person that many in the White House and many around the country had come to see as an obvious fanatic and fake, a person whose influence wrecked the liberties and health of an entire country.  It was a fitting end to a catastrophic career. So it would make sense that people might pick up her new book to find out what it was like to go through that kind of media storm, the real reasons for her visit, what it was like to know for sure that she must violate her own rules in order to bring comfort to her family, and the difficult decision she made to throw in the towel knowing that she has compromised the integrity of her entire program.  One slogs through her entire book only to find this incredible fact: she never mentions this. The incident is missing entirely from her book.  Instead at the moment in the narrative at which she would be expected to recount the affair she says almost in passing that “When former vice president Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, I’d set a goal for myself—to hand over responsibility for the pandemic response, with all its many elements, in the best possible place.” At that point, the book skips immediately to the new year. Done. It’s like Orwell, the story, even though it was reported for days in the world press and became a defining moment in her career, is just wiped out from the history book of her own authorship.  Somehow it makes sense that she would neglect to mention this. Reading her book is a very painful experience (all credit to Michael Senger’s review) simply because it seems to be weaving fables on page after page, strewn with bromides, completely lacking in self awareness, punctuated by revealing comments that make the opposite point of what she is seeking. Reading it is truly a surreal experience, astonishing especially because she is able to maintain her delusionary pose for 525 pages.  Recall that it was she who was tasked – by Anthony Fauci – with doing the really crucial thing of talking Donald Trump into green-lighting the lockdowns that began on March 12, 2020, and continued to their final hard-core deployment on March 16. This was the “15 Days to Flatten the Curve” that turned into two years in many parts of the country.  Her book admits that it was a two-level lie from the beginning.  “We had to make these palatable to the administration by avoiding the obvious appearance of a full Italian lockdown,” she writes. “At the same time, we needed the measures to be effective at slowing the spread, which meant matching as closely as possible what Italy had done—a tall order. We were playing a game of chess in which the success of each move was predicated on the one before it.” Further:  “At this point, I wasn’t about to use the words lockdown or shutdown. If I had uttered either of those in early March, after being at the White House only one week, the political, nonmedical members of the task force would have dismissed me as too alarmist, too doom-and-gloom, too reliant on feelings and not facts. They would have campaigned to lock me down and shut me up.” In other words, she wanted to go full CCP just like Italy but didn’t want to say that. Crucially, she knew for sure that two weeks was not the real plan. “I left the rest unstated: that this was just a starting point.” “No sooner had we convinced the Trump administration to implement our version of a two-week shutdown than I was trying to figure out how to extend it,” she admits.  “Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread was a start, but I knew it would be just that. I didn’t have the numbers in front of me yet to make the case for extending it longer, but I had two weeks to get them. However hard it had been to get the fifteen-day shutdown approved, getting another one would be more difficult by many orders of magnitude. In the meantime, I waited for the blowback, for someone from the economic team to call me to the principal’s office or confront me at a task force meeting. None of this happened.” It was a solution in search of evidence she did not have. She told Trump that the evidence was there anyway. She actually tricked him into believing that locking down a whole population of people was somehow magically going to make a virus to which everyone would inevitably be exposed somehow vanish as a threat.  Meanwhile, the economy was wrecked domestically and then all over the world, as most governments in the world followed what the US did.  Where did she come up with the idea of lockdowns? By her own report, her only real experience with infectious disease came from her work on AIDS, a very different disease from a respiratory virus that everyone would eventually get but which would only be fatal or even severe for a small cohort, a fact that was known since late January. Still, her experience counted for more than science.  “In any health crisis, it is crucial to work at the personal behavior level,” she says with the presumption that avoidance at all costs was the only goal. “With HIV/AIDS, this meant convincing asymptomatic people to get tested, to seek treatment if they were HIV-positive, and to take preventative measures, including wearing condoms; or to employ other pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) if they were negative.” She immediately hops to the analogy with Covid. “I knew the government agencies would need to do the same thing to have a similar effect on the spread of this novel coronavirus. The most obvious parallel with the HIV/AIDS example was the message of wearing masks.”  Masks = condoms. Remarkable. This “obvious parallel” remark sums the whole depth of her thinking. Behavior is all that matters. Just stay apart. Cover your mouth. Don’t gather. Don’t travel. Close the schools. Close everything. Whatever happens, don’t get it. Nothing else matters. Keep your immune system as unexposed as possible.  I wish I could say her thought is more complex than that but it is not. This was the basis for lockdowns. For how long? In her mind, it seems like it would be forever. Nowhere in the book does she reveal an exit strategy. Not even vaccines qualify.  From the very beginning, she revealed her epidemiological views. On March 16, 2020 at her press conference with Trump, she summarized her position: “We really want people to be separated at this time.” People? All people? Everywhere? Not one reporter raised a question about this obviously ridiculous and outrageous statement that would essentially destroy life on earth.  But she was serious – seriously deluded not only about how society functions but also about infectious disease of this sort. Only one thing mattered as a metric to her: reducing infections through any means possible, as if she on her own could cobble together a new kind of society in which exposure to airborne pathogens was made illegal.  Here is an example. There was a controversy about how many people should be allowed to gather in one space, as in home, church, store, stadium, or community center. She addresses how she came up with the rules:  The real problem with this fifty-versus-ten distinction, for me, was that it revealed that the CDC simply didn’t believe to the degree that I did that SARS-CoV-2 was being spread through the air silently and undetected from symptomless individuals. The numbers really did matter. As the years since have confirmed, in times of active viral community spread, as many as fifty people gathered together indoors (unmasked at this point, of course) was way too high a number. It increased the chances of someone among that number being infected exponentially. I had settled on ten knowing that even that was too many, but I figured that ten would at least be palatable for most Americans—high enough to allow for most gatherings of immediate family but not enough for large dinner parties and, critically, large weddings, birthday parties, and other mass social events. She puts a fine point on it: “if I pushed for zero (which was actually what I wanted and what was required), this would have been interpreted as a ‘lockdown’—the perception we were all working so hard to avoid.” What does it mean for zero people to gather? A suicide cult? In any case, just like that, from her own thinking and straight to enforcement, birthday parties, sports, weddings, and funerals came to be forbidden.  Here we gain insight into the sheer insanity of her vision. It is nothing short of a marvel that she somehow managed to gain the amount of influence she did.  Notice her above mention of her dogma that asymptomatic spread was the whole key to understanding pandemic. In other words, on her own and without any scientific support, she presumed that Covid was both extremely fatal and had a long latency period. To her way of thinking, this is why the usual tradeoff between severity and prevalence did not matter.  She was somehow certain that the longest estimates of latency were correct: 14 days. This is the reason for the “wait two weeks” obsession. She held onto this dogma throughout, almost like the fictional movie “Contagion” had been her only guide to understanding.  Later in the book, she writes that symptoms mean next to nothing because people can always carry around the virus in their nose without being sick. After all, this is what PCR tests have shown. Instead of seeing that as a failure of PCR, she saw this as a confirmation that everyone is a carrier no matter what and therefore everyone has to lock down because otherwise we’ll deal with a black plague. Somehow, despite her astonishing lack of scientific curiosity and experience in this area, she gained all influence over the initial Trump administration response. Briefly, she was godlike.  But Trump was not and is not a fool. He must have had some sleepless nights wondering how and why he had approved the destruction of that which he had seen as his greatest achievement. The virus was long here (probably from October 2019), it presented a specific danger to a narrow cohort, but otherwise behaved like a textbook flu. Maybe, he must have wondered, his initial instincts from January and February 2020 were correct all along.  Still, he very reluctantly approved a 30-day extension of lockdowns, entirely on Birx’s urging and with a few other fools standing around. Having given in a second time – still, no one thought to drop an email or make a phone call for a second opinion! – this seemed to be the turning point. Birx reports that by April 1, 2020, Trump had lost confidence in her. He might have intuited that he had been tricked. He stopped speaking to her.  It would still take another month before he would fully rethink everything that he had approved at her behest.  It made no difference. The bulk of her book is a brag fest about how she kept subverting the White House’s push to open up the economy – that is, allow people to exercise their rights and freedoms. Once Trump turned against her, and eventually found other people to provide good advice like the tremendously brave Scott Atlas – five months later he arrived in an attempt to save the country from disaster – Birx turned to rallying around her inner circle (Anthony Fauci, Robert Redfield, Matthew Pottinger, and a few others) plus assembling a realm of protection outside of her that included CNN reporter Sanjay Gupta and, very likely, the virus team at the New York Times (which gives her book a glowing review). Recall that for the remainder of the year, the White House was urging normalcy while many states kept locking down. It was an incredible confusion. The CDC was all over the map. I gained the distinct impression of two separate regimes in charge: Trump’s vs. the administrative state he could not control. Trump would say one thing on the campaign trail but the regulations and disease panic kept pouring out of his own agencies.  Birx admits that she was a major part of the reason, due to her sneaky alternation of weekly reports to the states.  After the heavily edited documents were returned to me, I’d reinsert what they had objected to, but place it in those different locations. I’d also reorder and restructure the bullet points so the most salient—the points the administration objected to most—no longer fell at the start of the bullet points. I shared these strategies with the three members of the data team also writing these reports. Our Saturday and Sunday report-writing routine soon became: write, submit, revise, hide, resubmit.  Fortunately, this strategic sleight-of-hand worked. That they never seemed to catch this subterfuge left me to conclude that, either they read the finished reports too quickly or they neglected to do the word search that would have revealed the language to which they objected. In slipping these changes past the gatekeepers and continuing to inform the governors of the need for the big-three mitigations—masks, sentinel testing, and limits on indoor social gatherings—I felt confident I was giving the states permission to escalate public health mitigation with the fall and winter coming. As another example, once Scott Atlas came to the rescue in August to introduce some good sense into this wacky world, he worked with others to dial back the CDC’s fanatical attachment to universal and constant testing. Atlas knew that “track, trace, and isolate” was both a fantasy and a massive invasion of people’s liberties that would yield no positive public-health outcome. He put together a new recommendation that was only for those who were sick to test – just as one might expect in normal life.  After a week-long media frenzy, the regulations flipped in the other direction.  Birx reveals that it was her doing: This wasn’t the only bit of subterfuge I had to engage in. Immediately after the Atlas-influenced revised CDC testing guidance went up in late August, I contacted Bob Redfield…. Less than a week later, Bob [Redfield] and I had finished our rewrite of the guidance and surreptitiously posted it. We had restored the emphasis on testing to detect areas where silent spread was occurring. It was a risky move, and we hoped everyone in the White House would be too busy campaigning to realize what Bob and I had done. We weren’t being transparent with the powers that be in the White House… One might ask how the heck she got away with this. She explains: [T]he guidance gambit was only the tip of the iceberg of my transgressions in my effort to subvert Scott Atlas’s dangerous positions. Ever since Vice President Pence told me to do what I needed to do, I’d engaged in very blunt conversations with the governors. I spoke the truth that some White House senior advisors weren’t willing to acknowledge. Censoring my reports and putting up guidance that negated the known solutions was only going to perpetuate Covid-19’s vicious circle. What I couldn’t sneak past the gatekeepers in my reports, I said in person. Most of the book consists of her explaining how she headed a kind of shadow White House dedicated to keeping the country in some form of lockdown for as long as possible. In her telling, she was the center of everything, the only person truly correct about all things, given cover by the VP and assisted by a handful of co-conspirators..  Largely missing from the narrative is any discussion of the science gathering outside the bubble she so carefully cultivated. Whereas anyone could have noted the studies pouring out from February onward that threw cold water on her entire paradigm – not to mention 15 years, or make that 50 years, or perhaps 100 years of warnings against such a reaction – from scientists all over the world with vastly more experience and knowledge than she. She cared nothing about it, and evidently still does not.  It’s very clear that Birx had almost no contact with any serious scientist who disputed the draconian response, not even John Iaonnidis who explained as early as March 17, 2020, that this approach was madness. But she didn’t care: she was convinced that she was in the right, or, at least, was acting on behalf of people and interests who would keep her safe from persecution or prosecution.  For those interested, Chapter 8 provides a weird look into her first real scientific challenge: the seroprevalence study by Jayanta Bhattacharya published April 22, 2020. It demonstrated that the infection fatality rate – because infections and recovery was far more prevalent than Birx and Fauci were saying – was more in line with what one might expect from a severe flu but with a much more focused demographic impact. Bhattacharya’s paper revealed that the pathogen eluded all controls and would likely become endemic as every respiratory virus before. She took one look and concluded that the study had unnamed “fundamental flaws in logic and methodology” and “damaged the cause of public health at this crucial moment in the pandemic.”  And that’s it: that’s Birx grappling with science. Meanwhile, the article was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and has over 700 citations. She saw all differences of opinion as an opportunity to go on the attack in order to intensify her cherished commitment to the lockdown paradigm.  Even now, with scientists the world over in outrage, with citizens furious at their governments, with governments falling, with regimes toppling and anger reaching a fevered pitch, while studies pour out by the day showing that lockdowns made no difference and that open societies at least protected their educational systems and economies, she is unmoved. It’s not even clear she is aware. Birx dismisses all contrary cases such as Sweden: Americans could not take that route because we are too unhealthy. South Dakota: rural and backwater (Birx is still mad that the brave Governor Kristi Noem refused to meet with her). Florida: oddly and without evidence she dismisses that case as a killing field, even though its results were better than California while the population influx to the state sets new records.  Nor is she shaken by the reality that there is not one single country or territory anywhere on the planet earth that benefitted from her approach, not even her beloved China which still pursues a zero-Covid approach. As for New Zealand and Australia: she (probably wisely) doesn’t mention them at all, even though they followed the Birx approach exactly. The story of the lockdowns is a tale of Biblical proportions, at once evil and desperately sad and tragic, a story of power, scientific failure, intellectual insularity and insanity, outrageous arrogance, feudalistic impulses, mass delusion, plus political treachery and conspiracy. It is real-life horror for the ages, a tale of how the land of the free became a despotic hellscape so quickly and unexpectedly. Birx was at the center of it, confirming all of your worst fears right here in a book anyone can buy. She is so proud of her role that she dares to take all credit, fully convinced that the Trump-hating media will love and protect her perfidies from exposure and condemnation. There is no getting around Trump’s own culpability here. He never should have let her have her way. Never. It was a case of fallibility matched by ego (he has still not admitted error), but it is a case of enormous betrayal that played off presidential character flaws (like many in his income class, Trump had always been a germaphobe) that ended up wrecking hope and prosperity for billions of people for many years to come.  I’ve tried for two years to put myself in that scene at the White House that day. It’s a hothouse with only trusted souls in small rooms, and the people there in a crisis have the sense that they are running the world. Trump might have drawn on his experience running a casino in Atlantic City. The weather forecasters come to say a hurricane is on the way, so he needs to shut it down. He doesn’t want to but agrees in order to do the right thing.  Was this his thinking? Perhaps. Perhaps too someone told him that China’s President Xi Jinping managed to crush the virus with lockdowns so he can too, just as the WHO said in its February 26 report. It’s also difficult in that environment to avoid the rush of omnipotence, temporarily oblivious to the reality that your decision would affect life from Maine to Florida to California. It was a catastrophic and lawless decision based on pretense and folly.  What followed seems inevitable in retrospect. The economic crisis, inflation, the broken lives, the desperation, the lost rights and lost hopes, and now the growing hunger and demoralization and educational losses and cultural destruction, all of it came in the wake of these fateful days. Every day in this country, even two and a half years later, judges are struggling to regain control and revitalize the Constitution after this disaster.  The plotters usually admit it in the end, taking credit, like criminals who cannot resist returning to the scene of the crime. This is what Dr. Birx has done in her book. But there are clearly limits to her transparency. She never explains the real reason for her resignation – even though it is known the world over – pretending like the entire Thanksgiving fiasco never happened and thus attempting to write it out of the history book that she wrote.  There is so much more to say and I hope this is one review of many because the book is absolutely packed with shocking passages. And yet her 525-page book, now selling at a 50% discount, does not contain a single citation to a single scientific study, paper, monograph, article, or book. It has zero footnotes. It offers no go-to authorities and displays not even a hint of humility that would normally be part of any actual scientific account.  And it nowhere offers an honest reckoning for what her influence over the White House and the states foisted on this country and on the world. As the country masks up yet again for a new variant, and is gradually being groomed for another round of disease panic, she can collect whatever royalties come from sales of her book while working at her new gig, a consultant to a company that makes air purifiers (ActivePure). In this latter role, she makes a greater contribution to public health than anything she did while she held the reins of power.  Tyler Durden Sun, 07/17/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 18th, 2022

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma"s Political Reach

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma's Political Reach Authored by Rebecca Strong via Medium.com, They keep telling us to “trust the science.” But who paid for it? After graduating from Columbia University with a chemical engineering degree, my grandfather went on to work for Pfizer for almost two decades, culminating his career as the company’s Global Director of New Products. I was rather proud of this fact growing up — it felt as if this father figure, who raised me for several years during my childhood, had somehow played a role in saving lives. But in recent years, my perspective on Pfizer — and other companies in its class — has shifted. Blame it on the insidious big pharma corruption laid bare by whistleblowers in recent years. Blame it on the endless string of big pharma lawsuits revealing fraud, deception, and cover-ups. Blame it on the fact that I witnessed some of their most profitable drugs ruin the lives of those I love most. All I know is, that pride I once felt has been overshadowed by a sticky skepticism I just can’t seem to shake. In 1973, my grandpa and his colleagues celebrated as Pfizer crossed a milestone: the one-billion-dollar sales mark. These days, Pfizer rakes in $81 billion a year, making it the 28th most valuable company in the world. Johnson & Johnson ranks 15th, with $93.77 billion. To put things into perspective, that makes said companies wealthier than most countries in the world. And thanks to those astronomical profit margins, the Pharmaceuticals and Health Products industry is able to spend more on lobbying than any other industry in America. While big pharma lobbying can take several different forms, these companies tend to target their contributions to senior legislators in Congress — you know, the ones they need to keep in their corner, because they have the power to draft healthcare laws. Pfizer has outspent its peers in six of the last eight election cycles, coughing up almost $9.7 million. During the 2016 election, pharmaceutical companies gave more than $7 million to 97 senators at an average of $75,000 per member. They also contributed $6.3 million to president Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. The question is: what did big pharma get in return? When you've got 1,500 Big Pharma lobbyists on Capitol Hill for 535 members of Congress, it's not too hard to figure out why prescription drug prices in this country are, on average, 256% HIGHER than in other major countries. — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 3, 2022 ALEC’s Off-the-Record Sway To truly grasp big pharma’s power, you need to understand how The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works. ALEC, which was founded in 1973 by conservative activists working on Ronald Reagan’s campaign, is a super secretive pay-to-play operation where corporate lobbyists — including in the pharma sector — hold confidential meetings about “model” bills. A large portion of these bills is eventually approved and become law. A rundown of ALEC’s greatest hits will tell you everything you need to know about the council’s motives and priorities. In 1995, ALEC promoted a bill that restricts consumers’ rights to sue for damages resulting from taking a particular medication. They also endorsed the Statute of Limitation Reduction Act, which put a time limit on when someone could sue after a medication-induced injury or death. Over the years, ALEC has promoted many other pharma-friendly bills that would: weaken FDA oversight of new drugs and therapies, limit FDA authority over drug advertising, and oppose regulations on financial incentives for doctors to prescribe specific drugs. But what makes these ALEC collaborations feel particularly problematic is that there’s little transparency — all of this happens behind closed doors. Congressional leaders and other committee members involved in ALEC aren’t required to publish any records of their meetings and other communications with pharma lobbyists, and the roster of ALEC members is completely confidential. All we know is that in 2020, more than two-thirds of Congress — 72 senators and 302 House of Representatives members — cashed a campaign check from a pharma company. Big Pharma Funding Research The public typically relies on an endorsement from government agencies to help them decide whether or not a new drug, vaccine, or medical device is safe and effective. And those agencies, like the FDA, count on clinical research. As already established, big pharma is notorious for getting its hooks into influential government officials. Here’s another sobering truth: The majority of scientific research is paid for by — wait for it — the pharmaceutical companies. When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published 73 studies of new drugs over the course of a single year, they found that a staggering 82% of them had been funded by the pharmaceutical company selling the product, 68% had authors who were employees of that company, and 50% had lead researchers who accepted money from a drug company. According to 2013 research conducted at the University of Arizona College of Law, even when pharma companies aren’t directly funding the research, company stockholders, consultants, directors, and officers are almost always involved in conducting them. A 2017 report by the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ also showed that about half of medical journal editors receive payments from drug companies, with the average payment per editor hovering around $28,000. But these statistics are only accurate if researchers and editors are transparent about payments from pharma. And a 2022 investigative analysis of two of the most influential medical journals found that 81% of study authors failed to disclose millions in payments from drug companies, as they’re required to do. Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of slowing down. The number of clinical trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry has been climbing every year since 2006, according to a John Hopkins University report, while independent studies have been harder to find. And there are some serious consequences to these conflicts of interest. Take Avandia, for instance, a diabetes drug produced by GlaxoSmithCline (GSK). Avandia was eventually linked to a dramatically increased risk of heart attacks and heart failure. And a BMJ report revealed that almost 90% of scientists who initially wrote glowing articles about Avandia had financial ties to GSK. But here’s the unnerving part: if the pharmaceutical industry is successfully biasing the science, then that means the physicians who rely on the science are biased in their prescribing decisions. Photo credit: UN Women Europe & Central Asia Where the lines get really blurry is with “ghostwriting.” Big pharma execs know citizens are way more likely to trust a report written by a board-certified doctor than one of their representatives. That’s why they pay physicians to list their names as authors — even though the MDs had little to no involvement in the research, and the report was actually written by the drug company. This practice started in the ’50s and ’60s when tobacco execs were clamoring to prove that cigarettes didn’t cause cancer (spoiler alert: they do!), so they commissioned doctors to slap their name on papers undermining the risks of smoking. It’s still a pretty common tactic today: more than one in 10 articles published in the NEJM was co-written by a ghostwriter. While a very small percentage of medical journals have clear policies against ghostwriting, it’s still technically legal —despite the fact that the consequences can be deadly. Case in point: in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Merck paid for 73 ghostwritten articles to play up the benefits of its arthritis drug Vioxx. It was later revealed that Merck failed to report all of the heart attacks experienced by trial participants. In fact, a study published in the NEJM revealed that an estimated 160,000 Americans experienced heart attacks or strokes from taking Vioxx. That research was conducted by Dr. David Graham, Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, who understandably concluded the drug was not safe. But the FDA’s Office of New Drugs, which not only was responsible for initially approving Vioxx but also regulating it, tried to sweep his findings under the rug. "I was pressured to change my conclusions and recommendations, and basically threatened that if I did not change them, I would not be permitted to present the paper at the conference," he wrote in his 2004 U.S. Senate testimony on Vioxx. "One Drug Safety manager recommended that I should be barred from presenting the poster at the meeting." Eventually, the FDA issued a public health advisory about Vioxx and Merck withdrew this product. But it was a little late for repercussions — 38,000 of those Vioxx-takers who suffered heart attacks had already died. Graham called this a “profound regulatory failure,” adding that scientific standards the FDA apply to drug safety “guarantee that unsafe and deadly drugs will remain on the U.S. market.” This should come as no surprise, but research has also repeatedly shown that a paper written by a pharmaceutical company is more likely to emphasize the benefits of a drug, vaccine, or device while downplaying the dangers. (If you want to understand more about this practice, a former ghostwriter outlines all the ethical reasons why she quit this job in a PLOS Medicine report.) While adverse drug effects appear in 95% of clinical research, only 46% of published reports disclose them. Of course, all of this often ends up misleading doctors into thinking a drug is safer than it actually is. Big Pharma Influence On Doctors Pharmaceutical companies aren’t just paying medical journal editors and authors to make their products look good, either. There’s a long, sordid history of pharmaceutical companies incentivizing doctors to prescribe their products through financial rewards. For instance, Pfizer and AstraZeneca doled out a combined $100 million to doctors in 2018, with some earning anywhere from $6 million to $29 million in a year. And research has shown this strategy works: when doctors accept these gifts and payments, they’re significantly more likely to prescribe those companies’ drugs. Novartis comes to mind — the company famously spent over $100 million paying for doctors’ extravagant meals, golf outings, and more, all while also providing a generous kickback program that made them richer every time they prescribed certain blood pressure and diabetes meds. Side note: the Open Payments portal contains a nifty little database where you can find out if any of your own doctors received money from drug companies. Knowing that my mother was put on a laundry list of meds after a near-fatal car accident, I was curious — so I did a quick search for her providers. While her PCP only banked a modest amount from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, her previous psychiatrist — who prescribed a cocktail of contraindicated medications without treating her in person — collected quadruple-digit payments from pharmaceutical companies. And her pain care specialist, who prescribed her jaw-dropping doses of opioid pain medication for more than 20 years (far longer than the 5-day safety guideline), was raking in thousands from Purdue Pharma, AKA the opioid crisis’ kingpin. Purdue is now infamous for its wildly aggressive OxyContin campaign in the ’90s. At the time, the company billed it as a non-addictive wonder drug for pain sufferers. Internal emails show Pursue sales representatives were instructed to “sell, sell, sell” OxyContin, and the more they were able to push, the more they were rewarded with promotions and bonuses. With the stakes so high, these reps stopped at nothing to get doctors on board — even going so far as to send boxes of doughnuts spelling out “OxyContin” to unconvinced physicians. Purdue had stumbled upon the perfect system for generating tons of profit — off of other people’s pain. Documentation later proved that not only was Purdue aware it was highly addictive and that many people were abusing it, but that they also encouraged doctors to continue prescribing increasingly higher doses of it (and sent them on lavish luxury vacations for some motivation). In testimony to Congress, Purdue exec Paul Goldenheim played dumb about OxyContin addiction and overdose rates, but emails that were later exposed showed that he requested his colleagues remove all mentions of addiction from their correspondence about the drug. Even after it was proven in court that Purdue fraudulently marketed OxyContin while concealing its addictive nature, no one from the company spent a single day behind bars. Instead, the company got a slap on the wrist and a $600 million fine for a misdemeanor, the equivalent of a speeding ticket compared to the $9 billion they made off OxyContin up until 2006. Meanwhile, thanks to Purdue’s recklessness, more than 247,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2009. And that’s not even factoring in all the people who died of heroin overdoses once OxyContin was no longer attainable to them. The NIH reports that 80% of people who use heroin started by misusing prescription opioids. Former sales rep Carol Panara told me in an interview that when she looks back on her time at Purdue, it all feels like a “bad dream.” Panara started working for Purdue in 2008, one year after the company pled guilty to “misbranding” charges for OxyContin. At this point, Purdue was “regrouping and expanding,” says Panara, and to that end, had developed a clever new approach for making money off OxyContin: sales reps were now targeting general practitioners and family doctors, rather than just pain management specialists. On top of that, Purdue soon introduced three new strengths for OxyContin: 15, 30, and 60 milligrams, creating smaller increments Panara believes were aimed at making doctors feel more comfortable increasing their patients’ dosages. According to Panara, there were internal company rankings for sales reps based on the number of prescriptions for each OxyContin dosing strength in their territory. “They were sneaky about it,” she said. “Their plan was to go in and sell these doctors on the idea of starting with 10 milligrams, which is very low, knowing full well that once they get started down that path — that’s all they need. Because eventually, they’re going to build a tolerance and need a higher dose.” Occasionally, doctors expressed concerns about a patient becoming addicted, but Purdue had already developed a way around that. Sales reps like Panara were taught to reassure those doctors that someone in pain might experience addiction-like symptoms called “pseudoaddiction,” but that didn’t mean they were truly addicted. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support that this concept is legit, of course. But the most disturbing part? Reps were trained to tell doctors that “pseudoaddiction” signaled the patient’s pain wasn’t being managed well enough, and the solution was simply to prescribe a higher dose of OxyContin. Panara finally quit Purdue in 2013. One of the breaking points was when two pharmacies in her territory were robbed at gunpoint specifically for OxyContin. In 2020, Purdue pled guilty to three criminal charges in an $8.3 billion deal, but the company is now under court protection after filing for bankruptcy. Despite all the damage that’s been done, the FDA’s policies for approving opioids remain essentially unchanged. Photo credit: Jennifer Durban Purdue probably wouldn’t have been able to pull this off if it weren’t for an FDA examiner named Curtis Wright, and his assistant Douglas Kramer. While Purdue was pursuing Wright’s stamp of approval on OxyContin, Wright took an outright sketchy approach to their application, instructing the company to mail documents to his home office rather than the FDA, and enlisting Purdue employees to help him review trials about the safety of the drug. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that the FDA have access to at least two randomized controlled trials before deeming a drug as safe and effective, but in the case of OxyContin, it got approved with data from just one measly two-week study — in osteoarthritis patients, no less. When both Wright and Kramer left the FDA, they went on to work for none other than (drumroll, please) Purdue, with Wright earning three times his FDA salary. By the way — this is just one example of the FDA’s notoriously incestuous relationship with big pharma, often referred to as “the revolving door”. In fact, a 2018 Science report revealed that 11 out of 16 FDA reviewers ended up at the same companies they had been regulating products for. While doing an independent investigation, “Empire of Pain” author and New Yorker columnist Patrick Radden Keefe tried to gain access to documentation of Wright’s communications with Purdue during the OxyContin approval process. “The FDA came back and said, ‘Oh, it’s the weirdest thing, but we don’t have anything. It’s all either been lost or destroyed,’” Keefe told Fortune in an interview. “But it’s not just the FDA. It’s Congress, it’s the Department of Justice, it’s big parts of the medical establishment … the sheer amount of money involved, I think, has meant that a lot of the checks that should be in place in society to not just achieve justice, but also to protect us as consumers, were not there because they had been co-opted.” Big pharma may be to blame for creating the opioids that caused this public health catastrophe, but the FDA deserves just as much scrutiny — because its countless failures also played a part in enabling it. And many of those more recent fails happened under the supervision of Dr. Janet Woodcock. Woodcock was named FDA’s acting commissioner mere hours after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president. She would have been a logical choice, being an FDA vet of 35 years, but then again it’s impossible to forget that she played a starring role in the FDA’s perpetuating the opioid epidemic. She’s also known for overruling her own scientific advisors when they vote against approving a drug. Not only did Woodcock approve OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old, but she also gave the green light to several other highly controversial extended-release opioid pain drugs without sufficient evidence of safety or efficacy. One of those was Zohydro: in 2011, the FDA’s advisory committee voted 11:2 against approving it due to safety concerns about inappropriate use, but Woodcock went ahead and pushed it through, anyway. Under Woodcock’s supervision, the FDA also approved Opana, which is twice as powerful as OxyContin — only to then beg the drug maker to take it off the market 10 years later due to “abuse and manipulation.” And then there was Dsuvia, a potent painkiller 1,000 times stronger than morphine and 10 times more powerful than fentanyl. According to a head of one of the FDA’s advisory committees, the U.S. military had helped to develop this particular drug, and Woodcock said there was “pressure from the Pentagon” to push it through approvals. The FBI, members of congress, public health advocates, and patient safety experts alike called this decision into question, pointing out that with hundreds of opioids already on the market there’s no need for another — particularly one that comes with such high risks. Most recently, Woodcock served as the therapeutics lead for Operation Warp Speed, overseeing COVID-19 vaccine development. Big Pharma Lawsuits, Scandals, and Cover-Ups While the OxyContin craze is undoubtedly one of the highest-profile examples of big pharma’s deception, there are dozens of other stories like this. Here are a few standouts: In the 1980s, Bayer continued selling blood clotting products to third-world countries even though they were fully aware those products had been contaminated with HIV. The reason? The “financial investment in the product was considered too high to destroy the inventory.” Predictably, about 20,000 of the hemophiliacs who were infused with these tainted products then tested positive for HIV and eventually developed AIDS, and many later died of it. In 2004, Johnson & Johnson was slapped with a series of lawsuits for illegally promoting off-label use of their heartburn drug Propulsid for children despite internal company emails confirming major safety concerns (as in, deaths during the drug trials). Documentation from the lawsuits showed that dozens of studies sponsored by Johnson & Johnson highlighting the risks of this drug were never published. The FDA estimates that GSK’s Avandia caused 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007. Internal documents from GSK prove that when they began studying the effects of the drug as early as 1999, they discovered it caused a higher risk of heart attacks than a similar drug it was meant to replace. Rather than publish these findings, they spent a decade illegally concealing them (and meanwhile, banking $3.2 billion annually for this drug by 2006). Finally, a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study linked Avandia to a 43% increased risk of heart attacks, and a 64% increased risk of death from heart disease. Avandia is still FDA approved and available in the U.S. In 2009, Pfizer was forced to pay $2.3 billion, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history at that time, for paying illegal kickbacks to doctors and promoting off-label uses of its drugs. Specifically, a former employee revealed that Pfizer reps were encouraged and incentivized to sell Bextra and 12 other drugs for conditions they were never FDA approved for, and at doses up to eight times what’s recommended. “I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives,” the whistleblower said. When it was discovered that AstraZeneca was promoting the antipsychotic medication Seroquel for uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective, the company was hit with a $520 million fine in 2010. For years, AstraZeneca had been encouraging psychiatrists and other physicians to prescribe Seroquel for a vast range of seemingly unrelated off-label conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, anger management, ADHD, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeplessness. AstraZeneca also violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute by paying doctors to spread the word about these unapproved uses of Seroquel via promotional lectures and while traveling to resort locations. In 2012, GSK paid a $3 billion fine for bribing doctors by flying them and their spouses to five-star resorts, and for illegally promoting drugs for off-label uses. What’s worse — GSK withheld clinical trial results that showed its antidepressant Paxil not only doesn’t work for adolescents and children but more alarmingly, that it can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts in this group. A 1998 GSK internal memo revealed that the company intentionally concealed this data to minimize any “potential negative commercial impact.” In 2021, an ex-AstraZeneca sales rep sued her former employer, claiming they fired her for refusing to promote drugs for uses that weren’t FDA-approved. The employee alleges that on multiple occasions, she expressed concerns to her boss about “misleading” information that didn’t have enough support from medical research, and off-label promotions of certain drugs. Her supervisor reportedly not only ignored these concerns but pressured her to approve statements she didn’t agree with and threatened to remove her from regional and national positions if she didn’t comply. According to the plaintiff, she missed out on a raise and a bonus because she refused to break the law. At the top of 2022, a panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit against Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, and GE Healthcare, which claims they helped finance terrorist attacks against U.S. service members and other Americans in Iraq. The suit alleges that from 2005–2011, these companies regularly offered bribes (including free drugs and medical devices) totaling millions of dollars annually to Iraq’s Ministry of Health in order to secure drug contracts. These corrupt payments then allegedly funded weapons and training for the Mahdi Army, which until 2008, was largely considered one of the most dangerous groups in Iraq. Another especially worrisome factor is that pharmaceutical companies are conducting an ever-increasing number of clinical trials in third-world countries, where people may be less educated, and there are also far fewer safety regulations. Pfizer’s 1996 experimental trials with Trovan on Nigerian children with meningitis — without informed consent — is just one nauseating example. When a former medical director in Pfizer’s central research division warned the company both before and after the study that their methods in this trial were “improper and unsafe,” he was promptly fired. Families of the Nigerian children who died or were left blind, brain damaged, or paralyzed after the study sued Pfizer, and the company ultimately settled out of court. In 1998, the FDA approved Trovan only for adults. The drug was later banned from European markets due to reports of fatal liver disease and restricted to strictly emergency care in the U.S. Pfizer still denies any wrongdoing. “Nurse prepares to vaccinate children” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 But all that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to dive a little further down the rabbit hole — and I’ll warn you, it’s a deep one — a quick Google search for “big pharma lawsuits” will reveal the industry’s dark track record of bribery, dishonesty, and fraud. In fact, big pharma happens to be the biggest defrauder of the federal government when it comes to the False Claims Act, otherwise known as the “Lincoln Law.” During our interview, Panara told me she has friends still working for big pharma who would be willing to speak out about crooked activity they’ve observed, but are too afraid of being blacklisted by the industry. A newly proposed update to the False Claims Act would help to protect and support whistleblowers in their efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies liable, by helping to prevent that kind of retaliation and making it harder for the companies charged to dismiss these cases. It should come as no surprise that Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and a flock of other big pharma firms are currently lobbying to block the update. Naturally, they wouldn’t want to make it any easier for ex-employees to expose their wrongdoings, potentially costing them billions more in fines. Something to keep in mind: these are the same people who produced, marketed, and are profiting from the COVID-19 vaccines. The same people who manipulate research, pay off decision-makers to push their drugs, cover up negative research results to avoid financial losses, and knowingly put innocent citizens in harm’s way. The same people who told America: “Take as much OxyContin as you want around the clock! It’s very safe and not addictive!” (while laughing all the way to the bank). So, ask yourself this: if a partner, friend, or family member repeatedly lied to you — and not just little white lies, but big ones that put your health and safety at risk — would you continue to trust them? Backing the Big Four: Big Pharma and the FDA, WHO, NIH, CDC I know what you’re thinking. Big pharma is amoral and the FDA’s devastating slips are a dime a dozen — old news. But what about agencies and organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)? Don’t they have an obligation to provide unbiased guidance to protect citizens? Don’t worry, I’m getting there. The WHO’s guidance is undeniably influential across the globe. For most of this organization’s history, dating back to 1948, it could not receive donations from pharmaceutical companies — only member states. But that changed in 2005 when the WHO updated its financial policy to permit private money into its system. Since then, the WHO has accepted many financial contributions from big pharma. In fact, it’s only 20% financed by member states today, with a whopping 80% of financing coming from private donors. For instance, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now one of its main contributors, providing up to 13% of its funds — about $250–300 million a year. Nowadays, the BMGF provides more donations to the WHO than the entire United States. Dr. Arata Kochi, former head of WHO’s malaria program, expressed concerns to director-general Dr. Margaret Chan in 2007 that taking the BMGF’s money could have “far-reaching, largely unintended consequences” including “stifling a diversity of views among scientists.” “The big concerns are that the Gates Foundation isn’t fully transparent and accountable,” Lawrence Gostin, director of WHO’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told Devex in an interview. “By wielding such influence, it could steer WHO priorities … It would enable a single rich philanthropist to set the global health agenda.” Photo credit: National Institutes of Health Take a peek at the WHO’s list of donors and you’ll find a few other familiar names like AstraZeneca, Bayer, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck. The NIH has the same problem, it seems. Science journalist Paul Thacker, who previously examined financial links between physicians and pharma companies as a lead investigator of the United States Senate Committee, wrote in The Washington Post that this agency “often ignored” very “obvious” conflicts of interest. He also claimed that “its industry ties go back decades.” In 2018, it was discovered that a $100 million alcohol consumption study run by NIH scientists was funded mostly by beer and liquor companies. Emails proved that NIH researchers were in frequent contact with those companies while designing the study — which, here’s a shocker — were aimed at highlighting the benefits and not the risks of moderate drinking. So, the NIH ultimately had to squash the trial. And then there’s the CDC. It used to be that this agency couldn’t take contributions from pharmaceutical companies, but in 1992 they found a loophole: new legislation passed by Congress allowed them to accept private funding through a nonprofit called the CDC Foundation. From 2014 through 2018 alone, the CDC Foundation received $79.6 million from corporations like Pfizer, Biogen, and Merck. Of course, if a pharmaceutical company wants to get a drug, vaccine, or other product approved, they really need to cozy up to the FDA. That explains why in 2017, pharma companies paid for a whopping 75% of the FDA’s scientific review budgets, up from 27% in 1993. It wasn’t always like this. But in 1992, an act of Congress changed the FDA’s funding stream, enlisting pharma companies to pay “user fees,” which help the FDA speed up the approval process for their drugs. A 2018 Science investigation found that 40 out of 107 physician advisors on the FDA’s committees received more than $10,000 from big pharma companies trying to get their drugs approved, with some banking up to $1 million or more. The FDA claims it has a well-functioning system to identify and prevent these possible conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, their system only works for spotting payments before advisory panels meet, and the Science investigation showed many FDA panel members get their payments after the fact. It’s a little like “you scratch my back now, and I’ll scratch your back once I get what I want” — drug companies promise FDA employees a future bonus contingent on whether things go their way. Here’s why this dynamic proves problematic: a 2000 investigation revealed that when the FDA approved the rotavirus vaccine in 1998, it didn’t exactly do its due diligence. That probably had something to do with the fact that committee members had financial ties to the manufacturer, Merck — many owned tens of thousands of dollars of stock in the company, or even held patents on the vaccine itself. Later, the Adverse Event Reporting System revealed that the vaccine was causing serious bowel obstructions in some children, and it was finally pulled from the U.S. market in October 1999. Then, in June of 2021, the FDA overruled concerns raised by its very own scientific advisory committee to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm — a move widely criticized by physicians. The drug not only showed very little efficacy but also potentially serious side effects like brain bleeding and swelling, in clinical trials. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a Harvard Medical School professor who was on the FDA’s scientific advisory committee, called it the “worst drug approval” in recent history, and noted that meetings between the FDA and Biogen had a “strange dynamic” suggesting an unusually close relationship. Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told CNN that he believes the FDA started working in “inappropriately close collaboration with Biogen” back in 2019. “They were not objective, unbiased regulators,” he added in the CNN interview. “It seems as if the decision was preordained.” That brings me to perhaps the biggest conflict of interest yet: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID is just one of many institutes that comprises the NIH — and the NIH owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine — as well as thousands more pharma patents to boot. The NIAID is poised to earn millions of dollars from Moderna’s vaccine revenue, with individual officials also receiving up to $150,000 annually. Operation Warp Speed In December of 2020, Pfizer became the first company to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for a COVID-19 vaccine. EUAs — which allow the distribution of an unapproved drug or other product during a declared public health emergency — are actually a pretty new thing: the first one was issued in 2005 so military personnel could get an anthrax vaccine. To get a full FDA approval, there needs to be substantial evidence that the product is safe and effective. But for an EUA, the FDA just needs to determine that it may be effective. Since EUAs are granted so quickly, the FDA doesn’t have enough time to gather all the information they’d usually need to approve a drug or vaccine. “Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Event” by The White House is licensed under CC PDM 1.0 Pfizer CEO and chairman Albert Bourla has said his company was “operating at the speed of science” to bring a vaccine to market. However, a 2021 report in The BMJ revealed that this speed might have come at the expense of “data integrity and patient safety.” Brook Jackson, regional director for the Ventavia Research Group, which carried out these trials, told The BMJ that her former company “falsified data, unblinded patients, and employed inadequately trained vaccinators” in Pfizer’s pivotal phase 3 trial. Just some of the other concerning events witnessed included: adverse events not being reported correctly or at all, lack of reporting on protocol deviations, informed consent errors, and mislabeling of lab specimens. An audio recording of Ventavia employees from September 2020 revealed that they were so overwhelmed by issues arising during the study that they became unable to “quantify the types and number of errors” when assessing quality control. One Ventavia employee told The BMJ she’d never once seen a research environment as disorderly as Ventavia’s Pfizer vaccine trial, while another called it a “crazy mess.” Over the course of her two-decades-long career, Jackson has worked on hundreds of clinical trials, and two of her areas of expertise happen to be immunology and infectious diseases. She told me that from her first day on the Pfizer trial in September of 2020, she discovered “such egregious misconduct” that she recommended they stop enrolling participants into the study to do an internal audit. “To my complete shock and horror, Ventavia agreed to pause enrollment but then devised a plan to conceal what I found and to keep ICON and Pfizer in the dark,” Jackson said during our interview. “The site was in full clean-up mode. When missing data points were discovered the information was fabricated, including forged signatures on the informed consent forms.” A screenshot Jackson shared with me shows she was invited to a meeting titled “COVID 1001 Clean up Call” on Sept. 21, 2020. She refused to participate in the call. Jackson repeatedly warned her superiors about patient safety concerns and data integrity issues. “I knew that the entire world was counting on clinical researchers to develop a safe and effective vaccine and I did not want to be a part of that failure by not reporting what I saw,” she told me. When her employer failed to act, Jackson filed a complaint with the FDA on Sept. 25, and Ventavia fired her hours later that same day under the pretense that she was “not a good fit.” After reviewing her concerns over the phone, she claims the FDA never followed up or inspected the Ventavia site. Ten weeks later, the FDA authorized the EUA for the vaccine. Meanwhile, Pfizer hired Ventavia to handle the research for four more vaccine clinical trials, including one involving children and young adults, one for pregnant women, and another for the booster. Not only that, but Ventavia handled the clinical trials for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. Jackson is currently pursuing a False Claims Act lawsuit against Pfizer and Ventavia Research Group. Last year, Pfizer banked nearly $37 billion from its COVID vaccine, making it one of the most lucrative products in global history. Its overall revenues doubled in 2021 to reach $81.3 billion, and it’s slated to reach a record-breaking $98-$102 billion this year. “Corporations like Pfizer should never have been put in charge of a global vaccination rollout, because it was inevitable they would make life-and-death decisions based on what’s in the short-term interest of their shareholders,” writes Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. As previously mentioned, it’s super common for pharmaceutical companies to fund the research on their own products. Here’s why that’s scary. One 1999 meta-analysis showed that industry-funded research is eight times less likely to achieve unfavorable results compared to independent trials. In other words, if a pharmaceutical company wants to prove that a medication, supplement, vaccine, or device is safe and effective, they’ll find a way. With that in mind, I recently examined the 2020 study on Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to see if there were any conflicts of interest. Lo and behold, the lengthy attached disclosure form shows that of the 29 authors, 18 are employees of Pfizer and hold stock in the company, one received a research grant from Pfizer during the study, and two reported being paid “personal fees” by Pfizer. In another 2021 study on the Pfizer vaccine, seven of the 15 authors are employees of and hold stock in Pfizer. The other eight authors received financial support from Pfizer during the study. Photo credit: Prasesh Shiwakoti (Lomash) via Unsplash As of the day I’m writing this, about 64% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 76% have gotten at least one dose. The FDA has repeatedly promised “full transparency” when it comes to these vaccines. Yet in December of 2021, the FDA asked for permission to wait 75 years before releasing information pertaining to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, including safety data, effectiveness data, and adverse reaction reports. That means no one would see this information until the year 2096 — conveniently, after many of us have departed this crazy world. To recap: the FDA only needed 10 weeks to review the 329,000 pages worth of data before approving the EUA for the vaccine — but apparently, they need three-quarters of a century to publicize it. In response to the FDA’s ludicrous request, PHMPT — a group of over 200 medical and public health experts from Harvard, Yale, Brown, UCLA, and other institutions — filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding that the FDA produce this data sooner. And their efforts paid off: U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman issued an order for the FDA to produce 12,000 pages by Jan. 31, and then at least 55,000 pages per month thereafter. In his statement to the FDA, Pittman quoted the late John F. Kennedy: “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” As for why the FDA wanted to keep this data hidden, the first batch of documentation revealed that there were more than 1,200 vaccine-related deaths in just the first 90 days after the Pfizer vaccine was introduced. Of 32 pregnancies with a known outcome, 28 resulted in fetal death. The CDC also recently unveiled data showing a total of 1,088,560 reports of adverse events from COVID vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 28, 2022. That data included 23,149 reports of deaths and 183,311 reports of serious injuries. There were 4,993 reported adverse events in pregnant women after getting vaccinated, including 1,597 reports of miscarriage or premature birth. A 2022 study published in JAMA, meanwhile, revealed that there have been more than 1,900 reported cases of myocarditis — or inflammation of the heart muscle — mostly in people 30 and under, within 7 days of getting the vaccine. In those cases, 96% of people were hospitalized. “It is understandable that the FDA does not want independent scientists to review the documents it relied upon to license Pfizer’s vaccine given that it is not as effective as the FDA originally claimed, does not prevent transmission, does not prevent against certain emerging variants, can cause serious heart inflammation in younger individuals, and has numerous other undisputed safety issues,” writes Aaron Siri, the attorney representing PHMPT in its lawsuit against the FDA. Siri told me in an email that his office phone has been ringing off the hook in recent months. “We are overwhelmed by inquiries from individuals calling about an injury from a COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. By the way — it’s worth noting that adverse effects caused by COVID-19 vaccinations are still not covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are protected under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, which grants them total immunity from liability with their vaccines. And no matter what happens to you, you can’t sue the FDA for authorizing the EUA, or your employer for requiring you to get it, either. Billions of taxpayer dollars went to fund the research and development of these vaccines, and in Moderna’s case, licensing its vaccine was made possible entirely by public funds. But apparently, that still warrants citizens no insurance. Should something go wrong, you’re basically on your own. Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine business model: government gives them billions, gives them immunity for any injuries or if doesn't work, promotes their products for free, and mandates their products. Sounds crazy? Yes, but it is our current reality. — Aaron Siri (@AaronSiriSG) February 2, 2022 The Hypocrisy of “Misinformation” I find it interesting that “misinformation” has become such a pervasive term lately, but more alarmingly, that it’s become an excuse for blatant censorship on social media and in journalism. It’s impossible not to wonder what’s driving this movement to control the narrative. In a world where we still very clearly don’t have all the answers, why shouldn’t we be open to exploring all the possibilities? And while we’re on the subject, what about all of the COVID-related untruths that have been spread by our leaders and officials? Why should they get a free pass? Photo credit: @upgradeur_life, www.instagram.com/upgradeur_life Fauci, President Biden, and the CDC’s Rochelle Walensky all promised us with total confidence the vaccine would prevent us from getting or spreading COVID, something we now know is a myth. (In fact, the CDC recently had to change its very definition of “vaccine ” to promise “protection” from a disease rather than “immunity”— an important distinction). At one point, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and former Governor Andrew Cuomo prepared a social media campaign with misleading messaging that the vaccine was “approved by the FDA” and “went through the same rigorous approval process that all vaccines go through,” when in reality the FDA only authorized the vaccines under an EUA, and the vaccines were still undergoing clinical trials. While the NYS DOH eventually responded to pressures to remove these false claims, a few weeks later the Department posted on Facebook that “no serious side effects related to the vaccines have been reported,” when in actuality, roughly 16,000 reports of adverse events and over 3,000 reports of serious adverse events related to a COVID-19 vaccination had been reported in the first two months of use. One would think we’d hold the people in power to the same level of accountability — if not more — than an average citizen. So, in the interest of avoiding hypocrisy, should we “cancel” all these experts and leaders for their “misinformation,” too? Vaccine-hesitant people have been fired from their jobs, refused from restaurants, denied the right to travel and see their families, banned from social media channels, and blatantly shamed and villainized in the media. Some have even lost custody of their children. These people are frequently labeled “anti-vax,” which is misleading given that many (like the NBA’s Jonathan Isaac) have made it repeatedly clear they are not against all vaccines, but simply making a personal choice not to get this one. (As such, I’ll suggest switching to a more accurate label: “pro-choice.”) Fauci has repeatedly said federally mandating the vaccine would not be “appropriate” or “enforceable” and doing so would be “encroaching upon a person’s freedom to make their own choice.” So it’s remarkable that still, some individual employers and U.S. states, like my beloved Massachusetts, have taken it upon themselves to enforce some of these mandates, anyway. Meanwhile, a Feb. 7 bulletin posted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicates that if you spread information that undermines public trust in a government institution (like the CDC or FDA), you could be considered a terrorist. In case you were wondering about the current state of free speech. The definition of institutional oppression is “the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group.” It is defined as occurring when established laws and practices “systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups.” Sound familiar? As you continue to watch the persecution of the unvaccinated unfold, remember this. Historically, when society has oppressed a particular group of people whether due to their gender, race, social class, religious beliefs, or sexuality, it’s always been because they pose some kind of threat to the status quo. The same is true for today’s unvaccinated. Since we know the vaccine doesn’t prevent the spread of COVID, however, this much is clear: the unvaccinated don’t pose a threat to the health and safety of their fellow citizens — but rather, to the bottom line of powerful pharmaceutical giants and the many global organizations they finance. And with more than $100 billion on the line in 2021 alone, I can understand the motivation to silence them. The unvaccinated have been called selfish. Stupid. Fauci has said it’s “almost inexplicable” that they are still resisting. But is it? What if these people aren’t crazy or uncaring, but rather have — unsurprisingly so — lost their faith in the agencies that are supposed to protect them? Can you blame them? Citizens are being bullied into getting a vaccine that was created, evaluated, and authorized in under a year, with no access to the bulk of the safety data for said vaccine, and no rights whatsoever to pursue legal action if they experience adverse effects from it. What these people need right now is to know they can depend on their fellow citizens to respect their choices, not fuel the segregation by launching a full-fledged witch hunt. Instead, for some inexplicable reason I imagine stems from fear, many continue rallying around big pharma rather than each other. A 2022 Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports survey of Democratic voters found that 59% of respondents support a government policy requiring unvaccinated individuals to remain confined in their home at all times, 55% support handing a fine to anyone who won’t get the vaccine, and 48% think the government should flat out imprison people who publicly question the efficacy of the vaccines on social media, TV, or online in digital publications. Even Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Photo credit: DJ Paine on Unsplash Let me be very clear. While there are a lot of bad actors out there — there are also a lot of well-meaning people in the science and medical industries, too. I’m lucky enough to know some of them. There are doctors who fend off pharma reps’ influence and take an extremely cautious approach to prescribing. Medical journal authors who fiercely pursue transparency and truth — as is evident in “The Influence of Money on Medical Science,” a report by the first female editor of JAMA. Pharmacists, like Dan Schneider, who refuse to fill prescriptions they deem risky or irresponsible. Whistleblowers, like Graham and Jackson, who tenaciously call attention to safety issues for pharma products in the approval pipeline. And I’m certain there are many people in the pharmaceutical industry, like Panara and my grandfather, who pursued this field with the goal of helping others, not just earning a six- or seven-figure salary. We need more of these people. Sadly, it seems they are outliers who exist in a corrupt, deep-rooted system of quid-pro-quo relationships. They can only do so much. I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should get the vaccine or booster doses. What you put in your body is not for me — or anyone else — to decide. It’s not a simple choice, but rather one that may depend on your physical condition, medical history, age, religious beliefs, and level of risk tolerance. My grandfather passed away in 2008, and lately, I find myself missing him more than ever, wishing I could talk to him about the pandemic and hear what he makes of all this madness. I don’t really know how he’d feel about the COVID vaccine, or whether he would have gotten it or encouraged me to. What I do know is that he’d listen to my concerns, and he’d carefully consider them. He would remind me my feelings are valid. His eyes would light up and he’d grin with amusement as I fervidly expressed my frustration. He’d tell me to keep pushing forward, digging deeper, asking questions. In his endearing Bronx accent, he used to always say: “go get ‘em, kid.” If I stop typing for a moment and listen hard enough, I can almost hear him saying it now. People keep saying “trust the science.” But when trust is broken, it must be earned back. And as long as our legislative system, public health agencies, physicians, and research journals keep accepting pharmaceutical money (with strings attached) — and our justice system keeps letting these companies off the hook when their negligence causes harm, there’s no reason for big pharma to change. They’re holding the bag, and money is power. I have a dream that one day, we’ll live in a world where we are armed with all the thorough, unbiased data necessary to make informed decisions about our health. Alas, we’re not even close. What that means is that it’s up to you to educate yourself as much as possible, and remain ever-vigilant in evaluating information before forming an opinion. You can start by reading clinical trials yourself, rather than relying on the media to translate them for you. Scroll to the bottom of every single study to the “conflicts of interest” section and find out who funded it. Look at how many subjects were involved. Confirm whether or not blinding was used to eliminate bias. You may also choose to follow Public Citizen’s Health Research Group’s rule whenever possible: that means avoiding a new drug until five years after an FDA approval (not an EUA, an actual approval) — when there’s enough data on the long-term safety and effectiveness to establish that the benefits outweigh the risks. When it comes to the news, you can seek out independent, nonprofit outlets, which are less likely to be biased due to pharma funding. And most importantly, when it appears an organization is making concerted efforts to conceal information from you — like the FDA recently did with the COVID vaccine — it’s time to ask yourself: why? What are they trying to hide? In the 2019 film “Dark Waters” — which is based on the true story of one of the greatest corporate cover-ups in American history — Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott says: “The system is rigged. They want us to think it’ll protect us, but that’s a lie. We protect us. We do. Nobody else. Not the companies. Not the scientists. Not the government. Us.” Words to live by. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/09/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 9th, 2022

San Francisco Mayor Finally Blasts "All The Bulls**t That"s Destroyed" The City, Demands More Money For Cops

San Francisco Mayor Finally Blasts "All The Bulls**t That's Destroyed" The City, Demands More Money For Cops Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, After Black Lives Matter protesters last year demanded that cities “Defund the Police,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed held a press conference to announce that her city would be one of the first to do exactly that. Breed announced $120 million in cuts to the budgets of both San Francisco’s police and sheriff's departments. A spokesperson for the police officers’ union warned the cuts "could impact our ability to respond to emergencies,” but the police chief assured the public that the cuts “will not diminish our ability to provide essential services." Yesterday, Breed reversed herself in dramatic fashion, announcing that she was making an emergency request to the city’s Board of Supervisors for more money for the police to support a crackdown on crime, including open air drug dealing, car break-ins, and retail theft. The plan contains much of what the California Peace Coalition, which Environmental Progress and I cofounded last spring, has been demanding, including in a series of protests by parents of homeless addicts, parents of children killed by fentanyl, and recovering addicts. San Francisco Mayor Breed and other San Francisco politicians have for years promised to crack down on drug dealing and crime, and things have only grown worse over, so skepticism is merited. Already, progressives in San Francisco have denounced Mayor Breed’s plan, which she announced with the support of just two members of the city’s 11 Board of Supervisors, and without the apparent support of the city’s District Attorney. But there’s good reason for hope. Breed's plan lays out big goals and makes very specific promises, including more funding for police. There will be a recall election next June of San Francisco’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin which many political experts believe will succeed. And the progressive Supervisor who represents the Tenderloin, the neighborhood with most of city’s open drug scene, is running for state assembly, creating a leadership vacuum and opportunity for Breed. More importantly, Breed’s speech has the potential to change the conversation about crime. Breed explicitly embraced “tough love,” which is a very different philosophy from Woke victimology, which divides the world into victims and oppressors and demands that victims, a category that includes street addicts and criminals, only be given things, from cash and clean needles to their own apartment with butler service, and not be held accountable for their actions. "I'm proud this city believes in giving people second chances,” said Breed. “Nevertheless, we also need there to be accountability when someone does break the law...Our compassion cannot be mistaken for weakness or indifference…. I was raised by my grandmother to believe in 'tough love,' in keeping your house in order, and we need that, now more than ever." Breed punctuated her emotional speech with an explitive. “It is time for the reign of criminals to end,” she said. “And it comes to an end when are more aggressive with law enforcement and less tolerant of all the bulls**t that has destroyed our city.” Why is that? What explains Breed’s 180 degree reversal in less than 18 months? And what will determine whether she keeps her promise? SF Mayor @LondonBreed has literally just called bullshit on progressive criminal justice reformers “It is time for the reign of criminals to end. It comes to an end when are more aggressive with law enforcement & less tolerant of all the BULLSHIT that has destroyed our city” pic.twitter.com/ewqheftUun — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 14, 2021 Murder, Looting, and Drug Deaths The main reason for Breed’s turnabout is skyrocketing crime. A report released yesterday by San Francisco’s Public Policy Institute of California concluded that homicides increased in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco by 17% in 2021. Property crimes in those four cities rose 7% between 2020 and 2021, reaching 25,000 total in October. Two-thirds of increase is due to larcenies, mainly car break-ins (by 21%) and vehicle thefts (by 10%). PPIC stresses that property and violent crimes are lower than historic levels, but business leaders and residents have told me for two years that they often do not report many crimes. And the rate of arrest has declined significantly for many crimes. In 2019, 40% of all shoplifting reports resulted in arrest; in 2021, only 19% did. San Francisco’s progressive D.A. charged just 46% of theft arrests, a 16 point decline since he took office in 2020, and charged just 35% of petty theft arrests, a 23 point decline from two years ago. In November, San Francisco was the first of several progressive cities hit by smash-and-grab mobs of thieves, sometimes as many as 80 in a group. Video from the San Francisco looting of Louis Vuitton shows criminals walking casually out of the store, goods in hand. In response, many of San Francisco’s luxury stores in its Union Square shopping district boarded up their windows, making the area resemble a blighted neighborhood in Detroit, and embarrassing city leaders.  Meanwhile, San Francisco’s open drug scene contributed to three times more deaths from illicit drugs than covid last year, and has degraded the low-income historically black Tenderloin neighborhood. San Francisco could shut the open drug scene down like European cities did but has instead refused to mandate proven medical treatment to drug addicts. San Francisco’s progressive leaders have effectively been overseeing a radical social experiment, one that killed more African Americans last year alone than the entire Tuskegee syphilis experiment killed over 40 years. Breed has been personally impacted by addiction and crime. Both Breed’s sister and brother struggled with addiction while growing up in public housing in San Francisco. Her sister died of a drug overdose and her brother is in prison for armed robbery. “I am not for playing games with my life when it comes to politics,” she told an interviewer. “I’ve been in that community, working in the trenches, dealing with the public safety issues, dealing with those things because my people are the ones getting left behind at the end of the day.” But Breed also had to be pushed. In May, I helped Jacqui Berlinn, a mother of a homeless fentanyl addict, organize the first-ever protest of open drug dealing in the Tenderloin, which generated national and local headlines and local TV coverage. A few months later, Berlinn and I co-founded, with parents of children killed by fentanyl, recovering addicts, and community leaders, a new state-wide group, the California Peace Coalition, to demand the enforcement of laws against open drug dealing, mandatory treatment for addicts who break the law, and a state takeover of psychiatric and addiction care. Then, in early November, over 200 mostly poor and working class people in the Tenderloin protested a 161% increase in violence in the neighborhood between 2020 and 2021, and open drug dealing, in a march on City Hall. Part of their motivation was a brutal attack on an 11-year-old girl while she was walking to school. The day before, a 61-year-old man was shot while sitting in a donut shop. Two weeks later, a half a dozen gunmen fired 30 and 40 rounds at each other, sending bystanders running in chaos. Breed put their voices at the heart of her announcement. “Last week, I met with a group of families from the TL [Tenderloin],” she wrote. “I was told about drug dealers threatening grandmothers. About mid-day shootings near a park where a single mother brings her toddler after school. About assaults on the street…. We need to take back our Tenderloin.” The response to Breed’s remarks from parents and residents was overwhelmingly positive. “I can’t express how happy this makes me,” tweeted Berlinn. Tom Wolff, a formerly homeless drug addict who is on the city’s Drug Dealing Task Force, said, "I'm really happy to hear the mayor take a tougher approach on this. We can't arrest our way out of everything, but there needs to be some target specific enforcement." Michelle Tandler, a San Francisco native whose photos of boarded up Union Square stores went viral, said, “I've been observing Mayor Breed for many years now and have to say, I think this was her greatest speech to-date. Mayor Breed took a stand for what is right. I haven't seen her this impassioned since her inauguration a few years back.” Seizing the Momentum Breed’s speech puts pressure on progressive San Francisco supervisors and the District Attorney to shut down the open drug scene in the Tenderloin. When he ran for office in 2018, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin called “open-air drug use and drug sales… technically victimless crimes.” When Boudin announced that he was not going to prosecute street-level drug dealers he said it was because they are “themselves [are] victims of human trafficking.”  But, after the looting of Louis Vuitton, Boudin struck a more tough-on-crime tone. “I'm outraged by the looting in Union Square last night” Boudin tweeted. “We are seeing similar crimes across the country. I have a simple message: don't bring that noise to our City.” Stanford addiction expert @KeithNHumphreys describes the importance, and politics, of the promise by San Francisco Mayor @LondonBreed to shut down the open drug scene in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which kills addicts and is ruining the city. pic.twitter.com/yEhnTbbcpi — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 15, 2021 But standing up for luxury stores is different from shutting down open drug scenes. “Boudin made a very strong statement after the [flash mob] theft of Louis Vuitton,” said Stanford addiction specialist Keith Humphreys. “But I want a DA who is the most worried about the poorest residents and less about Louis Vuitton.” Other politicians are responding to the crime wave. California Attorney General Rob Bonta promised “more resources” for investigating retail theft. And the Mayor of Oakland, which will have its highest homicides in nine years, has demanded more funding for the police, and asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to finally implement technology that would allow police to read license plates on state highways to catch criminals. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he viewed Breed’s announcement as vindication for what he has been advocating. “Californians are tolerant, but we don’t tolerate brazen crime and dangerous streets,” he said. ”It should not even be a question as to whether or not the open drug markets should be shut down — I’ve been saying for years: if you let people live and do drugs on the streets, you’re condemning them to die on the streets. I enforced this as Mayor of San Diego and it must be enforced throughout California.” Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, a former Republican running for California Attorney General as an independent, praised Breed and used her announcement to attack Attorney General Bonta as soft-on-crime. “Bravo to London Breed,” Schubert tweeted, “and her commitment to cracking down on crime and open air drug usage. Breed has laid out common sense strategies that Rob Bonta clearly disagrees with. San Franciscans deserve better than an Attorney General who won’t listen to local officials about common sense public safety measures.” Breed’s announcement come days after former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter attacked progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner for dismissing the city’s record high homicides, and several weeks after Seattle voters, of whom less than 10 percent voted for Donald Trump in 2020, elected a Republican as the city’s State Attorney in response to rising crime. “I don't think we can overestimate the influence of the city of Seattle voting 8% for Donald Trump one year ago and voting 55% for a Republican city attorney who had a law and order platform in this year’s election,” said Humphreys. Here’s former Philly Mayor @Michael_Nutter denouncing “white wokeness” and “white privilege” for resulting in more homicide and crime pic.twitter.com/05bLU1Tdqn — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 14, 2021 In the end, shutting down the city’s open drug scenes is crucial to ending drug deaths and the chaos that plagues the city. “It is an entirely fixable problem,” said Humphreys, “as many cities have shown. There will still be drug use and addiction in San Francisco. But harm reduction requires closing down open air drug scenes. Every city in America has drug problems. They do not all have a drug scene like San Francisco.” Humphreys emphasized, as did the authors of a study of how five European cities closed open drug scenes, that coordination between homeless service providers and police officers is crucial. The head of one of them, Urban Alchemy, Lena Miller, said, in response to Breed’s announcement, “We are relieved. The problem wasn’t created overnight and solving it will take time. But we very happy and looking forward to everyone coming off the sidelines to solve this.” For Humphreys, citing the European model, “Harm reduction is not a fantasy about a drug-free society, which we're never going to have. It's trying to minimize the damage that drugs do. Closing down open drug markets is going to have huge gains for people, particularly in the Tenderloin, but more broadly in the city.” Breed announcement may help change how Americans think about drugs. While it may not be possible to halt drugs from coming into the U.S., it is possible to shut down open drug scenes, and mandate treatment for those who need it. “The public is wanting some action here and she's going to try to deliver it,” said Humphreys. “I think her announcement will resonate in some of these other cities, too, and give courage. I admire the mayor for taking a political risk on behalf of the least powerful people in the city.” *  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Subscribe To Michael's substack here Tyler Durden Thu, 12/16/2021 - 21:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 16th, 2021

Ozy Media’s Carlos Watson Addresses The Company’s Downfall

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Ozy Media Co-Founder Carlos Watson on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F, 6AM-9AM ET) today, Monday, October 4th.  Following are links to video on CNBC.com: [soros] Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Ozy Media’s Watson On Path Forward: We’re Going To Have To Change Substantially […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Ozy Media Co-Founder Carlos Watson on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F, 6AM-9AM ET) today, Monday, October 4th.  Following are links to video on CNBC.com: [soros] Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Ozy Media’s Watson On Path Forward: We’re Going To Have To Change Substantially Ozy Media’s Watson Addresses Numerous Scandals Leading To Company’s Downfall ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Welcome back to “Squawk Box.” Our next guest is here to give us a first-person account of the dramatic rise and fall of Ozy, a roughly 8-year old new media company that collapsed last week following reporting The New York Times about a series of allegedly misleading statements and actions. We’ve been talking about it all week, Ozy Media Co-Founder Carlos Watson is here with us on the set. Carlos, good morning to you. CARLOS WATSON: Morning. SORKIN: We have so many questions that have been unanswered and I’m hoping you can help us with. The first though— WATSON: Do you mind if I start at the top though? SORKIN: Well I think what you’re about to say because we just heard that, and we talked about it as a collapse. On Friday, the company said effectively they’re, it was going out of business. WATSON: Said we’re going to suspend operations and begin an orderly wind down but over the weekend, good conversations with investors, with advertisers. I was warmly surprised to hear from a number of folks readers, viewers, others, and as embarrassing sometimes as it may feel to do, I realized that we were premature. I realized we have something special here. I think that there’s a really good opportunity and part of what last week showed me is not only that we have lots of things that we have to do to improve. We do and I know we’re going to talk about some of those today. But I very genuinely feel like we have a meaningful important voice in what is maybe the most transformative decade and a half century, and I want Ozy to be around and be a part of it. I want people to read our newsletters. I want them to watch our TV shows. I want them to enjoy our podcast. I want them to come to our live events. I think all of that matters. SORKIN: Okay for them to do that, if that’s going to be the case, they’re gonna have to trust you and they’re gonna have to trust the Ozy brand. WATSON: Right. SORKIN: So, let’s talk about that trust because I think there’s, there were so many questions raised by the reporting that that was in the New York Times last week plus lots of other reporting in other places. And let’s just say this, lots of Ozy was real. I just wanna say that out loud, which is to say, the newsletters exist, the festival exists, the advertising exists. You’ve won an Emmy, that exists. But I think there’s other questions about whether the numbers were inflated. We heard about this phone call between your co-founder and Goldman Sachs apparently impersonating somebody from YouTube. We’ve talked about the advertising that suggested that said one thing, but the quotes necessarily, didn’t necessarily come from where they said they were coming from. I think we need to just try to the extent that you can clear the error, explain it— WATSON: Sure. SORKIN: Let’s do that. Let’s start with this phone call though because that’s what sort of set this whole thing off. Your co-founder had a phone call with Goldman Sachs as you were trying to raise money and effectively took them off of a Zoom, and then apparently started to impersonate within it with a fake email address as well, somebody from YouTube. What happened? WATSON: I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But I do know that I got a call from the YouTube folks after it saying something strange had happened, and we figured out what happened. I immediately called back to the folks at Goldman, right away, not four days later as I think someone wrote at one point and, and look, it’s heartbreaking, it’s wrong, it’s not good, it’s not okay. I love Goldman, I worked there, I’ve got a lot of friends there, you know, to this day several months afterwards. I’m grateful to them that, you know, we’ve formed a new advertising partnership and so, you know, hopefully there was some sense of trust regained, but there’s no doubt about it that that was not okay and that fractured a lot of trust not just there, but obviously, you saw what happened in a very tumultuous week last week, SORKIN: But part of what was happening in that instance from what I understand is, you had represented, and the company had represented at one point that your show was going to appear originally on A&E, by the way represented to me because I appeared on your show, and when I first got that email from the producer, it said this show was on going to be on A&E with 95 million households and I remember sitting down actually when I was about to do your show and I said to the producer in the, in the ear I said, “By the way, when does this air?” Thinking it’s going to air on A&E and she said something like, “We, you know, we’re really leaning in hard to online media, this is actually a YouTube Original.” But what it now appears like is it actually wasn’t a YouTube Original either. And in fact, that was somewhat of what the discussion or the issue was with Goldman Sachs, that you were uploading these videos to YouTube, but a YouTube Original is something where you say they’ve effectively commissioned the program. WATSON: So lots of miscommunication in that but I want to clarify that one because I think that that was definitely one where we lost a lot of trust. We originally conceived the show with A&E, you’ve seen the announcements that we have, have a partnership with them or a multi-year partnership. You know we’ve done shows on A&E, on their sister network History Channel, on Lifetime Channel, did good things. And originally during the summer, the conversation was with them. We created a sizzle reel together. We talked about which guests and things like that. And as the summer moved on, we realized that they were on a different timetable than we were and so, we shifted to YouTube. Now in the back of our mind we thought there still could be an opportunity for us to come back to them, but we clearly shifted to YouTube. I know that for you and for a number of other people, you got emails on that. That was wrong. I don’t know whether that was a mistake or whether that was intentional but whatever it is, that was wrong. SORKIN: But the executive producer that you hired believed that he was making a show for A&E and in fact, suggested on the record in the New York Times this week, or last week, that the show, every time he was told that he wanted to call someone at A&E, he was told effectively not to. WATSON: You know, I don’t know about that but I have to say this, I made a really bad decision last week and I didn’t respond to your text. I didn’t respond to texts lots of other people I know and I wish I had engaged with the media, had good conversations because I felt like after that piece, it was kind of like open season for people to throw whatever crazy half-truth and put it out there. Now, to be really clear, some of the things that came out last week were mistakes that we made, I know that we’ll talk about those too, but that’s a good example of one that I think that’s true. That same producer you’re talking about is the same producer who’s texted me multiple times since then with multiple exclamation points saying congratulations on the show bringing Matt Damon on, congratulations on the show now appearing on Amazon Prime. So, look, there’s no doubt about it that last summer, as the show started, we originally hoped that we were going to do with A&E and it ended up shifting to YouTube and, and, and I am sure that we did not communicate that well and I own that and that’s— SORKIN: But you use the word half-truths. I think there’s more than a half-truth or, or a half-lie in that which is the producer actually said to you specifically that you were lying to the staff about the fact that this show was supposed to be on A&E and then apparently lied again when you said it was gonna be a YouTube Original. WATSON: I disagree. I don’t think that’s true. So, both pieces of what you’re saying, which is the idea that he said to me that I was lying— SORKIN: Right. WATSON: And number two that I then said to the staff that it was YouTube Original, right. Clearly it wasn’t a YouTube Original and knowing what a YouTube Original was, it clearly wasn’t that. And let me— SORKIN: But why did they believe that it was a YouTube Original? Why were they telling me by the way that it was YouTube Original? WATSON: I hope that it was only a mix up of words, right. I hope that’s all it was. It may not have been but I hope there was only a mix up of words. But Andrew, what I don’t want to have obscured is that we didn’t do one or two episodes of the show, we’ve done 200 episodes and when Scarlett Johansson has come on, when Dr. Fauci has come on, when H.E.R. has come on, when Mark Cuban has come on, when Malcolm Gladwell has come on. SORKIN: But no one is— WATSON: Hold on one second. They come on knowing that they’re coming on a terrific YouTube show that has a chance to reach a really dynamic audience. SORKIN: Nobody’s disputing the quality of the program but by the way you just mentioned this being on Amazon Prime which became another issue is that you advertised it was the first show, first talk show on Amazon Prime. You were uploading that show to Amazon Prime. I remember seeing that ad for the first time thinking wow good for Carlos, Amazon Prime has commissioned him. That’s amazing. And then I found out when I read the story, that in fact you were just simply uploading it like anybody could. WATSON: It’s not. No, no, no, timeout guys and again, thank you for this time. I know we are going to spend a lot of time, Joe, do you mind if I hit this first and then come to you? JOE KERNEN: I’m just seeing like a pattern and I’m just wondering who is in charge that decided— WATSON: You know what? Let me, let me answer that and let me come back there because that also ties to the question of regaining trust and there’s a larger question, that’s totally legitimate question. So, to be really clear, getting on Amazon Prime, not everyone can upload it. That’s a very rare thing and this suggestion in one of the articles is just like any random yahoo can do that. You can’t do that, you should talk to the folks at Amazon and not believe some of the, you know, not very good reporting about that so it is a big deal. Number two, our understanding from them is that we were the only talk show and part of what was special about that is that they hadn’t done it otherwise and they weren’t in a place yet where they were willing to put their own money, but what they were willing to do in terms of a large upfront payment, but what they were willing to do and what they do for a few people is allow you to be part of Amazon Prime where you take risk and they take risk and the more views you have, the more you get paid. SORKIN: But to put a fine point on it. WATSON: Hold on. Hold on. SORKIN: They then asked you to stop advertising this point. WATSON: Well, but they asked to stop everything because what they said to us and what they said to me is because we are not convinced that we’re definitely gonna get in the talk show business and if you advertise it like that, you’re gonna have lots of other people, their agents and everyone calling, so they didn’t say take it down because it’s not true, they said take it down because we don’t want you stimulating more pitches for us in a space that we haven’t committed to yet. Let’s see how you do. If you do well with the interesting guests you have, whether it’s a Priyanka Chopra, whether it’s a Mark Cuban, a Lloyd Blankfein, whomever, then great and we’ll see where we go from there. So, please with all of these things let’s have the conversation, right, because we definitively made some mistakes and Joe I know we want to have a larger conversation about whether mistakes were ingrained in who we are or whether, like a lot of young companies, we made mistakes but that was the 20% not the 80% of who we are, but let’s go through all of these because I think that’s a super important point. We are on Amazon Prime, it’s a very difficult place to get. There are only two ways to get in there, you can either get a meaningful upfront payment and they drive it or for a few people, they say you’re special enough and if you want to take risk, and we’ll take risk, we’ll do that together and we bet on ourselves and we did it and our understanding and talking to them is that we were the only talk show and their hesitation about having it out there was not that it wasn’t true but that they didn’t want to stimulate more demand and so I want to clear that up and I think that’s important. SORKIN: Okay, Becky’s got a question for you. BECKY QUICK: Carlos, really quickly, back to the issue of— WATSON: Becky, I apologize, I’m not hearing you yet. QUICK: Oh sorry, maybe they can turn on the microphone. Can you hear me now? SORKIN: Can you hear her? WATSON: I don’t hear her yet. QUICK: Okay, maybe it’s not back. Joe’s got a question, why don’t you let him ask. KERNEN: Mine, I’m just wondering, the, the aggressive marketing that caused sort of to oversell and you could call it aggressive or someone was downright just this falsehoods about where, you know, you buy some advertising somewhere and then the entity suddenly the LA Times is saying — who was that, who because it happened again and again, again, do you have a head of marketing or— WATSON: But let me start with a macro place Joe and I’m saying this in order to address this and address it comprehensively because it’s important. KERNEN: Right. WATSON: Again, as you said before and as you know because I’ve been here with you before. We have a real business. We have real newsletters that millions of people get. We have real TV shows that people watch, we’ve won an Emmy. We have real podcasts that have been in the top 10 on Apple. We have real festivals that people come to. We have tried to market these very different franchises, about 25 in all, we’ve tried very hard to market them well. I would tell you that one of the mistakes we made is that sometimes we were too aggressive in marketing them unequivocally and I own that, not anyone else, I own that. That’s my mistake. I’m the CEO, I’m responsible that we tried our best. Now, do, if you’re asking me do I think that we got it wrong 50% of the time or 80% of time? No. If you ask me do I think we got it wrong 20% of the time? Yeah, we probably did and that’s on me and I own that and one of the things I hope will be true of that going forward is we’ll be much better about that, much crisper about that. KERNEN: So, 80% of the marketing was, was true, I don’t think that’s true. WATSON: Why do you not think it’s true? KERNEN: I just heard of some of the best— WATSON: Look, it was an incredibly salacious week and I do think at some point I hope you will invite me back to talk about the state of journalism, and I want to talk to Andrew and Becky about that too. I thought last week there was, there was not only real critique and there was, and make no mistake about it, I own the things that we need to do better on data, the things we need to do better on marketing, the things we need to do better on leadership and culture. I clearly own that and clearly have thoughts about where we can go from there. But in addition to that, I thought there was a wild piling on that was inappropriate, and that left you, and a lot of other people saying, is this everything about Ozy? Even Andrew, Andrew I look back, you sent me a text after you were on my show and you said, I’ve never had so many people tell me that they were watching the show, where did you get that magic from. You remember sending me that text? SORKIN: I remember looking at the, I think what I said to you, I think was— WATSON: No, no, no, I— SORKIN: You can get it because I remember being amazed by how many people were watching it on YouTube. WATSON: You told me in the text, you said and I’m happy to bring it. SORKIN: You can. WATSON: You said on the text to me and I’ll read it here to you if you like. You said to me— SORKIN: I was amazed how many people were watching it. WATSON: You said to me quote on August 29th at 7:54pm, “You have a big audience on YouTube, I keep hearing from various people who say they saw it.” I keep hearing from various people saying that they saw it. “I’d love to talk to you.” SORKIN: Right. WATSON: So that’s what you said, keep hearing from people. So, look, I just, I need you guys to be fair about this and thoughtful about this and not just go with this kind of one way digital mob. SORKIN: I know and Becky’s got a question but I want to ask you one other, which relates to the newsletter franchise, one of the things you’ve talked about is having 26 million people getting this newsletter. And I don’t disbelieve that you have 26 million addresses in your database. You can buy some of those, you can do some of that organically. But I also saw an investment deck that you had. WATSON: You can partner. SORKIN: Right, you can partner. WATSON: And I’ve partnered before on newsletter efforts with The New York Times. SORKIN: But I did see, I saw an investment deck that said you had a 25% open rate on those 26 million newsletters, subscribers. That is a very high open rate for what I don’t believe is a fully organic list. Can you, can you speak to that? Was it really, do you really have a 25% open rate on 26 million newsletters? WATSON: We do not. But, but I hope what it said and I don’t know which deck you’re referring to, I hope what it said is that for our best most regular people that it was 25%. So, of that 26 million, that 10 to 12 million who were the most regular, I hope what it said is that we have a 25% open rate, I hope that’s what it said. SORKIN: This was a deck for your, for your Series D, which brings me to another question. The investors who invested after this now infamous call between your executive and Goldman Sachs. Were they made aware of the call and the questions that have been raised that we’re now talking about today? WATSON: You know what, because you know that that is fraught and there are a lot of questions, I’m not going to go into that but I will say this and I think this is really important and when we talk about investments you know this with private companies, when you invest in a private company, you don’t just have one conversation or there’s not one data point. You and I both know that it can be a three to 12-month process. You and I both know that you often, if you’re the potential investor, you often have dozens of conversations both ones at the company sets up but also ones that you do yourself and that there are lots of data points and you go through that and you sync it all through and I’m confident that all of our investors and I’m confident that they talk to customers. I’m confident they talk to members of our team. I’m confident that they talk to other competitors. I’m confident that they consumed our newsletters and our TV shows and our podcasts, and many of them would come in the earlier days to our festivals as well so I want to say that because I know we keep having this conversation— QUICK: Hey Carlos. Just on that point though— WATSON: As though— QUICK: On that, on that point— WATSON: Becky, sorry, Becky can I just say one more thing— QUICK: But on that point, I just want to clarify what the point that you’re making right now. We know that the situation the conversation with Samir Rao, that that was a situation that you say where it was a mental break. Was there, were there any other occasions where investors were given misleading information in any of these conversations that you’re talking about right now or was that a one-off event? WATSON: Becky, I hope and I hope and I believe that that was a one-off event. I mean it’s a tragic event, it’s a horrific event, it’s a wrong event. And, and so I hope and trust that that was a that was a one-off. And so, but let me say something else because I think, again, this is important and it started at the beginning of the conversation Andrew. Like, I think it’s completely inappropriate and not thoughtful these kind of comparisons to Theranos. You and I both know that Theranos didn’t have a real product. And again, you’ve been on my TV shows. You’ve seen the Emmy that we won. You’ve received our newsletters at least heard of so— SORKIN: No, no, I— WATSON: So I want to make sure that we have like a grounded, thoughtful conversation and so investors who were thinking about us, considering us, getting to know us by the way, we’re also investing in other companies who were investing in Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, they were investing in Business Insider, they were investing in, in the Atlantic and all sorts of other companies and so these are people who aren’t just sophisticated investors but often investors who know the media space, maybe even better than I do. SORKIN: The point that Ben Smith made in today’s column was though, that it was a group think. It was everybody trying to be part of a club and that they actually didn’t do their diligence at all. WATSON: Yeah, so let’s, what I’d say is that I think Ben Smith should never have had a chance to write this piece. I’ve shared with a number of people before that two years ago in August of 2019, Ben Smith sent an email to me and his then CEO Jonah Peretti said I think you guys should get together for the purposes of talking about them buying me. We spent three months in conversation. They had me meet all of their top leaders, folks in marketing, folks in finance, folks in analytics, they went through our numbers backwards and forwards, they put together a joint presentation, and they made us after the end of that, in November, right before Thanksgiving, spending all that time doing diligence, Joe they made us an offer of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars for a company that Ben Smith now sets up as though it’s a house of cards and it was just group think. How is that possible that Ben Smith who’s been in new media for that many years, kicked off a process, followed up with me and they ended up making an offer for nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, $225 million, for something that they now say was group think and it was made up. And when we said no to him once and said no to him twice, two weeks later he quit, went to the Times and his first column in March of 2020 was, I guess, new media can’t work, I guess I’ve got to join the Times. Just because it didn’t work for him, not okay for him now to take a potshot at us and did he tell his editor that he was conflicted when he was writing about us. Did he tell his editor that he still owns lots of stock in Buzzfeed and that he tried to buy us? He didn’t. I don’t think that’s okay. I don’t think that’s okay, I don’t think he should have been able to write that piece and write the other pieces and create this false narrative that because Ozy doesn’t look like something he wants it to be and because we said no to him multiple times— SORKIN: But clearly you’re acknowledging that there are things that you, you and the company have done that are misleading. That were fair game for, for a journalist to write about. WATSON: 100% that we should have done better. Three of the areas and there may be more than three, but we definitely should have been better with data because so many of the data tools, only look at digital only, and we’re not a digital media company. I call us a modern media company because we’ve got TV shows, newsletters, podcasts and festivals. So we should have figured out that multi-platform data, we should have been better on the marketing. Joe, we got it wrong, it’s not okay what we did, it’s not, but I don’t think it was 80% of the time, I think it was probably more like 20% of the time and I would tell you that there’s some things around leadership and culture that I need to be better at and we need to be at. QUICK: Carlos, can I just, can I just clarify on that point? The things that you say you own because you were the leader you own it because people under you were doing things you didn’t know about or people under you were doing things that you did know about? WATSON: Becky, that’s such a broad question and, you know, that’s such a broad question. QUICK: No, I’m trying to be specific. It’s right for a leader to say it happened on my watch, it’s my fault. But is it your fault because you didn’t know or your fault because you did— WATSON: Fair. Let me give you a couple. So one on the data, I should have figured out a third party group that could have done, not just digital like Comscore does because Comscore only looks at website traffic or mainly looks at website traffic, but even though it was hard I should have figured out a solution as I now have and we have a third party that has done a preliminary look and hopefully they’ll finish up in the next couple of weeks and we will share it broadly with people and going forward, every month, we will share our data. We’ve got nothing to hide, we’ve got good things there. And so yes, I own that I didn’t make sure that that happened. And I knew that that was critical to us and we did the best we could. We did it piecemeal, but I should have had someone external as an example do it, do it consistently and share it with people in an easy consumable way. QUICK: But I’m sorry when we’re talking about made up marketing numbers, did you know that was happening or not? WATSON: I don’t believe we had made up marketing numbers, Becky. I don’t believe we had made up marketing numbers, and so I’ve heard people say that repeatedly but what it is, in my mind, is it’s Ben Smith and people like him who only believe that what happens on Twitter and websites matter and discount newsletters and discount podcasts and discount TV shows and discount festivals, and so their belief is, if you’re not doing that, if you’re not active on Twitter and doing snarky things on Twitter, then you don’t have a real media company and I, I constitutionally reject that. In fact, a big part of the reason why we’re going to continue going forward is because I don’t think it’s a good world where the only kind of media companies you have or the kind of media companies that get Ben Smith excited, what about the rest of us. SORKIN: I just want to say because I asked you about the email opens before and I’m looking at the deck, I’ll show it to you right here. 25% email opens. Ozy email average 25% open rate, 2.5 times industry and 3% CTR. It doesn’t have a star next to it that says just the people who are actively engaged with you in some way, and— WATSON: You know, I need to look at that more closely but let’s make sure that we do something here, which is that I don’t want, if you and I looked at any small company— SORKIN: Right. WATSON: Or a large company, we would find a handful of things that aren’t great. Just to be really clear, we would, we would find and just because something is sloppy or stupid, doesn’t mean it’s illegal, right. I just want to be really clear about that— SORKIN: Look I’m not, I recognize mistakes can be made, I think the question is whether there’s a pattern and series of mistakes and I think that is the, the larger issue. I’ll raise another one with you, Sharon Osborne, you made a comment on this program, by the way, saying that she was a friend and investor in the company. WATSON: I didn’t say she was a friend. SORKIN: I think we can probably go back and get the tape. WATSON: You know what, play the tape then. Please, go ahead, play the tape. SORKIN: I don’t know if we have the tape— WATSON: You know what, cue up the tape. This is an Obama Romney moment. Cue up the tape. Show me the tape. SORKIN: As we wait for the tape if we can get it. WATSON: So here’s, here’s what I said and here’s what is true. We have a wonderful music and ideas festival that I’ve invited you to many times. Becky you were going to come, as you recall, and you were going to do something. We had a conversation about that you couldn’t do it, we went back and forth with folks to try and see if we could get you to be a moderator of one of the things— QUICK: Yeah, it was something I couldn’t do. WATSON: It’s called OZY Fest and Sharon Osborne and the folks said that that was too close to the name of something they did called Ozzfest. They ended up suing us. We went back and forth and the final resolution was that they would get stock in our company, they would ultimately get about 50,000 shares. And so, I think on this show and maybe a couple of others, in my mind people who own shares in our company, are investors— SORKIN: But you do recognize an investor— WATSON: Hang on, hang on. Hey can I finish? SORKIN: You tell somebody that they’re an investor, they typically do that proactively and you didn’t say by the way, they happened to get shares instead of cash. WATSON: Andrew. SORKIN: I mean there’s a difference. There’s a difference. WATSON: Andrew, no doubt that there’s a difference but also if you put the blink test on this, the Malcolm level blink test, do you think I’m really saying to serious investors invest because Sharon Osborne? Like do you really think that’s like a calling card, like seriously, is that a calling card like just the blink test here. You really think that’s what I was doing or do you think you and I were having a light moment and we were making a joke and I said that, like play the tape. I’m sure it’s a light moment and there’s no one I’m going to say, hey, you know why you should invest because Sharon Osborne is in Ozy. I’m not gonna say that we were probably having a light moment I hope you’ll play the tape. SORKIN: What do you say to people, and I want to go back if we could to this though, you’re going to try to continue this company and, and keep going. WATSON: And it will be tough and it will be tough, as you said we will to, Joe, we will have to regain trust. SORKIN: The investors apparently have left the company. I mean Ron Conway effectively said I’m giving back the shares. WATSON: And again, I need you, Andrew, as sophisticated as you are about this stuff, like, you know, that we’ve raised millions of dollars of capital and Ron Conway put in $50,000. And so for you to keep banding about Ron Conway— SORKIN: It’s the first time I’m mentioning his name. WATSON: Hey, hey, today, right. But you mentioned it before last week so for you to keep banding that about like that’s a substantive big decision, like that’s not accurate and that’s what I meant before Joe about these things that are misleading. So, I’m sorry to see them go. He’s a terrific investor. SORKIN: But why do they, why do they abandon the company if things are as, as good as you say they are. Marc Lasry, by the way, defended you initially said that he thought that this mental health issue was real, said that it was dealt with appropriately. You know, 72 hours later, he’s gone. Why? Tell us about that conversation then. WATSON: Can’t, can’t speak to that except to say it’s heartbreaking. I am a big fan of Marc’s. I’ve been lucky to get a chance to work with him. He was great as an investor, as a board member, as a chairman. He joined me here on this show, as you know, I think more than once. He helped me with a number of our key business development efforts and so he was great and I’m, I, you know I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I’m sure he and I both wish last week hadn’t happened. I think we both felt like Ozy had had some incredible momentum this year, which is part of the reason why he became chairman. I think we both hoped that a lot more will happen but part of my opportunity going forward is to make sure that we build back stronger, that we create something that he and others can be proud of and, you know, Joe, you probably remember Tylenol situation, years ago, right. And that was a moment of leadership, that was a moment when it looked like an important company was going to go away. KERNEN: Timber. WATSON: You remember that? KERNEN: I remember it well. WATSON: And so, you know, look at our best and we, we may not get there, right, this is gonna be hard but at our best, this will be our Lazarus moment, right, at our best, and we may or may not see— SORKIN: So, tell us, what do you think you need to do at this point. By the way, you’re gonna have to get, I assume, maybe more, more investors though I know you have some cash still on hand, you’re gonna have to bring back the advertising community to ultimately support this and then readers and the public. WATSON: And so I think the first thing I have to do is think about my team. SORKIN: How are they gonna stay with you by the way? WATSON: You know what? That that’s a good question. That’s a good question. SORKIN: Have you talked to them? WATSON: I’ve talked to some of them. Obviously this has all happened very quickly. It’s a terrific team, they were as traumatized last week as I was as heartbroken as I was. I mean, whenever you want to say, you and I both know that when you ever you met people from Ozy, they loved Ozy. They weren’t kind of going through the motions, it wasn’t just like they loved Ozy, right, and so and so— SORKIN: But by the way, there were a number of reports last week from at least ex-employees who clearly didn’t love Ozy. WATSON: Fair enough. Of the, of the nearly thousand people we’ve hired over the last decade, part time and full time from freelance reporters to software engineers to people doing our festivals, crews on our TV shows and other folks, we did have people. And people ran with stories from for example one gentleman who we fired for lying multiple times but they set him up and allowed his quote Potemkin village or things like that to run wild as though he was a credible source, I don’t think that’s okay. Right. And so, I’m happy to have conversations about that and I’m happy to walk through that. But here’s the bottom line when you ask me what I need to do next, got to make sure that our team is in a good place and that’s not going to be easy and you and I both know that, have to make sure that we regain the trust of investors that’s not going to be easy either, have to make sure that we deliver really premium products. So at the end of the day, if we don’t have a newsletter that people want to read, if we don’t have TV shows that people want to watch, we don’t podcasts that people put on their headsets and go for a safe swim like we don’t have anything. If we don’t have an OZY Fest, that you can come to we don’t have anything so that’s going to be important. And the last thing I would say that’s going to ultimately be really important is we have to change. We have to change substantially on data, on leadership and culture, on marketing. SORKIN: Carlos Watson, we very much appreciate you being here. WATSON: You know what I wish I’d come last week— SORKIN: But one thing I can tell you is that I do wish you luck, I really do. WATSON: Thank you. Thank you. I hope I get a chance to come back. SORKIN: Thank you, Carlos. KERNEN: Thank you. WATSON: Thank you Joe. Thank you Becky. Updated on Oct 4, 2021, 1:30 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 4th, 2021

Mar-a-Lago raid live updates: Trump"s search warrant could be a grab-bag of potential federal charges, a longtime DOJ prosecutor predicts

Former President Donald Trump confirmed that the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. Trump was out of state when federal agents raided his property in Florida. Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images The FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on Monday, sparking a firestorm. Nancy Pelosi said no person is "above the law" after the raid, but Republicans condemned it as politically motivated. Republican lawmakers and right-wing organizations are now using the search to fundraise.  What's in Trump's search warrant? A grab-bag of potential federal charges, a longtime DOJ prosecutor predictedMar-a-Lago one day after the FBI raid.Kimberly Leonard/InsiderThe feds knew they had only one chance to search Mar-a-Lago — so they carried a big net, Gene Rossi, for three decades a federal prosecutor out of northern Virginia, predicted.The search warrant that got them inside the waterfront Palm Beach estate of former President Donald Trump may have only been one-page long — but the warrant would have authorized FBI agents to seize evidence related to multiple federal statutes, Rossi said."I would be shocked," Rossi told Insider if the search warrant did not list the federal statutes for insurrection, for sedition, and for obstruction — three charges Trump could potentially face for alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021 siege on the Capitol.Keep ReadingRepublicans revive false claim that DOJ called parents 'terrorists' after Mar-a-Lago raidRep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from OhioKevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesRepublicans who are furious with the FBI after the agency's search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence are reviving a false talking point that pits the Department of Justice against parents.Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin called the raid "stunning" in a tweet and said, "This same DOJ labeled parents in Loudoun County as terrorists."On Fox News, Rep. Jim Jordan, the House Judiciary Committee's highest-ranking Republican, made a similar claim about Attorney General Merrick Garland.Since last year, Republicans hoping to use culture wars to boost their chances in the midterm elections have said that the Biden administration and Democrats have branded parents who protest at school board meetings as domestic terrorists.Read Full StoryMar-a-Lago raid prompts elected Republicans to openly acknowledge that Trump will likely run for president againWhile Republicans slam the FBI's raid of Mar-a-Lago, many are also finally admitting in public that Trump is likely to run for president again in 2024.Trump has hinted at the prospect for months now, leaving Republicans reluctant to comment or speculate on the matter. "President Trump is likely going to run again in 2024," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, wrote on Twitter."Joe Biden is trying to use the FBI to subdue his top political opponent because they are afraid of him running in 2024," Republican Rep. Diana Harshbarger wrote on Twitter. Read Full StoryPence defends Trump and expresses 'deep concern' over FBI's Mar-a-Lago raidThen-President Donald Trump shakes then-Vice President Mike Pence's hand after a 2019 rally.Zach Gibson/Getty ImagesFormer Vice President Mike Pence defended Donald Trump after FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago."I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump," Pence wrote on Twitter.He continued: "After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed."Read Full StoryTrump nominated the FBI Director who led Mar-A-Lago search: 'He will make us all proud'Former President Donald Trump nominated Christoper Wray for FBI Director in 2017.Brandon Bell/Getty Images, MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesChristopher Wray, the FBI director who authorized the Mar-a-Lago search was picked for the gig by then-President Donald Trump in 2017.Trump, at the time, called Wray a man of "impeccable credentials.""We will have a great FBI director. I think he's doing really well and we're very proud of that choice. I think I've done a great service to the country by choosing him," Trump said in a speech during a 2017 visit to France. "He will make us all proud, and I think someday we'll see that and hopefully someday soon."Now, Wray is feeling pressure from GOP lawmakers in the wake of Monday's raid. Read Full StoryRepublicans are fundraising off the FBI's raid of Trump's 'beautiful Florida home' at Mar-a-LagoShortly after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, Republicans and right-wing groups used the opportunity to boost political fundraising efforts.A volley of emails from GOP lawmakers, political action groups, and other organizations denounced the FBI's search warrant and slammed the Biden administration."Biden's FBI raided President Trump's beautiful Florida home," the Republican National Committee wrote in a fundraising email, adding that "it's hard to believe it but it's true." Read Full StoryLindsey Graham says 'nobody's above the law' after FBI raid, but added that he's 'suspicious' of the investigationSen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).Ting Shen - Pool/Getty ImagesSouth Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced a balanced reaction in response to the FBI's search warrant of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home compared to some of his colleagues."We're a nation of laws. Nobody's above the law. That's for darn sure," the Republican told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. The Trump ally said, however, that he's "suspicious" of the Justice Department's investigation and called it "dangerous territory." Read Full StoryEx-RNC chairman calls Marjorie Taylor Greene a 'shitforbrains' Republican for demanding the FBI be defundedRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from GeorgiaDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesMichael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, slammed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia for saying the FBI should be defunded. After the FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, Greene tweeted "DEFUND THE FBI!"Steele quoted her tweet and said: "Trump failed to return classified docs requested by the National Archives. A federal judge issued a search warrant for probable cause of a crime. This is not some rando move by the FBI so you shitforbrains Republicans calling for 'defunding the FBI' for once try to be less stupid."Read Full StoryTrump family members react to FBI search, calling it 'political persecution'Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesMembers of the Trump family took to Twitter and Fox News to voice their response to the FBI's search of former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home."Biden's out of control DOJ is ripping this country apart with how they're openly targeting their political enemies," Donald Trump Jr. wrote. "This is what you see happen in 3rd World Banana Republics!!!"Eric Trump told Fox News on Monday night that he was the "guy who got the call," that the FBI was executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, calling it "political persecution.""Every day, we get another subpoena," he said. Read Full StoryA dozen House Republicans plan to dine with Trump in Bedminster on TuesdayFormer President Donald Trump is hosting a dozen of the most conservative House Republicans at his New Jersey golf club Tuesday night for a dinner meeting.Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks is reportedly leading the group, set to meet just one day after the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago.Read Full StoryTrump talked about his 'strange day' while calling into a tele-rally for Sarah Palin hours after the FBI raidFormer President Donald Trump campaigns for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a rally in Anchorage, Alaska on July 9, 2022.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesAfter the raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, former president Donald Trump called into a tele-rally for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — a long-time political ally who is now seeking an open House seat in the state's August 16 special election."Another day in paradise. This is a strange day. You probably all read about it," Trump said during a roughly 15-minute call, according to the Anchorage Daily News.Palin thanked Trump for checking in, despite the news of the raid.  Read Full StoryPelosi says FBI raid on Trump was a major step and that 'no person is above the law'—TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 9, 2022House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home as a major step, and said that not even a former president is "above the law."She is the highest-ranking Democrat to comment on the search, which took place on Monday.Pelosi was interviewed about the Monday raid on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, where she was asked by host Savannah Guthrie if the search struck her as a "pretty serious step" for the Department of Justice to take.Pelosi replied: "Yes I think it does."She said later in the interview that Democrats "believe in the rule of law, and that's what our country is about and no person is above the law, not even the president of the United States, not even a former president of the United States."Read Full StoryMichael Cohen was jubilant after the FBI searched Trump's home, says he is finally being 'held accountable'Michael Cohen in July 2018 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMichael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, posted a celebratory video after FBI agents conducted a search of the ex-president's property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. As news broke of the raid Cohen posted a selfie of himself grinning on Twitter, and in a video later posted on TikTok spelled out what he thinks the development could mean for his former boss."I can promise you only one thing, that whatever information that it is that they took from him, it's information he didn't want exposed," he said.He said Trump would frequently stash away compromising information in places he thought it was "impervious." "Let's just all rejoice the fact that this man who has avoided, legitimately avoided, any responsibility for anything is now going to be held accountable," said Cohen. "And it goes right back to the democratic adage 'no one is above the law.'"Read Full StoryMary Trump says her uncle is panicked by FBI raid and never believed the DOJ would take actionMary Trump speaking on MSNBC on August 8, 2022MSNBCThe niece of former President Donald Trump, Mary Trump, said that he is in "panic" after the FBI raided his home in Florida late on Monday. Trump "may have been told it was coming," but he would not have believed that the FBI would actually do it, Mary Trump told MSNBC on Monday.She has for years been a vocal critic of her uncle, who has attacked her in turn.Mary said that the raid would have been "a bit of a shock" to Trump, citing what she, a psychologist, called his "narcissism and sense of entitlement.""He may have known, been told it was coming, but he could not possibly believe it was coming, because it never has. So I think that's where that panic is coming from."Read Full StoryKevin McCarthy threatens to investigate DOJ over Trump FBI raid if Republicans retake the HouseHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to investigate the DOJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland, using powers the Republican Party would gain if it retakes the House in November.In a statement Tuesday, McCarthy denounced the search conducted by FBI agents in Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort."I've seen enough. The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization," McCarthy said in a statement."When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned.""Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar," McCarthy said.Read Full StoryA law forbidding presidents from destroying or mishandling records could be why FBI agents searched Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago homePolice direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida.AP Photo/Terry RennaThe FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort appears to be over material that Trump brought back to Florida after leaving the White House.The search appears to be over material that Trump brought back to Florida after leaving the White House. That decision spurred a federal investigation, and likely the search on Monday, linked to the Presidential Records Act.Under the act, presidential records are public property and presidents are obliged to store them properly, and not to destroy them.Read Full StoryThese GOP lawmakers say they're pro law-enforcement but voted against giving congressional medals to police. Now they're excoriating the FBI on Trump's behalf.Former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at the LIV Golf Invitational on July 30, 2022.Jared C. Tilton/LIV Golf via Getty ImagesIn June 2021, 21 Republican lawmakers stood in opposition to legislation that would have awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who risked their lives at the Capitol during the January 6 riot.On Monday, a number of these GOP lawmakers joined a chorus of voices asking for the FBI to be destroyed and defunded for executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. Here's what these lawmakers said about the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago — and how it contrasts with their pro-law enforcement stance. READ MORERepublicans rail against the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the FBI to be destroyed and defundedRepublican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona were among several Republican lawmakers calling for the FBI to be destroyed or defunded.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe far-right faction of the Republican party is up in arms about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the agency to be defunded and destroyed. Trump ally and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was one of the first to tweet her disapproval of the search, posting on Twitter: "DEFUND THE FBI!"Colorado lawmaker Lauren Boebert tweeted that she wanted the GOP to "set up a Select Committee to investigate the FBI's politically-motivated raid on Mar-a-Lago and on ALL the fraudulent persecution of President Trump from our government."House Republicans' calls to defund and destroy a law enforcement organization stands in contrast to legislation their party introduced in May 2021 to "back the blue" in opposition to a progressive push to defund the police. As recently as May 2022, top-ranking Republicans like Rep. Elise Stefanik were still pushing the "back the blue" slogan — something that both Greene and Boebert have themselves staunchly supported.READ MORELawyers received instructions to secure Trump's document room months before the FBI search at Mar-a-LagoFormer President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally on April 2, 2022, near Washington, Michigan.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesMonths before the raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, former President Donald Trump's lawyers recieved instructions to "secure the room" in which he stored his documents, sources told CNN.The sources told CNN Trump aides added a padlock to his basement after investigators met with his lawyers at the Florida resort.Read MoreEric Trump says he was the 'guy who got the call' that the FBI was executing a search warrant at Mar-a-LagoEric Trump said on Monday night that he was the one who informed his father Mar-a-Lago was being searched.Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesTrump — speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity — said he was "the guy that got the call this morning." "I called my father and let him know that it happened," Trump said. "So I was involved in this all day." After the search, Eric Trump complained to Hannity that he thought there is "no family in American history that has taken more arrows in the back than the Trump family." "Every day, we get another subpoena," Trump said. "That's what this is about today, to have 30 FBI agents — actually, more than that —descend on Mar-a-Lago give absolutely, you know, no notice. Go through the gate, start ransacking an office, ransacking a closet. You know, they broke into a safe. He didn't even have anything in the safe. I mean, give me a break." READ FULL STORYFeds likely obtained 'pulverizing' amount of evidence ahead of searching Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, legal experts sayFormer President Donald Trump speaks at a "Save America" rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on August 5, 2022.AP Photo/Morry GashFor months, as new details emerged about the end of the Trump administration, the Justice Department confronted criticism over its slow, cautious approach to investigating the former president.Again and again, Attorney General Merrick Garland met that criticism with what has almost become his personal mantra: The Justice Department, he says, will follow the "facts and the law."On Monday, the facts and the law led FBI agents to former President Donald Trump's home.Read Full StoryTrump's 2024 rivals are swooping in to support him, claiming the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago is politically-motivatedFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis — largely thought of to be one of Trump's key rivals for the GOP presidential ticket in 2024 — tweeted in support of the former president.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesTrump's potential rivals for a 2024 ticket quickly came to his defense on Monday night after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely thought of to be one of Trump's key rivals in a 2024 GOP primary, tweeted his support for the former president around an hour after Trump's statement about the FBI search dropped on Truth Social. "The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves," DeSantis tweeted, adding that he thought the US was becoming a "banana republic."DeSantis was referencing an ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden's finances. Biden has not been charged with a crime and denies any wrongdoing.READ FULL STORYTrump supporters protest the execution of a search warrant against the former president outside Mar-a-Lago and FBI headquartersSupporters of former President Donald Trump hold flags in front of his home at Mar-A-Lago on August 8, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. The FBI raided the home to retrieve classified White House documents.Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty ImagesAfter the FBI executed a search warrant on Donald Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, supporters of the former president gathered outside the Florida resort and FBI headquarters to protest.Though it was initially unclear which of several pending investigations into the former president the warrant was related to, ABC News cited sources saying it was in connection to 15 boxes of potentially classified documents Trump took with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago at the end of his presidency. Read Full StoryTrump was perched in Trump Tower as he decried 'unauthorized raid on my home' at Mar-a-Lago resort: CNNTrump Tower in ManhattanSpencer Platt / Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump was in the comfort of his Trump Tower in New York City as federal agents executed a search warrant on his home in Mar-A-Lago, Florida, according to CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins.The search warrant was carried out in the early hours of Monday morning and was first reported by Florida Politics. Trump confirmed the search warrant in a statement, calling it an "unauthorized raid on my home.""Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before," his statement said. "After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate."Read Full StoryThe Biden White House was unaware that the FBI was going to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home until the former president announced it on social mediaFormer President Donald Trump speaks to the press at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 22, 2018.Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty ImagesThe Biden White House was unaware that the FBI was going to search former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, White House officials said.The former president accused the bureau of prosecutorial misconduct in a statement and suggested the search was part of a politically motivated plot to stop him from running for president in 2024.A senior White House official told CBS News' Ed O'Keefe that the Biden administration wasn't made aware of the search warrant until Trump released his statement about it."No advance knowledge," the official said. "Some learned from old media, some from social media."Read Full StoryDonald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home was searched by the FBI. Take a look inside his exclusive resort that the public never sees.Donald Trump outside the entrance of Mar-a-Lago on December 21, 2016.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesDuring former President Donald Trump's time in the White House, his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach presidency exclusive resort was often referred to as "the winter White House."Now, it's just his house.Following the end of his presidential term, Trump decamped to the ornate resort. Mar-a-Lago has hosted a number of high-powered visitors over the years, as it has seemingly always served as the Trump family's gilded weekend getaway. Mar-a-Lago has served as a lavish backdrop to host important dignitaries with its elaborately decorated halls. It was built to impress.Case in point: the property was closed for 57 days amid the coronavirus pandemic after visitors like the press secretary to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Brazil's Chargé d'Affaires Ambassador Nestor Forster tested positive for the coronavirus in March.Here's a look inside the sprawling complex, which was built in the early 20th century, where the Trumps have hosted opulent holiday parties and watched Super Bowls alongside members of the exclusive private club.Read MoreTrump says FBI accessed his safe during raid at Mar-a-Lago: 'They even broke into my safe!'Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. CPAC began in 1974, and is a conference that brings together and hosts conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders in discussing current events and future political agendas.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump said the FBI went through his safe when they executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. "They even broke into my safe!" Trump said in a Monday statement confirming the search.Read Full StoryThe FBI executed a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago homeRepublican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump speaks to the media at the Mar-A-Lago Club on March 1, 2016 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump held the press conference after the closing of Super Tuesday polls in a dozen statesJohn Moore/Getty ImagesFederal agents descended on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property in Florida on Monday, Trump announced in a statement.The former president denounced the raid as politically motivated, although he himself appointed the FBI's director, Christopher Wray.Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 9th, 2022

Elon Musk told his 76-year-old dad Errol to "keep quiet" in a text message after he said he wasn"t proud of his son, report says

Errol Musk spoke about his son to on an Australian show saying he wasn't proud of him alone because the family has done "a lot of things for a long time." Errol Musk (left), the father of Elon Musk.Cyrus McCrimmon, Getty Images Errol Musk said Elon sent him a text telling him to "keep quiet" after recent media comments. Elon's father told Daily Mail Australia that his 3 daughters refused to speak to him 'for days'. But he said he had misunderstood the question and has been proud of Elon from "the day he was born." Errol Musk said he received a text message from Elon telling him to "keep quiet" after he said he wasn't proud of his son.In an interview with Daily Mail Australia, Musk said he had misunderstood a question in a recent interview on Australian radio by answering "no" when asked if he proud of Elon."I didn't actually notice her question about being proud. It was only when I listened to the recording afterwards that I realized," he told the newspaper."If you ask any parent if they are proud of their son, you are proud of them from the day they are born."Nevertheless Musk said his three daughters – Alexandra, Asha, and Tosca –  didn't talk to him for days after his comments on Australian radio. "Elon knows it's not true, so he would never get upset about it. He just laughs this kind of stuff off," Musk said.He told the Daily Mail that Elon sent him a text following his comments which said: ''Dad, the press play you like a fiddle, so please keep quiet."In the 20-minute radio interview, Musk said about his children: "They've seen a lot of things, and we've done a lot of things together, but Elon has in fact sort of really surpassed the mark."Despite this success with Tesla and SpaceX, Musk said his son was "not as happy as he'd like to be" because he "feels like he's behind schedule" with his companies.Elon Musk is being sued by Twitter after walking away from a $44 billion takeover deal but has countersued the platform. The case is due to be heard in October in a Delaware court.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 6th, 2022

Transcript: Hannah Elliot

      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Hannah Elliott on Hypercars & EVs, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ ANNOUNCER: This is Masters… Read More The post Transcript: Hannah Elliot appeared first on The Big Picture.       The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Hannah Elliott on Hypercars & EVs, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast I have an extra special guest. If you want to listen to me wonk out about automobiles, Hannah Elliott is my favorite automobile reviewer. The last time I had her on I had people writing me and saying, “You know, you were like a little puppy dog piddling over yourself. You couldn’t get out of your own way. You were so excited to talk about cars with somebody.” This time, I think I’ll let Hannah speak a little more than I did last time. I try to keep my excitement in check, especially on the broadcast portion. But we did go back and forth on some stuff. If you were all interested in the automobile industry, EVs, motorcycles, collectible cars, Ferraris, Formula One, well, strap yourself in and get ready. This is two hours of automobile wonkery. With no further ado, my conversation with Bloomberg’s Hannah Elliott. Hannah Elliott, welcome back. HANNAH ELLIOTT, STAFF WRITER, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: Thank you. It’s great to be here. RITHOLTZ: I’m — I always enjoy talking to you because I’m — I’m kind of a car guy. And before we get into automobiles, let’s just start a little bit with your — a background of your career. You’re a staff writer at Forbes Luxury. What led you to being a writer? And what led you to luxury? ELLIOTT: It’s a really funny story. I always start out by saying, of course, at Bloomberg, I get to write about cars. I get to write about the fun thing. Most people here write about how to make money, I get to write about how to spend money. RITHOLTZ: How to spend it, right. ELLIOTT: This was not by design, this was not my plan. I did love words and books, and I did study journalism in college. I went to Baylor University. Thinking of Brittney Griner right now, she also went to Baylor, so shout-out Brittney. But I went to Baylor, I got a journalism degree and moved to New York. I had interned writing about politics and religion actually, but saw on Craigslist an ad to assist the automotive editor at Forbes. And I knew nothing about cars. I come from a sports family. I’m not a car — I still say I’m not actually a car person, this is my job. It’s a beat. RITHOLTZ: Did you play sports in college? ELLIOTT: Yeah, I ran track. RITHOLTZ: OK. ELLIOTT: Yeah, I was a runner. RITHOLTZ: I was going to guess volleyball … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … because you’re 6’1”. ELLIOTT: A lot of people say basketball, but I … RITHOLTZ: No, you’re short for basketball, but you’re the right height for beach volleyball. ELLIOTT: Yeah, well, I got some cousins who are very good at volleyball. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. ELLIOTT: They played at SMU. But yeah, I was runner. My dad ran for Nike in the 80’s. RITHOLTZ: Oh, really? ELLIOTT: A lot of marathon distance, so I come from a big running family. My brother played basketball actually in Europe professionally, so a big sports family. No car … RITHOLTZ: Really? ELLIOTT: … anything. I mean, my — no, I mean, I did how to drive a — a stick shift because my dad taught me in his old board when I was 16 mostly because I bugged him just to do it, but I had an uncle with like an Acura Legend, which was probably the nicest car I was ever exposed to … RITHOLTZ: Wow. ELLIOTT: … and just shared an old Buick Skylark with my sister in high school that I was very embarrassed by. So not … RITHOLTZ: Understandably. ELLIOTT: … yeah. Although my sister actually — I think she kind of liked it, but not interested in cars at all. But back to this Craigslist ad, I figured, well, Forbes is a good brand. RITHOLTZ: Sure. ELLIOTT: It’s is not recognizable. I know I want to do journalism. There’s my foot in the door. I’ll figure it out once I get in. And fast forward, you know, this was in like 2007-2008. A lot of people got laid off in the industry. My editor who I’ve been working with for a year and a half or so got laid off. He was expensive, I wasn’t. I was … RITHOLTZ: You’re cheap. ELLIOTT: … being paid … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … next to nothing, so it was like, well, who can write about cars and, you know, pick this up because we just fired the guy who’s covering them, which doesn’t make sense. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: And so, yeah, Elliott, you go. And Matthew de Paula, I will always be so grateful to him. He was the editor at Forbes at the time who hired me and really for a year and a half took me around everywhere and just taught me the beat. That’s how I approached it. This is a beat. I’m going to approach this just like anything else. There are no wrong questions. It’s just like this is the way that I would cover anything. And I always kind of thought, “Well, I’ll eventually go into other things,” and I did certainly do luxury and watch coverage at Forbes and celebrity coverage. You know, I got to talk to everyone from Jennifer Lopez to a cover story on Elon Musk back in the day before anyone really knew about him, which is … RITHOLTZ: Right, right. ELLIOTT: … crazy to think about now. You know, Forbes was great, and it just kind of was like cars were the thing that I did because no one else at Forbes was doing them. And then I just never stopped. And, you know … RITHOLTZ: What — what was the first car you reviewed at Forbes? ELLIOTT: That’s a great question. The first car I remember being allowed to drive as a Forbes staffer was probably an Aventador, a Lamborghini Aventador. RITHOLTZ: Oh, really? So you’re not fooling around? ELLIOTT: Which I was terrified, but … RITHOLTZ: Like (inaudible). ELLIOTT: … yeah, yeah, that I was terrified. RITHOLTZ: Here’s a $0.5 million car. Have some fun. ELLIOTT: Yes. I remember Matthew was in the passenger seat, so I wasn’t completely so low, but … RITHOLTZ: Matthew? ELLIOTT: Matthew de Paula who was the editor who hired … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … me there. He was still around. And I mean, I was terrified. But also, I was young and dumb enough not to know any better. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: And I think that actually really served me. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do or not do. I just approached it like a journalist … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … which I was, you know — I — and I still am really proud to be a journalist. I — I think it’s the best job. And cars are way more fascinating now even then. I mean, that was, you know, 12, 15 years ago. And even now like the car industry is the most exciting industry, I think … RITHOLTZ: It’s crazy now, it really is. ELLIOTT: … to be (inaudible), yeah. RITHOLTZ: So I was telling a friend that I was going to speak with you again and talk about cars. And their response was, you know, I love pizza, but if I have to make pizza for a living I would hate pizza. Is that the same? Is there still a thrill here or … ELLIOTT: That’s a … RITHOLTZ: … you like, you know, no longer can smell the roses? ELLIOTT: That’s a really good question. I think it actually works to my benefit that I never was a car person anyway. I’m not a car person, and I always say, here’s the difference. Every … RITHOLTZ: Yeah, because I think you’d become a car person whether or not you wanted to do. ELLIOTT: Well, I can certainly speak the language if I need to, and I feel very comfortable on those circles. But here’s the difference. I don’t go to car things that I’m not basically paid to be there. And everyone else at the car event, I mean, whether it’s a Formula E race or, you know, a Concorde, I’m paid to be there. Yes, it’s enjoyable. Yes, it’s glamorous and fun, and I really do enjoy it, but I don’t go to car things on my own personal time. I play with my dog, you know, or go buy a flower, something else because, yeah, I just think like your — your pizza friend, that’s — it would be too much and it would … RITHOLTZ: Right. I mean, if you’re doing it … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … for a living at a certain point it’s like … ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah, I mean … RITHOLTZ: … just change. Even if you love what you’re doing, hey, I love the markets and finance … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … and — but on the weekends, I want to go out in a boat or sit on the beach or just something … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … say it loud. ELLIOTT: And I — I really say, look, if your car is the most interesting thing about you, you’re probably a little bit boring. I like to be … RITHOLTZ: Interesting. ELLIOTT: … around people who have a lot of dimensions, and … RITHOLTZ: OK. ELLIOTT: … a cool car is one of them and that’s awesome. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: But to me, that should not be the most interesting thing about you. I love car people. I love talking about cars, but like come on, you got to have some depth … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … too. So, yeah, that might be a little — not trying to put anyone down, but to me, it’s like if I’m going to spend social time with you, you got to be able to talk about more than car. RITHOLTZ: Right. And that’s why you send your angry emails to helliott@bloomberg.net. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: So what sort of automotive trends are catching your eye these days? What do you like? What don’t you like? ELLIOTT: Well, I think E.V. — like electric mobility for lack of a better word … RITHOLTZ: Huge, absolutely huge. ELLIOTT: … is — is despite the fact that we’re still, you know, hovering around five percent penetration of EVs in the U.S. RITHOLTZ: So is it five percent of new sales that’s all it is? ELLIOTT: Of — of all cars on the road. RITHOLTZ: Oh, well … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … the cars last 15, 20 years these days. ELLIOTT: Correct. RITHOLTZ: So it’s going to be … ELLIOTT: So — but this is a very … RITHOLTZ: … it’s going to take a long time. ELLIOTT: Yeah, so it’s — it’s like one thing to talk about the hype of EVs. Certainly, at every car show and every car launch and every debut, it’s all electric vehicles. But in real terms in the real world, I think we can expect to see SUV’s that continue to get more and more expensive. I mean … RITHOLTZ: But what about the Aston Martin SUV, the Bentley … ELLIOTT: Completely. RITHOLTZ: … and the Rolls. ELLIOTT: And the Rolls and, you know, Porsche’s got a couple SUVs that are going to get close to 200,000 if you get every — but I — I — and I don’t think — you know, I remember when the first SUVs were really starting to get over $100,000, it was like, “Wow … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … this is really crazy.” This is a utility vehicle, but it’s being price like electric car, but now it’s just on top of that. I mean, Lamborghini, Ferrari’s coming out with theirs, it’s just going to continue. And there seems to be no limit. And let’s not forget SUVs have the biggest margins. They’re basically … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … doubling the production volumes for a lot of these smaller automakers like Lamborghini, Ferrari. So they’re going to double production volume and then the profits are just massive. RITHOLTZ: Look back when Porsche was independent. The clients saved the company. ELLIOTT: Completely. And also, it’s so interesting because back — you know, the people who are very into these sports brands like Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, there’s so much philosophical angst about, well, but we’re really a sportscar company; we’re r really a — you know, a — a supercar company. What is our consumer going to think when we go into an SUV? No one cares. RITHOLTZ: Right, right. ELLIOTT: No one cares. I mean, there was all this like polite, oh, what — what will we do? No one will accept our DNA as a true sportscar company anymore. Nobody cares. RITHOLTZ: Half the people I know who own 911s have … ELLIOTT: Of course. RITHOLTZ: … either a Macan or a — a — a Cayenne … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … in the garage because they stay with the brand. And the only problem with those SUVs — so I have a Macan S — you just go through tires and brakes like they’re — because they’re — it’s a big, heavy truck, but you can throw it around like it’s … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … a sportscar. And eventually, it’s like, oh, I got eight, 12,000 miles. I got … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … new rubbers and … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … I need to replace a — I need to replace the — the brake pads, but it drives like a sportscar. ELLIOTT: And those have done nothing to diminish the allure of a 911. It’s not … RITHOLTZ: Other than funding them … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … letting them — letting them spend money. ELLIOTT: Yeah. I mean, it’s not like, oh, if we make an SUV now people won’t take our sportscar seriously. It just … RITHOLTZ: It’s the opposite. ELLIOTT: … it elevates everything. RITHOLTZ: Right, 100 percent. ELLIOTT: Yeah, and I think that will really continue. I mean, if you look even at — even if you look at the 992, the new 911 compared to, you know, call it a turbo from the 70’s … RITHOLTZ: Double the size. ELLIOTT: … this is a — double the size. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: So … RITHOLTZ: In fact, somebody did — what is it — the Porsche — not the Boxster, the hard top, the — the Cayman. A — a new Cayman today is the size of a 70’s 911. ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah. RITHOLTZ: It’s just shocking. All right. So that’s what trends you like. What bugs you? What — what’s the trend that you find, oh, I wish this would stop, this is terrible? ELLIOTT: Well, honestly the flipside of the coin is the whole idea that when you are creating electric vehicles, they tend to be appliances. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. ELLIOTT: I find that so boring and unfortunate. I don’t know what that means for the future, but I — my number one thing is car should be fun. Even if you — if it’s a commuter car, it should still be fun. And I do think there is a place for autonomous driving, you know, for — for commuting, sure. RITHOLTZ: Especially if you can set your cruise control so that it starts and stops … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … it’s like an L.A., you’re on the 405. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Who wants to be stressed about … ELLIOTT: That’s not driving, that’s just commuting. RITHOLTZ: Right, right. ELLIOTT: It’s a completely different thing. So I do think there is a place for it. But it is kind of sad to see how consumers who have been marketed to to believe that they are going to be virtuous by purchasing an E.V. and they’re going to symbol their, you know, virtuous status by driving electric vehicle that they’re somehow doing good for the environment. This is a little bit of a separate point. But to me, the best thing you could do for an environment is to not buy a new car. Use a car that already exists. Use an old car. RITHOLTZ: Interesting. ELLIOTT: And this goes hand in hand with the appliance thing. You know, I just drove the Cadillac Lyriq. RITHOLTZ: Which you didn’t exactly love. ELLIOTT: I didn’t necessarily love it because for many reasons. But to this particular point, it’s just kind of like an appliance. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: It — it looks interesting. The looks are there. But driving, it could have been from any brand. And I’m not sure. Cadillac used to really mean something. I’m not sure that’s going to have the same pull as the Cadillacs of yesterday. RITHOLTZ: Right, especially without the fins. ELLIOTT: Yeah. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: This PS (ph) what really bugs me that I have to share, and I’ve been in a bunch of EVs. There is just no reason to bury the … ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: … the heating and air-conditioning controls … ELLIOTT: Yes, layers … RITHOLTZ: … at wee (ph) levels. ELLIOTT: … (inaudible). RITHOLTZ: And I know — I know you can’t expect a Volkswagen to be a Bugatti … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … even though they have the same ownership. But I just was watching review of the Chiron, and they brilliantly integrated just three buttons across all of your … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … heating, cooling fan, heated and cooled seats, just three little buttons. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: You can push it in, you could pull it out or you could just turn the knob. And, you know, we have to pull that stuff. I know a lot of companies like to keep them at the bottom of the screen. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: It’s still a pain in the neck. ELLIOTT: Yeah. And I’ve — I have mixed feelings about this. For instance, the new Mercedes cars like the S-Class and the EQ have this very big … RITHOLTZ: Giant. ELLIOTT: … giant screen that’s curved, and it goes across the entire dashboard. And it’s actually was very beautiful. And it is pretty well-designed. So I’m not — I actually did find it was intuitive, and I purposely don’t ask for help when I first get into a car. I want to be able to … RITHOLTZ: You want to see, right. ELLIOTT: … see if I can figure it out. I don’t want them to show me because that to me is a little bit more of a controlled environment to see if it’s intuitive. So I don’t have a problem with that necessarily, but in general, I do like some tangible knobs and buttons. RITHOLTZ: Hard buttons, yeah. ELLIOTT: Yes. And if you are having to scroll through multiple layers of software to turn on a seat heater, that’s distracting … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … and annoying. RITHOLTZ: While you drive. ELLIOTT: Yeah, I just — yes. RITHOLTZ: Right. But meanwhile, the flipside of that is all the new Ferrari steering wheels. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: It’s like you don’t need anything else. ELLIOTT: (Inaudible). RITHOLTZ: Everything is at your thumbs. ELLIOTT: Did you get in the Roma, the Ferrari Roma? RITHOLTZ: I did. I don’t love the interior. ELLIOTT: What? RITHOLTZ: I find the exterior of that car just silky, sexy … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … gorgeous. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: And the interior is a little disappointing. ELLIOTT: From the (inaudible) or the technology? RITHOLTZ: Just a little bit of both. I mean … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … it’s — you know, not everything is a 488 or … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … you know, I — I’ve kind of been looking at the F12 lately … ELLIOTT: Ooh. RITHOLTZ: … because the 812s have gone postal. And pre-pandemic, the F12 was just starting to come down in price. And for any three of my cars like … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … well, you know, I could save a little maintenance and insurance if I swap … ELLIOTT: Sure. RITHOLTZ: … these three for that … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … one. ELLIOTT: Quality over quantity. RITHOLTZ: And it was — it was — there was definitely — I love paying half of MSRP for a three-year-old car that still has most of its useful life ahead of it. And then it just, you know, they’re up 40, 50 percent … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … from where I was like, oh, you’re $10,000 away … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … from where I could think about this. So — so — so that’s a beautiful interior with hard … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … buttons … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … and a screen … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … and a separate little screen if you … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … buy the upgrade for the passenger. ELLIOTT: But you didn’t love it, you didn’t love it? RITHOLTZ: The Roma. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So — so the 812 and the F12 are both just — I like that … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … environment. The Roma was just kind — it was a little too minimalist and … ELLIOTT: Oh, interesting. RITHOLTZ: … I kind of really like the dials, the buttons, the tack like — I want to feel — when I get into a Ferrari, I want to feel like I’m in a … ELLIOTT: Cockpit. RITHOLTZ: … right, a fighter plane. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: What else looks really new and interesting to you? What cars or SUVs are you excited about even if they’re not out until ’23 or ’24? Not the Lyriq (inaudible) … ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: … but what else? ELLIOTT: This is going to surprise you. I really did like the Hummer E.V. RITHOLTZ: Everybody I know who’s driven it says it’s spectacular. ELLIOTT: It’s (inaudible) — it’s — this is a — this is a vehicle … RITHOLTZ: Immense but spectacular. ELLIOTT: … yes, at 9,000 plus pounds. RITHOLTZ: Wow. ELLIOTT: And you’re going to be on the same level as a school bus basically height-wise. Again, if you love the Hummer, you’re going to love it. If you hate the Hummer, you’re going to hate it. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: But what I love about it is it’s not trying to be anything it isn’t. This is a very obnoxious vehicle, you know. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: But it doesn’t — it’s not trying to hide it. It has a point of view … RITHOLTZ: But it’s electric. ELLIOTT: … it’s going to pop you in the nose. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: But it’s electric, and it’s really fast. I drove that … RITHOLTZ: Insane 9,000 pounds, really fast. ELLIOTT: Yes, with launch mode, which also is ridiculous. There’s no … RITHOLTZ: Really? ELLIOTT: … there’s no reason a Hummer E.V. needs to have a launch mode. And I’m telling you, it pushes you back (inaudible). RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: It’s crazy. And it was a … RITHOLTZ: Well, you’ve seen the YouTube videos of the people on the Tesla Plaid … ELLIOTT: Sure, yeah. RITHOLTZ: … just like having their minds blown probably. ELLIOTT: Yeah, well, imagine that and like something the size of a school bus basically. RITHOLTZ: Wow. ELLIOTT: It’s crazy, but I loved it. They did a good job with it. I think, you know, good luck trying to get one. And I saw they were — those … RITHOLTZ: 200 plus. ELLIOTT: … on Bring a Trailer already. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: Did you see the one that sold on Bring a Trailer for — I think it was around $200,000. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, yeah. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: There’s been several that have been going for 200 plus. ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah. So I mean, it’s crazy, but I really did like it surprisingly. I thought they did a great job of incorporating the look of the old Hummer. I mean … RITHOLTZ: Yes. ELLIOTT: The minute you look at it, you know, it’s a Hummer … RITHOLTZ: It’s clearly a Hummer. ELLIOTT: … but it does look updated, too. I thought they did a better job, then maybe I don’t know a Defender. You know how they brought the new Defender in? Yeah, I was … RITHOLTZ: Yeah, but the new — so the new Defender has been slagged by a lot of people. ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah. RITHOLTZ: The folks I know who won’t it all love it. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: I mean, the only beef anyone has is Range Rover so … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … reliability is not their forte. ELLIOTT: Yeah, I was just going to say that it might be in the — in the shop every now and then. RITHOLTZ: And — and, by the way, it’s really interesting given the lack of availability of — of new cars and used cars go on any used car site and look for like a 2021 Range Rover Sport HSE, which is an expensive car. There are tons of them available. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: And it’s mostly because the reliability downgrades their appeal as a used car. But … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … I was interested in — you mentioned the Defender, so I know someone in the U.K. who has the Defender as a hybrid … ELLIOTT: Right, OK. RITHOLTZ: … and says he gets 40, 50 miles a gallon … ELLIOTT: Amazing. RITHOLTZ: … because I think it was 45 miles local. So all your local … ELLIOTT: That’s great. RITHOLTZ: … driving is E.V., but if you want … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … to go from London to take the Chunnel to Paris, you can tank up and you could make that trip. ELLIOTT: Yeah. I love that, and I — and I think, you know, I am — I am neither for nor against EVs. I — I do feel genuinely neutral about them. I — I think, OK, they’re probably going to happen, great. But it is true that like now that I’m living in Los Angeles, I can’t drive to Vegas in an E.V. without … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … stopping for a considerable … RITHOLTZ: Perhaps hour, yeah. ELLIOTT: … amount of time — I mean, more than that — to — to … RITHOLTZ: Oh, really? ELLIOTT: … try to get a recharge. Yeah, I mean, realistically, you can’t drive up to San Francisco in an E.V. The hybrid solves that problem. RITHOLTZ: Right, that’s right. ELLIOTT: Yeah. And you still have decent efficiencies, so yeah. RITHOLTZ: And the same thing with the — the Range Rover, that HSE Sport, the new version which looks … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … lovely is also available in a hybrid in the U.K. I don’t think it’s here, but what’s the giant Range Rover? Is the Land Rover? ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: That is here with a hybrid, so you do get … ELLIOTT: So there you go. RITHOLTZ: … arguably the best of both worlds. You’re not a fan of the Defender, the new Defender’s look? ELLIOTT: I think — I think they could have done a little better, like the rear box, you know, how on the rear, the rear (inaudible) … RITHOLTZ: Yeah, yeah, so does … ELLIOTT: … there’s a box there. RITHOLTZ: … yeah, (inaudible) and out, yeah. ELLIOTT: It’s a step. Now, that blocks a lot of vision when you’re driving it. RITHOLTZ: I have an X4 so I know all … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … about that blind spot back there. ELLIOTT: I — I don’t think it’s bad, I just think they could have done a little bit better, I don’t know. To me, it just really — I think Bronco, you know, they brought the Bronco back? RITHOLTZ: Spectacular. ELLIOTT: It looks amazing. RITHOLTZ: What a great job. ELLIOTT: Just — just had the Raptor, oh, my God, wow. RITHOLTZ: Have you driven the F150 Lightning yet? ELLIOTT: No, I haven’t. RITHOLTZ: I had it for a week. ELLIOTT: OK, thoughts? RITHOLTZ: Amazing, just a — first of all, if you’re not a pickup guy or girl, right, it’s immense and it’s, you know, almost to the engine exactly … ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: … what the internal combustion version is. ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: So it’s immense. By the way, the — the Bronco — I had the Bronco for a week also, and so I have a old Jeep Rubicon. And the interesting thing about the shape of the Jeep is it’s a great glass greenhouse. You can see everything. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And the way the fenders are set off of the hood, you could see your corners. You really … ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah. RITHOLTZ: The Bronco is a giant rectangle, and you can’t see anything. I mean, your greenhouse is clean. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: You could see out the back, and they have great cameras. But you’re completely … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … blind what’s in front of the truck for like 10 feet. It’s a … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … other than that, it was a blast. We took it on the beach. We went off-roading. ELLIOTT: Are you converted? RITHOLTZ: What, into? ELLIOTT: To — from Jeep to — to a Bronco? RITHOLTZ: No, because … ELLIOTT: No, feasibility. RITHOLTZ: … the Jeep, I have a 2013 Rubicon, and it just goes anywhere. And I’m not like a crazy Jeep guy … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … but my house is set-up on a hill, and four-wheel drive cars in the rain have a hard time getting up there. ELLIOTT: OK, yeah. RITHOLTZ: So the snow is impossible. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And the Jeep just — it just laughs at everything, so yeah, for the snow … ELLIOTT: Some of that. RITHOLTZ: … four-degree angle … ELLIOTT: Yeah, that’s great. RITHOLTZ: … no — no issues. If I was looking to replace that, I would consider the Bronco. Two of my neighbors have one. They both love it. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: One has the convertible and the other one has a — a four-door. And, you know, every — I had it for a week. I thought it was a blast. It — it seems unstoppable. The — the F150 was just a wholly different experience. ELLIOTT: Let me ask you about that. You said it was amazing — amazing for a Ford F150 truck or amazing for an E.V.? RITHOLTZ: So I’ve never had a — any SUV. ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: And I’ve driven EVs, but not — I mean, pickup, I’ve never had a pickup. And I’ve driven EVs, but I haven’t really had them for a week or so. So the first thing I learned is — and I wrote a long review on it. I — I plugged it in and it lights up, and the next morning it come out, and there’s no change. Oh, it lights up orange, I have to … ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: … oh, really put this in, so now it’s lighting up blue. And then on a 120 without a special charger, you’re adding like two miles … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … an — an hour. ELLIOTT: A tricke. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, it’s a trickle. And then what was interesting, we went to the beach and they’re all these … ELLIOTT: The fast chargers. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, well, there’s semi fast chargers, and so we’re on the — at the beach for two hours, and I — it cost me $6.49 to add 48 miles. So kind of like $3 a gallon. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: It seems pretty cheap. It’s — like — like the Hummer, it’s stupid fast for its … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … size and weight. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: It’s just stupid. And it’s a full pickup bed, so I dragged out to the beach house. I dragged — yeah, ever see the Roman arch for Hamax (ph). I had one taken apart. It’s like 16 feet. ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: I threw that in the back. I threw … ELLIOTT: No. RITHOLTZ: … a six-foot table I had taken apart. I threw a big four-burner Weber. I just loaded up with stuff and I’m like … ELLIOTT: That’s great. RITHOLTZ: … I got a ton more room back here. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So I — I — anybody who’s using stuff, I — I appreciate having a pickup. But to me, it’s like the SUVs — so I have an X4, the X — similar to the X6 or the GLE … ELLIOTT: Sure. RITHOLTZ: … that rounded back, and friends tell me … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … oh, look how much space you’re giving up. I’m like … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … twice a year I fill the back of the truck … ELLIOTT: Sure. RITHOLTZ: … all the way up. ELLIOTT: Sure. RITHOLTZ: The other 360 days … ELLIOTT: It’s fine. RITHOLTZ: … I look at an ugly rectangle. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: I’d rather have something that’s a little sexier, and if I … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … really need to — I’ll either make two trips or take two cars or rent a truck if that’s what I really need. ELLIOTT: It’s not (inaudible), yeah. RITHOLTZ: But — but some people are just — can’t wrap their head … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … arounds. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Does the look of a car matter to you relative to its utility? And if it’s not your only car — hey, listen, if I had one car then OK, maybe … ELLIOTT: Right, yeah. RITHOLTZ: … (inaudible). I got too many cars. So to me, it’s not … ELLIOTT: You got a space issue. RITHOLTZ: We were discussing building a garage. ELLIOTT: See, this is how you’re … RITHOLTZ: So it’s the … ELLIOTT: … you’re crossing over into danger territory. RITHOLTZ: So, a friend said to me one tattoo is either too few or too many. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: It’s like there’s … ELLIOTT: That’s a very good point. RITHOLTZ: And — and so I’m at a point … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … where six cars are either too few — actually, five. I totaled my wife’s Panamera. ELLIOTT: Oh, are you OK? RITHOLTZ: Everybody’s fine. ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: It was — this was — this was December — January, February, something like that, five miles an hour. ELLIOTT: No. RITHOLTZ: I slowed down to make a left, and the person … ELLIOTT: Oh, no. RITHOLTZ: … behind me thought I was pulling over … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … crossed the double yellow. And you look in your rear view mirror in a truck … ELLIOTT: Oh, God. RITHOLTZ: … there’s no one behind me, so I make a left … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … (inaudible) does. And a Panamera 4S got — it was six months old. ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: And the funny thing was I got 24 grand more than I paid for the car … ELLIOTT: Perfect. RITHOLTZ: … because the market prices had gone up so insane. So other than chipping my tooth and being sore for a week … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … it happened in — right in front of my dentist building. ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: So when I called and said, “Hey, I chipped a tooth in a car accident … ELLIOTT: Oh, no. RITHOLTZ: … can I come in tomorrow?” ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: She’s like that was in you in front of our building was it? ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: I’m like, yeah, that was. ELLIOTT: She saw it. RITHOLTZ: They — they heard it. ELLIOTT: Oh, my gosh. RITHOLTZ: They heard kaboom. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And the crazy thing is the woman who’s driving the — the Lexus truck that hit us, she went to the hospital. She was fine. ELLIOTT: Oh, no. RITHOLTZ: It turned out she’s fine. ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: She was just nervous and whatever. ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah. RITHOLTZ: But — but was — she’s scared and shaken up. ELLIOTT: It’s scary. RITHOLTZ: But my wife and I were like black and blue (inaudible). ELLIOTT: Oh, no. RITHOLTZ: We just … ELLIOTT: It’s scary. RITHOLTZ: Car accidents are no fun. ELLIOTT: Yeah, scary. RITHOLTZ: But, you know, the Panamera did what it supposed to. ELLIOTT: Yeah, good. RITHOLTZ: All the airbags came down. ELLIOTT: Good, good. RITHOLTZ: The only weird thing is, as it’s happening, I’m like trying to cover the skin, I can’t — your brain can’t figure out what’s going on because nothing’s … ELLIOTT: Wow. RITHOLTZ: … operating. You can’t see … ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah. RITHOLTZ: … like you’re blinded. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: The steering wheel doesn’t respond. So when we stopped moving, I went to open the driver door, and I — I couldn’t open the door, and like something’s wrong with the door. And I turned to my wife, I’m like, “Are you OK there’s something wrong with our door?” And people came running over to the car. ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: They opened our door and took her out. And so I had to climb over the seat … ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: … to get out. And I was genuinely shocked to see a car … ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: … t-boned. ELLIOTT: That’s scary. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, it’s just — and — and I’m like a religious signaler. And so normally, I would absolutely swear on a stack of bibles that I signaled, but the fact that the person want to pass us makes me wonder. Hey, was this the one time I made a left without saying, oh, how much of it is my fault? I don’t think it was because … ELLIOTT: It’s not your fault, Barry. RITHOLTZ: Well, normally … ELLIOTT: I’m telling you … RITHOLTZ: … when you’re making a left, the assumption is it’s your fault … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … right? I mean … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … but they crossed the double yellow line so … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … I don’t … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … look, New York is a no fault state so … ELLIOTT: It’s great. RITHOLTZ: … it doesn’t matter. But anyway, how do we get on the (inaudible)? ELLIOTT: We were talking about trucks … RITHOLTZ: Oh, that’s right so … ELLIOTT: … and space just to keep your cars. You got six cars, but now you’re having five. RITHOLTZ: Well, now I get five, from down to five … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … I’m down to five. ELLIOTT: Are they all inside? RITHOLTZ: Three inside. ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: The Jeep and the X4 outside. ELLIOTT: So you were potentially looking at another … RITHOLTZ: Oh, I am. We are at six. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: I got the FJ also. ELLIOTT: OK. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) … sky blue with a white roof and a black interior. ELLIOTT: I think you sent me a picture of that. RITHOLTZ: I started rebuilding one in Colombia pre-pandemic, then we went into lockdown. And they said, “Listen, we can’t hold onto the car. We — we have to … ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: … we’re — we’re stuck.” I’m like, “Go ahead, sell it … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … and I will find another one when this is over.” So long story short, 2021, rebuild a new one, imported to the U.S. in January. It sits in customs for two months because they’re so backed up in Port of Miami. Finally get it up here in like February-March, waiting for the last of the documentation to come in, which just came in like a week ago. ELLIOTT: Cool. RITHOLTZ: I had to get a certified translation of the purchase agreement because you can’t send them something showing 100 million pesos in — in Spanish. They don’t want to hear that at DMV. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And so the car gets registered this week. So that’s … ELLIOTT: Oh, that’s exciting. RITHOLTZ: … number six. ELLIOTT: Cool. RITHOLTZ: So seven is … ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: … too many. So the trucks are outside, the cars are inside. ELLIOTT: All right, all right. RITHOLTZ: But at a certain point, it’s, you know — you got to make a decision. Am I going to build a garage for all these things? And it’s worth keeping six cars (inaudible). ELLIOTT: Yes, this is a part-time job just maintain … RITHOLTZ: Yeah. ELLIOTT: … making sure the registrations are current, and making sure the batteries are all alive … RITHOLTZ: Insurance, right. ELLIOTT: … and the insurance, and oh, you got to (inaudible) them. RITHOLTZ: I put a triple charger on that, so that is … ELLIOTT: OK. Wait, what Corvette do you have? RITHOLTZ: ’67 Coupe, spectacular. ELLIOTT: I didn’t know that. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, all this show up on the website. ELLIOTT: I’ve been looking for a — I want to see three, white. They didn’t make very many of them. RITHOLTZ: So the — the C3 is the Corvette of my youth. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Like when I was in high school … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … it was a little 10 years before that … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … but, you know … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … they were used cars. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And guys would buy a, you know, 10-year-old Vette, and it’s like I came very close to getting a ‘69 in yellow over black. ELLIOTT: Ooh. RITHOLTZ: And the prices hadn’t gone up. And I started seeing the C2s. I’m like, “These are just the most amazing (inaudible) cars.” ELLIOTT: I know. They’re so cool. RITHOLTZ: They’re just so gorgeous. ELLIOTT: They’re — they’re — I — you know, I just saw one. I follow this thing called Hobby Car Corvettes, and I just saw one. RITHOLTZ: Oh, really? ELLIOTT: They’ve got a white one in my birth year … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … for sale in Pennsylvania. And I — I really thought, yes … RITHOLTZ: White over white or … ELLIOTT: White over red. RITHOLTZ: OK. ELLIOTT: A C3. It is an automatic (inaudible) … RITHOLTZ: That’s my wife’s old II Series. ELLIOTT: Oh, that is so cool. RITHOLTZ: I don’t get the automatic. ELLIOTT: I know, I know. California traffic though, I don’t want to sit in (inaudible). RITHOLTZ: So here’s — here’s the one thing you have to know about the old Vette. ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: They’re tractors, like … ELLIOTT: Well, we know that. RITHOLTZ: I mean … ELLIOTT: Same with every old Lamborghinis. RITHOLTZ: … the clutch is heavy. The steering is heavy. The brakes … ELLIOTT: Yes, this is why I want an automatic. RITHOLTZ: I have drum brakes on (inaudible) … ELLIOTT: Oh, gosh. RITHOLTZ: … my ‘67, which, by the way, is supposed to be the pinnacle of the CII (inaudible). ELLIOTT: How often do you drive it? RITHOLTZ: I try and rotate all the cars out on the road once a week. ELLIOTT: OK, OK. RITHOLTZ: Although, you know, on a day like today when it’s … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … raining cats and dogs … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … it’s not … ELLIOTT: No. RITHOLTZ: … it’s not coming out of the garage. ELLIOTT: Yeah. But it is — to your point, it is a bit of a chore to maintain car — maintaining cars. RITHOLTZ: It’s worked. Six is too few or too many. ELLIOTT: It’s a relationship, yeah. RITHOLTZ: You — you need 20 and a … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … a guy. ELLIOTT: A guy. RITHOLTZ: Right, or like four — you know, we have — we each have a daily driver. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So when I was younger, we each had a daily driver, and there’ll be a convertible in the garage. ELLIOTT: Oh, cool. RITHOLTZ: So we had an old SL for a long time, and then we had a Z4. So there was always a fun car that we could take out on weekends. And you know what? A third car, hey, you start it once a month. Who cares? ELLIOTT: Yeah, not a big deal. RITHOLTZ: Six cars, it’s just — it starts to be work. ELLIOTT: It’s like cats, but for car guys. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. ELLIOTT: You keep acquiring. You know like the crazy cat lady? RITHOLTZ: Yeah, yeah, yeah. ELLIOTT: She just keeps taking them in. RITHOLTZ: Right, that’s what starts to happen. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And once you go beyond a couple of cars just for what you need, it’s — well, what is the difference between having four extra cars and six extra cars? ELLIOTT: Not a lot. RITHOLTZ: It’s … ELLIOTT: Volume (inaudible). RITHOLTZ: … it’s excessive, right. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Either way is excessive. ELLIOTT: For sure, but also … RITHOLTZ: My — my partner thinks I’m insane. My — my partner is at work … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … look at me and like, “How many cars are you going to buy?” And I’m like, “I don’t know.” I … ELLIOTT: Well, what about during the — this market? Isn’t it — wouldn’t be a bit smarter to put some cash into a car rather than — I mean, I have my own theories about that and I’ve been talking to a lot of people about it. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. ELLIOTT: But, you know, what I hear is … RITHOLTZ: At these elevated prices? Because I … ELLIOTT: I’m talking — I’m talking collecting old cars — old cars. RITHOLTZ: So, OK, how old is old? ELLIOTT: You know, it’s something — something 20 years or older. RITHOLTZ: OK. ELLIOTT: The — the vintage … RITHOLTZ: Well, the Vette is 50 years old and the … ELLIOTT: Sure. RITHOLTZ: … the — whatchamacall the … ELLIOTT: And that’s probably appreciated quite a bit. RITHOLTZ: It has — since I got that last summer … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … in the beginning of the pandemic, I kind of accidentally bought an R8 on Bring the Trailer. ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: So my — I’m sitting outside, reading a book, and my wife says, “John from Salt Lake City on the phone.” And, you know, I have bids out on … ELLIOTT: Sure. RITHOLTZ: … Cars & Bids … ELLIOTT: Sure. RITHOLTZ: … and Bring a Trailer like 30, 40 percent away … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … from the market constantly. And, you know, my credit card company thinks I’m crazy because, you know, they put the Holt (ph) … ELLIOTT: Because — holding, yeah, yeah, yeah. RITHOLTZ: And — and I pick it. Hi, can I help you? Congratulations on the car. I’m like, what? Which car? And he said the R8. I’m like, “I won want that? Really? That’s fantastic.” ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: I go, “Wait a second. Are you sure? I was way off the market.” And as I say that … ELLIOTT: Uh-oh. RITHOLTZ: … I’m like, “Oh, this (inaudible) to take. You just … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … stepped in it. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And he said, “Well, tell you the truth,” he goes, “Did you have any idea what the reserve is?” I’m like, “No, how would I know that?” He said, “Because two days ago I spoke to Bring a Trailer and they took me into loan and reserve. ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: He goes, “You just barely beat the reserve.” ELLIOTT: Oh, wow. RITHOLTZ: And I’m like, “Why did you lower the price?” He’s like, “Well, I have a new Ferrari coming.” ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: I had to make a room in the garage. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: OK. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So I’m like, “Listen, I’ve always been a fan of that car. I love the gated shifter. ELLIOTT: Cool, sure. RITHOLTZ: And I think the V10 is kind of cheating. As much fun as it is, the V8 and that is — is a monster. So he — so everything was — he was a little miffed at me because this was April of 2020. It took me like six weeks to arrange insurance, register … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … and shipping because nobody was doing anything. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So he — I actually got an email from Bring a Trailer, which is like, “Hey, what’s going on?” I’m like … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … “Dude, nobody is shipping cars.” ELLIOTT: He was in Texas? RITHOLTZ: He was in Utah. ELLIOTT: Oh, Utah. Oh, yeah. RITHOLTZ: And I was like, “Nobody is shipping cars.” ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: “I can’t get my insurance company on the phone.” ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: What am I going to do? ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Trust me, I … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … I will wire the money in advance. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: I just need to straighten all this stuff out. ELLIOTT: And logistics. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: If — if you need the cash, I’ll send the money today. ELLIOTT: Sure. RITHOLTZ: I just … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So — so it was — it was interesting because when the car arrived I had all my paperwork, I had my insurance, I had my inspection, but DMV was closed. You can’t register the car. So I would take auction … ELLIOTT: Oh, don’t let that stop you. RITHOLTZ: … I would take the auction pay. I have a whole file … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … and I would go out each morning at 7 a.m., and there’s nobody on the road. There’s no joggers. There’s no bicyclists. There’s no other cars and there are no police. So my local sideroads became a … ELLIOTT: That’s … RITHOLTZ: … little auto bond for me. ELLIOTT: … oh, that’s great. RITHOLTZ: And that lasted about two months, three months. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And then, you know, I’m not an idiot. I — when people — they’re bicyclists or pedestrians or — fun time is over. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: It’s 7 a.m. in the beginning of the pandemic. ELLIOTT: There was a little sweet spot in there. RITHOLTZ: There was a huge sweet spot. ELLIOTT: You really get out the road. I remember we drove once from Santa Monica and Los Angeles to downtown in about 12 minutes, and we were not even speeding that much, it was just open road. RITHOLTZ: There’s nobody … ELLIOTT: Usually that drive takes an hour at least. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: Yeah, it’s great. RITHOLTZ: So — so I had my like stack of papers … ELLIOTT: Yeah … RITHOLTZ: … because I was … ELLIOTT: … just in case. RITHOLTZ: … I was fully … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … anticipating a conversation with the local constables … ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah. RITHOLTZ: … saying … ELLIOTT: Are you a booster (inaudible) local that … RITHOLTZ: Years ago I used to do that. ELLIOTT: OK, yeah. RITHOLTZ: I kind of stopped because it’s a little — it’s just a little … ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: … dirty feeling … ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: … sometimes. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And I — I would rather churn my way out of a ticket that — you saw it. The — the badges, the courtesies, (inaudible) … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … they don’t work the way they used to. ELLIOTT: Oh, really? RITHOLTZ: Yeah. ELLIOTT: I’ve never had one, but I always just thought that was kind of a nice thing. RITHOLTZ: I had one … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … from someone I worked with. Long story, I did some work for the family of someone who passed away, and I got a shield as a thank you. ELLIOTT: OK. RITHOLTZ: And in New York City, the shield worked great. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: But once it’s stopped working and Nassau — I remember coming home from somewhere and getting pulled over, and the cop was like apologetic. ELLIOTT: Oh. RITHOLTZ: And he’s like, “Listen, we — we just can’t (inaudible).” ELLIOTT: You can’t? RITHOLTZ: Hey, man, you got a — so I learned as a kid … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … just painfully honest with cops. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: When cops pull me over … ELLIOTT: Yes, yes. RITHOLTZ: … it’s like the scene … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … from Liar Liar. That’s how I am. And usually, they … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … basically — you know, they appreciate not blowing smoke up their … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … behind because they’re lied to all day long … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … every day so … ELLIOTT: It must be refreshing. RITHOLTZ: … so right. So … ELLIOTT: Honesty. RITHOLTZ: … you know, tell — tell the officer when he says how fast were you going, I said, “Well, Officer, as I drove … ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … by, I saw you and I looked down, and I looked … ELLIOTT: You just look down. RITHOLTZ: … at the speedometer. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: And he goes, “And what did it say?” It said pull over because this office is going to have a few words with you. ELLIOTT: That’s correct. RITHOLTZ: And they laughed and … ELLIOTT: Yeah, that’s great. RITHOLTZ: … they thought you’re — you’re being honest with them. ELLIOTT: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: You don’t have to say, you know, “I was 25 over.” You could say, “I thought you would want to have a little conversation.” ELLIOTT: I’m going to note that down for my future reference. RITHOLTZ: Right, thought you would like to have a chat … ELLIOTT: Yes, yes. RITHOLTZ: … and don’t want to make you drive too far. That’s … ELLIOTT: Yeah, that’s not — it’s really courtesy. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about some of your favorite columns of recent days starting with I mentioned EVs and Harleys. Let’s combine that. ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah. RITHOLTZ: Harley … ELLIOTT: LiveWire. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, tell us about that. ELLIOTT: Yeah. Cool bike … RITHOLTZ: No clutch, right? ELLIOTT: No clutch. You don’t — no gears, no oil to replace … RITHOLTZ: Wow. ELLIOTT: … none of that. No rumble, no growl. It does have a … RITHOLTZ: What do they do for a sound to … ELLIOTT: It does have a sound, you know? It’s like a whirring sound. RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: It’s — if you’re a Harley guy who’s going to need the — the loud pipes … RITHOLTZ: Right. ELLIOTT: … you’re going to object probably to this vehicle. RITHOLTZ: So as a kid … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … running dirt bikes, the expression I always loved was loud pipes saves lives. ELLIOTT: Sure, sure. RITHOLTZ: So what do you do about that? ELLIOTT: To which I say if you’re relying on your loud pipes to keep you safe … RITHOLTZ: Yeah. ELLIOTT: … your — that’s (inaudible). RITHOLTZ: You’re in trouble, right. ELLIOTT: Yeah. You got to be heads up. And — and honestly, you can do everything right and you can still get in a lot of trouble … RITHOLTZ: Right, right. ELLIOTT: … on a motorcycle. So I think, yes, loud pipes are — can be nice, but that should not be your safety plan. RITHOLTZ: The — the problem is when people see you coming … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … they see a little blip instead of a big car. Your brain … ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … assumes you’re further away. ELLIOTT: Yes. RITHOLTZ: So the pipes kind of compensate for that. ELLIOTT: Potentially. And I would say on this — the LiveWire one, there is a noise associated with .....»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureAug 2nd, 2022

DEBT DIARIES: 28 stories of the student-debt "hamster wheel" that borrowers of all ages and incomes can"t escape

Insider spoke with more than two dozen student-loan borrowers eagerly awaiting Biden's expected announcement on debt forgiveness. Marianne Ayala/InsiderThe $1.7 trillion student-debt crisis in the US continues to grow, making the burden heavier for millions of Americans.Since March 2020, as part of pandemic relief measures, federal borrowers have not had to make student-loan payments, and interest on the loans has been waived. President Joe Biden extended the pause for a fourth time, through August 31, citing uncertainty with the pandemic. Advocates and lawmakers lauded the decision and the additional relief for 43 million federal borrowers.But even during the payment pause, many borrowers did not feel relieved. The looming date for restarting payments sparked anxiety and fear among some borrowers who knew that even though they had not been required to pay off their debt over the past two years, they would not be able to afford an additional bill in just a few months. That's why some Democratic lawmakers are calling for Biden to cancel student debt for every federal borrower."More than 40 million Americans have benefited from the federal pause on student-debt payments, but without cancellation they will be buried under a mountain of debt once again," Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told Insider. "The president campaigned on canceling at least $10,000 in student debt, he has the executive authority, and now is the time to deliver."Now, Biden is reportedly considering $10,000 in relief for borrowers making under $150,000 a year, and that announcement is likely to happen in August, closer to when payments are set to resume. But that relief could leave some borrowers out, like parents and graduate students, and the amount will not make a huge difference to those with much larger debt loads.Over the past two years, Insider has spoken with over two dozen borrowers who shared their experiences with the "hamster wheel" of student debt, its impact on their lives and their families, and their fears that their debt will follow them to their graves. Here are their stories.Older people are giving up hope of paying off their student loans before they die: 'There's a real fear in dying in this'Marianne Ayala/InsiderOver 8 million borrowers over 50 hold 22% of the federal student-debt load. The burden can be so heavy that some of those Americans will never see a life without student debt.Three borrowers who fall into that category — David Wise, Linda Navarro, and Theresa Teders — shared how their debt had permanently altered their lives. They said they don't see it going away until they die.Read the full story here.Inside the 'vicious cycle' of spiraling student-loan debt caused by servicers just not picking up the phoneMarianne Ayala/InsiderPaying off student debt is one challenge. Getting help from a student-loan company to actually pay off that debt is a whole other hurdle.Two borrowers, Charles Moore and Lynda Costa, tried to contact the company that collects their debt for assistance with repayment, but hours-long waits and inaccurate information only caused their debt loads to surge even more.Read the full story here.'It's mind-boggling to me that this total amount is not going down. It's not going away': 2 borrowers describe the crushing interest that keeps them from paying off their debtMarianne Ayala/InsiderHigh interest rates are largely to thank for the $1.7 trillion student-debt load in the US, keeping borrowers from paying off balances far higher than what they initially borrowed.Alexandria Mavin and Daniel Tapia are trying to pay off their student debt, but interest keeps adding on to their monthly bills, trapping them in a cycle of repayment.Read the full story here.Meet a married couple with $130,000 in student debt after paying off $140,000 — but they started with just $54,000. 'The loans have always stayed one step ahead of us.'Marianne Ayala/InsiderRon and Marcia Rizzardi are a clear example of the toll that high interest rates can have on student debt loads. The couple started out with a combined $54,000 in debt from their educations, and over the past 25 years they've made $140,000 in payments. Today, they owe $130,000, and they don't see it going away anytime soon.Read the full story here.Meet a single grandmother raising 3 grandchildren with $75,000 in student debt: 'I don't want my grandkids to be in poverty'Marianne Ayala/InsiderGwen Carney, 61, is raising her grandchildren on her own — with $75,000 in student debt. She desperately wants to give her grandkids the lives they deserve, but in order to do so she has to work a full-time job while sewing face masks on the side for some extra cash. The pandemic pause gave her relief, but she worries she won't be able to afford to pay her student debt and support her grandkids when payments resume.Read the full story here.Meet a recent college grad with $143,000 in student debt: 'There have been times when I didn't eat' to afford the paymentsMarianne Ayala/InsiderWhile the student-loan payment pause extended to federal borrowers, those with private student loans continued to see their debt grow.Karla, a recent college graduate, has a student-debt load of $143,000, with $91,000 coming from private loans. Even though she's kept up with her monthly payments, the high interest is keeping her from even touching the amount she originally borrowed.Read the full story here.Meet a single dad with $550,000 in student loans for his 5 children: 'I'm just not going to take the chance on not sending my kids to school'Marianne Ayala/InsiderMillions of parents across the country want their kids to access higher education but can't afford to do so on their own. So they take out Parent PLUS loans on behalf of their children to cover up to the cost of attendance.While it's an easy loan to get, it's very difficult to pay off. Just ask Reid Clark, a 57-year-old single father with $550,000 in student debt for his five children. He said he didn't regret sending his kids to school, but he wished it had been harder for him to take on so much debt.Read the full story here.Meet a 64-year-old dad delaying retirement because of $265,000 in student debt for his 2 kids: 'I was going to do whatever was necessary to get my kids through'Marianne Ayala/InsiderRobert Pemberton wanted his two kids to succeed — and it came at the cost of $265,000 in student debt. He said that although he now makes a livable salary, his debt load became unmanageable after periods of unemployment and his wife's cancer treatment. He isn't sure when he will retire, thanks to the high interest rates on PLUS loans.Read the full story here.Meet a 57-year-old dad with $104,000 in student debt for his son: 'It was my obligation to do the best I could for him'Marianne Ayala/InsiderJeff O'Kelley, 57, has $104,000 in student debt from loans he took out to send his son to college. Like many parents who made the same decision, he said he didn't regret accumulating debt to give his son the best future possible. But he believes the "extraordinarily simple" process he followed to take on debt needs to change.Read the full story here.Meet a 62-year-old veteran with $104,000 in student debt after working in public service for 4 decades: 'I joined the Army to escape poverty. This is a different kind of poverty.'Marianne Ayala/InsiderJeffrey Spencer thought joining the Army in 1976 would give him access to a free education. It didn't, and now, at 62, he has $104,000 in student debt. And while he works for the state of California, which would make him eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, failures in the program led to his being denied repeatedly. He said he was tired of broken promises.Read the full story here.Meet a therapist with $81,000 in student debt who worked in public service for 20 years and can't get loan forgiveness: 'People in the helping professions are getting totally screwed over'Marianne Ayala/InsiderSince 2017, when the first group of borrowers became eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which forgives student debt for public servants after 10 years, it's run up a 98% denial rate.Lindsay Averbook, who has $81,000 in student debt, is one of the rejected borrowers. She's worked in public service — in mental-health care — for her whole career, and she said she didn't understand why it's taking so long to get the student debt relief she deserves.Read the full story here.Meet a single mom and adjunct professor with $430,000 in student debt: 'I'm in a hole that I'm never going to get out of'Marianne Ayala/InsiderMaria firmly believes her $430,000 student-debt load was not worth it. She'd thought that pursuing a master's degree and a Ph.D. would land her a job teaching at a university, and she extensively researched the programs and their outcomes to ensure they were worth the cost. But a layoff and medical bills for her daughter's cancer treatment set her on a different course, and she said she sees herself dying with her student debt.Read the full story here.Meet an independent voter with $163,000 in student debt who left the Democratic Party after 4 decades because she felt 'betrayed' by Joe Biden: 'I really felt he was going to help us with the student-loan problem'Marianne Ayala/InsiderAs a presidential candidate, Joe Biden pledged to approve forgiving $10,000 in student loans for every federal borrower. He won Melissa Andretta's vote with that pledge.Andretta, who has $163,000 in student debt, said she'd thought Biden would help with the student-loan crisis in the US, but now she feels "betrayed."Read the full story here.Meet a first-generation college grad with $250,000 in student debt: 'It's the price I had to pay to achieve the American dream'Marianne Ayala/InsiderObtaining a higher education is a pillar of the American dream, and it's one that Juan Antonio Sorto, a first-generation college student, wanted more than anything. The cost of achieving that dream was $250,000 in student debt.Sorto said that while he was proud of his accomplishments and the life his education had given him and his family, he wished President Joe Biden would do more to ensure others don't have to take on so much debt for an education.Read the full story here.Meet a single mom who took on $49,000 in student debt to put one of her 2 daughters through college: 'It's the only way for my kids to get an education and be successful'Marianne Ayala/InsiderDanet Henry, 53, is a single mom of two with a $49,000 student debt load for her oldest daughter. And once her youngest daughter graduates in three years, that balance will likely double. That's because Henry took on PLUS loans — the most expensive type of federal loan — and while she knows she has to pay back her debt, she wishes parents could be included in relief programs.Read the full story here. Meet 2 married couples who are blocked from a student-loan-forgiveness program because they were advised to combine their debts years agoMarianne Ayala/InsiderThe spousal joint loan consolidation program was created in 1993, which allowed married couples to combine their student-debt loads into one loan so they could make just a single monthly payment with one interest rate. The idea is that it's a more affordable option.But over a decade after Congress shuttered the program in 2006, some married couples are stuck in the program and cannot qualify for loan forgiveness because law prohibits them from separating their debt balances. Insider spoke to two couples — all public servants — who were told combining their balances was their best option, but they didn't know their loans would not be eligible for relief.Read the full story here.Meet a teacher with $303,000 in student debt who says Biden's $10,000 loan-forgiveness plan 'is not even a drop in the bucket'Marianne Ayala/InsiderWith Biden considering $10,000 in student-loan forgiveness, borrowers like Cheryl say that won't make a dent in the student debt balances they hold. Cheryl, 53, has $303,000 in student debt — and while she doesn't mind paying back what she borrows, she wishes interest didn't accumulate so quickly.Even if Biden cancels $10,000 in student debt, Cheryl said, she'll probably have to pick up a second job to afford payments when the pause expires after August 31.Read the full story here.A 61-year-old student-loan borrower chooses between paying her debt and paying for health insurance — and Biden's forgiveness plans won't helpMarianne Ayala/InsiderRobin O'Brien, 61,  could not foresee the pandemic when she took out student loans to go to graduate school. There's no way she could have anticipated contracting COVID-19, and the medical bills that came along with it.Now, as Biden gets closer to making a decision on broad student-loan forgiveness, O'Brien is also forced to make a decision: paying her medical bills or her $64,000 student loan bills — and she knows she cannot afford both. She's disappointed graduate students are not being considered in Biden's relief plans.Read the full story here. A single mom who took on $187,000 in student debt for her kids wishes Biden would consider parents in his loan-forgiveness plans: 'I just don't feel like it's fair that we're overlooked'Marianne Ayala/InsiderAdria Mansfield, 43, has $187,000 in student debt she took out for her kids' education because it was the only way she could afford to give them the futures they wanted. But while Mansfield is among the three million families with parent PLUS loans, it's unclear whether they will be included in Biden's loan forgiveness plans. Mansfield wishes people like her were part of the conversation."Half of our children would not be able to go to school and become successful if it weren't for the parents," Mansfield said "And I just don't feel like it's fair that we're overlooked."Read the full story here. Meet a 37-year-old with $108,100 in student debt who lives in a school bus because rent is unaffordable: 'Student-loan debt is by far my biggest regret'Marianne Ayala/InsiderNick Crocker found a way to counter spiking rent costs in the country: moving into a school bus. But that doesn't mean he's able to pay off his $108,000 student debt load. Graduating into the 2008 recession, Crocker wasn't able to find a job in his field of study, pushing him to fall behind on his private student loan payments. Now, he's not sure when he'll ever be able to get out from under the debt.Read the full story here. Meet a first-generation attorney with $347,000 in student debt who can't land a job and says 'there are a substantial number of people like me that are being forgotten'Marianne Ayala/InsiderSteve Pederzani, 37, was under the impression getting a law degree would ensure his financial security for life. As a first-generation student, Pederzani wanted to take his career as far as it would go, and he was advised that getting through law school and passing the bar would be worth the debt. It wasn't — he now has $347,000 in student loans and can't land a job as a licensed attorney, and he wishes people would stop equating a law degree with immediate success.Read the full story here. Meet a man with $47,000 in student debt who's been trapped in a student-loan repayment 'bureaucracy nightmare' for nearly 3 decades without the debt cancellation he was promisedMarianne Ayala/InsiderIn 1995, Jason Harmon enrolled in the first version of an income-contingent repayment plan, which gives him affordable monthly payments based on his income with the promise of loan forgiveness after 25 years.But it's now been 27 years, and Harmon still has 9 predicted years left of repayment.Income-driven repayment plans have been under scrutiny in recent years over loan company mismanagement of the plans, in which they have not kept track of borrowers' payments, pushing many of them off the forgiveness track. Harmon is one of those borrowers, and he doesn't see his $47,000 debt balance going away anytime soon.Read the full story here.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderAug 2nd, 2022

Guy Reffitt, first Capitol rioter convicted at trial, gets a January 6 record of over 7 years behind bars

Prosecutors had stressed that Reffitt brought police-style flexicuffs and a firearm to the Capitol with intent to attack lawmakers. Prosecutors argued that Guy Reffitt's conduct on January 6 amounted to domestic terrorism.DOJ Guy Reffitt and his teenage daughter, Peyton, addressed the court at his sentencing Monday. Prosecutors fell short arguing that Reffitt's conduct should be considered domestic terrorism. The Justice Department had recommended that Reffitt receive an 15-year prison term. Guy Reffitt, the first Capitol rioter found guilty at trial, was sentenced Monday to more than seven years in prison — the longest term behind bars ordered to date in a case stemming from the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.Judge Dabney Friedrich handed down the sentence five months after a jury convicted Reffitt on all five charges he faced following the Capitol siege, including obstruction of an official proceeding and threatening his own children to prevent them from reporting him to law enforcement."You really are a talented, intelligent man who has a great deal to offer your family and the country. You still have the opportunity to make them proud, to make your country proud," Friedrich told Reffitt, who appeared in court Monday wearing eyeglasses, a white mask, and an orange prison jumpsuit.Friedrich's sentence punctuated an unusually long hearing that stretched on for nearly six hours. Throughout the hearing, prosecutors and Friedrich highlighted Reffitt's apparent lack of contrition and statements in which he described himself as a "martyr" and "patriot."Reffitt initially declined to address Friedrich, but he reversed course after a lunch break to express remorse for his role in the violence of January 6."I do think everyone deserves to hear my apology," Reffitt said. "It's very clear I have an issue with just rambling and saying stupid shit."Ahead of Monday's sentencing hearing, prosecutors recommended that Reffitt receive a 15-year sentence, a prison term tripling the longest ones ordered to date out of the more than 800 prosecutions connected to the Capitol attack. Two other Capitol rioters — Mark Ponder and Robert Palmer — previously received sentences of more than five years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting police on January 6.In Reffitt's case, prosecutors urged Friedrich to classify Reffitt's conduct as domestic terrorism and apply more severe sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors stressed that Reffitt brought police-style flexicuffs and a firearm to the Capitol, where he "sought not just to stop Congress, but also to physically attack, remove, and replace the legislators who were serving in Congress."He was planning to overtake our government. He wasn't just trying to stop the certification," said prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler. "He wasn't done. January 6 was just a preface.""Mr. Reffitt," he added, "is in a class all by himself."But Friedrich declined to apply the terrorism enhancement Monday, saying it would cause an "unwarranted sentencing disparity" with other cases involving attacks on police and threats of violence on January 6.At his trial in March, prosecutors showed video footage of Reffitt wearing tactical gear as he ascended a stairway outside the Capitol, with a pro-Trump mob trailing behind him. Prosecutors described Reffitt, a onetime member of the far-right Three Percenters group, as the "tip of this mob's spear" and painted him as a pivotal on-the-ground leader who "lit the fire" on January 6."Mr. Reffitt was intending to violently overthrow Congress, and physically drag members of Congress out of the Capitol," Nestler said Monday.Reffitt's trial featured dramatic testimony from his teenage son, Jackson Reffitt, who recounted reporting his father to law enforcement on Christmas Eve in 2020 after growing alarmed about his incendiary rhetoric and plans to do "something big." Jackson Reffitt also testified that he secretly recorded his father after January 6 as he exuberantly recounted his confrontation with police on the stairs leading up to the Capitol.But Guy Reffitt grew distressed as federal agents began to track down and arrest alleged participants in the January 6 attack, his son said in court. In a key portion of his testimony, Jackson Reffitt detailed a conversation in which his father told him and his younger sister that they would be traitors if they turned him in to law enforcement — and that "traitors get shot."On Monday, prosecutor Risa Berkower read a letter aloud in court from Jackson Reffitt, in which he expressed hope that his father would be able to "use all the safety nets" available in the federal prison system, including mental health care. Prison, he wrote, should not be used to "destroy a person but to rehabilitate someone."Reffitt's teenage daughter Peyton Reffitt later told Friedrich that her father's mental health has "always been a real issue." In emotional remarks, she appeared to place the blame for the violence of January 6 on former President Donald Trump. "My father's name wasn't on the flags that everyone was carrying that day," she said. "It was another man's name."Referring to her father, Peyton Reffitt said, "He wasn't the leader."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderAug 1st, 2022

The Talented Mr. Pottinger: The US Intelligence Agent Who Pushed Lockdowns

The Talented Mr. Pottinger: The US Intelligence Agent Who Pushed Lockdowns Authored by Michael Senger via 'The New Normal' Substack, In 1948, the US House of Representatives received a tip from a man named Whittaker Chambers that several federal officials had been working for the communists. One of these officials was more than happy to appear before Congress to clear his name—a leading State Department and United Nations representative named Alger Hiss. The rakish Hiss was the exemplary American statesman: Polite, pedigreed, well-spoken, and a Harvard man to boot. During the 1945 United Nations conference, the Chinese delegation had proposed the creation of a new international health organization. After the Chinese failed to get a resolution passed, Hiss recommended establishing the organization by declaration, and the World Health Organization was born. In Congress, Hiss coolly denied the allegations and denounced his deadbeat accuser for the libelous claims. The House came away newly reassured that the State Department was in excellent hands. (Spoiler alert: He was then and always had been a communist.) The next year, intelligence leaks from the federal service led to the Soviet Union’s first successful nuclear test, ending the security afforded by America’s nuclear monopoly 15 years earlier than experts expected. Shortly thereafter, Kim Il-Sung and Chairman Mao used the cover of Soviet nuclear weapons to invade South Korea. The ensuing war claimed over 3 million lives and resulted in the permanent recognition of the nation of North Korea. Around this time, a little-known Congressman from California’s 12th district named Richard M. Nixon pressed Chambers for more information. Chambers reluctantly led Tricky Dick to a package of State Department materials he had hidden in a pumpkin patch—including notes in Hiss’s own writing. Alger Hiss became the most high-level American official ever convicted in connection with working for the communists. 2022 To be honest, I barely knew who Matt Pottinger was until I read that he’d appointed Deborah Birx as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator in her bizarrely self-incriminating memoir Silent Invasion, which reads like it was written by the Chinese Communist Party itself. There’s little information about Pottinger’s role in Covid online. Yet Pottinger is portrayed as a leading protagonist in three different pro-lockdown books on America’s response to Covid-19: The Plague Year by the New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright, Nightmare Scenario by the Washington Post’s Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Chaos Under Heaven by the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin. Pottinger’s singularly outsized role in pushing for alarm, shutdowns, mandates, and science from China in the early months of Covid is extremely well-documented. Pottinger’s enormous influence during Covid is especially surprising not only because of his absence from online discussion about these events, but because of who he is. The son of leading Department of Justice official Stanley Pottinger, Matt Pottinger graduated with a degree in Chinese studies in 1998 before going to work as a journalist in China for seven years, where he reported on topics including the original SARS. In 2005, Pottinger unexpectedly left journalism and obtained an age waiver to join the US Marine Corps. Over several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pottinger became a decorated intelligence officer and met General Michael Flynn, who later appointed him to the National Security Council (NSC). Pottinger was originally in line to be China Director, but Flynn gave him the more senior job of Asia Director. Despite being new to civilian government, Pottinger outlasted many others in Trump’s White House. In September 2019, Pottinger was named Deputy National Security Advisor, second only to National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Pottinger is best known as a China hawk, but a smart and sophisticated one. He’s been ahead of the curve in calling out China’s increasingly aggressive geopolitical stance, articulating this challenge with near-perfect eloquence. As Politico writes, “While hawks like Bannon love his tough views toward China, even Democrats call his views basically mainstream. Still, some foreign policy experts…wonder what a nice guy like him is doing in a place like this.” “He’s a very effective bureaucratic player, which is saying something because he’s never had a policy job before,” the New York Times agreed. “Matt has an extraordinary sense of caution that, ‘Let’s not push something unless the president clearly has approved it.’ This is different from other members of White House staff,” the Washington Post admired. While many Trump administration officials have floundered since Trump left the White House, “things are going well for Pottinger,” Vox gushed. “[T]hat subject matter expertise—plus the patina afforded by resigning on January 6—has helped Pottinger, a former journalist, expertly navigate the post-Trump landscape. He even emerged as the White House hero of the initial Covid-19 chaos in New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright’s chronicle of The Plague Year… One reason that Matt Pottinger was welcomed back into the establishment is that, unlike some of Trump’s unconventional appointees, he had already been a part of the elite.” From the center-right to the center-left and the far right to the far left, it’s tough to find anyone on the Beltway short on praise for Matt Pottinger. Everything about Pottinger is silky smooth. Between the lines of glowing coverage are not-so-subtle winks and nudges that he’d make an excellent candidate for higher office. 2020 1. Ratcheting Up Alarm via “Asymptomatic Spread” In January 2020, Pottinger unilaterally called meetings and ratcheted up alarm about the new coronavirus in the White House based on information from his own sources in China, despite having no official intelligence to back up his alarmism, breaching protocol on several occasions. In Washington, Matt Pottinger was first made aware of the new coronavirus after China’s CDC Director called US CDC Director Robert Redfield to report it on January 3, 2020. According to Pottinger, he grew increasingly alarmed due to the rumors he saw on Chinese social media. As Wright reports: He was struck by the disparity between official accounts of the novel coronavirus in China, which scarcely mentioned the disease, and Chinese social media, which was aflame with rumors and anecdotes. Pottinger therefore authorized the first interagency meeting on the coronavirus based on these social media reports. There was no official intelligence to prompt the meeting. On January 14, Pottinger authorized a briefing for the NSC staff by the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, along with CDC director Redfield. That first interagency meeting to discuss the situation in Wuhan wasn’t prompted by official intelligence; in fact, there was practically none of that. On January 27, 2020, Trump’s staff attended the first full meeting on the coronavirus in the White House Situation Room. Unbeknownst to those in attendance, Pottinger had unilaterally called the meeting. Others urged calm, but Pottinger immediately began pushing for travel bans. As Abutaleb writes: Few people in the room knew it, but Pottinger had actually called the meeting. The Chinese weren’t providing the US government much information about the virus, and Pottinger didn’t trust what they were disclosing anyway. He had spent two weeks scouring Chinese social media feeds and had uncovered dramatic reports of the new infectious disease suggesting that it was much worse than the Chinese government had revealed. He had also seen reports that the virus might have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. There were too many unanswered questions. He told everyone in the Sit Room that they needed to consider enacting a travel ban immediately: ban all travel from China; shut it down… [Pottinger] spent several days calling some of his old contacts in China, doctors who would tell him the truth. And they had told him that things were bad—and only going to get worse. Pottinger’s discourse was measured but he conveyed the gravity of the threat. He said that the virus was spreading fast. He said that dramatic actions would need to be taken, which was why the government should consider banning travel from China to the United States until it had a better understanding of what was going on. As he continued, people sat up in their chairs. This was not the “we’ve got everything handled” message that Azar had conveyed just minutes earlier. As Wright documents, the health officials thought travel restrictions would be futile. Predictably, the public health representatives were resistant, too: viruses found ways to travel no matter what. Moreover, at least 14,000 passengers from China were arriving in the U.S. every day; there was no feasible way to quarantine them all. These arguments would join a parade of other public health verities that would be jettisoned during the pandemic. Among those present, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney appears to have been the only one to express skepticism of Pottinger’s information. As Abutaleb writes: Mulvaney intervened to wrap things up. He could tell that Pottinger and a few others were calling for a dramatic change, one that was an anathema to his libertarian instincts. He was pretty skeptical of Pottinger’s “sources” in China, too. They weren’t going to be setting US policy based on what someone had heard from their “friend” thousands of miles away. Mulvaney reiterated that they would reconvene the next day to discuss matters again before anything was settled. He warned attendees not to leak any details of the meeting to the media. The next morning, January 28, 2020, Pottinger says he spoke to a doctor in China who told him the new coronavirus would be as bad as the 1918 Spanish flu, and that half the cases were asymptomatic. As Rogin writes: The next morning, Pottinger had a conversation with a very high-level doctor in China, one who had spoken with health officials in several provinces, including Wuhan. This was a trusted source who was in a position to know the ground truth. “Is this going to be as bad as SARS in 2003?” he asked the doctor, whose name must remain secret for his own protection. “Forget SARS in 2003,” the doctor replied, “this is 1918.” The doctor told Pottinger half the cases were asymptomatic and the government must have known all about it. Later that same day, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien brought Pottinger into the Oval Office, where he seized the first opportunity to repeat to the President what the doctor in China had told him that morning. “This is the single greatest national security crisis of your presidency and it’s now unfolding,” O’Brien told the president. “It’s going to be 1918,” Pottinger told Trump. “Holy fuck,” the president replied. Wright goes into more detail on this meeting, in which Pottinger interjected to alarm the President: Later that day, the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, brought Pottinger into the Oval Office, where the president was getting his daily intelligence briefing. Far down the list of threats was the mysterious new virus in China. The briefer didn’t seem to take it seriously. O’Brien did. “This will be the biggest national security threat you will face in your presidency,” he warned. “Is this going to be as bad or worse than SARS in 2003?” Trump asked. The briefer responded that it wasn’t clear yet. Pottinger, who was sitting on a couch, jumped to his feet. He had seen enough high-level arguments in the Oval Office to know that Trump relished clashes between agencies. “Mr. President, I actually covered that,” he said, recounting his experience with SARS and what he was learning now from his sources—most shockingly, that more than half of the spread of the disease was by asymptomatic carriers. China had already curbed travel within the country, but every day thousands of people were traveling from China to the U.S.—half a million in January alone. “Should we shut down travel?” the president asked. “Yes,” Pottinger said unequivocally. That same day, Pottinger and the White House staff reconvened in the Situation Room. Pottinger recalls that he’d been especially inspired into action by Xi Jinping’s lockdown of Wuhan and by the hospital that the CCP claims to have built in 10 days, but did not actually build. As Abutaleb reports: A few hours later, Pottinger and other government officials filed back into the Situation Room. Pottinger knew he was going to be outnumbered. Mulvaney and his allies didn’t want to allow the NSC to do anything that might be too disruptive. Blocking travel from China would be an unprecedented intervention. And over what? Five cases of the sniffles in the United States?… On January 23, China announced that it was locking down Wuhan, a city of 11 million people. The shutdown was extended to several more cities in the coming days, with travel prohibited inside much of the country. Tens of millions of people were effectively locked in their homes. The Chinese were rapidly building an entire hospital in Wuhan that was completed within days. Everyone in the country was wearing a mask. People in hazmat suits took passengers’ temperatures before anyone was allowed into the subway. China had gone from reluctantly admitting that there had been a few cases of person-to-person spread to shutting down the world’s second largest economy. If the virus had brought the world’s most populous country to a standstill, some top US officials, especially Pottinger, knew they should be doing more. As Deputy National Security Advisor, Pottinger was supposed to “avoid arguing forcefully for any particular outcome,” so he brought Peter Navarro to make his arguments for him. Abutaleb continues: But as deputy national security advisor, Pottinger was in an awkward position. He was supposed to be chairing the meeting, which meant that his job was to solicit input from others in the room and avoid arguing forcefully for any particular outcome. That fact tied his hands. He needed someone else to make the more pointed parts of his argument for him. Someone who would stand up to everyone else in the room unflinchingly. He knew just the person: a reviled troublemaker named Peter Navarro, the director of the White House National Trade Council… Pottinger’s plan to use Navarro as his mouthpiece seemed to work initially, but then Navarro kept going. And going… They needed to ban travel, and they needed to do it now. Pottinger had been waiting for an opening. He told his colleagues that he had come across some alarming information: Chinese officials were no longer able to contact trace the virus. In other words, it was so widespread that they couldn’t determine where people had contracted it. And he relayed the Chinese suspicions about asymptomatic spread: people who seemed perfectly healthy were transmitting the virus, not just in China but potentially everywhere, including in the United States. Once again, Mulvaney was skeptical of Pottinger. Three months prior, Navarro had been caught citing himself as an expert source using the pseudonym “Ron Vara”: Mulvaney couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. Pottinger and Navarro had nearly pulled off a policy ambush. “Look,” Mulvaney told someone at the meeting, “I’ve got Pottinger with a friend of his in Hong Kong as a source. I’ve got Navarro, who makes up his sources, and then on the other side of the equation I’ve got Kadlec and Fauci and Redfield, three experts, who say not to shut down flights just yet.” A health expert pointed out that the statistic Pottinger had reported from the doctor in China about asymptomatic spread couldn’t be true. One of the government health experts pulled Pottinger aside. The stat Pottinger had cited, the one about half of all people with the virus being asymptomatic, there’s just no way that can be true, the person said. No one has ever heard of a coronavirus similar to SARS or MERS whose spread can be driven in part by asymptomatic carriers. That would be a game changer. On February 1, Mulvaney tried to rein Pottinger in. As Rogin reports: Concerned about the political implications, Mulvaney tried to rein in Pottinger. He took O’Brien aside and told him, “You’ve got to get Pottinger under control.” Pottinger was too young, Mulvaney said, and too immature to be deputy national security adviser. Mulvaney was among the most skeptical of all the White House officials that the virus threat was real. In late February, as the markets tanked, Mulvaney said the media was exaggerating the threat in an effort to bring down President Trump, calling it the “hoax of the day.” As he prepared the White House’s first budget to respond to the emerging crisis, Mulvaney pegged the total cost at $800 million. (Mulvaney was pushed out in early March.) 2. Pottinger’s Crusade for Universal Masking In February 2020, Pottinger, who has no background in science or public health, began a months-long campaign to popularize universal masking and travel quarantines in response to the coronavirus based on information from his own sources in China. Beginning in February 2020, Pottinger began a crusade for Americans to adopt universal masking in response to the new coronavirus based on recommendations from his own sources in China. As Abutaleb writes: Back in February, Matt Pottinger had relayed what he had hoped would be received as good news by the Coronavirus Task Force. His contacts in China had found a way to significantly slow the virus’s spread: face coverings. Pottinger began wearing a mask to work in early March to convince his White House colleagues to take up the practice. A mask, however, could significantly stem transmission, Pottinger argued. If people’s noses and mouths were covered, they would emit far fewer respiratory droplets, lowering the risk of infecting others. Pottinger began wearing a mask to work in early March. But he didn’t wear a simple cloth face covering; he wore what other White House aides thought was a gas mask. He looked like a lunatic, some snickered, and it reinforced his reputation as an alarmist. One staffer described him as “being at a hundred” as early as January (on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of concern). Pottinger, who has no background in science or public health, pushed for mask mandates in the White House and for staff to be quarantined if they traveled outside Washington. Having lived in China during the SARS outbreak, he saw the importance of the speed with which Asian countries had mobilized. In early February, he recommended that NSC staffers who traveled outside Washington—even to other parts of the United States—quarantine before returning to work. He also wanted NSC staff to telework when possible, limit in-person meetings, restrict the number of people who could be in a room at one time, and be required to wear masks. That struck many White House aides as absurd. There were just a handful of known cases at the time; the virus was barely a blip on most people’s radars. No one else was changing their workplace standards… Pottinger urged the adoption of universal masking as had been ordered by “governments in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.” Pottinger pointed to a handful of Asian countries where the use of face coverings was universal. The governments in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong had ordered their citizens to wear masks with seemingly indisputable results. Pottinger saw no “downside” in universal masking, though there was no data and research to show it was effective. Pottinger’s heart sank as he saw the tweet and the ensuing messages. What was the downside in having people cover their faces while they waited for more data and research about how effective masks might be? Pottinger proposed delivering a mask to every mailbox in America. As Wright reports: Pottinger and Robert Kadlec, an assistant secretary at Health and Human Services, came up with an idea to put masks in every mailbox in America. Hanes, the underwear company, offered to make antimicrobial masks that were machine washable. “We couldn’t get it through the task force,” Pottinger told his brother. “We got machine-gunned down before we could even move on it.” Masks were still seen as useless or even harmful by the administration and even public health officials. Matt Pottinger’s crusade for the adoption of universal masking based on information from his own sources in China is especially peculiar because, as of the time of this writing, though there are hundreds of pictures of Pottinger online, there does not appear to be a single one in which he is wearing a mask anywhere on the Internet. 3. Popularizing Shutdowns In January 2020, Pottinger popularized shutdowns within the White House using a dubious study on the 1918 flu pandemic comparing outcomes between Philadelphia and St. Louis, a month before this study received any significant media attention. If you live in the United States, you probably remember the ludicrous study that made the rounds among major media outlets in March 2020 comparing outcomes in Philadelphia and St. Louis during the 1918 Spanish flu. According to the study, St. Louis canceled its annual parade, closed schools, and discouraged gatherings in 1918, while Philadelphia did not, so Philadelphia was punished when thousands of residents died of flu over the coming weeks. Therefore, these media outlets argued, it somehow logically followed that we should shut down the entire United States economy in 2020. One man who was several weeks ahead of media outlets in citing this claptrap was Matt Pottinger. As Wright reports, Pottinger began popularizing the idea of shutdowns within the White House by circulating this study among his White House colleagues on January 31, 2020. Matt Pottinger handed out a study of the 1918 flu pandemic to his colleagues in the White House, indicating the differing outcomes between the experiences of Philadelphia and St. Louis—a clear example of the importance of leadership, transparency, and following the best scientific counsel. 4. Appointing Deborah Birx as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Beginning in January 2020, Pottinger began petitioning for Deborah Birx to be appointed as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator. Birx then embarked on a months-long scorched earth campaign for lockdowns that were as long and strict as possible across the United States. On January 28, 2020, Pottinger began to reach out to Deborah Birx to have her come to the White House to lead the response to the Coronavirus. As Birx recalls in her book: On January 28, after meeting with Erin Walsh to solidify the planning and schedule for the upcoming African Diplomatic Corps State Department meeting, I received a text from Yen Pottinger. Aside from being the wife of my friend Matt, the deputy national security advisor, Yen was also a former colleague at the CDC and a trusted friend and neighbor… Matt had apologized for the short notice and said he hoped we could meet face-to-face. Yen arranged so that I could meet him in the West Wing, and once we were both there, Matt got to the point quickly. He offered me the position of White House spokesperson on the virus. Abutaleb goes into more detail on Birx’s relationship with Pottinger. Pottinger was married to one of Birx’s subordinates who’d developed a widely-used HIV test at the CDC. [Birx] made a number of powerful connections along the way. When she became head of the CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS, one of her subordinates was a bright virologist named Yen Duong, who developed a widely used HIV test while working at the agency. Duong would eventually marry a Wall Street Journal reporter turned marine named Matt Pottinger, a connection that would eventually bring Birx into Trump’s orbit. According to Pottinger and Birx, he pleaded with her over several weeks to head the Coronavirus Task Force, and she reluctantly agreed. The hero we didn’t need. As Birx recalls in her book: It is March 2, 2020. I’ve just flown in overnight from South Africa to take on the role of response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, a job I didn’t seek but felt compelled to accept. I’m physically tired but mentally alert. After weeks of urging from Matthew Pottinger— President Trump’s deputy national security advisor, a task force member himself, and the husband of a former colleague and friend of mine—I finally gave in to Matt’s request that I come on board to help with the response to the coronavirus outbreak… Matt Pottinger, was one of the good ones in the Trump White House. A former journalist turned highly-decorated U.S. Marine who served as an intelligence officer for part of his time, Matt had deep experience in China (including during the 2002–2003 SARS outbreak there) and was fluent in Mandarin. Matt took a position in the National Security Council in the earliest stage of the Trump administration, while still serving in the Marine Reserves. As documented in her bizarre tell-all book, which received uniquely excellent reviews from Chinese state media, Birx then embarked on a months-long, largely clandestine, scorched-earth crusade to orchestrate lockdowns that were as long and strict as possible across the United States. These lockdowns ultimately killed tens of thousands of young Americans while failing to meaningfully slow the spread of the coronavirus everywhere they were tried. By her own admission, she lied, hid data, and manipulated the president’s administration to drive consent for lockdowns that were stricter than the administration realized until finally stepping down soon after breaking her own travel guidance to visit her family for Thanksgiving in November 2020. No sooner had we convinced the Trump administration to implement our version of a two-week shutdown than I was trying to figure out how to extend it. Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread was a start, but I knew it would be just that. I didn’t have the numbers in front of me yet to make the case for extending it longer, but I had two weeks to get them. However hard it had been to get the fifteen-day shutdown approved, getting another one would be more difficult by many orders of magnitude. In October 2020, while visiting Utah, Pottinger admired his handiwork in appointing Birx. Wright reports: Utah had just hit a record high number of new cases. On the ride, an alarm sounded on Pottinger’s cell phone in the saddlebag. It was an alert: “Almost every single county is a high transmission area. Hospitals are nearly overwhelmed. By public health order masks are required in high transmission areas.” Pottinger thought, “Debi must have met with the governor.” 5. Promoting Mass Testing Sometime in February 2020, Pottinger, who has no background in science or public health, appears to have promoted within the White House the idea of mass testing for the coronavirus. Wright recounts: At a Coronavirus Task Force meeting, Redfield announced that the CDC would send a limited number of test kits to five “sentinel cities.” Pottinger was stunned: five cities? Why not send them everywhere? He learned that the CDC makes tests, but not at scale. For that, you have to go to a company like Roche or Abbott—molecular testing powerhouses which have the experience and capacity to manufacture millions of tests a month. Using the standard PCR cycle thresholds of 37 to 40 later provided in the testing guidance published by the WHO, approximately 85% to 90% of these cases were false positives, as later confirmed by The New York Times. 6. Endorsing Remdesivir In March 2020, Pottinger appears to have endorsed use of the drug remdesivir as a possible Covid therapy based on information from a doctor in China. Wright reports: In the early morning of March 4, as Matt Pottinger was driving to the White House, he was on the phone with a source in China, a doctor. Taking notes on the back of an envelope while holding the phone to his ear and navigating the city traffic, Pottinger was excited by all the valuable new information about how the virus was being contained in China. The doctor specifically mentioned the antiviral drug remdesivir. The health outcomes of remdesivir remain unknown, but no benefit to the mortality of its recipients has been proven. 7. Pushing Intelligence to Believe Covid Came From a Lab Pottinger has continually promoted the idea that the coronavirus came from a lab, and specifically prodded the US intelligence community to do the same, regardless of evidence, while urging the global adoption of China’s virus containment measures. In January 2020, Pottinger began directly prodding the CIA to look for evidence that the coronavirus came from a lab in Wuhan, China. As the New York Times disclosed: With his skeptical—some might even say conspiratorial—view of China’s ruling Communist Party, Mr. Pottinger initially suspected that President Xi Jinping’s government was keeping a dark secret: that the virus may have originated in one of the laboratories in Wuhan studying deadly pathogens. In his view, it might have even been a deadly accident unleashed on an unsuspecting Chinese population. During meetings and telephone calls, Mr. Pottinger asked intelligence agencies—including officers at the C.I.A. working on Asia and on weapons of mass destruction—to search for evidence that might bolster his theory. They didn’t have any evidence. Intelligence agencies did not detect any alarm inside the Chinese government that analysts presumed would accompany the accidental leak of a deadly virus from a government laboratory. But Mr. Pottinger continued to believe the coronavirus problem was far worse than the Chinese were acknowledging. Though the CIA did not return any evidence to support his theory, Pottinger has continued to promote the conclusion that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan lab, despite quietly admitting that the virus was not man-made or genetically modified. As CBS reported in its interview on February 21, 2021: MARGARET BRENNAN: U.S. intelligence has said COVID, according to wide scientific consensus, was not man-made or genetically modified. You are not in any way alleging that it was, are you?  MATT POTTINGER: No. Much of the initial alarm that Covid might be a supervirus from the Wuhan lab arose because of the frightening videos of Wuhan residents spontaneously dying in January 2020, and because Xi Jinping decided to shut down Wuhan, where the lab was. However, all of those videos were soon proven fake, and US intelligence has confirmed that the virus was spreading in Wuhan by November 2019 at the latest. A growing body of research suggests that the virus did not start either in the Wuhan lab or the Wuhan wet market, and a number of studies from various continents have shown that the virus was also spreading undetected all over the world by November 2019 at the latest, many months before lockdowns began. Covid’s origins remain a mystery, and leading scientists and policymakers were nowhere near transparent enough about their panic that the virus might have come from a lab in early 2020. However, given that the national security community has quietly admitted Covid is not genetically modified, it began spreading undetected globally many months before lockdowns, and it did not cause Wuhan residents to spontaneously die, the question of whether Covid came from the lab would appear to be a moot point from a national security perspective. Furthermore, in my book and elsewhere, there is a growing body of evidence that the CCP used a variety of clandestine means to promote the idea that Covid came from a lab, both to stoke fear and to mislead the western intelligence community from the CCP’s well-documented campaign for global adoption of China’s virus containment measures. Likewise, Pottinger has continually promoted the idea that Covid came from a lab, and prodded the intelligence community to do the same, while urging the adoption of China’s virus containment measures. Pottinger’s credulousness in sharing and promoting scientific concepts and policies from China including asymptomatic spread, universal masking, quarantines, shutdowns, and remdesivir further belies the notion that the fixation on the Wuhan lab serves any legitimate national security interest. In summary, as Deputy National Security Advisor, Matt Pottinger played a singularly outsized role in shaping America’s disastrous response to Covid by taking the following actions: Throughout January 2020, Pottinger unilaterally called White House meetings unbeknownst to those in attendance and breached protocol to ratchet up alarm about the new coronavirus based on information from his own sources in China, despite having no official intelligence to back up his alarmism. Despite having no background in science or public health, beginning in February 2020, Pottinger embarked on a months-long campaign to urge the adoption of universal masking and travel quarantines in response to the coronavirus based on information from his own sources in China. However, there does not appear to be a single picture of Pottinger wearing a mask anywhere on the Internet. Pottinger popularized the idea of shutdowns within the White House using a questionable study on the 1918 flu pandemic comparing outcomes between Philadelphia and St. Louis, a month before this study received any significant attention from media outlets in 2020. Pottinger specifically courted Deborah Birx to serve as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, who then embarked on a months-long campaign for lockdowns that were as long and strict as possible across the United States. Despite having no background in science or public health, Pottinger appears to have promoted the idea of mass testing for the coronavirus. Pottinger appears to have endorsed use of the drug remdesivir as a possible Covid therapy based on information from a doctor in China. Pottinger has continually promoted the conclusion that the coronavirus came from a lab, and specifically prodded the US intelligence community to do the same, regardless of evidence to support that conclusion, while simultaneously urging the global adoption of China’s virus containment measures. In Pottinger’s speeches, he often discusses the need for more grassroots populism in China. Pottinger may have simply been overly-trusting of his sources, thinking they were the little people in China trying to help their American friends. But why did Pottinger push so hard for sweeping Chinese policies like mask mandates that were far outside his field of expertise? Why did he so often breach protocol? Why seek out and appoint Deborah Birx? Pottinger’s zealousness in endorsing these sweeping policies is even more bewildering because it’s widely known in the intelligence community that the CCP’s primary focus is on information warfare—“superseding their cultural and political values” to those of the west and undermining the western values that Xi Jinping sees as threatening, outlined in his leaked Document No. 9: “independent judiciaries,” “human rights,” “western freedom,” “civil society,” “freedom of the press,” and the “free flow of information on the internet.” Though political conditions in China have deteriorated rapidly, Pottinger is supposed to know that—that’s why he had the Top Secret security clearance and the big job in the National Security Council. In fact, we know how rapidly conditions in China have deteriorated in part because Matt Pottinger is the one who told us. The only reason anyone accepted all this information and guidance from these Chinese sources is that it came through Pottinger. I certainly can’t pass judgment. But from where I’m sitting, it looks like we’ve been struck by a smooth criminal. *  *  * Michael P Senger is an attorney and author of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World. Want to support my work? Get the book. Already got the book? Leave a quick review. The New Normal is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Tyler Durden Sat, 07/23/2022 - 20:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 24th, 2022

The night the Lord of the Skies got away

In 1985, US agents had a chance to stop Mexico's top drug lord. Years later, evidence from that night proved valuable in a way no one could predict. Reuters; John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne night in 1985, US agents may have had a chance to stop the rise of Mexico's most powerful drug lord — a chance they quickly gave up without knowing it. But the evidence gathered that night would prove valuable in a way no one could predict. If he'd blinked he might have missed them.The pair of cars were parked window to window, just off the side of Highway 67, nine miles north of the tiny border town of Presidio, Texas. As David Ramirez cruised by in his dun-colored U.S. Border Patrol sedan, the night sky outside the range of headlights was so pitch-black that he could have been forgiven for not spotting the vehicles.    Ramirez guessed that something was up. Slowing the cruiser, he banged a quick U-turn and headed back. "They were on the side of the road, at that time of night, in that area, which was known for drug trafficking," Ramirez recalled. "And there wasn't any other traffic. We were out there in a patrol vehicle and we saw maybe two other vehicles in a three-hour time span."It was May 1985, and Ramirez had only been with the Border Patrol for two and a half years. But at a posting as remote as southwest Texas, where only a handful of agents were stationed at the time, that qualified him to train the new guy. So, in the passenger seat sat his partner for the evening, a trainee agent learning the ropes as they cruised along this ribbon of pebbles, dust, and potholes masquerading as a state highway.As Ramirez maneuvered his patrol car, two pairs of headlights came on, two engines rumbled to life, and two cars peeled out. A late-model pickup truck went first, and, following closely behind, a big-body, white Mercury Grand Marquis. They were headed south, toward Presidio, and toward Mexico.Ramirez spun the cruiser around once again and sped off in pursuit, flashing his red-and-blues to signal the drivers to stop. The two vehicles ignored him.The Mercury wasn't going that fast, 60, maybe 70 miles-per-hour, but it acted as a sort of rearguard, allowing the driver of the pickup truck to put more and more distance between himself and the Border Patrol agents giving chase. This went on for a while, five minutes maybe. Finally, with the pickup truck out of sight, the driver of the Mercury eased to the side of the road and crunched to a stop. Ramirez knew it was a feint designed to let the other driver — and whatever cargo he might be carrying — get away. But he also knew that at the end of that road, just before the international port of entry, was a Border Patrol station. He radioed ahead for agents to be on the lookout, and turned his focus to the Mercury.Carefully opening his door, Ramirez climbed out of the cruiser, unclasped the snap on his holster, and drew his .38-caliber service revolver, holding it at a downward angle. It had been dark for hours, but in these parts even after midnight  in late spring can be mind-bendingly hot. The thermostat hovered around 95 degrees and the night air hung heavy like a blanket. As Ramirez approached the Mercury from the driver-side door, his heart rate quickened. The ambient sounds of the desert night, the buzz of insects and snuffling of wild javelinas, receded into the background. His training — and his survival instinct — kicked in to guide him. The trainee, armed with a shotgun, mirrored the more experienced agent and sidled toward the car from the passenger side. Speaking in Spanish through the rolled down window, the driver had an easy-does-it, friendly manner. With the trainee standing back, Ramirez holstered his revolver and requested the suspect's documents. The driver obliged.One was a border-crossing card, issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, that allowed Mexicans living close to the border to cross back and forth for errands and jobs.The other document identified the driver as an agent of the Federal Security Directorate, or DFS, a powerful — and phantasmagorically corrupt — branch of Mexico's federal law enforcement. For Ramirez, this didn't prove the man was a cop. The DFS was notorious for its connections to drug traffickers, and its agents were known to hand out fake badges to the smugglers they worked with. But he couldn't be sure the man wasn't a cop.Ramirez asked the man if he had any weapons, and the driver said no, no guns. But peering into the Marquis, Ramirez could see a box of ammo sitting on the passenger seat, clear as day. He asked again. No weapons? You sure about that?David Ramirez (r); John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe driver made no attempt to keep the lie going and admitted that, sure, he had a small gun in the trunk. On Ramirez' orders, the driver opened the door and walked around to the rear to pop the trunk. The "small gun" turned out to be a loaded AR-15 assault rifle.Ramirez eyed the driver more closely now. He stood about six feet tall, trim and lanky, and dressed like a well-heeled cowboy, with nice boots and well-fitting clothes. Despite everything, he seemed relaxed. Ramirez gave the driver a careful patdown and, finding no other weapons on him, escorted him back to the Border Patrol cruiser and directed him into the back seat, locking him in there but deciding not to place him in handcuffs, given the DFS badge."In any law enforcement, I would say there's a certain courtesy you give to [other] law enforcement," Ramirez told me. "As a young agent, I didn't really know how to deal with it. I was naive."The trainee took the keys to the Mercury and started back to the station at the Presidio-Ojinaga border. Ramirez followed. In the backseat, the driver sat – quiet, calm, no fuss.The man's name, according to his INS card and DFS badge, was Amado Carrillo Fuentes.The Lord of the Skies Within a decade of that traffic stop, Amado would be the most significant drug trafficker in Mexico. His knack for using airplanes to smuggle huge quantities of drugs earned him the nickname "el señor de los cielos," the Lord of the Skies, and, to this day, he is easily the most prolific and most powerful drug lord the country has ever seen. His would be a household name in Mexico and a curse on the lips of U.S. federal agents tasked with fighting the narcotics trade. Another two decades after that, he would feature prominently as the absurdly white-washed protagonist of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico. But on the night David Ramirez encountered him on that desolate stretch of Highway 67, Amado was just one trafficker among many. Not a nobody, certainly, but his photo wouldn't yet be on any police bulletin boards, nor his name in any newspapers.Amado was then 28 years old, and for years he had found a comfortable niche for himself in the growing drug empire run by his uncle — a fearsome brute named Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca — Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, and Rafael Caro Quintero. Like nearly all major drug traffickers of the era — including Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, who was born around the same time as Amado — they all hailed from the northwestern state of Sinaloa. But they ran their operation out of the city of Guadalajara, and became known as the Guadalajara cartel. As the demand for cocaine began to surge in the late 1970s and exploded in the early 1980s, most cocaine headed to the U.S. from Colombia, across the Caribbean, and into Florida. But as the DEA and the Coast Guard cracked down on that route, the Colombians needed a new way of getting drugs north The syndicate that Don Neto, Félix Gallardo, and Caro Quintero operated, which previously focused on heroin and marijuana and was well positioned to offer an alternative route to their new friends in Colombia, was busy forging contacts with Colombian cocaine suppliers. Within a few years, the Mexican traffickers had become an integral link in the chain that saw cocaine travel by air from its roots high in the Andes to labs in the jungles of Colombia to local smugglers in Mexico, and finally to an eager customer base in the United States. Using the staggering infusion of cash that came along with their new specialty in moving cocaine, the Guadalajara network was able to bring most of the major drug traffickers in Mexico under a unified protection racket negotiated by Félix Gallardo and overseen by the DFS and other federal police agencies.Amado, who was quickly gaining a reputation for being cool-headed and having a talent for forging political connections, played a key role in this transformation of the drug game, coordinating cargo planes, loaded down with hundreds — and later thousands — of kilos of coke, to clandestine air strips in northern Mexico.An act of supreme recklessnessEverything changed, however, just a few months before Amado was stopped in southwest Texas. In February 1985, a group of gunmen snatched a young DEA agent named Enrique "Kiki" Camarena off the streets of Guadalajara, tortured and murdered him along with a pilot who'd worked with the DEA, and dumped their bodies on a distant ranch. Amado Carrillo Fuentes (c). Henry Romero/Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe brutal kidnapping, torture, and murder of a U.S. federal agent was an act of supreme recklessness and the consequences were sweeping. By April, Don Neto and Caro Quintero were in prison, Félix Gallardo was in hiding, and the network they had carefully built and paid a fortune to protect was in disarray, cracking under the pressure of a vengeful United States, and the obligatory, if belated, efforts of Mexican cops. (Just this month, on July 15, Caro Quintero was arrested in Mexico in a joint U.S.-Mexican operation. In 2013, while serving a 40-year sentence for the murders, a Mexican court had ordered Caro Quintero released. U.S. officials immediately sought to re-arrest him, adding him to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, but Caro Quintero went into hiding. During the operation on July 15, 14 marines died when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed outside the city of Los Mochis. A few days after the re-capture of Caro Quintero, in a seemingly unrelated move, Félix Gallardo officially trademarked his own name, apparently for a fashion brand.)Mid-level traffickers who were lucky or savvy enough to escape the dragnet exploited a sudden power vacuum and set up territorial fiefdoms, negotiating new protection pacts with corrupt officials and continuing to traffic all the cocaine, heroin, and marijuana that North Americans could sniff, shoot up?, or smoke.Amado was one of those survivors, but he couldn't stay in Guadalajara. So he headed to Ojinaga, just across the border from Presidio, Texas, where he joined forces with a rough-and-tumble smuggler named Pablo Acosta. The Wild West At the northern extreme of the Chihuahuan Desert and the southwest extreme of Texas, Presidio sits just east of Ojinaga — rather than the proverbial "north of the border," as the Rio Grande runs south there. Located just to the south and east lies Big Bend National Park, and with its canyons, culverts, and deep ravines scored into the earth over millennia, the landscape is such a godsend to smugglers of all kinds that it could almost seem as if it was created for that express purpose.   For as long as the border has divided Presidio and Ojinaga, this remote land has been a causeway for smugglers looking to take advantage of prohibition in the U.S. — first of alcohol, later of marijuana and heroin, and finally cocaine — and of Mexico's booming black market for illegally imported commercial goods that resulted from the country's high tariffs.David Ramirez, a native of of El Paso, arrived in Presidio in 1982, shortly after joining the Border Patrol. He could almost count his fellow agents on two hands, and together they were tasked with patrolling not only the port of entry, with its wooden, two lane bridge crossing the river, but also the vast desert landscape stretching out on either side. (It was still many years before the Border Patrol would morph into the veritable army that polices the border today, with its drones, seismic motion sensors, and agents more numerous than the armies of more than a dozen small nations.) "We often had no radio comms, and all of Big Bend [National Park] to deal with," Ramirez recalled. "It was like the Wild West."Ramirez and his fellow agents may have had the might of the U.S. government at their backs, but down in Presidio, with the drug trade in overdrive, they were tilting at windmills.It wasn't like they could rely much on the Mexican authorities across the border either. The dirty and not so well-kept secret of the drug trade in Mexico is that it is inextricably tied to and controlled by extra-official protection rackets run by corrupt members of the country's business, political, and judicial elite. Just like every other lucrative smuggling corridor along the border, Ojinaga was controlled by a local boss. For much of the 1970s, that person had been Manuel Carrasco; when he eventually ran afoul of too many people he fled town and with time — and after a few shootouts — control passed to an up-and-coming trafficker named Pablo Acosta. 'He's their guy'According to the journalist Terrence Poppa, who chronicled the rise and fall of Acosta in his 1991 book "Drug Lord," Acosta came to power in Ojinaga in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and by 1982 he was either directly involved with, or charging a tax on, all illegal merchandise flowing across the border.Acosta, like Amado, was treated to a sympathetic portrayal in Narcos: Mexico. The actor Gerardo Taraceno plays Acosta up as a sentimental, old-school cowboy — reckless and violent at times, sure, but living by a code of honor and harboring a sentimental streak to boot. This flies in the face of all available evidence. Poppa — and a number of sources I spoke with who either investigated Acosta or did business with him — said that the real-life Acosta was a brutal thug, quick to mete out violence and shocking cruelty against anyone he saw as a threat. He shot men down in the street in broad daylight, subjected people to brutal torture, and was said to have once strapped a rival to the back of his pickup truck and dragged him to his bloody, horrible death. And as the years wore on, Acosta grew ever more erratic, thanks in part to his growing number of enemies and also to his fondness for basuco, a crude cocaine paste that he sprinkled into cigarettes and smoked around the clock.He was, in other words, the polar opposite of Amado. Little is known of Amado and Acosta's working relationship, one the young face of the drug trade to come and the other the proud, battle-scarred avatar of what came before. Amado was there not to do Acosta's bidding but to look after the interests of his uncle's syndicate in Guadalajara, which was increasingly coordinating shipments of cocaine on behalf of the Colombians and moving it through Ojinaga. David Ramirez (r); Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne player who had the opportunity — or misfortune — to see that dynamic up close was Don Henry Ford, Jr, a former drug trafficker working in the region in the '70s and '80s."Amado Carrillo was never working for Pablo Acosta, not for one fucking day," Ford told me. "He represents the big guys down there, the cartel, he's their guy."When Pablo Acosta was finally gunned down in a raid by Mexican police in the tiny village of his birth in 1987, rumors immediately proliferated that Amado had paid a corrupt police commander $1 million to take him out. Unrepentant cowboyIf Ramirez that night in 1985 saw the amiable, confident face that Amado showed when being detained, Don Henry Ford Jr., two years prior, saw something closer to the real Amado — the careful balance of friendly and ruthless with which Amado gained the trust of business partners and government benefactors, while rooting out potential traitors and rivals.Ford grew up on a Texas ranch a few hundred miles north of the border, but as his family's business started to fail in the late 1970s he began to drift down to Mexico, making trips back and forth across the border in search of easy money and unlimited weed."You may consider one side Mexico and one the U.S., but it ain't either. It's the border," Ford told me recently when I reached him by phone. "People in Presidio and Ojinaga have more in common with each other than with anyone in Washington or Mexico City."By the time I talked to him, Ford had been out of the drug game for decades. The beginning of the end had come in 1986 when he was arrested in Texas but then managed to escape and spend a year or so as an honest-to-god fugitive outlaw, laying low in a tiny communal ejido south of the border, guarding multi-ton shipments of Colombian weed in a cave with just a rifle by his side. In 1987, he was caught while moving about a hundred pounds of weed in southern Texas and ended up serving seven years of a 15-year sentence before being released on good behavior — after which he spent another few years under tight restrictions, pissing in a cup for his parole officer as many as three times a week. As much as he hated giving up those years to prison and parole, Ford knows how lucky he was: less than a year after his second arrest, in 1988, the US eliminated parole for federal offenses and introduced mandatory minimums for large-scale drug trafficking. If he'd been busted any later, he could have spent the rest of his life behind bars, as did many drug traffickers — particularly Black and Brown people — sentenced amid the drastic ramping up of the U.S. war on drugs.He put that life behind him — raised kids, raised cattle, and even put aside some land and a business to pass on to his children. But he still has the spark of an outlaw in his voice. Even his email address, which includes the words "unrepentant cowboy," makes clear that he remains resolutely nonconformist. The south Texas ranch where Ford spends his days is so remote that his cell phone barely gets a signal. When we spoke, his voice crackled out of earshot every time he moved in the wrong direction or when he sat down.Ford had a rather haphazard start as a drug trafficker, running into some greedy cops on his first trip to Mexico who were happy to relieve him of his seed money and send him packing. But before long he found a knack for the business, and developed a lucrative operation trading with a loose network of marijuana growers and wholesalers, trafficking hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in weed at a time.He did most of his business in the state of Coahuila, east of Acosta's territory in Chihuahua, where he could work without having to deal with Acosta, who he knew by reputation to be a fickle and violent man. Years later, Ford would find that out firsthand, when he was attacked by men he believes to have been working for Acosta, and interrogated at length by a man he believes to be Acosta himself. He believes it to have been Acosta because he was blindfolded, and Ford is not one to say things he's not 100% sure of. (I had to take Ford's word on this incident, as there's no record of it aside from Ford's memory of the experience, and Acosta is not around to confirm it.)But before his near-death encounter with Acosta, it was in Coahuila, in the home of his main connect, a guy named Oscar, that he first met Amado around 1983.Their first meeting was just in passing; Amado was one of several cowboy-looking guys milling about during a visit to the home of his partner, where Ford was visiting on one of his many trips south to score wholesale loads of weed. Amado was dressed, like the rest of the guys, in wide-cut polyester pants and the boots popular with Mexican cowboys with a high, slanted Spanish riding heel."He didn't look like anybody extraordinary at all, he looked like Oscar was giving him some work on the farm," Ford told me. "He wasn't wearing a bunch of gold jewelry and shit that would give away the sense of being wealthy. His boots were worn."For most of his career, Ford had stuck to marijuana. And even in the early years of the cocaine boom he said he could see the effect that the introduction of cocaine was having on the business of smuggling. Guys he had known to be sworn pacifists motivated by peace and love as much as money, began carrying weapons, acting all jittery."All of a sudden it was like Miami Vice," he recalled. But he wasn't so altruistic as to turn down good business, and it soon became clear to him that the real money was in cocaine. He wanted in. So he made some inquiries and was told the person to talk to was Amado — that quiet guy in cowboy boots he'd met once a while back.The meeting happened sometime in 1983, just Ford, his cousin, his partner Oscar, and Amado in a motel room in the city of Torreon, in the southern reaches of Coahuila. It started off well enough — like many meetings between drug traffickers, it was mostly a chance to size each other up. Amado brought with him some of the product he had on hand, and for a few hours, the wirey Texan and the Sinaloan trafficker hung out, drank, sniffed cocaine, and chatted pleasantly. Just as Ramirez would observe later, Ford recalled Amado as a smooth customer, calm and collected but friendly. Even a few drinks and a few lines deep, Amado kept his wits about him."He did a lot more listening than he did talking," Ford said.Ford liked that, and he told Amado that he didn't have any interest in working with a hothead like Acosta."I told him 'If you're like that, I don't wanna do business with you,'" Ford said. "I'm interested in fuckin' moving some drugs and making some money."Ford and Amado didn't make a deal that night, but Ford said they agreed to "something tentative." When it was time for Amado to go, but he left the remaining coke as a gift, more where that came from, and Ford and his cousin set about enjoying it.Rachel Mendelson/InsiderA few hours later, as they were trying to sleep off their coke jitters, there came a series of thunderous knocks on the door, bam-bam-bam, and chaos descended on them. A team of heavily armed men rushed into the hotel room. They wore no uniforms, but they moved with such trained precision that Ford immediately took them for cops of some sort. Over the next few hours, he said, they questioned the pair relentlessly."This motherfucker did this to see if I was a cop," Ford said. "He didn't trust us, and decided he was gonna find out who we were."He never saw Amado again.200 miles from El PasoTwo years or so after Ford met him in Torreon, Amado sat patiently in the Border Patrol station in Presidio with agent David Ramirez. The other driver, the one Amado had slowed down to let escape, had made it to the point of entry. His car was clean and, after showing his ID — along with a DFS badge like Amado's — the agents who spoke to him had nothing to charge him with, and let him cruise back into Mexico. (In an interview, Ramirez told me ruefully that he had written the man's name down in his notebook but later lost it, and the question of the man's identity piques his curiosity to this day.)As for Amado, Ramirez may not have caught him trafficking drugs in flagrante, nor had he proven any collusion with the driver of the pickup truck. But there was the AR-15 he'd found in the trunk. For a nonresident of the United States, it was a serious crime to be in possession of a loaded assault rifle. If charges were brought, it could have earned him a few solid years in a federal prison. No one knew it then, but that could have put a serious crimp in Amado's upward trajectory. But that wasn't the purview of the Border Patrol. If they were going to hold Amado, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms — 200 miles away in El Paso — would have to get involved. If they agreed, someone would have to come in from El Paso, a four-hour drive away, bring Amado back, and then take him to magistrate court in Pecos, another two-hour drive from El PasoRamirez made the call, and waited. In the meantime, in case Amado would be charged, Ramirez fingerprinted the suspect, and took a couple mugshots.By now it was around three in the morning. Amado had been pretty quiet as they drove into Presidio, but sitting in the Border Patrol station, he started to open up a bit more, chatting with Ramirez, even boasting a bit as they made small talk to kill time."The guy, once again, had not a worry in the world," Ramirez said. "Real easy guy, and you know it was strange, he offered a lot of info, like that his uncle was Don Neto and that Caro Quintero was his partner."It might seem strange that an experienced heavy in the drug trade would brag about his connections to a well-known trafficker like Don Neto and the notorious killer of a federal agent like Caro Quintero, but the code of silence only applies to the saps at the bottom of the totem pole, or to the civilians ensnared in the web of violence, corruption, and extortion that funnels money up to the bosses. For the guys making the real money, the relationship with law enforcement is a lot more fluid, with a lot more give and take. Perhaps Amado saw an opportunity to cultivate a contact, pocket a card that he could play at a later date. Or maybe he just knew that no ATF agents were getting their asses out of bed at three in the morning and driving all the way to Presidio and back to book him. Much more likely was that he'd be back in Mexico by sun-up no matter what he said to Ramirez.An hour passed, and then Ramirez got word from the Bureau that they weren't going to bother with this one. Coming all that distance to Presidio, it was too much trouble. So he let Amado go. Ramirez held on to the box of ammo, but Amado drove back into Mexico a free man with the illegal AR-15 in his trunk.'You can't live in what-ifs'Looking back to that night in Presidio in 1985, It's hard to fathom how it was possible that agents of the federal government had one of the top drug traffickers in Mexico in their custody and didn't even know it. But according to Ramirez, that was par for the course back then. "At that time, in that area, there was no intelligence collection. It was very primitive," he said. "We were patrol, we weren't really trained for intelligence gathering. Unfortunately that was the attitude back then."Ramirez doesn't pester himself much wondering how things might have gone if the ATF had bothered to haul Amado in. "He coulda done some time, sure," Ramirez replied when I pushed the point. "But you can't live in what-ifs."After that night in 1985, Ramirez would see Amado from time to time around town on the other side of the border. Ramirez would mostly avert his gaze so as not to make eye contact with the man whose night he'd ruined. He saw him at the border crossing too, and from the way Amado carried himself there, Ramirez said he could tell Amado had pull among Mexican officials."He was a charismatic kinda guy," Ramirez recalled. "He made friends with the inspectors there on the U.S. side, the Customs inspectors and the immigration inspectors, invited them to his ranch and they would go over and come back and tell about the cookouts and the time they had." One of the inspectors even invited Ramirez to the party. Ramirez politely declined.Whatever scrutiny caused him to flee Guadalajara did not appear to have followed Amado to Ojinaga, according to Ramirez. "He wasn't hiding! I mean he was out in the open," Ramirez said with some bemusement.In the years that followed, Amado continued to plot his deliberate, careful rise to power. That evening he spent with Ramirez would go down as his only known brush with US authorities — or at least the only one in which he was a suspected criminal rather than a guy asking Customs inspectors over for lunch. Alongside other major traffickers of his generation, like "El Chapo" in Sinaloa and Sonora and the Arellano-Félix brothers in Tijuana, Amado expertly navigated every power vacuum that presented itself — or triggered power vacuums himself. By the late 1980s Amado had moved his base of operations to Ciudad Juárez, the sprawling metropolis that sits across the river from El Paso, where the multiple ports of entry allow a far greater amount of train, truck, and car traffic — and contraband — than Ojinaga ever could. It was there that Amado truly came into his own, controlling organized crime in the city so tightly that normal, everyday street crime became a rarity, lest criminals incur the wrath of the henchmen tasked with keeping things quiet and orderly. David Ramirez had left Presidio as well, transferring to his hometown of El Paso, where he began doing undercover work investigating trafficking networks alongside Mexican cops. He saw firsthand the control that Amado exercised in the city.He even saw Amado once. Ramirez was in Juárez, eating breakfast with some Mexican colleagues, including a federal police commander, when who walks in but Amado, surrounded by a swarm of burly, heavily armed guards. Amado made a beeline for their table and greeted the commander warmly as Ramirez studied his food and preyed that he wouldn't be recognized. "I thought 'oh shoot, this is the guy I arrested!'" Ramirez recalled. "Everybody says they're looking for him, and he's right there!" Once again, though, Ramirez's hands were tied: no matter how much the U.S. might want its hands on Amado, he was out of reach in Mexico, where his massive web of bribes and political connections made him largely untouchable. Still, even if Ramirez's actions did nothing to stop Amado's rise to power, it wasn't all for naught.The Lord of the Skies is deadOn July 3, 1997, Amado Carrillo Fuentes entered Hospital Ángeles Santa Mónica in the ritzy Mexico City neighborhood of Polanco. Amado had had a rough time of it recently, and it would have shown, his voracious cocaine habit and relentless workload taking their toll on his face and his increasingly heavy frame. The hospital was under heavy security, with an entire wing shut down for the guest of honor's privacy. Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderAmado was by now the undisputed public face of the drug trade in Mexico, with mansions all over the country and countless men doing his bidding. Being the boss is great for a guy like Amado, but not if everyone knows it. In Juárez he and his henchmen had worked hard to keep his name out of the papers, intimidating and threatening journalists and even discouraging singers from composing narcocorridos, the norteño ballads penned in honor of prominent drug traffickers that form an important role in the folk history of organized crime in Mexico. But when you amass power and wealth like Amado had, you can only remain in the shadows for so long. Things had really taken a turn for Amado that February, when one of his most important guardian angels — General Jesús Héctor Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico's drug czar  — was arrested and publicly accused of collaboration with Amado. Just a few months earlier, Guttierrez Rebollo had been feted in Washington, described by his American counterpart as "a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity." So it was with a deeply embarrassed vengeance that the attention of both governments now trained itself on Amado.Amado knew as well as anyone that a drug lord's days are numbered as soon as he becomes a liability to the government. By multiple accounts, Amado started looking for an exit almost immediately. He bought property in Chile, moved money abroad, and was even rumored to have approached contacts in the government to offer a massive bribe in exchange for his freedom to retire in anonymity.On July 3, he checked in under a fake name at the hospital in Polanco to undergo plastic surgery to alter his features. (Or, it was rumored later, for a bit of liposuction. It may have been both.)He was never seen alive again.The next day, July 4, about two miles away from the hospital in the similarly posh Lomas Altas neighborhood, Fourth of July festivities were underway at the fortress-like mansion that was home to the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Diplomats and dignitaries, bureaucrats and spooks were spread out across the lawn, mingling with their spouses. Among the revelers were a handful of agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who, as Amado might have suspected, had been racing to pin down Amado before he could vanish.Their day off came to a sudden end when one of the DEA agents got a call. According to his source, Amado had succumbed to an overdose on the operating table and the body was headed for burial in his home state of Sinaloa.The call kicked off a furious race by U.S. and Mexican officials alike desperate to confirm the drug lord's death. Rumors were swirling that it was all a lie, that Amado couldn't possibly be dead, and to quiet this talk Mexican officials would a few days later take the extraordinary step of laying out Amado's body — puffy by now; his skin a ghastly grey-green — for a viewing at a government building in Mexico City, inviting journalists to show his corpse to the world.Meanwhile, a young intelligence officer for the DEA named Larry Villalobos was racking his brains to think of a way to confirm that the body was Amado's.Then it hit him: the fingerprints. Villalobos had worked for a while as a fingerprint technician with the FBI before joining the DEA, and, prior to his posting in Mexico City, he had been stationed at the DEA field office in El Paso, where he'd helped build a dossier on Amado. As part of his research, he had learned of Amado's brief detention by Border Patrol agent David Ramirez back in 1985, and he knew Ramirez had taken Amado's mugshot and fingerprints. Villalobos made some calls, and it wasn't long before Ramirez found himself awoken by the ring of his telephone. Amado may not have been worth getting out of bed for when Ramirez called the ATF back in 1985, but he sure was now.."They called me about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, wanting to know if I still had his prints," Ramirez recalled rather matter-of-factly. "So I dug 'em up and I sent 'em to him."In Mexico City, Villalobos received a fax of the prints and headed to the morgue to compare them with those belonging to the corpse.They were a match.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 22nd, 2022

How Victoria"s Secret former head Les Wexner went from small-town Ohio shopkeeper to billionaire in hot water for his ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein

Les Wexner stepped down as CEO of Victoria's Secret's former parent company L Brands in 2020 after facing scrutiny for his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender who died in 2019. L Brands' Les Wexner is one of America's longest-serving CEOs.Nicholas Hunt/Getty Les Wexner founded L Brands, the former parent company of Victoria's Secret, in 1963. The billionaire stepped down as chairman and CEO of L Brands in 2020, after facing scrutiny for his ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Here's the story of Wexner's rise from a small business owner to a billionaire CEO — and his complicated relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Les Wexner is the founder L Brands, the company that owned Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works before it was split into separate entities in 2021.With an estimated net worth of $5.6 billion, he was one of America's longest-serving CEOs, according to Forbes. In 2019, Wexner came under scrutiny for his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, his former financial advisor. The two were described as "close personal friends" in a 2002 lawsuit.Read more: The CEO of Victoria's Secret's parent company was one of Jeffrey Epstein's only known clients, and the 2 were 'close personal friends'Wexner's relationship with Epstein was deep-rooted and problematic to those around him, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Throughout the two-decades-long relationship, Wexner reportedly paid Epstein millions of dollars in fees and involved the financier in his family matters.Epstein also reportedly meddled in the model selection process for Victoria's Secret, The New York Times reported.  Though Wexner has said he regrets any association with Epstein, the two have an entangled past. The question of Wexner's relationship with Epstein was heightened in the wake of Epstein's sex-trafficking charges.Epstein died by suicide in his cell on August 10, 2019 while awaiting his trial. Wexner has since severed his ties with L Brands, stepping down as chairman and CEO in 2020 and selling his majority stake in the company.Wexner wasn't always a billionaire, however. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, to Russian immigrants, attended The Ohio State University, and served in the Air National Guard. He then went to work in his parents' business, a small store called Leslie's, starting him on the path to retail.This is the story of how Wexner went from his first serious go at retail with The Limited to his leap to billionaire CEO of L Brands — and ultimately to his entanglement with Epstein. Leslie "Les" Wexner was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1937 to Russian immigrants. Wexner attended The Ohio State University and served in the Air National Guard. He then went to work in his parents' business, a small store called Leslie's.AP Photo/Matt SullivanSource: L BrandsIn 2013, Wexner donated $100 million to his alma mater. He would serve on the university's Board of Trustees for two terms throughout his life.Wikimedia CommonsSource: Jewish Business NewsThough Wexner initially planned to pursue a career in law, he decided to enter the field of fashion retail. In 1963, he took a $5,000 loan from his aunt to open his own store called The Limited, which focused on selling only a few types of inexpensive clothing and competed with his parents' store.L BrandsSource: Jewish Business News, Town and CountryWexner made $20,000 in profit in his first year running the store. In the next decade, Wexner opened 41 stores, and he was selling $26 million worth of merchandise by 1973. He decided to focus on the female customer and launched Express in 1980.Wikimedia CommonsSource: ForbesIn 1982, Wexner became interested in a small lingerie chain, Victoria's Secret. He bought the failing chain of San Francisco shops for $1 million and began to revitalize the chain into what would become the largest lingerie retailer in the US.L BrandsSource: ForbesVictoria's Secret was soaring by the early 1990s. It had over 350 stores, and its sales were more than $1 billion.YouTube/Derek DahlsadSource: The TelegraphIn the 1980s, Wexner was looking to expand his interests beyond retail. He was specifically interested in developing luxury homes in New Albany, Ohio. He bought land for his own mansion there in the late 1980s and eventually designed the entire 10,000-acre town through his development firm, The New Albany Co.Vimeo/The New Albany CompanySource: The New York Times, Business Insider, BloombergIn the mid-to-late-1980s, a mutual acquaintance introduced Wexner to Jeffrey Epstein, a financial advisor, to assist Wexner in his new business ventures. After they met, the two reportedly began to spend a lot of time together.Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in Cambridge, MA on 9/8/04. Epstein is connected with several prominent people including politicians, actors and academics. Epstein was convicted of having sex with an underaged woman.Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty ImagesSource: The New York TimesWexner married Abigail S. Koppel on January 23, 1993 in New Albany. Koppel, a lawyer, graduated from Barnard College and New York University's law school. By this time, Epstein was already enmeshed in Wexner's personal and financial affairs, according to The New York Times.Jay LaPrete/AP ImagesSource: The New York TimesIn July 1991, Wexner signed a document that gave Epstein power of attorney, which granted Epstein the "full power and authority to do and perform every act necessary” on behalf of Wexner, The New York Times reported.Jeffrey Epstein was arrested Saturday evening on charges of sex trafficking of minors.Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty ImagesSource: The New York TimesOver the next 16 years, Epstein proceeded to meddle in various aspects of Wexner's business and personal affairs. In these years, Epstein acquired mansions in New York and Ohio, as well as a private plane that had been owned by Wexner or his companies previously. Wexner is one of Epstein's only known clients. Wexner and Epstein Astrid Stawiarz and Patrick McMullan/Getty ImagesSource: The New York Times, Business Insider, Vanity FairIn 2002, Epstein attempted to give Wexner a $339,000 portrait — a move that led to a lawsuit. In the lawsuit over payment for the painting, between Epstein and the artist, Wexner and his wife were described as Epstein's "clients and close personal friends."Jay LaPrete/AP ImagesSource: Business InsiderIn 2018, Wexner began to vocalize criticism against President Donald Trump. In January of that year, Wexner criticized the president's rhetoric on immigration via an online video.L Brands' Les Wexner is one of America's longest-serving CEOs.Nicholas Hunt/GettySource: Business InsiderEventually, Wexner announced he no longer considered himself a Republican, claiming he had experienced enough of the "nonsense" of that party.AP Photo/Jay LaPreteSource: Business InsiderMeanwhile, Victoria's Secret has been criticized by people both inside and outside the fashion industry for its lack of diversity and unrealistic portrayals of women.AP ImagesSource: Business InsiderEverything came to a head in July 2019. Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking of minors. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.Epstein's home, where many of the alleged sexual encounters occurred, is pictured above in Palm Beach.Emily Michot/Miami Herald/TNS via GettySource: Business InsiderAfter Epstein was arrested, Wexner came under scrutiny for his close relationship with the financier. The Wall Street Journal reported that Epstein had an unusual amount of influence in matters that should have been considered outside of his jurisdiction, such as his attempts to meddle in the selection of Victoria's Secret models.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty ImagesSource: The Wall Street Journal, Business InsiderWexner wrote in a company memo after Epstein's arrest that he had been unaware of the charges that were being brought against his former financier. He also said he regretted that his "path ever crossed" Epstein's, and that he cut all ties with Epstein 12 years ago.L BrandsSource: The Wall Street Journal, Business InsiderL Brands hired an outside law firm to investigate Epstein's ties to the company. A spokeswoman for L Brands told Business Insider that the company does not believe that Epstein ever "served as an authorized representative of the company."Getty/Astrid StawiarzSource: Business InsiderIn a letter to the Wexner Foundation, Wexner said that Epstein had misappropriated vast amounts of money from him and his family when Epstein was his financial advisor. Though Wexner didn't specify an amount, The Wall Street Journal estimated a sum of more than $46 million.Les Wexner and Ed Razek pose backstage at the 2016 Fragrance Foundation Awards presented by Hearst Magazines - Show on June 7, 2016 in New York City.Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Fragrance FoundationSource: The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Wexner FoundationAfter nearly six decades with the company, Wexner stepped down as chairman and CEO of L Brands in 2020. He later sold his majority stake, $2 billion in shares, and essentially severed all ties with L Brands.Les WexnerJay LaPrete/APSource: Business Insider, ForbesVictoria's Secret now operates as an independent company and has since tried to rebrand into a lingerie retailer that's more inclusive.Victoria's Secret in London.Mike Kemp/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 14th, 2022

Wynn Resorts, Sands And MGM Resorts CEOs On The Industry’s Future

The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Craig Billings, Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) CEO, Robert Goldstein, Sands Chairman and CEO, and Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) CEO, from the CNBC Evolve Global Summit, which took place today, Wednesday, July 13th. Video from the interview will be available at cnbc.com/evolve. Interview With […] The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Craig Billings, Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) CEO, Robert Goldstein, Sands Chairman and CEO, and Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) CEO, from the CNBC Evolve Global Summit, which took place today, Wednesday, July 13th. Video from the interview will be available at cnbc.com/evolve. Interview With Wynn Resorts, Sands And MGM Resorts CEOs CONTESSA BREWER: So I want to thank you for joining me today. Part of the reason I wanted to invite you, Craig billings, Bill Hornbuckle, Rob Goldstein, to this conversation is because you’re all leading companies that are iconic global casino brands whose imprint of the founders are clearly visible, not just in your properties or just in Las Vegas but around the world. I guess I’ll just begin with can you set the scene for me about where we are when we know that people are here and they’re enjoying what Las Vegas has to offer and the demand is persistent in spite of rising inflationary pressures. Bill, what are you seeing – what do you see for the next half of the year and where’s the industry going? if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Find A Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. BILL HORNBUCKLE: I do believe there's been a change. I do believe that how people are going to experiences how they think about travel, how they think about whether there was initially Covid money or not, how they think about what they want to do with their free time is a creed to Las Vegas and to us in a large way. And we're seeing it. Is there a recession around the corner? Time to tell. You wouldn't know by looking at this place last night, or what we've experienced over the last couple of quarters. And I think about the environment we're in today in employment and getting people to come to work. It's an interesting environment that we're all in. But I'm extremely optimistic about the space, about the experience economy, and where we belong in it. And so you know, I'm very positive, generally speaking. BREWER: What are you seeing right now, Craig? CRAIG BILLINGS: We spent much of the Covid period really just continuing to invest. Invest in our people, invest in our business, and that's borne fruit. And I think we see that every day both in our customer satisfaction surveys and in our numbers. So it's been great over the course of the past few months. On the founder point that you raised, you know, obviously, our founder changed very rapidly. Our founder left very rapidly. And for us, it was really there were kind of three buckets of things that we had to think about. The first was what needed to change very quickly – certain points on governance, the board, etc. The second is that which would never change, really that founder’s mindset, that sense of ownership all the way down to the line level, accountability and our design and development capabilities. And then that which we could evolve. And that's really a multi-year journey. And so much of what we've seen over the course of the past six months is the fruit of that evolution. So you see it in our food and beverage program, you see it in the way we use social media, you see it in our entertainment program. And so we've started to see, you know, that bear fruit and really it's early days in that evolution. BREWER: What do you think? ROB GOLDSTEIN: Well, I’m not in Las Vegas anymore. We sold our properties as you well know, and these guys know. Thrilled to see the rebound of Las Vegas. I’ve been a citizen here for almost 30 years and very proud of the city. A huge fan of it. We are experiencing a different situation because we're Asia- bound. Macao we both have properties – all of us have properties there and it's struggling, as you know. For me, having been with Sheldon Adelson for decades, it's a very difficult time for us emotionally. We sold Las Vegas, it was very hard for me. We sold it for different reasons than people understand. And I think, you know, Sheldon did something that I'll never forget during the Covid time when everybody else was laying people off and I had made a proposal to the board to follow suit. And he tapped me on the shoulder like this. He said, “Rob, not doing that.” I said, “Not doing what?” He said, “I'm not laying people off.” I thought he was confused. So I took him aside explained to him. He said, “I'm not confused.” He said, “I'm not laying people off.” He had a very strong belief in culture and people. And that today resonates with us since we succeed him and try carry on the legacy both in Macao and Singapore. Maybe again in the U.S. at some point. BREWER: But it's really expensive. I mean, if you're in an industry that – GOLDSTEIN: Yes, very expensive. When I told him how much it was, he was very sweet. He said, “Rob I can afford it. We can afford it.” And he said, “I'm not going to fire people. They have made me very wealthy, it's my time to give back to them.” And Sheldon, I had the privilege of watching him on two fronts. Very much a believer in culture and longevity and sustainability with the staff, with the people working with us. And secondly, a big believer in strategic thinking. Sheldon never did anything – whether it being Macao, Singapore, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, any jurisdiction we tried to go to his first thought was, “what do I bring the table strategically? Why am I different?” And he did it here in Las Vegas and he authored this whole MICE strategy which people thought was hilarious – BREWER: Which is basically convention business, right? Making this – GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, I'm sorry. Yes, convention-based group business was Sheldon's calling card. He grew up in it through Comdex. But my point is all these people we are referencing had a strong strategic perspective of a people, culture thought process. And say what you want about those. Different people have different perspectives. And I think so the fellas that we all came to work for they saw things a different way. They had huge vision and a huge appetite for risk. BILLINGS: Steve was a true founder at heart in every way. And you know, the way that he ran the business was as a founder. Very high accountability, very small corporate staff. And you have to make sure that that continues. And you have to actually take that legacy, be a steward to that legacy, and evolve it. And I think Rob, you said that, too. You can't be afraid to evolve it and make sure that you can meet changing consumer needs and changing consumer trends and stay relevant. But you have to maintain the core and soul of who the business is and who the team is. BREWER: Did that make a difference for Wynn when we saw this massive hiring squeeze when everybody around the nation were desperate for workers? Did that soul of Wynn make a difference in how you were able to retain talent? Attract talent? BILLINGS: No doubt. No doubt it did. I mean, we similar to what Rob was talking about, we too, didn't lay anybody off during the shutdown because you can't reassemble our team in a short period of time. It takes years and years and years to do. And so when we reopened, we actually had a team that was energized, that felt great about where they worked. And our turnover has reflected that. BREWER: You know, it strikes me too, that you're seeing all this boom here. I just can't get over that you can look at Encore Boston Harbor and see that it is out earning any single property you have in Macao. The thought of that before the pandemic would have just been impossible to imagine. That there's been sort of this reversal of fortune. HORNBUCKLE: You know what has been interesting in our business I'm sure, you know, technology and Covid drove us to a couple different places. Even if you go look at this gaming floor, and everyone's doing this. The way we position games just for distance and safety. But we create these unique pods that sit out here now. Well guess what? People enjoy them. And it's worked. And it's brought particularly the type of games that are now demonstrate out here, it's brought millennials to the table in a way that they have not been before in our industry. And so at least we have seen historically, not only here, but universally across all of our properties domestically, we have more millennial business than we've ever had by like 20%. It is a compelling and interesting thing. BREWER: Do you think that the younger people who may not have been really exposed to casinos and gambling before the pandemic, are they drawn by the digital technology? I mean, now there are games where you can sit and only interact with the machine the way that most of us are now used to interacting with our phones, right? So you can sit in a casino where you're near other people but not actually be interacting with a human being. BILLINGS: I think when you smash together the proliferation of sports betting and i-gaming, and the demographic that is engaging with sports betting in particular, which is a younger demographic, you think about the fact that all the effort, time and money that we've spent as an industry here in Las Vegas, investing in non-gaming amenities and things that bring people here despite the casino, all those are going to come together naturally and have a spillover effect that are going to cause consumers – some consumers – to find an affinity for what's on the casino floor. I think it's just a natural happenstance of all of those things. BREWER: I'm really interested if the draw is the experience, if that's the thing that people are hungry for, how does digital play into that yen for experiences? HORNBUCKLE: Look, for a brand like ours, it gives us a chance to connect 360 days a year. It gives us a chance to have a constant dialogue with a customer. It gives them exposure and ultimately a reward mechanism like any loyalty program to be participating in. Yeah, I can do this. I can bet the Mets at home because I’m from New York and I enjoy the Mets and it ultimately translates into something more for them. It's pretty straightforward in that context. And it works. It's big enough scale now. This thing has grown to a point where there is absolute connectivity – the notion of a simple omnichannel relationship with the customer. And what we have all seen is to the extent a customer participates in all three activities, their activity with us is far superior than what it was historically. BILLINGS: Look, sports betting isn't new. I mean people have been betting on sports online for years and years and years. So now you have the opportunity to bet with a brand that you trust and a brand that oftentimes has other physical assets that you can interact with and be entertained by. And so it is a pretty compelling proposition over the longer term. You know, the past couple of years have been interesting for a whole bunch of reasons in sports betting. I think there was a race to get to market and to acquire customers at any cost. I think the industry is becoming increasingly more disciplined in terms of how they approach that, which is great, you know, for us to see. But that omnichannel relationship is important. And I really believe it's a winner in the long run. BREWER: Rob, Sheldon Adelson was such an opponent of internet gambling and invested in it and really was vocal about it and made sure that with all of his political connections, he made it clear where he stood on it. Have you decided to take a very different approach? Have you turned the company in a direction that is very different from what he saw and thought? GOLDSTEIN: Sheldon, the underpinning of his thinking may be different than most people realize. He was a big believer that young people were at risk. He had young boys. He felt people were on their phone at the ballgame. He felt the wrong people could access it. And Bill mentioned 24 hours a day you can bang one in your phone and lose money. And it bothered Sheldon from a pure moral perspective. I know people don't want to believe that, they think he was protecting his land base. The fact is our business has been 90% Asia forever. And so it doesn't affect us because Asia does not have digital gambling. And so it's a nonevent for us from that perspective. So that was Sheldon’s mindset. Would we go into it? Sure we would. We would definitely – and I think Sheldon later in life came to realize it could be managed perhaps. And if it's profitable and we saw the right path, we would pursue it. I'm watching it. It's fascinating to watch what Bill's going through and Craig's been through it and the people at Caesars. And it's fun to watch and see where it goes. I believe it will be very profitable in the long term but there’s some impediments to getting there. BREWER: I overheard you asking Bill about the sort of the backlash in Europe to sports gambling and the way that net there are now very serious limits on how people gamble. Are you guys worried that in your digital venture there could be a backlash here? HORNBUCKLE: Well, let me back up. Backlash in many of those markets – they were gray markets – save the UK. So they weren't regulated at all. They were kind of regulating, they used to call them. So when they are — and again in Germany is a great example – as it's getting regulated, some of the constraints and some of the restrictions are clearly more than they were without any regulations. UK is taking a look at time on device, spending limits, all of the things that would obviously drive addictive behavior. There are, particularly because it's an automated world, there's a lot of things that can be put into play that protect people, that keep things in check, that help responsible gaming in a universal way. And so it is being adopted there. It's going to be transitional to here. We're already starting to put many of those things in play. We've learned from our partner Entain into our BetMGM products. And so yeah, if somebody – you always have to be mindful of it. We do not want to take anyone's last dime full stop. It is not in our business interest to do that. And so we're all mindful of it. On the other side of the coin, we just bought a company will hopefully close next month called LeoVegas. You know, it's a company that's based in Sweden. They have a great footprint, we think great technology. We are very focused on a digital growth pattern not only here domestically, obviously with BetMGM in Canada and ultimately rest of world. We see it as a – not an unlimited because nothing is unlimited, but from a platform where we stand in the scale we have, there's only so many places to go and do what we do and keep our brands true in terms of brick and mortar. And so for us it's a big piece of the next horizon. BREWER: I want to talk a little bit about international too, because you all have international properties and aspirations. I'm especially interested in when going in and co-developing an integrated resort in the Middle East, again, you know, groundbreaking in so many ways. Can you talk about growth internationally and especially where we now see the geopolitical landscape changing. Where we're seeing a lot of uncertainty about what, you know, superpowers, former superpowers, rising superpowers can and will do. BILLINGS: So I think over the course of the past 20 years, you've seen both consumers and governments embrace IRs. I mean, tax revenue, tourism, great experiences, there's all kinds of reasons to support integrated resorts. And I think you are going to continue to see that. I think it'll be interesting to see how the industry – if we do see a proliferation – how the industry keeps pace. I mean, all of us together only have so much development capacity over the course of any given year. And it's not like there's 100 companies like ours. So that'll be interesting to see. But you know, specifically with respect to the UAE, the UAE is obviously a very progressive, transformative place and they're doing a lot of things. A lot of things socially, a lot of things from a legal and regulation perspective. And so we're really excited about that opportunity. You know, puts our brand within 95% of consumers if they want to take an eight hour flight or less. And so it's a meaningful extension of our brand. It's a meaningful opportunity for our team to put their imprint on the company. It's the first property we will do subsequent to Steve. And so it's a very, very important event for us. And I feel great about it. BREWER: Talk to me a little bit about Asia and your feeling now that you sold Las Vegas ahead of this massive rebound. I know because you've told me on multiple occasions that you truly believe in the future of Macao and Singapore. But the Covid restrictions are still at present and an obstacle. GOLDSTEIN: Most of Asia's opening, I mean, Japan's opening, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Vietnam. The market is opening. The biggest challenge there is employees and airlift getting in and out of these countries are still challenging into Singapore. But Singapore is, you know, leading the way in terms of it's a great government, great place to operate. We're thrilled to be there. At its peak was a $1.7 billion property. My guess is that we'll do better than that in the future. Macao I feel even I find it funny that people question Macao's return. Of course it's been a hard couple of years no question. We employ 33-34,000 people. We've not laid anyone off, we’ve been paying them for 30 months. And it's a tough time. You got to basically hunker down and wait for it to turn. But the idea it doesn't turn is kind of hard to imagine it's going to turn probably this year or next. And when it does, Macao will go back to making – you know, we made at the peak $3.5 billion EBITDA. I think we’ll make a lot more than that in the future there. BILLINGS: I agree with Rob. The only thing that keeps me up at night about Macao is the state of my team. I mean, you know, they've been essentially trapped there for years. GOLDSTEIN: Yeah. Brutal. BILLINGS: It's very, very difficult and I appreciate everything they do for us. It is a difficult time to be there. But if you think about the latent demand across the border, you think about the importance of Macao frankly within the Greater Bay area, we're huge, huge bulls on Macao just like Rob. HORNBUCKLE: Again, for the audience, I mean, Macao was seven, eight times Las Vegas in scale. I mean, okay? So it comes back half to begin with and then some and then some. I just, it's the largest gaming market in the world bar none, and it will forever be. BREWER: Are there lessons that you learn from reacting to the pandemic that now you apply toward climate change or geopolitical risk, or the threat – I mean, especially with digital businesses, the threat of cyber attack? BILLINGS: We have always really as a company tried to stay as nimble as possible and have paid dividends during that period. So we were incredibly transparent with our people. And we really empowered our folks to help us adapt, plan, and frankly, just get scrappy. There were many times when we just had to get scrappy and deal with things in the moment. And so I think that reflects within the team, whether we start talking about recession, or geopolitical events that are changing, you know, changing the demand profile – if that happens at some point. I think that that nimbleness particularly as we flexed it during Covid will pay dividends. And so I really believe we are more wired as a company, particularly here in Las Vegas and in Boston than we ever have been. HORNBUCKLE: And we obviously had to take a different approach. I had the unfortunate task of laying off 62,000 employees over Covid. It was painful, but it was costing us 300 million a month. And so we just didn't have the liquidity and the ability to sustain. Now the good news is by and large, we had about half of them back in nine or 10 weeks. But it did present an opportunity because we weren't as nimble at this scale. It's hard to be this nibble at this scale. We did take the organizational opportunity to kind of rethink about the structure, think about the organization, what we were focused on, what we should be focused on. I think one thing that Las Vegas and all of these properties at scale are really good at is corralling around an event, championing it, getting something accomplished in terms of you know, like we've spent $21 million on plexiglass. It was amazing how quickly we all got into that business of making the right environment. And on and all the testing and all of the things that go into something with those kinds of logistics. These companies are just wired to do. We do the convention – the thing about convention business every day, it's that same kind of psyche about task and orientation and go. BILLINGS: Difficult things at scale. HORNBUCKLE: Yeah. And so we are good at that generally. So it enabled us to get quickly into this. So we went up and down, in a matter of three months we had closed everything and we opened it all again. We were in massive Covid protocols in the context of what we're doing, how we're letting customers interact with us. Digitalization, you know, something we planned for 10 years to get silly check in in on a mobile device did it in three months because we had to do it. You know and to this day 25% of our people using it now. It's a big deal. It's a big change. GOLDSTEIN: Necessity. HORNBUCKLE: Yeah, necessity. The reservations 30% of our people are now making reservations online. Because guess what? They checked in digitally and so there's been a lot of benefits and for us, particularly as an organization, we learned a lot, we did a lot. It was little bit more in command and control as a culture I want to set going forward, but we had to just get it done. And so there's a lot of taking some that have been meaningful, but painful. BREWER: The other interesting thing is that we seem to be at this inflection point in the nation, the political divide, the issues over guns and abortion and racial equality. And I'm just wondering where you stand on taking a stand. Your predecessor Bill, felt very comfortable standing up and talking about his political position. Do you think that there's a place for that as the head of a publicly traded company or what's the risk? HORNBUCKLE: Take any issue. Take abortion. 30% of the people are adamantly, you know, thinking that what just happened is appropriate. I don't want to lose 30% of our customers. I think we have an obligation to our stakeholders to be very responsible, be moderate, be measured. Having said that, we employ 62,000 employees across the system who have values who care. That issue alone has impacted some of our employees in Mississippi and Ohio and other states that we operate, so we have to pay attention. Making political statements as the CEO however, I don't know that it's in everyone's best interest. Putting policies in play, doing things that are appropriate for staff and ultimately the communities that I care about not making statements and eventually – Black Lives Matter I put a statement out because I thought it was important to. It got a lot of social media. Good news and not so good news. It's not a place I think that we want to find this company. BILLINGS: I agree with Bill. I think the – I lump it, I put it together with ESG. You know, consumers, particularly younger consumers want companies to stand for something and they want them to do it authentically. And I think that authenticity is what’s really important. So figuring out what you can do for your employees, for your communities, and to reduce your impact on the planet that you can really do. That's what it's about. And it's not about marketing. It's not performative. It's doing. And so, I agree, I don't think it's about wading into politics. I think it's about having an impact. GOLDSTEIN: I will say that I can’t add a thing to that. Well said. I think it's about policies, but I think I'm not sure for public companies, CEOs, that's a role I would take on my political views shouldn't matter. They're not important, in my opinion. Important to me, my family but not to my shareholders. And I think it's better we address – I think Bill and Craig’s comments about your employees and how you think about them. They're our constituents and we want to make sure we're responsive to them and our customers. But my political views I think are not relevant in a public forum. BREWER: Is there a canary in the coal mine about recession coming? Jim Moran has mentioned to me that – he said, “I totally missed the onslaught of the great financial recession of 2007, 2008, 2009 because in our last quarter – fourth quarter of 2007, we had our best quarter ever lifted by the luxury properties like Bellagio.” HORNBUCKLE: Those were good days. GOLDSTEIN: Good days. We remember those days. BREWER: He said, “I should have been looking at Circus Circus.” We've already heard some of your competitors talk about that lower demographic. HORNBUCKLE: We have a pretty obviously broad view on this because we have properties all over the country and obviously we have every marketplace here in Las Vegas as well. We have not seen it, particularly here in Las Vegas. Now, what's happened over the last 18 months has literally been historic and so records. But if you look about how we thought we'd be performing against how we are performing, we're exactly where we thought we would be. We're not naive to think that consistent gas prices, consistent increase in inflation is not going to impact our business. It hasn't yet. BILLINGS: I would agree with Bill. We're in a similar situation. Now how much of that is our customer type? I don't know. But I do think that the industry particularly here in Las Vegas is better prepared strangely, because of because of Covid, frankly, to know the levers that we need to pull to make it through whatever does happen. BREWER: I wonder what keeps you up at night. I'm curious about it. Generally, when you look at your whole company, if there's a thing that you see as a niggling challenge that you haven't quite figured out. BILLINGS: I really have two things to do in my job. Take the legacy. We talked about it earlier. Take the legacy that I've been handed, and make sure that I both maintain it and evolve it and grow the business. And grow the business for us often means development. So when I get up in the middle of the night, it's thinking about those two things, which aren’t, you know, existential threats to our business, rather they are the opportunities for our business. So there is no one particular point that I would think about. BREWER: So you sleep like a baby? BILLINGS: Definitely not. Definitely not. But it's not an existential threat that keeps me up at night. HORNBUCKLE: You know, if you had asked me that question two years ago – BILLINGS: It would be a different answer. HORNBUCKLE: Completely different. We're just in such a different place as a company. Our balance sheet, just how we are capitalized, what we're doing, how we're thinking about going forward. We've just done such an amazing reversal in so many respects, got fortunate in timing, and made some smart moves I think ultimately – we’re sitting on $4.5B in cash. And so we're all operators. We’ve been doing this a long time. The day to day is not the concern. It is the things that are outside our control. So while I don't have the same pressure they do in Macao,  we still have Macao pressure and that's not in our control. Water at Lake Mead, we're going to do everything we can. That's a longer term, you know, just the general environment, what's going to happen over time. You wake up at night and think not only about yourself and the company but your employees and the community. Those are real issues. The continue of social divide of politics and what it's doing to our employees and customers. Not a great place. We're just not in a great place in America in that context. GOLDSTEIN: I do sleep like a baby. I’m up every two hours. At our company, we went through the most dramatic couple of years. It's hard even to even fathom. We lost Sheldon. We lost our business in Macao temporarily. We went to closure in Singapore. And of course, we sold Las Vegas. But looking back on it, we’re in a great place liquidity wise. We got lots of money in the bank. We're very solid. The business climate in Singapore is coming back beautifully. The whole city state. Our license renewals recently we're on the right path. Macao which was a big impediment to the future and that's been resolved looks like to me. And so the one thing we can't do much about is waiting for Covid resolution in China which is inevitable. And when that happens, I think our company returns to a very nice place and hopefully it's sooner than later. But other than that, I don't think about – the bigger issues Bill referenced, I mean, it's painful to watch this country. I'm the oldest guy in the room probably here and I think it's for me it's hurtful and painful to watch this country go into such huge divide on so many issues and it's sad and I hope we can find a way out. We'll get through it. We'll figure it out. But that doesn't keep me up at night because I'm not – I can't solve it. But it sure does make me feel sad. BREWER: The thing about gaming is that figuring it out has been sort of the MO of the industry, of the town, of the leaders. Do you think that there's a takeaway for other industries and other leaders about the adaptability and the flexibility in the innovation of gaming? GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, there's a definite lesson in terms of the same lessons any manager – they are professional managers. How do you apply into evolving environments that change all the time? It's never easy. How do you manage your employee base? How do you manage your customer base? How do you think and stay nimble and stay focused? Life is full of challenges. The only constant is change, right? And these things change every day. Managing these behemoths, these monster buildings, is a really good lesson for any manager and I think it does translate beyond our industry. HORNBUCKLE: And one of the reasons it could and should is, and you know, we are the melting pot of America. We get 40 million visitors, we get everybody that comes here. We know a lot about customer behavior today. And I think we're adept at reacting to that. And I think there's a lot to be learned from that for others. So they're very complex businesses. They're interesting as hell. We've been doing this for a long time because we love it. Hasn't killed us yet, but it’s trying. GOLDSTEIN: It will, Bill. HORNBUCKLE: No one is getting out alive. BILLINGS: I can’t speak for gaming as a whole, obviously, but you know, part of what we do is we really steadfastly do not over corporatize. We have a very small corporate staff. We push a lot of decisions down to the asset, to the property level, to the individual line level. And now, to be fair, we're blessed with quite a small geographic portfolio. Okay, we essentially have four assets. So I think that's easier for us to do than some others in the industry. But you talk about evolution and you talk about change. You have to cascade that down throughout the entire business. And the more your people understand and own their respective pieces of the business, the easier that is to do. And the more you centralize it, the harder that is to do. So it's been in ways heartening and inspiring to go through Covid and to watch what our teams were able to do and what they were able to accomplish and it really was them. HORNBUCKLE: We have a mantra I've been on for about 18 months. A culture of Yes. Given scale, things happen and it's easy to wake up one day and have policies in play and why aren’t we – why are we saying no to a customer. Well, because 15 years ago this happened. And you just wake up one day, you just have this monstrosity of a bureaucratic thing. Culture of Yes down to the line level employees, please say yes to a customer. We will protect you, we will give you the security you think you need, we will honor that decision, and ultimately we'll make it right for both the customer and you. Big deal in these scale places because if you don't, it just, you know, you got 4,000 rooms, you got 8,000 customers, you got 25,000 people in the building every day. Bumping into people all the time and giving and empowering employees to make those decisions is essential. BILLINGS: No doubt. HORNBUCKLE: Essential. BILLINGS: No doubt. BREWER: I just want to thank you again, like you all have very busy schedules and things to do. Thank you for making time for us, Craig, Bill, Rob. GOLDSTEIN: Thank you. HORNBUCKLE: Pleasure. BILLINGS: Thank you. Appreciate it. About CNBC: CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news, providing real-time financial market coverage, business content and general news consumed by more than 544 million people per month across all platforms. The network's 15 live hours a day of news programming in North America (weekdays from 5:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. ET) is produced at CNBC's global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and includes reports from CNBC News bureaus worldwide. CNBC at night features a mix of new reality programming, CNBC's highly successful series produced exclusively for CNBC and a number of distinctive in-house documentaries. Updated on Jul 13, 2022, 4:59 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkJul 13th, 2022

The rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, the former Theranos CEO found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy, whose sentencing has now been delayed

Elizabeth Holmes' sentencing hearing was originally slated for September 26. On Monday it was delayed, without a reason provided, until October 17. Elizabeth Holmes leaves after a hearing at a federal court in San Jose, California, on July 17, 2019.Reuters/Stephen Lam Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford at 19 to start Theranos and grew its value to $9 billion. Later, technology flaws were exposed, resulting in a months-long trial where Holmes was found guilty on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Now, Holmes' sentencing hearing has been delayed. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. In 2014, blood-testing startup Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, were on top of the world.Back then, Theranos was a revolutionary idea thought up by a woman hailed as a genius who styled herself as a female Steve Jobs. Holmes was the world's youngest female self-made billionaire, and Theranos was one of Silicon Valley's unicorn startups, valued at an estimated $9 billion. But then it all came crashing down.The shortcomings and inaccuracies of Theranos's technology were exposed, along with the role Holmes played in covering it all up. Holmes was ousted as CEO and charged with "massive fraud," and the company was forced to close its labs and testing centers, ultimately shuttering operations altogether.As she awaited trial, Holmes reportedly found the time to get engaged — and married — to a hotel heir named Billy Evans.Holmes has since been convicted of fraud in federal court. In January, jurors found Holmes guilty on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They found her not guilty on four other counts and failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the remaining three counts against her.On Thursday, Holmes' former romantic and business partner Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, was also convicted of fraud. He was found guilty on all 12 fraud-related charges.Since her conviction, Holmes has become the subject of a Hulu limited series, "The Dropout," based on the ABC News podcast of the same name. The show stars Amanda Seyfried as Holmes as it chronicles the meteoric rise and fall of Theranos and Holmes herself.Holmes has asked the presiding judge in her case to overturn her conviction. In a filing on May 27, Holmes' attorneys argued evidence was "insufficient to sustain the convictions.""Because no rational juror could have found the elements of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud beyond a reasonable doubt on this record, the Court should grant Ms. Holmes' motion for judgment of acquittal," they wrote. The judge has set a date to consider Holmes' appeal in July.In the meantime, Holmes' sentencing hearing has been delayed. On Monday, it was moved from its originally scheduled date, September 26, to October 17, though no reason was provided for the change.Here's how Holmes went from precocious child, to ambitious Stanford dropout, to an embattled startup founder convicted of fraud: Elizabeth Holmes was born on February 3, 1984 in Washington, D.C. Her mom, Noel, was a Congressional committee staffer, and her dad, Christian Holmes, worked for Enron before moving to government agencies like USAID.@eholmes2003/TwitterSource: Elizabeth Holmes/Twitter, CNN, Vanity FairHolmes' family moved when she was young, from Washington, D.C. to Houston.Washington, D.C.Getty ImagesSource: FortuneWhen she was 7, Holmes tried to invent her own time machine, filling up an entire notebook with detailed engineering drawings. At the age of 9, Holmes told relatives she wanted to be a billionaire when she grew up. Her relatives described her as saying it with the "utmost seriousness and determination."Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes.REUTERS/Carlo AllegriSource: CBS News, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupHolmes had an "intense competitive streak" from a young age. She often played Monopoly with her younger brother and cousin, and she would insist on playing until the end, collecting the houses and hotels until she won. If Holmes was losing, she would often storm off. More than once, she ran directly through a screen on the door.Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, attends a panel discussion during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York, September 29, 2015.REUTERS/Brendan McDermidSource: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupIt was during high school that Holmes developed her work ethic, often staying up late to study. She quickly became a straight-A student, and even started her own business: she sold C++ compilers, a type of software that translates computer code, to Chinese schools.Tyrone Siu/ReutersSource: Fortune, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupHolmes started taking Mandarin lessons, and part-way through high school, talked her way into being accepted by Stanford University’s summer program, which culminated in a trip to Beijing.Yepoka Yeebo / Business InsiderSource: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupInspired by her great-great-grandfather Christian Holmes, a surgeon, Holmes decided she wanted to go into medicine. But she discovered early on that she was terrified of needles. Later, she said this influenced her to start Theranos.Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderSource: San Francisco Business TimesHolmes went to Stanford to study chemical engineering. When she was a freshman, she became a "president's scholar," an honor which came with a $3,000 stipend to go toward a research project.STANFORD, CA - MAY 22: People ride bikes past Hoover Tower on the Stanford University campus on May 22, 2014 in Stanford, California. According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities by China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Stanford University ranked second behind Harvard University as the top universities in the world. UC Berkeley ranked third. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Justin Sullivan/GettySource: FortuneHolmes spent the summer after her freshman year interning at the Genome Institute in Singapore. She got the job partly because she spoke Mandarin.An office worker walks along the Singapore River front during the lunch hour.Wong Maye-E/APSource: FortuneAs a sophomore, Holmes went to one of her professors, Channing Robertson, and said: "Let's start a company." With his blessing, she founded Real-Time Cures, later changing the company's name to Theranos. Thanks to a typo, early employees’ paychecks actually said "Real-Time Curses."Getty ImagesSource: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupHolmes soon filed a patent application for a "medical device for analyte monitoring and drug delivery," a wearable device that would administer medication, monitor patients' blood, and adjust the dosage as needed.Reuters/Brian SnyderSource: Fortune, US Patent OfficeBy the next semester, Holmes had dropped out of Stanford altogether, and was working on Theranos in the basement of a college house.Jeff Chiu/APSource: Wall Street JournalTheranos's business model was based around the idea that it could run blood tests, using proprietary technology that required only a finger pinprick and a small amount of blood. Holmes said the tests would be able to detect medical conditions like cancer and high cholesterol.Theranos Chairman, CEO and Founder Elizabeth Holmes (L) and TechCrunch Writer and Moderator Jonathan Shieber speak onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt at Pier 48 on September 8, 2014 in San Francisco, CaliforniaSteve Jennings/Getty ImagesSource: Wall Street JournalHolmes started raising money for Theranos from prominent investors like Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, the father of a childhood friend and the founder of prominent VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Theranos raised more than $700 million, and Draper has continued to defend Holmes.Investor Tim Draper (right).CNBCSource: SEC, CrunchbaseHolmes took investors' money on the condition that she wouldn't have to reveal how Theranos' technology worked. Plus, she would have final say over everything having to do with the company.JP Yim/GettySource: Vanity FairThat obsession with secrecy extended to every aspect of Theranos. For the first decade Holmes spent building her company, Theranos operated in stealth mode. She even took three former Theranos employees to court, claiming they had misused Theranos trade secrets.Kimberly White/GettySource: San Francisco Business TimesHolmes' attitude toward secrecy and running a company was borrowed from a Silicon Valley hero of hers: former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Holmes started dressing in black turtlenecks like Jobs, decorated her office with his favorite furniture, and like Jobs, never took vacations.Steve Jobs.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSource: Vanity FairEven Holmes's uncharacteristically deep voice may have been part of a carefully crafted image intended to help her fit in in the male-dominated business world. In ABC's podcast on Holmes called "The Dropout," former Theranos employees said the CEO sometimes "fell out of character," particularly after drinking, and would speak in a higher voice.Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York.Lucas Jackson/ReutersSource: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, The CutHolmes was a demanding boss, and wanted her employees to work as hard as she did. She had her assistants track when employees arrived and left each day. To encourage people to work longer hours, she started having dinner catered to the office around 8 p.m. each night.TheranosSource: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupMore behind-the-scenes footage of what life was like at Theranos was revealed in leaked videos obtained by the team behind the HBO documentary "The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley." The more than 100 hours of footage showed Holmes walking around the office, scenes from company parties, speeches from Holmes and Balwani, and Holmes dancing to "U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer.Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes at the company's headquarters.Courtesy HBOSource: Business InsiderShortly after Holmes dropped out of Stanford at age 19, she began dating Theranos president and COO Sunny Balwani, who was 20 years her senior. The two met during Holmes' third year in Stanford’s summer Mandarin program, the summer before she went to college. She was bullied by some of the other students, and Balwani had come to her aid.Footage of Sunny Balwani presenting."60 Minutes"Source: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupBalwani became Holmes' No. 2 at Theranos despite having little experience. He was said to be a bully, and often tracked his employees' whereabouts. Holmes and Balwani eventually broke up in spring 2016 when Holmes pushed him out of the company.Sunny Balwani pictured in January 2019.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSource: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupIn 2008, the Theranos board decided to remove Holmes as CEO in favor of someone more experienced. But over the course of a two-hour meeting, Holmes convinced them to let her stay in charge of her company.Jamie McCarthy / GettySource: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupAs Theranos started to rake in millions of funding, Holmes became the subject of media attention and acclaim in the tech world. She graced the covers of Fortune and Forbes, gave a TED Talk, and spoke on panels with Bill Clinton and Alibaba's Jack Ma.Elizabeth Holmes with former President Bill Clinton, left, and Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma.Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesSource: Vanity FairTheranos quickly began securing outside partnerships. Capital Blue Cross and Cleveland Clinic signed on to offer Theranos tests to their patients, and Walgreens made a deal to open Theranos testing centers in their stores. Theranos also formed a secret partnership with Safeway worth $350 million.A Theranos testing center inside a Walgreens.Melia Robinson/Business InsiderSource: Wired, Business InsiderIn 2011, Holmes hired her younger brother, Christian, to work at Theranos, although he didn’t have a medical or science background. Christian Holmes spent his early days at Theranos reading about sports online and recruiting his Duke University fraternity brothers to join the company. People dubbed Holmes and his crew the "Frat Pack" and "Therabros."Elizabeth Holmes and her brother, Christian.Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesSource: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupAt one point, Holmes was the world's youngest self-made female billionaire with a net worth of around $4.5 billion.Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough PrizeSource: ForbesHolmes was obsessed with security at Theranos. She asked anyone who visited the company’s headquarters to sign non-disclosure agreements before being allowed in the building, and had security guards escort visitors everywhere — even to the bathroom.Michael Dalder/Reuters Holmes hired bodyguards to drive her around in a black Audi sedan. Her nickname was "Eagle One." The windows in her office had bulletproof glass.Source: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupAround the same time, questions were being raised about Theranos' technology. Ian Gibbons — chief scientist at Theranos and one of the company's first hires — warned Holmes that the tests weren't ready for the public to take, and that there were inaccuracies in the technology. Outside scientists began voicing their concerns about Theranos, too.Melia Robinson/Tech InsiderSource: Vanity Fair, Business InsiderBy August 2015, the FDA began investigating Theranos, and regulators from the government body that oversees laboratories found "major inaccuracies" in the testing Theranos was doing on patients.Mike Segar/ReutersSource: Vanity FairBy October 2015, Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou published his investigation into Theranos's struggles with its technology. Carreyrou's reporting sparked the beginning of the company's downward spiral.Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou.CBS "60 Minutes"Source: Wall Street JournalCarreyrou found that Theranos' blood-testing machine, named Edison, couldn't give accurate results, so Theranos was running its samples through the same machines used by traditional blood-testing companies.Carlos Osorio/APSource: Wall Street JournalHolmes appeared on CNBC's "Mad Money" shortly after the WSJ published its story to defend herself and Theranos. "This is what happens when you work to change things, and first they think you're crazy, then they fight you, and then all of a sudden you change the world," Holmes said.CNBC/YouTubeSource: CNBCBy 2016, the FDA, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and SEC were all looking into Theranos.GettySource: Wall Street Journal, WiredIn July 2016, Holmes was banned from the lab-testing industry for two years. By October, Theranos had shut down its lab operations and wellness centers.Mike Blake/ReutersSource: Business InsiderIn March 2018, Theranos, Holmes, and Balwani were charged with "massive fraud" by the SEC. Holmes agreed to give up financial and voting control of the company, pay a $500,000 fine, and return 18.9 million shares of Theranos stock. She also isn't allowed to be the director or officer of a publicly traded company for 10 years.Jeff Chiu/APSource: Business InsiderDespite the charges, Holmes was allowed to stay on as CEO of Theranos, since it's a private company. The company had been hanging on by a thread, and Holmes wrote to investors asking for more money to save Theranos. "In light of where we are, this is no easy ask," Holmes wrote.Kimberly White/Getty Images for FortuneSource: Business InsiderIn Theranos' final days, Holmes reportedly got a Siberian husky puppy named Balto that she brought into the office. However, the dog wasn't potty trained, and would go to the bathroom inside the company's office and during meetings.A Siberian husky (not Holmes' dog).Kateryna Orlova/ShutterstockSource: Vanity FairIn June 2018, Theranos announced that Holmes was stepping down as CEO. On the same day, the Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury had charged Holmes, along with Balwani, with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live (WSJDLive) conference at the Montage hotel in Laguna Beach, California, October 21, 2015.Mike Blake/ReutersSource: Business Insider, CNBCTheranos sent an email to shareholders in September 2018 announcing that the company was shutting down. Theranos reportedly said it planned to spend the next few months repaying creditors with its remaining resources.Mike Blake/ReutersSource: Wall Street JournalAround the time Theranos' time was coming to an end, Holmes made her first public appearance alongside William "Billy" Evans, a 27-year-old heir to a hospitality property management company in California. The two reportedly first met in 2017, and were seen together in 2018 at Burning Man, the art festival in the Nevada desert.Jim Rankin/Toronto Star via Getty ImagesSource: Daily MailHolmes is said to wear Evans' MIT "signet ring" on a chain around her neck, and the couple reportedly posts photos "professing their love for each other" on a private Instagram account. Evans' parents are reportedly "flabbergasted" at their son's decision to marry Holmes.—Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) February 21, 2019Source: Vanity Fair, New York PostIt's unclear where Holmes and Evans currently reside, but they were previously living in a $5,000-a-month apartment in San Francisco until April 2019. The apartment was located just a few blocks from one of the city's top tourist attractions, the famously crooked block of Lombard Street.Lombard Place Apartments, where Holmes used to live.Rent SF NowSource: Business InsiderIt was later reported that Holmes and Evans got engaged in early 2019, then married in June in a secretive wedding ceremony. Former Theranos employees were reportedly not invited to the wedding, according to Vanity Fair.Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business InsiderSource: Vanity Fair, New York PostHolmes' and Balwani's cases have since been separated.Justin Silva/Getty, Stephen Lam/Reuters, Business InsiderSource: Department of Justice, Business InsiderBesides the criminal case, Holmes was also involved in a number of civil lawsuits, including one in Arizona brought by former Theranos patients over inaccurate blood tests. The lawyers representing her in the Arizona case said in late 2019 they hadn't been paid over a year and asked to be removed from Holmes' legal team.Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes leaves after a hearing at a federal court.Reuters/Stephen LamSource: Business InsiderHolmes' lawyers in the federal case had tried to get the government's entire case thrown out. In February 2020, Holmes caught a break after some of the charges against her were dropped when a judge ruled that some patients didn't suffer financial loss.Brendan McDermid/ReutersSource: Business InsiderAmid the coronavirus outbreak, Holmes' lawyers asked the judge in April 2020 to deem the case "essential" so the defense team could defy lockdown orders and continue to travel and meet face-to-face. The judge said he was "taken aback" by the defense's pleas to violate lockdown.Reuters/Robert GalbraithSource: Business Insider It soon become clear that the pandemic — and the health risks associated with assembling a trial in one — would make the July trial date unrealistic. Through hearings held on Zoom, the presiding judge initially pushed the trial back to October 2020 and later postponed it further to March 2021.Passengers wear masks as they walk through LAX airport.Reuters/Lucy NicholsonSource: Business Insider In March 2021, Holmes requested another delay to the trial because she was pregnant. She asked to push back the trial to August 31, and her request was granted. Holmes reportedly gave birth to the child in July.Nhat V. Meyer/MediaNews Group/Mercury News via Getty ImagesSource: Business Insider, CNBCHeading into the trial, Holmes felt "wronged, like Salem-witch-trial wronged," says a person who used to work with her closely.Holmes, right, leaving the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building in San Jose, California with her defense team on May 4, 2021.Nhat V. Meyer/MediaNews Group/Mercury News via Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderThe trial kicked off in September. In opening statements, prosecutors argued that, "Out of time and out of money, Elizabeth Holmes decided to lie." Meanwhile, the defense argued that although Theranos ultimately crumbled, "Failure is not a crime. Trying your hardest and coming up short is not a crime."Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building with her defense team on August 31, 2021 in San Jose, California.Ethan Swope/Getty ImagesSource: Business Insider The list of possible witnesses for the trial named roughly 200 people, including the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Henry Kissinger, James Mattis, and Holmes herself.Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes leaves the Robert F. Peckham U.S. Courthouse with her mother, Noel Holmes, during her trial.Brittany Hosea-Small/ReutersSource: Business InsiderIn the end, the trial featured testimony from just over 30 witnesses.Vicki Behringer/ReutersSource: Business InsiderOver the course of 11 weeks, prosecutors called 29 witnesses to testify — including former Theranos employees, investors, patients, and doctors — before resting their case in November.Vicki BehringerSource: Business Insider The defense then began making its case, calling just three witnesses, including Holmes herself.Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderOn the stand, Holmes said Balwani emotionally and sexually abused her during their relationship.Former Theranos COO Ramesh "Sunny' Balwani leaves the Robert F. Peckham U.S. Federal Court on June 28, 2019 in San Jose, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderHolmes also admitted that she added some pharmaceutical companies' logos to Theranos' reports without authorization. Investors previously said they took some reassurance in those reports because, based on the logos, they thought major pharmaceutical companies had validated Theranos' technology. Holmes said she added the logos to convey that work was done in partnership with those companies, but in hindsight she wishes she had "done it differently."Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderHolmes also acknowledged on the stand that she hid Theranos' use of modified commercial devices from investors. She said she did this because company counsel told her that alterations the company made to the machines were trade secrets and needed to be protected as such.Brittany Hosea-Small/ReutersSource: Business InsiderHolmes spent seven days on the stand before the defense rested its case in early December.Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives to attend her fraud trial at federal court in San Jose, California, U.S., December 16, 2021.Peter DaSilva/ReutersSource: Business InsiderIn closing arguments, prosecutors argued that Holmes "chose fraud over business failure" while the defense argued she was "building a business, not a criminal enterprise."Elizabeth Holmes walks into federal court in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.Nic Coury/Associated PressSource: Business InsiderAfter 15 weeks of trial, Holmes' case headed to a jury of eight men and four women on December 17.Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former CEO of blood testing and life sciences company Theranos, leaves the courthouse with her husband Billy Evans after the first day of her fraud trial in San Jose, California on September 8, 2021.Nick Otto/AFP/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderJurors deliberated for a total of seven days over the next few weeks before telling the court on January 3 that they were deadlocked on three of the 11 charges against Holmes. The judge read off some jury instructions to the group in court before instructing them to go back and deliberate further.Kate Munsch/ReutersSource: Business InsiderHours later, the jury returned a mixed verdict for Holmes, finding her guilty on one count of conspiracy to defraud investors and three counts of wire fraud. They found her not guilty on four other counts and failed to reach a verdict on the remaining three counts.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderThe counts Holmes was found guilty of were all related to investments; she wasn't convicted on any of the charges involving patients who received inaccurate test results.David Odisho/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderHolmes now faces the possibility of decades in prison. Each count carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, a $250,000 fine, and a requirement to pay victims restitution.AP Photo/Nic Coury, FileSource: Business Insider Legal experts told Insider it's unlikely Holmes will get 20 years at sentencing, but she probably won't get off without serving any time either.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderHolmes was not taken into custody following the verdict and will remain free until her sentencing on a $500,000 bond secured by property.Peter DaSilva/ReutersSource: Business InsiderSince the conviction, Holmes and Theranos have been the focus of a Hulu limited series, "The Dropout," based on the ABC News podcast of the same name.Amanda Seyfried in "The Dropout" (left); Elizabeth Holmes (right)Beth Dubber/Hulu; Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunchSource: Business InsiderHolmes is played by Amanda Seyfried in the dramatized series, which asks the question, "How did the world's youngest self-made female billionaire lose it all in the blink of an eye?"Amanda Seyfried in "The Dropout."HuluSource: HuluThe show premiered March 3 and also stars Naveen Andrews as Balwani, Holmes' right-hand man at Theranos. Balwani's fraud trial began in March.Beth Dubber/Hulu; Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesSource: Business Insider Now, Holmes is pleading with a judge to toss her conviction.APSource: Business Insider In a 24-page filing on May 27, Holmes' attorneys argued for her acquittal, saying the evidence was "insufficient to sustain the convictions."Nick Otto/AFP via Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderThey wrote, "Because no rational juror could have found the elements of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud beyond a reasonable doubt on this record, the Court should grant Ms. Holmes' motion for judgment of acquittal."David Odisho/Getty ImagesSource: Business Insider"Even if Ms. Holmes committed wire fraud against an investor (she did not) and even if Mr. Balwani committed wire fraud against an investor, that does not prove a conspiratorial agreement between them, nor does it prove that Ms. Holmes willfully joined any agreement," the attorneys continued in the filing.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderSuch appeals are common in cases like these, and legal experts expected Holmes would try to get her conviction overturned.Dai Sugano/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderThe judge in Holmes' case set a hearing for July to weigh her request.David Odisho/Getty ImagesSource: Business Insider Meanwhile, Balwani was convicted on 12 fraud-related charges. The jury came back with a conviction after deliberating for five days.Former Theranos COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani goes through a security checkpoint as he arrives at the Robert F. Peckham U.S. Federal Court on March 10, 2022 in San Jose, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderBoth of them now await sentencing. Balwani's sentencing hearing is set for November 15. Holmes' sentencing date was originally slated for September 26, but it has since been delayed to October 17. No reason was provided for the delay.Chris Ryan/GettySource: Law360Paige Leskin and Maya Kosoff contributed to earlier versions of this story.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 13th, 2022

We"ve got nearly 50 pitch decks that helped fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. New twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series APersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalG 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of TulipshareTulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundHelping small banks lendTKCollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed roundA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BAn alternative auto lenderTricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investors A new way to access credit The TomoCredit teamTomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingQuantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BAnalyzing financial contractsEric Chang and Alex Schumacher, co-founders of ClairaClairaIt was a match made in heaven — at least the Wall Street type.Joseph Squeri, a former CIO at Citadel and Barclays, had always struggled with the digitization of financial documents. When he was tapped by Brady Dougan, the former chief executive of Credit Suisse, to build out an all-digital investment bank in Exos, Squeri spent the first year getting let down by more than a dozen tools that lacked a depth in financial legal documents. His solution came in the form of Alex Schumacher and Eric Chang who had the tech and financial expertise, respectively, to build the tool he needed.Schumacher is an expert in natural-language processing and natural-language understanding, having specialized in turning unstructured text into useful business information.Chang spent a decade as a trader and investment strategist at Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and AQR. He developed a familiarity with the kinds of financial documents Squeri wanted to digitize, such as the terms and conditions information from SEC filings and publicly traded securities and transactions, like municipal bonds and collateralized loan obligations (CLOs). The three converged at Exos, Squeri as its COO and CTO, Schumacher as the lead data scientist, and Chang as head of tech and strategy. See the 14-page pitch deck that sold Citi on Claira, a startup using AI to help firms read through financial contracts in a fraction of the timeSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOSussing out bad actorsFrom left to right: Cofounders CTO David Movshovitz, CEO Doron Hendler, and chief architect Adi DeGaniRevealSecurityAn encounter with an impersonation hacker led Doron Hendler to found RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup that monitors for insider threats.Two years ago, a woman impersonating an insurance-agency representative called Hendler and convinced him that he made a mistake with his recent health insurance policy upgrade. She got him to share his login information for his insurer's website, even getting him to give the one-time passcode sent to his phone. Once the hacker got what she needed, she disconnected the call, prompting Hendler to call back. When no one picked up the phone, he realized he had been conned.He immediately called his insurance company to check on his account. Nothing seemed out of place to the representative. But Hendler, who was previously a vice president of a software company, suspected something intangible could have been collected, so he reset his credentials."The chief of information security, who was on the call, he asked me, 'So, how do you want me to identify you? You gave your credentials; you gave your ID; you gave the one time password. How the hell can I identify that it's not you?' And I told him, 'But I never behave like this,'" Hendler recalled of the conversation.RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cyber startup that tracks user behavior for abnormalities, used this 27-page deck to raise its Series AA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series AHelping fintechs manage dataProper Finance co-founders Travis Gibson (left) and Kyle MaloneyProper FinanceAs the flow of data becomes evermore crucial for fintechs, from the strappy startup to the established powerhouse, a thorny issue in the back office is becoming increasingly complex.Even though fintechs are known for their sleek front ends, the back end is often quite the opposite. Behind that streamlined interface can be a mosaic of different partner integrations — be it with banks, payments players and networks, or software vendors — with a channel of data running between them. Two people who know that better than the average are Kyle Maloney and Travis Gibson, two former employees of Marqeta, a fintech that provides other fintechs with payments processing and card issuance. "Take an established neobank for example. They'll likely have one or two card issuers, two to three bank partners, ACH processing for direct deposits and payouts, mobile check deposits, peer-to-peer payments, and lending," Gibson told Insider. Here's the 12-page pitch deck a startup helping fintechs manage their data used to score a $4.3 million seed from investors like Redpoint Ventures and Y CombinatorE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series AShopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy VoProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series ADeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Branded cards for SMBsJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym.TandymJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is no stranger to the private-label credit-card business. As a former Capital One exec, she worked in both the card giant's co-brand partnerships division and its tech organization during her seven years at the company.Now, Glaspie-Lundstrom is hoping to use that experience to innovate a sector that was initially created in malls decades ago.Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym, which offers private-label digital credit cards to merchants. Store and private-label credit cards aren't a new concept, but Tandym is targeting small- and medium-sized merchants with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. Glaspie-Lundstrom said that group often struggles to offer private-label credit due to the expense of working with legacy players."What you have is this example of a very valuable product type that merchants love and their customers love, but a huge, untapped market that has heretofore been unserved, and so that's what we're doing with Tandym," Glaspi-Lundstrom told Insider.A former Capital One exec used this deck to raise $60 million for a startup helping SMBs launch their own branded credit cardsCatering to 'micro businesses'Stefanie Sample is the founder and CEO of FundidFundidStartups aiming to simplify the often-complex world of corporate cards have boomed in recent years.Business-finance management startup Brex was last valued at $12.3 billion after raising $300 million last year. Startup card provider Ramp announced an $8.1 billion valuation in March after growing its revenue nearly 10x in 2021. Divvy, a small business card provider, was acquired by Bill.com in May 2021 for approximately $2.5 billion.But despite how hot the market has gotten, Stefanie Sample said she ended up working in the space by accident. Sample is the founder and CEO of Fundid, a new fintech that provides credit and lending products to small businesses.This May, Fundid announced a $3.25 million seed round led by Nevcaut Ventures. Additional investors include the Artemis Fund and Builders and Backers. The funding announcement capped off the company's first year: Sample introduced the Fundid concept in April 2021, launched its website in May, and began raising capital in August."I never meant to do Fundid," Sample told Insider. "I never meant to do something that was venture-backed."Read the 12-page deck used by Fundid, a fintech offering credit and lending tools for 'micro businesses'Embedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote teamHighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingSpeeding up loans for government contractors OppZo cofounders Warren Reed and Randy GarrettOppZoThe massive market for federal government contracts approached $700 billion in 2020, and it's likely to grow as spending accelerates amid an ongoing push for investment in the nation's infrastructure. Many of those dollars flow to small-and-medium sized businesses, even though larger corporations are awarded the bulk of contracts by volume. Of the roughly $680 billion in federal contracts awarded in 2020, roughly a quarter, according to federal guidelines, or some $146 billion that year, went to smaller businesses.But peeking under the hood of the procurement process, the cofounders of OppZo — Randy Garrett and Warren Reed — saw an opportunity to streamline how smaller-sized businesses can leverage those contracts to tap in to capital.  Securing a deal is "a government contractor's best day and their worst day," as Garrett, OppZo's president, likes to put it."At that point they need to pay vendors and hire folks to start the contract. And they may not get their first contract payment from the government for as long as 120 days," Reed, the startup's CEO,  told Insider. Check out the 12-page pitch deck OppZo, a fintech that has figured out how to speed up loans to small government contractors, used to raise $260 million in equity and debtHelping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Jackson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersAutomating accounting ops for SMBsDecimal CEO Matt Tait.DecimalSmall- and medium-sized businesses can rely on any number of payroll, expense management, bill pay, and corporate-card startups promising to automate parts of their financial workflow. Smaller firms have adopted this corporate-financial software en masse, boosting growth throughout the pandemic for relatively new entrants like Ramp and massive, industry stalwarts like Intuit. But it's no easy task to connect all of those tools into one, seamless process. And while accounting operations might be far from where many startup founders want to focus their time, having efficient back-end finances does mean time — and capital — freed up to spend elsewhere. For Decimal CEO Matt Tait, there's ample opportunity in "the boring stuff you have to do to survive as a company," he told Insider. Launched in 2020, Decimal provides a back-end tech layer that small- and medium-sized businesses can use to integrate their accounting and business-management software tools in one place.On Wednesday, Decimal announced a $9 million seed fundraising round led by Minneapolis-based Arthur Ventures, alongside Service Providers Capital and other angel investors. See the 13-page pitch deck for Decimal, a startup automating accounting ops for small businessesInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now co-foundersNowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionCheckout made easyRyan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DPayments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia MontesiQoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ABetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay DavisAtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounderGleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPOAgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of LadderLadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionData science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of CounterpartCounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in fundingDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysSoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalPay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair SilverbergHum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Helping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Gut Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo ParejoKaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed roundThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 11th, 2022

Biden Admin Wasting $10.6 Billion On Pfizer"s COVID-19 Paxlovid Flop

Biden Admin Wasting $10.6 Billion On Pfizer's COVID-19 Paxlovid Flop Authored by Dr. David Gortler via thebluestateconservative.com, Back in November 2021, the White House paid drugmaker Pfizer nearly $5.3 billion ($5,290,000,000) for 10 million treatment courses of its experimental COVID-19 treatment.  Paxlovid is an antiviral combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. Ritonavir was developed in 1989 and nirmatrelvir was developed in 2020.  In other words, Paxlovid wasn’t developed from scratch to treat COVID-19; the compounds already existed. In December 2021 Pfizer claimed initial study findings showed that Paxlovid cut the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% in people with mild to moderate coronavirus infections.  Without context this statement is grossly misleading.  Just about everyone who gets the existing COVID-19 mutation will have mild or moderate disease yet, the drugmaker limited its study to people who were unvaccinated and who faced the greatest risk from the virus due to age or health problems, such as obesity.  An updated more recent analysis from 1,153 patients (out of a possible 2,246 patients) showed a lackluster, non-significant 51% relative risk reduction.  A sub-group analysis of 721 vaccinated adults with at least one risk factor for progression to severe COVID-19 showed a non-significant relative risk reduction in hospitalization or death (treatment arm: 3/361; placebo: 7/360) According to Pfizer’s official June 14th 2022 press release, results from the Phase 2/3 of the amended Paxlovid EPIC-SR (Evaluation of Protease Inhibition for COVID-19 in Standard-Risk Patients) study showed: Paxlovid, the novel primary endpoint of self-reported, sustained alleviation of all symptoms for four consecutive days was not met. Pfizer will cease enrollment into the EPIC-SR trial due to low rate of hospitalization or death in the standard-risk population. Tucked within Pfizer’s press release was the following financial nugget for investors:  “The results from these additional analyses are not expected to impact Pfizer’s full-year 2022 revenue guidance.”  The reason for that is: Pfizer already has $5.3 billion in hand from taxpayers, and has locked in “blockbuster status” (defined as one billion dollars in sales of a single drug). In addition to the $5.3 billion already committed, in January the U.S. announced a confidential additional “commitment” to order an additional 10 million doses (at the price of 5.3 billion dollars more, for a total of $10.6 billion) giving Pfizer highly sought after “super blockbuster status” (defined as having 10 billion dollars in sales of a single drug).  “The administration is firmly committed to proceeding with the (additional) purchase” a White House official stated in April 2022. According to Bloomberg, The White House initially sought $22.5 billion in new pandemic funding. Democrats were prepared to include just over $15 billion in a broad government spending bill earlier this year, but it was removed amid disputes with Republicans about whether it should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the government. The $10 billion Senate bill includes a requirement that at least half the money must be spent on therapeutics, but why did Biden gamble every dollar on one, single drug from one single drugmaker? Why was Pfizer chosen to satisfy the therapeutics clause by itself? Pfizer Altered its Paxlovid Protocol. . . After Receiving its first $5.3 billion:   As we can see, FDA Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) don’t always work out as they should, but in this case, it was because of some manipulative action by Pfizer and an outrageous and risky bet by the Biden White House. That’s because with no public mention, Pfizer had secretly lowered its own bar following its EUA after the White House had committed to purchasing $5.3 billion dollars of product.  Pfizer stated:   “Following the Emergency Use Authorization of Paxlovid for individuals at high risk of progression to severe COVID-19, the protocol was amended to exclude high-risk individuals and allow enrollment of patients without risk factors for progression to severe COVID-19 who were either unvaccinated, or whose last COVID-19 vaccination occurred more than 12 months from enrollment.”  (emphasis added) This way, Pfizer was able to administer its drug to a less severely ill, and healthier population in hopes of having a superior efficacy signal and a decreased safety signal, but it still failed to show an adequate clinical effect on any of its prospective protocol-established endpoints. Secret FDA Meetings Sound Familiar?  That’s Because it’s Happened Before:   In order to amend the protocol following FDA submission, Pfizer would have had to have communicate about it with the FDA formally and in writing.  A former Pfizer non-scientist executive, Patrizia Cavazzoni is now the head of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, would have had to approve the change.  Interestingly, Pfizer’s protocol amendment was kept under such tight wraps, that it was not known about until the Pfizer June 2022 press release.  About a week prior, Yale University’s YaleMedicine publication had even published a lengthy article on the benefits of Paxlovid as quoting the outdated original protocol endpoints.  On June 7th 2022, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla had announced plans to spend over $100 million to increase Paxlovid production and committing to hire hundreds of new employees as its way to maintain appearances with the White House and Pfizer investors. Paxlovid is not the first example of “secret” and scientifically questionable decisions have been made outside of standard channels at the FDA under Patrizia Cavazzoni’s watch.  About a year ago, secret meetings surrounded Biogen’s multi-billion-dollar monoclonal antibody drug aducanumab (Aduhelm) for Alzheimer’s Disease, which had failed both safety and efficacy on every study it had attempted.  However following contentious and potentially illegal and unethical back-channel meeting with Biogen executives.  Biogen’s drug was approved by Cavazzoni against advice from FDA advisory committee members and FDA employees.  Cavazzoni affirmed her decision by writing a comically inadequate 1.5 page justification — which mostly quoted others’ opinions and did zero to address their debatable hypotheses.  Nearly every medical commentator  scolded Cavazzoni’s approval of aducanumab, calling it things like “false hope,” “bad medicine,” “disgraceful,” “dangerous” “a disaster” or “a new low.”  The circumstances surrounding Pfizer’s Paxlovid and clinical outcomes are similarly awful. But unlike Biogen, I couldn’t even find any online record of a meeting, justifying the protocol amendment for Paxlovid by Cavazzoni, — let alone an inadequate one.  Pfizer would have had to provide detailed reasoning in its protocol amendment and the FDA kept those requests and those changes a secret.  Its just another example of the total lack of FDA transparency. I had opined in an op-ed article a year ago that Cavazzoni would continue to make questionable decisions due to her close ties and extended history of employment in big pharma.  Most of Cavazzoni’s career shows her working as a non-scientist big pharma executive.   She also has a conspicuous lack basic scientific or research experience for holding such a critical public health position. Unfortunately, I was correct, but it’s the taxpayer that will bear the failed Paxlovid gamble. The White House Wasted Many Billions and Looks Stupid(er)  One question is:  why did the White House commit to and cut a blank check of taxpayer dollars before obtaining conclusive findings? It’s not as if Pfizer is hurting for money or that Americans don’t already have multiple alternative inexpensive generic alternatives with an voluminous amount of peer-reviewed evidence behind them, covering decades and hundreds of thousands of patients.  Still the Biden White House made the choice to purchase Paxlovid and ignore the historic 6th century BCE wisdom from the Proverbs of Ahiqar and “throw away two in the hand (ie, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin) for one in the bush (Paxlovid).” Americans Never Needed Paxlovid; Omicron/Delta COVID-19 Symptoms Are Mild.  What we all have known for some time is that the dominant mutated variants of Delta and Omicron (which comprise >99%, of current cases per the CDC) infections are mild, and deaths and hospitalizations are down because most people only get minimal to moderate cold-like symptoms these days.  Even Johns Hopkins shows all-time record lows in COVID-19-related hospital ICU admissions. Pfizer may have exaggerated its experimental product and been deceptive about changing its protocol without informing the public.  By trusting Pfizer and making a considerable gamble with taxpayer funds, the White House flushed $5.3 billion taxpayer dollars largely down the drain.  The White House is now on the hook for an additional $5.3 billion for a total of $10.6 billion for an ineffective COVID-19 treatment that Pfizer had already developed, when they could have spent almost nothing and promoted the established safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin with an established, superior outcome.  More practically, since Delta and Omicron are mild, we could have just let COVID-19 mutations run their course and treat infections symptomatically with available generic pharmacology so that individuals can obtain natural immunity. What a preposterous and outrageous waste of taxpayer money.  Will President Biden or anyone else be held responsible?  I think we all know the answer to that. By Dr. David Gortler Dr. David Gortler is a pharmacologist, pharmacist, and FDA and health care policy oversight fellow and FDA reform advocate at the Ethics and Public Policy Center think tank in Washington, DC. He was a professor of pharmacology and biotechnology at the Yale University School of Medicine, where he also served as a faculty appointee to the Yale University Bioethics Center.  While at Yale, he was recruited by the FDA and become a medical officer who was later appointed as senior advisor to the FDA commissioner for drug safety, FDA science policy, and FDA regulatory affairs.  He is an exiled columnist from Forbes, where he used to write on drug safety, healthcare politics, and FDA policy. Tyler Durden Sun, 07/10/2022 - 23:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 11th, 2022

DEBT DIARIES: 26 stories of the student-debt "hamster wheel" that borrowers of all ages and incomes can"t escape

Insider spoke with more than two dozen student-loan borrowers eagerly awaiting Biden's expected announcement on debt forgiveness. Marianne Ayala/InsiderThe $1.7 trillion student-debt crisis in the US continues to grow, making the burden heavier for millions of Americans.Since March 2020, as part of pandemic relief measures, federal borrowers have not had to make student-loan payments, and interest on the loans has been waived. President Joe Biden extended the pause for a fourth time, through August 31, citing uncertainty with the pandemic. Advocates and lawmakers lauded the decision and the additional relief for 43 million federal borrowers.But even during the payment pause, many borrowers did not feel relieved. The looming date for restarting payments sparked anxiety and fear among some borrowers who knew that even though they had not been required to pay off their debt over the past two years, they would not be able to afford an additional bill in just a few months. That's why some Democratic lawmakers are calling for Biden to cancel student debt for every federal borrower."More than 40 million Americans have benefited from the federal pause on student-debt payments, but without cancellation they will be buried under a mountain of debt once again," Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told Insider. "The president campaigned on canceling at least $10,000 in student debt, he has the executive authority, and now is the time to deliver."Now, Biden is reportedly considering $10,000 in relief for borrowers making under $150,000 a year, and that announcement is likely to happen in July or August, closer to when payments are set to resume. But that relief could leave some borrowers out, like parents and graduate students, and the amount will not make a huge difference to those with much larger debt loads.Over the past year, Insider has spoken with nearly two dozen borrowers who shared their experiences with the "hamster wheel" of student debt, its impact on their lives and their families, and their fears that their debt will follow them to their graves. Here are their stories.Older people are giving up hope of paying off their student loans before they die: 'There's a real fear in dying in this'Marianne Ayala/InsiderOver 8 million borrowers over 50 hold 22% of the federal student-debt load. The burden can be so heavy that some of those Americans will never see a life without student debt.Three borrowers who fall into that category — David Wise, Linda Navarro, and Theresa Teders — shared how their debt had permanently altered their lives. They said they don't see it going away until they die.Read the full story here.Inside the 'vicious cycle' of spiraling student-loan debt caused by servicers just not picking up the phoneMarianne Ayala/InsiderPaying off student debt is one challenge. Getting help from a student-loan company to actually pay off that debt is a whole other hurdle.Two borrowers, Charles Moore and Lynda Costa, tried to contact the company that collects their debt for assistance with repayment, but hours-long waits and inaccurate information only caused their debt loads to surge even more.Read the full story here.'It's mind-boggling to me that this total amount is not going down. It's not going away': 2 borrowers describe the crushing interest that keeps them from paying off their debtMarianne Ayala/InsiderHigh interest rates are largely to thank for the $1.7 trillion student-debt load in the US, keeping borrowers from paying off balances far higher than what they initially borrowed.Alexandria Mavin and Daniel Tapia are trying to pay off their student debt, but interest keeps adding on to their monthly bills, trapping them in a cycle of repayment.Read the full story here.Meet a married couple with $130,000 in student debt after paying off $140,000 — but they started with just $54,000. 'The loans have always stayed one step ahead of us.'Marianne Ayala/InsiderRon and Marcia Rizzardi are a clear example of the toll that high interest rates can have on student debt loads. The couple started out with a combined $54,000 in debt from their educations, and over the past 25 years they've made $140,000 in payments. Today, they owe $130,000, and they don't see it going away anytime soon.Read the full story here.Meet a single grandmother raising 3 grandchildren with $75,000 in student debt: 'I don't want my grandkids to be in poverty'Marianne Ayala/InsiderGwen Carney, 61, is raising her grandchildren on her own — with $75,000 in student debt. She desperately wants to give her grandkids the lives they deserve, but in order to do so she has to work a full-time job while sewing face masks on the side for some extra cash. The pandemic pause gave her relief, but she worries she won't be able to afford to pay her student debt and support her grandkids when payments resume.Read the full story here.Meet a recent college grad with $143,000 in student debt: 'There have been times when I didn't eat' to afford the paymentsMarianne Ayala/InsiderWhile the student-loan payment pause extended to federal borrowers, those with private student loans continued to see their debt grow.Karla, a recent college graduate, has a student-debt load of $143,000, with $91,000 coming from private loans. Even though she's kept up with her monthly payments, the high interest is keeping her from even touching the amount she originally borrowed.Read the full story here.Meet a single dad with $550,000 in student loans for his 5 children: 'I'm just not going to take the chance on not sending my kids to school'Marianne Ayala/InsiderMillions of parents across the country want their kids to access higher education but can't afford to do so on their own. So they take out Parent PLUS loans on behalf of their children to cover up to the cost of attendance.While it's an easy loan to get, it's very difficult to pay off. Just ask Reid Clark, a 57-year-old single father with $550,000 in student debt for his five children. He said he didn't regret sending his kids to school, but he wished it had been harder for him to take on so much debt.Read the full story here.Meet a 64-year-old dad delaying retirement because of $265,000 in student debt for his 2 kids: 'I was going to do whatever was necessary to get my kids through'Marianne Ayala/InsiderRobert Pemberton wanted his two kids to succeed — and it came at the cost of $265,000 in student debt. He said that although he now makes a livable salary, his debt load became unmanageable after periods of unemployment and his wife's cancer treatment. He isn't sure when he will retire, thanks to the high interest rates on PLUS loans.Read the full story here.Meet a 57-year-old dad with $104,000 in student debt for his son: 'It was my obligation to do the best I could for him'Marianne Ayala/InsiderJeff O'Kelley, 57, has $104,000 in student debt from loans he took out to send his son to college. Like many parents who made the same decision, he said he didn't regret accumulating debt to give his son the best future possible. But he believes the "extraordinarily simple" process he followed to take on debt needs to change.Read the full story here.Meet a 62-year-old veteran with $104,000 in student debt after working in public service for 4 decades: 'I joined the Army to escape poverty. This is a different kind of poverty.'Marianne Ayala/InsiderJeffrey Spencer thought joining the Army in 1976 would give him access to a free education. It didn't, and now, at 62, he has $104,000 in student debt. And while he works for the state of California, which would make him eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, failures in the program led to his being denied repeatedly. He said he was tired of broken promises.Read the full story here.Meet a therapist with $81,000 in student debt who worked in public service for 20 years and can't get loan forgiveness: 'People in the helping professions are getting totally screwed over'Marianne Ayala/InsiderSince 2017, when the first group of borrowers became eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which forgives student debt for public servants after 10 years, it's run up a 98% denial rate.Lindsay Averbook, who has $81,000 in student debt, is one of the rejected borrowers. She's worked in public service — in mental-health care — for her whole career, and she said she didn't understand why it's taking so long to get the student debt relief she deserves.Read the full story here.Meet a single mom and adjunct professor with $430,000 in student debt: 'I'm in a hole that I'm never going to get out of'Marianne Ayala/InsiderMaria firmly believes her $430,000 student-debt load was not worth it. She'd thought that pursuing a master's degree and a Ph.D. would land her a job teaching at a university, and she extensively researched the programs and their outcomes to ensure they were worth the cost. But a layoff and medical bills for her daughter's cancer treatment set her on a different course, and she said she sees herself dying with her student debt.Read the full story here.Meet an independent voter with $163,000 in student debt who left the Democratic Party after 4 decades because she felt 'betrayed' by Joe Biden: 'I really felt he was going to help us with the student-loan problem'Marianne Ayala/InsiderAs a presidential candidate, Joe Biden pledged to approve forgiving $10,000 in student loans for every federal borrower. He won Melissa Andretta's vote with that pledge.Andretta, who has $163,000 in student debt, said she'd thought Biden would help with the student-loan crisis in the US, but now she feels "betrayed."Read the full story here.Meet a first-generation college grad with $250,000 in student debt: 'It's the price I had to pay to achieve the American dream'Marianne Ayala/InsiderObtaining a higher education is a pillar of the American dream, and it's one that Juan Antonio Sorto, a first-generation college student, wanted more than anything. The cost of achieving that dream was $250,000 in student debt.Sorto said that while he was proud of his accomplishments and the life his education had given him and his family, he wished President Joe Biden would do more to ensure others don't have to take on so much debt for an education.Read the full story here.Meet a single mom who took on $49,000 in student debt to put one of her 2 daughters through college: 'It's the only way for my kids to get an education and be successful'Marianne Ayala/InsiderDanet Henry, 53, is a single mom of two with a $49,000 student debt load for her oldest daughter. And once her youngest daughter graduates in three years, that balance will likely double. That's because Henry took on PLUS loans — the most expensive type of federal loan — and while she knows she has to pay back her debt, she wishes parents could be included in relief programs.Read the full story here. Meet 2 married couples who are blocked from a student-loan-forgiveness program because they were advised to combine their debts years agoMarianne Ayala/InsiderThe spousal joint loan consolidation program was created in 1993, which allowed married couples to combine their student-debt loads into one loan so they could make just a single monthly payment with one interest rate. The idea is that it's a more affordable option.But over a decade after Congress shuttered the program in 2006, some married couples are stuck in the program and cannot qualify for loan forgiveness because law prohibits them from separating their debt balances. Insider spoke to two couples — all public servants — who were told combining their balances was their best option, but they didn't know their loans would not be eligible for relief.Read the full story here.Meet a teacher with $303,000 in student debt who says Biden's $10,000 loan-forgiveness plan 'is not even a drop in the bucket'Marianne Ayala/InsiderWith Biden considering $10,000 in student-loan forgiveness, borrowers like Cheryl say that won't make a dent in the student debt balances they hold. Cheryl, 53, has $303,000 in student debt — and while she doesn't mind paying back what she borrows, she wishes interest didn't accumulate so quickly.Even if Biden cancels $10,000 in student debt, Cheryl said, she'll probably have to pick up a second job to afford payments when the pause expires after August 31.Read the full story here.A 61-year-old student-loan borrower chooses between paying her debt and paying for health insurance — and Biden's forgiveness plans won't helpMarianne Ayala/InsiderRobin O'Brien, 61,  could not foresee the pandemic when she took out student loans to go to graduate school. There's no way she could have anticipated contracting COVID-19, and the medical bills that came along with it.Now, as Biden gets closer to making a decision on broad student-loan forgiveness, O'Brien is also forced to make a decision: paying her medical bills or her $64,000 student loan bills — and she knows she cannot afford both. She's disappointed graduate students are not being considered in Biden's relief plans.Read the full story here. A single mom who took on $187,000 in student debt for her kids wishes Biden would consider parents in his loan-forgiveness plans: 'I just don't feel like it's fair that we're overlooked'Marianne Ayala/InsiderAdria Mansfield, 43, has $187,000 in student debt she took out for her kids' education because it was the only way she could afford to give them the futures they wanted. But while Mansfield is among the three million families with parent PLUS loans, it's unclear whether they will be included in Biden's loan forgiveness plans. Mansfield wishes people like her were part of the conversation."Half of our children would not be able to go to school and become successful if it weren't for the parents," Mansfield said "And I just don't feel like it's fair that we're overlooked."Read the full story here. Meet a 37-year-old with $108,100 in student debt who lives in a school bus because rent is unaffordable: 'Student-loan debt is by far my biggest regret'Marianne Ayala/InsiderNick Crocker found a way to counter spiking rent costs in the country: moving into a school bus. But that doesn't mean he's able to pay off his $108,000 student debt load. Graduating into the 2008 recession, Crocker wasn't able to find a job in his field of study, pushing him to fall behind on his private student loan payments. Now, he's not sure when he'll ever be able to get out from under the debt.Read the full story here. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJul 6th, 2022

Futures Slide As Recesson Fears Trump Tariff Optimism

Futures Slide As Recesson Fears Trump Tariff Optimism The rally that pushed stocks well above 3,800 during Monday's illiquid session when US cash stocks were closed for July 4 amid speculation that Biden was about to rollback many Chinese tariffs (unclear how this would help ease inflation but a move that the market clearly read as risk positive), fizzled as soon as Europe opened this morning and alongside the tumbling euro which plunged to a 20-year-low and approached parity with the USD on growing recession fears, also dragged US equity US futures lower as investors turned their focus back to the looming recession, which outweighed optimism around an improvement in Washington’s ties with Beijing. Contracts on the Nasdaq 100 were down 0.7% by 730 a.m. in New York, while S&P 500 futures slipped 0.6%. The cash market was closed for a holiday on Monday.  10Y TSY yields swung from gains to losses before trading 2bps higher around 2.90% while bitcoin rose, and traded around $20K after dropping below $19K over the weekend. US markets are set to reopen Tuesday after capping 11 declines in the past 13 weeks as an unprecedented first-quarter contraction boosted the prospects of a recession to near certainty. At the same time, consumer prices are far from peaking with inflation surging to 8.6% in May that left little room for the Federal Reserve to slow monetary tightening.   Sentiment was lifted on Monday as senior US and Chinese officials discussed US economic sanctions and tariffs amid reports the Biden administration is close to rolling back some of the trade levies imposed by President Donald Trump. While that came as a relief, investors continued to fret over a potential US recession, stubborn inflation and monetary tightening. Economic reports in Europe, including French purchasing managers’ indexes, came in below estimates. “The Fed will likely remain aggressive in its fight against inflation for now,” said Joachim Klement, head of strategy, accounting and sustainability at Liberum Capital. “At the same time, European growth is slowing down fast. This just puts additional fire on the growth concerns about the US.” “The government is very conscious that they need to act on the supply side of the inflation issue because the Fed has been slamming the brakes on the demand side whereas the real issue is on the supply side,” said Deepak Mehra, the head of investments at the Commercial Bank of Dubai. “Trying to fix that issue is giving the market a bit of an ease and comfort that we are finally addressing the problem where it is and not giving the wrong medicine,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. Among notable moves in premarket trading, cryptocurrency-exposed stocks edged higher as Bitcoin briefly traded above the closely watched $20,000 level.  Recession fears echoed in US premarket trading, where Carnival Corp. and ASML Holding NV dropped more than 4% each. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley strategists led by Michael Wilson said the US economy is firmly in the middle of a slowdown that’s turning out to be worse than expected amid the war in Ukraine and China’s Covid Zero policy. “Any fall in rates should be interpreted as more of a growth concern rather than as potential relief from the Fed,” they wrote in a note. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Cowen (COWN US) shares jump as much as 14% in US premarket trading, following a report late Friday that Canadian bank Toronto-Dominion was said to be exploring a takeover of the brokerage. Piper Sandler says that a possible combination would be “reasonable” for Cowen at the right price. Antero Resources (AR US) shares rise 2.8% in premarket trading after the stock was upgraded to buy from hold at Truist Securities, with the broker saying that a recent selloff in the oil company is an opportune entry point given gas and natural gas liquids are likely to remain strong. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks are gaining in US premarket trading on Tuesday as Bitcoin trades above the closely watched $20,000 level. Coinbase (COIN US) +1.4%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) +1.9%, Marathon Digital (MARA US) +2.4%, MicroStrategy (MSTR US) +2.8%, Ebang (EBON US) +5.9% Tesla (TSLA US) shares fall 0.8% in premarket trading, though analysts note that the electric vehicle company’s record production in June is a silver lining in an otherwise disappointing quarter of deliveries. Netflix (NFLX US) shares decline 0.8% in premarket trading as Piper Sandler cuts PT to $210 from $293, reiterating neutral recommendations, while estimating that the company’s ad-supported tier, which is expected to launch by year-end, represents a quarterly revenue opportunity of about $1.4 billion. HP Inc. (HPQ) shares slip 2% as Evercore ISI downgrades the tech company to in-line, saying PC “headwinds could get more severe.” Most European equity indexes slumped over 1% with miners, autos and insurance names among the worst-performing Stoxx 600 sectors. CAC 40 and FTSE 100 lag, dropping as much as 1.4%. Miners underperformed the broader European market on Tuesday amid concerns over the risks of a global recession and the blow it would deliver to demand for raw materials. Copper fell to the lowest level in 17 months and traded solidly below $8,000 a ton, as sentiment remains sour toward the industrial material used in everything from construction to new energy vehicles. Stoxx 600 Basic Resources sub-index declines 1.6% as of 9:42am in London, led lower by miners like Antofagasta, KGHM and Anglo American, even as iron ore rises after a four-day slide. Broader European benchmark is down 0.4%. The Stoxx 600 energy sub-index slides 1.3% after rising most since May on Monday. TotalEnergies drops 1.6%, BP -1.1%, Shell -1.3%. Shares in renewable fuel producer Neste outperform, rising 1.3%. The Stoxx 600 Automobiles & Parts Index dropped 1.5%, the third-worst performing subgroup in the broader European equity market. Automakers had their worst June sales in decades in the UK, while German new-car registrations also plunged. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Miners and energy shares underperform the broader European market on Tuesday amid concerns over the risks of a global recession and the blow it would deliver to demand for raw materials. KGHM shares decline as much as 6.7%, Anglo American -4.5%, TotalEnergies -2.5%, Shell -2.2% Rheinmetall shares fall as much as 6.1%; Deutsche Bank expects 2Q at the lower end of the guidance range for the quarter while most-in-focus unit Defence will likely trend above. SAS falls as much as 15% after the company announced it was filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US. European media stocks slide after Goldman Sachs slashed earnings forecasts across its media and internet coverage to factor in a more cautious macro outlook. Prosieben drops as much as 9.5%, Publicis -4.5% Uniper shares edged lower, paring earlier gains of as much as 11%, as analysts speculated on what a possible government bailout might look like. Dechra Pharmaceuticals advances as much as 4.5% on Tuesday after RBC upgrades to outperform in note in which it describes the stock as the “pick of the litter.” Cellnex Telecom shares rise as much as 5% following a Bloomberg News report that a KKR-led consortium is emerging as the frontrunner to buy a stake in Deutsche Telekom’s tower unit, beating out a rival bid from Cellnex and Brookfield Asset Management that had been viewed negatively by analysts. Lonza Group climbs as much as 3.8% after it got upgraded to buy from neutral at Citi, citing the market’s under-appreciation of demand for biologics manufacturing. PGS shares soar as much as 20% as Pareto Securities upgrades the oilfield services firm to buy following a period under review, with the broker saying that “the future is looking brighter” for the company. The euro extended its losses, tumbling to the lowest level since 2002 against the dollar. It also slid to the weakest since January 2015 against the Swiss franc. Earlier in the session, Asian equities were modestly higher Tuesday as China’s stocks gave back early gains after initial enthusiasm about the country’s improving ties with the US waned.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 0.8% before narrowing the advance to 0.2% as of 6:14 p.m. in Singapore. Energy and health care shares were among the gainers.  Chinese shares fell, after the province of Anhui reported more than 200 Covid cases for Monday and market participants assessed whether the potential scrapping of US tariffs on Chinese goods would help address global inflation concerns. The US 10-year Treasury yield trimmed an intraday advance over recession worries, giving tech shares a slight boost. Australia’s main index edged higher as the domestic central bank met market expectations by raising interest rates a half-percentage point and suggesting that inflation may peak this year. Benchmarks in the Philippines and South Korea led gains in Asia, with each rising at least 1.8%.  “The easing of tariffs -- if confirmed -- comes at the dream timing to save its economy from the endless virus battle,” said Hebe Chen, an analyst at IG Markets, referring to the China. “Even though it may not stop the downtrend, it could at least slow the pace and restore the world’s confidence in the second-largest economy.” Meanwhile, Thailand’s gauge was the latest to enter a technical correction. Asian stocks have been stuck in range-bound trading since the end of April as markets digest higher interest rates, the possibility of a recession in advanced economies and continued virus flareups in China. The MSCI regional gauge is down more than 18% this year In Australia, the central bank raised its key interest rate as expected to 1.35%. It’s among more than 80 central banks to have raised rates this year. The nation’s dollar weakened after the decision. Key equity gauges in India pared early advances to close lower as worries over an economic recession weighed on the sentiments.  The S&P BSE Sensex dropped 0.2% to 53,134.35 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index also dropped by the same magnitude. Stocks rose earlier in the day, tracking advances in Asian peers on the possibility of US rolling back some levies on China. A fast progress of monsoon rainfall, which waters most farmland in India, along with quarterly earnings for top companies that start this week added to the sentiment.   Consumer goods maker ITC was the biggest drag on the Sensex, falling 1.7%. Seven of BSE Ltd.’s 19 sectoral sub-gauges declined, led by information technology companies.    Asia’s biggest software exporter Tata Consultancy Services, will kickoff the April-June earnings season for companies on Friday In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index advanced for a third day as the greenback gained against all of its Group-of-10 peers. Treasuries were mixed. The single currency fell as much as 0.9% to 1.0331, its weakest level since December 2002, with losses compounded by poor liquidity and selling in euro-Swiss franc. German bond curve bull steepened and money markets trimmed ECB tightening bets to less than 140 basis points this year after French services PMI was revised lower. That’s down from more than 190 basis points almost three weeks ago, widening the interest-rate differential with the Federal Reserve. Scandinavian currencies were also dragged down by the euro sell-off and were leading G-10 losses against the greenback. Cable fell amid broad- based dollar strength. Bank of England rate-setter Silvana Tenreyro speaks later Tuesday and the BOE will issue its financial stability report. The Australian dollar extended a slump on the back of the broad-based US dollar strength. The Aussie had already given up gains after the RBA increased its cash rate to 1.35% as expected. It had risen earlier amid reports the US will roll back tariffs on some Chinese goods. The yen pared an Asia session loss as risk sentiment worsened. In rates, Treasuries were off session lows reached during Asia session, remain under pressure as US markets reopen after Monday’s holiday, giving back a portion of Friday’s steep gains. Five- and 10-year yields remain below 50-DMA levels while 2- and 30-year are back above. Yields higher by as much as 6bp at short end vs ~3bp at long end after rising as much as 13bp and 9bp, respectively. 2s10s curve is slightly positive after briefly inverting for first time since mid-June; 5s30s spread ~22bp after reaching widest level since May 31 on Friday. Short-end Germany richens over 10bps, outperforming gilts. Cash USTs fade Asia’s gains. Peripheral spreads widen to core with short-end Italy underperforming. In commodities, brent crude swung between gains and losses, last trading Brent down 1.5% near $111.78, while WTI rose after a long holiday weekend in the US with investors weighing still-strong underlying market signals against concerns a recession will eventually sap demand. Most base metals trade in the red; LME aluminum falls 2.8%, underperforming peers. Spot gold falls roughly $5 to trade near $1,803/oz. Bitcoin resides underneath the USD 20k mark and at session lows of 19.4k amid the broader risk tone. BoE Financial Stability report said falling crypto markets expose vulnerability, but not stability risk overall. To the day ahead now, and data highlights include the global services and composite PMIs for June, as well as the ISM services index from the US. Otherwise, there’s French industrial production for May and US factory orders for May. From central banks, the BoE will be releasing their Financial Stability Report and we’ll also hear from the BoE’s Tenreyro. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 3,814.75 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.3% to 408.04 MXAP up 0.3% to 157.72 MXAPJ up 0.2% to 521.38 Nikkei up 1.0% to 26,423.47 Topix up 0.5% to 1,879.12 Hang Seng Index up 0.1% to 21,853.07 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,404.03 Sensex up 0.3% to 53,387.68 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 6,629.33 Kospi up 1.8% to 2,341.78 German 10Y yield little changed at 1.27% Euro down 0.8% to $1.0338 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $114.01/bbl Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,803.33 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.64% to 105.81 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Senior US and Chinese officials discussed US economic sanctions and tariffs Tuesday amid reports the Biden administration is close to rolling back some of the trade levies imposed by former President Donald Trump UK automakers had their worst June sales in decades in the UK as ongoing components shortages kept them from meeting demand. New-car registrations declined by 24% to 140,958 vehicles, the lowest for the month since 1996, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Italy declared a state of emergency in five northern and central regions devastated by a recent drought, as a severe heat wave takes its toll on agriculture and threatens power supplies A more detailed summary of global markets courtesy of newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly positive amid a pick-up from the holiday lull although Chinese markets faltered. ASX 200 was led by the tech and commodity-related sectors with further support from a lack of hawkish surprise from the RBA. Nikkei 225 was propelled by a weaker currency but pulled back from early highs after hitting resistance around the 26,500 level and following softer-than-expected wages data. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were both initially lifted following reports US President Biden could make a decision on rolling back some China tariffs as soon as this week and with Vice Premier Liu He said to have had a constructive exchange with US Treasury Secretary Yellen on the economy and supply chains. Furthermore, participants also welcomed the strong Caixin Services and Composite PMI data, although the advances in the mainland were then pared as the central bank continued to drain liquidity and amid lingering COVID concerns. Top Asian News PBoC injected CNY 3bln via 7-day reverse repos with the rate at 2.10% for a CNY 107bln net drain. China is to set up a CNY 500bln state infrastructure investment fund and will issue 2023 advance local government special bonds quota in Q4, according to Reuters sources. Chinese Premier Liu He spoke with US Treasury Secretary Yellen regarding the economy and supply chains, while the exchange was said to be constructive and both sides believed in the need to strengthen communication and coordination of macro policies between China and the US, according to Reuters. US Treasury Department confirmed Treasury Secretary Yellen held a virtual meeting with China's Vice Premier Liu He as part of efforts to maintain open lines of communication, while they discussed macroeconomic and financial developments in both China and US, as well as the global economic outlook and food security challenge. Furthermore, Yellen raised issues of concern including the impact of Russia's war against Ukraine on the global economy and "unfair, non-market PRC economic practices", according to Reuters. RBA hiked the Cash rate Target by 50bps to 1.35%, as expected, while it reiterated that the board expects to take further steps in the process of normalising monetary conditions with the size and timing of future interest rate increases will be guided by the incoming data and the board's assessment of the outlook for inflation and the labour market. Furthermore, the central bank noted that Australian inflation was high but was not as high as in other countries and it forecast inflation to peak this year before declining back towards the 2-3% range next year. European bourses are pressured across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.8%, as a broader risk-off move takes hold despite a relatively constructive APAC handover and limited newsflow in European hours. A move that has impaired US futures, ES -0.4%, as we await the lead from stateside participants re-joining after the long-weekend with a quiet schedule ahead. European sectors are predominantly in the red, though the clear defensive bias is keeping the likes of Food and Healthcare afloat. Top European News UK faces its first national train drivers' strike in 25 years with the head of the UK train drivers' union warning of 'massive' disruption as members vote on their first strike since 1995, according to FT. BoE Financial Stability Report (July): will raise the counter-cyclical capital buffer rate to 2% in July 2023. Click here for more detail. Ukraine Latest: Turkey Renews Threat to Veto NATO Expansion Bunds Bull Steepen, ECB Hike Bets Pared After French PMI Revised UK Train Drivers Would Make Threatened Strikes National: Union FX DXY sets new 2022 best above 106.000 after taking time out to mark US Independence Day, reaches 106.24 before waning marginally. Euro slumps to fresh multi-year lows as EGBs rebound strongly and risk appetite evaporates; EUR/USD probes 1.0300, EUR/CHF sub-0.9950 and EUR/JPY below 140.00. Aussie underperforms irrespective of 50bp RBA rate hike as accompanying statement sounds less hawkish on inflation; AUD/USD under 0.6800 from close to 0.6900 overnight and AUD/NZD cross retreats through 1.1050. Pound down regardless of upgrades to final UK services and composite PMIs as Buck rallies broadly and BoE’s FSR flags material deterioration in global economic outlook, Cable beneath 1.2050 from circa 1.2125 peak. Yen holds up better than others amidst Greenback strength on risk and rate grounds; USD/JPY eyes support into 135.50 vs 136.00+ at the other extreme. Fixed Income Bonds on course for a turnaround Tuesday after marked retreat from pre-weekend peaks on Independence Day. Bunds back above 150.00 from 148.72 low and Friday's 151.65 high, Gilts reclaim 115.00+ status within 116.58-114.60 range and 10 year T-note above 119-00 between 119-20+/118-23 parameters. UK 2051 and German 2033 linker supply reasonably well received, but yields considerably higher. In commodities Crude benchmarks were fairly resilient to the broader risk tone, but have most recently succumbed to the pressure and are at the lower-end of a USD 3-4/bbl range. Reminder, the lack of settlement due to the US market holiday is causing some discrepancy between WTI and Brent, though they are directionally moving in tandem. UAE’s ADNOC set Murban crude OSP for August at USD 117.53/bbl vs prev. USD 109.68/bbl in July, according to Reuters. Norway's Lederne union said the strike in the Norwegian oil sector had begun, according to Reuters. Saudi Aramco has increased all oil prices for customers in August; sets Aug light crude OSP to Asia at +9.30/bbl vs Oman/Dubai average, according to Reuters sources; NW Europe set at +USD 5.30 vs. ICE Brent; US set at +USD 5.65 vs. ASCI. Russian Deputy Chair of the Security Council Medvedev says the Japanese proposal to cap Russian oil prices would lead to higher global prices, oil prices could increase to over USD 300-400/bbl, via Reuters. Chile’s Codelco copper output fell 6.3% Y/Y in May to 142.9k tonnes, while Chile’s Collahuasi mine copper output fell 15.4% to 49k tonnes and Chile’s Escondida copper output rose 26% to 106.9k tonnes, according to Cochilco cited by Reuters. Russian billionaire Potanin says he is ready to discuss a possible merger of Nornickel with Rusal, via Reuters citing RBC TV; UK sanctions on him do not target Nornickel, Co. is still working under pressure. Spot gold is impaired by the rampant USD action, pressure seen in base metals as well on such dynamics and LME copper now below 8k/T.   US Event Calendar 10:00: May -Less Transportation, est. 0.7%, prior 0.7% 10:00: May Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, prior 0.8% 10:00: May Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 0.5% 10:00: May Factory Orders Ex Trans, prior 0.3% 10:00: May Factory Orders, est. 0.5%, prior 0.3% 10:00: May Durable Goods Orders, est. 0.7%, prior 0.7% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I can only apologise in advance for the next few weeks! The Global Institutional Investor Awards will open later this afternoon and not to put it too bluntly we’d like to do well. So if you value our research please vote if you can. More details to follow when the poll opens. It’s been a quieter 24 hours for markets thanks to the US holiday, but the market remains confused about how to price fixed income in an environment where a recession is coming at some point. We've seen a big yield sell-off to start the week even if equities have stabilised, with a fresh rise in energy prices only adding to concerns about how different economies (particularly in Europe) will fare this winter if Russia cuts off the flow of gas. Overnight the US 2s10s curve has inverted again, the RBA has hiked 50bps as expected and Chinese PMI data has massively beat expectations so a few things going on even in a quieter trading period. We’ll start with markets in Europe since they were open yesterday. The biggest story there was a sizeable selloff among sovereign bonds as they gave up some of their gains over the last couple of weeks. Yields on 10yr bunds were up +10.1bps, but they were one of the better performers given the risk-off tone and yields on 10yr OATs (+12.7bps) and BTPs (+15.8bps) saw even larger rises, which followed comments from Bundesbank president Nagel who said that it was “virtually impossible to establish for sure whether or not a widened spread is fundamentally justified”. Nevertheless, Nagel did not entirely rule out an anti-fragmentation instrument but said that this “can be justified only in exceptional circumstances and under narrowly-defined conditions.” This question of how the ECB will deal with a potential widening in spreads is set to come increasingly to the fore as they almost certainly embark on their first hiking cycle in over a decade this month. And yesterday we heard some further comments from ECB officials on that hiking cycle, with Estonia’s Muller pushing back against the calls from others to start with a 50bps hike, saying that it was appropriate to begin with a 25bps move in July, and then 50bps in September as they’ve signalled. In line with the rise in sovereign bond yields, overnight index swaps priced in a slightly more aggressive series of hikes from the ECB, with the rate implied by December up by +7.1 bps on the day. Whilst the ECB is set to hike rates, their life is being made significantly more difficult by the ongoing energy shock that’s creating increasingly stagflationary conditions. Unfortunately, there was more bad news on that front yesterday, with natural gas futures up by another +10.26% to €163 per megawatt-hour, which is their highest rate since early March and more than double their recent low in early June. Matters haven’t been helped by a planned strike in Norway that puts around 13% of Norway’s daily gas exports at risk, according to the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, which comes ahead of next week’s scheduled maintenance of the Nord Stream pipeline, which will last from July 11-21. When it came to equities, the main European indices mostly managed to advance, although as mentioned at the top that was partly a catch-up to the late rally on Friday afternoon in the US, and the STOXX 600 was up +0.54% thanks to a strong performance amongst energy stocks. By contrast, futures on the S&P 500 were lower throughout European trading even if they have flipped higher this morning (futures +0.36%). One similarity between the US and Europe was a slightly more hawkish path for central bank rates being priced, with Fed funds futures taking the Dec-2022 implied rate up by +3.8 bps after last week’s declines. This fits with what Henry mentioned in his latest newsletter yesterday (link here), in which he points out that the recent repricing of the hiking cycle in a more dovish direction is inconsistent with the historic pattern whereby the Fed has always taken rates above inflation as they hike. This morning, yields on US 10yrs (+6.6bps) and 2yrs (+10.8bps) are catching up the global move after the holiday leaving 2s10s very slightly inverted as we go to press. Speaking of inflation, it was reported by Dow Jones yesterday that President Biden could ease some tariffs on Chinese imports soon, with the article saying that a decision could be announced this week. As discussed in the article and other media reports, this has apparently been a divisive issue inside the administration, since although their removal could help ease inflation, it would also give up leverage in obtaining concessions from China, so there’s geopolitical as well as economic factors at play here. Asian equity markets are mostly trading higher this morning partly on the tariffs story above and partly on better data overall. Across the region, the Kospi (+1.13%) is leading gains followed by the Nikkei (+0.82%) and the Hang Seng (+0.41%). Bucking the trend are the mainland Chinese markets with the Shanghai Composite (-0.20%) and CSI (-0.95%) both slipping as I type, perhaps on less stimulus hopes after a big beat in the Caixin PMI (see below). Outside of Asia, US and European equities are set to follow the Asian trend with futures on the S&P 500 (+0.36%), NASDAQ 100 (+0.47%) and DAX (+0.60%) moving higher. Early morning data showed that Japan’s services activity accelerated at the fastest pace since October 2013 as the Jibun Bank services PMI advanced to 54.0 in June from 52.6 in May. Meanwhile, Japan’s real wages (-1.8% y/y) extended its decline in May, notching its biggest contraction in two years compared to an upwardly revised -1.7% decline in April. At the same time, cash earnings rose +1.0% y/y in May (vs +1.5% market consensus, and +1.3% in April), thus adding downside risk to a consumption driven rebound in 2Q22 GDP. Moving to China, growth in the nation’s services sector surprisingly beat as the Caixin services PMI jumped to 54.5 in June, its highest level in nearly a year from 41.4 in May as Covid curbs eased. Elsewhere in the region, South Korea’s CPI rose +0.6% m/m in June (v/s +0.5% expected) and against a +0.7% increase in the prior month. As widely anticipated, we did see policy tightening by the RBA as the central bank raised its cash rate by 50bps to 1.35% as it moves to tame strengthening inflation. This is the third consecutive increase of the cash rate. The AUD/USD pair was little changed in an immediate reaction. There wasn’t a massive amount of data yesterday, although we did get German trade figures that showed the country had a monthly trade deficit in goods in May for the first time since 1991. That was thanks to higher import costs as a result of the recent commodity shocks, alongside disruptions to trade from factors including sanctions on Russia, which left the monthly deficit at €1.0bn. To the day ahead now, and data highlights include the global services and composite PMIs for June, as well as the ISM services index from the US. Otherwise, there’s French industrial production for May and US factory orders for May. From central banks, the BoE will be releasing their Financial Stability Report and we’ll also hear from the BoE’s Tenreyro. Tyler Durden Tue, 07/05/2022 - 08:03.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 5th, 2022

These 46 pitch decks helped fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. New twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series APersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalG 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of TulipshareTulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundHelping small banks lendTKCollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed roundA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BAn alternative auto lenderTricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investors A new way to access credit The TomoCredit teamTomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingQuantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOSussing out bad actorsFrom left to right: Cofounders CTO David Movshovitz, CEO Doron Hendler, and chief architect Adi DeGaniRevealSecurityAn encounter with an impersonation hacker led Doron Hendler to found RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup that monitors for insider threats.Two years ago, a woman impersonating an insurance-agency representative called Hendler and convinced him that he made a mistake with his recent health insurance policy upgrade. She got him to share his login information for his insurer's website, even getting him to give the one-time passcode sent to his phone. Once the hacker got what she needed, she disconnected the call, prompting Hendler to call back. When no one picked up the phone, he realized he had been conned.He immediately called his insurance company to check on his account. Nothing seemed out of place to the representative. But Hendler, who was previously a vice president of a software company, suspected something intangible could have been collected, so he reset his credentials."The chief of information security, who was on the call, he asked me, 'So, how do you want me to identify you? You gave your credentials; you gave your ID; you gave the one time password. How the hell can I identify that it's not you?' And I told him, 'But I never behave like this,'" Hendler recalled of the conversation.RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cyber startup that tracks user behavior for abnormalities, used this 27-page deck to raise its Series AA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series AHelping fintechs manage dataProper Finance co-founders Travis Gibson (left) and Kyle MaloneyProper FinanceAs the flow of data becomes evermore crucial for fintechs, from the strappy startup to the established powerhouse, a thorny issue in the back office is becoming increasingly complex.Even though fintechs are known for their sleek front ends, the back end is often quite the opposite. Behind that streamlined interface can be a mosaic of different partner integrations — be it with banks, payments players and networks, or software vendors — with a channel of data running between them. Two people who know that better than the average are Kyle Maloney and Travis Gibson, two former employees of Marqeta, a fintech that provides other fintechs with payments processing and card issuance. "Take an established neobank for example. They'll likely have one or two card issuers, two to three bank partners, ACH processing for direct deposits and payouts, mobile check deposits, peer-to-peer payments, and lending," Gibson told Insider. Here's the 12-page pitch deck a startup helping fintechs manage their data used to score a $4.3 million seed from investors like Redpoint Ventures and Y CombinatorE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series AShopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy VoProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series ADeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Branded cards for SMBsJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym.TandymJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is no stranger to the private-label credit-card business. As a former Capital One exec, she worked in both the card giant's co-brand partnerships division and its tech organization during her seven years at the company.Now, Glaspie-Lundstrom is hoping to use that experience to innovate a sector that was initially created in malls decades ago.Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym, which offers private-label digital credit cards to merchants. Store and private-label credit cards aren't a new concept, but Tandym is targeting small- and medium-sized merchants with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. Glaspie-Lundstrom said that group often struggles to offer private-label credit due to the expense of working with legacy players."What you have is this example of a very valuable product type that merchants love and their customers love, but a huge, untapped market that has heretofore been unserved, and so that's what we're doing with Tandym," Glaspi-Lundstrom told Insider.A former Capital One exec used this deck to raise $60 million for a startup helping SMBs launch their own branded credit cardsCatering to 'micro businesses'Stefanie Sample is the founder and CEO of FundidFundidStartups aiming to simplify the often-complex world of corporate cards have boomed in recent years.Business-finance management startup Brex was last valued at $12.3 billion after raising $300 million last year. Startup card provider Ramp announced an $8.1 billion valuation in March after growing its revenue nearly 10x in 2021. Divvy, a small business card provider, was acquired by Bill.com in May 2021 for approximately $2.5 billion.But despite how hot the market has gotten, Stefanie Sample said she ended up working in the space by accident. Sample is the founder and CEO of Fundid, a new fintech that provides credit and lending products to small businesses.This May, Fundid announced a $3.25 million seed round led by Nevcaut Ventures. Additional investors include the Artemis Fund and Builders and Backers. The funding announcement capped off the company's first year: Sample introduced the Fundid concept in April 2021, launched its website in May, and began raising capital in August."I never meant to do Fundid," Sample told Insider. "I never meant to do something that was venture-backed."Read the 12-page deck used by Fundid, a fintech offering credit and lending tools for 'micro businesses'Embedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote teamHighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingSpeeding up loans for government contractors OppZo cofounders Warren Reed and Randy GarrettOppZoThe massive market for federal government contracts approached $700 billion in 2020, and it's likely to grow as spending accelerates amid an ongoing push for investment in the nation's infrastructure. Many of those dollars flow to small-and-medium sized businesses, even though larger corporations are awarded the bulk of contracts by volume. Of the roughly $680 billion in federal contracts awarded in 2020, roughly a quarter, according to federal guidelines, or some $146 billion that year, went to smaller businesses.But peeking under the hood of the procurement process, the cofounders of OppZo — Randy Garrett and Warren Reed — saw an opportunity to streamline how smaller-sized businesses can leverage those contracts to tap in to capital.  Securing a deal is "a government contractor's best day and their worst day," as Garrett, OppZo's president, likes to put it."At that point they need to pay vendors and hire folks to start the contract. And they may not get their first contract payment from the government for as long as 120 days," Reed, the startup's CEO,  told Insider. Check out the 12-page pitch deck OppZo, a fintech that has figured out how to speed up loans to small government contractors, used to raise $260 million in equity and debtHelping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Jackson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersAutomating accounting ops for SMBsDecimal CEO Matt Tait.DecimalSmall- and medium-sized businesses can rely on any number of payroll, expense management, bill pay, and corporate-card startups promising to automate parts of their financial workflow. Smaller firms have adopted this corporate-financial software en masse, boosting growth throughout the pandemic for relatively new entrants like Ramp and massive, industry stalwarts like Intuit. But it's no easy task to connect all of those tools into one, seamless process. And while accounting operations might be far from where many startup founders want to focus their time, having efficient back-end finances does mean time — and capital — freed up to spend elsewhere. For Decimal CEO Matt Tait, there's ample opportunity in "the boring stuff you have to do to survive as a company," he told Insider. Launched in 2020, Decimal provides a back-end tech layer that small- and medium-sized businesses can use to integrate their accounting and business-management software tools in one place.On Wednesday, Decimal announced a $9 million seed fundraising round led by Minneapolis-based Arthur Ventures, alongside Service Providers Capital and other angel investors. See the 13-page pitch deck for Decimal, a startup automating accounting ops for small businessesInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now co-foundersNowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionCheckout made easyRyan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DPayments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia MontesiQoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ABetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay DavisAtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounderGleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPOAgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of LadderLadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionData science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of CounterpartCounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in fundingDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysSoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalPay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair SilverbergHum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Helping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Gut Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo ParejoKaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed roundThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 30th, 2022