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Executive Profile: Koniver Stern Group"s Lyle Stern on growing up, doing business and giving back in South Florida

"This is an amazing place to live," he says......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 25th, 2021

Momentum Is Building for Antitrust Reform. Here’s What That Means for Big Tech

Worry about the concentration of wealth and power achieved by monopolistic—or potentially monopolistic—entities have always been wrapped up in each respective era’s technological innovations. It is not surprising then that the focal point of today’s debate around antitrust reform is the size and scope of internet giants like Google, Facebook (Meta Platforms, Inc.), Amazon and… Worry about the concentration of wealth and power achieved by monopolistic—or potentially monopolistic—entities have always been wrapped up in each respective era’s technological innovations. It is not surprising then that the focal point of today’s debate around antitrust reform is the size and scope of internet giants like Google, Facebook (Meta Platforms, Inc.), Amazon and Apple—the pioneers laying the digital “railroad tracks” that have upended communication and commerce and, not coincidentally, allowed these companies to grow very, very powerful. The history of antitrust legislation in the U.S. stretches back to the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when transcontinental railroads bridged the coasts and ushered in a new era of mobility for both people and goods—along with concern about the formidable size and scope of these entities as they expanded, and then consolidated, to encompass entire industries. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 made monopolies and trusts illegal. More than two decades later, the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 expanded the Sherman Act by prohibiting business activities, such as price discrimination, that companies could use to lay the groundwork for monopolistic practices. Historically, policymakers primarily viewed antitrust legislation as a tool to keep big companies from muscling out smaller competitors, but that began to evolve in the 1970s. Since then, the governing principle of antitrust law has been the “consumer welfare standard.” When rival companies have to compete for the same pool of customers, it incentivizes them to improve their products and keep prices low, both of which benefit consumers, the standard says. In principle, antitrust experts say Justice Department (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officials have the tools to expand oversight and tighten requirements around activities like mergers and acquisitions that could be anticompetitive. In practice, however, a June report by Beacon Policy Advisors found that officials are constrained by a framework of permissibility implicit in the consumer welfare standard and a conservative judiciary inclined to defer to that paradigm. Pointing to the constraints and the growing influence of Big Tech, particularly since the start of the pandemic, many argue the consumer welfare standard is insufficient or inadequate, with calls for antitrust reform coming from the White House and, at varying levels, members of Congress. “One group of antitrust activists really are arguing for enforcing the laws in a radically different way than they’ve been enforced for the past 40 years,” says William Kolasky, partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed. Biden’s aggressive approach Since taking office, President Joe Biden has signaled plans to seize on the building momentum for major antitrust reform. Biden tapped antitrust scholar and Big Tech critic Lina Khan to lead the FTC, putting a proponent of more robust antitrust regulation in charge of the agency—along with the DOJ’s Antitrust Division—on the front lines of antitrust compliance. “Khan has indicated she really wants to transform the way the FTC enforces antitrust law. The extent to which she’ll be able to do that in a way that passes muster with the courts, we don’t know yet,” Kolasky tells TIME. Graeme Jennings/Getty ImagesLina M. Khan testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee nomination hearing on April 21, 2021, in Washington, DC. Along with Khan, the White House has sought to fill other key antitrust policy roles with Big Tech critics. Biden tapped anti-monopoly legal crusader Jonathan Kanter to serve as assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Antitrust Division—a nomination that is expected to receive Senate confirmation—appointed Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who has compared today’s economic disparities to those of the late-19th century Gilded Age, to the National Economic Council. Those advocating for a more robust antitrust regulatory framework are pushing for the use of a different set of criteria to determine just how big is too big. In a July executive order, Biden took on Big Tech along with other major industry sectors, saying consolidation enriched corporate honchos and foreign interests at the expense of ordinary Americans. “Robust competition is critical to preserving America’s role as the world’s leading economy,” the order says, citing examples in agriculture, health care, telecommunications, financial services and global shipping in which there is a dearth of competition. The executive order calls for marshaling a “whole-of-government” response and establishing the White House Competition Council to reorient American economic priorities to cultivate greater competition. The Administration has “basically directed the agencies with jurisdiction over antitrust enforcement to be very aggressive,” according to Jonathan Osborne, a business litigation shareholder at Gunster, a law firm. Osborne says this standard would apply to mergers and acquisitions that could lock current—or even future—competitors out of a given market. Biden’s strong support of unions and organized labor also has antitrust implications. The coalition his White House is building will consider the impact on people not just as consumers, but as workers as well. What’s happening in Congress? Monopolistic power is a worry that sometimes makes strange bedfellows, especially in Congress. But there is momentum for antitrust reform on both sides of the aisle. Following the House Judiciary Committee’s passage of a package of six antitrust bills in June with bipartisan support, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, advanced Senate versions of some of those bills with Republican colleagues. Klobuchar and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, last week introduced the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act. The legislation would make it harder for Big Tech to acquire rival companies. Under current law, regulators seeking to block proposed mergers must prove they are anticompetitive. The Klobuchar-Cotton bill would shift the burden to Big Tech companies, who would have to prove an acquisition or merger wouldn’t stifle competition. Last month, Klobuchar and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a bill that would prohibit big technology platforms from giving their own products and services preferential treatment, such as moving their products or services to the top of search results. Read more: Facebook’s Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week — And What It Means for Antitrust Reform Klobuchar also introduced the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, which the Senate passed in June. The legislation—a version of which has cleared a key procedural hurdle in the House of Representatives with some level of bipartisan support—would increase funds allocated to the FTC and the DOJ Antitrust Division. Despite the rare display of bipartisan coordination, the Senate and House —and members of both parties—have somewhat differing priorities when it comes to creating new laws aimed at thwarting monopolistic corporate power. Republicans want to rein in what conservatives view as big tech companies’ chokehold on political speech and, ultimately, free speech. Democrats are focused on, at the very least, constraining these companies’ ability to expand, with some—including members of the Biden team—calling for breaking up technology giants. The focus on Big Tech The heightened focus on Big Tech took on new urgency during the pandemic. As constraints on business and social activity forced Americans to rely more on digital platforms for communication and commerce, tech giants became more prominent, more profitable and visibly more powerful. “COVID underscored their significance. The good story for them is they became lifelines of goods and services. The bad news was that their importance and those lifelines became more evident,” says William Kovacic, professor of Law and director of the Competition Law Center at George Washington University. Antitrust reform advocates say Big Tech companies don’t need to be monopolies in order to stifle smaller competitors because they have an asset that gives them a critical competitive head start: access to data on millions and millions of people who use their products. Read more: Facebook’s Antitrust Victory Could Inspire Congress to Overhaul the Rules Entirely In shaping how people wrestle with issues of law and culture, Big Tech also has “an outsized political significance,” Kovacic adds. “That’s why you have this interesting coalition of Democrats, who have stronger preferences for intervention, and conservative Republicans who, for the moment, despise Big Tech.” Data privacy issues have also driven the heightened interest in big tech. While antitrust law was initially only focused on price and output, today it also is concerned with consumer data privacy—a topic experts say very much pertains to the question of consumer welfare and the inherent value of their personal data to big technology firms. Some legal experts worry that focusing on technology firms could backfire. “For a very long time, antitrust laws prided themselves on being industry-agnostic,” says David Reichenberg, an antitrust litigator. According to Reichenberg, the danger in writing bills that target a certain industry rather than problematic practices can make the laws unwieldy and hard to apply, especially in the face of rapid advances in computing power that is continually redrawing the boundaries of what it means to be a technology company. “The reason people have resisted industry-specific legislation for so long is it’s hard to administer, it’s hard to predict scenarios and know what’s going to harm consumers. We need laws that can adapt to the facts,” Reichenberg says. Tech companies argue legislation like the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act would stifle competition, especially on a global scale, and investments. Antitrust critics have also taken aim at other proposals, arguing that legislation targeting Big Tech could hurt the consumer experience. A nonprofit consortium of industry-affiliated groups signed a letter warning that under a bill in the House, tech giants could be forced to splinter their offerings and saddle consumers with less seamless, more expensive online services. The letter suggested that Google might have to strip its map feature out of its search engine, Apple’s iOS would be forced to peel off functions like iMessage and FaceTime and Amazon would have to scrap its Prime subscription service. But legal experts dismiss these arguments. “I have some skepticism that any legislation that passed would have those kinds of draconian effects,” Kolasky says. While technology is clearly in the cross hairs of the antitrust reform movement, other big industries from agriculture to biotechnology also are likely to face heightened scrutiny—and the Democrat-led executive branch isn’t willing to wait while lawmakers hammer out their differences. A partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue Airways that would consolidate the operations of the two carriers in New York City and Boston, for example, is the target of a lawsuit filed last month by the DOJ and the attorneys general of six states as well as Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, the DOJ filed an antitrust suit to block publishing giant Penguin Random House from acquiring rival Simon & Schuster. Whether in the halls of Congress or through the executive branch, it seems clear that business and industry titans face a once-in-a-generation moment of reckoning that all signs suggest will be significant in scope. “What the laws are supposed to do is incentivize them to continue to be successful, without the harmful effects,” Reichenberg says. Reform advocates across the political spectrum are staking their convictions on the belief that removing barriers to competition will help level the playing field, benefitting small firms and start-ups. “I think that the left is saying this is synonymous with economic opportunity,” he says. Ultimately, Reichenberg says what Congress and policymakers have to wrestle with is defining the law’s role as gatekeeper. “What all these laws are about is, through what lens are we evaluating if something is good or bad?”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 12th, 2021

50 unique subscription boxes and services that keep on giving month after month

The best subscription services provide unique discoveries and make life easier. We rounded up 50 subscriptions to gift to friends and family. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Earthlove delivers eco-conscious books and sustainably-sourced, ethically-made artisanal products. Earthlove There's a subscription for every interest you can think of, from books to fashion to pets. You don't even need to wrap them yourself, since they're sent directly to your recipient. We discovered 50 of the best subscription boxes, from flavored water to stationary. Although you typically order them for yourself, subscription boxes are also an excellent gift choice because there's one for pretty much every interest and hobby you can think of. It's easy to purchase online and send, too - no pesky gift-wrapping necessary. The best subscription services provide unique discovery opportunities, curate high-quality brands, and automate everyday routines to make life easier. But if you're worried about choosing the right subscription, most sites offer gift cards. Then, they can apply it towards a plan of their choice and personalize the subscription to their own wants and needs. So, even if the actual subscription box doesn't ship in time for the occasion (though no one needs an occasion to celebrate these days), your recipient will still receive notification that it's on its way, so they know you didn't forget about them. Check out 50 great subscription gifts below: Murray's Cheese: an assortment of gourmet cheese to try Murray's cheese Classic Cheese of the Month Club, from $63Whether you're a certified cheese lover or a newcomer, this gourmet collection fits any cheese preference. This cheese subscription gift provides up to four delectable cheese options to snack on each month. Calm: a sleep and meditation app Calm Calm Subscription, from $69.99Help them to unwind by gifting a subscription to Calm, a soothing solution to their stress. Calm is known for helping its app user maintain mindfulness, achieve better sleep, and reduce anxiety. The Criterion Channel: A streaming service for classic and contemporary films the criterion channel The Criterion Channel subscription, $10.99/monthThe Criterion Channel offers a refreshing selection of films to discover, even for the cinephile who believes they've seen everything. The streaming service features a diverse library of hidden gems from classics, independent films, to international discoveries. Scentbird: a monthly perfume and cologne subscription box Scentbird Gift a Scentbird subscription, from $44/3-monthsLet them unwrap the gift they really want – infinite new designer scents and none of the smelly sample strips. They can avoid the commitment to just one bottle and instead find their signature smell. Each month they will get a 30-day supply of the fragrance they want.  Menlo Club: a wardrobe revamp for the person who doesn't have time to shop Menlo Club Give a Menlo Club membership, $153/3-monthsMenlo Club is an affordable men's clothing subscription that will supplement their existing wardrobe with fresh pieces. The membership gives them the opportunity to take a style quiz and receive two to three items from Menlo Club's brands based on their personal style. Senior reporter Amir Ismael tested it out and found it's the easiest way to dress nicely without overspending or going to the store.Read our full Menlo review here. My Garden Box: bonsai and terrariums that satisfy green thumbs My Garden Box My Garden Box, from $35.50/month plus $12.99 shippingTurn their home into their own personal plant nursery with this monthly gardening and crafting package. Each month, they'll get everything from a planter, soil, and living plants, plus gardening tips. Loot Crate: a curated bundle of fan collectibles Loot Crate Loot Crate, from $9.99/monthWhether they are a gamer, anime fan, or pop culture aficionado, there's an exclusive crate for them. Each box is filled with multiple fan collectibles and apparel. Find the box that best aligns with your giftee's interests and get it delivered directly to their door.  Curlbox: products for those with curly hair Curlbox Gift a Curlbox subscription, $25/month Curlbox is the perfect gift for your curly haired family member or friend, with monthly boxes that share four or more hair product samples. It's a first come, first served system, but they could receive products from notable brands like Flawless by Gabrielle Union or Carol's Daughter. Rowan: hypoallergenic earrings for tweens Rowan Gift a Rowan subscription, $25/monthWhile this subscription box is geared towards tweens, the gold vermeil and sterling silver options can really appeal to just about any earring lover. The great thing about this subscription is that the earrings are all hypoallergenic in case the receiver has sensitive ears. Mindfulness cards, stickers, and sometimes surprise accessories also come in the box. Cloth & Paper: stationary and planners for the organization enthusiast Cloth and Paper Gift a Cloth & Paper subscription, $18-$240/1 month-6 monthsThe one who can't stop planning, jotting down notes, and sending cards will appreciate Cloth & Paper's subscriptions. There's a box filled with writing utensils, a box for planning and stationary, and one that merges the two. From brush pens and fineliners to sticky notes and postcards, they'll be planning nonstop.  Hygge Box: Danish coziness in a box Hygge Box Gift a Hygge Box subscription, $36-$49/monthHygge is the Danish concept of coziness, and this subscription brings just that to the table, featuring items like candles, fairy lights, tea, and snacks. The deluxe box also includes home decor, accessories, wellness products, and other full-size treats. They'll be celebrating the comfort and joy in the ordinary when you give this subscription.  Earthlove: earth-friendly home, kitchen, and beauty products Earthbox Gift an Earthlove subscription, $59.95/monthEarthlove delivers eco-conscious books and sustainably-sourced, ethically-made artisanal products. The company is all about the lifestyle and experience, providing a booklet with self-care tips and mindful stories, as well. By gifting this seasonal subscription box, you'll also be supporting a handpicked organization that nurtures the planet.  Winc: full-sized bottles of wine to enjoy Winc/Instagram Gift a Winc gift card, $60-$150Winc is a California-based company that both creates its own wine and curates bottles from top vineyards. It sends three full bottles of wine based on their "Palate Profile," so they'll get something that suits their particular taste. Its community rating system also points them to new names to try. Read our full review of Winc here.  Goldbelly: their favorite food delivered to their door Goldbelly Gift a Goldbelly Subscription, $45-$749You can choose from subscriptions to their favorite food like pizza and BBQ, their favorite cities like NY and New Orleans, or let the editors at Goldbelly curate the month's best sellers for a surprise box. Read our full review of Goldbelly here. Trunk Club: An at-home take on personal styling Trunk Club Gift a Trunk Club Gift Card, choose your amountTrunk Club is Nordstrom's personal styling service. It helps to simplify the often overwhelming online shopping experiencing by curating subscription boxes full of clothing based on personal styles and budgets. They'll only keep what they want to buy, and they can send the rest back. The gift card can be applied to both Trunk Club and all of Nordstrom's site. Read our full review of Trunk Club's masculine styles here. Nest: Beautiful, fragrant candles Nest Nest Candle Subscription, $40/3 monthsNest is known for its unique and innovative fragrances like Black Tulip and Wisteria Blue. The brand's monthly candle subscription delivers a new, expertly chosen scent to the recipient every month, each of which comes in a sleek glass vessel with up to 60 hours of burn time.  BarkBox: toys and treats for their best animal friend Barkbox Gift a BarkBox subscription, from $35/monthThe best way to please a dog owner is to gift not to them, but to their dog. Bark Box's adorable toys and all-natural treats are the highlight of the month for more than two million dogs nationwide. Read our full review of BarkBox here. Date night in box: a custom-curated date night sent right to their door Date night in a box Gift a Date Night in a Box Subscription, from $41.99/monthIf you're shopping for a couple that you know, this will take the stress out of planning date night. Each box is themed and comes with activities, ambiance for the night, and of course, snacks or recipes to make.  Adult and Craft: all that you need to make your Pinterest project dreams come true Cratejoy Gift an Adult and Craft Subscription from Cratejoy, from $31/monthCrafting lovers, rejoice because this box provides you with all you need to make your Pinterest dream projects come true. The box provides you with enough supplies to create the projects which range anywhere from photo transfer to woodworking. Disney Plus: entertainment options for every mood and interest Disney Plus Gift a Disney+ subscription, $79.99/yearThe popular new streaming subscription features unlimited, ad-free access to thousands of movies and series (including original, exclusive programming), and the ability to stream on up to four devices simultaneously and add up to seven profiles. If you know someone who still hasn't subscribed, you can help them tune into all the Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars content they've been craving. Read our full review of Disney+ here. Birchbox: beauty and grooming samples tailored to their style and needs Birchbox Gift a Birchbox subscription, $45/3 monthsThe grooming, skincare, and beauty industries couldn't be more packed with products for all types of needs and concerns. Birchbox digs through the clutter for them and picks out five samples each month that they should use. At $15 a month, the value of the service is unparalleled. Read our full review of Birchbox here. Harry's: razors and accessories needed for a close and comfortable shave Harry's Gift a Harry's custom shave plan here, starting at $5 one time payment with a $15 refill every 5 monthsThe gift of a clean, smooth shave is more cherished than you might think. Harry's full line of shaving products work together seamlessly, and you can customize this combination of blades, creams, foaming gels, and post-shave balms to send to your recipient. Read our full review of Harry's here. HelloFresh: convenient, easy-to-cook, and delicious meal kits HelloFresh Gift a HelloFresh subscription, from $70HelloFresh is one of our top meal kit subscription choices because of its tasty dishes, creative features like "Dinner-to-Lunch" recipes, and accompanying wine club. There are plans and menus to suit all types of cooks and family sizes, from vegetarian couples to omnivore families of four. If HelloFresh doesn't look like it'll suit your recipient, check out the gift options from one of these services. Read our full review of HelloFresh here. Atlas Coffee Club: the ability to travel the world, one cup of coffee at a time Atlas Coffee Club Gift an Atlas Coffee Club subscription, from $50/3 monthsMore than one area of the globe boasts amazing coffee, and around-the-world subscription Atlas Coffee Club is out to prove that by sending coffee from a different region every month. Each order includes tailored brewing recommendations and a postcard with information about the country's coffee-growing methods so they'll fully appreciate the flavor and history of each cup. Read our full review of Atlas Coffee Club here. Book of the Month: the perfect gift for people who appreciate the feel of a physical book Book of the Month/Instagram Gift a Book of the Month subscription, $49.99/3 monthsThis national book club is still going strong after more than 90 years. Every month, the bookworm in your life can choose a hardcover from five new titles and settle into a story that, more often than not, goes on to gain national attention and win major literary awards. Read our full review of Book of the Month here. Cairn: outdoor products to get them prepared and excited to explore Cairn/Instagram Gift a Cairn subscription, from $34.99/monthA group of outdoor enthusiasts came together to start Cairn, a subscription box of up to six products to gear anyone up for hikes, camping, and other outdoor activities. Whether they are just starting a new outdoor hobby or have conquered trails across the country, they'll be inspired by the food, gear, and apparel in the box to stop wasting time and get outside. Read our full review of Cairn here. KitNipBox: toys and treats for their other best animal friend KitNipBox Gift a KitNipBox subscription, from $19.99/monthOf course, cats also deserve to be spoiled. The toys will entertain them for hours and the treats will keep their bellies full through lazy afternoon naps. KitNipBox supports more than 100 animal welfare organizations by donating a portion of proceeds and products every month. Read our full review of KitNipBox here. FabFitFun: the seasonal subscription box filled with the best full-sized products FabFitFun/Instagram Gift a FabFitFun gift card, $25-$300Curating eight to 10 full-sized, premium products across beauty, wellness, and fitness for only $49.99, FabFitFun sounds almost too good to be true. Members can customize their boxes and add on other products, enjoy exclusive offers and discounts from brand partners, and access workouts through FabFitFunTV. Read our full review of Fab Fit Fun here. KiwiCo: activity-filled boxes that make kids forget they're even learning Kiwi Co. Gift a Kiwi Crate subscription, $65/3 monthsThis kids' subscription is divided into eight different types of "crates" based on the age group. The Panda Crate (0-24 years old), for example, helps develop their imagination and fine motor skills; the Kiwi Crate (5-8 years old) blends crafts, science, and engineering into hands-on projects; and the Atlas Crate (6-11 years old) explores nature and art. Read our full review of Kiwi Co Panda Crate here. Stance: socks worn by NBA players, skateboarders, and musicians alike Stance/Instagram Gift a Stance subscription, $57/3 monthsAs a kid, no one was ever excited to receive socks, but it's a different story for adults — especially when the socks are as stylish and comfortable as Stance's. With celebrity investors like Will Smith, Dwayne Wade, Nas, and Jay-Z, Stance definitely has an aura of cool that translates into its socks. Read our full review of Stance here. Hint: delicious, healthy waters that kick their soda habit Hint/Facebook Gift the Hint Flavor of the Month Bundle Subscription, from $16.99/monthFans of this flavored water stock it in their pantries by the caseful. The calorie-, sugar-, and GMO-free water comes in refreshing flavors like watermelon and strawberry-kiwi, which they can rotate through with this drink subscription. Anyone who's bored with regular water but wants to stay hydrated and healthy will look forward to each month's delivery. Read our full review of Hint Water here. Causebox: products for the socially and environmentally conscious Julia Guerra/Insider Gift a Alltrue membership, $199.80/yearCausebox curates ethically made, vegan, and charitable products from the top socially conscious brands in beauty, fashion, wellness, home, and art. Each quarterly box has a retail value of more than $250 but only costs $49.95 and has the added benefit of doing good — for artisans, the environment, and your body. Read our full review of Alltrue here. The Sill: low-maintenance plants for budding green thumbs The Sill Gift The Sill's Plants for Beginners Subscription, $60/monthEven those with terrible histories of tending to plants can build a thriving garden with The Sill. Each month, the houseplant subscription delivers a hand-potted plant in a gorgeous earthenware planter in one of four colors of their choosing. Read our full review of The Sill here. Rent the Runway: designer clothing rentals for less Rent the Runway Gift a Rent the Runway membership, $69/monthRent the Runway's innovative model means they no longer have to waste money on clothes they'll wear once or twice. Another clothing subscription to consider is competing rental service Stitch Fix, which caters to personal styles and budgets. Read our full review of Rent the Runway here. Mouth: gourmet treats from makers you've never heard of Mouth Gift a Mouth subscription, from $47.75/monthGourmet PopTarts, single-origin chocolate, and unusual chips made in small batches by independent American makers fill the boxes from this elevated snack company. There are seven different subscriptions to choose from, including a Best of Mouth tasting sampler and the hyper-specific Pickles assortment. Vinyl Me, Please: exclusive vinyl records to build their collection Vinyl Me, Please/Instagram Gift a Vinyl Me, Please membership, $119/3 monthsAdding to their vinyl collection isn't difficult when they can choose one exclusive LP each month from a collection of Essentials, Classics, and Rap and Hip Hop. The three-month gift membership includes one bonus record, while the six- and 12-month ones include two bonus records.Read our full review of Vinyl Me, Please here. ArtSnacks: supplies for artists of all levels ArtSnacks Gift an ArtSnacks subscription, from $24/monthPart of the fun of being an artist is trying out new products and techniques. ArtSnacks' collection of four to five premium, limited-edition art products (brushes, pens, paint, paper) encourages artists to incorporate supplies and techniques they might not use otherwise. They can join in on the #artsnackschallenge by using only that month's products to create and share a work of art.  Goby: the first electric toothbrush they'll be excited to receive Goby/Instagram Gift a Goby gift card, $50-$100The gift of good oral care is both thoughtful and useful. The Goby electric toothbrush is vigorously thorough, with the ability to be switched between sensitive and standard modes. Choose the eye-catching monochrome or metallic style, and throw in the brush head subscription so they always have an effective brush head. Read our full review of Goby here. Next Big Idea Club: the best nonfiction books, as recommended by bestselling authors Next Big Idea Club/Facebook Gift a Next Big Idea Club Hardcover Book subscription, from $249/yearThe book selections from Next Big Idea Club are curated by some of the biggest names in business and psychology non-fiction. Your recipient will read only the books that really matter, receive course materials that delve deeper into the content, access exclusive interviews, and discuss learnings with fellow members. Read our full review of Next Big Idea here. Frank And Oak: stylish yet composed closet basics Frank & Oak/Instagram Gift a Frank And Oak Style Plan gift card, $25-$500Canadian clothing startup Frank And Oak offers Style Plans for both men and women who are looking to build the foundation of their closet with long-lasting, versatile basics. The box contains items like simple crew necks and button-downs they can't go wrong with, plus they're all ethically sourced and sustainably made. Read our full review of Frank and Oak here. Carnivore Club: cured meats to snack on Carnivore Club/Instagram Gift a Carnivore Club gift card, $25-$100Hopefully they'll invite you to the picnic after they receive a box of delicious, handcrafted cured meats from Carnivore Club. The local salami, prosciutto, pancetta, and other cured meats taste far better than the kind they get from the grocery store. The price ranges from $29.99 per box, and each contains four to six meats.  The Bouqs Co.: flower bouquets every week or every month, just because Bouqs Co. Gift a Bouqs Co. subscription, $40-$65/monthWe would never turn down a regular shipment of beautiful flowers to adorn our desks or tabletops. With a subscription, you can save 30% on bouquets, enjoy free delivery, and set customizable dates for your lucky recipient.  Daily Harvest: the easiest way to eat and drink healthy Daily Harvest Gift a Daily Harvest gift card, $50-$200From breakfast to dinner, Daily Harvest is the purveyor of all things healthy. Its pre-portioned smoothies, harvest bowls, lattes, soups, parfaits, and overnight oats are far from rabbit food and will actually fill them up with the nutrients to attack the day. Read our full review of Daily Harvest here. Bokksu: authentic snacks from Japanese makers Bokksu Gift a Bokksu subscription, from $39.95/monthExperience the creative snack culture of Japan through Bokksu, the subscription where they won't know which one to tear open first. Think: Kit Kat flavors they can't find in the US, shiitake mushroom chips, kabocha bread, and citrus shortbread cookies. The themed boxes contain 20 to 24 snacks and a tea pairing. Read our full review of Bokksu Club here. Universal Yums: snacks from a different country each month Universal Yums Gift a Universal Yums subscription, from $25/monthAnother delicious snack box option from Universal Yums, this one spotlights treats from a different country each month. Each box contains at 10-12 unique snacks, plus a guidebook with trivia and games from the country. Past boxes have featured snacks from Spain, Greece, Indonesia, and Israel. Read our full review of Universal Yums here. Facetory: the best Korean sheet masks Facetory/Facebook Gift a Facetory subscription, from $19.90/monthSoothing sheet masks are essential to an at-home spa day. Facetory sends high-quality Korean sheet masks for half their retail price. Made from unique ingredients like banana milk, yogurt, marine collagen, and 24 karat gold extract, they address a range of skin concerns and simply feel great on their skin. Read our full review of Facetory here. Breo Box: high-end and boutique brand name products Breo Box/Facebook Gift a Breo Box subscription, from $159/seasonPast boxes from Breo Box have included TRX fitness accessories, smart home devices and smartwatches, and Bluetooth headphones. The high-end products aren't geared toward any gender — as long as they appreciate quality everyday essentials, fitness and health gear, and tech, they'll love Breo Box. Read our full review of Breo Box here. Stitch Fix: an inclusive and personalized styling experience Stich Fix Gift a Stitch Fix gift card, $20-$1,000Stitch Fix offers the most styling options for different ages and body types: men, women, kids, plus size, maternity, and petite. The average price for men's and women's items is $55, but they can set their own budget to receive clothes they're comfortable with, and you can give a gift card in amounts up to $1,000. Read our full review of Stitch Fix here. Tippsy: premium Japanese sake from top breweries Tippsy Gift a Tippsy subscription, from $93/boxWhile you have plenty of wine clubs to choose from, other types of alcohol are quietly waiting in the background for their moment to shine. Sake is one example — it's harder and more expensive to find, and it lacks the mainstream education afforded to beer and wine. Tippsy sources its sake directly from the best Japanese breweries for a more affordable price and teaches your recipient everything they need to know to become a sake expert. Read our full review of Tippsy here. Candy Club: curated treats to satisfy a sweet tooth Candy Club Gift a Candy Club subscription, $29.99/monthGiftees with a hankering for something sweet will appreciate receiving a Fun Box with six 6-ounce candy cups. The brand partners with smaller artisans as well as famed candy shops for a curated selection of delicious treats every month based on a personalized flavor profile.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 10th, 2021

Check out 25 pitch decks that fintechs looking to disrupt trading, banking, and lending used to raise millions

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 VC funding hit a fresh quarterly record of $22.8 billion in the first three months of 2021, according to CB Insights data. While mega-rounds helped propel overall funding, new cash was spread across 614 deals. 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. Real-estate management made easy Agora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO. Agora For 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 roundCheckout made easy Bolt's Ryan Breslow. Ryan Breslow Amazon 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 DHelping small banks lend CollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO. CollateralEdge For 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 round Quantum computing made easy QC Ware CEO Matt Johnson. QC Ware Even 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 models Kirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders. Beacon A 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 PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBs Stacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders. Now About 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 millionInsurance goes digital Jamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder. Ladder Fintechs 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 millionEmbedded payments for SMBs The Highnote team. Highnote Branded 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 fundingAn alternative auto lender Daniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor. Tricolor An 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 investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team. TomoCredit Kristy 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 AAn IRA for alternatives Henry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar. Rocket Dollar Fintech 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 millionConnecting startups and investors Hum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg. Hum Capital Blair 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.Payments infrastructure for fintechs Qolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi. Qolo Three 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 ASoftware for managing freelancers Worksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen. Worksome The 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 freelancersPersonal finance is only a text away Yinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert. Albert The 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 CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of Relief Relief For 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 roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize. Securitize Securitize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business banking Michael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo. Kristelle Boulos Photography Business 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 ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs. Spring Labs A blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round. So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancers JGalione/Getty Images Lance 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 BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisors Jason Wenk, founder and CEO of Altruist Altruist Jason 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 InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon. HoneyBook While 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 GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurers Fiordaliso/Getty Images Onboarding 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 Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot. Fakespot Marketplaces 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 ANew twists on digital banking Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley HMBradley Consumers 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 ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 3rd, 2021

Investors Bet Big on Climate Fight—But Activists Call for Scrutiny of Their Motives

(GLASGOW, Scotland) — Governments and big investors announced fresh steps Wednesday to pour trillions of dollars into curbing global warming, reflecting the financial world’s growing embrace of efforts to fight climate change as both a business necessity and opportunity. But some social justice activists called for scrutiny of investors’ motives, warning that the same financial… (GLASGOW, Scotland) — Governments and big investors announced fresh steps Wednesday to pour trillions of dollars into curbing global warming, reflecting the financial world’s growing embrace of efforts to fight climate change as both a business necessity and opportunity. But some social justice activists called for scrutiny of investors’ motives, warning that the same financial institutions that profited from funding fossil fuel firms were now being presented as green champions. There is a growing consensus that the private sector must be involved if the world is to avoid catastrophic global warming. Speaking at the U.N. climate summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow, Britain’s Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said that while countries such as the U.K. are providing fresh funds to help poor countries cope with climate change, “public investment alone isn’t enough.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] He lauded a pledge Wednesday by a group of over 450 major financial institutions to align their investments with the 2015 Paris climate accord — which calls for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and other efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. “This is a historic wall of capital for the net-zero transition around the world,” Sunak said at the conference known as COP26. The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero — launched this year by former Bank of England chief Mark Carney — promised to follow scientific guidelines for cutting carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2050. That goal — which means limiting greenhouse gas emissions to the amount that can be absorbed again through natural or artificial ways — is increasingly being embraced by companies and governments around the world. Scientists say fossil fuel use has to drop drastically over the coming decade to achieve that goal, meaning investors would likely have to dramatically cut back money going to oil, gas and coal producers. “It is huge that financial institutions managing $130 trillion in assets are now leading the charge to a net-zero future,” said Helen Mountford, a senior climate expert at the World Resources Institute think tank. She said that mobilizing massive public and private finance will be key to tackling global warming. To that end, Sunak said U.K. financial institutions and publicly traded companies will be required to publish plans detailing how green their investments and their own businesses are — in order to ensure they’re actually contributing to reductions in global warming. As home to the City of London, one of the world’s major financial centers, the U.K. “has a responsibility to lead the way” in financing efforts to fight global warming, said Sunak, potentially becoming “the world’s first net-zero aligned financial center.” But James Thornton, founder of the environmental law charity ClientEarth, questioned how effective the U.K. effort would be. “The U.K. market is still hooked on fossil fuels,” he said, calling for a task force to ensure companies don’t “greenwash” their activities — that is, using high-profile announcements of so-called green initiatives to mask other “dirty” activities. Experts also caution there are various ways to calculate net zero — and deciding on one standard definition is one of the big challenges going forward. Some campaigners were distrustful of the motives of big investors in general. “Many of the financial institutions meeting today have made a killing from the climate and ecological crisis, and we should be deeply suspicious of any attempt to spin them as the heroes,” said Dorothy Guerrero, head of policy at the nongovernmental group Global Justice Now. “Governments must regulate the process and lead the transition, instead of just handing it over the corporations.” Speaking on the same panel as Sunak, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen described combatting climate change as both a huge financial challenge, with a price tag of $100 trillion, and “the greatest economic opportunity of our time.” “Many renewables are now cheaper than carbon-based fuel alternatives and have lower long-term operating costs,” she said. “In many cases, it’s simply cost effective to go green.” U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order earlier this year aimed at requiring companies to disclose climate-related financial risks. Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, said the announcement by big investors reflected a serious push by participants at the Glasgow conference to put in place concrete measures to address climate change. “This (conference) has greater energy, more focus, an intensity that I have not felt in any of the other” U.N. climate talks, he said. But enthusiasm about the meeting was dampened among poorer countries, who noted angrily that Britain and other wealthy countries have failed to meet a previous commitment to provide $100 billion a year to finance climate-related projects in the developing world by 2020. That target is now expected to be met in 2023......»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 3rd, 2021

Check out 24 pitch decks that fintechs looking to disrupt trading, banking, and lending used to raise millions

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 VC funding hit a fresh quarterly record of $22.8 billion in the first three months of 2021, according to CB Insights data. While mega-rounds helped propel overall funding, new cash was spread across 614 deals. 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. Checkout made easy Bolt's Ryan Breslow. Ryan Breslow Amazon 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 DHelping small banks lend CollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO. CollateralEdge For 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 round Quantum computing made easy QC Ware CEO Matt Johnson. QC Ware Even 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 models Kirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders. Beacon A 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 PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBs Stacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders. Now About 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 millionInsurance goes digital Jamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder. Ladder Fintechs 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 millionEmbedded payments for SMBs The Highnote team. Highnote Branded 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 fundingAn alternative auto lender Daniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor. Tricolor An 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 investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team. TomoCredit Kristy 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 AAn IRA for alternatives Henry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar. Rocket Dollar Fintech 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 millionConnecting startups and investors Hum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg. Hum Capital Blair 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.Payments infrastructure for fintechs Qolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi. Qolo Three 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 ASoftware for managing freelancers Worksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen. Worksome The 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 freelancersPersonal finance is only a text away Yinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert. Albert The 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 CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of Relief Relief For 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 roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize. Securitize Securitize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business banking Michael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo. Kristelle Boulos Photography Business 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 ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs. Spring Labs A blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round. So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancers JGalione/Getty Images Lance 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 BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisors Jason Wenk, founder and CEO of Altruist Altruist Jason 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 InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon. HoneyBook While 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 GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurers Fiordaliso/Getty Images Onboarding 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 Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot. Fakespot Marketplaces 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 ANew twists on digital banking Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley HMBradley Consumers 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 ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 1st, 2021

Here are the voters who could decide the Virginia gubernatorial election

Insider spoke with voters and experts to ascertain the dynamics of the Virginia race, with an eye on independents, minorities, and young voters. Voters listen as President Joe Biden speaks at a rally for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Arlington, Va. on October 26, 2021. McAuliffe will face Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin in the November general election. AP Photo/Alex Brandon The Virginia gubernatorial election has shaped up to be one of the most competitive races of 2021. Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are facing off in a state that has trended blue in recent years. Insider spoke with voters and experts about key groups that will drive the election outcome. On Tuesday, Virginians will decide whether to make a wealthy political newcomer their next leader or give their former governor his old job back.Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe are in the closing days of a fiercely competitive and unpredictable race that has galvanized the Commonwealth. Youngkin, the former co-chief executive of the private equity firm Carlyle Group, and McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, have divergent visions of where they'd like to take Virginia, on everything from business and education to health care and criminal justice.It has been over a decade since a Republican has won a statewide election in Virginia. Since 2012, voters have consistently elected Democrats at the state and national levels, but they could buck the trend this time around as McAuliffe and Youngkin have been deadlocked in most of the final polls in the leadup to the election.Virginia's expanded early voting ended on Saturday with more than 1.1 million ballots cast, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan organization tracking the state's politics. "Turnout is going to be critical in this election. Now, the good news is that we are in a period of very high turnout," Brandy S. Faulkner, a political science professor at Virginia Tech, told Insider. "It's going to make a big difference given that the candidates are really neck and neck at this point."The outcome of the race may ultimately be determined by key groups of the electorate, including undecided and independent voters, minorities, and young voters. Insider spoke with voters and experts ahead of what's shaping up to be a test of the Democratic Party's electoral durability in a state that President Joe Biden won by a 10-point margin last fall. Voters cast their ballots near a giant mural at Robious Elementary School in Midlothian, Va., on October 3, 2020. Midlothian is located in Chesterfield County, a longtime Republican stronghold where Democrats have made big gains in recent years. AP Photo/Steve Helber Independent votersAcross Virginia's populous suburbs, especially in northern Virginia and the Richmond metropolitan area, and in defense-rich Hampton Roads, elections have largely been lost or won by the hundreds of thousands of voters who don't hold a firm allegiance to either party.In this year's gubernatorial election, many of these independents, who fueled Democratic gains in recent cycles, are up for grabs, with many already showing a reception to Youngkin's messaging around economic issues."What we see from the data so far is that those who have been undecided or have classified themselves as Independent are leaning towards Youngkin," Faulkner told Insider. "Given the nature of Virginia politics, that is what most of us would have expected."In the latest Washington Post-Schar School poll, McAuliffe led Youngkin by a slim 49%-48% margin among likely voters - the survey had a margin of error of 4%. But the Republican enjoyed an 18-point lead with independents.While many observers may be surprised with Youngkin's polling strength with independents, given the solid base of conservative support in the state, along with its not-too-distant history of electing Republicans across state government, Virginia's competitive nature in gubernatorial elections never went away."It's definitely inaccurate to classify Virginia as solidly blue," Faulkner said. "I think what many people were basing that on is the way that Virginia has voted in presidential elections over the past few years, but our state politics have been different. There is an ebb and flow, a back and forth, that goes on." Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe campaigns with Vice President Kamala Harris during a campaign event in Dumfries, Va., on October 21, 2021. Win McNamee/Getty Images Black votersFor generations, Black voters have played a pivotal role in Virginia elections, and while the journey to gain full representation has been fraught, the electoral gains have resulted in some of the most momentous electoral victories in US history.In recent elections, Black voters have generally made up roughly 20 percent of the electorate. Black residents comprise of a large share of the population in Richmond and its surrounding suburbs, along with Hampton Roads and Southside Virginia, and have become a growing part of the electorate in the influential northern Virginia suburbs.In 1989, Black voters powered L. Douglas Wilder's ascension to the Executive Mansion, making him the first popularly elected Black governor in the nation. And after decades of Republican dominance on the presidential level, Black voters pushed the state Democratic for former President Barack Obama during his successful 2008 and 2012 campaigns in the Commonwealth - with the trend continuing for McAuliffe in 2013, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, Gov. Ralph Northam in 2017, and Biden in 2020.However, 2020 marked a huge shift in the way in which many voters thought about governance and equality in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. For years, Black Americans watched as racial reconciliation was treated as a third rail in politics in many quarters, and calls for progress that were once ignored were now suddenly taken seriously.Black voters, who have long been rooted in collective political activism, may have overwhelmingly backed McAuliffe eight years ago against a deeply conservative challenger, former state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, but the onetime governor also defeated two high-profile Black female candidates in this year's gubernatorial primary.While those candidates, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan and former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, quickly threw their support behind McAuliffe, some Black legislators and voters opined that it was time for a new generation of leadership. Former Georgia state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams speaks during a "Souls to the Polls" rally in support of Democratic gubernatorial nominee and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Norfolk, Va., on October 17, 2021. Zach Gibson/Getty Images With Black turnout playing a definitive role in whether McAuliffe heads back to Richmond, any small crack in support will matter.Dr. Julian Maxwell Hayter, a historian and associate professor of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, told Insider that the importance of the Black vote, especially in a Southern state like Virginia, cannot be understated."I think Georgia demonstrated that African-American votes still matter," he said. "Virginia demonstrated this in the last several years, and North Carolina demonstrated it in Barack Obama's first bid for the presidency. If Black people show up, things change, and people know it."He emphasized: "African-Americans have exerted a disproportionate amount of influence, especially in relation to their population statistics, on American political imagination. And we still do."In recent weeks, McAuliffe has also brought in a range of prominent Black surrogates to help him make the case for his return to state politics, as Faulker, the Virginia Tech professor, remarked to Insider. "What we see right now is significant outreach to the Black community," she said. "It certainly made the difference for McAuliffe in 2013 and he is hoping that it's going to make the difference again. It's why he's leaned so heavily on Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, and Keisha Lance Bottoms among others." Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin, second from right, greets customers during a campaign stop at Todos Supermarket in Woodbridge, Va., on September 15, 2021. Alex Wong/Getty Images Latino voters One in 10 Virginians is Latino, representing the fastest-growing minority group in the state, according to the US Census Bureau. For the candidates, Latinos represent a sizable share of the electorate who could tip the election in their favor. The tight polling numbers show "where the Latino community could really flex some of its political muscle," Canek Aguirre, an Alexandria City Council member who co-chairs McAuliffe's Latino outreach campaign, told Insider. "We can be extremely crucial in getting those last points to make sure that McAuliffe gets across the finish line," Aguirre, who's Mexican American, continued.Latino voters, who are largely concentrated in northern Virginia, typically lean Democratic. In 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won their vote by 38 percentage points; Northam won the group by 35 percentage points in his successful 2017 campaign and now-President Joe Biden carried the group by 25 percentage points last year.Democrats are confident that the community will back McAuliffe, whose campaign has tried to engage voters through efforts like in-person events and Spanish-language media ads. The party has touted its recent policy achievements, including expanding Medicaid to over 500,000 residents, making undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition, and establishing a driver's credential for undocumented immigrants, to bolster support."All of these things we will continue to do and expand upon once McAuliffe is in office," Aguirre said. "Democrats have been delivering on issues, not just for the Latino community, but for the commonwealth as a whole," he continued. "I would challenge anyone to tell me what the Republican party has done for Latinos in the commonwealth in the last 10 years, because outside derogatory messaging and really vitriolic policies, I couldn't really tell you what the Republican Party has done." Voter Carmen Elena Oatway with President Joe Biden at Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe's campaign rally in Arlington, Va., on October 26, 2021. Courtesy of Carmen Elena Oatway For Carmen Elena Oatway, a Mexican American voter in Virginia, it was former President Donald Trump's racist language that drove her away from the GOP."I don't like my son to grow up and think that he has to hide his Mexican part," Elena Oatway, whose husband is white, told Insider. "I want him to be proud. That's why I choose the Democrats. I used to be a Republican, but no more."Elena Oatway said she voted for McAuliffe because she doesn't "want a 'Trumplican'" to lead her state, referring to Youngkin, who has tried to distance himself from Trump while at the same time embracing some of his rhetoric.Although the bulk of the Latino vote went for Biden last November, Trump's support among the group in Virginia surged by 6 percentage points in 2020 compared to 2016. And Republicans feel confident that they can peel off more of those votes this year."People within the Hispanic community, they've now realized that we need change and that they're stepping out of their traditional comfort zone," Yesli Vega, a Prince William County Supervisor who chairs Youngkin's Latino coalition, told Insider. "We're absolutely going to see a large number of people that in the past traditionally voted Democrat are now going to be supporting Glenn."Part of the coalition's outreach includes hosting rallies and virtual meetings as well as speaking directly with Latino voters to hear their concerns. Besides the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy, education has emerged as a top voter priority, according to multiple polls. Vega, a Salvadoran American who has two school-aged children, said the most important issue to her, and many other Latinos, is education. Virginia's culture wars have seeped into the gubernatorial race as Youngkin's campaign has elevated hot-button issues like "critical race theory" that are flaring up in local school board meetings. Republican officials and far-right figures have seized on the theory, which generally refers to an academic framework to study systemic racism in the US, calling it divisive. Youngkin has promised to ban CRT from K-12 schools on his first day in office, despite school officials in Virginia saying the theory is not part of their curriculum. Still, the Republican candidate's messaging has resonated with conservative parents, like Vega, who believe they should have a greater say over what's being taught to their kids. "As a mother, I absolutely have an obligation - a duty - to be involved in the education of my children," Vega said. McAuliffe, on the other hand, has decried Youngkin's stance as a "racist dog whistle." Former President Barack Obama, center, alongside Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, second from right, his wife, Dorothy McAulffe, right, Attorney General Mark Herring, left, and Hala Ayala, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, second from left, during a rally at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on October 23, 2021. AP Photo/Steve Helber Young votersThe young voter turnout rate in Virginia for the 2020 presidential election was among the highest in the country at 56%, beating the national average of 50%, according to data from Tufts University. The rate also reached historic levels in the 2018 midterms, and nearly doubled between the gubernatorial races in 2009 and 2017. Young voters - particularly those of color - went overwhelmingly for Democrats last year and helped power Biden's victory in the state. In the 2017 gubernatorial race, 69% of them chose Democrat Ralph Northam, opposed to 30% who supported his Republican rival, Ed Gillespie.Overall turnout in an off-year election is usually lower and young voters are less likely to head to the polls than other demographics. Young voters aged 18-29 made up roughly 6.2% of the early vote in this election, according to Democratic polling data firm TargetSmart.Anuj Kotak, a 20-year-old voter from Richmond who studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where McAuliffe rallied with former President Barack Obama last weekend, told Insider that he reminds his friends to vote every year. "Maybe we can only have a minor impact," he said, "but I don't think we're allowed to complain if we don't put any effort into change."Kotak said he voted for McAuliffe because the former governor is the candidate who will continue to push Virginia on a steady, progressive track. Also, he doesn't think Youngkin is qualified for the state's highest office. "I've always believed candidates without prior political experience are unprepared for governing, and Youngkin will surely follow President Trump's footsteps in that regard," Kotak said. Felipe Borja, a 24-year-old master's student from Blacksburg, also cast his vote for McAuliffe in part because he's taken strong policy positions on reproductive rights and marijuana legalization, whereas Youngkin has campaigned on "fear-mongering.""The critical race theory issue is nonsense. It's a bunch of word salad," Borja told Insider.But the major reason Borja, who identifies as a left-leaning independent, supported McAuliffe is because he's not Youngkin."If Glenn Youngkin is not a Trumpy, why doesn't he speak out against the moral rot that Trump brought to the country?" Borja said. "The thing that most matters most to me is that Virginia is a multicultural place of diverse experiences and peoples, and I don't think Youngkin appreciates that," he added. Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin, top center in the red vest, talks with students during a tour of the Culpeper Technical Education Center in Culpeper, Va., on October 13, 2021. AP Photo/Steve Helber Still, if young people fail to turn out, their lack of participation could potentially spur a victory for Youngkin. Last year, Trump only carried Virginians who are age 65 and older. However, according to the most recent data, this age group made up nearly 47% of the state's early vote.The youth "will turn out if they're engaged," Amanda Wintersieck, a political science professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said during the department's recent panel discussion on the election. "We have seen efforts by both political parties to engage young voters with more or less success." Young Republicans and Democrats are trying to get out the vote for this election cycle by phone-banking and canvassing for their preferred candidate. Both campaigns have made stops at universities across the state in an effort to gain support among younger Virginians.Yet Youngkin appears to have been more effective in targeting the age bloc, according to Wintersieck. "If you look at the last couple weeks, you've seen a lot of political ads from both Youngkin and McAuliffe specifically targeting young people, attempting to motivate them to show up to vote," Wintersieck said. "But what it seems is that's been fairly ineffective, particularly on the Democratic side.""McAuliffe is really struggling and he is struggling because he is not coming to young voters with the issues they care most about - issues like climate change, issues like racial justice, issues like gun control, and what he would do on those issues in the state," she added.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 31st, 2021

Bitcoin: A Second Chance For The Muslim World?

Bitcoin: A Second Chance For The Muslim World? Authored by Asif Shiraz via BitcoinMagazine.com, Bitcoin is the sound money that the Muslim world needs to accelerate into the future... The Ottoman suppression of the printing press is a poster child case of intellectual stagnation in the Muslim world. Although there was no outright ban, there is no denying of a massively missed opportunity here: A civilization’s failure to adopt a groundbreaking technological change happening right next door. In its golden age, this same civilization that gave the world universities and hospitals, optics and algebra, even a precursor to the printing press itself, got so left behind in the later acceptance of technology, that its very own holy book, the Quran, waited for its first mass publication almost 300 years after Johannes Gutenberg chugged out the printed Bible. THE DECLINE But Islam’s Genesis Block was entirely different in character: A spirited but sundry assemblage of women and men whose most remarkable trait was their openness to new ideas. The idea of one God in a multitude of divine contenders. The idea of one bitcoin in a multitude of shitcoins … oops... sorry... mixing up my chronology! So anyway, this fraternity of early Islam, along with its keen aspiration of ushering in a just social and economic order, is also remarkable in a novel way for its time: It represents a death cross of reason’s moving average overtaking that of intuition in religious history. Bringing intellectual inquiry at par with mystical experience, it paved the way for its scions to delve into scientific skepticism, empiricism and experimental inquiry, with Robert Briffault going so far as to say that “Roger Bacon was no more than one of the apostles of Muslim science and method.” But eventually, the music stopped, and the market corrected! There are many explanations for the downfall, most of them partially true, spanning decades and centuries, but if we want to point fingers, as human nature dictates, at some symbolic event, then it must be the Mongol destruction of the House of Wisdom, #SackOfBaghdad. In the age of manuscripts, so many books from Baghdad’s libraries were flung into the Tigris that a horse could walk across on them and the river ran black with scholars’ ink and red with the blood of martyrs. As the Muslim Ummah lost so many intellectuals and intellectual capital in this tumultuous period, its reaction has been, (understandably), like that of an intern finding herself in control of mission critical servers, where all the senior sys admins suddenly stepped down, died or disappeared. Your best reaction is this: I’m not touching this system, and the only commands I’ll ever execute are those handed down by the four illustrious system admins — founders of the established schools of jurisprudence. And so Islamic scholarship for hundreds of years has been in a maintenance mode. In Pakistan alone, over 12,000 Madrasa routinely teach the rules and regulations of exchanging gold and silver, centuries after its daily use has been replaced by fiat. SURVIVAL OF CORE TENETS But herein lies a wonderful irony. This code-freeze on innovation, which we otherwise disapprove of, did work to an extent as it was intended: It protected the core principles from being callously compromised or deliberately diluted in the hands of opportunists. Just like the extra caution and consensus in changing the U.S. constitution protected the principles of freedom and equality enshrined in it: Islamic law, too, enshrined core financial principles, that have been a thorn on the side of would-be reformers attempting to legalize fiat and modern banking in the name of Islamic Finance. The 12,000 semi-literate Madrasa students, parroting the provisions of the fair exchange of gold and silver from a 17th century syllabus citing a 9th century scholar, unwittingly become more correct than a Harvard doctorate in finance indoctrinated in the misguided larceny of fiat money! All because Muhammad ﷺ mandated sound money, just like Mises and Hayek after him, a tenet immutably crystallized in Fiqh — Islamic Jurisprudence. A business man himself, the Prophet of Islam possessed a sharp acumen for economics and finance. In modern parlance, he quickly rose the corporate ladder to become one of the youngest CEOs of his time tasked with turning around the failing business empire of the urbane female entrepreneur, Khadija. Impressed with the Prophet’s personality, Khadija quickly proposed to him, creating a power couple that changed the course of history. Just like Jesus turned out the money-lenders from the Second Temple, the Prophet of Islam, too, had a disdain for usury and outlawed most of the accompanying capitalist machinations, that contribute to the gross wealth disparities like 10% owning 76% of the assets. So he created some fundamental rules that constitute the bedrock of Islamic financial principles: Forbade usury (Riba), including interest. Still respecting the time value of money, the prohibition’s intent is to create a financial regime where profit and risk is shared between the entrepreneur and the investor. From a sound money perspective, it prohibits the core operation of issuing interest bearing bonds and T-Bills against which the central bank can inflate the money supply. Forbade uncertainty (Gharar), embodied in his famous quote, “Do not sell a fish which is still in the water.” Eliminates the possibility of fractional reserve, since outstanding debt cannot be monetized and traded further with, unless it’s paid. It also closes the tap on a myriad of derivative instruments that further inflate the money supply. Forbade speculation (Maisir), which includes outright gambling. Some scholars consider speculative market activity, like the Dogecoin phenomena, under the ambit of this ruling. Mandated sound money. The rules of obligatory charity tax in Islam are denominated in sound money. Muslim governments take the market price of gold, convert them to fiat prices, and announce the converted value to the public to pay the religious obligation of Zakat. But from a legal standpoint, it permanently establishes gold and silver (as well as a whole class of other products) as perpetual, religiously recognized money in Islam. These prohibitions are strong enough in Islamic theology that anyone who violates them is technically, “at war with Allah and his Prophet.” Which is why the Madrasa’s syllabus clings to “nature’s money” (Thaman-e-Khalqi): gold and silver. But of course, big governments, Muslim or otherwise, are a chip off the same block: Self-interest reigns supreme over ethical principles. In Pakistan alone, the religious case against fiat banking has been delayed and obstructed for over 40 years in the courts. The politics of deficit financing are so attractive that no one wants to surrender this magical money making wand. Voldemorts, all of them! In spite of these prohibitions, and in countries where religion dominates social values, Muslims still grew comfortable with paper money because it initially disguised itself as “warehouse receipts for gold” which duped the scholars into permitting it, but the jurisprudence failed to catch up with the subsequent thinning of this asset backing into its current meaningless extent. REFORM ATTEMPTS As the domino roll of national independences took place, four different threads of activity around banking spread in Muslim countries. First, the mainstream implementation of modern banking took root in every Muslim State, implemented in toto like its Western counterparts. Second, Islamic banking attempted to reshape things a little. Scholars familiar with both economics and Shariah attempted to “Islamize” banking via the new academic discipline of “Islamic finance.” But instead of faithfully creating platforms for risk-sharing and equity-based financing, it just followed the Medieval Triple Contract–like approach to practically clone existing financial products, accompanied by a plethora of research papers to justify it. Like a comedic quote from the cold war era, “Communism is the longest and most painful road from capitalism to capitalism,” contemporary Islamic finance, too, turned out to become the most painful and circuitous route from traditional banking to traditional banking, decorated with Arabic names! How the professional bankers duped these scholars and hijacked this effort is excellently explained by Harris Irfan in a podcast with our own Saifedean Ammous. Third, a large but silent majority of toothless Islamic scholars continues to exist who view all forms of banking with suspicion, but the growing chasm of knowledge gap between their education and the complexities of modern finance makes them unable to take back the narrative. Lastly, a much smaller band of Islamic scholars exist, like followers of the Sufi order of a British convert and his Basque disciple, as well as a scholar from Trinidad, who successfully identified the fundamental problem with modern banking from a Shariah perspective: its monetary foundation. You cannot “Islamize” a bank if you do not fix the money it operates on! Hence, their attempt to resuscitate the traditional Islamic gold dinar as a sound money alternative to fiat. GOLD DINAR: THE REAL ISLAMIC ALTERNATIVE Fiat money and its permissibility can be viewed through an important concept in Islamic theology, the Maqasid-e-Shariah: the goals or purpose of Shariah law. To illustrate this with a controversial example, consider a Shariah law which says you cannot punish a man or woman for adultery, unless you bring four eye witnesses to the sexual act (which is normally impossible). While Islam abhors adultery, the Maqasid is an attempt by scholars to understand why, instead of having a law that easily and swiftly punishes it, there exists one that makes it practically impossible to prosecute. They rationalized that it must be to shield people’s privacy and one-off slipups from society's nosy interference and appetite for punishment. According to Muhammad Asad, “… to make proof of adultery dependent on a voluntary, faith-inspired confession of the guilty parties themselves.” So the Maqasid points to some socially valuable goal that the law intends to achieve. The rationale of the financial laws of Shariah are similarly explained in terms of their goals: a just distribution of wealth, a money free from devaluation, a business contract free from usurious exploitation, and a regulatory regime that increases people’s wealth and well-being. Through a very elementary intuition, it is obvious that fiat currencies violate this principle of honesty and justice in the society: Money issuers steal the purchasing power of the people and devalue their money. To put a formal Quranic stamp to this reasoning, we can take verse 3:75, “There are some among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) who, if entrusted with a stack of gold, will readily return it.” The modern Islamic bank, if entrusted with money equivalent to a stack of gold, returns you only 90% of its worth in purchasing power, owing to inflationary erosion, thus it’s part of a system that clearly violates the Maqasid. Islamic banks have thus thoroughly failed to espouse the core principle of risk sharing and eliminating interest (since interest exists in the very issuance process of the money they are built on). The only real Islamic alternative ever proposed was the Gold Dinar Movement. Starting in parallel (and in many respects earlier) than Islamic banking, (with the first modern Dinar minted in 1992), it was incisively accurate in its assessment and proposed remedy to the money problem: “The Return to the Gold Dinar.” This was an earlier time, when the golden tool in the fight against fiat was literally gold, which was then popularized by Austrian economics, advocated by upright leaders like Ron Paul, and adopted by grassroots activists like Bernard von NotHaus. The Muslim world saw its own spate of activism for sound money, led by its most vocal proponent, Umar Vadillo, and associated initiatives like Wakala Nusantara, Dinar First and my own Dinar Wakala. The Kelantan State government’s launch of Gold Dinar was our own El Zonte moment, full of euphoria and promise that made waves globally. The passion and courage of this vibrant lot of Warrior Sufis represented the best of modern-day Muslims: Profoundly knowledgeable people, engaged in grassroots activism, to fix the most pressing challenges of the contemporary world. However, the primary strength of gold, its physical indestructibility, came in the way of its adoption: Logistic and regulatory hindrances prevented free flow of physical gold coins across national boundaries. In the words of its founder, Shaykh Abdalqadir, “The defense mechanisms of today’s late capitalism and its crisis management surrounding the buying, moving and minting of gold have surrounded it with prohibitive pricing and taxation.” It continues to serve as a galvanizing symbol of the fight against Riba, but making it a practical inflationary hedge, or a broader Ummah-level movement for sound money, proved an elusive goal. Without the Gold Dinar, the horizon seemed all but bleak, except that a glimmer of hope came from the most unexpected of places: Where scholars, economists and revolutionaries had failed, nerds succeeded! Enter Emir Satoshi! ADVENT OF BITCOIN For us in the Gold Dinar Movement, Bitcoiners are our brothers in arms: fighting the same enemy, securing the same goal. This is what I have always advocated to my fellow activists in the dinar movement, from as far back as 2012. Our Prophetﷺ, as well as the Rashidun Caliphs, never debased money, nor profited from seigniorage, but gave us the right to choose our own mediums of exchange. This is fundamentally antithetical to the monstrosity of legal tender laws, which Islamic scholars have been duped into legitimizing under various pretexts (highlighting the need for increased financial literacy in this lot). This freedom to choose a currency constitutes the common ground that both us and the Bitcoiners can rally around together. “The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust,” writes Satoshi. He recognized the problem with fiat and set out to fix it with Bitcoin, a miraculous epiphany that has let loose this growing, global band of fervid, somewhat bumptious Maximalists, as similar in essence and ethos to us, as they look different in appearance. I see Bitcoiners, not only in their pluck and guile, but also in the sly ingenuity of their weapon of choice, as nothing less than a modern-day David taking on the Goliath of traditional banking! From a Muslim perspective, the operating verse of the Quran in critique of the Bitcoin movement becomes 49:13, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Aware.” In the realm of monetary matters, the most righteous and noble are those who support sound money. It is appropriate that Allah stresses his own divine attributes in the verse, as a warning that our religiously colored conception of righteousness may not necessarily be the same as that of the knowing, the aware. (The literal term Taqwa, means something that protects you from the wrath of God.) And to the best of my belief, protecting and uplifting the poor, the downtrodden from the entrapments of a prejudiced financial system is surely a winner with the God of Abraham! A SECOND CHANCE We Muslims had set out to establish a just and fair society, and for some time, to quote David Graeber, succeeded: “Once freed from its ancient scourges of debt and slavery, the local bazaar had become, for most, not a place of moral danger, but the very opposite: the highest expression of the human freedom and communal solidarity, and thus to be protected assiduously from state intrusion.” But gradually, as our political and intellectual leadership in the world waned, we now find ourselves economically bankrupt, submerged in a rigged financial system, and enslaved to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A major reason for this impoverishment was the widening gap of modern knowledge. The following vicious cycle of three circularly dependent factors is another way of modeling our current reality: Low capital allocation for education. A generally weak economy leaves little allocation for investment in education of both scientific and humanities disciplines, which is required for a productive human capital. Low human capital. The first factor results in low quality of education in the populace then manifests politically in bad national decisions, engagement in conflicts, economic mismanagement, acquisition of debt and failure to curb corruption. Economically, this unskilled workforce has low productivity, scarce entrepreneurship and ineffective technology adoption. Religiously, it permits violence and extremism to breed along sectarian fault lines. Low economic output. The second factor results in continued economic tribulations, since the whole society is now in KTLO mode, instead of “adding new features.” Which leads us again to item one. It is the standard cycle of poverty played out at a macro scale, which many competing power bases believe they can break. The military, the Mullahs, and the Liberals, far away, even the CIA has prescriptions on how to solve our problems. But such temporary political and economic interventions bear no lasting results, since nations are built by worthy men and women, over a span of many years, who, given a free and peaceful environment, fall back on their innate drive for excellence to create a better world. It is the job of the revolutionary and his meteoric jolt, or at a smaller scale, your social entrepreneur giving a small push, that breaks a segment of society free from this vicious cycle: A closed ecosystem of wealth circulation, comprising of learned individuals, equipped with better technology and empowered with more capital, shielded from outside influence, and stabilized by a fair social contract, to launch the virtuous symbiosis of economic prosperity and human development which prop each other to newer heights. This break can start in many ways: a national independence, some strong leadership, or in case of Islam, the founding of a new religion. Islam’s own trajectory gives us a generalized three-stage pattern on which any revolution can be modeled, an excellent blueprint for our bitcoin adoption. Education: A new world view is conceived, and people are educated toward it for voluntarily placing their faith on it — Iman. Separation: The model is physically deployed, separated from existing systems, so it can grow and thrive without any negative external influences — Hijra. Protection: When the model grows strong enough to threaten the status quo, but still weak enough to be fully destructible, it needs protection, usually requiring armed conflict — Jihad. We in the Gold Dinar Movement believed that the break in this vicious cycle will come from financial empowerment: When Muslim people and governments adopt sound money, free from the shackles of the IMF, it will allow our bankrupt economies to manage enough disposable income that can be invested in other avenues in society, putting us on a path to progress and human development. Gold would bring back the Golden Age, producing men and women who are worth their weight in gold! But it could not. Let me explain why, and how bitcoin makes it possible. BITCOIN: A TOOL FOR REVOLUTION Following our three-stage model of a revolution, let’s review how bitcoin resolves the challenges of each step. 1. Education The common man, humble about his knowledge of finance, expects, like John Galbraith remarked, a “deeper mystery to the process of money creation.” But which really is so simple, he goes on, that “the mind is repelled.” But the chasm in traditional and modern education keeps our scholars from being able to religiously evaluate the fiat system, for which they need three vital credentials: a traditional Mufti qualification, specialized research in the Fiqh of Muamalat, and a study of modern economics. Only a handful achieve this, like the globally revered Usmani, who become thought leaders in Islamic finance: The rest take the easy way out and follow what they posit. I once asked a certified Shariah advisor on LinkedIn, if he knew what fractional reserve banking meant. I expected some abstruse, rule-bending justification for it but was taken aback by his honest admission that he simply didn’t know what it was! So the first challenge was to educate both the people and the scholars about the fiat system. Then to enlist serious academic and industry practitioners to devise a working alternative based on gold and silver. Then to have its demand trickle down into the masses to eventually morph into enough political pressure for the government to adopt it, much to its own detriment. Highly unlikely. Except that with bitcoin, educating the people now becomes much more focused and result oriented. The wider goal of educating people about finance and economics remains indispensable in both gold and Bitcoin-based sound money solutions. But with bitcoin, we don’t have to wait for a third-world academia and archaic-minded scholars to sell the solution to an unwilling government: We take the narrative, and the prerogative of action, back from them. We go tactical, orange pill the masses with an Urdu translation of the bitcoin standard, and focus on what is minimally essential to achieve within our means: Teaching Muggles... sorry…. No-coiners, the very basics of money mechanics, the role of bitcoin in our strategic response, and the know-how to stack satoshis in a cold wallet! The rest will follow! Coming to think of it, my initial printing press analogy is poignantly relevant. The press encapsulated years of knowledge in a simple package easily disseminated to thousands, which could have overcome our knowledge gap had we adopted it earlier. Bitcoin, too, encapsulates the quintessential wisdom of centuries of humanity’s experience in what constitutes good money and allows it to be spread easily across the world. It is both knowledge, and a tool crafted out of that knowledge. If we miss the boat on it, we will not only lose to “usury capitalism,” but the Bitcoin movement, too, will be deprived of huge potential support from a quarter of the world population. We must join the rest of humanity in a last ditch attempt at wealth equality. 2. Separation After educating people about money mechanics and bitcoin, the second step is the Hejira, our separation from the existing system. An Islamic scholar, Abdassamad Clarke defined “usury capital,” as “the use of capital that is both generated by usury and operated according to usurious principles, which permits a tiny clique of individuals, by the principle of fiat money amplified by leverage, to wield extraordinary power and accumulate unheard of wealth in such a manner as to subject the rest of humanity as menial servants in their project of self-enrichment, whether in the tyrannies of the East or the so-called free-market capitalism of the West.” The fundamental philosophical difference between Islamic and Western economics is how we view interest. Islam holds firm to the classical Judeo-Christian prohibition, believing that the time value of money is more fairly accounted for in equity finance style risk sharing of the invested capital, instead of a guaranteed return favoring the capitalist. Among other things, its side effect is prohibiting both the monetizing of our “future income” to issue fiat, and prohibiting the money-multiplier effect of fractional reserve, through the rulings of Riba, Bai-al-Dain and Bai-al-Madum. Bitcoiners and libertarians rely on an entirely different philosophical foundation to reach partially the same conclusion in regards to fiat, that it’s perverse, unjust and socially destructive. The end goal for both is the same: To separate ourselves from the fiat system and carve out an entirely new, independent financial system: The original idea of decentralized finance (DeFi)! Unfortunately, the bubble effect we so dislike in TradFi — traditional finance — is now itself widespread in the non-Bitcoin crypto world, what Ellen Farrington cites as the immense amount of “rehypothecation, leverage, and securitization,” which if misused can cause systemic risks that affect everyone. The practical reality of contemporary DeFi in the non-Bitcoin world is quite far from its theoretical goal. Looking at this aspect of “crypto,” some Islamic scholars took the liberty of invoking the gambling prohibition clause, something whose motivation we can sympathize with, even though we disagree with the conclusion. A lack of regulation at the administrative level cannot be countered by religious pronunciation of Haram status. It’s kind of like declaring cars as Islamically forbidden, merely because some people are driving them too fast and killing others. But presently, we are far less interested in how scholars view “crypto” than we are regarding bitcoin. The DeFi world’s shiny new investments offering unsustainable returns, its shady ICOs and the casino-like frenzy and get-rich-quick dreams of novice retail investors are far removed from what we advocate, from what we are daring to call a second chance for the Muslim world: A Bitcoin-based sound money adoption as a medium of exchange and store of value! But what is nevertheless commendable in the crypto world (led, of course, by Bitcoin) is the attempt to create this entirely new, independent miniverse of alternative, decentralized finance, isolated from the existing system. Building and expanding this decentralization, based on Bitcoin, is the essence of the second step of our revolutionary blueprint: the Hejira. Migrating from the old to the new. As Iqbal would have said, “Blow away this transitory world, and build a new one from its ashes” — khakastar se aap apna jahan paida karay. The only serious prior attempt for sound money among Muslims was the Dinar movement. But it only works in a physical jurisdiction: Where to mint, where to store, how to transport, how to coordinate electronic payments, how to deal with banking regulations, taxes and government interference? Theoretically, it was possible to instantiate an entirely independent ecosystem of issuance, storage, transport and trade using gold, but real progress on it was very slow. At the same time, the Bitcoin ecosystem has matured so much to be classifiable as an independent and isolated system, free from all interference from legacy finance. The Core Bitcoin Timechain, Lightning and Layer 2 smart contract solutions, and the globally distributed miner, node operator and supporter community, all combine to form a platform on which we can build and experiment with truly Islamic financial contracts of the form that are not possible with TradFi. In this ecosystem, we can resuscitate Islamic social and financial institutions like the Bait-ul-Maal, the Suq, the Waqf, the Guilds, the Hawala, the Wahdiya, the Qirad and the Musharaka, free from the restrictions of any government, securities commission or central bank. 3. Protection And once this isolated system is deployed, we need to protect it. A story is told in Islamic lore, that when Abu Dharr Ghifari came looking to meet the Prophet, Ali told him to walk a few paces behind him, and if he senses anyone suspicious he will stoop down to tie his shoelaces and Abu Dharr should continue walking ahead. Kind of like a coinjoin to obfuscate where he was actually going. When you are small, you must remain in stealth mode and operate under the radar. Later on, when the small state of early Islam was established in a nearby city, it needed a number of armed conflicts to defend itself from being nipped in the bud! Deploying a sound money system, too, may need a precarious window in which the sapling would need fierce protection before it grows into a tree. The hellacious powers issuing the yuans and dollars of the world are way too formidable for any third-world nation state to get away with a head-on collision. In fact, we cannot even withstand assaults from individual speculators, let alone a concerted effort by the global financial cabal to preserve its status quo. El Salvador and the like are definitely interesting trailblazers to watch out for here, but it is too early to tell. If a sufficient number of first-world citizens band together to defy their government in adoption of sound money, the response of fiat-powered regimes would (probably) be much more restrained in handling them versus some rogue state from a third-world country attempting to defy the dominant currency. I was told by a prominent Islamic banker that when Mahatir toyed with the idea, he was sent a very stern signal to “cease and desist” by the powers that be! So, can a Muslim government adopt and get away with either the dinar or bitcoin? I believe only in the latter. Only bitcoin has the necessary technological edge in terms of its unstoppability and indestructibility that can substitute for the need of a national military power strong enough to protect a traditional sound money built on gold. THE ISLAMIC STATE VERSUS BITCOIN But many Islamic revivalists believe otherwise and their goal is usually larger in scope than financial reform alone. It is a more holistic quest to resuscitate the political, social and legal structures of precolonial Islamic governments. Encouraged by the spectacular rise of early Islam that dared challenge superior powers like Byzantine and Sassanids, they believe it possible to recreate the traditional theocracy along similar lines, one of whose side effects would be to eradicate fiat currency also. Such ambitious projects downplay the urgency of fixing our financial system: No need to separately struggle for it if it comes as a natural corollary to the larger political renaissance. Now the specter of such pan-Islamic revival has been thoroughly demonized in Western imagination, owing from our own side to violent extremism, owing from their side to a deep-rooted Islamophobia, and owing generally to ideas (or realities?) like the clash of civilizations. But my Bitcoiner friends — whose libertarian ethos is so refined to even self-censure the slightist hint of authoritarian enforcement in El Salvador’s legal tender adoption of bitcoin — will surely agree that it is entirely within the rights of the Muslim world to voluntarily experiment, on their land, with whatever form of government they fancy: caliphates, sultanates or kingdoms! But the reality of this dream in the minds of the majority of modern Muslims is quite different from what the world perceives. The moderate Muslim just wants Islamic principles to be the guiding source of their political and social order. But the strength of this desire is often encashed by opportunists, resulting in two recent distorted models of political Islam: 1.The Iranian model: Somewhat broad-based and sustainable but toothless and symbolic. They are the political twins of Islamic banks, offering no real change to the common man, except moral policing. Financially, there even exists the oxymoronic Central Bank of the Islamic Republic. Why would you have an Islamic bank if you were truly an Islamic republic? 2. Second, is the Taliban and ISIS model: Narrow-based, extremist and unsustainable, divorced from the comity of nations. ISIS did reportedly issue the Gold Dinar but to no one’s avail, except perhaps as a recruitment propaganda. News out of Kabul promises a more restrained and balanced government this time around, but is it a genuine change of heart or just political expediency? So, while the Muslim world waits for a true Islamic reformation, and the world holds its breath on how the next such attempt turns out, my issue with this ubiquitous political quest in the Muslim imagination is just NGMI — it’s not gonna make it! We can’t stall the effort of immediate financial reform on some future promise of a bigger change happening to facilitate it. As an Urdu saying goes, na nau munn tayl hoe ga, na Radha naachay gi: Neither shall the king be able to provision nine gallons of lamp oil, and nor will the stage ever be lit enough for his dancing girl, Radha, to perform! Nevertheless, assuming for a moment that a mature, viable, modern Islamic government does get established by some geopolitical miracle, faithful to Islam’s core tenets, and broad-based in popular support, the next and more pertinent question becomes: Will it have sufficient political, and if necessary, military power, to deploy a gold-based sound monetary system in their country, and then get away with the sanctions and isolation that follow? And this is where bitcoin, once again, outshines other alternatives. The one trait that sets it apart from all “crypto”, and indeed, all monies in human history: true, sovereign-grade censorship resistance, from both your own government and foreign powers. Without needing any battalions or bombs, bitcoin enables us to fight the good fight ourselves and win. And if the broader Islamic reformation materializes, bitcoin can support it, too, for bypassing potential sanctions and increasing national wealth! God has a knack for defeating evil by the simplest of designs — the mighty Goliath with a slingshot, the persecutors of the Prophet with a humble spider — as if to compound the humiliation of defeat by the plainness of its bearer. Who could have thought that the Kremlins, Zhongnanhais and White Houses of the world would be made helpless by the confluence of two elementary ideas: proof of work and difficulty adjustment! But this simple, easily overlooked and less understood killer combination of traits makes bitcoin an undefeatable tool in the hands of us, the 99%. We do not need to wait for anyone. We can do it ourselves with bitcoin. THE WAY FORWARD While the wallet addresses, exchange accounts, market cap, and of course, the hype around crypto is constantly rising in Muslim countries, much of this activity is from the perspective of a shiny new investment vehicle, a get-rich-quick bandwagon to which everyone wants to hitch! This has engendered the animated debate of investor protection, scam avoidance and the whole academic deliberation of whether they are at all Halal owing to a perceived lack of intrinsic value and being free from government control. While all of these objections on bitcoin from the Shariah perspective have been thoroughly refuted by various scholars and are easily searchable on the internet, the continuance of this superfluous debate is dangerously distracting: In the process, we are losing sight of the higher frequencies of this amazing once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Aye ahle-e-nazar zauq-e-nazar khoob hai laikinJoe shay ki haqeeqat koe na dekhay woe nazar kiya We need bitcoin, not because it’s a great investment (which incidentally it is), but because it’s a great store of value and a medium of exchange: A free medium of exchange, which can uplift us collectively if we just adopt it, en masse, as our money. To my fellow Muslims, here is a parting thought. We love and honor our Prophet to such an extent that even the minutest of his actions, Sunnahs, is recorded, revered and repeated, even if it be as simple as the table manners of cutting some fruit. But here is another Sunnah of bigger import: success. The change that he set out to achieve in the world, he did achieve it. As he breathed his last in the arms of Ayesha, he had already delivered on the promise he had made to his companions in the lowest ebb of their persecution: “... a traveler from Sana to Hadrarmaut will fear none but Allah.” Although bordering a little on logical fallacy, I would point out that he didn’t cite something more symbolic like the establishment of the Caliphate, or the conquests, or the subsequent power. He chose to cite, as evidence of success to what they were suffering for, the establishment of a certain social order: One in which an anonymous citizen would not fear physical or financial insecurity. I say anonymous, not a private citizen, because the choice of the word “traveler” is very telling. While you are known in your city, protected by your identity, and potential clout from a corporation or clan, it is suddenly removed when you are in a strange land. They do not even know your name, unless you tell them: You are just a wallet address. But this traveler is not afraid of loss of wealth, or being robbed, or not having the right passport, or the right vaccine passport! He can move himself, and he can move his money. We Dinarists and Bitcoiners always equate inflation with theft. Whether you snatch 50 rupees from a poor man, or the free fall of your currency leaves him with 50 rupees less of a purchasing power, it is the same. While every ill is not caused by our monetary system, there is the obvious administrative incompetence and a dismal economic performance to account for — but inflation is definitely a huge factor. And all our high talk, slogans, research papers, reform movements, activism and militarism have deviated from this one Sunnah: The success of delivering safety to this traveler again. Bitcoin can help us succeed. Like now! Not 20 years later. Not when some promised leader will part the seas for us again. But now, when the poor illiterate, helpless man on the street looks at us educated and privileged elites and asks: What did you do to level the playing field for me? The Islamic banker may say, “Oh, I developed this intricate Shariah compliant profit and loss sharing contract for you, approved by the council of scholars, and backed by the gold dinar, just wait for it to be deployed.” I will say, “Dude, here, let me help you buy a few satoshis and get you a Lightning wallet so you don’t have to revert back to the rupee when paying for your next meal!” I think you should do the same. Bitcoin deserves a fresh look from us Muslims. Let’s think about it. Let’s use it correctly. Let’s spread it. Let’s understand it. Let’s use Bitcoin. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/30/2021 - 19:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 30th, 2021

Learning From Trader Joe’s, Joe Coulombe

It’s a rare person who can run their own business, and rarer still are those who can do it well. And in a world of stiff competition and consumer fickleness, those people who’s businesses can both survive and thrive in that environment are probably the rarest of them all. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences […] It’s a rare person who can run their own business, and rarer still are those who can do it well. And in a world of stiff competition and consumer fickleness, those people who’s businesses can both survive and thrive in that environment are probably the rarest of them all. 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 Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more If you choose a manager to whom you entrust your capital, in the words of Charlie Munger, choose a ‘business fanatic.’ Such individuals live, sleep and breathe their businesses. They’re not bound by the same restraints as most business people; constantly pushing boundaries, trialing new approaches, thinking outside the box, challenging conventional wisdom and always looking for business improvements. If you’re in business, these are the last type of people you want to compete with. One man that epitomized such fanaticism was the late Joe Coulombe, founder of the convenience store chain that carried his name, Trader Joe’s. “Edward H. Heller, a pioneer venture capitalist used the term ‘vivid spirit’ to describe the type of individual to whom he was ready to give significant financial backing. He said that behind every unusually successful corporation was this kind of determined entrepreneurial personality with the drive, the original ideas, and the skill to make such a company a truly worthwhile investment.” Phil Fisher Joe tells his story in the book, ‘Becoming Trader Joe - How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys.’ It contains a wealth of wisdom, particularly when it comes to thinking about running a successful retailer. Over more than a quarter of a century, Trader Joe’s sales grew at a compound rate of 19% per year and the company’s net worth grew at a compound rate of 26% per annum over the same period - no mean feat for a commodity business that’s hard to differentiate. Furthermore, the business never lost money in a year and incredibly each year was more profitable than the last. When the competitor 7-Eleven extended it’s footprint into California in the 1970’s, Pronto Markets, the precursor to Trader' Joe’s, already enjoyed the highest sales per store of any convenience operator in America by a factor of three. A high wage policy, strong locations, a few liquor licences, and the beginnings of a differentiated strategy through product knowledge was the core of their success. One of the mental models I particularly enjoyed in the book was Joe’s concept of ‘Double Entry Retailing.’ A form of second level thinking, Joe recognised that making changes to Demand Side factors had an influence on Supply Side factors which aren’t always obvious. A striking example was the introduction of orange juice freshly squeezed on the premises. While a great Demand Side success - customers embraced the product - it was a total nightmare to administer because of the Supply Side issues; the great variation in sweetness of oranges over the course of a year, difficulty in ensuring machines squeezed the right amount and disposal of the leftover rinds. As a result it was eventually phased out. You’ll recognise many of the characteristics that form a common link with the other great businesses we’ve studied. I’ve included some of my favourite extracts from the book below. Harnessing Demographic & Technological Change ‘The clue, the keystone of the arch of Trader Joe’s, was a small news item in Scientific American in 1965. When we left Stanford, my father-in-law, Bill Steere, a professor of botany, gave me a subscription to Scientific American. In terms of creating my fortune, it’s the most important magazine I’ve ever read. The news item said that, of all the people in the US who were qualified to go to college in 1932, in the pit of the Depression, only 2 percent did. By contrast, in 1964, of all the people qualified to go to college 60 percent in fact actually did. The big change, of course, was the GI Bill of Rights that went into effect in 1945. A second news item, one from the Wall Street Journal, told me that the Boeing 747 would go into service in 1970, and that it would slash the cost of international travel. In Pronto Markets we had noticed that people who travelled - even to San Francisco - were far more adventurous in what they were willing to put in their mouths. Travel is, after all, a form of education. Trader Joe’s was conceived from those two demographic news stories. What I saw here was a small but growing demographic opportunity in people who were well educated. 7-Eleven, and the whole convenience store genre, served the most basic needs of the most mindless demographics with cigarettes, Coca-Cola, milk, Budweiser, candy, bread, eggs. I saw an opportunity to differentiate ourselves radically from mainstream retailing to mainstream people.” Obliquity “I hope you’ll consider the following, my favourite quote from my favourite book on Management, ‘The Winning Performance’ by Clifford and Cavanaugh,’ ‘The fourth (general themes in winning corporations] is a view of profit and wealth-creation as inevitable byproducts of doing other things well. Money is a useful yardstick for measuring quantitative performance and profit and an obligation to investors. But … making money as an end in itself ranks low.’” A Bias to Action & Tenacity “In 1962, Barbara Tuchman published ‘The Guns of August’, an account of the first ninety days of WWI, It’s the best book on management - and, especially, mismanagement - I’ve ever read. The most basic conclusion I drew from from her book was that, if you adopt a reasonable strategy, as opposed to waiting for an optimum strategy, and stick with it, you’ll probably succeed. Tenacity is as important as brilliance.” “Trying to find an optimum solution in business is a waste of time; the factors in the equation are changing all the time.” Value, Empower & Pay Employees Well “You’ve got to have something to hang your hat on. The one core value I chose was our high compensation policies, which I put in place from the very start in 1958… This is the most important single business decision I ever made: to pay people well. First Pronto Markets and then Trader Joe’s had the highest-paid, highest benefitted people in retail.” “Time and again I am asked why no one has successfully replicated Trader Joe’s. The answer is that no one has been willing to pay the wages and benefits, and thereby attract - and keep - the quality of people who work at Trader Joe’s.” “[I was asked,] ‘But how could you afford to pay so much more than your competition?’ The answer, of course, is that good people pay by their extra productivity. You can’t afford to have cheap employees.” “Equally important was our practice of giving every full-time employee an interview every six months. At Stanford I’d been taught that employees never organise (join unions) because of the money; they organise because of un-listened-to grievances.” “The [store] Captains had the salary plus a bonus that theoretically had no limit. The bonus was based on Trader Joe’s overall profit, allocated among the stores based on each store’s contribution. In 1988, several Captains made bonuses of more than 70 percent of their base pay. Unless a bonus system promises, and delivers big rewards, it should be abandoned.” “My idea, often stated to everybody, was that the [store] Captains should have the chance to make more than executives in the office. In a traditional chain store, managers aspire to become bureaucrats with cushy, high-paying jobs in the office. I wanted to kill such aspirations at the start.” “Part timers .. at a time when the minimum wage was $4.35, we often paid $13.00 per hour because these people were worth it.” “Productivity in part is a product of tenure. That’s why I believe that turnover is the most expensive form of labor expense.” “We instituted full health and dental insurance back in the 1960's when it was cheap. When I left, we were paying $6,000 per employee per year!” “Each full-timer was supposed to be able to perform every job in the store, including checking, balancing the books, ordering each department, stocking, opening, closing, going to the bank, etc. Everybody worked the check stands in the course of the day, including the [store] Captain.” “In thirty years we never had a layoff of full-time employees. Seasonal swings in business were handled with overtime pay to full-time employees, and by adjusting part-time hours. The stability of full-time employment at Trader Joe’s was due in part to caution opening new stores, and insisting on high volume stores.” “Cost of goods sold is the dominant expense. The funny thing is that grocers seem to spend more effort squeezing payroll than squeezing Cost of Goods Sold, though there is at least five times more opportunity in the latter.” Retail & Real Estate Decisions ‘First we upped the investment ante by taking only prime locations, which could generate the most sales, even though the rents were higher. A lease is an investment, perhaps the most serious and certainly the least changeable a retailer can make. Financially, a lease is simply a long-term loan… Most retail bankruptcies come from bad real estate leasing decisions… Early in my career I learned there are two kinds of decisions: the ones that are easily reversible and the ones that aren’t. Fifteen-year leases are the least-reversible decisions you can make. That’s why, throughout my career, I kept absolute control of real estate decisions.” “The keys to management are strong locations with good people.” “People often ask me, how many stores did we have at such-and-such time? It’s the wrong question to ask. What’s important is dollar sales. For example, from 1980 to 1988, we increased the number of stores by 50 percent but sales were up 340 percent.” “My preference is to have a few stores, as far apart as possible, and to make them as high volume as possible.” “Too many stores, to many irreversible leases, too much geographical saturation was a recurrent theme in the failure of American retail chains in the twentieth century.” “Ancient Mariner Retailers claim that ‘volume solves everything.’ If it’s profitable volume, they’re right. Things go most sour in the lowest-volume stores. It’s like riding a bicycle, the faster it goes, the more stable it is. The ‘normal distribution’ of most chains is 20% dogs, 60% okay stores, and 20% winners. I believe in ruthlessly dumping the dogs at whatever cost. Why? Because their real cost is in management energy. You always spend more time trying to make the dogs acceptable than in raising the okay stores into winners. And it’s in the dogs that you always have the most personnel problems." “I believe that the sine qua non for successful retailing is demographic coherence: all your locations should have the same demographics whether you are selling clothing or wine.” “I liked semi-decayed neighbourhoods, were the census tract income statistics looked terrible, but the mortgages were all paid-down, and the kids had left home. Housing and rental prices tend to be lower, and more suitable for those underpaid academics. Related to this, I was more interested in the number of households in a given area than the number of people in a ZIP code. Trader Joe’s is not a store for kids or big families. One or two adults is just fine.” “Computerisation has radically upgraded the statistics available: I’d probably do it more formally now. But there’s no substitute for ‘driving’ a location to ferret out traffic problems. And do it at night, too.” “I hardly need to mention that a trading area is rarely determined by a radius. It’s determined by geographical barriers, boulevard access, and where the demographics lie.” “Let’s go back to the question of number of stores. How do you space them? Here are some parameters: You need to have enough stores in a trading area to economically amortise the radio advertising. You need enough stores in an area to have a large enough pool of employees. My rule was that distance between stores should not be measured in miles but in driving time. I wanted no less than twenty minutes between stores. That pretty much avoided the dread word, cannibalisation. Could a given trading area support more Trader Joe’s? Almost certainly! I figured we could break even at ten thousand core residences. But I wanted super-volume stores. If the credo that super-volume stores have the fewest operating problems is valid, then the overall health of the chain, in the long run, is maximised.” “How many trading areas should you enter? As long as you can preserve the culture of the company, and as long as logistics don’t kill you, go ahead.” “Never, never, never sign a lease with a ‘continuous operation’ clause. That clause means you must stay open - you can’t ‘go dark’ and just pay the rent.” Product Knowledge “The buyers at the supermarket chains knew nothing about what they sold, and they don’t want to know. What they did know all about was extorting slotting allowances, cooperative ad revenue, failure allowances, and back-haul concessions from the manufacturers.” Four Tests “The advantage of hard liquor merchandise was that it met three tests: a) A high value per cubic inch, essential to a small store format b) A high rate of consumption c) It had to be easily handled If we could have added a fourth test, it would be that we had to be outstanding in the field. Still trying to maximise the use of a small store, I looked for categories that met the Four Tests; high value per cubic inch, high rate of consumption; easily handled; and something in which we could be outstanding in term of price or assortment. For example, diamonds met the first test but flunked the second. Fruits and vegetables met the first and second but flunked the third because produce requires constant reworking. Fresh meat flunked the third test even more.” Purpose “Most of my ideas about how to act as an entrepreneur are derived from ‘The Revolt of the Masses’ by Jose Ortega y Gasset, the greatest Spanish philosopher of the twentieth century. I believe it offers a master ‘plan of action’ for the would-be entrepreneur, who usually has no reputation and few resources. Ortega offers an explanation of how such a person can get an enterprise started. In the context of the career of Julius Caesar, an entrepreneur who started without power, Otega says of the state: ‘Human life, by its very nature, has to be dedicated to something, an enterprise glorious or humble, a destiny illustrious or trivial .. The State begins when groups, naturally divided, find themselves obliged to live in common. The obligation is not of brute force, but implies an impelling purpose, a common task which is set before the dispersed groups. Before all, the State is a plan of action and a Programme of Collaboration. The men are called upon so that together they may do something .. It is pure dynamism, the will to do something in common, and thanks to this the idea of the state, is bounded by no physical limits.” Most of my career has been spent selling ‘plans of action and programmes of collaboration.’ If you want to know what differentiates me from most manager’s that’s it. From the beginning, thanks to Ortega y Gasset, I’ve been aware of the need to sell everybody.” Radical Transparency “Throughout my career, my policy has been full disclosure to employees about the true state of affairs, almost to the point of imprudence. I took a cue from General Patton, who thought that the greatest danger was not that the enemy would learn the plans, but that his own troops would not.” Growth “Growth for the sake of growth still troubles me. It seems unnatural, even perverted. This helps explain why I went from 1974 to 1978 without opening another store. To keep sales increasing during the mid-1970s, we relied on new ideas implemented in existing stores. This was my favourite form of growth. I don’t think that any given store ever fully realises its potential.” Smallness & Empowerment “We developed a prototype [Trader Joe’s] store of 4,500 square feet. Here’s a good question: Given my need to get away from convenience stores, why did I stick with small stores? The answer was verbalised for us in ‘In Search of Excellence,’ Tom Peter’s best-selling book on management. He called it ‘The Power of Chunking’: ‘The essential building block of a company is the section [which] within its sphere does not await executive orders but takes initiatives. The key factor for success is getting one’s arms around almost any practical problem and knocking it off… The small group is the most visible of the chunking devices.’ The fundamental ‘chunk’ of Trader Joe’s is the individual store with its highly paid [store] Captain and staff; the people who are capable of exercising discretion. I admire Nordstrom’s fundamental instruction to its employees: use your judgement. Trader Joe’s finally settled down at an average of about eight thousand square feet in the 1980’s, but the concept of a relatively small store with a relatively small staff remains in force.” Marketing & Customers “At all times I wrote the Fearless Flyer [marketing newsletter] for over-educated, underpaid people. This requires two mindsets: Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer Newsletter 1) There are no such things as consumers - dolts who are driven by drivel to buy stuff they don’t need or even want. There are only customers, people who are reasonably well informed, and very well focused in their buying habits. 2) We always looked up to the customers in the text of the Fearless Flyer. We assumed they knew more than they did, we never talked down to them. 3) Given the first two assumptions, we assumed that our readers had a thirst for knowledge, 180 degrees opposite from supermarket ads. We emphasised ‘informative advertising.’ Originally, we distributed the Fearless Flyer only in stores and to a small but growing list. [Later,] by mailing to addresses rather than to individuals - by blanketing entire ZIP codes - we were able to tremendously expand the distribution of the Fearless Flyer. The ZIPs to which we mailed, of course, were chosen on the basis of the likely concentration of over-educated and underpaid people.” Word of Mouth “Word of Mouth: The Power of True Believers. As everyone knows, word of mouth is the most effective advertising of all. I have been known to say that there’s no better business to run than a cult. Trader Joe’s became a cult of the over-educated and underpaid, partly because we deliberately tried to make it a cult and partly because we kept the implicit promises with our clientele.” “There aren’t many cult retailers who successfully retain their cult status over a long period of time. A couple in California are In-N-Out Burger and Fry’s Electronics. But across America, in every town, there’s a particular donut shop, pizza parlour, bakery, greengrocer, bar, etc. that has a cult following of True Believers.” Pricing “One of the fundamental tenets of Trader Joe’s is that retail prices don’t change unless costs change. There are no weekend ad prices, no in-and-out pricing… I have always believed that supermarkets pricing is a shell game and I wanted no part of it.” Retailing “The fundamental job of a retailer is to buy goods whole, cut them into pieces, and sell the pieces to the ultimate consumers. This is the most important mental construct I can impart on those of you who want to enter retailing. Most ‘retailers’ have no idea of the formal meaning of the word. Time and again, I had to remind myself just what my role in society was supposed to be.” “[We decided] no outsiders of any sort were permitted in the store. All the work was done by employees.]” “From 1958 through 1976, we tried to carry what the customer asked for, given the limits of our small stores and other operational parameters. Each store probably had access to ten thousand stock keeping units (SKUs), of which about three thousand were actually stocked in any given week. By the time I left in 1989, we were down to a band of 1,100 to 1,500 SKUs, all of which were delivered through a central distribution system.” “Along the way not only did we drop a lot of products that our customers would have liked us to sell, even at not-outstanding prices, but we stopped cashing checks in excess of the amount of purchase, we stopped full-case discounts, and we persistently shortened the hours. We violated every received wisdom of retailing except one: we delivered great value, which is where most retailers fall.” “[We were] willing to discontinue any product if we were are unable to offer the right deal to the customer.” “Instead of national brands, [we] focused on either Trader Joe’s label products or ‘no label’ products like nuts and dried fruits.” “We wouldn’t try to carry a whole line of spices, or bag candy, or vitamins. Each SKU had to justify itself as opposed to riding piggyback into the stores just so we had a ‘complete’ line. Depth of assortment was of no interest.” “Each SKU would stand on its own two feet as a profit centre. We would earn a gross profit on each SKU that was justified by the cost of handling that item. There would be no ‘loss leaders.’” “Above all we would not carry any item unless we could be outstanding in terms of price (and make a profit at that price) or uniqueness.” ‘I do not believe in keeping ‘spoils’ in the back room until some salesperson comes by to pick them up. I believe that products should move in only one direction, never back up the supply chain. When a bottle was broken, a can dented, or a ‘short fill’ was discovered, it went to the trash bin.” “A guideline: No private label product was introduced for the sake of having a private label. This is 100 percent contrary to the policy of most supermarkets… Each private label product had to have a reason, a point of differentiation.” “The willingness to do without any given product is one of the cornerstones of Trader Joe’s merchandising philosophy.” “No bulky products like paper towels or sugar, because the high-value-per-cubic inch rule still prevailed.. We simply went out of business on the ‘bulkers’ and did not replace them with private labels.” “I believe in the wisdom that you gain customers one by one, but you lose them in droves.” “Back in 1967, [we] made a bet that rising levels of education would fragment the masses, that a small but growing group of people would be dissatisfied with having to consume what everybody else consumed… This philosophical approach put us in conflict with the mainstream of American retailing, which emphasises continuous products. Thus when a supermarket promotes Coca-Cola it doesn’t have to explain that Coca-Cola is a secret formula for a soft drink created a century ago in Atlanta.. Wines have not been popular in America because, intrinsically, they are not continuous products. You can’t just order up some more sugar and chemicals and make another batch. In 1987, I outlined to the buyers where I thought we should go: 1) we want continuous products. Any sane person does. We want continuous products which are profitable without creating a high-price image. 2) to create such products, they needed to be differentiated at least in order to avoid direct price comparison. 3) products in which we had an absolute buying advantage. For example, we were the largest seller of cheap Bordeaux blanc in the United States. 4) I was willing to continue to indulge in the spectacular ‘closeout’ sales of branded products, but I wanted to do so in the context of much greater overall sales, principally generated by continuous products, most of them private label.” “I don’t think that the internet grocery store will successfully invade food retailing because you’re dealing with four different temperatures: dry grocery, refrigerated products, frozen products, and ice cream when you try to home-deliver foods.” “Showmanship is the sum total of all efforts to make contact with the customer. It’s the most ephemeral, the most difficult, and the most important of the Demand Side activities.” “All the research on whether people turn to the left or the right, or whether you can ‘force’ people to the rear of the store, is irrelevant if you’re a value retailer.” Win-Win “Honour thy vendors: After all, these are the guys you’re buying from. They should not be treated as adversaries. Five year plan 1977 said, ‘Buying, therefore, is not just a matter of trying to beat down suppliers on price. It is a creative exercise of developing alternatives.’ Many of our best product ideas and special buying opportunities came from our vendors.” “Vendors should be regarded as an extension of the retailer, a Marks and Spencer concept. Their employees should be regarded almost as employees of the retailer. Concern for their welfare should be shown, because employee turnover at vendors sometimes can be more costly than turnover of your own employees.” “Tenants who enter negotiations with the idea of beating the landlord at the objective future game usually get the kind of landlords they deserve. And vice versa.” “Other non-merchandise vendors are very much extensions of Trader Joe’s and should be treated as much. Since we owned no trucks, warehouses, etc., I asked our people to keep track of the outsourced drivers and do their best to see that our contractors were paid reasonable wages with reasonable working conditions. Turnover is the most expensive labour expense!’ Committees “I want to make it quite clear that I called all the shots. I reject management by committee.” Economies of Scale “The point where the ‘buying power’ and ‘selling power’ curves cross each other creates the magical physical thresholds. There are two magical physical thresholds that a retailer must achieve to be competitive: the truckload, and the ocean container load. These thresholds mark the limit of most economies of scale.” Focus & Outsource “We tried to stay out of all functions that were not central to our primary job in society: namely, buying and selling merchandise.. [We’d] been getting rid of all functions except those buying and selling. We got rid of our own maintenance people, we sold off almost all the real estate we had acquired during the 1970’s, we never took mainframe computing in-house, etc. Some choice quotes from Dr. Drucker: ‘In-house service activities have little incentive to improve their productivity .. The productivity is not likely to ramp up until it is possible to be promoted for doing a good job at it. And that will happen in support work only when such work is done by separate, free standing enterprises.’” Business Problems “All businesses have problems. It’s the problems that create the opportunities. If a business is easy, every simple bastard would enter it.” “This is one of the most important things I can impart; in any troubled company the people at lower levels know what ought to be done in terms of day-to-day operations. If you just ask them, you can find answers.” Adapt, Challenge the Status Quo “Believe me, you have to have a system for everything that has to happen in your business - you just may not be conscious of it. And you probably have still other systems that are not needed. That’s why The Winning Performance calls for a ‘continued contempt for business as usual.’ To practice ‘constitutional contempt,’ you have to arrive every day with the attitude, ‘Why do we do such-and-such that way?’ Better yet, why do we do it at all? Usually the answer is, ‘We’ve always done it that way,’ ‘That’s the way we did it at my last job,’ or ‘All our competitors are doing it.’ Mental Model - Double Entry Retailing “I hit on the idea of using double entry accounting as an analogy, what I call Double Entry Retailing. On the left side of the ledger is the business in terms of how its customers see it: I call this the Demand Side. On the right side of the ledger are the factors that limit or determine the retailer's ability to satisfy those demands: the Supply Side. All businesses, whether manufacturing, wholesaling, services, etc., have [the] fearful symmetry of both Demand and Supply sides. And all businesses are subject to the ultimate supply-side constraint of cash: you can do anything, no matter how stupid, within that fearful symmetry, as long as you don't run out of cash. From my view, the Demand Side of Retailers can be analysed in terms of five variables: The assortment of merchandise offered for sale. Pricing: stability and relative to competition. Convenience: geographical, in-store, and time. Credit: the accepted methods of payment. Showmanship: the sum of all activities that result in making contact with the customer, from advertising to store architecture to employee cleanliness. Here are factors on the Supply Side: Merchandise Vendors Employees  The way you do things: "habits" and "culture" Systems Non-merchandise vendors Landlords Governments Bankers and investment bankers Stockholders Crime As in double entry accounting, the change in any factor must be matched by a corresponding change in another factor. For example, a decision to increase geographical convenience (Demand Side) obviously involves some change of policy with landlords (Supply Side) including the amount of rent you're willing to pay. Consider how Barney's paid through the nose because they thought they had to offer the geographical convenience of being in Beverly Hills. How big a factor was this in Barney's subsequent bankruptcy? Was it Demand Side success at the price of Supply Side failure? The lists above aren't much different from other businesses. What distinguishes retailing is the asymmetry of the fearful symmetry: the huge number of customers (Demand Side) vs. the number of suppliers. This is the exact opposite of a government defence contractor. This lopsided butterfly may cause a retailer to act as if the only people they have to ‘sell’ to are customers: the Demand Side. That’s a major mistake. All the people on the supply side have to be sold, too.” “One of the smartest things we ever did was to cut the hours of Trader Joe’s. This is mostly a Supply Side question, but the quality and attitude of the employees handling our customers is a Demand Side factor.” Employee Ownership “From the beginning of Pronto Markets, one of my basic principles, one of my basic goals, was employee ownership of the business. Getting there, however, was complicated.” Summary I found the similarities between Trader Joe’s approach to retailing and the German retailer Aldi strikingly similar. Despite being on opposite sides of the world, both businesses evolved complementary retailing practices: a focus on private label, above market wages for employees, a win-win mentality and continuous innovation. It’s little wonder the Albrecht family were attracted to the business. Aldi acquired Trader Joe’s in 1979 and retained Joe as the independent manager for another ten years. Paying staff well, empowering and sharing information with them and maintaining smallness are consistent themes across many of the successful business stories we’ve studied. When it comes to the specifics of retailing, the analogy of super-volume stores better able to provide balance is a useful one. As are the insights into economies of scale, pricing strategy, jettisoning poorly performing stores, the power of word-of-mouth marketing and the means to abolish bureaucracy through the outsourcing of non-essential functions. Every business has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies. Identifying what they are and how they contribute to a firm’s success can provide clues in our own quest to find compounding machines; in the long run, it’s business success which determines share prices. The more businesses you study, the larger the toolkit of mental models you’ll have to apply in your investment endeavours. Source: 'Becoming Trader Joe - How I Did Business My Way & Still Beat the Big Guys,’ Joe Coulombe, Patty Civalleri. Harper Collins. 2021. Follow us on Twitter : @mastersinvest * NEW * Visit the Blog Archive Article by Investment Masters Class Updated on Oct 26, 2021, 1:11 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 26th, 2021

Transcript: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, 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. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This… Read More The post Transcript: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, 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. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest. Her name is Sukhinder Singh Cassidy and she has had a fascinating career in technology, starting as an analyst in the investment banking group at Merrill Lynch before going west to join a company that ends up getting purchased by Amazon and she stays at Amazon for a while before leaving to join another startup then ends up doing well. She eventually takes a couple of roles at Google, Google Maps, and then running a couple of other projects, Google International Commerce. And from there, ends up launching a couple of more startups, all of which that have done very, very well. She talks about the process of risk-taking and decision-making and why you can’t think about the risk reward calculus in terms of one big win or lose choice. You have to think about a series of smaller incremental steps that all involve risk and eventually determine the path you take. It’s a good framework for both technology and finance. I thought this conversation was quite fascinating and I found her book to be intriguing as well, “Choose Possibility.” With no further ado, my conversation with Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. VOICEOVER: This is Masters in business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. SUKHINDER SINGH CASSIDY, PRESIDENT, STUBHUB: My special guest this week is Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. She is a technology executive and serial entrepreneur. Previously, she was president of StubHub, her new book is “Choose Possibility: Take risks and Thrive (Even When You Fail). Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, welcome to Bloomberg. CASSIDY: Thank you so much for having me. Excited to be here. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about your career which is really so interesting. It covers everything from finance and investing banking to technology. Let’s begin at the beginning. You started at Merrill Lynch in the early ’90s, a great time to start in investment banking. What motivated that decision to go into finance? CASSIDY: Well, a couple of things. Number one, I’d say the most more intelligently reason was because I wanted, sort of a base in financial literacy and financial analysis which I thought would be great for any career I had. And then the more emotional reason, honestly, I was at a top undergraduate business school in Canada and all my friends were doing it. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: I was like, well, if they’re doing it, I should be doing it too. So, in some ways I call it — I call it a couple cat goal. I’m sure there are many ways I could’ve gotten financial literacy but I was bound and determined to keep pace with my rather competitive colleagues to get a job n Wall Street. RITHOLTZ: So, you head to New York, you start at Merrill Lynch. Any formative experiences stay with you years later, what do you most remember from that era? CASSIDY: Well, the first is, honestly, just the struggle to get the job, believe it or not. And I say that to people because often, when you look back on the careers of others, that they’re — they look so pretty from the outside. But from the inside, it took me a good year plus to get that job. I was rejected by a number of banks. Merrill didn’t even come to Canada to recruit. And they offered me one of those polite informational letters which said something like if you’re ever in New York City, we’d be happy to give you 15 — a 15-minute informational interview. And I remember saying to my father, I’m like, well, look at that. They just rejected me and he said, well, why don’t you take a train to get it, down to New York. You’ll never know. And I was at the end of my rope. I’d been searching for jobs for over a year. I said — as I said, determined to get this job and not successful and I took that train ride and 15 minutes turned into a three-hour interview. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CASSIDY: And then they accelerated me to the final process, which is for investment, it’s very competitive. I came down on a weekend and competed with all the sort of Ivy League American kids who had been through rounds of interviews, undoubtedly. And I got the job. So, it was a pretty sweet — it’s a pretty sweet success after a year and a half of trying. But it was very formative for me because it really informed and, I guess, my view of how often you have to choose keep choosing in order to get to the goal you want. RITHOLTZ: Keep banging away. So, what — what did you do for Merrill when you — when you get the job, what was it that they had you do? What were your responsibilities and what was the job like? CASSIDY: Well, and I think this is probably the second formative experience I had at Merrill. So, my role was financial analyst. Anybody who maybe has studied finance know that that’s really a job where you create pitchbooks. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: The books with facts and details about different industries. I was in the financial services industry. And that was the entry (ph) that I was assigned to and you really create those books or what’s called managing directors who go out and pitch large companies on using their services, M&A services, IPO services, what have you. And so, the average analyst is spending, you know, days and nights, often through the night, toiling to create these perfect pitchbooks. So, I certainly had that experience but I ended up working for a pretty eclectic young managing director called Henry Michaels and Henry was, as detailed as they could get, pipe smoking, definitely capable of driving others crazy but he took a really deep and really interest in just teaching me about, believe it or not, the savings and loan industry. And I think he found me to be maybe a rough (ph) student and, I freely admit, after taking a year to get that job, I was bound and determined to be successful at it. So, I would, very inquisitive, very curious. And as a result, Henry kept stuffing me and putting me, I would say on the — on jobs with increasing responsibility. And so, pretty early on, I was going to meetings with CEOs that he would — he would set up and let me attend. Of course, I was carrying the pitchbook, but that didn’t really matter to me, the exposure did. And as a result, I ended up working on an IPO early, the Long Island Savings Bank. Henry kept giving me more and more responsibility. And in my second year, Merrill sent me to London which was unusual as well to send somebody that early and I got to go work on banking in the — in the European banking industry and had just an amazing experience. So, I give Henry Michaels a lot of credit. Henry, definitely, skipped a bunch of layers to teach me and I, as I said, maybe my best contribution was I was a rough (ph) student but the result was that, an experience where I’ve got a lot of exposure very quickly to kind of senior executive. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. I have a specific recollection of the Long Island Savings Bank going IPO in the early, I want to say mid ’90s and eventually … CASSIDY: That was me. I was the analyst. RITHOLTZ: And eventually, it got acquired and then that company got acquired. And in a certain point, you just lose track. But this leads to an obvious question, all of your background is finance related, how did you transition to tech and what made you decide to leave the East Coast and the world of finance for the West Coast which has more of a technology bend? CASSIDY: Well, I — so, ironically, I made my way to the West Coast, not from the East Coast but via London because if you recall, Merrill sent me to London. And when I was in London, I had spent, maybe two years with the bank and its classic length of each program for two years and then they expect you, actually, to move on. So, analyst programs are two years in investment banks. So, I spent two years. They offered me a third and I really want to be, quote-unquote, “in industry.” Now, I had no idea what that meant but I wanted to work for one company. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: And so, I was able to secure a role with the CFO at a company called British Sky Broadcasting, one of the biggest satellite broadcasters in the world. If you recall, this is part of the News Corporation, its kind of empire. And luckily, for me, I parted with my job in finance to a job in finance inside of a company at BSkyB and then I was promoted to working for the CEO and the COO there. So, actually, it’s probably a more dramatic story. I was promoted. I was working on the top floor for the — one of the two top bosses and I’d been there, I’ve been at BSkyB for only a year and I walked into my bosses’ office and I told them I quit. And he was shocked. And I said, two things are true, David. Number one, I have this epic promotion. I sit down the hallway from you, I get — I get lunch every day, I’m on the — I’m on the executive floor, I’m like but you don’t really use me. It’s true. My boss is very used to sort of operating like lone wolf as that as sort of effectively president of the company. And I said, number two, I think I want to head back to North America. I’ve been there for two and a half years and a girlfriend of mine, a very dear friend from Stanford Business School, I had visited her the year early — earlier and I fell in love with the weather in the Bay Area and this kind of sense of entrepreneurship. That’s true. I mean, for a girl who comes from Ontario, Canada, where it gets pretty darn cold, once you visit California, you sort of realize that it’s possible to live in good weather all year long. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: But the other — but the other truth is I wanted to be an entrepreneur. My father, loves running some business. I had no idea how. I love the Bay Area for the weather and I sense that it was, that there were a lot of people starting companies. So I quit my job, I went skiing for three months and Whistler, and I moved to the — I moved to California and bought a car, drove up the coast from L.A. to San Francisco. Luckily, those friends of mine, their parents put me up at their very nice house in California until I found the job and I started over. RITHOLTZ: And how did you end up at Junglee? CASSIDY: If you can’t tell already, I was a fairly impatient young woman because, I moved a fair amount in that first six years of my career. I, as I said, I was looking for a job in the Valley. I found, what, unfortunately, the job I found was not nearly as positive experience as I’d hope. As you — as we just talked about, I actually had a really good experience with Merrill. I even had a good experience with BSkyB, if you look at the fact that I got responsibility, I was promoted. And I got to this, I found a startup end in Silicon Valley that was in interactive television which is we somewhat related to what I’ve just got in at Sky, which is a TV industry. And on second day on the job, my boss told me I was scaring the secretaries and I was like, what — what do you mean? RITHOLTZ: What does that mean? CASSIDY: What do you mean? Yes, what do you mean? I’m like I just come from two industries that are highly male dominated, nobody ever told me I was scary. And that began a rapid decline in our relationship. I felt like I wasn’t getting a lot of responsibility. He kept telling me I was the rookie that needed to be coached. And I quit six months later. Actually, fairly deflated, because I was, like, if this is what it means to be in Silicon Valley, I must be this meritocracy. I’m supposed to be having the time of my life. Maybe I’m not meant for this place. Luckily for me, I started thinking about getting another job and a recruiter called and pitched this idea of a company started by four Stanford Ph.Ds. in — who have this very cool technology. I took the interview I didn’t really understand fully the technology but I loved that. They were smart, they were thunderous. And so I switched, and luckily for me, I made the switch, Junglee ended up building a whole engine for shopping, for comparing prices across the Internet and Amazon bought the company six months later and that was the really the start of my career in Silicon Valley. Just a great experience. But following a very poor one. RITHOLTZ: Really — well, everything can’t all be wine and roses. Sometimes, they’re going to miss. Tell us a little bit about what it was like working for Amazon in ’98 and how closely did you work with Bezos back then? CASSIDY: Well, believe it or not, back then, it was a pretty small company. There was about 1,200 people. We were public. So, everybody got exposure to Jeff, myself included. And so, what are some of those early year — those early times like at Amazon? Well, first of all, as I said, everybody was — it was a small enough company that you could sit most of Amazon in one or two buildings, so we made a couple of moves where — we were all in the same building. Number two, we all had to work in the warehouse including like the very top executives at Amazon. Jeff and Rick Dalzell, like everybody had shifts over Christmas. You had no day job. You literally all had shifts in the warehouse which was a pretty amazing cultural feel. And by the way, that included, like overnight shifts. You work taking and packing books and music — books, CDs, and videos. That’s true. Jeff had bought the company because he, believe it or not, in 1998 still had this vision of a day where Amazon show you every product on the Internet whether or not they had it in stocks, so this early vision of marketplace. But Amazon at the time was just building out its own verticals. So, what was sit like? He was really the main champion of this acquisition of buying us for our technology. He used it to start version one of Amazon marketplace which he shut down several years later. So, he’s made many attempts at marketplace before he got the one that worked. And by the way, before the world was ready for it. So, it was pretty — it was a pretty neat look into how sort of visionary he was even early on, of course, not nearly as sort of daunting a presence as he might be now. Just like very accessible, pretty goofy, actually pretty quirky sense of humor. And I got to work with him specifically because I was one of the people selling new merchants, like people like Macy’s and others on the idea of putting their products on the Amazon’s website. So, I got to pitch a few different retailers with Jeff which was really cool (ph). VOICEOVER: ESG, it’s not quite as easy as ABC. Environmental, social, and governance factors now influence more than $20 trillion in assets. We’ll tell you how the ESG movement started and where it’s going on the OUTThinking Investor. A new podcast from PGIM. Listen today. RITHOLTZ: So, I know this is going to be a very fanboy question, but I have to ask because there’s a broader component about understanding or not the future, in the late ’90s, in the early 2000s, did you have any indication that Amazon would become the juggernaut that it became or was — that was early days. Hey, we think we’re going to be successful, we could be a real solid company, like, what was the view like from back then? CASSIDY: The view was not that we were going to become the juggernaut we are today as defined by Amazon’s not just a retailer but it’s like a dominant movie studio. It’s not just a movie studio, it owns a grocer. It’s not just a grocer, but it happens to own the largest infrastructure, backbone of the web called Amazon Web Services and other merchants, like no way was that obviously. As I said, like, literally, the days where we’re selling books, music, and video and launching new categories. And, Jeff, as I said, like, he was impressive but he was also a very accessible, funny, young, like, he’s only a few years older than I am, at best. And so no, I don’t, I mean, all the people that you think of now who’s quite famous, there was no indication. As I said, now, you might and I might say, wow, buying a company in 1998 to launch Amazon marketplace, certainly there were early inklings that he has a vision to sell a lot of stuff. As we say, hey, should I see this company becoming one of the larger retailers, sure? But it’s defined by what Amazon is today, yes, no way to connect it. RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. That’s quite fascinating. So, let’s talk about your transition from Amazon to your next venture, you co-founded a startup, tell us a little bit about Yodlee and what made you decide to say, well, this Amazon company is kind of fund, but let me see what I can build on my own. CASSIDY: Well, remember we were chatting about that rather restless and impatient young woman. I don’t think any of that dissolved when I was at Amazon, it was a great experience, by the way, and remember, I had never gone intending to be in Amazon, I had gone to a startup, right, which got buy — bought. And while Amazon was a great company, that’s in Seattle, it was now public and so there is me thinking, gosh, when am I going to get the chance to start my own company and I know many people listening to this podcast would be like, really, you left Amazon to start your own company? Is that a really smart decision? But in some ways, Amazon to me, still at the time, felt very big and I want to get there. So, I’m at Amazon, and remember, many of the founders of Junglee, you know, has made a lot of wealth. They’re certainly mentors of mine. They are even today. And they start angel investing in a number of companies in the valley. And knowing that I have this ambition, I’ve been at Amazon about a year and I get into the — I get a call one weekend that sort of said, hey, there’s this professor from UCSD who’s a computer science professor and he built this really cool technology that goes out of across the web and it gets all your financial information behind all of those sites with passwords and it puts them in one place. You can have an aggregated view of your financial life. And by the way, the technology is not the same as Junglee but it has some analogy. And they’re like, and they’re lucky for a business cofounder. They have all these engineers that they need someday to establish but there’s this model, raise the money. And so I got one of those inbound calls and through that network of angel investors who’s — who were the founders of Junglee. I flew down from Seattle to San Francisco for a weekend. I took one look at the technology and I’m suitably impressed. I was like, wow. You just grabbed all my credit balances and my bank balance and my brokerage balance in one place and gave me this aggregated view. Nobody can do that. It’s pretty revolutionary technology at the time. And they offered me the opportunity, at 29 years old, to become what’s called a cofounder of the company and the first business executive. And I just jumped at the chance. I love the technology, I love the fact that I would be with — they were engineers that this company do, again, very similar to Junglee but now, I was going to get a seat at the table as literally one of the executive team at such a young age and get to raise the money for venture capitalists, make the business plan. So, I said yes. RITHOLTZ: So they were really very early stage. CASSIDY: Yes. Yes, yes. I mean, it was 12 engineers in a room and as I said, I was the — I was effectively the first business leader to be hired at the company. RITHOLTZ: And so, I gave my notice at Amazon maybe a month later and moved right into Junglee and we raised $15 million from venture capitalists within a month of that and we were off to the raises. And thus, began kind of the six-year journey to build what today many would consider the pioneer in really aggregate your financial information. I’m really proud of the fact that Yodlee really did create a whole industry of companies that were able to access financial information using our services and our kind of technology backbone and build many of the financial outfit people use today. So, Yodlee, Yodlee had a 15-year run before it became public and I was there for the first five of those years. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s work our way through this chronology a little bit. You ended up at Junglee which gets acquired by Amazon in ’98. From ’98 to … CASSIDY: Ninety-nine, I’m at Amazon. RITHOLTZ: And then when do you leave ’90 — when do you leave Amazon … CASSIDY: Mid ’99. RITHOLTZ: So you were only — OK. Got you. CASSIDY: Yes. I was there a year, I mean. It was a year. RITHOLTZ: And you stayed — did you stay with Yodlee until they were acquired by Envestnet? CASSIDY: No. I stayed with Yodlee for five years and that time, I had every job under the son. I was predominantly responsible for the executives for not just raising the money, we’ve raised about a 100 million in the time I was there in several rounds of financing but I was — I was just responsible for sales and business development, selling our technology to all the banks and brokerage companies. And so, I stayed until in 2004. I (inaudible) our CEO at 2000 and he wasn’t going anywhere, by the way. So I always say the people tapped out of my own startup, like, literally I’d had every job. I’ve done sales, I’ve done marketing, I’ve done PR. I was our spokesperson, I raised money. And I — an in many ways, I was partnered very closed with the CEO and we had a great relationship. And in 2004, I was like, OK, now, what’s my next horizon? Like I’ve been here five years and I’ve done all of these roles but there’s like the company’s not growing fast enough to give me an entirely new career. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: With set of challenges. And so that, I actually, for the first time, did what I call a more studied search, thinking I might start another company but also thinking that I wanted to find the right idea so I was pondering my next move, presuming I would start a company when I got the opportunity to start a new service at Google which, today we would call Local and Maps. RITHOLTZ: And let’s talk a little bit about Google Maps. It’s funny because it’s so ubiquitous today, we don’t even think twice about the miracle that is Google Maps. But back in the mid-2000s, did anybody have any idea of what a massive technological breakthrough G maps were? I remember playing with early versions of it and just head exploding, What was the thoughts like within Google about Google Maps? CASSIDY: Well, it’s — it’s a couple things. So, first of all, when I got the call, Google originally called me to come join them and I actually said no. And I said, gosh, you guys are also quite big. You’re 1,200 people. Remember in my work frame, Amazon is big at 1,2000 people, so is Google. And I says I’m going to start another company. RITHOLTZ: Hard pass. CASSIDY: I know. So funny. And Google called me back seven months later. They said — you said you wanted a startup opportunity. We have it. We have something greenfield called Maps and we said -they said, Yahoo! has a product called Yahoo! Maps, AOL has what they call MapQuest, Google has no product to help you search locally or find — navigate locally. Either you find goods or services locally or business — and navigate, right? Because Google Local is like search for business, Google Maps is search for a place. In fact, today, they’re very merged. Nobody thinks of them as different. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: And I studied the landscape, I went into interview with Google and within two weeks, I said yes to the job because I was like, holy smokes, the yellow page industry, we have the time with those thick yellow books that everybody got to find places was a $23 billion industry in annual advertising. And I was like surely, if Yahoo! has a product and AOL has a product, Google should have a product and look at all the ad dollars available in those category and look at all the usage, it’s pretty antiquated. RITHOLTZ: Yes. CASSIDY: So, I said yes very quickly. And I do … RITHOLTZ: I have to point out that yellow books are $23 billion in revenue, the obvious answer is but not for long. CASSIDY: But not for long. I mean, look, digital really wiped that business over. By the way, there still yellow pages around the country and … RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: … around the globe but nobody would think of that as a juggernaut industry. So, yes, online really changed and transformed the face of local advertising fundamentally. But I would say I knew it would be big. I mean, that’s what lead me to go in that direction. I say what was unknown about Google service and you appreciate this, even by me, is I was paired with a product manager, I was the business person, meaning I had to go license the data for like, roads and businesses to put underneath inside of that service, right? All that data was not online. I had one product manager, Bret Taylor. Ironically, now the president of Salesforce. He was my — he’s my product manager and we had 10 engineers and the 12 of us build that product (ph) effectively. I did the business DLT, he guided the engineers. So, on one hand, the product could have been pretty straightforward like Yahoo!, AOL. But Google made two innovations that I think people will remember to this day. Number one, believe it or not, just putting the name of the road inside of the road, not on top of the road was one innovation. You’re like, the name of the road is like on the road. And visually, it’s just like a prettier experience and it’s — it’s like the map is less crowded that way. But the second innovation, and this I give a lot of credit to Sergei and Larry, early on, a guy named John Hanke showed Google, once we’ve launched local and maps, this cool technology that had satellite imagery called Keyhole and Larry and Sergei were like, we need to buy that. We’re going to overlay that on Maps. And that was the innovation, right? Overlaying satellite technology on top of maps, like hey, you can’t give me any credit as a business p person for seeing that, that was really product vision. And in that case, led by the founders. I mean, Bret like the product too but from what I recall, Larry and Sergei was really gung-ho on buying the compo and overlaying satellite technology on top of Maps. And that’s an example of sort of one of the things I admired about Google. They didn’t really care about how it would make money, it was just a very cool and differentiated in — it turns out, very useful feature to have Google Earth on top of Google Maps. But with no commercial application, just super cool, at least not then. RITHOLTZ: Well, eventually, right? Eventually. CASSIDY: Yes. But not — but like when we laid over — overlaid it, I was like, ok, I guess that this cool. I’m not going to (inaudible) to anybody but what a — what a great kind of product feature and like kind of great vision. So, those are some of the finer experiences about building Maps and then Local as well. RITHOLTZ: You mentioned the integration of Local with Google Maps. I have a suspicion that a lot of people don’t realize how tightly integrated it actually is. What — I was in pre-pandemic, I was in Paris, and we were looking for a specific restaurant and you just punched restaurant in and Google Maps knows where you are and it just shows you on the Maps, it populates all the restaurants of that type in that area. And it’s absolutely seamless and I’ve showed that the people who are much, much younger than me and they’re like, I didn’t know I could do that with Google Maps. It’s almost like a surprise feature, when really, it’s a core part of Google Maps. It’s on an Easter egg. CASSIDY: Yes. Absolutely. And to be honest, when we started the product local in maps with different things, you could type in to the Search Box, like movie theater near me and you would get literally a listing of results. Today, of course, they’ll show you the results on a Google Map as the preferred way for you to see those results. RITHOLTZ: Right. CASSIDY: I guess you could get a listing if you want but every Google search result has a map embedded and like you, I actually often do all my local searching on Google Maps. I don’t even go to the main Google website. I can, but I just go to, like, Google Maps, and I type in, like restaurants near me, and I get all of them with the reviews and the results. And so, look, very, very, very fun product to have launched into the system (ph). RITHOLTZ: So, what led you to leave Google to start Joyous? CASSIDY: Well, remember, I have one more big chapter at Google that’s probably ironically even bigger than my Local and Maps chapter because I’m — I’m at Google. We’ve launched Local and Maps and what’s happening is people are saying to me, well saying to my boss, he was the cheap business officer at Google, um, hey we have all these products that need us to license data, like we want to have — we want to have a library product, we want to have a solar product, we want to have a shopping product. By the way, we want to have a video product. So, I’ve ended up building a team that is all the licensing for all these other data, types of data that we want to put online. And so, I’m running that team, my team’s gone — I’ve gone from being individ.....»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 25th, 2021

Check out 22 pitch decks that fintechs looking to disrupt trading, banking, and lending used to raise millions

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 VC funding hit a fresh quarterly record of $22.8 billion in the first three months of 2021, according to CB Insights data. While mega-rounds helped propel overall funding, new cash was spread across 614 deals. 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. Quantum computing made easy QC Ware CEO Matt Johnson. QC Ware Even 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 models Kirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders. Beacon A 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 PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBs Stacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders. Now About 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 millionInsurance goes digital Jamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder. Ladder Fintechs 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 millionEmbedded payments for SMBs The Highnote team. Highnote Branded 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 fundingAn alternative auto lender Daniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor. Tricolor An 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 investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team. TomoCredit Kristy 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 AAn IRA for alternatives Henry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar. Rocket Dollar Fintech 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 millionConnecting startups and investors Hum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg. Hum Capital Blair 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.Payments infrastructure for fintechs Qolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi. Qolo Three 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 ASoftware for managing freelancers Worksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen. Worksome The 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 freelancersPersonal finance is only a text away Yinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert. Albert The 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 CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of Relief Relief For 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 roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize. Securitize Securitize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business banking Michael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo. Kristelle Boulos Photography Business 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 ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs. Spring Labs A blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round. So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancers JGalione/Getty Images Lance 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 BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisors Jason Wenk, founder and CEO of Altruist Altruist Jason 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 InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon. HoneyBook While 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 GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurers Fiordaliso/Getty Images Onboarding 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 Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot. Fakespot Marketplaces 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 ANew twists on digital banking Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley HMBradley Consumers 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 ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 14th, 2021

Check out 21 pitch decks that fintechs looking to disrupt trading, banking, and lending used to raise millions

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 VC funding hit a fresh quarterly record of $22.8 billion in the first three months of 2021, according to CB Insights data. While mega-rounds helped propel overall funding, new cash was spread across 614 deals. 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. Simplifying quant models Kirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders. Beacon A 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 PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBs Stacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders. Now About 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 millionInsurance goes digital Jamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder. Ladder Fintechs 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 millionEmbedded payments for SMBs The Highnote team. Highnote Branded 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 fundingAn alternative auto lender Daniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor. Tricolor An 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 investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team. TomoCredit Kristy 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 AAn IRA for alternatives Henry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar. Rocket Dollar Fintech 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 millionConnecting startups and investors Hum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg. Hum Capital Blair 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.Payments infrastructure for fintechs Qolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi. Qolo Three 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 ASoftware for managing freelancers Worksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen. Worksome The 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 freelancersPersonal finance is only a text away Yinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert. Albert The 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 CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of Relief Relief For 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 roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize. Securitize Securitize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business banking Michael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo. Kristelle Boulos Photography Business 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 ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs. Spring Labs A blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round. So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancers JGalione/Getty Images Lance 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 BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisors Jason Wenk, founder and CEO of Altruist Altruist Jason 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 InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon. HoneyBook While 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 GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurers Fiordaliso/Getty Images Onboarding 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 Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot. Fakespot Marketplaces 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 ANew twists on digital banking Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley HMBradley Consumers 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 ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 13th, 2021

How Facebook Forced a Reckoning by Shutting Down the Team That Put People Ahead of Profits

Facebook's civic-integrity team, where whistle-blower Frances Haugen worked, pledged to put people ahead of profits. Facebook shut it down, but some former members are still honoring their promise. Facebook’s civic-integrity team was always different from all the other teams that the social media company employed to combat misinformation and hate speech. For starters, every team member subscribed to an informal oath, vowing to “serve the people’s interest first, not Facebook’s.” The “civic oath,” according to five former employees, charged team members to understand Facebook’s impact on the world, keep people safe and defuse angry polarization. Samidh Chakrabarti, the team’s leader, regularly referred to this oath—which has not been previously reported—as a set of guiding principles behind the team’s work, according to the sources. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Chakrabarti’s team was effective in fixing some of the problems endemic to the platform, former employees and Facebook itself have said. But, just a month after the 2020 U.S. election, Facebook dissolved the civic-integrity team, and Chakrabarti took a leave of absence. Facebook said employees were assigned to other teams to help share the group’s experience across the company. But for many of the Facebook employees who had worked on the team, including a veteran product manager from Iowa named Frances Haugen, the message was clear: Facebook no longer wanted to concentrate power in a team whose priority was to put people ahead of profits. Illustration by TIME (Source photo: Getty Images) Five weeks later, supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol—after some of them organized on Facebook and used the platform to spread the lie that the election had been stolen. The civic-integrity team’s dissolution made it harder for the platform to respond effectively to Jan. 6, one former team member, who left Facebook this year, told TIME. “A lot of people left the company. The teams that did remain had significantly less power to implement change, and that loss of focus was a pretty big deal,” said the person. “Facebook did take its eye off the ball in dissolving the team, in terms of being able to actually respond to what happened on Jan. 6.” The former employee, along with several others TIME interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity, for fear that being named would ruin their career. Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesSamidh Chakrabarti, head of Facebook’s civic-integrity team, stands beside Katie Harbath, a Facebook director of public policy, in Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on Oct. 17, 2018.   Enter Frances Haugen Haugen revealed her identity on Oct. 3 as the whistle-blower behind the most significant leak of internal research in the company’s 17-year history. In a bombshell testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security two days later, Haugen said the civic-integrity team’s dissolution was the final event in a long series that convinced her of the need to blow the whistle. “I think the moment which I realized we needed to get help from the outside—that the only way these problems would be solved is by solving them together, not solving them alone—was when civic-integrity was dissolved following the 2020 election,” she said. “It really felt like a betrayal of the promises Facebook had made to people who had sacrificed a great deal to keep the election safe, by basically dissolving our community.” Read more: The Facebook Whistleblower Revealed Herself on 60 Minutes. Here’s What You Need to Know In a statement provided to TIME, Facebook’s vice president for integrity Guy Rosen denied the civic-integrity team had been disbanded. “We did not disband Civic Integrity,” Rosen said. “We integrated it into a larger Central Integrity team so that the incredible work pioneered for elections could be applied even further, for example, across health-related issues. Their work continues to this day.” (Facebook did not make Rosen available for an interview for this story.) Impacts of Civic Technology Conference 2016The defining values of the civic-integrity team, as described in a 2016 presentation given by Samidh Chakrabarti and Winter Mason. Civic-integrity team members were expected to adhere to this list of values, which was referred to internally as the “civic oath”. Haugen left the company in May. Before she departed, she trawled Facebook’s internal employee forum for documents posted by integrity researchers about their work. Much of the research was not related to her job, but was accessible to all Facebook employees. What she found surprised her. Some of the documents detailed an internal study that found that Instagram, its photo-sharing app, made 32% of teen girls feel worse about their bodies. Others showed how a change to Facebook’s algorithm in 2018, touted as a way to increase “meaningful social interactions” on the platform, actually incentivized divisive posts and misinformation. They also revealed that Facebook spends almost all of its budget for keeping the platform safe only on English-language content. In September, the Wall Street Journal published a damning series of articles based on some of the documents that Haugen had leaked to the paper. Haugen also gave copies of the documents to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The documents, Haugen testified Oct. 5, “prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages.” She told Senators that the failings revealed by the documents were all linked by one deep, underlying truth about how the company operates. “This is not simply a matter of certain social media users being angry or unstable, or about one side being radicalized against the other; it is about Facebook choosing to grow at all costs, becoming an almost trillion-dollar company by buying its profits with our safety,” she said. Facebook’s focus on increasing user engagement, which ultimately drives ad revenue and staves off competition, she argued, may keep users coming back to the site day after day—but also systematically boosts content that is polarizing, misinformative and angry, and which can send users down dark rabbit holes of political extremism or, in the case of teen girls, body dysmorphia and eating disorders. “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people,” Haugen said. (In 2020, the company reported $29 billion in net income—up 58% from a year earlier. This year, it briefly surpassed $1 trillion in total market value, though Haugen’s leaks have since knocked the company down to around $940 billion.) Asked if executives adhered to the same set of values as the civic-integrity team, including putting the public’s interests before Facebook’s, a company spokesperson told TIME it was “safe to say everyone at Facebook is committed to understanding our impact, keeping people safe and reducing polarization.” In the same week that an unrelated systems outage took Facebook’s services offline for hours and revealed just how much the world relies on the company’s suite of products—including WhatsApp and Instagram—the revelations sparked a new round of national soul-searching. It led some to question how one company can have such a profound impact on both democracy and the mental health of hundreds of millions of people. Haugen’s documents are the basis for at least eight new SEC investigations into the company for potentially misleading its investors. And they have prompted senior lawmakers from both parties to call for stringent new regulations. Read more: Here’s How to Fix Facebook, According to Former Employees and Leading Critics Haugen urged Congress to pass laws that would make Facebook and other social media platforms legally liable for decisions about how they choose to rank content in users’ feeds, and force companies to make their internal data available to independent researchers. She also urged lawmakers to find ways to loosen CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s iron grip on Facebook; he controls more than half of voting shares on its board, meaning he can veto any proposals for change from within. “I came forward at great personal risk because I believe we still have time to act,” Haugen told lawmakers. “But we must act now.” Potentially even more worryingly for Facebook, other experts it hired to keep the platform safe, now alienated by the company’s actions, are growing increasingly critical of their former employer. They experienced first hand Facebook’s unwillingness to change, and they know where the bodies are buried. Now, on the outside, some of them are still honoring their pledge to put the public’s interests ahead of Facebook’s. Inside Facebook’s civic-integrity team Chakrabarti, the head of the civic-integrity team, was hired by Facebook in 2015 from Google, where he had worked on improving how the search engine communicated information about lawmakers and elections to its users. A polymath described by one person who worked under him as a “Renaissance man,” Chakrabarti holds master’s degrees from MIT, Oxford and Cambridge, in artificial intelligence engineering, modern history and public policy, respectively, according to his LinkedIn profile. Although he was not in charge of Facebook’s company-wide “integrity” efforts (led by Rosen), Chakrabarti, who did not respond to requests to comment for this article, was widely seen by employees as the spiritual leader of the push to make sure the platform had a positive influence on democracy and user safety, according to multiple former employees. “He was a very inspirational figure to us, and he really embodied those values [enshrined in the civic oath] and took them quite seriously,” a former member of the team told TIME. “The team prioritized societal good over Facebook good. It was a team that really cared about the ways to address societal problems first and foremost. It was not a team that was dedicated to contributing to Facebook’s bottom line.” Chakrabarti began work on the team by questioning how Facebook could encourage people to be more engaged with their elected representatives on the platform, several of his former team members said. An early move was to suggest tweaks to Facebook’s “more pages you may like” feature that the team hoped might make users feel more like they could have an impact on politics. After the chaos of the 2016 election, which prompted Zuckerberg himself to admit that Facebook didn’t do enough to stop misinformation, the team evolved. It moved into Facebook’s wider “integrity” product group, which employs thousands of researchers and engineers to focus on fixing Facebook’s problems of misinformation, hate speech, foreign interference and harassment. It changed its name from “civic engagement” to “civic integrity,” and began tackling the platform’s most difficult problems head-on. Shortly before the midterm elections in 2018, Chakrabarti gave a talk at a conference in which he said he had “never been told to sacrifice people’s safety in order to chase a profit.” His team was hard at work making sure the midterm elections did not suffer the same failures as in 2016, in an effort that was generally seen as a success, both inside the company and externally. “To see the way that the company has mobilized to make this happen has made me feel very good about what we’re doing here,” Chakrabarti told reporters at the time. But behind closed doors, integrity employees on Chakrabarti’s team and others were increasingly getting into disagreements with Facebook leadership, former employees said. It was the beginning of the process that would eventually motivate Haugen to blow the whistle. Drew Angerer—Getty ImagesFormer Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate hearing entitled ‘Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower’ in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5, 2021. In 2019, the year Haugen joined the company, researchers on the civic-integrity team proposed ending the use of an approved list of thousands of political accounts that were exempt from Facebook’s fact-checking program, according to tech news site The Information. Their research had found that the exemptions worsened the site’s misinformation problem because users were more likely to believe false information if it were shared by a politician. But Facebook executives rejected the proposal. The pattern repeated time and time again, as proposals to tweak the platform to down-rank misinformation or abuse were rejected or watered down by executives concerned with engagement or worried that changes might disproportionately impact one political party more than another, according to multiple reports in the press and several former employees. One cynical joke among members of the civic-integrity team was that they spent 10% of their time coding and the other 90% arguing that the code they wrote should be allowed to run, one former employee told TIME. “You write code that does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and then you had to argue with execs who didn’t want to think about integrity, had no training in it and were mad that you were hurting their product, so they shut you down,” the person said. Sometimes the civic-integrity team would also come into conflict with Facebook’s policy teams, which share the dual role of setting the rules of the platform while also lobbying politicians on Facebook’s behalf. “I found many times that there were tensions [in meetings] because the civic-integrity team was like, ‘We’re operating off this oath; this is our mission and our goal,’” says Katie Harbath, a long-serving public-policy director at the company’s Washington, D.C., office who quit in March 2021. “And then you get into decisionmaking meetings, and all of a sudden things are going another way, because the rest of the company and leadership are not basing their decisions off those principles.” Harbath admitted not always seeing eye to eye with Chakrabarti on matters of company policy, but praised his character. “Samidh is a man of integrity, to use the word,” she told TIME. “I personally saw times when he was like, ‘How can I run an integrity team if I’m not upholding integrity as a person?’” Do you work at Facebook or another social media platform? TIME would love to hear from you. You can reach out to billy.perrigo@time.com Years before the 2020 election, research by integrity teams had shown Facebook’s group recommendations feature was radicalizing users by driving them toward polarizing political groups, according to the Journal. The company declined integrity teams’ requests to turn off the feature, BuzzFeed News reported. Then, just weeks before the vote, Facebook executives changed their minds and agreed to freeze political group recommendations. The company also tweaked its News Feed to make it less likely that users would see content that algorithms flagged as potential misinformation, part of temporary emergency “break glass” measures designed by integrity teams in the run-up to the vote. “Facebook changed those safety defaults in the run-up to the election because they knew they were dangerous,” Haugen testified to Senators on Tuesday. But they didn’t keep those safety measures in place long, she added. “Because they wanted that growth back, they wanted the acceleration on the platform back after the election, they returned to their original defaults. And the fact that they had to break the glass on Jan. 6, and turn them back on, I think that’s deeply problematic.” In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Tom Reynolds rejected the idea that the company’s actions contributed to the events of Jan. 6. “In phasing in and then adjusting additional measures before, during and after the election, we took into account specific on-platforms signals and information from our ongoing, regular engagement with law enforcement,” he said. “When those signals changed, so did the measures. It is wrong to claim that these steps were the reason for Jan. 6—the measures we did need remained in place through February, and some like not recommending new, civic or political groups remain in place to this day. These were all part of a much longer and larger strategy to protect the election on our platform—and we are proud of that work.” Read more: 4 Big Takeaways From the Facebook Whistleblower Congressional Hearing Soon after the civic-integrity team was dissolved in December 2020, Chakrabarti took a leave of absence from Facebook. In August, he announced he was leaving for good. Other employees who had spent years working on platform-safety issues had begun leaving, too. In her testimony, Haugen said that several of her colleagues from civic integrity left Facebook in the same six-week period as her, after losing faith in the company’s pledge to spread their influence around the company. “Six months after the reorganization, we had clearly lost faith that those changes were coming,” she said. After Haugen’s Senate testimony, Facebook’s director of policy communications Lena Pietsch suggested that Haugen’s criticisms were invalid because she “worked at the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives—and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question.” On Twitter, Chakrabarti said he was not supportive of company leaks but spoke out in support of the points Haugen raised at the hearing. “I was there for over 6 years, had numerous direct reports, and led many decision meetings with C-level execs, and I find the perspectives shared on the need for algorithmic regulation, research transparency, and independent oversight to be entirely valid for debate,” he wrote. “The public deserves better.” Can Facebook’s latest moves protect the company? Two months after disbanding the civic-integrity team, Facebook announced a sharp directional shift: it would begin testing ways to reduce the amount of political content in users’ News Feeds altogether. In August, the company said early testing of such a change among a small percentage of U.S. users was successful, and that it would expand the tests to several other countries. Facebook declined to provide TIME with further information about how its proposed down-ranking system for political content would work. Many former employees who worked on integrity issues at the company are skeptical of the idea. “You’re saying that you’re going to define for people what political content is, and what it isn’t,” James Barnes, a former product manager on the civic-integrity team, said in an interview. “I cannot even begin to imagine all of the downstream consequences that nobody understands from doing that.” Another former civic-integrity team member said that the amount of work required to design algorithms that could detect any political content in all the languages and countries in the world—and keeping those algorithms updated to accurately map the shifting tides of political debate—would be a task that even Facebook does not have the resources to achieve fairly and equitably. Attempting to do so would almost certainly result in some content deemed political being demoted while other posts thrived, the former employee cautioned. It could also incentivize certain groups to try to game those algorithms by talking about politics in nonpolitical language, creating an arms race for engagement that would privilege the actors with enough resources to work out how to win, the same person added. Graeme Jennings—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesMark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook, speaks via video conference during a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on, July 29, 2020. When Zuckerberg was hauled to testify in front of lawmakers after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2018, Senators were roundly mocked on social media for asking basic questions such as how Facebook makes money if its services are free to users. (“Senator, we run ads” was Zuckerberg’s reply.) In 2021, that dynamic has changed. “The questions asked are a lot more informed,” says Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook employee who was fired in 2020 after she criticized Facebook for turning a blind eye to platform manipulation by political actors around the world. “The sentiment is increasingly bipartisan” in Congress, Zhang adds. In the past, Facebook hearings have been used by lawmakers to grandstand on polarizing subjects like whether social media platforms are censoring conservatives, but this week they were united in their condemnation of the company. “Facebook has to stop covering up what it knows, and must change its practices, but there has to be government accountability because Facebook can no longer be trusted,” Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, told TIME ahead of the hearing. His Republican counterpart Marsha Blackburn agreed, saying during the hearing that regulation was coming “sooner rather than later” and that lawmakers were “close to bipartisan agreement.” As Facebook reels from the revelations of the past few days, it already appears to be reassessing product decisions. It has begun conducting reputational reviews of new products to assess whether the company could be criticized or its features could negatively affect children, the Journal reported Wednesday. It last week paused its Instagram Kids product amid the furor. Whatever the future direction of Facebook, it is clear that discontent has been brewing internally. Haugen’s document leak and testimony have already sparked calls for stricter regulation and improved the quality of public debate about social media’s influence. In a post addressing Facebook staff on Wednesday, Zuckerberg put the onus on lawmakers to update Internet regulations, particularly relating to “elections, harmful content, privacy and competition.” But the real drivers of change may be current and former employees, who have a better understanding of the inner workings of the company than anyone—and the most potential to damage the business. —With reporting by Eloise Barry/London and Chad de Guzman/Hong Kong.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 7th, 2021

Check out 20 pitch decks that fintechs looking to disrupt trading, banking, and lending used to raise millions

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 VC funding hit a fresh quarterly record of $22.8 billion in the first three months of 2021, according to CB Insights data. While mega-rounds helped propel overall funding, new cash was spread across 614 deals. 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. Invoice financing for SMBs Stacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders. Now About 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 millionInsurance goes digital Jamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder. Ladder Fintechs 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 millionEmbedded payments for SMBs The Highnote team. Highnote Branded 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 fundingAn alternative auto lender Daniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor. Tricolor An 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 investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team. TomoCredit Kristy 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 AAn IRA for alternatives Henry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar. Rocket Dollar Fintech 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 millionConnecting startups and investors Hum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg. Hum Capital Blair 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.Payments infrastructure for fintechs Qolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi. Qolo Three 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 ASoftware for managing freelancers Worksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen. Worksome The 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 freelancersPersonal finance is only a text away Yinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert. Albert The 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 CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of Relief Relief For 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 roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize. Securitize Securitize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business banking Michael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo. Kristelle Boulos Photography Business 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 ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs. Spring Labs A blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round. So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancers JGalione/Getty Images Lance 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 BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisors Jason Wenk, founder and CEO of Altruist Altruist Jason 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 InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon. HoneyBook While 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 GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurers Fiordaliso/Getty Images Onboarding 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 Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot. Fakespot Marketplaces 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 ANew twists on digital banking Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley HMBradley Consumers 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 ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 7th, 2021

Check out 18 pitch decks that fintechs looking to disrupt trading, banking, and lending used to raise millions

Check out examples of real fintech pitch decks. You'll see pitch decks from Qolo, Lance, and other startups that nabbed millions in VC funding. 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 VC funding hit a fresh quarterly record of $22.8 billion in the first three months of 2021, according to CB Insights data. While mega-rounds helped propel overall funding, new cash was spread across 614 deals. 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. Embedded payments for SMBs The Highnote team. Highnote Branded 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 fundingAn alternative auto lender Daniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor. Tricolor An 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 investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team. TomoCredit Kristy 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 AAn IRA for alternatives Henry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar. Rocket Dollar Fintech 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 millionConnecting startups and investors Hum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg. Hum Capital Blair 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.Payments infrastructure for fintechs Qolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi. Qolo Three 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 ASoftware for managing freelancers Worksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen. Worksome The 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 freelancersPersonal finance is only a text away Yinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert. Albert The 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 CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of Relief Relief For 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 roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize. Securitize Securitize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business banking Michael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo. Kristelle Boulos Photography Business 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 ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs. Spring Labs A blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round. So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancers JGalione/Getty Images Lance 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 BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisors Jason Wenk, founder and CEO of Altruist Altruist Jason 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 InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon. HoneyBook While 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 GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurers Fiordaliso/Getty Images Onboarding 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 Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot. Fakespot Marketplaces 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 ANew twists on digital banking Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley HMBradley Consumers 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 ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 29th, 2021

Meet the entrepreneur planning to build the "McDonald"s" of plant-based burgers

Steele Smiley has 20 years of experience in the wellness industry. His latest act: tapping into the millennial and Gen Z plant-based food market. Steele Smiley, founder of fast casual restaurants Crisp & Green and Stalk & Spade. Crisp & Green Entrepreneur Steele Smiley aims to build America's first plant-based burger chain, Stalk & Spade. Along with his other fast-casual restaurant, Crisp & Green, Smiley is tapping into a healthy eating market dominated by millennials and Gen Z. He spoke with Insider about how the pandemic has shifted people's mindset toward wellness. See more stories on Insider's business page. Steele Smiley will be the first to tell you he runs his life like he's in the military.That involves 20 workouts a week, three times a day: Running in the morning, a yoga or boxing class during the day, and lifting weights at night. Since that doesn't seem to satisfy all his energy, Smiley also juggles two Minnesota-based fast-casual restaurants. In 2016, he opened Stalk & Spade, which serves up salads, grain bowls, smoothies, and free workout classes. Five years later (in the midst of the pandemic) he launched Crisp & Green with a plant-based-only menu. He's expanded both brands in the south and Midwest, bucking conventional health hubs like LA and NYC in favor of an edge in less competitive markets."We intend to become the first franchisable plant-based burger chain in the country," Smiley told Insider, billing it as the plant-based version of McDonald's.It's a bold statement, but the 43-year-old serial entrepreneur has 20 years in the fitness industry under his belt. While he declined to share revenue numbers, analytics verified by Insider showed that Crisp & Green digital orders increased from 9% of its total orders in January 2020 to more than 70% in April when the pandemic hit, where they've stayed ever since. Stalk & Spade launched in May. Stalk & Spade In 2021 alone, Crisp & Green expanded from five states to 12, with several locations in the Sun Belt, an area seeing explosive growth before and during the pandemic. Smiley said the chain is nearing 100 stores in 14 states, with new locations opening every 6.8 days. Overall, however, the restaurant scene has been struggling. Last August, before widespread vaccination, the fast casual space was down 12%, according to figures from foodservice data platform Technomic. While consumer spending in restaurants rose this year compared to last, recovery hasn't yet snapped back to pre-pandemic traffic levels. Restaurants are still contending with issues like labor shortages and shorter hours.Still, the wellness economy is worth $1.5 trillion, according to McKinsey, and Smiley is betting he can tap into that, especially since the pandemic has prompted many people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Plant-based diets, which nearly 10 million Americans follow, are gaining traction. The market is growing, expected to exceed $74 billion by 2021."The next evolution of healthy eating is plant-based eating," Smiley said. "Within a decade, people will choose the plant-based alternatives of the traditional meat they eat today."Move over, SweetgreenSmiley had just $765 in his bank account when he kicked off his career in 2004 with his boutique studio STEELE Fitness. In 2013, he had just landed a major partnership with Under Armour when he sold his business to international wellness company Lift Brands Global. He joined the parent company as a senior executive.He launched Crisp & Green in November 2016, which he juggled while working for Lift Brands for five months before going full-time. "I would work during the day at my first big business, and at night I would put on a Crisp & Green t-shirt and work at my restaurant," Smiley said.Smiley said he'd always wanted to launch multiple businesses in multiple industries. Evolving his career from fitness to healthy eating was only a natural next step."The opportunity that I felt was staring me in the face was food," he said. "In fitness, I taught people that the hour you work out can only be so impactful. The other 23 hours of a day, you can help people understand how to make the right food choices." Crisp & Green offers free fitness classes in addition to its salad and smoothie menu. Crisp & Green Those who perhaps best understood this pre-pandemic were young, healthy women, whom Steele would often see walking through Crisp & Green's doors.His brands certainly have Gen Z and millennial written all over them. The two generations helped grow the global healthy eating and nutrition economy to $704 billion and are leading the way in plant-based eating. Millennials, dubbed "the wellness generation," are especially more health-conscious and more willing to spend on healthy food and fitness than their parents.For them, investing in green juices and $30 spin classes is a discreet status symbol, a way to convey they care about their health and have the money to do it properly.Smiley made sure Crisp & Green checked all the boxes for this demographic: healthy, digitally accessible, deliverable, and Instagrammable. "It made people say I want to live a more aspirational life," he said. A post shared by C&G • Healthy & Scratch-Made! (@crispandgreen) It's this combination that Smiley believes enabled the restaurant to gain steam during the pandemic, which in turn led to his confidence in launching another venture."I figured why stop with just one that was working?" he said. And so Stalk & Spade was born.The plant-based way of the futureAfter his pandemic success, Smiley said he saw an opportunity to prepare for a post-vaccine economic reopening by giving Americans what he thought they'd need after a health-related recession and a social recession: healthier food and an opportunity to get out of the house.But he recognized that bringing yet another concept into the increasingly saturated wellness sector - especially during a pandemic that saw a declining footprint in the fast casual industry - meant that he'd be facing a tough road. He knew he needed to look toward the future - and what he saw were plants. A post shared by STALK & SPADE (@stalkandspade) He said he and his team worked on building Stalk & Spade's plant-based menu from scratch until taste testers couldn't discern the difference between a real burger and a plant-based one.The pandemic pushed healthy eating 10 years into the future, he said. It dramatically expanded his demographic from mostly young adults to nearly everyone.When asked who his clientele is now, Smiley said with a laugh, "humans." After all, "everyone wants to live a better life."Nutrition has taken on new importance, per a McKinsey survey, as people now want food that will help them accomplish wellness goals while tasting good. Millennials and Gen Z are even more willing to invest in health and wellness post-pandemic, with 60% believing that taking care of one's health will be the pandemic's most important societal change. With a modern, minimalist design, even Stalk & Spade's interior is Instagrammable. Stalk & Spade The mental shift has sparked the rise of a high-performance lifestyle, in which people are increasingly letting wearables and apps track their health and make lifestyle choices for them. That includes Smiley himself, who monitors his sleep with wearables. The healthier life people are now turning to is the life Smiley has been living this whole time, which could prove to be the key to growing his brands.By the end of the year, he said, Crisp & Green will have 25 locations with another 60 in the pipeline. Stalk & Spade is set to open up its second Minnesota location in early 2022.Smiley believes the time is now for plant-based eating to go from a niche audience to a more mainstream one. "We fed into the trends of healthy eating," he said of the plant-based market. "It's an opportunity for an entire new genre to start."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

Banks Oppose Biden"s New "Total Financial Surveillance" Proposal On IRS Reporting

Banks Oppose Biden's New 'Total Financial Surveillance' Proposal On IRS Reporting Authored by Emel Akan via The Epoch Times, Opposition is growing to a new proposal aimed at curbing tax evasion that would be part of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package under consideration by Congress. The proposal, which is being pushed by the Biden administration, would require banks and other financial institutions to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) any deposits or withdrawals totaling more than $600 annually to or from all business and personal accounts. The American Bankers Association (ABA), along with over 40 business and financial groups, sent a letter on Sept. 17 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) objecting to the “ill-advised” reporting proposal. “While the stated goal of this vast data collection is to uncover tax dodging by the wealthy, this proposal is not remotely targeted to that purpose or that population,” the letter stated. “In addition to the significant privacy concerns, it would create tremendous liability for all affected parties by requiring the collection of financial information for nearly every American without proper explanation of how the IRS will store, protect, and use this enormous trove of personal financial information.” The Biden administration has been pushing Democrats to include the proposal in the $3.5 trillion spending bill in an effort to address tax evasion, mainly by wealthy people. With the new reporting rule, “the wealthy can no longer hide what they’re making,” President Joe Biden said on Sept. 16 during a speech on the economy. “That isn’t about raising their taxes,” Biden added. “It’s about the super-wealthy finally beginning to pay what they owe.” The reporting regime aims to close the tax gap, according to the Treasury Department, which is the difference between taxes owed to the government and what’s actually paid. A report released by the Treasury in May stated that the new reporting rule would help “raise $460 billion over the next decade.” Almost every banking transaction and even transfers between one’s accounts would be aggregated and reported to the IRS, according to Paul Merski, group executive vice president at the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), which represents nearly 5,000 community banks in the United States. “It’s a dragnet, it’s a collection of data in the scale that we’ve never seen before in the financial sector,” Merski told The Epoch Times. ICBA is among the financial groups that strongly oppose Biden’s proposal, calling it an “overreach” by the federal government. Banks already report a tremendous amount of data to the IRS. According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report, more than 3.5 billion information returns were received by the IRS for tax year 2018. A large number of these come from banks, ABA says. These include reporting interest paid on bank accounts, dividend income, brokerage transactions, mortgage interest, and more. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, U.S. financial institutions also report to the government all wire transfers over $10,000 as well as suspicious cash transactions to prevent criminal activities such as money laundering. “Banks are already reporting billions of pieces of information and you’re getting to the point where the banks are becoming the police force for the IRS,” Merski said. “I don’t think people, small business owners know about this profiling that the IRS wants to put together,” he added. “So, it’s basically a profiling; they want to see your transactions and create a profile on you, and if they don’t like what they see, then they can go after you.” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) last week, asking Democrats to include a “sufficiently comprehensive” reporting provision in the bill “so that tax evaders are not able to structure financial accounts to avoid it.” It is unclear whether some version of the proposal will make it into the final bill, but the Ways and Means Committee left out the administration’s proposal in the legislation approved by the committee due to the growing backlash. Neal, however, indicated that the committee is in discussions with the administration on various proposals to increase reporting requirements. According to Merski, the provision could be added back to the budget reconciliation bill at any stage in the process, especially at the last minute. The bill only needs a simple majority to pass in the Senate. “Our fear is that this is so onerous that they’re waiting to the last second to put this in, but they’re dead serious about putting this proposal in,” he said. An ICBA poll conducted by Morning Consult found that 67 percent of voters oppose the new IRS reporting proposal. “The provision is a violation of Americans’ privacy rights and would be a crushing burden on community banks and credit unions struggling in the midst of the pandemic,” John Berlau, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Epoch Times. “The IRS already gets plenty of data on taxpayers through forms such as 1099s, and does not need instant access to these small transactions to go after tax cheats,” he said. According to the Treasury Department, Biden’s proposal is “integral to addressing evasion.” The tax gap disproportionately benefits wealthy people because their income mainly comes from “non-labor sources where misreporting is common,” the Treasury report stated. “The tax gap totaled nearly $600 billion in 2019 and will rise to about $7 trillion over the course of the next decade if left unaddressed.” Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 10:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 23rd, 2021

Avoid AMC Entertainment; Metaverse Real Estate Selling Like Hotcakes

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors suggesting to avoid AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:AMC); investors snap up metaverse real estate in a virtual land boom; Scott Galloway: Inflated. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Avoid AMC Entertainment 1) The 25 stocks in my “Short Squeeze Bubble Basket” that I identified in my January 27 […] Whitney Tilson’s email to investors suggesting to avoid AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:AMC); investors snap up metaverse real estate in a virtual land boom; Scott Galloway: Inflated. 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); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Avoid AMC Entertainment 1) The 25 stocks in my "Short Squeeze Bubble Basket" that I identified in my January 27 e-mail have declined by an average of 34%, while the S&P 500 Index has risen by 22% – 56 points of underperformance. However, one notable exception is the largest movie theater operator in the world, AMC Entertainment (AMC), which is up 52% since then. So am I throwing in the towel and admitting a mistake? Heck no! This article is a good summary of why AMC continues to be among my least favorite stocks: Movie theaters must 'urgently' rethink the experience, a study says. Excerpt: About 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer buying tickets. Some of them, roughly 8%, have likely been lost forever. To win back the rest, multiplex owners must "urgently" rethink pricing and customer perks in addition to focusing on coronavirus safety. Those were some of the takeaways from a new study on the state of the American movie theater business, which was troubled before the pandemic – attendance declining, streaming services proliferating – and has struggled to rebound from coronavirus-forced closings in 2020. Over the weekend, ticket sales in the United States and Canada stood at roughly $96 million, compared to $181 million over the same period in 2019. I, for one, have yet to return to a movie theater, even as pretty much every other aspect of my life has gone back to normal (sporting events, Broadway shows, etc.). I was actually planning to see the new movie about Venus and Serena Williams' father, King Richard, but then saw it was released simultaneously on HBO Max, so my wife and I just watched it at home (and loved it). This new development is very bad news for AMC... Investors Snap Up Metaverse Real Estate 2) I'm no longer in the short-selling business (thank goodness!), but if I were, I'd feel perfectly comfortable shorting AMC, especially now that it's already been pumped to the moon by the Reddit speculators and subsequently crashed (it's down nearly 60% from its all-time high on June 2). While, as we've seen, it could trade anywhere in the short term. At the end of the day, its stock will ultimately be valued on the performance of the underlying business, which I believe will be dreadful relative to the expectations built into its current $15 billion market cap and $24 billion enterprise value. I don't even think the company is worth $9 billion in net debt, meaning the stock will eventually be worthless. But as an old-school value guy, I take zero comfort in evaluating things like cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens ("NFTs"), and the latest craze, buying real estate in the metaverse. I'm not making this up – here are two recent in-depth articles about it in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, respectively: a) Metaverse Real Estate Piles Up Record Sales in Sandbox and Other Virtual Realms. Excerpt: The latest hot real estate market isn't on the scenic coasts or in balmy Sunbelt cities. It's in the metaverse, where gamers are flocking, and digital property sales are setting new records. A growing number of investment firms are acquiring digital land in worlds such as the Sandbox and Decentraland, where players simulate real-life pursuits, from shopping to attending a concert. They are betting that individuals and companies will spend money to use virtual homes and retail space and that the value of properties will increase as more people join the worlds. b) Investors Snap Up Metaverse Real Estate in a Virtual Land Boom. Excerpt: Investors were watching, too. Preparing for a digital land boom that appears just months away, they are snapping up concert venues, shopping malls, and other properties in the metaverse. Interest in this digital universe skyrocketed last month when Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be known as Meta, an effort to capitalize on the digital frontier. The global market for goods and services in the metaverse will soon be worth $1 trillion, according to the digital currency investor Grayscale. My knee-jerk, old-school-value-guy reaction is that this is an obvious and ridiculous bubble, but I've been humbled too many times to have any conviction in that judgment. So I'm just going to defer to my colleagues Enrique Abeyta and Gabe Marshank, who have already done a deep dive into the metaverse. In fact, they recommended one of the leading companies in the space, Roblox Corp (NYSE:RBLX), to their Empire Elite Growth subscribers in September, and it's already up 38%. (Click here for a free trial to Empire Elite Growth.) Scott Galloway On Inflation 3) Run, don't walk, to read NYU professor Scott Galloway's latest column, Inflated. It's the essay of the year, I think. It should be required reading for everyone interested in our higher education system, starting with college administrators. Excerpts: In 1980 a gallon of gasoline cost $1.19. Today it's $3.41, a 2.7% annual increase. But undergraduate tuition has risen nearly 3 times as fast: 6.7% a year at public colleges, for an increase of nearly 1,400%. The greatest assault on middle-class America's prosperity may be the relentless, four-decade-long inflation in higher education. Student loan debt ($1.7 trillion) is now greater than credit card debt. And that doesn't account for the busted 401(k)s, second mortgages, and general financial oppression [that] me and my colleagues have levied on lower- and middle-income households. The number of Americans who have more than $100,000 in student debt is greater than the population of Utah. This sustained inflation has been devastating for lower- and middle-income households. Higher education's ability to soak America is a function of limiting the supply of freshman seats at our best universities in concert with the continued fetishization of their brands. We can scale Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), Facebook (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) by 25% to 60% per annum, but we can't seem to bust above 1% per year at our great public universities. The top 200 schools in America educate only 10% of college attendees. And these universities raise prices in perfect lockstep, miraculously, resulting in millions of kids who get arbitraged to mediocre universities but pay an elite price. It's a cartel enforced by the accreditation organizations, institutions who are as corrupt as the NCAA... minus the charm. Acceptance rates have plummeted, turning senior spring from a time of optimism and opportunity to one of anguish and sacrifice. Kids are still getting into college (total enrollment has kept pace with the growth in graduating seniors), but more and more are shuffled down to lower-tier schools that charge a top-tier price for a credential worth far less. College deans boast about low admissions rates. But if you accept five of every 100 applications, that's not a 5% admission rate. It's a 95% rejection rate. This is un-American. Rejectionism is cloaked in progressive policies. It's true that the student body at these institutions is more diverse than it was 40 years ago. And that's great. But it's not an excuse for maintaining a rejectionist posture. The mission is to expand opportunity, not reallocate elites. Bigotry is prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular group. Haven't we in higher education become bigoted against unremarkable kids from lower- and middle-income households? I love his personal story at the end – it was a similar story for my mom, the daughter of a Seattle fireman, who graduated from the University of Washington in 1962: The best things in my life – kids who made the head's list this semester, a supportive mate, and financial security that (generally) enables me to do whatever I want, whenever I want – are a function of one thing: 74. Specifically, in the 80s, UCLA had an acceptance rate of 74%. I (no joke) had to apply twice. I was the first person on either side of my family to graduate from high school, much less get to attend amazing institutions for undergraduate and graduate degrees. The cost? $7,000 (total) in tuition for a BA and an MBA. In addition, I was presented this opportunity as a function of being good, not great... much less remarkable. Higher ed catalyzed an upward spiral of prosperity for me and my family that's been good for the commonwealth – we love America and are good citizens. Today the acceptance rate at UCLA is 12%. Since I graduated, the number of graduating high school seniors in California has grown nearly twice as fast as the number of undergraduate seats at UCLA. To its credit, the UC system has announced plans to add 20,000 more seats to the system by 2030. At night, alone with the dogs, I hear voices. (No shit.) Not strange voices like the dogs telling me to head to Kroger's in my underwear. But the voices of millions of kids who have one question: "Boss, you got yours, where is mine? When do I get my shot?" America is not about making the children of rich people and the remarkable billionaires but giving everyone a shot at being a millionaire and/or making a contribution. American higher ed has become un-American. We need to fall back in love with the unremarkables and return to America. Best regards, Whitney P.S. I welcome your feedback at WTDfeedback@empirefinancialresearch.com. Updated on Dec 3, 2021, 3:13 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: valuewalk17 hr. 20 min. ago

Transcript: Steve Fradkin

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Steve Fradkin Northern Trust, 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. ~~~ RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast… Read More The post Transcript: Steve Fradkin appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Steve Fradkin Northern Trust, 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. ~~~ RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast I have a special guest. His name is Steve Fradkin, and he runs one of the larger pools of assets that you probably had no idea about. He is the President of Northern Trust Wealth Management. They run over $350 billion in client assets. They serve some of the wealthiest families in America. One in five wealthy families actually has assets with Northern Trust. They have something like 20 percent of the Forbes 400, just a very interesting perspective on how to manage through periods of uncertainty, changing tax laws, rising inflation. Also, it’s really interesting perspectives. It’s less about predicting the future, Steve tells us, then thinking in terms of planning and probabilities. And I think that was really interesting advice. He — he is about as knowledgeable as anybody is going to get in the – both wealth management business and ultra-high net worth management business. I found the conversation really intriguing, and I think you will also. So, with no further ado, my interview of Steve Fradkin of Northern Trust. VOICE-OVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My special guest this week is Steve Fradkin. He is the President of Northern Trust Wealth Management. Running about $355 billion in assets, they serve about one in five of the wealthiest families in America. Previously, Steve ran the Corporate and Institutional Services. He was Head of International Business for Northern Trust, as well as the firm’s Chief Financial Officer. Steve Fradkin, welcome to Bloomberg. FIRRMA Thank you, Barry. Great to be here. RITHOLTZ: So, you spent your entire career at Northern Trust having joined in — in 1985. How do you make the leap from really CFO to President which, to me, I think of President I think of someone who’s running like a CEO, running a — a division? What were the challenges of that transition? FRADKIN: Well, it’s a great question and, you know, careers are mysterious experiences. The — the bigger mystery really, Barry, was the move to CFO. So I joined Northern Trust as a youngster, didn’t know what I wanted to do, worked my way through a variety of entry-level jobs, ultimately culminating at that point in running our growing international business, and loving it, traveling the world to clients in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, you know, really fun and interesting stuff, and was asked, at that point, to serve as CFO, which was the unnatural job. Was not a controller, was not a treasurer, and so serving as CFO of a large public company was — shall we say traumatic when they asked. But did that for six years, including through the global financial crisis. And it was, at that point, I went back to doing what I normally do, which is running businesses. I ran our Corporate and Institutional Services business, and then after that Wealth Management. So — so it wasn’t so much going from CFO to wealth management as it was ending up as CFO, if you will, by accident from my point of view. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. So — so you guys had a pretty good year in 2020. How did that carry over to this year? Is it just more of the same? What were the big success stories relative to all those challenges we soar last year? Well, you know, it’s — it’s really an interesting phenomenon, and it shows you the – in some ways, the unpredictability of what can happen. You know, if you think about COVID-19 and its impact in 2020, and if I said to you, you know, look here’s what’s going to happen, we’re — we’re going to go as a society not just Northern Trust from, you know, we all come in and we work and so forth and so on. And one day, on about the same day worldwide, everyone’s going to start working from home facetiously. What — what do you think is going to happen to the markets? I think most people have said, well, first of all, it could never happen that way. It’s not going to be true that people in Sydney, and London, and New York, and Sao Paulo are all going to be, you know, as much as one can working from home. That’s just impossible. And second of all is that where to happen on a sustained basis. Well, gee, you know, the economy is going to crater because no baseball games, no concerts, no – you know, less use of restaurants, et cetera, et cetera. I don’t think people would have said, you know, the markets would do as well as they’ve done. So look, it’s been an incredible journey. Northern Trust has navigated exceptionally well through it last year and continues to perform well today. And there are a variety of factors in that. But each and every day has been a navigation because we’re still not out of the pandemic and we’re still operating in a hybrid mode. And, you know, balancing safety of our partners, our — our employees, and the needs of our clients is a — a daily — a juggling act that we’re still working through and I suspect will be working through for a while longer here. RITHOLTZ: We’re going to talk a little more about how you guys manage doing the pandemic in a bit, but I want to stay with the success of Northern Trust. You’re one of the biggest ultra-high net worth investment managers. But relative to your size, you guys kind of fly under the radar. Why is that? FRADKIN: Well, you know, it’s — it’s an interesting question, Barry. The – so in terms of size, we’re in the top 20 banks in the country as measured by our balance sheet. But really the — the better marker of our size is the assets that we manage and the assets that we administer for clients. And we’re a very quiet company. We don’t do lots of big acquisitions. We do the same thing today that we’ve been doing since 1889, serving the same clientele, and so we’re a very focused institution. A little over half our profits come from the provision of services to wealthy families in America and around the world. And the other half come from essentially providing the same services, but to large global institutional investors, serving wealth funds, pension funds and the like. And so, we’re a quiet company that has been extraordinarily successful and consistently so for many, many years. So, we’re proud of what we’ve got, but we — we — we — we fly under the radar scream — screen intentionally to just keep a low profile and stay focused on our clients. RITHOLTZ: And — and that would make sense given the nature of your clients who are less Instagram stars and more quiet wealth. Is that a — is that a fair way to describe it? FRADKIN: Yeah. Today, we serve little over 30 percent of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans and, obviously, many other affluent families. And interestingly, Barry, you know, sometimes people think of Northern Trust in its wealth management business as focusing on — or serving multigenerational well-healed, you know, families. And that’s true, we certainly serve many of those. But there are many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, in New York, in Miami, in Dallas, in — all over the country and all over the world. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in being here is that wealth is created in a lot of mysterious ways. And so, your — your reference to Instagram and so forth, I would say our clients are definitely low profile, but where they create their wealth emanates from every segment of the economy. It’s really a — a fascinating part of the privilege of being in this — this kind of role. RITHOLTZ: Let’s stay with that because I was just involved in a conversation recently about the amount of wealth that has been created over the past couple of decades. Wherever you look, especially in the United States, it seems that people are coming up with new ideas, new technologies, new just even business processes that if you go back to the 90’s, I don’t think people could have imagined the sort of things that are generating the massive amounts of wealth that we’ve seen. And — and I’m not even talking about NFTs or things like that, I mean, businesses with clients that are just doing tens of millions of dollars of — of revenue a year. FRADKIN: Well, I think the — the fascinating thing that I think we see is that wealth can be created in a lot of different ways. And I — and I think you’re right that as the world has sped up, the wealth creation has sped up, too. You know, to caricature it, it used to be you would start a business in your garage in Louisiana and, overtime, you would, you know, build a vacuum cleaner, whatever it happened to be. And you would start selling it from a store and, you know, it would — you know, you — you’d have a second store. And — and the next thing you know, you have a — a — a big business that you never envisioned having, and you could sell that company and — and create tremendous amount of wealth. Today, that phenomenon still absolutely happens, but it also happens with the power of the Internet that the pace at which companies in some industries can grow and accelerate has — has really multiplied. So, wealth creation, in some instances, is still a slow laborious step-by-step process. But in others, I don’t want to say it’s overnight, but it happens a lot faster with digitalization in the — the pace at which the world moves today. So, we — we see both phenomena, and that’s part of the fun and excitement of the American economy. And this certainly happens elsewhere in the world as well. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. So, let’s talk about how you guys had to operate during the lockdown. You mentioned this earlier. What were you doing when, you know, it became clear the country was shutting down in March of 2020? FRADKIN: It’s a great question, Barry. Well, we started like many other institutions with the safety of our clients and the safety of our employees. And it all happened relatively quickly in terms of shutting down offices to the bare minimum, getting people home, and making sure that they could function effectively from home. And if you go back to — and — and, by the way, we have 20,000 employees worldwide, so we were doing the same thing in Manila, in the Philippines as we were doing in London, as we were doing in Dublin, as we were doing in Houston, as we were doing in Las Vegas. And so I want you to think about the operational, and logistical, and infrastructural needs of pretty much all at the same time trying to get people out of the office, enable them to function effectively from home, still be able to serve our clients, and all the family and other issues that people were wrestling with. So, I would say the beginning of the pandemic was stressful. You know, we were working 24/7 trying to make sure that technology worked and people could still get cash and all those things. It has gotten to a much better, you know, I’ll call it normalcy in a strange sort of way. But the early days of the pandemic were — were challenging. We navigated through well, but it’s certainly not something that anyone had anticipated. RITHOLTZ: Really quite interesting. So, I’m assuming you guys have your offices, more or less, reopened. What are you going to do going forward? Is it going to be a hybrid model or is everyone back in the office or people working from home? FRADKIN: Our offices are open and — and really to different extents in different geographies, you know, which makes sense. The — the infection rates, hospitalization rates, all the metrics that we track are very different in different cities and countries around the globe. You know, in terms of where it goes in the future, I think the future of work and how people work is forever changed. You know, we always had a pretty flexible workforce and the ability to work from home and, you know, people’s — people’s lives and — personal lives and business lives had crossed over long ago that, as an employer, we had to be flexible. I think that’s going to be even more so coming out of the pandemic. People have gotten used to it. The technology has gotten better. Client expectations are different. And so, I think we will be in a — you know, what we — what we think of today as a hybrid model will be a normal model tomorrow. And that doesn’t mean everyone will work from home, but it certainly means a lot more flexibility for employees to inevitably juggle the — the conflicting needs of family and work life. And we’re well prepared for that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So as investors, COVID was pretty much an exogenous shock. It — it came out the left field. How did the whole COVID crash and recovery compare to past crises, whether it’s 9/11 or dot-com implosion or the great financial crisis? How do you — how do you wrap your head around this one compared to ones from — from recent past? FRADKIN: You know, it’s — it’s a great question. And I think, Barry, my perspective would be that we often call events like the COVID-19 pandemic tail events or once in a lifetime events. And in some ways, they are and, in some ways, they aren’t. If — if I think about it through the prism of my career experience, we had the crash of October 1987. We’ve seen the collapses of things like Enron and WorldCom. We’ve seen September 11th. We’ve seen Bear Stearns go down. We had the global financial crisis of 2008 and, of course, the pandemic. And each time we call it a tail event, but at some point, we have to admit that there are a lot of tails. So, I want to take you back just to compare and contrast COVID-19 with 2008. I’ll give you this example. I want you to imagine it’s the end of 2007, and you’re presenting the 2008 plan for Northern Trust to our board. And you go to the board and you say, “Look, we expect our revenues to do this and our expenses to do that, and so forth and so on.” And one of the board members raises his or her hand and he says — he or she says, “Barry, that’s — that’s terrific. Sounds like a great plan for 2008.” But I — I — I just want to get your perspective. What happens if Bear Stearns collapses, Freddie, Fannie, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, you know, et cetera, et cetera, Lehman? You know, the whole thing collapses in 2008. How will we perform? I think you’d — you know, I — I think if you had been CFO at that time, you would have said, “Well, you know, that’s just — that’s never going to happen,” but it did. And Northern Trust navigated through that exceptionally well. Not unscarred, but exceptionally well. If you take — if you fast forward from that paradigm to COVID-19, it’s very similar. You know, if — if we had been talking to our board the year before and put forward our plan, I think our board would have said, “Well, okay, you know, that sounds like a great plan. What happens if there’s a global pandemic in every office from which we operate is going to be shut down or substantially shut down? Everyone’s got to work from home on the same day globally.” And, by the way, it’s going to be for a year and a half or more. I’m quite confident you or we would have said, well, that — you know, that’s just not — you know, I don’t know what we’ll do. That’s not going to happen, but it did. And so, I think the — the lesson from these crises is that while they’re different every time, they happen a lot. And so, we have to think about our approach to business, our approach to research, our approach to preparing for the unanticipatable. And as I say, each — each of your examples, September 11th, and COVID, and 2008 are different, but they were all — they all featured substantial disruption, substantial unanticipatable disruption. And at Northern Trust and every other company around the world, you have to be prepared to be agile and adapt quickly. And — and that’s what we’ve been able to do pretty consistently over our 130 plus years of experience. RITHOLTZ: So, given that history and the fact that a big chunk of your clients are ultra-high net worth, how do you think about managing assets compared to what — I don’t know, let’s use the phrase “mass affluent,” that typical approach. Is this more about preserving wealth and it is striking at rich. These folks are, after all, already fairly wealthy. How does this specific demographic change and challenge the way you manage assets for them? FRADKIN: Well, I think, look, wherever one sits on the spectrum of wealth, they generally want to optimize their returns over time. And people have different risk preferences as you would expect. So to caricature it, if you come from nothing and you’ve done exceptionally well financially, you may — not always, but you may have a predisposition to have a stronger defensive component to your portfolio because you don’t want to end up back where you were. You know what it’s like not to have money, you have it, and you want to be defensive. On the other hand, there are people who whether they came from nothing or not, they’ve had tremendous success. They’ve seen the power of capitalism, and they want to not only do as well as they can, but keep going. So, we see things through the eyes of our clients across the continuum. What I would say is people in the ultra net — ultra-high net worth space, at least from my point of view, it’s not so much about they’re more defensive or more offensive. They have more flexibility for choice. They can be defensive because they’ve, you know, so to speak, got more than enough or they can lean in and be more aggressive because they have a bigger cushion than the rest of us. And our clientele is all ends of that spectrum. There’s no — the — the — the notion that some people have, well, once someone’s made a certain amount of money they’re — they’re just trying to preserve it. There are certainly clients that — that exhibit that behavior, but there are an equal number who want to optimize it and aren’t in a completely defensive mindset. So, it depends on the personality type. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. One of the clichés of the industry is three generations from, you know, short tales to short tales, referring that generational wealth very often gets — I don’t want to say wasted, but frittered away irresponsibly or recklessly. Some people take too much risk. How do you manage around that? Do you — do you ever have families coming to you and say, “Hey, we want to leave money to the next generation, but we want to make sure they get it and that it’s not just, you know, Ferraris and — and weekends in Vegas.” FRADKIN: Yes, all the time. Again, every family is different. Every client is different but, you know, one thing to — one thing that I think is a little bit unfair in — in — not by you, but in the characterization that you refer to is this notion, well, you know, by the third generation it is, you know, frittered away. I think you — you have to remember a couple things. First, when — when we say it’s frittered away, the comparison point is often to someone who did the extraordinary. So if I started from nothing and created $1 billion — $1 billion of wealth, it’s a little unfair to say my kids or my grandkids, you know, they’re not as smart as I am because, you know, they didn’t do it, too. You know, People who have created extraordinary wealth have done so, by definition, it’s — it’s extraordinary, and it’s not reasonable. Even if you have bright, talented, you know, high-functioning kids, it’s not reasonable to assume that each generation is just going to — you know, mom made $1 billion. Mom’s kid made $2 billion and — and mom’s grandkid made — made $4 billion. You know, it’s — mathematically, that’s not a reasonable probability. That’s sad. There is definitely an art to optimizing wealth through the generations. And, of course, it starts in the home and how you raise kids and values and, you know, what you demand of them or not. But a lot of our clients do a great job of trying to steward their wealth, trying to educate their kids, trying to make use of family governance to — to help everyone understand how things work for the family. And so, each client is different, but as with most things, the more you put into it, the more you’re likely to get out of it. And for those who believe it’s an important responsibility to steward that wealth, pass it to future generations, educate those generations, make them or trying to help them be important members of society, they tend to get better outcomes than the rest of us. It’s a — it’s a very — it’s, you know, raising kids and money are two challenging vectors, but we see some great examples of people stewarding wealth through multiple generations not just the — the founder, so to speak. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about what you call Goals Driven Wealth Management. Start out with what — what exactly is that. FRADKIN: Sure. Goals Driven Wealth Management at Northern Trust is the framework that — that we’ve devised to build personalized wealth plans for clients and it focuses on helping them achieve their individual goals with confidence. It provides a big picture of their wealth and transparent steps on how to manage and optimize wealth over time. So, Barry, one way to think about it is — and I’m being a little bit facetious, but just to make the point, it used to be in this industry that the starting point for how money might be managed was a function of your outlook on the market. You think equities are going to go up, et cetera, so you allocate more to equities. Goals Driven Wealth Management comes at investing through a different lens. The starting point is not so much our call on the markets though that will be important at some point. Our starting point in Goals Driven is what are you and your family trying to accomplish. Once we understand what you’re trying to accomplish and the assets you need to accomplish it, we can, in effect, back in to how to deploy those assets — in stocks, bonds, other asset classes — to give you the best probability of achieving your life goals over time. So, it’s really just a different starting point for how to think about creating an asset allocation that is most effective for you and your family. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about that framework. And again, the question comes back, how different is it for the ultra-high net worth than for the merely wealthy or — or is there a lot of overlapping between the two different types of planning? FRADKIN: The process is really the same no matter where you are on the wealth spectrum. You and your family have goals, and whether you have $1 million, $100 million, $1 billion, $10 billion or whatever the number is, you have something you want to achieve over time. You plan to live to age 90 or 100. This is what you need to live in the style to which you want to be accustomed, and we do a variety of work to figure out, first of all, are you asset-sufficient, meaning under reasonable scenarios, do I have enough if I steward it effectively to live my life the way I want to live it over time? And that happens whether you have, you know — again, whatever the number is, $500,000 or $10 million. The difference, Barry, comes in with the flexibility and options that you have as you create more wealth. So, the starting point is the same: understand your goals, understand your needs, and let’s figure out an asset allocation to give you the best chance to get there. What becomes different for people in the ultra-high net worth space relative to the rest of us is that they can take advantage of more planning techniques. They can take advantage of more techniques to optimize philanthropy. They can take advantage of gifting to future generations and so forth, and so the process is the same. But as you accumulate more money, in general, you have more flexibility on some other things you can do. The ultra-high net worth also have more investment optionality. They have the ability to invest in asset classes like private equity hedge fund and so forth where they may have to trade off some liquidity for a period of time. Those of us who are lower on the spectrum may not be able to endure that in a down market. Those who have more wealth can — can oftentimes weather that storm more. So, the process is the same, but you get more flexibility as your wealth grows. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: We’re going to talk more of about alternative investments in a little bit. I want to stick with a couple of interesting things I read in some Northern Trust research. One of the things that I kind of knew, but I didn’t realize it was this intense was the number of clients you see relocating to new states. It’s been a record volume. Some of that is pandemic related, some of it predates the pandemic. How does that challenge the planning process? How different is it from state-to-state when it comes to things like tax planning? You mentioned trust. You mentioned philanthropic issues. What happens when somebody picks up from one state and relocates to another state? FRADKIN: Yeah, it’s an interesting question. Look, clients relocating has always been with us. If you look at Northern Trust history, we are headquartered in Chicago in the middle of the United States. It’s cold here in the winter, lovely city, but it does get rather cold at wintertime. And often times, as people age and, you know, their kids finish school and so forth, they opt for better environments in the wintertime, so they may want to be in Florida or Arizona or Texas or California. So, one phenomenon we’ve always seen is migration from state-to-state. That phenomenon is also impacted by state tax rates, by state tax considerations. And so, both, because of the pandemic and for tax reasons and lifestyle reasons, were continuing to see movement across state lines. And so, you know, I think the — the message to urban planners is taxes do matter to people. It’s not necessarily the only factor, but even affluent people will think through where do they want to be, where do they want to live, what environment to they want to be in, and what’s the tax impact for their clients. And that phenomenon is — is alive and well. It’s always been there, but it — it does seem to be important as different states consider different policies, if you will. People — residents make their choices, and so it’s — it’s — it’s a phenomenon that’s very much at the front of mind for many of our clients. RITHOLTZ: Interesting. You mentioned taxes. There was a new administration came to town this year, and the expectations are there will be some sort of change in tax policy, potentially including increases in capital gains and increases in estate taxes and, in some cases, fairly substantial increases. How do you plan around that? And since nothing is known for certain in advance what an administration is — is going to do, how do you make decisions in — in the face of that uncertainty? FRADKIN: Yeah, I think our starting point on behalf of our clients is to prepare rather than predict. So, let me give you an example that — that you referred to. The newly proposed tax law change would change the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption amount from $11.7 million down to $5 million. And what this means for people that built up substantial wealth is that if the proposal goes forward as — as offered, you have until the end of this year if you want to make a gift to your heirs of — if you can afford to and if you want to, make a gift of $11.7 million. And again, I can’t tell you whether this will happen. But if we just think about the financial impact here, if you have enough capacity to do that and you choose to do it, you can take $11.7 million out of your estate today, get it to your kids, grandkids, whoever it happens to be tax-free as opposed to, on January 1st, if the law goes forward only as — as offered, you can only do $5 million. And what that means is the difference between — sorry to get, you know, numbers all over — but the difference between 11.7 and five, which is $6.7 million will be taxed, you know, when you die at a — at a high rate. And so we have literally thousands of clients all across the country and each one we’re working with individually to evaluate what’s their financial circumstance, what do they want to do, do they want to make the gift. And by the way, this — this — this tax law change may or may not happen, so people have to make a choice without knowing for sure whether it’s going to happen. I think the bottom line though is people are looking at this carefully. They’re studying it and they’re trying to prepare and make judgments about what might happen and what’s best for their individual circumstance. But tax law changes matter and — and we are in the business of helping our clients figure out what’s the best choice for them with the information that we have. RITHOLTZ: Quite, quite interesting. So, we talked a little bit about alternatives earlier. Let’s address that a bit. There seems to be a growing appetite for all manner of — of alternative investments given that stocks and bonds are all a little bit pricey. Let’s start with private equity. What — what sort of demand is there from your clients for private equity. And — and how do you guys respond to the question of potentially better returns in exchange for far less liquidity? FRADKIN: Sure. Look, investment has become much more granular over the decades and again, just to be facetious, you know, large-cap stocks versus high quality bonds, you know, 40 years ago. Today, clients think in terms of small-cap, mid-cap, large-cap, value, international, emerging markets, private equity, and thousands of flavors of private equity; hedge fund the same thing. So, in the quest for optimizing returns, clients and their professional money managers, Northern Trust included, have searched for different asset classes to combine together to give people the best chance to — to achieve their objectives. Private equity clearly has been in the aggregate — there are winners and losers in private equity, but has been a asset class that has done well for many. There are tradeoffs with private equity, particularly in terms of liquidity. But I would say amongst our clientele, the appetite for private equity and private equity, as a more normalized asset class, continues to grow. It’s not the right asset class for every client, but for clients who have the capacity, the risk tolerance and so forth, it — it definitely can play an important role in a client’s portfolio. And increasingly, we’re seeing more use of private equity today than we did say 10 years ago. RITHOLTZ: What about venture capital or hedge funds, two totally different entities from both each other in private equity, what’s the demand like for those products? FRADKIN: Demand exists for venture capital and for hedge funds as well. Again, the devil is in the detail, not all hedge funds are created equally. The — the — the fees that they charge, the performance that they’ve delivered can differ substantially, but there is again this same notion of I want to diversify my portfolio. I want a — a range of options and so-called alternative investments. Whether you call it private equity, venture capital, hedge funds seem to continue to be growing in appeal to our clientele. RITHOLTZ: What about crypto and things like blockchain and Ethereum? There seems to be a lot of real interest in the space. Are — are you finding your client bases crypto-curious? FRADKIN: I would say the demand for crypto is more muted amongst our clientele than some of what you read in the public press. And that doesn’t mean we have examples of clients who have invested in crypto and done exceptionally well in a right time. But I would say, in general, if I had to caricature it, I would say that crypto is still an evolving asset class that is misunderstood by many. And I think most are treating it carefully. And the ones that are making crypto investments are viewing it more as a — more as a roll of the dice than a rational analytical view of what crypto is trading at today and what it’s going to trade it tomorrow. They view it as a bit of a roll the dice. They may jump in a little bit, but they understand that what goes up can also go down. So, I would say amongst our clientele overall, crypto is still not widely in use. RITHOLTZ: So, we mentioned briefly the market is certainly pricier than it was five or 10 years ago. How do you manage around stocks and bonds neither of which are inexpensive? FRADKIN: Yeah, look, I think for many of our clients, the market does go up, the market got does go down. And one of the great features of our — the goals-driven methodology that we use for clients is that we build a portfolio such that after a lot of analytical work to evaluate their goals and so forth that enables them to endure and not have to sell in a down market. We — we create something that’s called a portfolio reserve. I would liken it to the moat around your castle. Some people like a wide deep moat, some people need a narrower and less deep mode, but think of that as a high-quality fixed income. If the stock market goes down, your — your bonds are still fine. You can still pay your mortgage. Life is good. You can wait until the market goes up or — or returns to normal. So, the one thing we know on behalf of our clients is markets go up and down, and so you have to plan and prepare for that. And so, it’s very difficult to know. You know, again using the COVID-19 example, I think they’re a lot of people who might have argued the markets are going to crash, you know, everyone’s working from home and we can’t get the essentials, and people don’t want to go to the grocery store, and yet the market went up dramatically. So, we try and take a long-stewarded view and help our clients plan and prepare themselves so that when the market does go down, they can get through and — and not have to take adverse steps and sell in dire circumstance. And that’s been very helpful for our clients. RITHOLTZ: So, in terms of forward return expectations, does that — and historically low-bond yields, high equity prices tend to suggest low returns going forward, does that work its way into the planning process or is that really more of an academic theory? FRADKIN: No, it absolutely works its way into the planning process because our starting point is what needs does a client have over the near-term for financial resources. We — we got to make sure they can buy their groceries, and pay their mortgage, and we have to deploy assets against those goals. But once, in working with a client, we figured out the right mix of assets to — to enable them to — to afford those goals over a reasonable period of time, we then have to deploy the rest of the portfolio toward so-called risk assets, equities, private equity, hedge funds, venture — whatever the asset class. And in so doing, we have to bring our judgment about risk and return expectations for each of those asset classes. So, our view of asset classes and what they’re likely to bring over the relatively short-term is still an important part of the process. RITHOLTZ: So, what do you tell investors who say, “You know, I’m really not happy with my muni bond portfolio. It’s barely thrown off two or 2.5 percent.” Investors are always seen to be looking for more yield. How do you respond to that group of clients? FRADKIN: Yeah, I think it — my — our response is really you have to remember what you’re trying to do with that muni bond portfolio. No one is saying it’s a great high returning asset class, but that’s not its role. Its role is to be — I’m making this up, Barry, but generally, the role of that muni bond portfolio is to provide you with certainty, security, confidence, and not have to worry about the other part of your portfolio, let’s just call that equities gyrating up and down. So, of course, people want their muni bonds or their high-quality fixed income to return as much as it can, and it’s our job to try and help people achieve that. But I think you always have to come back to what role is this trying to play. And for most clients, it’s trying to play a role of stability, and reliability, and consistency, and that’s the paramount feature. And in providing that consistency and — and stability and predictability, they give up a little bit of return on that asset class, but they’re trying to get that elsewhere with their equities, private equity, and so forth. So, you had — you had discussed previously, hey, you know, it’s up to us to make the most of a low rate environment. What does that mean? Get — how does one make the most of a low rate environment? FRADKIN: Well, I think, you know, low — low rates create — low interest rates create challenges and opportunities. Maybe two simple ways to think about it are, one, on the challenge side, if you’re living on a fixed income as assets reprice to — and you’re reliant on bonds — your bonds to provide income, the lower rates make the yield on those bonds lower, and so that’s bad from, you know, how much cash flow I have to — to fill my needs. The flipside to that is that when rates are very low, if you want to, if it’s appropriate, if it’s thoughtfully done, you can use credit rather than liquidating stocks to — you know, if you want to buy a new toy, so to speak, a boat, whatever it happens to be, one way to do that is to sell stocks in your portfolio and buy the — you know, whatever it is you want to buy. Another way is to let those stocks keep working on your behalf and, because rates are so low, take advantage of credit. Take a loan, buy that boat and — or whatever it happens to be and pay it back over time. So low interest rates, you know, how can have different conflicting phenomenon, opportunities on the credit side and headwinds on the bond investment site. RITHOLTZ: So — so how do you incorporate all this inflation chatter to — to your planning? We’ve started to see rates tick up the 10-year as — as recording this just about 1.5 percent. And I know there’s an irony in saying that rates are all the way up to 1.5 percent, which historically is incredibly low. How do you figure inflation into your modeling and — and thinking about the future? FRADKIN: Yeah, well, we use multi-scenario modeling. The — the reality is no one knows and so you have to, you know, the — the prognosticators will — will have a view. Some — some believe inflation is here and is going to continue. Others argue it’s so-called transitory. And the truth is we don’t know. We’ll — we’ll find that out tomorrow, so to speak. And so as we work through planning with our clients, we generally are running multiple scenarios, low inflation, medium inflation, high inflation. And we’re trying — as we — as we help clients make decisions, we’re trying to make the best judgment we can at a given point in time. But that’s why you — you really have to — be you have to plan for multiple scenarios and bring agility to your process because we don’t know whether the stock market is going up or down. We don’t know whether inflation will be higher or lower. We have a view. We can have probabilities. But as we’ve seen, whether it was with 2008 or COVID, we — everyone can be wrong. And so, you have to plan and adapt and leave yourself a buffer for when you are wrong, and hopefully it’s not — not catastrophic. RITHOLTZ: So, I know I only have you for a little bit of time. Let me jump to my favorite questions that I ask all of my guests, starting with tell us what you’re streaming these days, what’s keeping you entertained at home, either on Netflix or Amazon Prime or — or wherever. FRADKIN: Well, I’ve — I’ve been working hard so I — I can’t say I’ve — I’ve made great use of Netflix. But what I have just started and this will show you, Barry, how far behind I am is I’ve just started Ted Lasso. So I’m behind the rest of the world, but that’s what I’m on right now. RITHOLTZ: All right. Well, well, you’ll — I could tell you this much, you will enjoy it and — and enjoy catching up with us. What about mentors? Who helped to shape your career? FRADKIN: You know, I’ve had a lot of mentors at Northern Trust over the years, people who were senior to me and people who weren’t, but I learned from everyone. I think when I think about mentors, for me, it’s less about people with whom I work and maybe it’s my interest in history. But I try and learn from people who have overcome insurmountable odds, the Mahatma Gandhis, the Martin Luther Kings, the Winston Churchills, the Vaclav Havels, the Abraham Lincoln. And there’s so much wisdom that I see in people like that because they really faced incredible circumstances and worked through them generally to good outcomes. And so there — those great thinkers are probably the people I’ve learned the most from as I wouldn’t call them mentors to me, but I’ve certainly read about all of them and — and learned a lot from each of them. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about books. What are you reading right now and what — what are some of your favorites? FRADKIN: You know, I think in keeping with that theme of mentors over periods of time that interest me, I’ve really enjoyed “The Splendid and the Vile” by Eric Larson, which is about Churchill and the blitz of World War II. And — and again, it — it helps you — it helps me to see just how dire the circumstances were and what he and others had to navigate through. The other book that I’ve dusted off recently, I read some time ago, but I think in view of the pandemic, it seemed interesting to me was “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston, which has nothing to do with the pandemic, but there are parallels to what we’re dealing with, and it was sort of a gripping — a gripping book if you have time for a good read. RITHOLTZ: Sounds interesting. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who is interested in a career in either investment management or finance? FRADKIN: Yeah, I think, Barry, I’d offer a — a — a couple of themes on this. And I — I don’t know that I narrowed these themes to an interest in investments or finance, although I think they do overlap. But I’d start by saying, it probably be easiest place to get my view there would be to go to YouTube and I — I gave a commencement address at the University of Illinois Chicago and tried to formulate those themes for — for young people. But a — but a few that come to mind at least through my lens are comfort is the enemy of accomplishment. If you want to be the best you can be, you can never be satisfied with where you are. You’ve got to push, push, push and make yourself better each and every day in everything you touch. I think a couple of the other themes that would come to me would be in — in the same vein, we see this in Northern Trust all the time. Excellence is not a part-time job. For people who want to be excellent, who want to do the best job for our clients and our shareholders, you can’t be excellent only when it’s convenient, only when you want to do it or only when you feel like it. You’ve — you’ve got to — excellence is an all-in phenomenon. And then probably the — the — the last thing that comes to my mind is persevere beyond your accomplishments. It’s not what you did yesterday, it’s — you can be proud of what you’ve accomplished. But again, you want to be better going forward. And so be proud of who you are, be proud of your grades, and your — your school, and your degrees, and all that sort of stuff, but those are what you did, you know, two years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago whatever it happens to be, keep pushing forward to be the best you can be. So, persevere beyond your accomplishments. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of investing today you wish you knew 35 years ago when you were first starting with Northern Trust? FRADKIN: That is a long list, Barry, but I think what I would say is you don’t have to be right on everything and sometimes being right is more about luck and timing than it is about specific analytical acumen. Uninspiring choices in a bull market can turn out just fine, and well-reasoned ideas in a down market can turn out to be not so good. So, get the direction right more often than not and you’ll be just fine. RITHOLTZ: Really good advice. Thank you, Steve, for being so generous with your time. We’ve been speaking with Steve Fradkin. He is the President of Northern Trust Wealth Management. If you enjoy this conversation, well, be sure and check out any of the other 388 prior discussions we’ve had over the past seven years. You can find those wherever you normally find your favorite podcast, iTunes, Spotify, wherever. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily suggested reading list at ritholtz.com. Check out my regular column at bloomberg.com/opinion. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack that helps put these conversations together each week. Paris Wald is my Producer. Michael Batnick is my Head of Research. Atika Valbrun is our Project Manager. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Steve Fradkin appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureNov 29th, 2021

The wild life of billionaire Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who eats one meal a day, evangelizes about bitcoin, and had to defend his company in front of Congress

Jack Dorsey is expected to announce he is stepping down as CEO of Twitter, unnamed sources told CNBC. Jack Dorsey onstage at a bitcoin convention on June 4, 2021 in Miami, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty Images Jack Dorsey cofounded Twitter in 2006, and the company has made him a billionaire. He is famous for his unusual life of luxury, including a daily fasting routine and regular ice baths. CNBC reported on Monday that Dorsey is expected to step down as CEO of Twitter, citing unnamed sources. Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories. From fighting armies of bots to quashing rumors about sending his beard hair to rapper Azealia Banks, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey leads an unusual life of luxury.Dorsey has had a turbulent career in Silicon Valley. After cofounding Twitter on March 21 2006, he was booted as the company's CEO two years later, but returned in 2015 having set up his second company, Square.Since then, he has led the company through the techlash that has engulfed social media companies, testifying before Congress multiple times.CNBC reported Monday that Dorsey is expected to announce he's stepping down as CEO, citing unnamed sources.Dorsey has provoked his fair share of controversy and criticism, extolling fasting and ice baths as part of his daily routine. His existence is not entirely spartan, however. Like some other billionaires, he owns a stunning house, dates models, and drives fast cars.Scroll on to read more about the fabulous life of Jack Dorsey.Rebecca Borison and Madeline Stone contributed reporting to an earlier version of this story.Dorsey began programming while attending Bishop DuBourg High School in St. Louis.VineAt age 15, Dorsey wrote dispatch software that is still used by some taxi companies.Source: Bio. When he wasn't checking out specialty electronics stores or running a fantasy football league for his friends, Dorsey frequently attended punk-rock concerts. @jackThese days Dorsey doesn't favour the spiky hairdo.Source: The Wall Street JournalLike many of his fellow tech billionaires, Dorsey never graduated college.edyson / FlickrHe briefly attended the Missouri University of Science and Technology and transferred to New York University before calling it quits.Source: Bio.In 2000, Dorsey built a simple prototype that let him update his friends on his life via BlackBerry and email messaging.joi / FlickrNobody else really seemed interested, so he put away the idea for a bit.Source: The Unofficial Stanford BlogFun fact: Jack Dorsey is also a licensed masseur.Getty Images/Bill PuglianoHe got his license in about 2002, before exploding onto the tech scene.Sources: The Wall Street JournalHe got a job at a podcasting company called Odeo, where he met his future Twitter cofounders.Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams took home the prize in the blogging category at SXSW in 2007.Flickr via Scott Beale/LaughingSquidOdeo went out of business in 2006, so Dorsey returned to his messaging idea, and Twitter was born.On March 21, 2006, Dorsey posted the first tweet.Jack Dorsey's first tweet.Twitter/@jackDorsey kept his Twitter handle simple, "@jack."Dorsey and his cofounders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, bought the Twitter domain name for roughly $7,000.Khalid Mohammed / AP ImagesDorsey took out his nose ring to look the part of a CEO. He was 30 years old.A year later, Dorsey was already less hands-on at Twitter. Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey.Wikimedia CommonsBy 2008, Williams had taken over as CEO, and Dorsey transitioned to chairman of Twitter's board. Dorsey immediately got started on new projects. He invested in Foursquare and launched a payments startup called Square that lets small-business owners accept credit card payments through a smartphone attachment.Sources: Twitter and Bio.In 2011, Dorsey got the chance to interview US President Barack Obama in the first Twitter Town Hall.President Obama talks to the audience next to Jack Dorsey during his first ever Twitter Town Hall.ReutersDorsey had to remind Obama to keep his replies under 140 characters, Twitter's limit at the time.Source: TwitterTwitter went public in November 2013, and within hours Dorsey was a billionaire.APIn 2014 Forbes pegged Dorsey's net worth at $2.2 billion. On the day it was reported he was expected to resign, Bloomberg's Billionaires Index calculated his net worth at $12.3 billion.Source: Bio. and ForbesIt was revealed in a 2019 filing that Dorsey earned just $1.40 for his job as Twitter CEO the previous year.Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who doesn't earn anything from his primary day job.David Becker / GettyThe $1.40 salary actually represented a pay rise for Dorsey, who in previous years had refused any payment at all.He's far from the only Silicon Valley mogul to take a measly salary - Mark Zuckerberg makes $1 a year as CEO of Facebook.Source: Business Insider He might have been worth more had he not given back 10% of his stock to Square.Jack Dorsey with Hollywood producer Brian Grazer, Veronica Smiley, and Kate Greer at the annual Allen and Co. conference at the Sun Valley, Idaho Resort in 2013.ReutersThis helped Square employees, giving them more equity and stock options. It was also helpful in acquiring online food-delivery startup Caviar.Sources: Business Insider and CaviarWith his newfound wealth, he bought a BMW 3 Series, but reportedly didn't drive it often.Alex Davies / Business Insider"Now he's able to say, like, 'The BMW is the only car I drive, because it's the best automotive engineering on the planet,' or whatever," Twitter cofounder Biz Stone told The New Yorker in 2013.Source: The New YorkerHe also reportedly paid $9.9 million for this seaside house on El Camino Del Mar in the exclusive Seacliff neighborhood of San Francisco.The Real Estalker via Sotheby'sThe house has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which Dorsey views as a marvel of design.Source: Business InsiderBefore the pandemic, Dorsey said he worked from home one day a week.Jack Dorsey's home setup.Twitter/@jackIn an interview with journalist Kara Swisher conducted over Twitter, Dorsey said he worked every Tuesday out of his kitchen.He also told Kara Swisher that Elon Musk is his favorite Twitter user.Elon Musk is a prolific tweeter.PewDiePie/YouTubeDorsey said Musk's tweets are, "focused on solving existential problems and sharing his thinking openly."He added that he enjoys all the "ups and downs" that come with Musk's sometimes unpredictable use of the site. Musk himself replied, tweeting his thanks and "Twitter rocks!" followed by a string of random emojis.Source: Business InsiderFacebook CEO and rival Mark Zuckerberg once served Jack Dorsey a goat he killed himself.Gene KimDorsey told Rolling Stone about the meal, which took place in 2011. Dorsey said the goat was served cold, and that he personally stuck to salad.Source: Rolling StoneHis eating habits have raised eyebrows.Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25Appearing on a podcast run by a health guru who previously said that vaccines caused autism, Dorsey said he eats one meal a day and fasts all weekend. He said the first time he tried fasting it made him feel like he was hallucinating."It was a weird state to be in. But as I did it the next two times, it just became so apparent to me how much of our days are centered around meals and how — the experience I had was when I was fasting for much longer, how time really slowed down," he said.The comments drew fierce criticism from many who said Dorsey was normalizing eating disorders.In a later interview with Wired, Dorsey said he eats seven meals a week, "just dinner."Sources: Business Insider, The New StatesmanIn the early days of Twitter, Dorsey aspired to be a fashion designer.Cindy Ord / Getty Images, Franck MichelDorsey would regularly don leather jackets and slim suits by Prada and Hermès, as well as Dior Homme reverse-collar dress shirts, a sort of stylish take on the popped collar.More recently he favors edgier outfits, including the classic black turtleneck favored by Silicon Valley luminaries like Steve Jobs.Sources: CBS News and The Wall Street JournalHe also re-introduced the nose-ring and grew a beard.GettyDorsey seems to care less about looking the part of a traditional CEO these days.Singer Azealia Banks claimed to have been sent clippings of Dorsey's beard hair to fashion into a protective amulet, although Dorsey denied this happened.Azealia Banks.GettyIn 2016, Banks posted on her now-deleted Twitter account that Dorsey sent her his hair, "in an envelope." Dorsey later told the HuffPo that the beard-posting incident never happened.Sources: Business Insider and HuffPoDorsey frequently travels the world and shares his photos with his 6 million Twitter followers.Jack Dorsey meeting Japanese Prime Minister Sinzo Abe.Twitter/@JPN_PMOOn his travels, Dorsey meets heads of state, including Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.Source: TwitterTweets about his vacation in Myanmar also provoked an outcry.Bagan, Myanmar.Shutterstock/Martin M303Dorsey tweeted glowingly about a vacation he took to Myanmar for his birthday in December 2018. "If you're willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar," he said.This came at the height of the Rohingya crisis, and Dorsey was attacked for his blithe promotion of the country — especially since social media platforms were accused of having been complicit in fuelling hatred towards the Rohingya.Source: Business InsiderHowever, Dorsey says he doesn't care about "looking bad."FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump welcomes South Korea’s President Moon to the White House in WashingtonReutersIn a bizarre Huffington Post interview in 2019, Dorsey was asked whether Donald Trump — an avid tweeter — could be removed from the platform if he called on his followers to murder a journalist. Dorsey gave a vague answer which drew sharp criticism.Following the interview's publication, Dorsey said he doesn't care about "looking bad.""I care about being open about how we're thinking and about what we see," he added.In September 2018, Jack Dorsey was grilled by lawmakers alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey are sworn-in for a Senate Intelligence Committee.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesDorsey and Sandberg were asked about election interference on Twitter and Facebook as well as alleged anti-conservative bias in social media companies.Source: Business InsiderDuring the hearing, Dorsey shared a snapshot of his spiking heart rate on Twitter.AP Photo/Jose Luis MaganaDorsey was in the hot seat for several hours. His heart rate peaked at 109 beats per minute.Source: Business InsiderDorsey testified before Congress once again on October 28, 2020.Jack Dorsey tuning into the hearing with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation/Handout via REUTERSDorsey appeared via videoconference at the Senate hearing on Section 230, a part of US law that protects internet companies from legal liability for user-generated content, as well as giving them broad authority to decide how to moderate their own platforms.In prepared testimony ahead of the hearing, Dorsey said stripping back Section 230 would "collapse how we communicate on the Internet," and suggested ways for tech companies to make their moderation processes more transparent. During the hearing, Dorsey once again faced accusations of anti-conservative biasJack Dorsey appearing virtually at the hearing.Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty ImagesThe accusations from Republican lawmakers focused on the way Twitter enforces its policies, particularly the way it has labelled tweets from President Trump compared to other world leaders.Dorsey took the brunt of questions from lawmakers, even though he appeared alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.Source: ProtocolDuring the hearing, the length of Dorsey's beard drew fascination from pundits.Dorsey had to address accusations of censorship.Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERSSome users referred to Dorsey's facial hair as his "quarantine beard," while others said it made him look like a wizard.—rat king (@MikeIsaac) October 28, 2020—Taylor Hatmaker (@tayhatmaker) October 28, 2020"Jack Dorsey's beard is literally breaking Twitter's own face detection," posted cybersecurity blogging account @Swiftonsecurity.—SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity) October 28, 2020 Dorsey also addressed the way Twitter dealt with a dubiously sourced New York Post story about Hunter Biden.Jack Dorsey appearing on-screen at the hearing.Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYWhen the New York Post published a report about Hunter Biden on October 14 that threw up red flags about sourcing, Twitter blocked users from sharing URLs citing its "hacked materials" policy.Dorsey subsequently apologized publicly, saying it was wrong of Twitter to block URLs.—jack (@jack) October 16, 2020During the Senate hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz accused Twitter of taking the "unilateral decision to censor" the Post.Dorsey said the Post's Twitter account would remain locked until it deleted its original tweet, but that updated policies meant it could tweet the same story again without getting blocked.Source: Business InsiderDorsey had to appear before another hearing on November 17 2020 — this time about how Twitter handled content moderation around the 2020 presidential election.U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee via REUTERS/File PhotoDorsey was summoned alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by Republicans who were displeased with how the platforms had dealt with then-President Donald Trump's social media accounts. Both CEOs defended their companies, saying they are politically neutral.When he's not in Washington, Dorsey regularly hops in and out of ice baths and saunas.This is not Dorsey's sauna.ShutterstockDorsey said in the "Tales of the Crypt" podcast that he started using ice baths and saunas in the evenings around 2016.He will alternately sit in his barrel sauna for 15 minutes and then switch to an ice bath for three. He repeats this routine three times, before finishing it off with a one-minute ice bath.He also likes to take an icy dip in the mornings to wake him up.Source: CNBCDorsey's dating life has sparked intrigue. In 2018, he was reported to be dating Sports Illustrated model Raven Lyn Corneil.Sports Illustrated Swimsuit / YouTube / GettyPage Six reported in September 2018 that the pair were spotted together at the Harper's Bazaar Icons party during New York Fashion Week. Page Six also reported that Dorsey's exes included actress Lily Cole and ballet dancer Sofiane Sylve.Source: Page SixHe's a big believer in cryptocurrency, frequently tweeting about its virtues.Teresa Kroeger/Getty ImagesIn particular, Dorsey is a fan of Bitcoin, which he described in early 2019 as "resilient" and "principled." He told the "Tales of the Crypt" podcast in March that year that he was maxing out the $10,000 weekly spending limit on Square's Cash App buying up Bitcoin.In October 2020 he slammed Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong for forbidding employee activism at the company, saying cryptocurrency is itself a form of activism.—jack (@jack) September 30, 2020 Source: Business Insider, Business Insider and CNBC Dorsey said Square is launching a new bitcoin business.Square CEO Jack Dorsey speaks at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention, a crypto-currency conference held on June 4, 2021 in Miami, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesDorsey announced the new venture in a tweet on July 15, 2021 and said its name was "TBD." It wasn't clear whether that was its actual name, or Dorsey hasn't decided on a name yet.—jack (@jack) July 15, 2021 Dorsey said he hopes bitcoin can help bring about "world peace."Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on stage at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention, a crypto-currency conference in Miami.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesDorsey appeared alongside Elon Musk and Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood during a panel called "The B Word" on July 2021. He said he loves the bitcoin community because it's "weird as hell.""It's the only reason that I have a career — because I learned so much from people like who are building bitcoin today," Dorsey said.At the end of 2019 Dorsey said he would move to Africa for at least three months in 2020.AP Photo/Francois MoriDorsey's announcement followed a tour of Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. "Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I'll be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020," he tweeted. Dorsey then came under threat of being ousted as Twitter CEO by activist investor Elliott Management.Paul Singer, founder and president of Elliott Management.REUTERS/Mike Blake/File PhotoBoth Bloomberg and CNBC reported in late February 2020 that major Twitter investor Elliott Management — led by Paul Singer — was seeking to replace Dorsey. Reasons given included the fact that Dorsey splits his time between two firms by acting as CEO to both Twitter and financial tech firm Square, as well as his planned move to Africa.Source: Business InsiderTesla CEO and frequent Twitter user Elon Musk weighed in on the news, throwing his support behind Dorsey.Tesla CEO Elon Musk.REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke"Just want to say that I support @jack as Twitter CEO," Musk tweeted, adding that Dorsey has a good heart, using the heart emoji.Source: Business InsiderDorsey managed to strike a truce with Elliott Management.AP Photo/Jose Luis MaganaTwitter announced on March 9, 2020 that it had reached a deal with Elliott Management which would leave Jack Dorsey in place as CEO.The deal included a $1 billion investment from private equity firm Silver Lake, and partners from both Elliott Management and Silver Lake joined Twitter's board.Patrick Pichette, lead independent director of Twitter's board, said he was "confident we are on the right path with Jack's leadership," but added that a new temporary committee would be formed to instruct the board's evaluation of Twitter's leadership.In April 2020, Dorsey announced that he was forming a new charity fund that would help in global relief efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic.Dorsey.Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty ImagesDorsey said he would pour $1 billion of his own Square equity into the fund, or roughly 28% of his total wealth at the time. The fund, dubbed Start Small LLC, would first focus on helping in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, he said.The CEO said he would be making all transactions on behalf of the fund public in a spreadsheet.In July 2020, hackers compromised 130 Twitter accounts in a bitcoin scam.TwitterThe accounts of high-profile verified accounts belonging to Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian West, and others were hacked, with attackers tweeting out posts asking users to send payment in bitcoin to fraudulent cryptocurrency addresses.As a solution, Twitter temporarily blocked all verified accounts — those with blue check marks on their profiles — but the damage was done.  Elon Musk said he personally contacted Dorsey following the hack.Elon Musk (left) and Dorsey.Susan Walsh/AP; Getty ImagesDuring a July 2020 interview with The New York Times, Musk said he had immediately called Dorsey after he learned about the hack."Within a few minutes of the post coming up, I immediately got texts from a bunch of people I know, then I immediately called Jack so probably within less than five minutes my account was locked," said Musk.Source: The New York TimesIn March 2021 Dorsey put his first-ever tweet up for auction.Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, off camera, testify during a Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing in Dirksen Building where they testified on the influence of foreign operations on social media on September 5, 2018Tom Williams/CQ Roll CallAs the craze for Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) gathered momentum, Dorsey announced he was auctioning his first tweet for charity. It was bought for $2.9 million by Hakan Estavi, chief executive at at Bridge Oracle. Dorsey said proceeds from the auction would go to Give Directly's Africa response.CNBC reported on November 29 that Dorsey is expected to step down as CEO of Twitter.Jack Dorsey co-founder and chairman of Twitter and co-founder and CEO of Square.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesAn undisclosed number of sources told CNBC's David Faber Dorsey is expected to announce he will step down as CEO, CNBC reported Monday.Twitter did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 29th, 2021

Five Trump-Russia "Collusion" Corrections We Need From The Media Now

Five Trump-Russia 'Collusion' Corrections We Need From The Media Now Authored by Aaron Maté via RealClearInvestigations.com, Five years after the Hillary Clinton campaign-funded collection of Trump-Russia conspiracy theories known as the Steele dossier was published by BuzzFeed, news outlets that amplified its false allegations have suffered major losses of credibility. The recent indictment of the dossier's main source, Igor Danchenko, for allegedly lying to the FBI, has catalyzed a new reckoning. In response to what the news site Axios has called "one of the most egregious journalistic errors in modern history," the Washington Post has re-edited at least a dozen stories related to Steele. For two of those, the Post removed entire sections, changed headlines, and added lengthy editor's notes. Rosalind Helderman: Bylined reporter on two of the Post's most corrected stories. Twitter/@PostRoz Tom Hamburger: Other bylined reporter on two of the Post's most corrected stories. Twitter/@thamburger But the Post's response also exhibits the limits of the media's Steele-induced self-examination. First, the reporters bylined on those two articles, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, and their editors have declined to explain how and why they were so egregiously misled. Nor have they revealed the names of the anonymous sources responsible for deceiving them and the public over months and years. Perhaps more important, the Post, like other publications, has so far limited its Russiagate reckoning to work directly involving Steele – and only after a federal indictment forced its hand. But the Steele dossier has been widely discredited since at least April 2019, when Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller and his team of prosecutors and FBI agents were unable to find evidence in support of any of its claims. The dossier was also only one aspect of the Trump-Russia misinformation fed to the public. Even when not advancing Steele's most lurid allegations, the nation's most prominent news outlets nonetheless furthered his underlying narrative of a Trump-Russia conspiracy and a Kremlin-compromised White House. Along the way, some journalists won their profession's highest distinction for this flawed coverage. While co-bylining stories that the Post has all but retracted, Helderman and Hamburger also share a now increasingly awkward honor along with more than a dozen other colleagues at the Post and New York Times: a Pulitzer Prize. In 2018, the Pulitzer awards committee honored the two papers for 20 articles it described as "deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation's understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect's transition team and his eventual administration." Above, Washingon Post and New York Times reporters whose 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting on the Trump-Russia affair is tainted by evidence in the public record that significant reporting was erroneous or misleading -- reporting that still has not been corrected by their publications, even though the Post recently made numerous corrections regarding the long-discredited Steele dossier. Journalist identifications are here. (Credit: YouTube/The Pulitzer Prizes) Although neither newspaper has given any indication that it is returning the Pulitzer, the public record has long made clear that many of those stories – most of which had nothing to do with Steele – include falsehoods and distortions requiring significant corrections. Far from showing "deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage," the Post's and the Times' reporting has the same problem as the Steele document that these same outlets are now distancing themselves from: a reliance on anonymous, deceptive, and almost certainly partisan sources for claims that proved to be false. Many other prestigious outlets published a barrage of similarly flawed articles. These include the report by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy that the Mueller team obtained evidence that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had visited Prague in 2016; Jane Mayer's fawning March 2018 profile of Steele in the New Yorker; the report by Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier of BuzzFeed that President Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress -- explicitly denied by Mueller at the time; and Luke Harding of The Guardian's bizarre and evidence-free allegation that Julian Assange and Paul Manafort met in London's Ecuadorian embassy. McClatchy and BuzzFeed have added editors' notes to their stories but have not retracted them.  In this article, RealClearInvestigations has collected five instances of stories containing false or misleading claims, and thereby due for retraction or correction, that were either among the Post and Times' Pulitzer-winning entries, or other work of reporters who shared that prize. Significantly, this analysis is not based on newly discovered information, but documents and other material long in the public domain. Remarkably, some of the material that should spark corrections has instead been held up by the Post and Times as vindication of their work. RCI sent detailed queries about these stories to the Post, the Times, and the journalists involved. The Post's response has been incorporated into the relevant portion of this article. The Times did not respond to RCI's queries by the time of publication. Falsehood No. 1: Michael Flynn Discussed Sanctions With Russia and Lied About It Flynn faces the press in his only White House Briefing Room remarks as national security adviser. YouTube/C-SPAN Officials say Flynn discussed sanctions By Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen NakashimaWashington Post, February 9, 2017 Less than a month after BuzzFeed published the Steele dossier, the Washington Post significantly advanced the then-growing narrative that the Trump White House was beholden to Russia. A Feb. 9, 2017, Post article claimed that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn "privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia" with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak "during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials." The Post sourced its reporting to nine "current and former officials" who occupied "senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls" between Flynn and Kislyak following the Nov. 8, 2016 election. The Post's sources – who were revealing classified information, presumably from taps on Kislyak's phone – left no room for doubt: "All of those officials said Flynn's references to the election-related sanctions were explicit." They also added their own spin to the meaning of the conversations: Flynn's calls with Kislyak "were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election." Adding some mind-reading to the narrative, a former official told the Post that Kislyak "was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time." The Post and its sources fueled innuendo that Flynn had floated a payback for Russia's alleged 2016 election help and lied to cover it up. Facing a barrage of anonymous officials contradicting him, Flynn walked back an initial denial and told the Post that "while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn't be certain that the topic never came up." Four days later, he was forced to resign. The following December, Special Counsel Mueller seemingly vindicated the Post's narrative when Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI, including about his discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. Flynn would later backtrack and reverse that guilty plea, sparking a multi-year legal saga. When the transcripts of his calls with Kislyak were finally released in May 2020, they showed that Flynn had grounds to fight: It wasn't Flynn who made a false statement about discussing sanctions with Kislyak; it was all nine of the Post's sources — and, later, the Mueller team — who had misled the public. Sergei Kislyak: Transcripts of Flynn's calls with the Russian Ambassador do not square with the Washington Post's reporting. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File In all of Flynn's multiple conversations with Kislyak in December 2016 and January 2017, the issue of sanctions only gets one fleeting mention – by Kislyak. The Russian ambassador tells Flynn that he is concerned that sanctions will hurt U.S.-Russia cooperation on fighting jihadist insurgents in Syria. The sum total of Flynn's response on the matter: "Yeah, yeah." The pair did have a longer discussion about a separate action Obama had ordered at the time: the expulsion of 35 Russian officials living in the United States. The expulsions, which were carried out by the State Department, were a distinct action from the sanctions, which targeted nine Russian entities and individuals under a presidential executive order. In discussing the expulsions, Flynn never addressed what Trump might do; his only request was that the Kremlin's response be "reciprocal" and "even-keeled" so that "cool heads" can "prevail." "[D]on't go any further than you have to," Flynn told Kislyak. "Because I don't want us to get into something that has to escalate, on a, you know, on a tit for tat." In its rendering of the call, the Mueller team cited these comments from Flynn – but inaccurately claimed that he had made them about sanctions. The Special Counsel's Office appeared to be following the lead of the Post's sources, who had claimed, falsely, that Flynn's references to sanctions were "explicit." Both the Post and the special counsel used Flynn's explicit comments about expulsions to erroneously assert that he had discussed sanctions. Yet the release of the transcripts did not prompt the Post to come clean. Instead, both the Post and the New York Times doubled down on the deception. The Post's May 29, 2020, story about the transcripts' release was headlined "Transcripts of calls between Flynn, Russian diplomat show they discussed sanctions." The Times claimed that same day that "Flynn Discussed Sanctions at Length With Russian Diplomat, Transcripts Show." In reality, the transcripts showed the exact opposite. In response to RCI, the Post acknowledged that the Feb. 9, 2017 story had conflated "sanctions" with "expulsions." "We appropriately used the word 'sanctions' in reference to the punitive measures announced by President Obama, including Treasury penalties on Russian individuals, expulsions of Russian diplomats/spies and the seizure of two Russia-owned properties," Shani George, the Post's Vice President for Communications, wrote. In other articles, however -- including a Dec. 29, 2016 article linked in the Feb. 9 story's second paragraph – the Post made a clear distinction between the two. Asked about dropping the distinction between sanctions and expulsions for the article discussed here, the Post did not respond by the time of publication.  Falsehood No. 2: Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence Left to right, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone: Repeated contacts with Russian spies? Doubtful. FNC/AP Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence By Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti and Matt ApuzzoNew York Times, February 14, 2017 On Feb. 14, 2017 – just one day after Flynn resigned – the New York Times fanned the flames of the growing Trump-Russia inferno. "Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials," the Times reported. The story, written by three members of the paper's Pulitzer Prize-winning team, Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, also suggested that these suspicious "repeated contacts" were the basis for the FBI's investigation of the Trump campaign's potential conspiracy with Russia: "American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election." The article even threw in a plug for Christopher Steele, who, the Times said, is believed by senior FBI officials to have "a credible track record." The story helped build momentum for the appointment of Special Counsel Mueller, and then quickly unraveled. Four months after the Times' report – and just weeks after Mueller's hiring – FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress about the story, saying that "in the main, it was not true." When the Mueller report was released in April 2019, it contained no evidence of any contacts between Trump associates and Russian intelligence officials, senior or otherwise. And in July 2020, declassified documents showed that Peter Strzok, the top FBI counterintelligence agent who opened the Trump-Russia probe, had privately dismissed the article. The Times reporting, Strzok wrote upon its publication, was "misleading and inaccurate … we are unaware of ANY Trump advisers engaging in conversations with Russian intelligence officials." Comey on Times story: "In the main, it was not true." It's still uncorrected. To date, the Times has appended two minor corrections. The most recent one reads: "An earlier version of a photo caption with this article gave an incorrect middle initial for Paul Manafort. It is J., not D." Rather than address its glaring errors, the Times left the story otherwise intact. When the Strzok notes disputing its claims emerged, the Times responded: "We stand by our reporting." Earlier this year, the Times even claimed vindication. The occasion was an April 15, 2021, press release from the Treasury Department. The Treasury statement alleged that Konstantin Kilimnik, a former aide to Trump's one-time campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is a "known Russian Intelligence Services agent" who "provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy" during the 2016 election. Writing that same day, Times reporters Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt declared that Treasury's evidence-free press release — coupled with an evidence-free Senate Intelligence claim in August 2020 that Kilimnik is a "Russian intelligence officer" — now "confirm" the Times' report from February 2017. The Treasury announcement did not explain how the department, which conducted no official Russiagate investigation, was prompted to lodge an explosive allegation that a multi-year FBI/Mueller investigation found no evidence for. It also does not name the position Kilimnik allegedly held in Russian intelligence – much less say whether he was a senior official. It also failed to address ample countervailing evidence: that Kilimnik had shared this same, publicly available polling data with Americans; that the FBI still does not deem him a Russian intelligence officer, instead claiming that he has unspecified "ties"; that he had long been a valued State Department source; that he traveled to the U.S. on a civilian Russian passport, not the suspicious diplomatic one Mueller alleged without producing it; and that even the Senate Intelligence Committee was "unable to obtain direct evidence of what Kilimnik did with the polling data and whether that data was shared further."  Wanted in the U.S., Kilimnik shared his civilian (not diplomatic) passport with RCI. Konstantin Kilimnik via RealClearInvestigations In addition, no U.S. government or congressional investigator ever contacted him for questioning, Kilimnik told RCI in an April 2021 interview when he produced images of the civilian passport. To declare victory, Mazzetti and Schmidt not only relied on one sentence of a press release but distorted the claims of their original story. Even if Kilimnik somehow proved to be a Russian intelligence officer, the Times' 2017 story had reported that the Trump campaign had engaged in "intercepted calls" with multiple "senior Russian intelligence officials" – not just one person, and at a "senior" level. To elide that, Mazzetti and Schmidt abandoned the plural Russian "intelligence officials" to spin the Treasury press release as proof that "there had been numerous interactions between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence during the year before the election." It then returned to the use of the plural to further claim that Treasury's statement is "the strongest evidence to date that Russian spies had penetrated the inner workings of the Trump campaign." RCI sent Mazzetti and Schmidt detailed questions about their February 2017 article and their claim, four years later, that a Senate report and a Treasury press release confirm it. They did not respond. Falsehood No. 3: George Papadopoulos's 'Night of Heavy Drinking' With the Australian Envoy The Times mischaracterized George Papadopoulos's supposed Russiagate-launching barroom chat. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin Unlikely Source Propelled Russian Meddling Inquiry By Sharon LaFraniere, Mark Mazzetti and Matt ApuzzoNew York Times, December 30, 2017 By late 2017, the Russiagate saga was engulfing the Trump presidency. The indictments of several figures connected to Trump fueled a media-driven narrative that Mueller was closing in on a Trump-Russia conspiracy. But a roadblock emerged in late October. After a year of evasions, the Hillary Clinton campaign and its law firm Perkins Coie admitted that they had funded the Steele dossier and that a lawyer for the firm, Marc Elias, had commissioned it. The disclosure was forced by House Republicans, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, who had subpoenaed the bank records of Fusion GPS in a bid to identify its secret funder. (Fusion GPS was the opposition-research firm hired by Perkins Coie that in turn hired Steele.) For those wedded to the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, the admission was problematic: After months of anonymous media claims that Steele's dossier was "credible" and even "bearing out," the heralded document was exposed as a paid partisan hit job from Trump's political opponents. If the FBI was found to have relied on the dossier, the Clinton campaign's key role could discredit the entire investigation. Just before the 2017 year-end deadline for 2018 Pulitzer eligibility, the New York Times produced a new origin story for the probe that would temper these concerns and help the newspaper win the prize. The FBI's decision to open the Trump-Russia probe had nothing to do with Steele, the Times claimed. Instead, the instigator was George Papadopoulos, a low-level campaign volunteer indicted by Mueller two months prior. "During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016," the Times' piece began, Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer that Russia had "political dirt on Hillary Clinton," including "thousands of emails." Papadopoulos, the Times said, had learned of the Russian scheme the previous month from Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic who claimed to be in touch with "high-level Russian officials." Mifsud's claim signaled inside knowledge of Russia's alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee, the Times said, because at that point the "information was not yet public." Alexander Downer: The Australian diplomat's account of his conversation with George Papadopoulos conflicts with the Times' reporting. Twitter/@AlexanderDowner When Downer, via the Australian government, relayed this information to the U.S. in July, the FBI decided to open its Trump-Russia probe, codenamed Crossfire Hurricane, the Times reported. "The [DNC] hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia's attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump's associates conspired," the Times claimed. The article pointedly asserted that the Steele dossier "was not part of the justification to start a counterintelligence inquiry, American officials said." (In a possible contradiction, it also claims, without specifics, "that the investigation was also propelled by intelligence from other friendly governments, including the British.") Several key aspects of the article have been challenged by the principals involved — leaving aside a key question the Times appears never to have asked: Why would the FBI launch a counterintelligence probe of a presidential campaign based on a barroom conversation involving a volunteer? Moreover, the Times or its sources mischaracterized the barroom conversation, according to both of its participants. Speaking to a Sydney-based newspaper a few months later about the fateful London exchange, Downer said Papadopoulos had never mentioned "dirt" or "thousands of emails" — which the FBI would have linked to the DNC hack. Instead, Downer told The Australian, Papadopoulos "mentioned the Russians might use material that they have on Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the election, which may be damaging." Contrary to the specificity of the Times' rendering, Downer recalled that Papadopoulos "didn't say what it was." He also said Papadopoulos made no mention of Mifsud, a mysterious figure with rumored ties to Western intelligence who vanished after a cursory FBI interview. A declassified FBI document would later confirm Downer's account of a vague conversation. In May 2020, the Justice Department released the July 31, 2016, FBI electronic communication (EC) that officially opened its Russia investigation. The EC states that Downer had told the U.S. government that Papadopoulos had "suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist" the Trump campaign by anonymously releasing damaging information about Clinton and President Obama. The EC made no mention of any "dirt," "thousands of emails," or Mifsud. It also acknowledged that the nature of the "suggestion" was "unclear" and that the possible Russian help could entail "material acquired publicly," as opposed to hacked emails by the thousands. Another declassified document, the December 2017 testimony from Andrew McCabe — the former FBI deputy director who helped launch and oversee the Russia probe — also undermined the Times' premise. Asked why the FBI never sought a surveillance warrant on the Trump volunteer who supposedly sparked the investigation, McCabe replied that "Papadopoulos' comment didn't particularly indicate that he was the person … that was interacting with the Russians." Despite the countervailing claims of Downer, McCabe, and the FBI document that opened the investigation (not to mention the recollections of both Papadopoulos and Downer that they only had one drink, belying the Times claim of "a night of heavy drinking"), the Times has never run a single update or correction. Falsehood No. 4: Russia Launched a Sweeping Interference Campaign That Posed a ‘National Security Threat' Social media posts from Russia's effort to "assault American democracy," as the Times put it. HPSCI Minority Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked By Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Philip RuckerWashington Post, December 14, 2017 To Sway Vote, Russia Used Army of Fake Americans By Scott ShaneNew York Times, September 8, 2017 As the Pulitzer-winning media outlets relied on anonymous intelligence officials to fuel innuendo about Trump-Russia collusion, they turned to these same sources to imply that a compromised president was unwilling to confront the existential threat of "Russian interference." "Nearly a year into his presidency," a Pulitzer-winning December 2017 Washington Post story declared, "Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House." As a result, Trump has "impaired the government's response to a national security threat." The Post's article was sourced to "more than 50 current and former U.S. officials" including former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who "described the Russian interference as the political equivalent of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." Another Pulitzer-winning story, written by Scott Shane of the New York Times two months earlier, offered a revealing window into the merits of the Russian interference allegations, and the appropriateness of equating them to attacks like 9/11. "To Sway Vote, Russia Used Army of Fake Americans," the Times' headline blared. Aside from the Pulitzer board, Shane's article also impressed the New York Times' editors, who proclaimed in a follow-up editorial that their colleague's "startling investigation" had revealed "further evidence of what amounted to unprecedented foreign invasion of American democracy." But from the details in Shane's article, it is difficult to see why anonymous U.S. intelligence officials, Pulitzer judges, and Times editors saw the alleged Russian "cyberarmy" as such a seismic danger. Melvin Redick, suspected Russian operator. The proof? Articles "reflecting a pro-Russian worldview," the Times reported. New York Times Shane's piece opened by describing a June 2016 Facebook post by an account user named Melvin Redick, who promoted the website DC Leaks, alleged by the U.S. to be a Russian intelligence cutout. Redick's posts, Shane writes, were "among the first public signs" of Russia's "cyberarmy of counterfeit Facebook and Twitter accounts" that turned the platforms into "engines of deception and propaganda." To Clint Watts, a former FBI agent turned MSNBC commentator, Russia's infiltration of Facebook and Twitter was so dangerous that social media, he said, is now afflicted by a "bot cancer." But these explosive conclusions, Shane's own piece later acknowledged, were undermined by a lack of evidence. The online users who manipulated social media, Shane quietly notes near the bottom, were in fact only "suspected Russian operators" [emphasis added]. Shane's uncertainty extends to Melvin Redick, the alleged Russian bot who begins the story. Redick is one of several identified accounts that "appeared to be Russian creations," Shane concedes. The only proof tying Redick to Russia? "His posts were never personal, just news articles reflecting a pro-Russian worldview." Robert Mueller's final report two years later also tried to raise alarm about what he called a "sweeping and systematic" Russian interference campaign. But as with the Pulitzer-winning outlets before him, the contents of his report failed to support the headline assertion. The Russian troll farm blamed for a sweeping social media campaign to install Trump spent about $46,000 on pre-election posts that were juvenile, barely about the election, and mostly appeared during the primaries. After suggesting that the troll farm was tied to the Kremlin, the Mueller team was forced to walk back that innuendo in court, and later dropped the case altogether. The other main claim regarding Russian interference – that the GRU (Russia's foreign intelligence agency) hacked the DNC's email servers and gave the material to Wikileaks – was quietly undermined by Mueller's qualified language and key evidentiary gaps, as RCI reported in 2019. The Russian hacking claim suffered an additional setback in May 2020, when testimony from the CEO of CrowdStrike — the Clinton-contracted firm that was the first to publicly accuse Russia of infiltrating the DNC — was declassified. Speaking to the House Intelligence Committee in December 2017, CrowdStrike's Shawn Henry disclosed that his company "did not have concrete evidence" that alleged Russian hackers had stolen any data from the servers. Despite its once exhaustive and alarmist interest in the operations of Russia's cyber army, neither the Times nor the Post has ever reported Henry's explosive admission. This includes Pulitzer-winning Post national security reporter Ellen Nakashima, who effectively kicked off the Russiagate saga by breaking the news on CrowdStrike's Russian hacking allegation in June 2016. Other than Henry, Nakashima's main source was Michael Sussmann – the Clinton campaign attorney recently indicted for lying to the FBI. Falsehood No. 5: The Justice Department Pulled Its Punches on Trump Ex-Justice official Rod Rosenstein was blamed for handcuffing Mueller -- a charge much doubted. AP Photo/Evan Vucci Justice Dept. Never Fully Examined Trump's Ties to Russia, Ex-Officials Say By Michael S. SchmidtNew York Times, Aug. 30, 2020 (Updated June 9, 2021) When Mueller ended his investigation in 2019 without charging Trump or any other associate for conspiring with Russia, a collusion-obsessed media formulated more conspiracy theories to explain away this unwelcome ending. First came the belief that Attorney General William Barr had forced Mueller to shut down, misrepresented his final report, and hid the smoking-gun evidence behind redactions. When Mueller failed to support any of these allegations in his July 2019 congressional testimony, a new culprit was needed. One year later, the New York Times found its fall guy: Mueller's overseer, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, had handcuffed the special counsel. "The Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation into Russian election interference and any links to the Trump campaign, according to former law enforcement officials, keeping investigators from completing an examination of President Trump's decades-long personal and business ties to Russia," Michael Schmidt reported on Aug. 30, 2020. Rosenstein, Schmidt said, "curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere" and preventing the FBI from "completing an inquiry into whether the president's personal and financial links to Russia posed a national security threat." To buttress his case, Schmidt cited the Democrats' leading collusion advocate, Rep. Adam Schiff, who feared that "that the F.B.I. Counterintelligence Division has not investigated counterintelligence risks arising from President Trump's foreign financial ties." But as Schmidt's article tacitly acknowledged, that outcome did not come from Rosenstein but the Mueller team itself. After Rosenstein appointed Mueller, Schmidt reported, members of the special counsel's team "held early discussions led by the agent Peter Strzok about a counterintelligence investigation of the president." But these "efforts fizzled," Schmidt added, when Strzok "was removed from the inquiry three months later for sending text messages disparaging Mr. Trump." If Rosenstein had indeed "curtailed" a counterintelligence investigation by Mueller's team, why did the special counsel staffers discuss it, and why did it only "fizzle" upon Strzok's exit three months later? Strzok himself disputed the premise of Schmidt's article. "I didn't feel such a limitation," Strzok told the Atlantic. "When I discussed this with Mueller and others, it was agreed that FBI personnel attached to the Special Counsel's Office would do the counterintelligence work, which necessarily included the president." The only problem, Strzok added, was that by "the time I left the team, we hadn't solved this problem of who and how to conduct all of the counterintelligence work." Strzok's "worry," he added, was that the counterintelligence angle "wasn't ever effectively done" – not that it was ever curtailed. Another key Mueller team member, lead prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, also rejected Schmidt's claim. NYT story today is wrong re alleged secret DOJ order prohibiting a counterintelligence investigation by Mueller, “without telling the bureau.” Dozens of FBI agents/analysts were embedded in Special Counsel's Office and we were never told to keep anything from them. 1 of 2 — Andrew Weissmann (@AWeissmann_) August 31, 2020 Also erroneous is NYT claim "Rosenstein concluded the F.B.I. lacked sufficient reason to conduct an investigation into the president’s links to a foreign adversary.” See DOJ Special Counsel Appointment Order, para. (b)(i). 2 of 2 — Andrew Weissmann (@AWeissmann_) August 31, 2020 Rosenstein's May 2017 scope memo, which established the parameters of Mueller's investigation, indeed contained no such limitations. It broadly tasked Mueller to examine "any links and/or co-ordination" between the Russian government and anyone associated with the Trump campaign, as well as – even more expansively – "any matters that arose or may arise directly from that investigation." In his July 2019 congressional appearance, Mueller had multiple opportunities to reveal that his probe had been impeded or narrowed. Asked by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) whether "at any time in the investigation, your investigation was curtailed or stopped or hindered," Mueller replied "No." When Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) tried to lead Mueller into agreeing that he "of course … did not obtain the president's tax returns, which could otherwise show foreign financial sources," Mueller did not oblige. "I'm not going to speak to that," Mueller replied. With no curtailing or interference in the probe, perhaps Mueller never turned up any Russia-tied counterintelligence or financial concerns about Trump because there was simply none to find. For a media establishment that had spent years promoting a Trump-Russia collusion narrative and sidelining countervailing facts, that was indeed a tough outcome to fathom. But it's no time for excuses or false claims of vindication: The tepid accounting spurred by the Steele dossier's collapse should be just the start of a far more exhaustive reckoning. Broadly misleading journalism that plunged an American presidency into turmoil demands much more than piecemeal corrections. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/24/2021 - 17:40.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 24th, 2021