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FTX CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried takes 7.6% stake in Robinhood

The FTX CEO currently has no plans of changing or influencing the control of Robinhood, but could potentially enhance its stockholder value through "various strategic alternatives or operational or management initiatives" or acquiring additional shares......»»

Category: marketSource: foxnewsMay 13th, 2022

Robinhood CEO: Whenever People Think Crypto Is Over, People Build New Products

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Robinhood Markets Inc (NASDAQ:HOOD) CEO Vlad Tenev on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” (M-F, 2PM-3PM ET) today, Tuesday, May 17th. Following is a link to video on CNBC.com: Whenever People Think Crypto Is Over, People Build New Products: Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev KATE ROONEY: Alright, thanks […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Robinhood Markets Inc (NASDAQ:HOOD) CEO Vlad Tenev on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” (M-F, 2PM-3PM ET) today, Tuesday, May 17th. Following is a link to video on CNBC.com: Whenever People Think Crypto Is Over, People Build New Products: Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev KATE ROONEY: Alright, thanks Julia. Vlad, it’s great to see you in person. You just got off stage. We’re here at the Permissionless Conference, which is a crypto conference and we’ll get to some of the news you had out today. But it is good to see you. Thanks for joining us. 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); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more VLAD TENEV: Yeah. Thanks for having me. It's good to see you too. ROONEY: Of course. Well, I want to start with the markets. Crypto is getting crushed, stocks are down and individual traders are just trading a lot less than they were say a year ago, for example. How are you looking to growth and where are you looking for growth in the near term? What should shareholders know if they're trying to be confident in investing in Robinhood, what should shareholders need to know about the future of the company? TENEV: Well, from the very beginning Kate, we started Robinhood with the idea that we should challenge the status quo. Brokerages were charging expensive commissions, they had account minimums, and Robinhood came in there and changed the entire business model. And you kind of see the same thing happening in crypto right now. You see lots of companies charging customers high fees, it being kind of the realm of early adopters. And I think with with this product in particular, we have we have the opportunity to do that again to challenge the status quo and make something that was accessible to only a select few accessible to a much broader mass market audience and that gets that gets us very excited. ROONEY: And so the product you’re announcing today essentially lets users hold their own cryptocurrency and NFTs. It really puts you in direct competition with Coinbase for one among other startups, but you're doing this no fee model that you just mentioned. How can Robinhood afford that? Are you subsidizing the fees and what is the revenue look like here on the back end? TENEV: Well, I think it's yeah it's a question that's a couple of steps ahead. So our primary objective is to give customers a great product, right, to give them the opportunity to not just trade through the centralized exchange of Robinhood but also keep complete control and custody over their keys and we'll help them access decentralized exchanges and swap coins. The revenue model once we, once we deliver a product that we think customers will really really love, looks really good, the revenue model takes care of itself. But our focus is on just making sure that you know this is the way for our customers to access Web3 and maintain self-custody going forward. ROONEY: And so your customers are going to plug into other exchanges. You mentioned in the release something about earning yield on stablecoins, for example. There was a huge, huge incident last week with Terra Luna, that really collapsed. Are you worried at all about the liability for Robinhood? If you connect a customer to say a decentralized exchange that goes through a hack, how did you get your regulators comfortable with that? TENEV: Well, the way we think about it is it's not unique to crypto. I mean there's certainly lots of projects, not all of them are going to succeed. But you have, you know, incidents like that happening in the traditional equities markets. You see it happening in currencies historically and I think it can be tempting to be wrapped up in what's happening week by week. But you look at all the protocols that are popular today. Some of them have been really successful. You see the companies behind them, or the Dows at this conference, they were all largely built during crypto winter. So when everyone says oh crypto is is over, that was fun while it lasted. People put their heads down and they build and they build these great products and that's what we're excited to do. I think now is actually the best time to build. ROONEY: Got it and Julie Boorstin back in the studio has got a question for you, Vlad. JULIA BOORSTIN: Thank you, Kate, and thank you Vlad for joining us. Vlad, there's no question that Robinhood dramatically disrupted the financial services industry and brought in so many new traders to the market. But my question is, you know, after a year after you were number one on the Disruptor 50 list, here you are now you have a lot of the incumbent banks changing their offerings, and you have consumers whose behavior is just fundamentally different than it was a year or two years ago. How concerned are you about competing with the giants as they try to copy what you've been doing? TENEV: Well, we feel very confident. I couldn't be more confident in the future than I am now. And I'll tell you Robinhood this past quarter, you've seen all the new products that we've been rolling out and it's not just Robinhood three, the Web3 wallet, but things like stock lending, the 1% APY on your uninvested cash that we announced last week. You know we're we see opportunities to serve our customers and pass back more value and challenge the status quo in all market environments and I think this, it’s a very exciting challenge for us in the company. We want to make sure to serve customers well in high inflation environments, low inflation environments, every every opportunity we get and you'll see us continuing to do that. ROONEY: And Vlad, speaking of competition, we had Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of FTX, buying a 7.6% stake in Robinhood. Did he approach you about this first? How did you find out that he was going to take a stake in Robinhood and does it make you worried at all from a competitive standpoint? TENEV: No, I wouldn't say it makes me worried from a competitive standpoint. I mean we have, we're a public company. We have lots of shareholders. We're a company that is all about democratizing access to public markets and cryptocurrencies so happy to happy to have shareholders involved in the company. ROONEY: Did he call you up? What was or have you ever met Sam in person? TENEV: I have I have met. Sam I mean, we've we've shared some similar investors when we're private companies. Smart guy. Yeah. So I've spoken to him over the years. ROONEY: Got it. And speaking of big name investors, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have been among your loudest critics. I don't know if we've ever gotten a response directly from you when it comes to what they've said at some of the annual meetings. Most recently, Charlie Munger said that Robinhood was quote, “Unraveling for its disgusting behavior and that God is getting just.” Tough words from a well named investor, well known investor, what's your response to that? TENEV: So if if Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger were getting started today, I have no doubt that they'd be Robinhood customers. ROONEY: Do you think they'd be using the platform? TENEV: I have, I have no doubt that's how if they were getting started today for sure. ROONEY: And what's the investing behavior? We've talked a little bit about the slowdown in trading behavior, how are investors handling what may very well be their first bear market? TENEV: Yeah, I mean, we're seeing we have lots of different types of investors on the platform. So first timers, obviously is what we've been talking about, but we have lots of advanced investors as well so customers coming to Robinhood for our competitive crypto offerings, customers that actively trade options and, you know, during this time, I think it's a great opportunity for us to get closer to their needs, understand them and and build great products for them. So a couple of things that I've announced in the recent past, hyper extended hours trading, which allows customers to take advantage of a longer trading day, as well as the eventual goal of making equities markets 24/7. These are all examples of us kind of catering to a big and important audience for us which is those those active more advanced investors. ROONEY: Got it. I want to ask you about employee morale as well. We had Coinbase this morning saying it's slowing down hiring. Robinhood cut about a 10th of its workforce. I'm sure that was a tough decision. But I wonder in terms of how you're keeping employee morale up, how you're keeping customers I mean employees at the company when their net worth may be cut in half from where it was a year ago. I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about how it is and how your discussions have gone with employees internally at Robinhood who may just be feeling down about where the stock price is right now. TENEV: Yeah, the way we like to think about it is is Robinhood needs to go through market cycles and prove that we're a company that has very, very exceptional cost discipline so it's about cost discipline. We obviously know that when, you know, the Fed is sending stimulus and the markets are going up and interest rates are low that things are things are great and it lifts all boats, but I think it's the companies that exercise that discipline and show that they can stand the test of time through rough market conditions that that really separates, separates companies and and that's our goal. I think we've been cost disciplined from the from the very, very beginning and this is just an opportunity for us to display that excellence over and over again. ROONEY: Got it, well Vlad a lot has happened since the IPO. We appreciate you sitting down with us. Tyler, I'll send it back to you in the studio. Updated on May 17, 2022, 5:12 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: valuewalkMay 17th, 2022

Check out these 45 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingDeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Guto Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor 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 easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor 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 easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout 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 digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs 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 SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded 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 lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn 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.TomoCreditKristy 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 alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree 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 freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, 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 bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA 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 freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

Warren Buffett"s Berkshire Hathaway takes Citigroup stake

According to a 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Berkshire added more than 55 million Citigroup shares worth approximately $2.95 billion......»»

Category: marketSource: foxnewsMay 17th, 2022

FTX CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried takes 7.6% stake in Robinhood

The FTX CEO currently has no plans of changing or influencing the control of Robinhood, but could potentially enhance its stockholder value through "various strategic alternatives or operational or management initiatives" or acquiring additional shares......»»

Category: marketSource: foxnewsMay 13th, 2022

Futures Jump As Crypto Turmoil Fades, Dip Buyers Make Cautious Appearance

Futures Jump As Crypto Turmoil Fades, Dip Buyers Make Cautious Appearance After dropping to the edge of a bear market, with Eminis sliding to precisely 3,855 or exactly 20% lower than the all time high, US index futures rebounded sharply from the brink (the same way they did on Dec 24, 2018 when the S&P spent a few minutes in a bear market) as the stabilization of much of the cryptosphere (where no new stablecoins suddenly cratered to 0) and an overnight easing in Treasury yields provided some relief after a two-day slide. Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 1.7% as of 730 a.m. in New York. S&P 500 futures were also higher, rising 1.1%, as high as 3976 after dropping to 2,855 yesterday. Twitter shares plunged as much as 26% in New York premarket trading after Elon Musk tweeted that his deal for the social media company was "temporarily on hold." Yields on 10-year US Treasury yields fell for a fourth consecutive day on Thursday, reaching 2.85%, before edging higher again on Friday. The dollar index dipped but remains on course for its longest streak of weekly gains since 2018, while bitcoin and ether reversed several days of harrowing losses to rise back over 30,000 and 2,000, respectively. Abating panic in the cryptocurrency market was among the highlights of a risk-on environment on the last day of the week. Bitcoin added about $1,800 to top $30,000. US cryptocurrency-exposed stocks including Riot Blockchain Inc. and Marathon Digital Holdings Inc. also rallied premarket. In notable premarket moves, Twitter slumped 21% after bidder Elon Musk tweeted deal was “temporarily on hold” pending details about fake accounts. On the other end, Robinhood surged 20% after cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried snapped up a 7.6% stake, while Affirm jumped 30% after earnings. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks climbed as digital assets started to rebound after the recent rout linked to the implosion of the TerraUSD stablecoin. Coinbase rose 11% despite being sued over its role in the promotion and trading of a stablecoin that purportedly had its value pegged to the price of the Japanese yen.  Bank stocks rose in premarket trading Friday, putting them on track to snap a six-day losing streak. Here are all the notable premarket movers: Twitter (TWTR US) shares slump as much as 19% premarket after Musk says deal is “temporarily on hold pending details”. Tesla (TSLA US) shares hit a session high, rising nearly 5% on the news Megacap tech stocks and semiconductor makers rally in US premarket trading amid a broad rebound across growth sectors, while Korean chip peer Samsung was said to be in talks to hike chipmaking prices. Apple (AAPL US) +2.1%, Meta Platforms (FB US) +2.4%, Microsoft (MSFT US) +1.8% Robinhood (HOOD US) shares surge as much as 27% in U.S. premarket trading after cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried disclosed a new 7.6% stake in the online brokerage Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks climb in US premarket trading as digital assets started to rebound after the recent rout linked to the implosion of the TerraUSD stablecoin. Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) +7.9%, Marathon Digital (MARA US) +7.2% US-listed Chinese stocks rise in premarket trading, with sentiment boosted by the Fed’s pushback on speculation of steeper interest-rate hikes and Shanghai’s new timeline to end a grueling lockdown. Alibaba (BABA US) +3.3%, JD.com (JD US) +4%, Pinduoduo (PDD US) +4.3%. New Relic (NEWR US) declined 9% in postmarket. It delivered a mixed fourth quarter, according to analysts, with revenue growth coming in ahead of consensus, albeit with a lower beat compared to the last period Figs (FIGS US) sinks as much as 27% in US premarket trading, with Cowen saying that the scrubs maker’s cut to its full-year 2022 sales growth and Ebitda margin guidance is “well below” previous guidance Compass (COMP US) jumpped 7% in extended trading after the real-estate software company reported larger-than-expected revenues in the first quarter, despite guiding toward lower- than-expected second-quarter revenue First Solar Inc. (FSLR US) shares gained 2.8% in extended trading on Thursday, as Piper Sandler upgrades the stock to overweight from neutral Stocks have plunged this year as traders fretted over the impact tighter monetary will have on growth, with the S&P 500 dropping to precisely 20% from its recent peak before bouncing. On Thursday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday reaffirmed that the central bank is likely to raise interest rates by a half percentage point at each of its next two meetings, while leaving open the possibility it could do more. The Fed chair also said that whether a soft landing can be executed or not may depend on factors that they cannot control but added they have tools to get inflation under control and that it will ultimately be more painful if high inflation is not dealt with and becomes entrenched. Furthermore, he noted that with perfect hindsight, it would have been better to have hiked rates sooner, according to Reuters. As the Federal Reserve embarks on interest-rate hikes to tame surging inflation, expensive growth shares, including the tech sector, have suffered as higher rates mean a bigger discount for the present value of future profits. This marks a shift in investor outlook after tech stocks had been some of the market’s best performers for years.  “While we continue to see positives for the market, investor sentiment isn’t likely to turn until we get greater clarity on the 3Rs -- rates, recession and risk,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer, UBS Global Wealth Management. “Until then, we favor parts of the market that should outperform in an environment of rising policy rates, slowing growth, and geopolitical uncertainty.” At $1.1 billion, tech stocks suffered their biggest outflows so far this year in the week to May 11, second only to financials, which lost $2.6 billion, Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett wrote in a note, citing EPFR Global data. By contrast, US stocks overall noted their first inflow in five weeks at $93 million. It’s a “very tough time,” Kathy Entwistle, managing director at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, said on Bloomberg Television. “We’re holding just still and quiet and patient and waiting for some more insights as to where we’re going. We still see a lot of volatility on the horizon." In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index rose 1.2% as the lowest valuations since the start of the pandemic drew buyers. Banks and technology stocks led gains, while autos and telecommunication shares underperformed.  Here are Europe's biggest movers: Evotec shares rise as much as 9.5% after Deutsche Bank analyst Falko Friedrichs raised the recommendation to buy from hold, citing a unique opportunity to invest in a firm with an entire partnered drug pipeline “for free.” Deutsche Telekom shares advance 1.8% after raising full-year outlook for adjusted Ebitda after leases, reflecting higher forecasts for T-Mobile US. Freenet shares gain as much as 4.8% 1Q results show a good start to the year, and there may be scope for a guidance upgrade in 1H22, Citi (buy) writes in note Fortum shares advance as much as 11% on Friday -- the biggest intraday gain since 2009 -- after SEB and Danske Bank raised their recommendation on the stock citing the Finnish utility’s Russia exit and de-risking related to Uniper gas contracts. UCB shares fall as much as 17% after the company said the US FDA said it can’t approve UCB’s psoriasis treatment bimekizumab in its current form, forcing the company and analysts to reasses 2022 expectations. Drax falls as much as 7.6% and is among weakest performers in the Stoxx 600 on Friday after Credit Suisse gives the stock its only negative rating, moving to underperform on elevated power prices. SalMar drops as much as 4%, falling alongside peers in the Norwegian salmon and seafood sector, after a slew of several companies in the sector reported 1Q earnings that came in below expectations. Unipol and UnipolSai drop in Milan trading after releasing first-quarter results and the 2022-2024 strategic plan; analysts note lower-than-expected cumulative dividends in plan for UnipolSai. European Union nations said it may be time to consider delaying a push to ban Russian oil if the bloc can’t persuade Hungary to back the embargo. Wheat production in Ukraine, one of the biggest growers, will fall by one-third compared to last year, according to a US forecast. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks rallied as battered technology shares bounced back, with the regional benchmark still on track for its worst weekly losing streak since 2015 on worries about higher interest rates and lockdowns in China. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 1.8%, advancing with US futures as comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled rate hikes of more than 50 basis points may be unlikely. SoftBank was among the biggest boosts after its results, along with Tencent and TSMC. Traders said Friday’s rebound was largely driven by the unwinding of short positions following the recent selloff, with many still nervous about how China’s virus measures can complicate the already murky global economic outlook. The Asian equity measure was on track for its sixth-straight weekly decline, down 2.5% in the past five sessions. “We have to be watchful on the impact of China’s lockdowns, that’s going to have an effect on inflation as well as on growth,” said Jumpei Tanaka, a strategist at Pictet. “Up until now, the earnings outlook hasn’t been lowered that much. The market has been adjusting valuations because of the Fed’s rate hikes. The next key point is how corporate earnings will be affected.” Japan’s Nikkei rose 2.6%, boosted by gains in Tokyo Electron after strong profits as well as SoftBank. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Tech Index jumped 4.5%. India’s key equity indexes fell for a 6th straight session and posted their longest stretch of weekly losses in two years as investors’ appetite faded on the back of the local currency’s plunge to a record low and disappointing earnings.  The S&P BSE Sensex declined 0.3% to 52,793.62 in Mumbai after erasing advance of as much as 1.6% during the session. The NSE Nifty 50 Index retreated 0.2% to its lowest level since July 30. Both gauges have retreated 3.7% and 3.8% for the week respectively and fallen for a fifth straight week, their longest run of losses since April 2020. “The fear of rising inflation and expectations of more rate hikes in the near term are weighing on investors’ minds,” according to Kotak Securities analyst Amol Athawale.“Traders are selling at every opportunity given that there seems to be no respite from the negative news flows.” The Sensex and Nifty are now about 14.5% off their peak levels in Oct.  Ten of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. dropped on Friday, led by metal companies. For the week, utilities stock gauge was the worst performer, dropping about 11%.  ICICI Bank contributed the most to the Sensex’s decline, easing 2.7%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 15 rose while rest fell. In rates, Treasuries were pressured lower as stock futures pushed through Thursday’s session highs, following gains across European equities. 10-year TSY yields rose to around 2.90%, cheaper by 5bp on the day and sitting close to session highs into early session -- both bunds and gilts underperform slightly across the sector. Risk sentiment was boosted by a rebound in cryptocurrencies, leaving Treasury yields cheaper by up to 6bp across long-end of the curve where 20-year sector underperforms. Long-end led losses steepening 5s30s by 2bp on the day and 2s10s by 2.8bp. The Dollar issuance slate is empty so far; six deals were priced for $11.5b Thursday, taking weekly total to $21.7b vs. $30b projected -- two names decided to stand down. Bund, gilt and UST curves bear-steepen. Peripheral spreads widen, short-dated BTPs lag, widening 5bps to core. Yields on Japan’s debt fell even as those on Treasuries rise across the curve in Asia amid higher equities. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slumped and the greenback weakened against all of it Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen as investor demand for haven assets ebbed after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell pushed back against speculation of more aggressive interest-rate hikes. Risk sensitive Scandinavian currencies as well ask the Australian dollar led gains. The main theme in the FX options space Friday is gamma selloff following the large swings this week. Still, demand for low-delta exposure on a haven basis remains better bid, with greenback topside in good demand versus the euro and the pound. European government bonds followed US Treasuries lower, snapping a recent rally. Treasury yields rose by 3-7 bps as the curve bear- steepened. The yen pared early weakness after BOJ’s Kuroda stressed FX stability. China’s yuan strengthens against the dollar following warnings from the CBIRC with gains fading following soft loan data. In commodities, Crude futures advance, WTI gains stall near $108. Base metals trade poorly with much of the LME complex down over 1%. Spot gold trades in a narrow range near $1,823/oz. In crypto, Bitcoin rose back above $30,000.  Binance said that withdrawals for Lunar and UST will open when the market becomes more stable, will suspend spot trading for LUNA/BUSD and UST/BUSD at 09:30BST, May 13th. To the day ahead now, and data releases include Euro Area industrial production for March, along with the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for May. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the Fed’s Kashkari and Mester, as well as the ECB’s Centeno, Nagel and Schnabel. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 1.1% to 3,970.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.2% to 429.53 MXAP up 1.7% to 160.25 MXAPJ up 1.9% to 522.21 Nikkei up 2.6% to 26,427.65 Topix up 1.9% to 1,864.20 Hang Seng Index up 2.7% to 19,898.77 Shanghai Composite up 1.0% to 3,084.28 Sensex up 1.2% to 53,564.26 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.9% to 7,075.11 Kospi up 2.1% to 2,604.24 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.91% Euro up 0.2% to $1.0403 Brent Futures up 0.8% to $108.30/bbl Gold spot up 0.0% to $1,822.04 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.25% to 104.59 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Calls are growing for China’s government to sell more bonds to pay for extra stimulus to boost an economy facing its greatest challenges since the initial few months of the pandemic in 2020 For global investors trying to gauge the fallout from surging interest rates and slowing economic growth, Hong Kong is quickly emerging as a must-watch market. While Hong Kong’s $466 billion foreign-reserves stockpile and plentiful interbank liquidity suggest little chance of an imminent crisis, signs of financial stress are building UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said the Brexit settlement in Northern Ireland is causing economic and political harm and called on the European Union to be flexible, comments likely to be seen as an attempt to publicly align himself with Boris Johnson after reports of a rift With the U.K. wilting under the fastest inflation in three decades, supermarkets are raising prices at an even quicker rate, according to a new analysis prepared for Bloomberg. That’s turning the screws on shoppers who are already grappling with higher gas and heating bills and falling real incomes Some EU nations are saying it may be time to consider delaying a push to ban Russian oil so they can proceed with the rest of a proposed sanctions package if the bloc can’t persuade Hungary to back the embargo Beijing reported a slight increase in new Covid-19 cases after officials late Wednesday denied the city will be locked down amid growing concern the Chinese capital’s response to a persistent outbreak is about to be intensified Investors are deep in risk-off mood with outflows from stocks, bonds, cash and gold, Bank of America strategists said, citing EPFR Global data A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks were firmer as risk momentum picked up following on from the volatile session on Wall St where the major indices finished mixed but almost wiped out all losses after a late ramp up heading into the close. ASX 200 traded with respectable gains and back above the 7,000 level with tech frontrunning the advances. Nikkei 225 outperformed as focus remained on earnings, while SoftBank surged amid buyback hopes and despite a record loss. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp joined in on the elated mood with Hong Kong led by strength in tech, although the advances in the mainland were moderated by the mixed COVID headlines with Beijing to conduct the next round of mass COVID testing, while Shanghai aims to achieve zero community spread by the middle of this month and is considering expanding the scale of output resumption. Top Asian News Shanghai Vice Mayor said they aim to have no community spread of coronavirus by mid-May and are considering expanding the scale of production resumption, while they will aim to open up, ease traffic restrictions and open shops in an orderly manner, according to Reuters. Shanghai is to prioritise resuming classes for grades 9, 11 and 12, while supermarkets, convenience and department stores will resume offline operations in an orderly manner and other services such as hairdressing will open gradually, according to Global Times. China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission says the Yuan's weakening is not sustainable, adding do not bet on the unilateral devaluation and appreciation or you could face unnecessary losses; retreat in the Yuan was normal market reaction.. BoJ Governor Kuroda said Japan still hasn't achieved a situation where inflation is stably and sustainably at 2%, while the expected rise in inflation is driven mostly by energy costs and is lacking sustainability. Kuroda reiterated the BoJ must continue monetary easing to reach its price target and it is premature to debate an exit from ultra-easy policy, while he also said it is appropriate to maintain the current dovish forward guidance on interest rates, according to Reuters. North Korea said around 350k have shown fever symptoms of an 'unknown cause' and 187.8k are being treated in isolation, while it reported 18k COVID-19 cases and 6 died from a fever in which one was confirmed as a COVID death, according to KCNA and Yonhap. European bourses are firmer as the rebound from Thursday's selloff continues, Euro Stoxx 50 +1.3%. US futures are similarly bolstered across the board, NQ outpacing peers modestly as Tech recoups, ES +0.9%. Samsung (005930 KS) is reportedly in talks to hike chipmaking prices by up to 20%, according to Bloomberg sources. Elon Musk says the Twitter (TWTR) deal is temporarily on hold, pending details supporting the calculation that spam/fake accounts represent less than 5% of users. Pressure in TWTR subsequent extended to -13% in the pre-market; extending to -19% after five-minutes. Top European News UK PM Johnson is considering as many as 90k job cuts in civil service, according to ITV. GVS Shares Rise After Agreeing to Buy Haemotronic for EU212m EU Starts to Consider Oil Sanctions Delay as Hungary Digs In UCB Plunges After FDA Says It Can’t Approve Psoriasis Drug Now Black Bankers Fight to Hold Finance Accountable for Its Promises FX Dollar and Yen shed some safe haven gains as risk sentiment recovers ahead of the weekend; DXY slips from fresh 2022 peak at 104.920, though still positive, and USD/JPY up near 129.00 vs new retracement low circa 127.50. Aussie takes advantage of pickup in risk appetite and Yuan bounce amidst verbal intervention; AUD/USD hovering under 0.6900 from sub-0.6850 yesterday, USD/CNH and USD/CNY around 6.8000 vs 6.8370 and 6.8110. Euro, Pound and Franc regroup, but remain vulnerable around psychological levels; 1.0400, 1.2200 and parity in EUR/USD, Cable and USD/CHF respectively. Loonie off recent lows post hawkish BoC comments and pre Q1 Loans Survey, USD/CAD close to 1.3000 and 1.1bln option expiry interest between 1.2990 and the round number. Peso underpinned after 50 bp Banxico hike as 1 of the 5 voters dissented for 75 bp. Czech Koruna caught between CNB minutes underlining dovish leaning of new head and Holub opining that May’s hike may not be the final one. Fixed Income Bonds bounce after conceding ground to recovering risk assets. Bunds find support just ahead of 154.00, Gilts in the low 120.00 zone and 10 year T-note at 119-07. Curves re-steepen after decent US 30 year sale completes the Quarterly Refunding remit and attention turns to 20 year and 10 year TIPS auctions next week. Commodities WTI and Brent are firmer moving with the broad rebound in risk-assets, however, upside is capped amid the EU considering omitting the proposed Russia oil embargo from the 6th sanctions round. WTI resides around USD 107/bbl (106.29-108.13 intraday range) and Brent trades just under USD 109/bbl (107.79-109.79 intraday range). Spot gold is contained around USD 1820/oz, though it is coming under modest pressure as the DXY picks up most recently. US Event Calendar 08:30: April Import Price Index MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 2.6%; YoY, est. 12.2%, prior 12.5% 08:30: April Export Price Index MoM, est. 0.7%, prior 4.5%; YoY, est. 19.2%, prior 18.8% 10:00: May U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 64.0, prior 65.2; Current Conditions, est. 69.3, prior 69.4; Expectations, est. 61.5, prior 62.5 10:00: May U. of Mich. 1 Yr Inflation, est. 5.5%, prior 5.4%; 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 3.0% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap As those working in this industry know, spreadsheet errors can have consequences – often costly ones. My fiancée doesn’t spend as much time on Excel as I do, but with our wedding coming up in July, she’s been using a spreadsheet to keep track of the number of guests. I privately regard this sheet to be an abomination, so in the interests of our future marriage I’ve tried to avoid the subject. But a couple of weeks ago I was told that we needed more guests and had to extend further invites, since we were up against the reception venue’s minimum. This I duly did, although having already invited my friends, I mostly resorted to being a lot more generous on my plus-one policy. At the weekend however, she showed me the spreadsheet. It turned out she hadn’t extended the range on the guest list sum function, and we were already comfortably above what we needed. I won’t tell you how much these extra invites have cost us. Thankfully as a primary school teacher she doesn’t teach Excel to her 5- and 6-year-olds, although I then discovered with even more alarm that she’s considered the spreadsheet expert at her school… It’s been a costly few weeks in markets too as investors have priced in growing recession risks, and over the last 24 hours we’ve seen some incredible intraday volatility across a range of asset classes. At one point in the New York afternoon, the S&P 500 had been down -1.94% at the lows, which left it just shy of a -20% decline since its all-time closing peak that would mark the formal start of a bear market. But then in the final hour there was a major recovery that meant the index only saw a modest -0.13% fall on the day, even if that still marked a fresh one-year low. Futures markets are implying we’re going to see that rally extended today, with those for the S&P up +0.92% this morning. But even if we do see a recovery of that sort of magnitude, then the major losses we’ve already seen this week mean it would still be the first time in over a decade that the index has posted 6 consecutive weekly declines. That pattern of deep losses followed by a late recovery was echoed more broadly yesterday, with the NASDAQ paring back losses of more than -2% on the day to eke out a marginal +0.06% advance. For the FANG+ index (-0.30%), the late recovery wasn’t enough to bring it back into positive territory, and there was a significant milestone reached since its latest slump means it’s now more than -40% beneath its all-time high, which surpasses its losses during the Covid selloff of 2020 when it was “only” down by -34% from peak to trough. European equities lost ground too, and the STOXX 600 (-0.75%) similarly saw a second-half recovery, having been as low as -2.41% earlier in the day. Unlike in April, when the equity declines were triggered by the prospect of a more aggressive Fed tightening cycle and went hand-in-hand with sovereign bond losses, this week’s declines have much more obviously surrounded global growth risks, which you can see in the way that Fed Funds futures are now beginning to take out some of the tightening they’d been pricing in over the year ahead. Only yesterday, the futures-implied rate by the FOMC’s December meeting came down by -5.3bps to still be beneath its level from 3 weeks earlier, which marks a change from the almost relentless march higher we’ve seen over the last 8 months. In fact the only major interruption to that trend so far has come from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late-February, before the inflationary consequences of the conflict reasserted themselves on market pricing. With investors expecting less monetary tightening and seeking out safe havens, yesterday witnessed a major sovereign bond rally across countries and maturities. The 10yr Treasury yield came down -7.3bps to 2.85%, and at the front-end of the curve, 2yr yields were down -7.8bps to 2.56%. This came on a day with another round of Fed speakers sounding the same tune of late, including Chair Powell who said that +50bp hikes at the next two meetings were probably appropriate. Meanwhile, he sounded an even more pessimistic tone on the path of the economy given the impending tightening, noting that getting inflation back to target would “include some pain” and that whether a soft landing can be arranged is up to matters beyond the Fed’s control. Over in Europe the declines were even larger, with yields on 10yr bunds (-14.6bps) undergoing their biggest daily move since the start of March, as yields on 10yr OATs (-13.8bps), BTPs (18.4bps) and gilts (-16.5bps) saw similar declines. A noticeable feature of the recent sovereign bond rally is how investors’ expectations of future inflation have come down significantly over recent days, with the 10yr German breakeven falling from a peak of 2.98% on May 2 to just 2.29% yesterday, which is an even faster decline than the one seen during the initial phase of the Covid pandemic in March 2020. That flight to havens was evident in foreign exchange markets too, where the dollar index strengthened a further +0.97% to levels not seen since 2002. Conversely, that saw the euro close beneath the $1.04 mark for the first time since late-2016, although the traditional safe haven of the Japanese Yen was the top-performing G10 currency yesterday, strengthening +1.27% against the US Dollar and +2.61% against the Euro. When it came to cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin hit an intraday low of $25,425 shortly after the European open, which is the first time it’s traded that low since late 2020, before recovering its losses to end the session higher at $28,546, and this morning it’s rebounded another +6.34% to hit $30,356. Overnight in Asia we’ve seen a significant rebound in equity markets too, with the Nikkei (+2.52%), the Hang Seng (+2.00%) and the KOSPI (+1.72%) all seeing sizeable advances, and the Shanghai Comp (+0.56%) also posting a solid gain. Those earlier comments from Chair Powell after the US close have supported risk appetite, particularly since he echoed his previous comments about the Fed being on course for further 50bp hikes at the next couple of meetings, rather than moving towards 75bps in the aftermath of the stronger-than-expected CPI reading. A number of yesterday’s other moves have also begun to unwind, with the Japanese Yen down -0.50% against the US Dollar this morning, whilst yields on 10yr Treasuries have risen +3.6bps overnight. Separately in Shanghai, officials said that they planned to stop community spread of Covid-19 and start reopening by May 20, which is the first time that a timeline has been put forward as to when the lockdown might end. Elsewhere yesterday, there was a significant +13.50% rise in European natural gas futures after Gazprom said that gas flows wouldn’t be able to go through the Yamal pipeline because of Russian-imposed sanctions on European companies. But on the other hand, Bloomberg reported that some EU nations were considering a delay in sanctioning Russian oil in light of Hungarian opposition, and instead pushing ahead with the rest of the sanctions package. There were also further signs of the geopolitical shifts as a result of Russia’s invasion, after Finland’s President and Prime Minister endorsed NATO membership, saying the country should apply “without delay”. Staying on the political sphere, tensions have continued to fester between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, and yesterday’s statements from the two sides indicated there was a difficult phone call between UK Foreign Secretary Truss and EU Commission Vice President Šefčovič. The UK Foreign Office’s readout of the call said that “if the EU would not show the requisite flexibility … we would have no choice but to act.” Then Šefčovič said in his own statement that it was “of serious concern that the UK government intends to embark on the path of unilateral action.” So one to watch into next week given press reports we could hear more from the UK side then. Looking at yesterday’s data, the US PPI reading added to the picture of elevated inflationary pressures. The headline monthly gain for April came in at +0.5% as expected, but the March reading was revised up two-tenths to +1.6%, meaning that the year-on-year figure only came down to +11.0% (vs. +10.7% expected). We also had the weekly initial jobless claims for the week through May 7, which came in at 203k (vs. 193k expected). And in the UK, the Q1 GDP reading was a bit below consensus at +0.8% (vs. +1.0% expected), and looking at the monthly reading for March specifically there was actually a -0.1% contraction (vs unchanged expected). To the day ahead now, and data releases include Euro Area industrial production for March, along with the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for May. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the Fed’s Kashkari and Mester, as well as the ECB’s Centeno, Nagel and Schnabel. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 07:56.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 13th, 2022

: Robinhood stock soars after CEO of crypto exchange FTX takes a stake

Shares of Robinhood Markets Inc. were rocketing in late trading Thursday after a filing revealed that Sam Bankman-Fried, the chief executive of cryptocurrency exchange FTX Trading, has taken a 7.6% stake in the popular trading platform's stock......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchMay 12th, 2022

Twitter Dips After Hindenburg Research Sees Risk Of Musk"s Deal Repricing Lower

Twitter Dips After Hindenburg Research Sees Risk Of Musk's Deal Repricing Lower Update 1201 EST: Elon Musk has responded to Hindenburg's call for moving the deal price lower, Tweeting to the short seller "Interesting. Don’t forget to look on the bright side of life sometimes!" Interesting. Don’t forget to look on the bright side of life sometimes! — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2022 -- Twitter shares have been under pressure along with the NASDAQ Monday morning, but helped along by activist-short-seller Hindenburg Research, who published a brief this morning explaining that they were short Twitter shares and that they expect Elon Musk's bid for the company to be lowered.  "Despite the intense public focus on the potential deal between Twitter and Elon Musk, the market seems to have missed a key, developing risk.," Hindenburg wrote in their Monday morning report. "Since the day before Musk disclosed his initial stake in Twitter, multiple developments have weakened the company’s position, threatening the current deal dynamic." The report then goes on to talk about the broader market's crash and Twitter's ugly earnings report. "Twitter has outperformed the Nasdaq by ~43% since Musk disclosed his initial position, setting the stock up for a material downside reversion should Musk walk away from the deal," Hindenburg wrote.  "Beyond broader market dynamics, Twitter’s recent reported performance represents further downside that hasn’t been priced into the stock – but would be, in a scenario where Musk’s offer doesn’t consummate. Twitter announced it had accepted Musk’s bid on April 25th. Just 3 days later, it reported weak earnings, disclosing (i) its slowest revenue growth in six quarters, which missed estimates, and (ii) an overstatement of its daily active user count," it continued.  Twitter shares initially dipped this morning but are rebounding slightly... Hindenburg also noted that if Musk walks away from the deal, it could materially depress Twitter's share price: "Musk has made it clear to Twitter’s board that should the deal not consummate, he will sell his shares." The short seller also expressed concern about the amount of potential fake users on the platform, stating: "We suspect that Twitter continues to overstate its true daily active users, despite the revision. As indicated by Musk, the platform is flooded with bots, spam, and scam accounts that likely inflate its genuine user metrics even further." From there, the piece takes exception with the amount of leverage the deal creates heading into a rising rate environment: "Placing both Twitter (and ultimately Tesla’s) future on a foundation of further equity-backed margin loans, or potentially more sales of Tesla equity amidst a volatile market, adds risk to both enterprises." Meanwhile, as potential incoming CEO, Elon Musk has claimed he is going to "double" Twitter's revenue through subscriptions alone. Musk reportedly put together a pitch deck on how to drive Twitter Blue users to 69 million by 2025 and 159 million by 2028. The deck also lays out expectations for massive growth in total users, growing from 217 million users last year to 600 million users in 2025, then to 931 million users in 2028.  Musk also pitched another subscription service that he expects to bring in 9 million subscribers by 2023. "Revenue from it and Blue combined is supposed to hit the $10 billion mark by 2028," the Verge wrote.  For now Musk has been suspiciously quiet on this Hindenburg note, we suspect that won't last too long given his historic relationships with short-sellers (though this time around, he may actually be on their side, if he can get a lower price?) Tyler Durden Mon, 05/09/2022 - 12:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 9th, 2022

Voters in Madison Cawthorn"s North Carolina district have very mixed feelings about the freshman lawmaker as controversies swirl before his May 17 primary

Rep Madison Cawthorn's bold rhetoric, which once drew voters to him, is now driving some them away amid a multitude of controversies. US Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a Republican of North Carolina, waves to the crowd after he spoke before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a rally on April 9, 2022, in Selma, NC.Chris Seward/AP Rep. Madison Cawthorn's controversies are prompting mixed responses from voters in his district. Some voters in Asheville, North Carolina, say Cawthorn is "crazy" and wont support his reelection bid. Other voters in his hometown say he is still doing a great job. ASHEVILLE, North Carolina — Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn is in trouble.He's twice brought guns to airport checkpoints, allegedly drove without a valid license, made dubious claims of cocaine-fueled orgies, called Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a "thug," is facing a congressional financial investigation, and, most recently, appeared in a leaked video depicting the conservative lawmaker naked in bed while simulating sex with another man.  These and other recent controversies — yes, there are more — have made Cawthorn a target within his own party ahead of a May 17 primary that could determine his future in Congress, if he has one. And some voters preparing to cast their ballots in North Carolina's 11th congressional district, which covers much of the state's western region, have decidedly mixed feelings about Cawthorn's run for reelection."He's dangerous," said Philip, a longtime resident of Cawthorn's hometown of Hendersonville, North Carolina, who declined to give his last name. "He has got to get out of here … He has lost a lot of respect in this community."Joy, an Asheville, North Carolina, resident who declined to give her last name, says she will not vote for Rep. Madison Cawthorn — if he wins the May primary election.Camila DeChalusJoy, an Asheville resident of 17 years who also declined to give her last name, told Insider that she thinks he is "crazy.""I don't agree with any of the ideas he has," she said. "I think he is a wacko and they should take him off of anything that he is on."But other Hendersonville residents struck a different tone when asked whether they will support his reelection bid ahead of the primary elections."He's young, and sometimes he may speak when you probably shouldn't, but I'm all for him," said a longtime Hendersonville business owner, who wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution.  Cawthorn's brazen rhetoric has made him a rising star within the Republican Party."Be a radical for freedom. Be a radical for liberty," Cawthorn said during a speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention.But his words have also driven some of his former supporters away. The youngest member of Congress, Cawthorn has faced significant opposition not just from Democrats, but from Republicans, too.Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina called for a investigation into Cawthorn after government watchdog groups accused Cawthorn of violating the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act because of actions related to his financial stake in a cryptocurrency called "Let's Go Brandon," the anti-Joe Biden slogan popularized by former President Donald Trump and other top Republicans. Separately, The Daily Beast on Thursday reported that Cawthorn may have also violated congressional ethics rules involving payments to his chief of staff."He screwed himself," Sharon, a Hendersonville resident of nearly five years who declined to provide her last name, told Insider. "Once he got elected, he started to do stupid things," Sharon said. "I won't vote for him."On top of that, Cawthorn faces a congressional ethics complaint, filed last week David Wheeler, the president of American Muckrakers PAC, a political action committee that is trying to unseat him.The complaint accuses Cawthorn of failing to properly disclose the money loans and gifts he allegedly provided to a male staffer. The complaint also said that the North Carolina lawmaker violated the House ethics rules by allegedly giving free housing to this same staffer.Some of his supporters say these allegations are politically motivated because of the upcoming midterm election.David Gorasan, a longtime Hendersonville resident, said accusations against Cawthorn are "nonsense."Camila DeChalus"It's all nonsense," David Gorasan, a Hendersonville resident, told Insider. "I met him one time, he's a great guy, and I like his way of thinking … He's very upfront and cool and overall a very nice person."Cawthorn, a Trump acolyte, has spoken out against these allegations stating that it is a coordinated effort by "the North Carolina establishment" against him."I'm NOT backing down. I told you there would be a drip drip campaign. Blackmail won't win. We will," Cawthorn tweeted Wednesday."Don't let the swamp of Washington dissuade or distract you from sending a warrior back to Washington. I've only just begun to fight for you," Cawthorn wrote in a separate tweet the same day.Cawthorn faces several Republican challengers ahead of a Republican primary vote on May 17.Camila DeChalusCawthorn is facing several Republican primary challengers ahead of the May 17 primary election.His main opponent is North Carolina state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who Tillis endorses. Cawthorn must receive more than 30 percent of the primary vote to avoid a runoff in July, where he would face the other candidate who finished first or second in May's vote.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

The best Champagne and sparkling wine for Mother"s Day brunch, graduation, and all of your spring celebrations

Experts helped us pick the best Champagne, cava, prosecco, and other sparkling wines for all types of budgets and tastes. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Kokouu/Getty ImagesThis content is intended for readers 21+. Please drink responsibly. If you or anyone you know is dealing with alcohol abuse, get help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) provides a free, confidential, 24/7, treatment referral, and information service.Champagne, a favorite beverage for toasting, comes from its namesake region in France. Aged in individual bottles, many enthusiasts prize the limestone soil where the grapes are grown. Because of the region's rules and prestige, bottles labeled Champagne are generally more expensive than those from other places. But there's more to sparkling wine than just Champagne. Prosecco from Italy and cava from Spain generally cost less but are often their own enjoyable experience. Producers from all over the world follow similar methods to make sparkling wine. The results are much more accessible and affordable than Champagne.For our guide, we recommend a variety of options at various prices, based on consultations with wine experts and our research. Taste is very subjective, however. You can ask several experts for suggestions and see no overlap, and that's why there is no single winner. The market is also tricky: You can find certain brands everywhere, while smaller producers tend to distribute in limited areas. That doesn't mean one is better than the other, but we tried to factor in availability with our choices.Check with your local wine shop for availability.Cheat sheet to picking a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wineRunPhoto/Getty ImagesShort on time? If you need a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine now, here are our recommendations if you can't explore our entire guide.The best Champagne for showing offWhen the budget doesn't matter: Krug Grand Cuvée (about $225), Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004 (about $450), Bollinger Brut Special Cuvée (about $70)The best non-Champagne sparkling wineGreat for everyday drinking or pairing with food: Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2018 ($35), Domaine Franck Besson Rosé Granit ($25), Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut ($25), Claude Branger "L'éClipse" Méthode Traditionnelle ($19)The best rosé sparkling wine for date nightFor those very special occasions: Raventós i Blanc de Nit Rose 2017 ($26), Graham Beck NV Brut Rosé ($23), Ruinart NV Brut Rosé ($55)The best budget sparkling wineIdeal for toasting or celebrating, when you need to maximize your budget while still drinking something tasty: Segura Viudas ($10), Mas Fi Cava Brut Rosé ($14)The best for christening a shipAnything under $5, as you won't be drinking it.The best ChampagneThe best Champagnes under $65The selection of Champagne at your grocery store will mostly consist of big-name makers, with prices starting around $40. To be called Champagne, the wine must be made in a specific region of France. While perhaps not priced for most people's weekly wine budget, you can still find many Champagnes that come out to around $10 a glass. "We try to kind of really combat this stigma of Champagne being celebratory and kind of pretentious," said Ariel Arce, owner of Air's Champagne Parlor in New York City.Most of the choices at these prices will be non-vintage, meaning winemakers may mix different varieties and harvests of grapes to ensure their signature wines taste the same, year after year. These are perfect for drinking right off the shelf for an impromptu celebration. What our experts particularly likeThe specialists we consulted recommend Agrapart & Fils Les 7 Crus Brut NV, Chartogne-Taillet Sainte Anne Brut, Cheurlin Brut Spéciale, and Marie Courtin Résonance Extra-Brut. "There's almost nothing better than grower's Champagne," Chevonne Ball, owner of wine-focused travel company Dirty Radish, said about the Chartogne-Taillet. "Crisp and elegant, this true Champagne is worth the price.""For those seeking the crème de la crème of the sparkling world, I always have some grower Champagnes in stock, like Laherte Frères," said Laura Marchetti, owner of Riverview Wines & Spirits. The winesAgrapart & Fils Les 7 Crus Brut NV: A non-vintage Champagne that's made from 90% chardonnay and 10% pinot noir grapes. Notes: brioche, yeast.Chartogne-Taillet Sainte Anne Brut: Made from 50% chardonnay and the rest a mix of black grapes, mainly pinot noir, this non-vintage Champagne is a split of the previous year's wine and wines that were aged two to five years. Notes: apple, citrus.Cheurlin Brut Spéciale: This non-vintage Champagne, 70% Chardonnay and 30% pinot noir, is from a historic house and is imported to the US by former Detroit Piston Isaiah Thomas. Notes: bread, citrus.Henriot Brut Souverain NV: With 30% of the Brut Souverain coming from reserve wines and an almost equal amount of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, this Champagne is very consistent from bottle to bottle. Notes: apple, mineral.Laherte Frères Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature NV: This chardonnay grape Champagne is made from 50% reserve wines from previous years. Notes: mineral, lemon.Marie Courtin Résonance Extra-Brut: This wine is made from pinot noir grapes. Owner Dominique Moreau makes zero-dosage Champagne, aged in the bottle for about two years. Notes: tart, yeasty.Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut: This Champagne, made with pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay grapes, should be easy to find in practically any grocery or liquor store. Notes: citrus, apple.The best Champagnes under $150As you go closer to the over-$100 price point, you'll start seeing more vintage wines. The grapes for vintages all come from the same year, and the wines are aged longer than non-vintages. Leaving a bottle to sit for three years takes up space, which costs money. There are also constraints on how much is grown in Champagne, France. "It's a small area of land, so they can only produce so much," said Crystal Hinds, who owns Effervescence, a sparkling wine lounge in New Orleans. "You're paying for the taste of that terroir, which is usually very limestone."At under $150, you'll also see some cuvées, which is a term winemakers use to designate their very special blends. But there's no real regulation of the term, so its appearance on a label doesn't ensure quality. The winesBollinger Brut Special Cuvée: A popular Champagne made of over 60% pinot noir grapes, Bollinger's Special Cuvée shouldn't be too hard to find. Notes: apple, toast.Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV: Forty percent of this wine is from the reserve selection, which are wines aged an average of 10 years. Charles Heidsieck was one of the first Champagnes imported to the US in the 19th Century. Notes: brioche, apple.Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Vintage Brut 2012: This chardonnay grape Champagne is a vintage from 2012 that's definitely expensive but not too over-the-top. Notes: citrus, mineral.Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru: Egly-Ouriet is a grower-producer in Champagne, and its Brut is a mix of 75% pinot noir and 25% chardonnay. Notes: lemon, butter.Henri Goutorbe Special Club Brut Champagne 2006: A wine labeled "Special Club" must earn the approval of the Club Trésors de Champagne's members. Henri Goutorbe is a grower-producer, and this 2006 wine meets the designation. Notes: biscuit, lemon.Pierre Péters Cuvée de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut: Another grower-producer, Pierre Péters makes a chardonnay blanc de blancs from 40% reserve wine. Notes: pear, mineral.The best Champagnes over $150For most people, drinking a glass of Champagne from a bottle that costs upwards of $150 is a once-in-a-lifetime – if ever – event. As prices climb, there will be more vintages. Prized wines are made with more care and are aged longer, so they come in smaller batches. Rarity increases the price. Producers also make bottles that are meant to be stored before they're savored. That's not true of every expensive Champagne, but if you're spending a lot, you'll want to ensure you're drinking it at the best time. To see just how out-of-control prices can get, check out some of the world's most expensive Champagnes. The winesDom Perignon Brut 2005: This vintage from Moët & Chandon is ready to drink now but can also be stored for a few years. Notes: toast, apples.Krug Grande Cuvée: Unlike many high-priced Champagnes, this Krug is a non-vintage. It's made by blending over 120 individual wines. Notes: lemon, brioche.Laurent-Perrier NV Grand Siècle Grande Cuvée Brut No. 24: A non-vintage, this Champagne is made from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, a blend of wines from the 2007, 2006, and 2004 vintages. Notes: toast, honey.Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Extra Brut 2010: The wine, made up of 71% pinot noir and 29% chardonnay grapes, is a good choice for aging. Notes: almond, citrus.Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2009: You can either drink or save this cuvée, which is made of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. It's named for the English Prime Minister, who was a fan. Notes: brioche, citrus. Alternatively, if you can get the 2008 vintage, which is generally harder to find, we recommend it.Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004: This prestige cuvée, made from chardonnay grapes, is a good choice for aging, especially given the price. Notes: mineral, citrus.Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2007: While you can drink Taittinger's all-chardonnay Champagne now, you can also age it a bit. Notes: citrus, nuts.The best proseccoThe best prosecco under $20Most prosecco comes from Italy and is aged in tanks, unlike Champagne, which ages in bottles. "Prosecco is usually super easy to drink," Hinds said. "It's not super complex — doesn't have a lot of different flavors that linger." It's very easy to find a nice bottle of prosecco for under $20, which makes it attractive for a lot of people. "If I'm being honest, people are buying for cost," said Ball of Dirty Radish. "But I would say that people who like prosecco probably really like a little bit softer of a bubble," she added. What our experts particularly likeBall is a fan of Loredan Gasparini's prosecco. "Inexpensive and available at most grocery stores, this is one of my favorite brunch sparkling wines," she said. "Delicious on its own or great as a mimosa. I suggest fresh-squeezed citrus!" The winesAcinum Extra Dry Prosecco: From the Veneto region of Italy, this prosecco is made from 100% glera grapes. Notes: pear, apple.Adriano Adami Garbel Brut Prosecco: This prosecco from Treviso in Northern Italy is made with glera grapes. Notes: melon, apple.Bisol Jeio Prosecco Superiore: From the Valdobbiadene area of Northern Italy, the Bisol family makes this prosecco from glera grapes. Notes: apple, citrus.La Marca Prosecco: Easy to spot with its pale-blue label, this is a prosecco you can find most anywhere. Notes: apple, lemon.Loredan Gasparini NV Brut Asolo Prosecco Superiore: Made with all glera grapes, this prosecco is from Veneto, Italy. Notes: apple, citrus.Villa Sandi Prosecco il Fresco Brut: Villa Sandi's prosecco comes from the Treviso region in Italy and is made from mostly glera grapes, along with some chardonnay and pinot blanc. Notes: apple, citrus.The best prosecco over $20A few years ago, the prosecco industry was having issues with counterfeit sparkling wine. To try and combat the problem, it created two classifications, Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). Both require following strict regulations, but DOCG is more stringent.Not all prosecco — even some nice ones — will have these marks, but they can help guide your selection-making if you're feeling a little lost and want a marker of quality. Keep in mind that taste is subjective, and it doesn't guarantee it will be to your liking, though. The winesBisol Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Crede DOCG Brut 2018:  Made from 85% glera grapes, as well as pinot bianco and verdiso, this prosecco is from Valdobbiadene in Italy. Notes: pear, apple.Cà dei Zago Prosecco Col Fondo 2018: Mostly made with glera, this prosecco from the Valdobbiadene also has some verdiso, perera, and bianchetta grapes. Notes: lemon, apple.Col Vetoraz Valdobbiadene Cartizze Superiore 2018: The Cartizze on this label refers to a specific hilly region known for its quality glera grapes. Notes: peach, floral.Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco Superiore: You can sometimes find this 100% glera prosecco for under $20, making it an even better value. Notes: apple, lemon.Rebuli Prosecco Cartizze: From the Cartizze area, like the Col Vetoraz, this prosecco is made completely from glera grapes. Notes: floral, apple.The best cavaThe best cava under $20Penedès, a region of Catalonia, Spain, is known for its sparkling wine called cava. Compared to prosecco, cava is made more similarly to Champagne — aged in bottles. The grapes are very different, though, with many wines being made from a mix of macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo grapes. There's a lot of variety when it comes to cava, including vintages and rosés.  Like prosecco, it is much more affordable than Champagne. But just because you can pick up a bottle for $10, it doesn't mean you need to hold your nose and drink. While inexpensive cavas do make great choices for mimosas or bellinis, you can also enjoy them in their own right. What our experts particularly like"[The Naveran Dama Brut] has one of the most delicate mousses and mouthfeel," Ball said. "The bubbles fill your palate with delicious aromas." Marchetti of Riverview Wines & Spirits recommends the line of Azimut wines from Cellers de Can Suriol "for a classic, traditional palate at an affordable price."The winesAnna de Codorníu Blanc de Blancs Brut Reserva Cava: Mainly chardonnay, along with some parellada, xarel·lo, and macabeo grapes, this cava is aged at least 15 months. Notes: peach, citrus.Cellers de Can Suriol Azimut Brut Nature Cava: A cava from Penedès, this wine is made with macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo grapes. Notes: white fruit, pear.Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava: Macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo grapes make up this cava from Penedès, in Spain. Notes: apple, toast.Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia Brut: Aged for 36 months, this Brut wine from the Penedès region is made from 55% xarel·lo grapes, with some macabeo and parellada grapes as well. Notes: apple, citrus.Naveran Dama Brut Cava: This cava from Penedès has a somewhat unique mix of 85% Chardonnay and 15% parellada grapes. Notes: apple, yeast.Segura Viudas: From Penedès, this cava is made with macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo and is widely distributed in the US. Notes: apple, citrus.The best cava over $20When is a cava not a cava? When the winemaker doesn't want it to be called that. Some producers wanted to designate what they see as their wines' quality, so they've begun labeling their bottles with Corpinnat instead of cava. Raventós i Blanc, meanwhile, uses its own designation for its sparkling wines, Conca del Riu Anoia. This doesn't mean everything still labeled cava is bad. Corpinnat producers make up only a small percentage of winemakers in the region, so there's still plenty of cava to go around. The winesGramona III Lustros Brut Nature 2012: A blend of xarel·lo and macabeo grapes, this wine is aged for 70 months and comes from the Penedès region. Notes: apple, pastry.Raventós i Blanc de la Finca Brut 2016: Located in the Penedès region, Raventós i Blanc makes this sparkling wine from macabeo, xarel·lo, and parellada grapes. Notes: apple, citrus.Recaredo Brut Nature Intens Rosat Cava 2014: This cava is made from monastrell and garnatxa grapes in the Penedès region of Spain. Notes: red fruit, toast.Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava Brut: This Brut from Segura Viudas is made from macabeo and parellada grapes and aged for 30 months. Notes: floral, lemon.The best sparkling wineWhile all of the wines mentioned in this guide are, technically, sparkling wines, the ones mentioned here focus on wines mostly from the United States. The best sparkling wine under $25There are sparkling winemakers all across the United States, all using different methods and grape varieties with unique results. Not only can you find terrific options, but stateside products are also often budget-friendly too."Sparkling wines coming out of Oregon or California are always going to be vastly different than any of the others, because we're so young and so new," said Ball of Dirty Radish. "There's very cool stuff happening all around the country in sparkling wine," Arce said. The problem is, it can be difficult to find Michigan's Mawby wines or sparkling wines from New York's Finger Lakes outside of certain areas. You might have a local winery making a sparkling wine that you fall in love with, so they're worth exploring in addition to some of the more widely distributed brands.Besides US wineries, there are nice options from other winemaking regions such as Australia and New Zealand. For a bit of prestige, Mumm Napa is an affordable sparkling wine made in the traditional style of its parent company, G.H. Mumm of France.What our experts particularly likeThe recommendations for Gruet Sauvage Blanc de Blancs and McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Sparkling Brut come from our panel. Sunshine Foss, who owns Happy Cork in Brooklyn, New York, says the McBride Sisters' wine has been popular in her shop because of the name, "but it's also a really, really good sparkling Brut."The winesDomaine Ste. Michelle Brut Columbia Valley NV: A blend of chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes, this sparkling wine comes from Washington State. Notes: lemon, mineral. Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs Carneros: This California sparkling wine is 100% chardonnay. Notes: apple, lemon. Gruet Sauvage Blanc de Blancs: Made only from chardonnay grapes, Gruet's Sauvage is from New Mexico. Notes: lemon, apple. McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Sparkling Brut: This Brut is made from 90% chardonnay and 10% pinot gris grapes, grown in New Zealand. Notes: lemon, floral.Mumm Napa Brut Prestige: Chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot gris, and pinot meunier grapes make up this Brut wine from California. Notes: apples, bread.The best sparkling wine over $25It's not just US winemakers that have vineyards in California. Some big Champagne houses, like Taittinger Champagne and Louis Roederer, have land in the state. That's why wines from Roederer Estate, for example, are lower than a typical Champagne. Larger producers will often stick to more traditional methods and grapes, while smaller producers might experiment more. Caraccioli Cellars, for example, is a smaller, family-run vineyard in California."The big difference between a big house and a small house (a big producer and a small producer) is how they're handling the wine," Ball said. Smaller operations often lack machinery, so they hand turn or hand riddle the bottles. That's one reason it took some US winemakers a while to get into sparkling wine, she said: "It takes a lot of work."You can find sparkling wines from the United States that cost over $100, for bottles producers have taken extra time and attention with or that come from a particular vintage. There are many quality wines for closer to $50, though. What our experts particularly like"Corollary Wines is the husband and wife duo Dan and Jeanne's passion project," Ball said. The Cuvée One is a mix of grapes from five Oregon vineyards, grown in different soils and climates, and that interest in the varying terroirs of the state comes through in the wine, she said. The winesCorollary Wines Cuvée One: An Oregon wine, it's made with 50% pinot noir, 32% chardonnay, and 18% pinot blanc grapes. Notes: lemon, bread. Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut 2013: From California's Russian River Valley area, this Brut is made from pinot noir and chardonnay, aged for four years. Notes: apple, floral.J Vineyards Cuvée 20 Brut: Almost half chardonnay grapes, plus pinot noir and some pinot meunier, make up this California sparkling wine. Notes: peach, green apple.Roederer Estate L'Ermitage 2013: Roederer Estate is the California winery from Champagne maker Louis Roederer; this sparkling wine is made from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. Notes: apple, toast.Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2018: This blanc de blancs comes from California and is made from 100% chardonnay. Notes: citrus, pastry.The best sparkling wine in a canSometimes you want a glass of bubbles without the glass part, and that's where sparkling wine cans come in. Over the past several years, more and more winemakers have started making more portable versions of their products. You won't find Champagne in a can, but you can still get some great bubbles for on-the-go — or at home. The winesNomadica Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé: Pinot noir grapes make up this sparkling wine from California. Notes: berries, pomegranate. Underwood Rosé Bubbles: Mostly pinot noir with some chardonnay and pinot gris grapes, this wine from Oregon is available in bottle and can form. Notes: strawberry, cherry.The best CrémantCrémants are sparkling wines from eight regions in France — including Loire, Alsace, and Burgundy — and one in Luxembourg. They're made in a similar style as Champagne but are just a fraction of the cost. Some are made with grapes you won't find in Champagne. There's not an easy way to describe the taste, because there's a lot of variety. The prices of many of these sparkling wines are much, much lower than Champagne. "I feel like you can find great value," Ball said. The winesDomaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura Brut: This is a chardonnay crémant from the Jura region of France. Notes: apple, citrus.Domaine J. Laurens Crémant de Limoux Brut Rosé: A rosé, this crémant is a blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc, and pinot noir grapes. Notes: cherry, strawberry.Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut: From Alsace, France, this crémant contains pinot auxerrois, pinot blanc, and chardonnay grapes. Notes: pear, floral. Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux: Though many crémants from Limoux contain mauzac grapes, this wine is a blend of mostly chardonnay, plus chenin blanc and pinot noir. Notes: green apple, lemon.Pierre Sparr Crémant d'Alsace Brut Reserve: Eighty percent pinot blanc and 20% pinot auxerrois, this crémant comes from the Alsace region. Notes: apple, citrus.The best sparkling roséThe best sparkling rosé under $20There are several ways to make rosé sparkling, and it's going to taste different depending on many factors. Despite its pretty color, rosé doesn't have to be sweet. As with Champagne, you'll find bottles labeled Brut to be on the drier side. "I think a lot of people think that rosé is maybe something that's going to be sweeter or more fruit-forward, which that category, again, has so many variations within it," said Arce of Air's Champagne Parlor. For under $20, you won't find pink-hued Champagne, but there are lots of cavas and other sparkling rosés from around the world (including other parts of France) at that price. What our experts particularly likeThe experts we spoke to mentioned Landmass Papi Sparkling Rosé, Lve Rosé by John Legend, and Rivarose Brut Rosé as some of their go-to rosés. "It's really delicate," said Effervescence's Hinds of the Rivarose. "It's not overly sparkling." She also said the modern-looking bottle makes it perfect for gifting. The winesCampo Viejo Cava Gran Brut Rosé: Made from 100% trepat grapes, the rosé was aged in the bottle for nine months. Notes: strawberry, citrus.Graham Beck NV Brut Rosé: This rosé from South African winery Graham Beck, a mix of pinot noir and chardonnay, undergoes its second fermentation in the bottle. Notes: raspberry, apple.Landmass Papi Sparkling Rosé: From the Willamette Valley in Oregon, this sparkling rosé is made from tempranillo grapes. Notes: apple, strawberry.Lve Rosé by John Legend: John Legend's Lve rosé is made in the Charmat Method, like prosecco, from mostly unspecified white grapes, along with some pinot noir and grenache grapes. Notes: strawberry, mineral.Mas Fi Cava Brut Rosé: This Spanish cava is made from trepat grapes and is aged for 11 months in the bottle. Notes: cherry, strawberry.Rivarose Brut Rosé: A rosé from the Provence region of France, Rivarose's sparkling wine is a blend of syrah and grenache grapes. Notes: strawberry, pear.Segura Viudas Cava Brut Rosé: Segura Viudas' affordable and ubiquitous cava was made from mostly trepat grapes. Notes: strawberry, raspberry.The best sparkling rosé under $50Closer to $50, you can start to find rosé Champagne, but the majority of sparkling wines under that price are from other regions. There are many rosé crémants from France that are around $25, but you can also get bottles from Italy, the US, and elsewhere for a similar price. What our experts particularly like"I would definitely hold [the Domaine Franck Besson Rosé Granit] up against any of the other sorts of higher-end wines that you would find out of Champagne," said Ball of Dirty Radish. The winesRaventós i Blanc de Nit Rose 2017: A sparkling wine from the Penedès region of Spain, it's made from xarel·lo, macabeo, and parellada, as well as monastrell, which gives the wine its color. Notes: floral, strawberry.Domaine Franck Besson Rosé Granit: Franck Besson is a unique producer in Beaujolais, France, and this rosé is 100% gamay grapes. Notes: strawberry, cherry.Louis Bouillot Perle d'Aurore Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé: Pinot noir, chardonnay, and gamay grapes are used to make this wine, which is aged for 12 months. Notes: strawberry, toast.Parigot & Richard Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé: Aged for three years, Parigot & Richard's rosé is made from only pinot noir grapes. Notes: raspberry, mineral.Scharffenberger NV Brut Rosé: From California, Scharffenberger's rosé is nearly evenly split between chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, aged for two years in the bottle. Notes: raspberry, citrus.Schramsberg Brut Rosé: Made in California with mostly pinot noir and some chardonnay grapes, this rosé is aged in the bottle for about two years. Note: strawberry, bread.The best sparkling rosé over $50Just like other Champagnes, you can find bottles of rosé that cost hundreds of dollars, including Krug and Dom Perignon. Vintages and some cuvées will cost more, because winemakers take more care with them, and some of them are aged for longer. For under $100, there are lots of delicious choices from Champagne, as well as many sparkling rosés from elsewhere. The winesBillecart-Salmon Brut Rosé: Chardonnay, pinot meunier, and pinot noir grapes make up this rosé from Champagne. Notes: strawberry, orange.Henriot Brut Rosé: Henriot's rosé Champagne is aged for three years and is made from pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier grapes. Notes: raspberry, mineral.Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé: A rosé Champagne, this wine is made of 100% pinot noir grapes and aged for five years. Notes: raspberry, brioche.Ruinart NV Brut Rosé: Ruinart's rosé is 55% pinot noir and 45% chardonnay and comes from the Champagne region. Notes: raspberry, spice.Soter 2014 Mineral Springs Brut Rosé Sparkling: Mainly pinot noir with some chardonnay grapes, Soter's Oregon rosé is aged for five years in the bottle. Notes: strawberry, almond.The best pét-natPétillant-naturel (pét-nat) wines are bottled while still undergoing their first fermentation. Some winemakers leave the yeast in the bottle, so the final product will be cloudy, with sediment on the bottom. "Pét-nats have become super-big right now because it's on the sparkling side but it's done in such a natural way," said Sunshine Foss of Happy Cork. The results tend to be less predictable than something like a cuveé, which is reliably blended from known reserves. "A lot of wine geeks love that funky taste, like strawberry cola," said Crystal Hinds. "Some taste like sour beers." You can find many pét-nats for between $20 and $50.What our experts particularly likeHinds recommends both the Kobal Wines rosé and the Les Tètes Nat Igny Rusé ($29): "It's just so beautiful and delicate," she said of the Les Tètes' wine. "You can hardly tell that it's a pét-nat." "Being Italian I'll always have a few prosecco col fondo — the Italian version of pét-nat," said Marchetti of Riverside Wine & Spirits. "Those are old-school, unfiltered prosecco." She suggests offerings from Carolina Gatti and the Col Tamarie, as well as Rodica's sparkling malvasia from Slovenia.The winesAncarani Indigeno Pétillant Naturel 2019: This pét-nat comes from Italy and is made from trebbiano grapes. Notes: citrus, bread.Bichi Pet Mex Pétillant Naturel Rosé: Bichi is a winery in Mexico that doesn't like to reveal what type of grape goes into this pét-nat. Notes: strawberry, citrus.Cambridge Road Naturalist Pétillant Naturel: A New Zealand wine, this pét-nat has riesling, pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes. Notes: pear, citrus.Carolina Gatti Ratatuja: An orange wine from Veneto, Italy, it's a blend of glera, pinot bianco, chardonnay, tocai, and verduzzo grapes. Notes: peach, apricot.Cruse Wine Valdiguié Pétillant Naturel: Made from valdiguié grapes, this pét-nat hails from lauded California winemaker Michael Cruse. Notes: strawberry, tart. Julien Braud La Bulle de l'Ouest Pétillant Brut: Low in alcohol (8%), this French wine is made with 100% melon de Bourgogne grapes. Notes: floral, citrus. Kobal Wines Bajta Blaufränkisch Rosé: This wine from Slovenia is made from blaufränkisch grapes. Notes: strawberry, yeast.Les Tètes Les Parcelles Tète Nat Igny Rusé: From France's Loire Valley, this wine is made from chenin blanc grapes. Notes: floral, cotton candy. Moutard Pet Mout Pétillant Naturel Chardonnay: Moutard makes wines from both Champagne and Burgundy in France, including this chardonnay pét-nat. Notes: citrus, mineral.Onward Wines Pétillant-Naturel Rosé: This pinot noir pét-nat is from California. Notes: strawberry, citrus.Rodica Bela Sparkling Malvasia Brut: From Slovenia's Istrian Peninsula, this pét-nat is 100% malvasia grapes. Notes: white fruit, floral.William Chris Péttilant Naturel Rosé: Texas winery William Chris makes this wine from sangiovese, mourvèdre, cinsault, and trebbiano grapes. Notes: citrus, melon.What is Champagne and sparkling wine?With a few exceptions, Champagne is sparkling wine that comes from Champagne, France. The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) oversees production and enforces the strict regulations that govern virtually every aspect of the process."When you're paying for Champagne, you're paying for some of the techniques that are used," said Crystal Hinds, owner of Effervescence. "They can only pick at a certain time. They can only pick so much per hectare."If you pick up a bottle, and it has the word "Champagne" on it, the wine is almost certainly from this region and was made in accordance with the rules. "California Champagne" is quite different and is essentially the product of a loophole.  Cava, prosecco, and other sparkling wines are made from a variety of methods, with different grapes, and in different regions and countries. Consider this glossary a crash course in Champagne 101.  Assemblage: The process of blending wines from different vineyards, grapes, and years. You might see the assemblage listed as a percentage of each type of grape. Blanc de Blancs: It means "white of whites," so these wines are made from all-white grapes; in the Champagne region, this usually means 100% chardonnay. Blanc de Noirs: Noir is French for black, and only red grapes go into these wines, but the resulting wine is still a pale golden color because it uses the juice and not the skin, which is where the reddish color comes from. Brut: In the traditional method, Champagne goes through two fermentations. After the second, winemakers add sugar, which is known as "dosage." Drier, less sweet sparkling wines will have the word "brut" on the label. Here's the scale, from driest to sweetest:Brut Nature 2. Extra brut 3. Brut 4. Extra dry or extra sec 5. Dry or sec 6. Demi-sec 7. Doux Brut Nature: The driest of the dry, brut nature has no added sugar. It may contain some leftover sugar, up to three grams per liter. Cava: Cava is sparkling wine from Spain. However, not all sparkling wine from the country is labeled as such. Compared to prosecco, cava is more similar to Champagne. Winemakers mainly use three varieties of white grapes to make cava: macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo. Champagne, France: This region is in the northeast of the country, about 90 miles from Paris.  Cru: Traditionally, Champagne houses purchased their grapes from growers. There are 319 crus, which are also known as villages or vineyards, in the region. There are some grower-producers that use their own grapes, and so you won't find these designations on some very good bottles of wine. Crémant: Crémants are sparkling wines from France but made outside of the Champagne region. "Crémant is a really great way to go if you're looking for a good glass of sparkling wine, but without the cost of the Champagne tag, if you will," said Chevonne Ball of Dirty Radish.Cuveé: In Champagne-making, the first pressing is considered the best, and it's known as the cuvée. Subsequent pressings are the taille. Some winemakers also call their special blends cuvées, but there's no guarantee that something labeled with that word will be spectacular.   Disgorgement: During riddling, the yeast sediment collects in the neck of the bottle. To get it out, winemakers submerge the neck into a freezing solution. Then they turn the bottles right-side-up, take off the cap, and the carbon dioxide inside pushes the frozen chunk of sediment out. Fermentation: For the second fermentation -- which gives the wine its bubbles -- producers add the liqueur de tirage, a solution of sugar and yeast. Champagne and cava undergo this second fermentation in individual bottles. For prosecco, it happens in a tank, so it's a much less labor-intensive process. Grapes: Some types of sparkling wine use a limited amount of grape varieties. Champagne is most often made from chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes. Cava is mainly macabeo, parellada, and xarel·lo grapes. Glera grapes are typically used for prosecco. Lees: After the second fermentation — once the yeast has consumed all the sugar and died — the wine isn't quite ready. Champagne stays in the bottle for at least 15 months before it's released. Non-vintage cuvées stay in the bottle with the lees, or dead yeast deposits, for at least 12 months. Vintage cuvées must rest on the lees for three years, minimum. Liqueur de tirage: The mix of sugar, yeast, and sometimes a bit of wine that producers add to non-sparkling base wine to start the second fermentation. The yeast consumes the sugar, creating carbon dioxide and alcohol.   Méthode Traditionnelle: The traditional method of making Champagne, where the second fermentation takes place inside an individual bottle. Many sparkling wines outside of Champagne are made in this way.       Non-Vintage: The vast majority of Champagne is non-vintage. It's not about how long the wine was aged. Rather, it means that the wine is a blend of different vintages or types of grapes, or it comes from grapes in different vineyards. Using a mix allows winemakers to create a more consistent wine. Prosecco: Prosecco is made in Northeast Italy, primarily using glera grapes. Unlike Champagne, prosecco is made with the Charmat Method. Instead of the second fermentation taking place in individual bottles, it happens in a tank, in larger batches. The method is faster and less expensive, so the resulting wine costs less than Champagne. Pét-nat: Short for pétillant-naturel, this style of sparkling wine has grown in popularity over the past several years. Non-sparkling wine undergoes a single fermentation when yeast transforms sugar into alcohol. The CO2 is released, so the wine is still instead of bubbly. With pét-nats, winemakers bottle up the wine during this first fermentation, retaining some of the CO2. Riddling: To get the yeast sediment into the neck of the bottle, winemakers slowly tip the bottle so the bottom is up. It can take a week or months, depending on the quality (and eventual price) of the wine.  Rosé: There are a few ways to make sparkling rosé or rosé champagne. Winemakers may add still (unsparkling) red wine to give some color or they may "bleed" juice from tanks of macerating grapes that will be used for red wine. Even when it's described with words like fruity, rosé can still be dry. Sec: On the scale from driest to sweetest, Sec is on the sweeter side, while brut has less sugar.Sparkling wine: Champagne, cava, and prosecco are all sparkling wines. They all have bubbles. You can find sparkling wines from practically anywhere. They may be made with different methods and different grapes, which is why they are priced and taste differently. Terroir: When people discuss terroir, they mean the climate, soil, grape varieties, landscape, and other factors that make wines distinct. Vintage: Vintage wines come from grapes harvested in a single year. That year will be on the label, so it's easy to tell vintages and non-vintages apart. These are the wines people buy and store in cellars. Non-vintages are meant to be drunk right off the shelf.Advice from our expertsFor our guide, we consulted four experts (from left to right): Sunshine Foss, Ariel Arce, Chevonne Ball, Crystal Hinds, and Laura Marchetti (not shown).Happy Cork/Universe/Dirty Radish/EffervescenceTo help us narrow down some selections of Champagne and sparkling wines, we spoke with five experts and got advice and recommendations for choosing what to drink. Drink what you like: "Prior to even this new wave of making wine more accessible, people thought, 'Okay, well you have to have this vocabulary to be able to speak to the wine and understand the wine.' For me, it's just really about how it tastes and what I like to drink," said Sunshine Foss, owner of Happy Cork in Brooklyn, New York. Sometimes, smaller is better: "I don't think like you have to go to that $150 splurge point to find a good bottle of Champagne," said Ariel Arce, who's been called the "Champagne Empress of Greenwich Village" by the New York Times. For $65 to $80, she said you can get a nice bottle from a smaller producer, who both grows the grapes and makes the wine. She owns Air's Champagne Parlor in New York City and wrote the book "Better with Bubbles: An Effervescent Education in Champagnes & Sparkling Wines."Taste a lot: "There's not really a way to learn about wine other than to try it and to taste it," said Chevonne Ball, who owns Dirty Radish, a travel company that specializes in wine tours. Look outside of Champagne and France: "That's one of the fun things that we do, is look for these different sparkling wines from different countries and give it a try," said Crystal Hinds, who owns Effervescence, a sparkling wine lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana. Try to be a little extroverted: "If visiting a boutique wine shop, I'd ask what the staff is drinking right now," said Laura Marchetti, owner of Riverview Wine & Spirits in Jersey City, New Jersey. "Ask what's new and exciting and what wines their go-to wines are. Once you get the staff pumped up, it's often hard to get them to stop working for you." She knows this can be intimidating for some, but she adds that she's an introvert as well.How to choose what Champagne or sparkling wine to buyFG Trade/Getty ImagesTo gather our lists of recommendations, we consulted our panel of experts and looked at expert lists of best Champagnes, sparkling wines, cavas, proseccos, crémants, and more from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Food and Wine, Decanter, Wine Folly, The New York Times, and The Chicago Tribune. If you feel overwhelmed in the store or while searching online, here are some things to keep in mind. Start with the price: If you must have Champagne from France, the cheapest bottle is going to cost around $40. Sunshine Foss, who owns Happy Cork in Brooklyn, said she thinks people should also be flexible on price. "You might come in saying, 'Okay, I'm going to spend $50 on a bottle,' but you might get two or three bottles for that price that are all going to be amazing," she said.Buy by brand: If you definitely, definitely want to buy Champagne but are still stumped, you can look at some well-known brands and feel confident about what you're getting. "It's not my first recommendation, but I do think there are certain brands that make an incredibly consistent and quality product," said Arce, owner of Air's Champagne Parlor. She recommends Charles Heidsieck, Bollinger, Philipponnat, Henriot, and Delamotte. "Those are five really beautiful houses, all of which are going to have their non-vintage Brut at an affordable price point," she said.  Look outside Champagne: There's cava from Spain or prosecco from Italy, but South Africa, England, Brazil, Australia, and lots of other countries are also in the sparkling wine business. "You're going to be tasting different grapes, like a malbec or like a blaufränkisch, grapes you've never even heard of, something different than the chardonnay and pinot noir and pinot meunier," said Crystal Hinds, who owns Effervescence. "You won't compare them as much to Champagne if you're tasting a totally different grape." Don't expect all sparkling wine to taste like Champagne: "There's nothing worse, in my opinion, than sparkling wines that are trying to compete with a region that's been making wine for hundreds of years," Arce said. "I think American sparkling is more fun when it's made in its own way, with its own unique grapes." Compared to France, Oregon, California, and other states are newer to making sparkling wine. "It's different soil. It's different terroir," said Ball, who owns Dirty Radish. "It's different grapes, and the rules are different. So we have a lot more freedom here because we have less of the regulations than they do in something like France."But if you do want something similar to Champagne: There are plenty of winemakers that use Champagne-style methods outside of the region. They'll label their bottles with méthode Champenoise or méthode traditionnelle. They'll also use the same grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier. "I really liked the wine from Caraccioli Cellars, if you're looking for something to be similar to champagne," said Arce.What are vegan, organic, biodynamic, and natural wines?Kurga/Getty ImagesWhile you might assume all wines are vegan, some winemakers clarify their wines with egg whites, gelatin, or other animal products. Wines labeled vegan will instead use clay or charcoal for this process. US organic wines, certified by the USDA, are made without synthetic fertilizers, and the yeast and other additives must all be organic. If a US wine is labeled "made with organic grapes," then the yeast and additives might not be organic. The European Union follows similar guidelines for its organic wines, but they might contain more sulfites. Other countries may have different practices. Biodynamic winemakers follow many organic practices, but their wines may contain more sulfites. They also follow a strict calendar when certain tasks like pruning or watering take place. Natural wines are low-intervention, so the producers don't add yeast or sulfites. These are often made in smaller batches.What's your palate? A crash course on tasting notesProbably one of the most difficult ways for newcomers to wine is figuring out what they do and don't like based on taste. After a few tries, they might realize whether they're fans of dry or sweet, but it can be hard to distinguish apple or citrus notes, then articulate what it is that's appealing or off-putting."Sometimes, people don't even know what their palate is," said Sunshine Foss of Happy Cork. Some will assume dry means bitter, for example. "They'll tell me, 'Oh, I don't want a dry wine, but then they'll point to something that they've already had, and it's like one of the driest wines," she said. Brut wines will be on the drier side, while dry, sec, and doux will be sweeter."I'll ask about style and price point, if it's for just sipping or also meant to go with food," said Laura Marchetti, who owns Riverview Wine & Spirits. "However, usually the key is to engage with the person, to get them to do the talking in their own language and then for us to decipher from there.""A lot of times, you break down people's first experiences by asking them just simple questions,  like, "Do you like something a little bit fresher and brighter or something with more fruits?'" said Ariel Arce, owner of Air's Champagne Parlor. "And then if you liked something on the lighter end, 'Can we dabble into flavors of berries, apples, and pears? Do we like minerals and lemon zest?'" All those questions will help a professional track down something you'll love, but you can start by paying attention to what you like when there's a bottle actually open in front of you. "You're on your phone all the time throughout dinner, so why not take a quick note, take a quick photo of that wine?" said Chevonne Ball, owner of Dirty Radish. If there's something you can pinpoint about what you like, that will be helpful for the next time you go into a wine shop, but it's not necessary. "It doesn't have to be very specific," she said. "It doesn't have to be lemon zest and lavender fields and blah, blah, blah." The more you taste sparkling wine, the better you'll be at distinguishing what you like. It's the only way to learn, said Ball: "You don't know that you like your burgers medium rare until you've had a medium-rare burger."What should I eat with Champagne?Marija Babic/EyeEm/Getty ImagesChampagne and sparkling wine has long been associated with celebrations. That means people often think the meal they eat with their wine needs to be special, too. That's not the case, according to Chevonne Ball and Crystal Hinds."I dare you to find one thing that doesn't go with Champagne," Ball said. "You can't — it goes with everything." Hinds agrees. Unlike red or white wines that pair well with select foods, "everything goes with sparkling wine," she said. "You can go through your entire meal with sparkling wine." But you can also open a bag of potato chips. At her sparkling wine lounge, Effervescence, Hinds takes housemade chips and pairs them crème-fraîche, chives, and caviar. The bar also serves popcorn with nutritional yeast, paprika, and olive oil. "Even plain popcorn with a little salt and butter is delicious with bubbles," she said. Hinds also recommends pairing sparkling wine with fried foods. "The acid in the bubbles cut through the grease and the fried tastes and the fat, and it goes beautifully with the fried chicken," she said. "I would have a glass of something with a big plate of onion rings and be just fine."Hinds gave a few suggestions for wine and food pairings. Jean Vesselle Brut Oeil de Perdrix NV ($54 to $60): "This particular wine, which is 100% pinot noir, carries me from an appetizer of warm brie to turkey, beef, or pork and on to dessert — if it lasts that long," Hinds said. "I poured from a magnum this year. It was that kind of year."Claude Branger "L'éClipse" Méthode Traditionnelle ($19): "For an everyday bubbly to pair with the raw oysters, I pull a bottle of Claude Branger's L'éClipse, which is made entirely from melon de Bourgogne," Hinds said. "We at Effervescence call it the oyster wine."  Gusbourne Brut Reserve ($48): "Of course when I want to impress a special guest with something new and amazing, I pair the Gusbourne Brut Reserve (2013) from Sussex, England," Hinds said. "It usually surprises our guests that it is not from Champagne, France, but England." Peter Lauer Riesling Sekt Brut Réserve ($66 to $99): "Lastly, I find Peter Lauer's Riesling Sekt Brut Réserve from Saar, Germany the perfect bubble for most of our desserts, which are seasonal and made in house. They are not usually overly sweet," Hinds said. "The Peter Lauer has a hint of ripe apricot and peach, with lime and slight biscuit notes that complemented our Citrus and Crème dessert (makrut lime meringue, pistachio, satsuma, Tahitian vanilla whipped cream) perfectly."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

Madison Cawthorn faces a tornado of alleged ethics violations, but don"t expect Congress to address it anytime soon

Madison Cawthorn is facing a flurry of allegations of ethical violations. But some experts are wary that Congress will not do much about it. An ethics complaint was filed against Rep. Madison Cawthorn over allegations that he failed to disclose gifts and money loans that he gave to a male congressional staffer.Chris Seward/AP Photo Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina faces a congressional ethics complaint. The complaint alleges he violated ethics rules by providing gifts and money loans a staffer. But internal congressional investigations are notoriously slow and opaque. Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina is facing a flurry of alleged ethics violations related to his personal finances and increasingly erratic behavior. A member of Cawthorn's own party — Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina — has even called on congressional investigators to target the freshman congressman.But don't count on Congress to act swiftly, if it acts at all.That's because Congress' internal ethics investigations process is notoriously slow and opaque, often lasting many months. And if a member of Congress resigns or loses re-election in the midst of a congressional investigation — both plausible outcomes for Cawthorn — the House Committee on Ethics will cease any effort.Congress does little to hold members of Congress and congressional staffers accountable when they conduct investigations, says Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager of Project On Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group."The track record of the ethics committees in both chambers is really being largely impotent and largely useless when it comes to these things," he said. He added that "because everyone knows that the ethics committees are not really going to do anything" then it can incentivize members of Congress and congressional staffs to keep violating congressional ethics rules. If a member of Congress are found to have violated house ethics rules, then there can be a number of penalties ranging from a letter of reprimand, all the way up to censure, says Kedric Payne, a former deputy chief counsel at the Office of Congressional Ethics.Censure is a formal statement of disapproval carried out on the House floor. The House Speaker usually reads a resolution condemning a lawmaker's actions and then the lawmaker has to stand and listen to it.In extreme cases, the US Constitution grants Congress the right to expel a sitting lawmaker — something that's only happened five times, according to House records. The most recent expulsion came in 2002, when Congress kicked Rep. James Traficant, an Ohio Democrat, out of the US House.Payne, now with the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said the outcomes of a formal congressional investigation could also lead to congressional leadership applying pressure to push out the members of Congress or forcing them to resign.But Congress may also dismiss an investigation without any adverse action against one of its own.On Friday, Cawthorn's office responded to Insider's questions about his ethics situation with a tweet."I believe in some pretty aggressive government reforms. I want to change the GOP for the better, and I believe in America First," he wrote. "I can understand the establishment attacking those beliefs, but just digging stuff up from my early 20s to smear me is pathetic."US House of RepresentativesNumerous accusationsEarlier this week, David Wheeler, the president of American Muckrakers PAC, a political action committee advocating to remove Cawthorn from office, filed an ethics complaint against the Republican lawmaker.The complaint accuses Cawthorn of violating US House ethics rules by allegedly providing free housing and gifts to Stephen Smith, one of his staff members. It also alleges that Cawthorn and Smith failed to properly file financial disclosures on these alleged gifts and money loans the North Carolina lawmaker gave to Smith. It also accuses Cawthorn of violating ethics rules by attempting to bring a loaded gun through an airport security checkpoint.Meanwhile, it appears Cawthorn separately violated the federal Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act by failing to report his stake in a cryptocurrency named for the anti-Joe Biden slogan "Let's Go Brandon."The ethics complaint filed against Cawthorn comes after The Daily Mail published a story on a video that shows Cawthorn in a car with another man, who was reportedly Smith, Cawthorn's scheduler. In the video, Cawthorn says, "I feel the passion and desire, and would like to see a naked body beneath my hands." In response, the man says, "Me too. I'd like to see that as well," and then shows the man putting his hand on the lawmaker's groin.Cawthorn has faced attacked by members of his own party, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, after he claimed he was invited to a orgy in Washington by Republican lawmakers and witnessed drug use.The independent Office of Congressional Ethics is designed to investigate allegations of misconduct when they receive complaints or notice of alleged ethics violations. In most cases, the office will make their investigations public, if they believe wrongdoing occurred.If the Office of Congressional Ethics conducts an investigation — something that often takes several months — they will then report their findings to the House Committee on Ethics with a recommendation of whether to "further review" or "dismiss the matter," according to its website.There have been recent cases of the House Committee on Ethics  launching investigations into alleged financial impropriety or inappropriate relationships between members of Congress and their staff members.In 2019, former Rep. Katie Hill, a first-term Democratic representative from California, resigned following allegations that she had a inappropriate sexual relationship with a staffer.Since October, the House Committee on Ethics has been reviewing an Office of Congressional Ethics report that Rep. Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey, failed to properly disclose dozens of stock trades together worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.The House Ethics Committee released a letter on their investigation into former Rep. Jeff FortenberryCongressBut the limits of the House Committee on Ethics' jurisdiction was made clear earlier this month, when it stopped an investigation into now-former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska, who was convicted in March on three charges related to a campaign finance scandal."The Investigative Subcommittee and the Committee no longer have jurisdiction over him. The Committee considers this matter closed," the House Committee on Ethics wrote April 1.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 29th, 2022

Tesla falls 11% as Elon Musk sets focus on Twitter and Ford announces it will scale up production of electric F-150 amid huge demand

Musk has put up tens of billions of dollars worth of his Tesla stock as collateral to fund his acquisition of Twitter. Sam Mircovich/ReutersTesla stock fell 11% on Tuesday as investors grappled with Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter and increased EV competition.Musk is using much of his Tesla stake as collateral to fund the $44 billion buyout of the social media platform.Meanwhile, Ford said it is experiencing strong demand for its F-150 Lightning and that it plans to produce 150,000 units in 2023.Tesla stock fell as much as 11% on Tuesday as investors digest Elon Musk's $44 billion acquisition of Twitter and increased electric-vehicle competition from Ford.The decline came amid a broader sell-off in the stock market, with the Nasdaq 100 falling more than 3% as investors prepare for first-quarter earnings from mega-cap tech companies like Microsoft and Apple. Musk's purchase of Twitter likely means at least some of his attention will shift away from Tesla and towards improving the social media platform that he himself is an avid user of. Whether that attention shift will have any material impact on Tesla remains to be seen, but it's nothing new for Musk given his other ventures.He has been CEO of Tesla since 2008, but is also the founder and CEO of SpaceX and has material interests in The Boring Company and Neuralink, two early-stage startups tackling hyperloop transportation and brain-machine interface technologies, respectively.Given Musk's success in managing a number of different ventures at the same time, investors will likely give him the benefit of the doubt about his time management skills and that he can juggle another venture while running Tesla.But perhaps more concerning for Tesla investors is how Musk is funding his purchase of Twitter. Specifically, he has put up tens of billions of dollars worth of his Tesla stock as collateral to fund the acquisition.In the event that Tesla's stock price falls significantly, Musk may be forced to sell shares or put more of his Tesla stake up as collateral to avoid a margin call. That could put further downward pressure on Tesla's stock price if he is forced to sell.And while investors digest Musk's buyout of Twitter, Tesla is also facing increased competition in the EV space. Ford said that it is experiencing strong demand for its F-150 Lightning pickup truck, and that it expects to produce 150,000 units of the electric truck in 2023. Ford officially launched production of the pickup on Tuesday."We think this is as big a product as when the Model T came out for us," Ford CEO Jim Farley told CNBC's Jim Cramer on Monday. Ford has the chance to become the first automaker to execute and scale its production of an EV pickup truck. It's a big deal considering pickup trucks are consistently the best selling car in America.If successful, Ford will have effectively beaten Tesla to the punch in the EV pickup space, as Tesla once again delayed the launch of its Cybertruck to 2023 at the earliest. And how long it takes for Tesla to scale up the production of its Cybertruck remains an unknown. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 26th, 2022

How Decentralized Is Your Stablecoin?

How Decentralized Is Your Stablecoin? Authored by Omid Malekan via Medium.com, My thinking on stablecoins has evolved greatly since I started writing about them four years ago. There are things I’ve gotten right (their emergence as a killer app for blockchain), things I’ve gotten wrong (the viability of Dai), things I was early on (adoption for vanilla payments) and things I remain conflicted on, like the viability of the undercollateralized AKA algorithmic variety. Algorithmic stablecoins have always seemed like a fantasy to me, a design pushed by techies who don’t understand value. My conservatism was supported by events like the failure of Basis to launch (despite a massive ICO) and the collapse of similar projects that did launch. My skepticism starts with their reliance on circular logic alone. Every currency requires a certain amount of faith to succeed, but few are born of faith alone. To escape the gravitational pull of oblivion, new types of money usually anchor themselves to an independent source of value at the outset. The U.S. dollar was originally tied to a Spanish currency that was then the global standard, and Bitcoin initially derived value from being the means by which a decentralized payment network was secured. The first generation of algorithmic stablecoins tried to escape any independent tethering by using a two token model. One token was the stablecoin and the other the reserve asset against which it was minted and burned. The design was supposedly inspired by how central banks manage fiat currencies, as was argued in the Basis whitepaper: “Basis implements price stability using the same economic principles relied upon by central banks around the world.” That comparison was invalid for two reasons. Unlike an algorithmic stablecoin, people don’t adopt a fiat currency just because a central bank manages it. They adopt it because they have to, thanks to legal tender laws and other constraints. This initial (yet permanent) source of demand eliminates the tail risk of total collapse. More importantly, the reserve assets that central banks use to manage their currencies are independent stores of value that happen to be useful for managing money. Unlike the reserve token of an algo stablecoin, assets like gold, foreign currencies and government debt have independent utility. The first few generations of algorithmic stablecoins failed because they did little to generate demand and used a reserve asset of no utility beyond managing a stablecoin. Their design was particularly risky because unlike other crypto assets, stablecoins can’t appreciate in value. They can only fall, so their users are quick to abandon ship at the first sign of trouble. Then came the Terra blockchain and its dollar stablecoin, UST. Although bunched into the Algo bucket, UST’s design was different. The team behind it actually cared about demand and stated so in their white paper: While many see the benefits of a price-stable cryptocurrency that combines the best of both fiat and Bitcoin, not many have a clear plan for the adoption of such a currency. Since the value of a currency as a medium of exchange is mainly driven by its network effects, a successful new digital currency needs to maximize adoption in order to become useful. What’s more, they backed their stablecoin with a different kind of reserve asset, one that had independent utility. Unlike the “seigniorage shares” tokens of projects like Basis, Luna is the native token of a proof of stake blockchain, and such tokens have succeeded in being valuable elsewhere, in contexts that have nothing to do with a stablecoin. Being independently valuable makes Luna a superior reserve asset. It also makes UST closer in design to crypto-collateralized stablecoins like Dai than purely algorithmic ones like Basis. But unlike Dai, UST is not over-collateralized. That makes it more capital efficient — $100 worth of Luna can get you 100 UST — but also more vulnerable to a sudden plunge in the price of Luna. There are several solutions to this problem. The first is to make sure that UST is always in demand. The greater the demand for any currency, the less important the reserve assets that back it. Enter the Anchor protocol and its generous (and heavily subsidized) yield to savers who deposit UST. This clever demand lever has been effective at increasing demand for UST but has its own risks. It leads to reflexive leverage — you can borrow at a lower rate then redeposit back into Anchor — and that introduces sysemtic risk. What if Anchor gets hacked in the way other DeFi protocols have? It’s also not sustainable. Another solution to the collateral issue is to diversify away from Luna as the only reserve asset. Enter the Luna Foundation Guard and its purchases of bitcoins. Not only has swapping out some of the reserve for a different (and more established) coin increased the perceived stability of UST, it has also imported the support of Bitcoin maximalists who’ve been dreaming of a Bitcoin standard for years. Both of these solutions reveal sophistication on the part of Do Kwon and the rest of the Terra team. They’ve helped UST escape the dangerous adolescent years of any non-overcollateralized stablecoin and set it up for further adoption. But they have also introduced new risks. Part of the appeal of algorithmic stablecoins is their promise of greater decentralization. Fiat-backed coins like USDC are censorable at the reserve level, and Dai is partially backed by off-chain assets. UST is advertised as a decentralized alternative because users can always swap it in a censorship-resistant way. Indeed, the other clever part of Terra’s design was the way in which Luna could be swapped for UST (and vice versa) at the protocol layer, eliminating smart contract risk and making conversion trustless. The introduction of non-native assets goes back on this promise. The Bitcoin reserve is managed by the foundation, not the protocol. The Terra team has been suspiciously quiet about how these coins are controlled, but it looks like there is a multisig address managed by the board of the foundation. There is a governance proposal to hand control over to the validators, but that would introduce bridge risk. Blockchain bridges are inherently risky, as proven by a series of major hacks in the past six months. The Terra ecosystem relies heavily on bridges. About a quarter of the collateral held by Anchor is bridged ETH, and at least half a billion dollars worth of the Luna that is meant to back UST has been bridged to other chains. The Luna community’s tendency to discount these risks is disappointing. If you actually believe in decentralization, then you should be concerned about the fact that UST backing grows either more trusted or more risky with every additional BTC purchase. Other popular stablecoins have their own trust assumptions, but UST claims to be different. It’s still early, and Do Kwon and the rest of the Terra team — assuming there is one, it’s hard to tell given the cult of personality — have done an admirable job of executing so far. I disagree with those who still believe UST is vulnerable to a sudden death spiral, as it is now backed by both a major coin in terms of market cap and powerful off-chain interests who will step in to defend it. The critics who think a death spiral is likely tend to focus on the rapidly depleting yield subsidy in Anchor. What they don’t understand is that Terraform Labs has an unlimited budget. Or at least, a $35 billion dollar one. That’s the market cap of the non-circulating Luna tokens sitting in the lab’s blockchain address. To put that number in context, it’s bigger than the circulating supply. That’s how they can keep funding the Luna Foundation Guard, subsidizing Anchor, taking over Curve pools and taking other kinds of “whatever it takes” actions to protect their stablecoin. The crypto domain is full of ironies, and this may be the biggest: the (supposedly) most decentralized stablecoin exists on the demonstrably most centralized L1. Terraform Labs is a corporation with Do Kwon as its CEO. That means a single individual effectively controls a majority of the premined tokens. I can’t think of a single other Layer-1 blockchain where one person enjoys a financial majority. Since Terra is a delegated Proof of Stake blockchain, then Do has de facto control over governance as well. To make matters worse, Do is also the director of the Luna Foundation Guard, which explains tweets like this: or this His use of “I” and “We” here is not rhetorical flourish, it’s reality. So when you read stories of how Terraform Labs “gifted” Luna to the Foundation, it’s just self dealing between one Do-controlled entity and another. Is this not the definition of centralized power? I’ll go out on a limb and say Do Kwon has as much power over the Terra ecosystem as Mark Zuckerberg has over Meta. Both control a majority of the voting asset and run the legal entity making executive decisions. Both move fast and break (or fix) things. Remember the community governance proposal and subsequent vote on whether UST should have a Bitcoin reserve and how that reserve should be managed? Neither do I. This is not how decentralization is supposed to work. Do might be the smartest guy in crypto, and he clearly means well, but a benevolent dictator is still a dictator. At best he represents a ton of key man risk, and at worst he can impose his will on the community. No wonder that Justin Sun is now following in Do’s footsteps in issuing an Algo stablecoin. All that power diminishes the risk of a death spiral, but it also means all claims of decentralization for UST ring hollow. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Terraform Labs seems to also control a substantial portion of Anchor’s ANC governance token. Maybe there’s a roadmap for decentralization that I’m not aware of, but that’s besides the point. The ultimate takeaway here is that building decentralized money that is not free-floating (a la Bitcoin) is hard, perhaps impossibly so. Every stablecoin has its tradeoffs. Some are censorable, some are capital intensive, and others are decentralization theater. Tyler Durden Sun, 04/24/2022 - 15:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 24th, 2022

Woke Twitter Elitists Are Too Stupid To Realize Elon Musk Is Saving The Platform

Woke Twitter Elitists Are Too Stupid To Realize Elon Musk Is Saving The Platform Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, In the past year Big Tech and Big Media are learning a valuable lesson – That “Get Woke, Go Broke” is not just a mantra, it’s a rule. We’ve just seen companies like Netflix take a massive market beating because of their hubris and their presumption that they can simply dictate the path of our culture from on high through leftist propaganda. CNN just shut down their premium “+” service after a single month because no one trusts them enough to pay them pocket change for content. And Disney is about to lose their municipal charter in Florida because they thought they were in charge of the state and its laws, when in fact they are not. Woke corporations are slowly but surely dying and leftists don’t seem to grasp the situation. They’ll never admit openly that the reason these companies are seeing declines is because of their cult-like political stance that justifies the forced indoctrination of everyone, including children. They’ll say it was covid, they’ll say it was inflation, they’ll say it was bigotry, but in reality it was always them. No one likes them, and people are finally realizing they don’t have to spend money buying products from insane leftists they don’t like. In this regard Twitter is a bit of an enigma. The social media company has gone from a relatively innocuous space for people to market online businesses and for politicians and celebrities to engage with their followers or detractors, to a vicious battleground overrun with leftist zealots hellbent on using the platform as a weapon to silence dissent and destroy the lives of people that disagree with them. The platform went from average social media outlet to becoming a birthplace for evil behavior. If I was to describe what Twitter really stands for today, I would say it is an attempt to build a global hive mind; a place where everyone is coerced into conformity with establishment ideals through peer pressure and mob aggression. That is to say, Twitter is the antithesis to a free speech society; a beta test for the future of authoritarianism where you THINK you are allowed to speak your mind but only the “correct” opinions are allowed to pass. How this happened is hard to say. Some theorize that leftist cultists scrambled like rats from the sinking ship of Tumblr and found their way over to Twitter to take up residency. I would argue that maybe Twitter was always intended to become what it now is. Just take a look at the monster’s gallery of its largest shareholders. There’s Vanguard and Blackrock, which together represent a globalist vampire squid of epic proportions. Their tentacles are wrapped around almost every aspect of the economy including media, big pharma (companies like Pfizer), weapons manufacturers, huge swaths of the US housing market, etc. If these two mega conglomerates were to somehow be wiped off the face of the Earth tomorrow, the world would be a much better place. For now, they own almost everything. Then there is Morgan Stanley, another “too big to fail” international banking firm which for some reason has a major stake in the realm of “tweets.” Whenever globalist companies like these pursue major investments in a communications platform there is generally something nefarious afoot. And, it should be noted that almost all the media companies they own push an agenda that leans hard left and is tyrannical in nature. We witnessed this undeniable dynamic in the past two years as media companies attacked anyone that stood against the illegal covid mandates. Why do major globalist institutions have so much interest in Twitter? It’s not because Twitter is a money maker. In 2020 the company suffered a net income loss of over $1.14 billion. In 2021 there was an income loss of $221 million. Twitter still claims it earns a profit, but this is primarily derived from stock buybacks and state and federal government subsidies, meaning, without overnight loans from the Federal Reserve and tax breaks from government Twitter simply would not exist. Twitter is carrying a debt load of around $6.75 billion in total liabilities according to the Wall Street Journal, which might not seem like much in comparison with many other companies but again, Twitter is not a money maker so any sizeable debt is a problem. They suffered dismal stock performance until the pandemic which led to trillions in stimulus dollars flooding into equities markets. Now that the covid checks have dried up, the company’s stock has spiraled down yet again. The only thing propping it up today is the sudden prospect of an Elon Musk buyout. Twitter was bleeding users and was dealing with a declining membership base leading up to 2019, when the company decided they would fix the problem by NOT REPORTING traditional user numbers anymore. They shifted to a new metric which they claimed was designed to discount the removal of “spam and bot accounts.” One has to wonder how much of Twitter’s actual user base is made of real people rather than fake accounts? Even with the new metrics, evidence suggests they have continued to lose users and revenues since 2019, largely due to the hostile political witch hunt environment that Twitter has developed in the past few years. The US government has also been heavily invested in Twitter since at least 2014, throwing millions into various projects the company has undertaken including many overseas. This makes sense because Twitter regularly shares user data with government agencies, often while claiming they don’t. Surveillance requests are kept secret and any releases of information on such requests are blocked by US courts. Overall, Twitter is a cesspool of political and corporate corruption. A sock puppet of massive globalist shareholders and a data clearing house for conglomerates and governments alike. This is why I have never had an account with them, and likely never will. It boggles my mind how all of these facts can be right out in the open, yet the one thing that sends leftists on Twitter into a rage is the notion that Elon Musk might buy up enough stock in the company to determine its future course. Here are some key facts that I think the Twitter elites need to consider: 1) Twitter has been on a downward plunge in terms of user base and revenues for years now. The fact that the company’s board has decided to assert a leftist political agenda and enforce unbalanced censorship rules is killing the company even further. In a few years, Twitter will not exist. Or, if it does, it will be a shell of its former self much like MySpace or Tumblr. The platform you people think you control is dying. Without fair public discourse and equally enforced guidelines Twitter serves no purpose other than to act as an echo chamber for leftist fanatics, and who wants to be a party to that? 2) The Twitter cult and their “blue check mark” gatekeepers are losing their minds over the prospect of a “billionaire” taking over Twitter when in reality the platform has been controlled by the worlds richest and most invasive shareholders for a long time. If you think Vanguard or BlackRock are better stewards than Elon Musk then I suggest you do a little more research on the history of these corporations. 3) Elon Musk’s interest in Twitter has stirred up excitement over a platform that was otherwise destined for the dumpster. I might even suggest that Musk’s activities are prolonging Twitter’s lifespan by drawing in investment that never would have been there otherwise. The blue checkmarks should be thanking him instead of attacking him. 4) What is the primary complaint that Twitter elitists have when it comes to Musk? That he MIGHT bring in more fair and balanced rules which would prevent political censorship. In other words, they are angry because he might allow true free speech within the boundaries of legality for conservatives as well as leftists. This is unacceptable to them. In their minds, free speech is only reserved for those with “correct thinking”, and they believe they get to dictate what “correct thinking” is. It takes a special kind of psychopath to believe that their side is the only side of an issue that deserves to be heard. In terms of Elon Musk, I’m reserving judgment for now. Tesla and SpaceX receive billions in government subsidies and tax incentives, far more than Twitter does. I question the validity of any company that relies on government handouts in order to survive. Musk is also an attendee of the World Government Summit in Dubai, where globalists from various nations meet to talk about the agenda for world centralization. Musk’s discussion was specifically on how he thinks the future of humanity is to “merge with machines”, much like having your cell phone attached to your brain. This sounds like a dystopian nightmare to me; government’s already track and monitor cell phone activity, do you really want them to do the same with your brain? Musk’s anti-woke positions may be legitimate, or maybe it’s just a persona. Setting all that aside, Musk’s surprising pursuit of Twitter is interesting no matter which way it goes. He could take control and shut the whole thing down, which is what I would suggest given the platform is a cancer on society and rife with government and corporate surveillance. Scattering the blue check cult to the four winds would be one of the best gifts Musk could give the the world right now. They can always complain about everything on other platforms, just not with so much concentrated corporate and government power at their disposal. They’ll say this is all an attack on free speech, but these people don’t understand what free speech is. They believe that it is free speech if they walk up to people and say “I’m going to destroy you and your way of life.” And then when those people react to stop them, they cry that they are victims and claim that this is a violation of their rights. Where I come from, you don’t make threats against people and then expect them to do nothing about it. The leftists on Twitter and elsewhere are going to learn this lesson soon, one way or another. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Fri, 04/22/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 22nd, 2022

Elon Musk Should Have Been Stopped Long Before He Came for Twitter

Is Elon Musk serious about buying Twitter? Given his track record for trolling and half-baked provocations, I doubt it. Dubious offers happen, but CEOs of public companies with multibillion-dollar market caps don’t typically propose them. Musk often uses Twitter to deflect attention from serious negative news about him and his companies and now he says… Is Elon Musk serious about buying Twitter? Given his track record for trolling and half-baked provocations, I doubt it. Dubious offers happen, but CEOs of public companies with multibillion-dollar market caps don’t typically propose them. Musk often uses Twitter to deflect attention from serious negative news about him and his companies and now he says he wants to own the social megaphone. I think Musk’s tender offer to buy Twitter will fall apart because everyone, including government regulators, should be on to his games. Twitter, as we know, adopted a poison pill defense against Musk on April 15. The move makes it nearly impossible for him to buy enough Twitter shares on his own to gain control. Musk could try to fight it in court, but “no court has overturned a poison pill in the last 30 years,” according to Columbia University law professor John C. Coffee Jr. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Even so, Musk would have a much harder time making a pitch for Twitter if the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had properly sidelined him the last time he attempted such antics. When the SEC settled with Musk in 2018 for casually tweeting about taking Tesla private at $420, the commission ordered him to step down as Tesla’s chairman but allowed him to continue as CEO. Musk continued to be Tesla’s largest shareholder, with approximately 21.7% of Tesla’s outstanding shares at that time. Former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said Musk’s penalty “reaffirms an important principle embodied in our disclosure-based federal securities laws. Specifically, when companies and corporate insiders make statements, they must act responsibly, including endeavoring to ensure the statements are not false or misleading and do not omit information a reasonable investor would consider important in making an investment decision.” After the settlement, Musk’s ownership share grew — to 23.1% by the end of June 2021, according to Tesla’s proxy. If the SEC had barred him from the CEO job he’d perhaps own fewer Tesla shares that he could use as collateral for a Twitter takeover. Musk was able to exercise a significant portion of vested stock options in the last half of 2021 as Tesla CEO, reaping billions in profits. He later sold enough to bring his ownership percentage down to about 17% by the end of the year. When he exercises the rest of the stock options he’s been awarded since 2018, he could bring the percentage ownership back up to nearly 24%. Missed opportunities The SEC should have also barred Musk from serving as an officer or director of any public company, a so-called D&O bar, back in 2018. Since financial penalties have minimal impact on multi-billionaires, in its original complaint the SEC originally sought a full D&O bar against Musk. The agency does so in more than 70% of its cases involving individual defendants. In the end, Musk’s lawyers helped him avoid that penalty, and regulators relented, perhaps because of Musk’s unusually close association with Tesla. If regulators had taken those punitive steps, Musk’s options for acquiring another public company like Twitter would be severely limited. Afterall, waging a proxy fight–one that starts with Musk taking a board seat and then gaining control by winning friends and influencing other board members who then vote him Ruler for Life–doesn’t seem to be his style. In fact, he quickly changed his mind about taking a Twitter board seat when it was offered. When Musk settled with the SEC in August 2018 over his unserious bid to take Tesla private, more than 22 million people, including journalists and media organizations, followed him on Twitter. Since then, his cult of personality has exploded. He now has more than 82 million Twitter followers and continues to bypass traditional media channels by obsessively tweeting to defend himself or clap back at perceived enemies like the SEC, journalists, and Tesla whistleblowers. News coverage of Musk, his companies, and his crypto investments, is now primarily driven by his tweets. Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018 Because the SEC, and Department of Justice, didn’t stifle Musk’s shenanigans when they had the chance, he’s been free as a bird to tweet long and loud about whatever multi-billion dollar deal he’s hatching up. The lax penalties meant that he never stopped tweeting dismissively about government regulators, the settlement, and its constraints. He repeatedly risks contempt charges over his disputes with the SEC over those 2018 tweets. Musk’s lawyer even accused the SEC of harassing his client with repeated enforcement activity since the SEC’s sanctions, according to this Tesla filing. Causes for concern According to the Wall Street Journal, the DOJ and SEC are now investigating stock sales by Elon Musk and his brother Kimbal, who serves on the Tesla board. The investigation was again prompted by a Musk tweet. The day before brother Elon tweeted a poll asking whether he should sell 10% of his holdings Kimbal Musk sold $108 million of his own shares. Musk also began selling shortly after the tweet. Those investigations come amid other legal problems for Musk and his companies, including a judgment of racial discrimination requiring Tesla to pay $15 million to a former contractor, a California lawsuit alleging discrimination at a Tesla factory, and a Department of Justice investigation at SpaceX over alleged discriminatory hiring practices. Even some deals that Musk has fully consummated haven’t gone well. With Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of Solar City, analysts didn’t see a strategic or business rationale at the time. Shareholders also objected to what they believed was a non-arm’s length transaction mired in the appearance of conflicts of interest because the two companies were entangled at a personal and business level for Musk. Shareholders eventually sued, claiming Musk coerced the company’s board into the deal. They asked a Delaware court to order Musk to pay Tesla $13 billion in damages. A decision in the case is due soon. In his Twitter bid Musk repeats his 2018 intention “to retain as many shareholders as is allowed by the law in a private company”. How was he going to do that for Tesla? A “special purpose fund” would enable any shareholder to retain its Tesla investment. Ann Lipton, a law professor at Tulane University wrote in 2018 that wouldn’t work and nothing has changed since. Word on the street Twitter investor sentiment is on a roller coaster, up and down with each new Musk tweet or announcement in the last two weeks. Twitter’s stock jumped up over $50 with news of Musk’s initial 9.1% stake and then fell back to $45.08 on April 14, closing significantly below Musk’s offer of $54.20 a share before the extended holiday weekend. Twitter opened slightly higher at the start of this week but still nearly 15% below Musk’s bid. By midday Tuesday it was sinking again with ongoing doubts about Musk’s funding and the news that several private equity firms were contemplating a stake, but most as a “white knight” to rescue Twitter from Musk. Twitter users, what Musk has referred to as a “de facto town square”, are arguably an important arbiter of the viability of the deal. Sentiment analysis using Google Trends, Brand24, and Social Search on the key dates of the Twitter acquisition campaign, shows the “de facto town square” doesn’t believe Musk either. Negative sentiment overtook positive on April 9 when Musk decided not to join the Twitter board and then spiked dramatically negative on April 14 when he admitted he was not sure he’ll “actually be able to acquire it.” Dennis Howlett, a Twitter early adopter and retired co-founder of Diginomica, is fed up. “The SEC needs to rein in this man’s child-like behavior. His actions have made Twitter toxic. No right-minded investor would try to buy it now.” As for me, I agree with historian and culture critic Ruth Ben-Ghiat, who said in a recent interview that there’s only one way to stop a personality cult that repeatedly ignores the rule of law. “It takes prosecution and conviction to deflate their personality cults.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 20th, 2022

Check out these 44 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Deploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Guto Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor 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 easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor 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 easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout 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 digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs 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 SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded 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 lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn 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.TomoCreditKristy 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 alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree 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 freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, 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 bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA 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 freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 18th, 2022

Outside the Box: Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter spells trouble for Tesla investors — here’s why

All the speculation around Musk’s large stake in Twitter and his plans for the social media platform takes focus away from Tesla’s challenges, which are many......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchApr 18th, 2022

Elon Musk takes a swipe at Mark Zuckerberg"s ironclad control of Meta and says it"s set up so even "Mark Zuckerberg the 14th" will be in charge of Facebook and Instagram

When asked whether his role as the richest man could pose a conflict of interest to his Twitter buy, Musk said he wouldn't be like Zuckerberg. Mark Zuckerberg got dissed by Elon Musk.Associated Press Elon Musk compared Mark Zuckerberg's role at Meta to that of a monarch. The Facebook founder owns the majority of Meta's voting shares. The Tesla CEO said that if he owned Twitter, he would avoid a similar stronghold. Elon Musk dissed Mark Zuckerberg's lasting control over Meta during an interview Thursday.Musk was asked about his recent offer to buy Twitter during an interview at the TED conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. The interviewer, Chris Anderson, asked Musk whether his status as the richest man and one of the platform's top influencers could pose a conflict of interest.Musk used the opportunity to take a swipe at Zuckerberg and appeared to compare the Facebook founder to King Louis XIV."As for media sort of ownership, I mean, you've got Mark Zuckerberg owning Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp, and with a share ownership structure that will have Mark Zuckerberg the 14th still controlling those entities," Musk said. "Like, literally," Musk added amid laughter from the audience. "We won't have that at Twitter."The Tesla CEO was referencing Zuckerberg's stronghold on Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The Facebook founder holds 55% of the company's voting shares — which means Zuckerberg essentially has complete veto power over other shareholders when it comes to the company's future. The company has a dual-class stock structure that provides Zuckerberg, select executive managers, and directors with supervoting power inasmuch as one of their shares is equivalent to 10 votes, while other shareholders are limited to one vote per share.A Meta spokesperson didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Tesla doesn't have a dual-class share structure, but Musk still enjoys considerable influence. He is the electric-car maker's largest individual shareholder, with a 17% stake. While Musk doesn't have the same level of control of the company as Zuckerberg does with Meta, Tesla does have supermajority voting rules that require the approval of two-thirds of shares to pass major changes, providing Musk a level of veto power.If he successfully bought Twitter, Musk said he would structure the company in a way that would avoid any perception of a conflict of interest, including making the platform's code publicly accessible."I wouldn't personally be in their editing tweets." Musk said. "But, you'll know if something was done to, to promote demo or otherwise affect a tweet."Musk said his offer to buy Twitter was "not a way to make money" but a bid to protect freedom of speech. The Tesla CEO also appeared to diss Meta's handling of moderation efforts. The social-media company has faced pressure from both sides of the aisle on its handling of COVID-19 misinformation, as well as the Capitol siege. Musk appears to believe in erring on the side of allowing the dissemination of information as long as it is legal in the countries the platform operates in."I'm not saying that I have all the answers here, but I do think that we want to be just very reluctant to delete things," Musk said. "And just be very cautious with permanent bans. Timeouts, I think, are better than permanent bans."Musk and Zuckerberg have a longstanding feud. In 2016, Zuckerberg issued a public statement saying he was "deeply disappointed" in SpaceX after one of the company's rockets destroyed a Facebook satellite. Musk has said Facebook gives him "the willies." Most recently, Musk criticized Facebook for how it handled the siege on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 15th, 2022

The Failure Of Fiat Currencies & The Implications For Gold & Silver

The Failure Of Fiat Currencies & The Implications For Gold & Silver Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, This is the background text of my Keynote Speech given yesterday to European Gold Forum yesterday, 13 April. To explain why fiat currencies are failing I started by defining money. I then described the relationship between fiat money and its purchasing power, the role of bank credit, and the interests of central banks. Undoubtedly, the recent sanctions over Russia will have a catastrophic effect for financialised currencies, possibly leading to the end of fifty-one years of the dollar regime. Russia and China plan to escape this fate for the rouble and yuan by tying their currencies to commodities and production instead of collapsing financial assets. The only way for those of us in the West to protect ourselves is with physical gold, which over time is tied to commodity and energy prices. What is money? To understand why all fiat currency systems fail, we must start by understanding what money is, and how it differs from other forms of currency and credit. These are long-standing relationships which transcend our times and have their origin in Roman law and the practice of medieval merchants who evolved a lex mercatoria, which extended money’s legal status to instruments that evolved out of money, such as bills of exchange, cheques, and other securities for money. And while as circulating media, historically currencies have been almost indistinguishable from money proper, in the last century issuers of currencies split them off from money so that they have become pure fiat. At the end of the day, what constitutes money has always been determined by its users as the means of exchanging their production for consumption in an economy based on the division of labour. Money is the bridge between the two, and while over the millennia different media of exchange have come and gone, only metallic money has survived to be trusted. These are principally gold, silver, and copper. Today the term usually refers to gold, which is still in government reserves, as the only asset with no counterparty risk. Silver, which as a monetary asset declined in importance as money after Germany moved to a gold standard following the Franco-Prussian war, remains a monetary metal, though with a gold to silver ratio currently over 70 times, it is not priced as such. For historical reasons, the world’s monetary system evolved based on English law. Britain, or more accurately England and Wales, still respects Roman, or natural law with respect to money. To this day, gold sovereign coins are legal tender. Strictly speaking, metallic gold and silver are themselves credit, representing yet-to-be-spent production. But uniquely, they are no one’s liability, unlike banknotes and bank deposits. Metallic money therefore has this exceptional status, and that fact alone means that it tends not to circulate, in accordance with Gresham’s Law, so long as lesser forms of credit are available. Money shares with its currency and credit substitutes a unique position in criminal law. If a thief steals money, he can be apprehended and charged with theft along with any accomplices. But if he passes the money on to another party who receives it in good faith and is not aware that it is stolen, the original owner has no recourse against the innocent receiver, or against anyone else who subsequently comes into possession of the money. It is quite unlike any other form of property, which despite passing into innocent hands, remains the property of the original owner. In law, cryptocurrencies and the mooted central bank digital currencies are not money, money-substitutes, or currencies. Given that a previous owner of stolen bitcoin sold on to a buyer unaware it was criminally obtained can subsequently claim it, there is no clear title without full provenance. In accordance with property law, the United States has ruled that cryptocurrencies are property, reclaimable as stolen items, differentiating cryptocurrencies from money and currency proper. And we can expect similar rulings in other jurisdictions to exclude cryptocurrencies from the legal status as money, whereas the position of CBDCs in this regard has yet to be clarified. We can therefore nail to the floor any claims that bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency can possibly have the legal status required of money. Under a proper gold standard, currency in the form of banknotes in public circulation was freely exchangeable for gold coin. So long as they were freely exchangeable, banknotes took on the exchange value of gold, allowing for the credit standing of the issuer. One of the issues Sir Isaac Newton considered as Master of the Royal Mint was to what degree of backing a currency required to retain credibility as a gold substitute. He concluded that that level should be 40%, though Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian economist who was as sound a sound money economist as it was possible to be appeared to be less prescriptive on the subject. The effect of a working gold standard is to ensure that money of the people’s choice is properly represented in the monetary system. Both currency and credit become bound to its virtues. The general level of prices will fluctuate influenced by changes in the quantity of currency and credit in circulation, but the discipline of the limits of credit and currency creation brings prices back to a norm. This discipline is disliked by governments who believe that money is the responsibility of a government acting in the interests of the people, and not of the people themselves. This was expressed in Georg Knapp’s State Theory of Money, published in 1905 and became Germany’s justification for paying for armaments by inflationary means ahead of the First World War, and continuing to use currency debasement as the principal means of government finance until the paper mark collapsed in 1923. Through an evolutionary process, modern governments first eroded then took away from the public for itself the determination of what constitutes money. The removal of all discipline of the gold standard has allowed governments to inflate the quantities of currency and credit as a means of transferring the public wealth to itself. As a broad representation of this dilution, Figure 1 shows the growth of broad dollar currency since the last vestige of a gold standard under the Bretton Woods Agreement was suspended by President Nixon in August 1971. From that date, currency and bank credit have increased from $685 billion to $21.84 trillion, that is thirty-two times. And this excludes an unknown increase in the quantity of dollars not in the US financial system, commonly referred to as Eurodollars, which perhaps account for several trillion more. Gold priced in fiat dollars has risen from $35 when Bretton Woods was suspended, to $1970 currently. A better way of expressing this debasement of the dollar is to say that priced in gold, the dollar has lost 98.3% of its purchasing power (see Figure 4 later in this article). While it is a mistake to think of the relationship between the quantity of currency and credit in circulation and the purchasing power of the dollar as linear (as monetarists claim), not only has the rate of debasement accelerated in recent years, but it has become impossible for the destruction of purchasing power to be stopped. That would require governments reneging on mandated welfare commitments and for them to stand back from economic intervention. It would require them to accept that the economy is not the government’s business, but that of those who produce goods and services for the benefit of others. The state’s economic role would have to be minimised. This is not just a capitalistic plea. It has been confirmed as true countless times through history. Capitalistic nations always do better at creating personal wealth than socialistic ones. This is why the Berlin Wall was demolished by angry crowds, finally driven to do so by the failure of communism relative to capitalism just a stone’s throw away. The relative performance of Hong Kong compared with China when Mao Zedong was starving his masses on some sort of revolutionary whim, also showed how the same ethnicity performed under socialism compared with free markets. The relationship between fiat currency and its purchasing power One can see from the increase in the quantity of US dollar M3 currency and credit and the fall in the purchasing power measured against gold that the government’s monetary statistic does not square with the market. Part of the reason is that government statistics do not capture all the credit in an economy (only bank credit issued by licenced banks is recorded), dollars created outside the system such as Eurodollars are additional, and market prices fluctuate. Monetarists make little or no allowance for these factors, claiming that the purchasing power of a currency is inversely proportional to its quantity. While there is much truth in this statement, it is only suited for a proper gold-backed currency, when one community’s relative valuations between currency and goods are brought into line with the those of its neighbours through arbitrage, neutralising any subjectivity of valuation. The classical representation of the monetary theory of prices does not apply in conditions whereby faith in an unbacked currency is paramount in deciding its utility. A population which loses faith in its government’s currency can reject it entirely despite changes in its circulating quantity. This is what wipes out all fiat currencies eventually, ensuring that if a currency is to survive it must eventually return to a credible gold exchange standard. The weakness of a fiat currency was famously demonstrated in Europe in the 1920s when the Austrian crown and German paper mark were destroyed. Following the Second World War, the Japanese military yen suffered the same fate in Hong Kong, and Germany’s mark for a second time in the mid 1940s. More recently, the Zimbabwean dollar and Venezuelan bolivar have sunk to their value as wastepaper — and they are not the only ones. Ultimately it is the public which always determines the use value of a circulating medium. Figure 2 below, of the oil price measured in goldgrams, dollars, pounds, and euros shows that between 1950 and 1974 a gold standard even in the incomplete form that existed under the Bretton Woods Agreement coincided with price stability. It took just a few years from the ending of Bretton Woods for the consequences of the loss of a gold anchor to materialise. Until then, oil suppliers, principally Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, had faith in the dollar and other currencies. It was only when they realised the implications of being paid in pure fiat that they insisted on compensation for currency debasement. That they were free to raise oil prices was the condition upon which the Saudis and the rest of OPEC accepted payment solely in US dollars. In the post-war years between 1950 and 1970, US broad money grew by 167%, yet the dollar price of oil was unchanged for all that time. Similar price stability was shown in other commodities, clearly demonstrating that the quantity of currency and credit in circulation was not the sole determinant of the dollar’s purchasing power. The role of bank credit While the relationship between bank credit and the sum of the quantity of currency and bank reserves varies, the larger quantity by far is the quantity of bank credit. The behaviour of the banking cohort therefore has the largest impact on the overall quantity of credit in the economy. Under the British gold standard of the nineteenth century, the fluctuations in the willingness of banks to lend resulted in periodic booms and slumps, so it is worthwhile examining this phenomenon, which has become the excuse for state intervention in financial markets and ultimately the abandonment of gold standards entirely. Banks are dealers in credit, lending at a higher rate of interest than they pay to depositors. They do not deploy their own money, except in a general balance sheet sense. A bank’s own capital is the basis upon which a bank can expand its credit. The process of credit creation is widely misunderstood but is essentially simple. If a bank agrees to lend money to a borrowing customer, the loan appears as an asset on the bank’s balance sheet. Through the process of double entry bookkeeping, this loan must immediately have a balancing entry, crediting the borrower’s current account. The customer is informed that the loan is agreed, and he can draw down the funds credited to his current account from that moment. No other bank, nor any other source of funding is involved. With merely two ledger entries the bank’s balance sheet has expanded by the amount of the loan. For a banker, the ability to create bank credit in this way is, so long as the lending is prudent, an extremely profitable business. The amount of credit outstanding can be many multiples of the bank’s own capital. So, if a bank’s ratio of balance sheet assets to equity is eight times, and the gross margin between lending and deposits is 3%, then that becomes a gross return of 24% on the bank’s own equity. The restriction on a bank’s balance sheet leverage comes from two considerations. There is lending risk itself, which will vary with economic conditions, and depositor risk, which is the depositors’ collective faith in the bank’s financial condition. Depositor risk, which can lead to depositors withdrawing their credit in the bank in favour of currency or a deposit with another bank, can in turn originate from a bank offering an interest rate below that of other banks, or alternatively depositors concerned about the soundness of the bank itself. It is the combination of lending and depositor risk that determines a banker’s view on the maximum level of profits that can be safely earned by dealing in credit. An expansion in the quantity of credit in an economy stimulates economic activity because businesses are tricked into thinking that the extra money available is due to improved trading conditions. Furthermore, the apparent improvement in trading conditions encourages bankers to increase lending even further. A virtuous cycle of lending and apparent economic improvement gets under way as the banking cohort takes its average balance sheet assets to equity ratio from, say, five to eight times, to perhaps ten or twelve. Competition for credit business then persuades banks to cut their margins to attract new business customers. Customers end up borrowing for borrowing’s sake, initiating investment projects which would not normally be profitable. Even under a gold standard lending exuberance begins to drive up prices. Businesses find that their costs begin to rise, eating into their profits. Keeping a close eye on lending risk, bankers are acutely aware of deteriorating profit prospects for their borrowers and therefore of an increasing lending risk. They then try to reduce their asset to equity ratios. As a cohort whose members are driven by the same considerations, banks begin to withdraw credit from the economy, reversing the earlier stimulus and the economy enters a slump. This is a simplistic description of a regular cycle of fluctuating bank credit, which historically varied approximately every ten years or so, but could fluctuate between seven and twelve. Figure 3 illustrates how these fluctuations were reflected in the inflation rate in nineteenth century Britain following the introduction of the sovereign gold coin until just before the First World War. Besides illustrating the regularity of the consequences of a cycle of bank credit expansion and contraction marked by the inflationary consequences, Figure 3 shows there is no correlation between the rate of price inflation and wholesale borrowing costs. In other words, modern central bank monetary policies which use interest rates to control inflation are misconstrued. The effect was known and named Gibson’s paradox by Keynes. But because there was no explanation for it in Keynesian economics, it has been ignored ever since. Believing that Gibson’s paradox could be ignored is central to central bank policies aimed at taming the cycle of price inflation. The interests of central banks Notionally, central banks’ primary interest is to intervene in the economy to promote maximum employment consistent with moderate price inflation, targeted at 2% measured by the consumer price index. It is a policy aimed at stimulating the economy but not overstimulating it. We shall return to the fallacies involved in a moment. In the second half of the nineteenth century, central bank intervention started with the Bank of England assuming for itself the role of lender of last resort in the interests of ensuring economically destabilising bank crises were prevented. Intervention in the form of buying commercial bank credit stopped there, with no further interest rate manipulation or economic intervention. The last true slump in America was in 1920-21. As it had always done in the past the government ignored it in the sense that no intervention or economic stimulus were provided, and the recovery was rapid. It was following that slump that the problems started in the form of a new federal banking system led by Benjamin Strong who firmly believed in monetary stimulation. The Roaring Twenties followed on a sea of expanding credit, which led to a stock market boom — a financial bubble. But it was little more than an exaggerated cycle of bank credit expansion, which when it ended collapsed Wall Street with stock prices falling 89% measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Index. Coupled with the boom in agricultural production exaggerated by mechanisation, the depression that followed was particularly hard on the large agricultural sector, undermining agriculture prices worldwide until the Second World War. It is a fact ignored by inflationists that first President Herbert Hoover, and then Franklin Roosevelt extended the depression to the longest on record by trying to stop it. They supported prices, which meant products went unsold. And at the very beginning, by enacting the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act they collapsed not only domestic demand but all domestic production that relied on imported raw materials and semi-manufactured products. These disastrous policies were supported by a new breed of economist epitomised by Keynes, who believed that capitalism was flawed and required government intervention. But proto-Keynesian attempts to stimulate the American economy out of the depression continually failed. As late as 1940, eleven years after the Wall Street Crash, US unemployment was still as high as 15%. What the economists in the Keynesian camp ignored was the true cause of the Wall Street crash and the subsequent depression, rooted in the credit inflation which drove the Roaring Twenties. As we saw in Figure 3, it was no more than the turning of the long-established repeating cycle of bank credit, this time fuelled additionally by Benjamin Strong’s inflationary credit expansion as Chairman of the new Fed. The cause of the depression was not private enterprise, but government intervention. It is still misread by the establishment to this day, with universities pushing Keynesianism to the exclusion of classic economics and common sense. Additionally, the statistics which have become a religion for policymakers and everyone else are corrupted by state interests. Soon after wages and pensions were indexed in 1980, government statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics began working on how to reduce the impact on consumer prices. An independent estimate of US consumer inflation put it at well over 15% recently, when the official rate was 8%. Particularly egregious is the state’s insistence that a target of 2% inflation for consumer prices stimulates demand, when the transfer of wealth suffered by savers, the low paid and pensioners deprived of their inflation compensation at the hands of the BLS is glossed over. So is the benefit to the government, the banks, and their favoured borrowers from this wealth transfer. The problem we now face in this fiat money environment is not only that monetary policy has become corrupted by the state’s self-interest, but that no one in charge of it appears to understand money and credit. Technically, they may be very well qualified. But it is now over fifty years since money was suspended from the monetary system. Not only have policymakers ignored indicators such as Gibson’s paradox. Not only do they believe their own statistics. And not only do they think that debasing the currency is a good thing, but we find that monetary policy committees would have us believe that money has nothing to do with rising prices. All this is facilitated by presenting inflation as rising prices, when in fact it is declining purchasing power. Figure 4 shows how purchasing power of currencies should be read. Only now, it seems, we are aware that inflation of prices is not transient. Referring to Figure 1, the M3 broad money supply measure has almost tripled since Lehman failed, so there’s plenty of fuel driving a lower purchasing power for the dollar yet. And as discussed above, it is not just quantities of currency and credit we should be watching, but changes in consumer behaviour and whether consumers tend to dispose of currency liquidity in favour of goods. The indications are that this is likely to happen, accelerated by sanctions against Russia, and the threat that they will bring in a new currency era, undermining the dollar’s global status. Alerted to higher prices in the coming months, there is no doubt that there is an increased level of consumer stockpiling, which put another way is the disposal of personal liquidity before it buys less. So far, the phases of currency evolution have been marked by the end of the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971. The start of the petrodollar era in 1973 led to a second phase, the financialisation of the global economy. And finally, from now the return to a commodity standard brought about by sanctions against Russia is driving prices in the Western alliance’s currencies higher, which means their purchasing power is falling anew. The faux pas over Russia With respect to the evolution of money and credit, this brings us up to date with current events. Before Russia invaded Ukraine and the Western alliance imposed sanctions on Russia, we were already seeing prices soaring, fuelled by the expansion of currency and credit in recent years. Monetary planners blamed supply chain problems and covid dislocations, both of which they believed would right themselves over time. But the extent of these price rises had already exceeded their expectations, and the sanctions against Russia have made the situation even worse. While America might feel some comfort that the security of its energy supplies is unaffected, that is not the case for Europe. In recent years Europe has been closing its fossil fuel production and Germany’s zeal to go green has even extended to decommissioning nuclear plants. It seems that going fossil-free is only within national borders, increasing reliance on imported oil, gas, and coal. In Europe’s case, the largest source of these imports by far is Russia. Russia has responded by the Russian central bank announcing that it is prepared to buy gold from domestic credit institutions, first at a fixed price or 5,000 roubles per gramme, and then when the rouble unexpectedly strengthened at a price to be agreed on a case-by-case basis. The signal is clear: the Russian central bank understands that gold plays an important role in price stability. At the same time, the Kremlin announced that it would only sell oil and gas to unfriendly nations (i.e. those imposing sanctions) in return for payments in roubles. The latter announcement was targeted primarily at EU nations and amounts to an offer at reasonable prices in roubles, or for them to bid up for supplies in euros or dollars from elsewhere. While the price of oil shot up and has since retreated by a third, natural gas prices are still close to their all-time highs. Despite the northern hemisphere emerging from spring the cost of energy seems set to continue to rise. The effect on the Eurozone economies is little short of catastrophic. While the rouble has now recovered all the fall following the sanctions announcement, the euro is becoming a disaster. The ECB still has a negative deposit rate and enormous losses on its extensive bond portfolio from rapidly rising yields. The national central banks, which are its shareholders also have losses which in nearly all cases wipes out their equity (balance sheet equity being defined as the difference between a bank’s assets and its liabilities — a difference which should always be positive). Furthermore, these central banks as the NCB’s shareholders make a recapitalisation of the whole euro system a complex event, likely to question faith in the euro system. As if that was not enough, the large commercial banks are extremely highly leveraged, averaging over 20 times with Credit Agricole about 30 times. The whole system is riddled with bad and doubtful debts, many of which are concealed within the TARGET2 cross-border settlement system. We cannot believe any banking statistics. Unlike the US, Eurozone banks have used the repo markets as a source of zero cost liquidity, driving the market size to over €10 trillion. The sheer size of this market, plus the reliance on bond investment for a significant proportion of commercial bank assets means that an increase in interest rates into positive territory risks destabilising the whole system. The ECB is sitting on interest rates to stop them rising and stands ready to buy yet more members’ government bonds to stop yields rising even more. But even Germany, which is the most conservative of the member states, faces enormous price pressures, with producer prices of industrial products officially increasing by 25.9% in the year to March, 68% for energy, and 21% for intermediate goods. There can be no doubt that markets will apply increasing pressure for substantial rises in Eurozone bond yields, made significantly worse by US sanctions policies against Russia. As an importer of commodities and raw materials Japan is similarly afflicted. Both currencies are illustrated in Figure 5. The yen appears to be in the most immediate danger with its collapse accelerating in recent weeks, but as both the Bank of Japan and the ECB continue to resist rising bond yields, their currencies will suffer even more. The Bank of Japan has been indulging in quantitative easing since 2000 and has accumulated substantial quantities of government and corporate bonds and even equities in ETFs. Already, the BOJ is in negative equity due to falling bond prices. To prevent its balance sheet from deteriorating even further, it has drawn a line in the sand: the yield on the 10-year JGB will not be permitted to rise above 0.25%. With commodity and energy prices soaring, it appears to be only a matter of time before the BOJ is forced to give way, triggering a banking crisis in its highly leveraged commercial banking sector which like the Eurozone has asset to equity ratios exceeding 20 times. It would appear therefore that the emerging order of events with respect to currency crises is the yen collapses followed in short order by the euro. The shock to the US banking system must be obvious. That the US banks are considerably less geared than their Japanese and euro system counterparts will not save them from global systemic risk contamination. Furthermore, with its large holdings of US Treasuries and agency debt, current plans to run them off simply exposes the Fed to losses, which will almost certainly require its recapitalisation. The yield on the US 10-year Treasury Bond is soaring and given the consequences of sanctions on global commodity prices, it has much further to go. The end of the financial regime for currencies From London’s big bang in the mid-eighties, the major currencies, particularly the US dollar and sterling became increasingly financialised. It occurred at a time when production of consumer goods migrated to Asia, particularly China. The entire focus of bank lending and loan collateral moved towards financial assets and away from production. And as interest rates declined, in general terms these assets improved in value, offering greater security to lenders, and reinforcing the trend. This is now changing, with interest rates set to rise significantly, bursting a financial bubble which has been inflating for decades. While bond yields have started to rise, there is further for them to go, undermining not just the collateral position, but government finances as well. And further rises in bond yields will turn equity markets into bear markets, potentially rivalling the 1929-1932 performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Index. That being the case, the collapse already underway in the yen and the euro will begin to undermine the dollar, not on the foreign exchanges, but in terms of its purchasing power. We can be reasonably certain that the Fed’s mandate will give preference to supporting asset prices over stabilising the currency, until it is too late. China and Russia appear to be deliberately isolating themselves from this fate for their own currencies by increasing the importance of commodities. It was noticeable how China began to aggressively accumulate commodities, including grain stocks, almost immediately after the Fed cut its funds rate to zero and instituted QE at $120 billion per month in March 2020. This sent a signal that the Chinese leadership were and still are fully aware of the inflationary implications of US monetary policy. Today China has stockpiled well over half the world’s maize, rice, wheat and soybean stocks, securing basics foodstuffs for 20% of the world’s population. As a subsequent development, the war in Ukraine has ensured that global grain supplies this year will be short, and sanctions against Russia have effectively cut off her exports from the unfriendly nations. Together with fertiliser shortages for the same reasons, not only will the world’s crop yields fall below last year’s, but grain prices are sure to be bid up against the poorer nations. Russia has effectively tied the rouble to energy prices by insisting roubles are used for payment, principally by the EU. Russia’s other two large markets are China and India, from which she is accepting yuan and rupees respectively. Putting sales to India to one side, Russia is not only commoditising the rouble, but her largest trading partner not just for energy but for all her other commodity exports is China. And China is following similar monetary policies. There are good reasons for it. The Western alliance is undermining their own currencies, of that there can be no question. Financial asset values will collapse as interest rates rise. Contrastingly, not only is Russia’s trade surplus increasing, but the central bank has begun to ease interest rates and exchange controls and will continue to liberate her economy against a background of a strong currency. The era of the commodity backed currency is arriving to replace the financialised. And lastly, we should refer to Figure 2, of the price of oil in goldgrams. The link to commodity prices is gold. It is time to abandon financial assets for their supposed investment returns and take a stake in the new commoditised currencies. Gold is the link. Business of all sorts, not just mining enterprises which accumulate cash surpluses, would be well advised to question whether they should retain deposits in the banks, or alternatively, gain the protection of possessing some gold bullion vaulted independently from the banking system. Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 15:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

Twitter Board Adopts "Poison Pill" To Thwart Musk Takeover, Exposing Itself To "Titanic" Legal Liability

Twitter Board Adopts "Poison Pill" To Thwart Musk Takeover, Exposing Itself To "Titanic" Legal Liability As was widely expected and reported in the aftermath of Elon Musk going hostile on Friday morning, on Saturday morning Twitter adopted a measure that will shield it from hostile acquisition bids in a desperate step to prevent billionaire Elon Musk’s offer to take the company private and make it a bastion of free speech. The board set up a shareholder rights plan, also known as a "poison pill" which as we clarified yesterday for the benefit of the company's overly dramatic, overly literal and overly snowflake employees, is not literal... Uhm, someone should probably advise employees "poison pill" is not literal... — zerohedge (@zerohedge) April 14, 2022 ... and which is exercisable if a party - read Elon Musk - acquires 15% of the stock without prior approval, lasting for one year (if the pill had expired the day after the midterms it may have been a bit too obvious). The plan seeks to ensure that anyone taking control of Twitter through open market accumulation pays all shareholders an appropriate control premium, according to a statement Friday. For a company that has struggled greatly with value creation - on Friday TWTR stock closed at $45.08, or 18 cents higher than where it closed on its first day as a public company, or $44.90 - a poison pill defense strategy allows existing shareholders the right to purchase additional shares at a discount, effectively diluting the ownership interest of the hostile party. Poison pills are common among companies under fire from activist investors or in hostile takeover situations. Under Twitter’s plan, each right will entitle its holder to purchase, at the then-current exercise price, additional shares of common stock having a then-current market value of twice the exercise price of the right. Twitter enacted the plan to buy time, Bloomberg reported citing a person familiar with the matter, although it wasn't clear time for what: at $54.20, Musk's offer represents a premium to the historical TWTR price since IPO on 92% of the time. And since the board is about to get bombarded with a barrage of lawsuits claiming it violated its fiduciary duty, the board also said it wants to be able to analyze and negotiate any deal, and may still accept it (spoiler alert: it won't). Twitter’s board met Thursday to review Musk’s proposal - which according to the world's richest man was his “best and final” offer and who had already accrued a stake of more than 9% in Twitter since earlier this year - to determine if it was in the best interest of the company and all of its shareholders. Included in Musk’s securities filing disclosing the bid Thursday morning was a script of text he sent to the company. In it he said, “it’s a high price and your shareholders will love it.” Hilariously, one prominent - and former - investor said the offer was too low and the market reaction appeared to agree. Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said the deal doesn’t “come close to the intrinsic value” of the popular social media platform. Which is, well, hilarious since as we showed yesterday, it appears the Prince no longer has direct ownership of even one share of Twitter stock. Speaking later Thursday at a TED conference, Musk said he wasn’t sure he “will actually be able to acquire it.” He added that his intent was to also retain “as many shareholders as is allowed by the law,” rather than keeping sole ownership of the company himself. After initially surging, Twitter shares dropped 1.7% in New York on Thursday, reflecting the market’s view that the deal is likely to be rejected or to fall through. Musk first disclosed his Twitter stake on April 4, making him the largest individual investor. At the TED conference, he indicated that he has a Plan B if Twitter’s board rejects his offer. He declined to elaborate. But in his filing earlier in the day, he said he would rethink his investment if the bid failed. “If the deal doesn’t work, given that I don’t have confidence in management nor do I believe I can drive the necessary change in the public market, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” said Musk. * * * Previewing the poison pilll defense, on Thursday, Cameron Winklevoss, founder of the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, tweeted (of course) that “Twitter is considering a poison pill to thwart @elonmusk’s offer." In response, Musk said that a “poison pill” move would be a "breach" of the board's fiduciary duty and could expose Twitter’s board to “titanic” legal liability. If the current Twitter board takes actions contrary to shareholder interests, they would be breaching their fiduciary duty. The liability they would thereby assume would be titanic in scale. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 14, 2022 Winklevoss alleged in his tweet that, by adopting the poison pill tactic, Twitter was demonstrating its commitment to preserving the status quo even if it has a negative impact on existing shareholders. “They would rather self-immolate than give up their censorship programs. This shows you how deeply committed they are to Orwellian control of the narratives and global discourse. Scary,” he wrote. Twitter has repeatedly suppressed and "shadowbanned" conservative viewpoints, allegations the company has repeatedly denied. Adam Candeub, a law professor at Michigan State University, said that Twitter’s board could face legal consequences if they turn down an offer that’s financially lucrative to shareholders. “Twitter’s owned by shareholders, and the directors have to act in a way that’s in their best interests, not in the way that allows them to keep control of the corporation,” Candeub told The Epoch Times. “If they turn down a very favorable price, there will be dereliction of their legal duty, and there could be lots of legal consequences.” * * * Now that his original plan has been thwarted, Musk has said that he has a "Plan B" in stock for the company although he did not disclose what it is. As Mark Cuban pointed out yesterday... Want to see the whole world lose their shit ? Get Peter Thiel to partner with Elon and raise the bid for Twitter — Mark Cuban (@mcuban) April 14, 2022 ... one possible response is for Elon to be joined by one or more like-minded, anti-censorship investors such as Peter Thiel who either build up stakes through the poison pill limit in the process making a management and board replacement by proxy vote the simple outcome, or they just raise the takeover price to a level that even the woke Twitter board can not reject. In the end, however, the only question is how dedicated is Musk to control Twitter, because if he really wants it, he will get it. Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 13:21.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

Elon Musk takes a swipe at Mark Zuckerberg"s ironclad control of Meta, says it"s set up so even "Mark Zuckerberg the 14th" will be in charge of Facebook and Instagram

When asked whether his role as richest man on Earth could pose a conflict of interest to his Twitter buy, Musk said he wouldn't be like Zuckerberg. Elon Musk disses Mark ZuckerbergAssociated Press Elon Musk compared Mark Zuckerberg's role at Meta to that of a monarch. The Facebook founder owns the majority of Meta's voting shares. The Tesla CEO said that if he owned Twitter he would avoid a similar stronghold. Elon Musk dissed Mark Zuckerberg's lasting control over Meta during an interview on Thursday.Musk was asked about his recent offer to buy Twitter during an interview at the TED conference in Vancouver. The interviewer, Chris Anderson, asked Musk whether his status as the richest man in the world and one of the platform's top influencers could pose a conflict of interest.Musk took the opportunity to take a swipe at Zuckerberg and even appeared to compare the Facebook founder to King Louis XIV. "As for media sort of ownership, I mean, you've got Mark Zuckerberg owning Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp, and with a share ownership structure that will have Mark Zuckerberg the 14th still controlling those entities," Musk said. "Like literally," Musk added amid laughter from the audience. "We won't have that at Twitter."The Tesla CEO was referencing Zuckerberg's stronghold on Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The Facebook founder holds 55% of the company's voting shares — meaning Zuckerberg essentially has complete veto power over other shareholders when it comes to the company's future. The company has a dual-class stock structure that provides Zuckerberg, select executive managers and directors with supervoting power inasmuch as one of their shares is equivalent to 10 votes, while other shareholders are limited to one vote per share.A Meta spokesperson didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Tesla doesn't have a dual-class share structure, but Musk still enjoys considerable influence. Musk is the electric carmaker's largest individual shareholder with a 17% stake. While Musk doesn't have the same level of control of the company as Zuckerberg does with Meta, Tesla does have supermajority voting rules that require the approval of two-thirds of shares to pass major changes, providing Musk a level of veto power.If he were to successfully buy Twitter, Musk said that he would structure the company in a way that would avoid any perception of a conflict of interest, including making the platform's code publicly accessible."I wouldn't personally be in their editing tweets." Musk said. "But, you'll know if something was done to, to promote demo or otherwise affect a tweet."Musk said his offer to buy Twitter is "not a way to make money," but a bid to protect freedom of speech. The Tesla CEO also appeared to diss Meta's handling of moderation efforts. The social media company has faced pressure from both sides on its handling of COVID-19 misinformation, as well as the Capitol siege. Musk appears to believe in erring on the side of allowing the dissemination of information so long as it is legal in the countries the platform operates in."I'm not saying that I have all the answers here, but I do think that we want to be just very reluctant to delete things," Musk said. "And just be very cautious with permanent bans. Timeouts, I think, are better than permanent bans."Musk and Zuckerberg have a longstanding feud. In 2016, Zuckerberg issued a public statement saying he was "deeply disappointed" in SpaceX after one of the company's rockets destroyed a Facebook satellite. Musk has said Facebook gives him "the willies." Most recently, Musk criticized Facebook for how it handled the siege on the Capitol in 2021. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 15th, 2022