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Report: Microsoft salary data leaked for over 1,200 employees in email thread alleging discrimination

The emails are said to contain claims from dozens of women about being ignored during meetings or not invited to them, men taking credit for ideas and a perceived lack of interest from human resources departments......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsOct 13th, 2021

Report: Microsoft salary data leaked in email thread alleging discrimination

The emails are said to contain claims from dozens of women about being ignored during meetings or not invited to them, men taking credit for ideas and a perceived lack of interest from human resources departments......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsOct 15th, 2021

Apple reportedly just fired another employee who brought attention to issues at the company

Amid ongoing internal strife among Apple employees, Apple is said to have fired one of the organizers of an internal worker movement. Apple CEO Tim Cook. Yves Herman/Reuters Apple just fired a staffer who helped organize employees at the company, The Verge reported. Janneke Parrish was an Apple Maps program manager who helped create the #AppleToo worker movement. Apple recently fired another staffer who complained of intimidation. Apple said she leaked confidential information. Apple has reportedly fired an Apple Maps program manager who was one of the organizers of an internal worker movement, according to a report from The Verge.Janneke Parrish was part of the group of Apple staff who created the #AppleToo website, which enabled staff across the company to report personal stories that could "help expose persistent patterns of racism, sexism, inequity, discrimination, intimidation, suppression, coercion, abuse, unfair punishment, and unchecked privilege." According to The Verge, Parrish was fired "for deleting files off of her work devices during an internal investigation." The files in question are said to be apps, and only three are named: Robinhood, Google Drive, and Pokemon Go. Parrish is the second employee in recent months tied to ongoing reports of internal strife at the notoriously secretive smartphone maker who has been let go. In mid-September, Ashley Gjøvik was fired for what Apple said was a failure to comply with an investigatory process, Gizmodo recently reported. The investigation, according to the report, was into a series of photos she had shared on social media which contained Apple's "Intellectual Property." The photos are said to contain selfies of Gjøvik taken by Apple's internal security app, Glimmer, and a series of emails containing publicly available information. Apple didn't respond to a request for comment as of publishing. Through her lawyer, Parrish confirmed she is no longer employed at Apple but declined further comment.Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

Ransomware Attacks Spur Concern Among Cannabis Companies

Imagine logging on to your business’ computer systems, only to find your most critical information and tools locked and inaccessible. A message demands a ransom, often to be paid in cryptocurrency, or the data will be locked forever or even possibly leaked online. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Ransomware attacks have spiked […] Imagine logging on to your business’ computer systems, only to find your most critical information and tools locked and inaccessible. A message demands a ransom, often to be paid in cryptocurrency, or the data will be locked forever or even possibly leaked online. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Ransomware attacks have spiked since the start of the pandemic, increasing 150% over 2019, part of a larger international trend going back ten years. This trend has caught many businesses off-guard and unprepared, opening them up to lost data, interrupted operations, and high financial expense. I chatted with cannabis executives from Regrow and Confia to discuss the risk posed by ransomware and the steps businesses need to take to be protected. What Is Ransomware? Ransomware is a type of malicious computer software that blocks access to computer systems and data until a ransom is paid. Sometimes, ransomware threatens to publish sensitive data online as well. Basic ransomware simply blocks a user from accessing their computer and can be reversed by someone with the skill to do it. More advanced software encrypts the computer’s data, more effectively locking the computer. Payment of the ransom is typically made using cryptocurrency, so it is untraceable. Why Are Cannabis Companies Especially At Risk? As an emerging industry, some cannabis companies may believe that they are too small to be a target. Others simply don’t understand the extraordinary risk involved. You don’t need to be a large company to be targeted by ransomware. It is estimated that between 50 and 75 percent of all ransomware attacks are on small businesses simply because they are the least protected and the least prepared. According to a report from MJBiz Daily, 41% of cannabis businesses aren’t taking the necessary steps to protect themselves online. This lack of security makes it easier for ransomware attacks, even passive ones, to take hold of your systems. For cannabis businesses, many of which are startups, larger concerns like compliance are often prioritized over cybersecurity, leading to vulnerability. The Fallout From Ransomware Attacks The financial cost to your business from a ransomware attack can be significant. The average ransom demand in 2020 was over $300,000. The ransom paid or tech services hired to end a ransomware attack is just one the impacts your business might feel. If you are a retail business, stolen consumer information that is leaked online can damage your reputation and sow distrust among your customers. The same is true of employee personal information. Your employees trust you to keep their information safe. Failure to do so can erode their faith in your company. Cultivators hit by ransomware can also experience secondary effects. Many cannabis cultivators rely on automated systems and data analysis when running their operations. Removing access to a cultivator’s systems can derail current operations and halt attempts to restart. How Can I Keep My Business Safe? A good first step in cybersecurity is antivirus software equipped for the latest online threats. However, strong antivirus protection is just the beginning when defending against ransomware attacks. “To protect themselves and their customers before they get hit, cannabis organizations are going to need to adopt the same security procedures and protocols that those big Fortune 500 companies are employing,” says Rob Woodbyrne, CEO of Regrow, creators of dynamic operations software for the cannabis industry . “This would include implementing mobile workforce management systems to ensure that anyone interacting with company data, like email, files, etc., has adequate protection on their devices as defined by the business.” Training employees in best cybersecurity practices can help identify phishing attempts before they become big problems. “The primary attack vector for ransomware is email. Having proper email/spam filtering, as well as end user awareness through repeated training, will help mitigate potential threats,” Woodbyrne adds. A VPN (virtual private network) for remote workers ensures that your confidential information is secure at all times, even when conditions aren’t ideal. Adding a layer of security to your data, a VPN encrypts your data when both sent and received, making it harder to access. “But the ultimate way to safeguard against potential ransomware and security breaches is by housing data in cloud based services that have passed stringent certifications like ISO 27001 and ISO 27017, as well as built-in email, integration, and database encryptions. Regrow maintains every regulatory and industry compliance Information Security Management certification for all its data centers,” says Woodbyrne. Additionally, it’s critical to work with trusted partners that also take important measures to secure data. “Cannabis companies need to give great consideration to who they procure for software and banking providers,” says Mark Lozzi, CEO of Confia, which offers comprehensive financial systems to cannabis retailers. “The richest data is in banking/POS systems, where consumer and Personal Identifiable Information (PII) resides. Ransomware outfits look to capitalize on fiat or digital assets or marketable information - like PII. So when assessing your software and service providers, you need to ensure they have adequate security audits completed, as well as proof of penetration testing,” continues Lozzi. Ransomware can cost a business thousands of dollars and cripple operations, making it a frightening proposition for any company. Even as ransomware attacks surge, you can keep your business safe from online threats by taking steps to secure it internally, while also carefully choosing external partners that hold cybersecurity as a top priority. Updated on Oct 8, 2021, 12:43 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 8th, 2021

Camber Energy: What If They Made a Whole Company Out of Red Flags? – Kerrisdale

Kerrisdale Capital is short shares of Camber Energy Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:CEI). Camber is a defunct oil producer that has failed to file financial statements with the SEC since September 2020, is in danger of having its stock delisted next month, and just fired its accounting firm in September. Its only real asset is a 73% stake […] Kerrisdale Capital is short shares of Camber Energy Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:CEI). Camber is a defunct oil producer that has failed to file financial statements with the SEC since September 2020, is in danger of having its stock delisted next month, and just fired its accounting firm in September. Its only real asset is a 73% stake in Viking Energy Group Inc (OTCMKTS:VKIN), an OTC-traded company with negative book value and a going-concern warning that recently violated the maximum-leverage covenant on one of its loans. (For a time, it also had a fake CFO – long story.) Nonetheless, Camber’s stock price has increased by 6x over the past month; last week, astonishingly, an average of $1.9 billion worth of Camber shares changed hands every day. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Is there any logic to this bizarre frenzy? Camber pumpers have seized upon the notion that the company is now a play on carbon capture and clean energy, citing a license agreement recently entered into by Viking. But the “ESG Clean Energy” technology license is a joke. Not only is it tiny relative to Camber’s market cap (costing only $5 million and granting exclusivity only in Canada), but it has embroiled Camber in the long-running escapades of a western Massachusetts family that once claimed to have created a revolutionary new combustion engine, only to wind up being penalized by the SEC for raising $80 million in unregistered securities offerings, often to unaccredited investors, and spending much of it on themselves. But the most fascinating part of the CEI boondoggle actually has to do with something far more basic: how many shares are there, and why has dilution been spiraling out of control? We believe the market is badly mistaken about Camber’s share count and ignorant of its terrifying capital structure. In fact, we estimate its fully diluted share count is roughly triple the widely reported number, bringing its true, fully diluted market cap, absurdly, to nearly $900 million. Since Camber is delinquent on its financials, investors have failed to fully appreciate the impact of its ongoing issuance of an unusual, highly dilutive class of convertible preferred stock. As a result of this “death spiral” preferred, Camber has already seen its share count increase 50- million-fold from early 2016 to July 2021 – and we believe it isn’t over yet, as preferred holders can and will continue to convert their securities and sell the resulting common shares. Even at the much lower valuation that investors incorrectly think Camber trades for, it’s still overvalued. The core Viking assets are low-quality and dangerously levered, while any near- term benefits from higher commodity prices will be muted by hedges established in 2020. The recent clean-energy license is nearly worthless. It’s ridiculous to have to say this, but Camber isn’t worth $900 million. If it looks like a penny stock, and it acts like a penny stock, it is a penny stock. Camber has been a penny stock before – no more than a month ago, in fact – and we expect that it will be once again. Company Background Founded in 2004, Camber was originally called Lucas Energy Resources. It went public via a reverse merger in 2006 with the plan of “capitaliz[ing] on the increasing availability of opportunistic acquisitions in the energy sector.”1 But after years of bad investments and a nearly 100% decline in its stock price, the company, which renamed itself Camber in 2017, found itself with little economic value left; faced with the prospect of losing its NYSE American listing, it cast about for new acquisitions beginning in early 2019. That’s when Viking entered the picture. Jim Miller, a member of Camber’s board, had served on the board of a micro-cap company called Guardian 8 that was working on “a proprietary new class of enhanced non-lethal weapons”; Guardian 8’s CEO, Steve Cochennet, happened to also be part owner of a Kansas-based company that operated some of Viking’s oil and gas assets and knew that Viking, whose shares traded over the counter, was interested in moving up to a national exchange.2 (In case you’re wondering, under Miller and Cochennet’s watch, Guardian 8’s stock saw its price drop to ~$0; it was delisted in 2019.3) Viking itself also had a checkered past. Previously a shell company, it was repurposed by a corporate lawyer and investment banker named Tom Simeo to create SinoCubate, “an incubator of and investor in privately held companies mainly in P.R. China.” But this business model went nowhere. In 2012, SinoCubate changed its name to Viking Investments but continued to achieve little. In 2014, Simeo brought in James A. Doris, a Canadian lawyer, as a member of the board of directors and then as president and CEO, tasked with executing on Viking’s new strategy of “acquir[ing] income-producing assets throughout North America in various sectors, including energy and real estate.” In a series of transactions, Doris gradually built up a portfolio of oil wells and other energy assets in the United States, relying on large amounts of high-cost debt to get deals done. But Viking has never achieved consistent GAAP profitability; indeed, under Doris’s leadership, from 2015 to the first half of 2021, Viking’s cumulative net income has totaled negative $105 million, and its financial statements warn of “substantial doubt regarding the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”4 At first, despite the Guardian 8 crew’s match-making, Camber showed little interest in Viking and pursued another acquisition instead. But, when that deal fell apart, Camber re-engaged with Viking and, in February 2020, announced an all-stock acquisition – effectively a reverse merger in which Viking would end up as the surviving company but transfer some value to incumbent Camber shareholders in exchange for the national listing. For reasons that remain somewhat unclear, this original deal structure was beset with delays, and in December 2020 (after months of insisting that deal closing was just around the corner) Camber announced that it would instead directly purchase a 51% stake in Viking; at the same time, Doris, Viking’s CEO, officially took over Camber as well. Subsequent transactions through July 2021 have brough Camber’s Viking stake up to 69.9 million shares (73% of Viking’s total common shares), in exchange for consideration in the form of a mixture of cash, debt forgiveness,5 and debt assumption, valued in the aggregate by Viking at only $50.7 million: Camber and Viking announced a new merger agreement in February 2021, aiming to take out the remaining Viking shares not owned by Camber and thus fully combine the two companies, but that plan is on hold because Camber has failed to file its last 10-K (as well as two subsequent 10-Qs) and is thus in danger of being delisted unless it catches up by November. Today, then, Camber’s absurd equity valuation rests entirely on its majority stake in a small, unprofitable oil-and-gas roll-up cobbled together by a Canadian lawyer. An Opaque Capital Structure Has Concealed the True Insanity of Camber’s Valuation What actually is Camber’s equity valuation? It sounds like a simple question, and sources like Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance supply what looks like a simple answer: 104.2 million shares outstanding times a $3.09 closing price (as of October 4, 2021) equals a market cap of $322 million – absurd enough, given what Camber owns. But these figures only tell part of the story. We estimate that the correct fully diluted market cap is actually a staggering $882 million, including the impact of both Camber’s unusual, highly dilutive Series C convertible preferred stock and its convertible debt. Because Camber is delinquent on its SEC filings, it’s difficult to assemble an up-to-date picture of its balance sheet and capital structure. The widely used 104.2-million-share figure comes from an 8-K filed in July that states, in part: As of July 9, 2021, the Company had 104,195,295 shares of common stock issued and outstanding. The increase in our outstanding shares of common stock from the date of the Company’s February 23, 2021 increase in authorized shares of common stock (from 25 million shares to 250 million shares), is primarily due to conversions of shares of Series C Preferred Stock of the Company into common stock, and conversion premiums due thereon, which are payable in shares of common stock. This bland language belies the stunning magnitude of the dilution that has already taken place. Indeed, we estimate that, of the 104.2 million common shares outstanding on July 9th, 99.7% were created via the conversion of Series C preferred in the past few years – and there’s more where that came from. The terms of Camber’s preferreds are complex but boil down to the following: they accrue non- cash dividends at the sky-high rate of 24.95% per year for a notional seven years but can be converted into common shares at any time. The face value of the preferred shares converts into common shares at a fixed conversion price of $162.50 per share, far higher than the current trading price – so far, so good (from a Camber-shareholder perspective). The problem is the additional “conversion premium,” which is equal to the full seven years’ worth of dividends, or 7 x 24.95% ≈ 175% of face value, all at once, and is converted at a far lower conversion price that “will never be above approximately $0.3985 per share…regardless of the actual trading price of Camber’s common stock” (but could in principle go lower if the price crashes to new lows).6 The upshot of all this is that one share of Series C preferred is now convertible into ~43,885 shares of common stock.7 Historically, all of Camber’s Series C preferred was held by one investor: Discover Growth Fund. The terms of the preferred agreement cap Discover’s ownership of Camber’s common shares at 9.99% of the total, but nothing stops Discover from converting preferred into common up to that cap, selling off the resulting shares, converting additional preferred shares into common up to the cap, selling those common shares, etc., as Camber has stated explicitly (and as Discover has in fact done over the years) (emphasis added): Although Discover may not receive shares of common stock exceeding 9.99% of its outstanding shares of common stock immediately after affecting such conversion, this restriction does not prevent Discover from receiving shares up to the 9.99% limit, selling those shares, and then receiving the rest of the shares it is due, in one or more tranches, while still staying below the 9.99% limit. If Discover chooses to do this, it will cause substantial dilution to the then holders of its common stock. Additionally, the continued sale of shares issuable upon successive conversions will likely create significant downward pressure on the price of its common stock as Discover sells material amounts of Camber’s common stock over time and/or in a short period of time. This could place further downward pressure on the price of its common stock and in turn result in Discover receiving an ever increasing number of additional shares of common stock upon conversion of its securities, and adjustments thereof, which in turn will likely lead to further dilution, reductions in the exercise/conversion price of Discover’s securities and even more downward pressure on its common stock, which could lead to its common stock becoming devalued or worthless.8 In 2017, soon after Discover began to convert some of its first preferred shares, Camber’s then- management claimed to be shocked by the results and sued Discover for fraud, arguing that “[t]he catastrophic effect of the Discover Documents [i.e. the terms of the preferred] is so devastating that the Discover Documents are prima facie unconscionable” because “they will permit Discover to strip Camber of its value and business well beyond the simple repayment of its debt.” Camber called the documents “extremely difficult to understand” and insisted that they “were drafted in such a way as to obscure the true terms of such documents and the total number of shares of common stock that could be issuable by Camber thereunder. … Only after signing the documents did Camber and [its then CEO]…learn that Discover’s reading of the Discover Documents was that the terms that applied were the strictest and most Camber unfriendly interpretation possible.”9 But the judge wasn’t impressed, suggesting that it was Camber’s own fault for failing to read the fine print, and the case was dismissed. With no better options, Camber then repeatedly came crawling back to Discover for additional tranches of funding via preferred sales. While the recent spike in common share count to 104.2 million as of early July includes some of the impact of ongoing preferred conversion, we believe it fails to include all of it. In addition to Discover’s 2,093 shares of Series C preferred held as of February 2021, Camber issued additional shares to EMC Capital Partners, a creditor of Viking’s, as part of a January agreement to reduce Viking’s debt.10 Then, in July, Camber issued another block of preferred shares – also to Discover, we believe – to help fund Viking’s recent deals.11 We speculate that many of these preferred shares have already been converted into common shares that have subsequently been sold into a frenzied retail bid. Beyond the Series C preferred, there is one additional source of potential dilution: debt issued to Discover in three transactions from December 2020 to April 2021, totaling $20.5 million in face value, and amended in July to be convertible at a fixed price of $1.25 per share.12 We summarize our estimates of all of these sources of potential common share issuance below: Might we be wrong about this math? Absolutely – the mechanics of the Series C preferreds are so convoluted that prior Camber management sued Discover complaining that the legal documents governing them “were drafted in such a way as to obscure the true terms of such documents and the total number of shares of common stock that could be issuable by Camber thereunder.” Camber management could easily set the record straight by revealing the most up- to-date share count via an SEC filing, along with any additional clarifications about the expected future share count upon conversion of all outstanding convertible securities. But we're confident that the current share count reported in financial databases like Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance significantly understates the true, fully diluted figure. An additional indication that Camber expects massive future dilution relates to the total authorized shares of common stock under its official articles of incorporation. It was only a few months ago, in February, that Camber had to hold a special shareholder meeting to increase its maximum authorized share count from 25 million to 250 million in order to accommodate all the shares to be issued because of preferred conversions. But under Camber’s July agreement to sell additional preferred shares to Discover, the company (emphasis added) agreed to include proposals relating to the approval of the July 2021 Purchase Agreement and the issuance of the shares of common stock upon conversion of the Series C Preferred Stock sold pursuant to the July 2021 Purchase Agreement, as well as an increase in authorized common stock to fulfill our obligations to issue such shares, at the Company’s next Annual Meeting, the meeting held to approve the Merger or a separate meeting in the event the Merger is terminated prior to shareholder approval, and to use commercially reasonable best efforts to obtain such approvals as soon as possible and in any event prior to January 1, 2022.13 In other words, Camber can already see that 250 million shares will soon not be enough, consistent with our estimate of ~285 million fully diluted shares above. In sum, Camber’s true overvaluation is dramatically worse than it initially appears because of the massive number of common shares that its preferred and other securities can convert into, leading to a fully diluted share count that is nearly triple the figure found in standard information sources used by investors. This enormous latent dilution, impossible to discern without combing through numerous scattered filings made by a company with no up-to-date financial statements in the public domain, means that the market is – perhaps out of ignorance – attributing close to one billion dollars of value to a very weak business. Camber’s Stake in Viking Has Little Real Value In light of Camber’s gargantuan valuation, it’s worth dwelling on some basic facts about its sole meaningful asset, a 73% stake in Viking Energy. As of 6/30/21: Viking had negative $15 million in shareholder equity/book Its financial statements noted “substantial doubt regarding the Company’s ability to continue as a going ” Of its $101.3 million in outstanding debt (at face value), nearly half (48%) was scheduled to mature and come due over the following 12 months. Viking noted that it “does not currently maintain controls and procedures that are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by the Company in the reports it files or submits under the Exchange Act are recorded, processed, summarized, and reported within the time periods specified by the Commission’s rules and forms.” Viking’s CEO “has concluded that these [disclosure] controls and procedures are not effective in providing reasonable assurance of compliance.” Viking disclosed that a key subsidiary, Elysium Energy, was “in default of the maximum leverage ratio covenant under the term loan agreement at June 30, 2021”; this covenant caps the entity’s total secured debt to EBITDA at 75 to 1.14 This is hardly a healthy operation. Indeed, even according to Viking’s own black-box estimates, the present value of its total proved reserves of oil and gas, using a 10% discount rate (likely generous given the company’s high debt costs), was $120 million as of 12/31/20,15 while its outstanding debt, as stated above, is $101 million – perhaps implying a sliver of residual economic value to equity holders, but not much. And while some market observers have recently gotten excited about how increases in commodity prices could benefit Camber/Viking, any near-term impact will be blunted by hedges put on by Viking in early 2020, which cover, with respect to its Elysium properties, “60% of the estimated production for 2021 and 50% of the estimated production for the period between January, 2022 to July, 2022. Theses hedges have a floor of $45 and a ceiling ranging from $52.70 to $56.00 for oil, and a floor of $2.00 and a ceiling of $2.425 for natural gas” – cutting into the benefit of any price spikes above those ceiling levels.16 Sharing our dreary view of Viking’s prospects is one of Viking’s own financial advisors, a firm called Scalar, LLC, that Viking hired to prepare a fairness opinion under the original all-stock merger agreement with Camber. Combining Viking’s own internal projections with data on comparable-company valuation multiples, Scalar concluded in October 2020 that Viking’s equity was worth somewhere between $0 and $20 million, depending on the methodology used, with the “purest” methodology – a true, full-blown DCF – yielding the lowest estimate of $0-1 million: Camber’s advisor, Mercer Capital, came to a similar conclusion: its “analysis indicated an implied equity value of Viking of $0 to $34.3 million.”17 It’s inconceivable that a majority stake in this company, deemed potentially worthless by multiple experts and clearly experiencing financial strains, could somehow justify a near-billion-dollar valuation. Instead of dwelling on the unpleasant realities of Viking’s oil and gas business, Camber has drawn investor attention to two recent transactions conducted by Viking with Camber funding: a license agreement with “ESG Clean Energy,” discussed in further detail below, and the acquisition of a 60.3% stake in Simson-Maxwell, described as “a leading manufacturer and supplier of industrial engines, power generation products, services and custom energy solutions.” But Viking paid just $8 million for its Simson-Maxwell shares,18 and the company has just 125 employees; it defies belief to think that this purchase was such a bargain as to make a material dent in Camber’s overvaluation. And what does Simson-Maxwell actually do? One of its key officers, Daryl Kruper (identified as its chairman in Camber’s press release), describes the company a bit less grandly and more concretely on his LinkedIn page: Simson Maxwell is a power systems specialist. The company assembles and sells generator sets, industrial engines, power control systems and switchgear. Simson Maxwell has service and parts facilities in Edmonton, Calgary, Prince George, Vancouver, Nanaimo and Terrace. The company has provided its western Canadian customers with exceptional service for over 70 years. In other words, Simson-Maxwell acts as a sort of distributor/consultant, packaging industrial- strength generators and engines manufactured by companies like GE and Mitsubishi into systems that can provide electrical power, often in remote areas in western Canada; Simson- Maxwell employees then drive around in vans maintaining and repairing these systems. There’s nothing obviously wrong with this business, but it’s small, regional (not just Canada – western Canada specifically), likely driven by an unpredictable flow of new large projects, and unlikely to garner a high standalone valuation. Indeed, buried in one of Viking’s agreements with Simson- Maxwell’s selling shareholders (see p. 23) are clauses giving Viking the right to purchase the rest of the company between July 2024 and July 2026 at a price of at least 8x trailing EBITDA and giving the selling shareholders the right to sell the rest of their shares during the same time frame at a price of at least 7x trailing EBITDA – the kind of multiples associated with sleepy industrial distributors, not fast-growing retail darlings. Since Simon-Maxwell has nothing to do with Viking’s pre-existing assets or (alleged) expertise in oil and gas, and Viking and Camber are hardly flush with cash, why did they make the purchase? We speculate that management is concerned about the combined company’s ability to maintain its listing on the NYSE American. For example, when describing its restruck merger agreement with Viking, Camber noted: Additional closing conditions to the Merger include that in the event the NYSE American determines that the Merger constitutes, or will constitute, a “back-door listing”/“reverse merger”, Camber (and its common stock) is required to qualify for initial listing on the NYSE American, pursuant to the applicable guidance and requirements of the NYSE as of the Effective Time. What does it take to qualify for initial listing on the NYSE American? There are several ways, but three require at least $4 million of positive stockholders’ equity, which Viking, the intended surviving company, doesn’t have today; another requires a market cap of greater than $75 million, which management might (quite reasonably) be concerned about achieving sustainably. That leaves a standard that requires a listed company to have $75 million in assets and revenue. With Viking running at only ~$40 million of annualized revenue, we believe management is attempting to buy up more via acquisition. In fact, if the goal is simply to “buy” GAAP revenue, the most efficient way to do it is by acquiring a stake in a low-margin, slow- growing business – little earnings power, hence a low purchase price, but plenty of revenue. And by buying a majority stake instead of the whole thing, the acquirer can further reduce the capital outlay while still being able to consolidate all of the operation’s revenue under GAAP accounting. Buying 60.3% of Simson-Maxwell seems to fit the bill, but it’s a placeholder, not a real value-creator. Camber’s Partners in the Laughable “ESG Clean Energy” Deal Have a Long History of Broken Promises and Alleged Securities Fraud The “catalyst” most commonly cited by Camber Energy bulls for the recent massive increase in the company’s stock price is an August 24th press release, “Camber Energy Secures Exclusive IP License for Patented Carbon-Capture System,” announcing that the company, via Viking, “entered into an Exclusive Intellectual Property License Agreement with ESG Clean Energy, LLC (‘ESG’) regarding ESG’s patent rights and know-how related to stationary electric power generation, including methods to utilize heat and capture carbon dioxide.” Our research suggests that the “intellectual property” in question amounts to very little: in essence, the concept of collecting the exhaust gases emitted by a natural-gas–fueled electric generator, cooling it down to distill out the water vapor, and isolating the remaining carbon dioxide. But what happens to the carbon dioxide then? The clearest answer ESG Clean Energy has given is that it “can be sold to…cannabis producers”19 to help their plants grow faster, though the vast majority of the carbon dioxide would still end up escaping into the atmosphere over time, and additional greenhouse gases would be generated in compressing and shipping this carbon dioxide to the cannabis producers, likely leading to a net worsening of carbon emissions.20 And what is Viking – which primarily extracts oil and gas from the ground, as opposed to running generators and selling electrical power – supposed to do with this technology anyway? The idea seems to be that the newly acquired Simson-Maxwell business will attempt to sell the “technology” as a value-add to customers who are buying generators in western Canada. Indeed, while Camber’s press-release headline emphasized the “exclusive” nature of the license, the license is only exclusive in Canada plus “up to twenty-five locations in the United States” – making the much vaunted deal even more trivial than it might first appear. Viking paid an upfront royalty of $1.5 million in cash in August, with additional installments of $1.5 and $2 million due by January and April 2022, respectively, for a total of $5 million. In addition, Viking “shall pay to ESG continuing royalties of not more than 15% of the net revenues of Viking generated using the Intellectual Property, with the continuing royalty percentage to be jointly determined by the parties collaboratively based on the parties’ development of realistic cashflow models resulting from initial projects utilizing the Intellectual Property, and with the parties utilizing mediation if they cannot jointly agree to the continuing royalty percentage”21 – a strangely open-ended, perhaps rushed, way of setting a royalty rate. Overall, then, Viking is paying $5 million for roughly 85% of the economics of a technology that might conceivably help “capture” CO2 emitted by electric generators in Canada (and up to 25 locations in the United States!) but then probably just re-emit it again. This is the great advance that has driven Camber to a nearly billion-dollar market cap. It’s with good reason that on ESG Clean Energy’s web site (as of early October), the list of “press releases that show that ESG Clean Energy is making waves in the distributive power industry” is blank: If the ESG Clean Energy license deal were just another trivial bit of vaporware hyped up by a promotional company and its over-eager shareholders, it would be problematic but unremarkable; things like that happen all the time. But it’s the nature and history of Camber/Viking’s counterparty in the ESG deal that truly makes the situation sublime. ESG Clean Energy is in fact an offshoot of the Scuderi Group, a family business in western Massachusetts created to develop the now deceased Carmelo Scuderi’s idea for a revolutionary new type of engine. (In a 2005 AP article entitled “Engine design draws skepticism,” an MIT professor “said the creation is almost certain to fail.”) Two of Carmelo’s children, Nick and Sal, appeared in a recent ESG Clean Energy video with Camber’s CEO, who called Sal “more of the brains behind the operation” but didn’t state his official role – interesting since documents associated with ESG Clean Energy’s recent small-scale capital raises don’t mention Sal at all. Buried in Viking’s contract with ESG Clean Energy is the following section, indicating that the patents and technology underlying the deal actually belong in the first instance to the Scuderi Group, Inc.: 2.6 Demonstration of ESG’s Exclusive License with Scuderi Group and Right to Grant Licenses in this Agreement. ESG shall provide necessary documentation to Viking which demonstrates ESG’s right to grant the licenses in this Section 2 of this Agreement. For the avoidance of doubt, ESG shall provide necessary documentation that verifies the terms and conditions of ESG’s exclusive license with the Scuderi Group, Inc., a Delaware USA corporation, having an address of 1111 Elm Street, Suite 33, West Springfield, MA 01089 USA (“Scuderi Group”), and that nothing within ESG’s exclusive license with the Scuderi Group is inconsistent with the terms of this Agreement. In fact, the ESG Clean Energy entity itself was originally called Scuderi Clean Energy but changed its name in 2019; its subsidiary ESG-H1, LLC, which presides over a long-delayed power-generation project in the small city of Holyoke, Massachusetts (discussed further below), used to be called Scuderi Holyoke Power LLC but also changed its name in 2019.22 The SEC provided a good summary of the Scuderi Group’s history in a 2013 cease-and-desist order that imposed a $100,000 civil money penalty on Sal Scuderi (emphasis added): Founded in 2002, Scuderi Group has been in the business of developing a new internal combustion engine design. Scuderi Group’s business plan is to develop, patent, and license its engine technology to automobile companies and other large engine manufacturers. Scuderi Group, which considers itself a development stage company, has not generated any revenue… …These proceedings arise out of unregistered, non-exempt stock offerings and misleading disclosures regarding the use of offering proceeds by Scuderi Group and Mr. Scuderi, the company’s president. Between 2004 and 2011, Scuderi Group sold more than $80 million worth of securities through offerings that were not registered with the Commission and did not qualify for any of the exemptions from the Securities Act’s registration requirement. The company’s private placement memoranda informed investors that Scuderi Group intended to use the proceeds from its offerings for “general corporate purposes, including working capital.” In fact, the company was making significant payments to Scuderi family members for non-corporate purposes, including, large, ad hoc bonus payments to Scuderi family employees to cover personal expenses; payments to family members who provided no services to Scuderi; loans to Scuderi family members that were undocumented, with no written interest and repayment terms; large loans to fund $20 million personal insurance policies for six of the Scuderi siblings for which the company has not been, and will not be, repaid; and personal estate planning services for the Scuderi family. Between 2008 and 2011, a period when Scuderi Group sold more than $75 million in securities despite not obtaining any revenue, Mr. Scuderi authorized more than $3.2 million in Scuderi Group spending on such purposes. …In connection with these offerings [of stock], Scuderi Group disseminated more than 3,000 PPMs [private placement memoranda] to potential investors, directly and through third parties. Scuderi Group found these potential investors by, among other things, conducting hundreds of roadshows across the U.S.; hiring a registered broker-dealer to find investors; and paying numerous intermediaries to encourage people to attend meetings that Scuderi Group arranged for potential investors. …Scuderi Group’s own documents reflect that, in total, over 90 of the company’s investors were non-accredited investors… The Scuderi Group and Sal Scuderi neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings but agreed to stop violating securities law. Contemporary local news coverage of the regulatory action added color to the SEC’s description of the Scuderis’ fund-raising tactics (emphasis added): Here on Long Island, folks like HVAC specialist Bill Constantine were early investors, hoping to earn a windfall from Scuderi licensing the idea to every engine manufacturer in the world. Constantine said he was familiar with the Scuderis because he worked at an Islandia company that distributed an oil-less compressor for a refrigerant recovery system designed by the family patriarch. Constantine told [Long Island Business News] he began investing in the engine in 2007, getting many of his friends and family to put their money in, too. The company held an invitation-only sales pitch at the Marriott in Islandia in February 2011. Commercial real estate broker George Tsunis said he was asked to recruit investors for the Scuderi Group, but declined after hearing the pitch. “They were talking about doing business with Volkswagen and Mercedes, but everything was on the come,” Tsunis said. “They were having a party and nobody came.” Hot on the heels of the SEC action, an individual investor who had purchased $197,000 of Scuderi Group preferred units sued the Scuderi Group as well as Sal, Nick, Deborah, Stephen, and Ruth Scuderi individually, alleging, among other things, securities fraud (e.g. “untrue statements of material fact” in offering memoranda). This case was settled out of court in 2016 after the judge reportedly “said from the bench that he was likely to grant summary judgement for [the] plaintiff. … That ruling would have clear the way for other investors in Scuderi to claim at least part of a monetary settlement.” (Two other investors filed a similar lawsuit in 2017 but had it dismissed in 2018 because they ran afoul of the statute of limitations.23) The Scuderi Group put on a brave face, saying publicly, “The company is very pleased to put the SEC matter behind it and return focus to its technology.” In fact, in December 2013, just months after the SEC news broke, the company entered into a “Cooperative Consortium Agreement” with Hino Motors, a Japanese manufacturer, creating an “engineering research group” to further develop the Scuderi engine concept. “Hino paid Scuderi an initial fee of $150,000 to join the Consortium Group, which was to be refunded if Scuderi was unable to raise the funding necessary to start the Project by the Commencement Date,” in the words of Hino’s later lawsuit.24 Sure enough, the Scuderi Group ended up canceling the project in early October 2014 “due to funding and participant issues” – but it didn’t pay back the $150,000. Hino’s lawsuit documents Stephen Scuderi’s long series of emailed excuses: 10/31/14: “I must apologize, but we are going to be a little late in our refund of the Consortium Fee of $150,000. I am sure you have been able to deduce that we have a fair amount of challenging financial problems that we are working through. I am counting on financing for our current backlog of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) projects to provide the capital to refund the Consortium Fee. Though we are very optimistic that the financial package for our PPA projects will be completed successfully, the process is taking a little longer than I originally expected to complete (approximately 3 months longer).” 11/25/14: “I am confident that we can pay Hino back its refund by the end of January. … The reason I have been slow to respond is because I was waiting for feedback from a few large cornerstone investors that we have been negotiating with. The negotiations have been progressing very well and we are close to a comprehensive financing deal, but (as often happens) the back and forth of the negotiating process takes ” 1/12/15: “We have given a proposal to the potential high-end investors that is most interested in investing a large sum of money into Scuderi Group. That investor has done his due-diligence on our company and has communicated to us that he likes our proposal but wants to give us a counter ” 1/31/15: “The individual I spoke of last month is one of several high net worth individuals that are currently evaluating investing a significant amount of equity capital into our That particular individual has not yet responded with a counter proposal, because he wishes to complete a study on the power generation market as part of his due diligence effort first. Though we learned of the study only recently, we believe that his enthusiasm for investing in Scuderi Group remains as strong as ever and steady progress is being made with the other high net worth individuals as well. … I ask only that you be patient for a short while longer as we make every effort possible to raise the monies need[ed] to refund Hino its consortium fee.” Fed up, Hino sued instead of waiting for the next excuse – but ended up discovering that the Scuderi bank account to which it had wired the $150,000 now contained only about $64,000. Hino and the Scuderi Group then entered into a settlement in which that account balance was supposed to be immediately handed over to Hino, with the remainder plus interest to be paid back later – but Scuderi didn’t even comply with its own settlement, forcing Hino to re-initiate its lawsuit and obtain an official court judgment against Scuderi. Pursuant to that judgment, Hino formally requested an array of documents like tax returns and bank statements, but Scuderi simply ignored these requests, using the following brazen logic:25 Though as of this date, the execution has not been satisfied, Scuderi continues to operate in the ordinary course of business and reasonably expects to have money available to satisfy the execution in full in the near future. … Responding to the post- judgment discovery requests, as a practical matter, will not enable Scuderi to pay Hino any faster than can be achieved by Scuderi using all of its resources and efforts to conduct its day-to-day business operations and will only serve to impose additional and unnecessary costs on both parties. Scuderi has offered and is willing to make payments every 30 days to Hino in amounts not less than $10,000 until the execution is satisfied in full. Shortly thereafter, in March 2016, Hino dropped its case, perhaps having chosen to take the $10,000 per month rather than continue to tangle in court with the Scuderis (though we don’t know for sure). With its name tarnished by disgruntled investors and the SEC, and at least one of its bank accounts wiped out by Hino Motors, the Scuderi Group didn’t appear to have a bright future. But then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new business was born: Scuderi Clean Energy, “a wholly owned subsidiary of Scuderi Group, Inc. … formed in October 2015 to market Scuderi Engine Technology to the power generation industry.” (Over time, references to the troubled “Scuderi Engine Technology” have faded away; today ESG Clean Energy is purportedly planning to use standard, off-the-shelf Caterpillar engines. And while an early press release described Scuderi Clean Energy as “a wholly owned subsidiary of Scuderi Group,” the current Scuderi/ESG Clean Energy, LLC, appears to have been created later as its own (nominally) independent entity, led by Nick Scuderi.) As the emailed excuses in the Hino dispute suggested, this pivot to “clean energy” and electric power generation had been in the works for some time, enabling Scuderi Clean Energy to hit the ground running by signing a deal with Holyoke Gas and Electric, a small utility company owned by the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts (population 38,238) in December 2015. The basic idea was that Scuderi Clean Energy would install a large natural-gas generator and associated equipment on a vacant lot and use it to supply Holyoke Gas and Electric with supplemental electric power, especially during “peak demand periods in the summer.”26 But it appears that, from day one, Holyoke had its doubts. In its 2015 annual report (p. 80), the company wrote (emphasis added): In December 2015, the Department contracted with Scuderi Clean Energy, LLC under a twenty (20) year [power purchase agreement] for a 4.375 MW [megawatt] natural gas generator. Uncertain if this project will move forward; however Department mitigated market and development risk by ensuring interconnection costs are born by other party and that rates under PPA are discounted to full wholesale energy and resulting load reduction cost savings (where and if applicable). Holyoke was right to be uncertain. Though its 2017 annual report optimistically said, “Expected Commercial Operation date is April 1, 2018” (p. 90), the 2018 annual report changed to “Expected Commercial Operation is unknown at this time” – language that had to be repeated verbatim in the 2019 and 2020 annual reports. Six years after the contract was signed, the Scuderi Clean Energy, now ESG Clean Energy, project still hasn’t produced one iota of power, let alone one dollar of revenue. What it has produced, however, is funding from retail investors, though perhaps not as much as the Scuderis could have hoped. Beginning in 2017, Scuderi Clean Energy managed to sell roughly $1.3 million27 in 5-year “TIGRcub” bonds (Top-Line Income Generation Rights Certificates) on the small online Entrex platform by advertising a 12% “minimum yield” and 16.72% “projected IRR” (based on 18.84% “revenue participation”) over a 5-year term. While we don’t know the exact terms of these bonds, we believe that, at least early on, interest payments were covered by some sort of prepaid insurance policy, while later payments depend on (so far nonexistent) revenue from the Holyoke project. But Scuderi Clean Energy had been aiming to raise $6 million to complete the project, not $1 million; indeed, this was only supposed to be the first component of a whole empire of “Scuderi power plants”28 that would require over $100 million to build but were supposedly already under contract.29 So far, however, nothing has come of these other projects, and, seemingly suffering from insufficient funding, the Holyoke effort languished. (Of course, it might have been more investor-friendly if Scuderi Clean Energy had only accepted funding on the condition that there was enough to actually complete construction.) Under the new ESG Clean Energy name, the Scuderis tried in 2019 to raise capital again, this time in the form of $5 million of preferred units marketed as a “5 year tax free Investment with 18% cash-on-cash return,” but, based on an SEC filing, it appears that the offering didn’t go well, raising just $150,000. With funding still limited and the Holyoke project far from finished, the clock is ticking: the $1.3 million of bonds will begin to mature in early 2022. It was thus fortunate that Viking came along when it did to pay ESG Clean Energy a $1.5 million upfront royalty for its incredible technology. Interestingly, ESG Clean Energy began in late 2020 to provide extremely detailed updates on its Holyoke construction progress, including items as prosaic as “Throughout the week, ESG had met with and continued to exchange numerous e-mails with our mechanical engineering firm.” With frequent references to the “very fluid environment,” the tone is unmistakably defensive. Consider the September update (emphasis not added): Reading between the lines, we believe the intended message is this: “We didn’t just take your money and run – honest! We’re working hard!” Nonetheless, someone appears to be unhappy, as indicated by the FINRA BrokerCheck report for one Eric Willer, a former employee of Fusion Analytics, which was listed as a recipient of sales compensation in connection with the Scuderi Clean Energy bond offerings. Willer may now be in hot water: a disclosure notice dated 3/31/2021 reads: “Wells Notice received as a preliminary determination to recommend disciplinary action of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and recommendation without due diligence in the sale of bonds issued by Scuderi Holyoke,” with a further investigation still pending. We wait eagerly for additional updates. Why does the saga of the Scuderis matter? Many Camber investors seem to have convinced themselves that the ESG Clean Energy “carbon capture” IP licensed by Viking has enormous value and can plausibly justify hundreds of millions of dollars of incremental market cap. As we explained above, we find this thoroughly implausible even without getting into Scuderi family history: in the end, the “technology” will at best add a smidgen of value to some generators in Canada. But track records matter too, and the Scuderi track record of failed R&D, delays, excuses, and alleged misuse of funds is worth considering. These people have spent six years trying and failing to sell power to a single municipally owned utility company in a single small city in western Massachusetts. Are they really about to end climate change? The Case of the Fictitious CFO Since Camber is effectively a bet on Viking, and Viking, in its current form, has been assembled by James Doris, it’s important to assess Doris’s probity and good judgment. In that connection, it’s noteworthy that, from December 2014 to July 2016, at the very start of Doris’s reign as Viking’s CEO and president, the company’s CFO, Guangfang “Cecile” Yang, was apparently fictitious. (Covering the case in 2019, Dealbreaker used the headline “Possibly Imaginary CFO Grounds For Very Real Fraud Lawsuit.”) This strange situation was brought to light by an SEC lawsuit against Viking’s founder, Tom Simeo; just last month, a US district court granted summary judgment in favor of the SEC against Simeo, but Simeo’s penalties have yet to be determined.30 The court’s opinion provided a good overview of the facts (references omitted, emphasis added): In 2013, Simeo hired Yang, who lives in Shanghai, China, to be Viking’s CFO. Yang served in that position until she purportedly resigned in July 2016. When Yang joined the company, Simeo fabricated a standing resignation letter, in which Yang purported to “irrevocably” resign her position with Viking “at any time desired by the Company” and “[u]pon notification that the Company accepted [her] resignation”…Simeo forged Yang’s signature on this document. This letter allowed Simeo to remove Yang from the position of CFO whenever he pleased. Simeo also fabricated a power of attorney purportedly signed by Yang that allowed Simeo to “affix Yang’s signature to any and all documents,” including documents that Viking had to file with the SEC. Viking represented to the public that Yang was the company’s CFO and a member of its Board of Directors. But “Yang never actually functioned as Viking’s CFO.” She “was not involved in the financial and strategic decisions” of Viking during the Relevant Period. Nor did she play any role in “preparing Viking’s financial statements or public filings.” Indeed, at least as of April 3, 2015, Yang did not do “any work” on Viking’s financial statements and did not speak with anyone who was preparing them. She also did not “review or evaluate Viking’s internal controls over financial reporting.” Further, during most or all of the Relevant Period, Viking did not compensate Yang despite the fact that she was the company’s highest ranking financial employee. Nevertheless, Simeo says that he personally paid her in cash. Yang’s “sole point of contact” at Viking was Simeo. Indeed Simeo was “the only person at Viking who communicated with Yang.” Thus many people at Viking never interacted with Yang. Despite the fact that Doris has served as Viking’s CEO since December 2014, he “has never met or spoken to Yang either in person or through any other means, and he has never communicated with Yang in writing.” … To think Yang served as CFO during this time, but the CEO and other individuals involved with Viking’s SEC filings never once spoke with her, strains all logical credulity. It remains unclear whether Yang is even a real person. When the SEC asked Simeo directly (“Is it the case that you made up the existence of Ms. Yang?”) he responded by “invoking the Fifth Amendment.”31 While the SEC’s efforts thus far have focused on Simeo, the case clearly raises the question of what Doris knew and when he knew it. Indeed, though many of the required Sarbanes-Oxley certifications of Viking’s financial statements during the Yang period were signed by Simeo in his role as chairman, Doris did personally sign off on an amended 2015 10-K that refers to Yang as CFO through July 2016 and includes her complete, apparently fictitious, biography. Viking has also disclosed the following, which we believe pertains to the Yang affair (emphasis added): In April of 2019, the staff (the “Staff”) of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement notified the Company that the Staff had made a preliminary determination to recommend that the SEC file an enforcement action against the Company, as well as against its CEO and its CFO, for alleged violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder [laws that pertain to securities fraud] during the period from early 2014 through late 2016. The Staff’s notice is not a formal allegation or a finding of wrongdoing by the Company, and the Company has communicated with the Staff regarding its preliminary determination. The Company believes it has adequate defenses and intends to vigorously defend any enforcement action that may be initiated by the SEC.32 Perhaps the SEC has moved on from this matter and will let Doris and Viking off the hook, but the fact pattern is eyebrow-raising nonetheless. A similarly troubling incident came soon after the time of Yang’s “resignation,” when Viking’s auditing firm resigned, withdrew its recent audit report, and wrote a letter “advising the Company that it believed an illegal act may have occurred” – because of concerns that had nothing to do with Yang. First, Viking accounted for the timing of a grant of shares to a consultant in apparent contradiction of the terms of the written agreement with the consultant – a seemingly minor issue. But, under scrutiny from the auditor, Viking “produced a letter… (the version which was provided to us was unsigned), from the consultant stating that the Agreement was invalidated verbally.” Reading between the lines, the “uncomfortable” auditor suspected that this letter was a fake, created just to get him off Viking’s back. In another incident, the auditor “became aware that seven of the company’s loans…were due to be repaid” in August 2016 but hadn’t been, creating a default that would in turn “trigger[] a cross-default clause contained in 17 additional loans” – but Viking claimed it “had secured an oral extension to the loans from the broker-dealer representing the lenders by September 6, 2016” – after the loans’ maturity dates – “so the Company did not need to disclose ‘the defaults under these loans’ after such time since the loans were not in default.” It’s easy to see why an auditor would object to this attitude toward financial disclosure – no need to mention a default in August as long as you can secure a verbal agreement resolving it by September! Against this backdrop of disturbing behavior, the fact that Camber just dismissed its auditing firm three weeks ago on September 16th, even with delisting looming if the company can’t become current again with its SEC filings by November, seems even more unsettling. Have Camber and Viking management earned investors’ trust? Conclusion It’s not clear why, back in 2017, Lucas Energy changed its name to “Camber” specifically, but we’d like to think the inspiration was England’s Camber Castle. According to Atlas Obscura, the castle was supposed to help defend the English coast, but it took so long to build that its “advanced design was obsolete by the time of its completion,” and changes in the local environment meant that “the sea had receded so far that cannons fired from the fort would no longer be able to reach any invading ships.” Still, the useless castle was “manned and serviced” for nearly a century before being officially decommissioned. Today, Camber “lies derelict and almost unheard of.” But what’s in a name? Article by Kerrisdale Capital Management Updated on Oct 5, 2021, 12:06 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 5th, 2021

Employers are being forced to reveal how much they will pay potential workers. It"s a good idea, but it isn"t a cure-all for our giant pay gaps.

Disclosing salary ranges to job candidates is good, but it doesn't go nearly far enough to address the many causes of pay inequity. Pay transparency does not go far enough to solve pay inequities. SDI Productions/Getty Images While pay transparency does help minorities, there are other factors that continue to perpetuate bias and inequities. Compensation in the form of non-salary benefits, overtime, bonuses, and equity are still undisclosed. Companies must address explicit and implicit biases, assumptions, and policies and programs that perpetuate oppression. Monique Cadle and Fran Benjamin are partners at Good Works Consulting and experts in holistic inclusive leadership strategy and education. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the authors. For decades, pay secrecy has been a point of contention for advocates of pay equity, often described as a problematic feature of the employment process meant to ensure negotiations are always in favor of the corporation. However, over the past several years, a culture shift has made it challenging to maintain this system as many employees have begun disclosing their salary information regardless of company rules as a way to self-organize to support fair salary negotiations for their peers. Now, legislation in several jurisdictions has moved to make pay transparency a requirement for employers to create a more fair negotiation process and improve pay equity for underrepresented groups in the workplace. The majority of compulsory pay disclosure regulations require individualized disclosure to a specific individual under specified circumstances, including but not limited to at the candidate's request. Employers in several states are subject to similar regulations. Colorado went further, introducing a comprehensive, affirmative pay posting law this year, requiring wage disclosures in job advertising for physically located occupations or remote jobs that could be done in Colorado.Some top companies not impacted by legislation have chosen to adopt these practices to stand out, attract top talent, and gain visibility as being ahead of trends in equity, diversity, and inclusion. While this transition has many positive attributes, it undoubtedly creates new challenges for business leaders and applicants alike. And since much of the conversation around this recent move is centered around improving pay equity, it's essential to consider how this impacts the pay disparity issue in practice, and if it helps them at all. Behind the push for transparency is the belief that if applicants know what a company is willing to pay, they will be less likely to be under-compensated. While this may help some candidates, it won't cure pay inequality. Many factors impact how salaries are distributed, and bias - explicit or implicit - and discrimination still play a role. Pay becomes a new strategic considerationThis simple change to the structure of our hiring process creates significant new strategic considerations for recruiters and hiring managers as these public pay rates will become part of the decision-making process for applicants. Now, leaders must consider how pay ranges might be perceived, who will and will not apply at certain ranges, and what these decisions will mean at the negotiation stage.Before pay transparency, the corporation held the cards by keeping their budgets a secret. By forcing the applicants to share what they required to be paid first, the company could find out if the individual would accept a lower rate than what was budgeted and potentially save money. Candidates who were historically underpaid might simply ask for a slightly higher salary than their last position rather than knowing what a company should be willing to spend for the work being done. Today, candidates will become more aware of their compensation potential without needing to conduct additional research, but this may also impact who applies. For example, an individual who has been chronically underpaid may essentially self-select out of higher-paying positions under the belief that it's too high of a jump. In contrast, highly compensated individuals may not apply under the assumption that the top of the salary range is a non-negotiable cap. Therefore, it becomes even more crucial to enable candidates to understand the total compensation for a given role. Disparities in non-cash compensation, bonus, and promotions impact equityWhile creating equitable compensation for women, BIPOC, queer folks, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups is helped by greater transparency, the administration of pay transparency by the employer varies and still stands to perpetuate bias and inequities.Base salary or pay rate are two fundamental components of compensation: how much cash the individual makes on an hourly or annual basis. For hourly workers, an organization may make the pay range transparent during the application. Still, it may not be aware of nor address the common occurrence that special projects and overtime opportunities often go to men more frequently than women, and take-home pay is still wholly disparate. For salaried employees, this equation may seem a little easier. However, in our work consulting with companies, we have observed that while an organization may disclose a codified pay range, in many instances, they will also exceed that range during the negotiation process - a fact not made transparent. We also know that groups historically underrepresented in specific roles, levels, and industries, including women, tend to negotiate less than their white male-presenting counterparts, and therefore may never access these secret dollars that exist beyond the top of the range.Many organizations offer an annual or performance-based bonus structure. Often this bonus target or range (an intended percentage of base salary, usually) may or may not be disclosed as a part of these pay transparency programs. What often is not disclosed is that senior management and boards of directors may elect to apply a multiplier to an individual's bonus that either increases or decreases the total cash payout based on corporate performance. Further, organizations often hold back bonus dollars for those considered "high potential," which often translates to rewarding individuals they feel are most similar to themselves. As a result, take-home bonus cash is highest among majority group members, often white folks, who tend to fill the top ranks in the organization by the sheer symptom of their proximity and similarity to those at the top making the pay decisions.Long-term compensation incentives and equity (e.g., stock plans, others) usually are out of the equation for pay transparency efforts yet could hold the biggest value and potential for pay inequity and disparity. Most of the legislation we discuss here applies to cash compensation, and most elective programs that we are aware of do as well. In practice, frameworks for awarding these grants are difficult to codify equitably because the value assigned to the awards can change dramatically over time, market data for awards like these are variable and up for interpretation, and therefore many employers avoid pay-parity analyses of this form of compensation and any attempt at transparency altogether.Lastly, due to some of the shortcomings mentioned above, systems like these require maintenance over time to be effective. If the organization is simply making base-pay range data transparent to candidates, but not conducting regular pay-parity analyses internally and market-based pay adjustments and corrections, unequal and unfair pay will propagate as the employee navigates their career.Bias and privilege are still at the core of hiring practicesPay transparency is just one tactic, and on its own it doesn't solve all of the challenges of inequity in the hiring process. Ultimately, much of the issue rolls back into the hands of the hiring managers and leaders making decisions about the candidates worthy of a particular pay tier. Systems of oppression continue to disadvantage people less proximal to the access and privilege often afforded white workers, whether by lacking the network to receive insider pay and negotiation tips, or by being evaluated with greater or varied levels of scrutiny, to name just two challenges.Breaking this cycle involves systematically undoing explicit and implicit discriminatory biases, policies, and programs that perpetuate oppression throughout the employment process. It requires evaluating candidates based on actual capacity to accomplish the expectations of the role while correcting for disparities of power and privilege.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt21 hr. 39 min. ago

The Benefits And Challenges Of Running An Incorporation

As unicorn startups roar back and the U.S. looks back at a record year for new businesses, it may be time to re-evaluate how these businesses are set up. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The formal organization or incorporation of a business requires a legal process. Entrepreneurs often opt for a limited […] As unicorn startups roar back and the U.S. looks back at a record year for new businesses, it may be time to re-evaluate how these businesses are set up. 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 Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The formal organization or incorporation of a business requires a legal process. Entrepreneurs often opt for a limited liability company (LLC), but if they are considering taking their business globally or want to establish an initial public offering, they need to incorporate. The resulting legal entity is called a corporation - a separate tax-paying entity that separates the income and assets of the business from its investors and owners. Corporations are a widely used vehicle by businesses globally, and across the world, these share many common elements. One of the easiest ways to identify a corporation is from the terms “Inc”, “Limited”, or “Ltd” found in their names. Corporations Are Owned By Shareholders Besides being able to conduct any lawful business, corporations can own assets, borrow money, hire employees, enter contracts, sue, and be sued. These business entities are governed by a board of directors elected by the shareholders, who are the owners. Each person’s ownership percentage is determined by the number of shares owned. Business continuity is ensured by the ease with which corporation shares can be transferred. There are various types of corporations, each having some benefits or challenges. These include C corporations, S corporations, B corporations, closed corporations, and nonprofit corporations. The most common type is the C-corp, a common business entity preferred by larger companies. Benefits Of Incorporation Besides the limited personal liability, other benefits of a corporation include the easy transfer of ownership and its business continuity. Corporations also have better access to capital funding and depending on the corporation structure, they also have some tax benefits. One of the main reasons businesses choose to incorporate is the personal liability protection for its shareholders, who are not responsible for any corporate debt or legal obligations. The flexibility of the stock ownership structure also allows the business to continue long-term, depending on the bylaws and articles of incorporation. In most corporations, those wanting to leave the company just sell their stocks and these can also be transferred on death. Ease of capital access is another reason why corporations are a popular business structure. When a corporation needs to raise funds, it just sells some stock. C corporations are subject to double taxation, but other corporations have tax benefits depending on how they distribute their income. S corporations, for example, split their income between the business and shareholders. This allows each one to be taxed at different rates. Additionally, only the income nominated as owner salary is subject to self-employment tax. Challenges Of Running A Corporation Corporations are costly to run and require time-consuming processes. Several challenges include the application process, rigid formalities, and procedures. Even though filing the articles of incorporation with the secretary of state is quick, the overall process of incorporating can take time. The required paperwork is extensive, ensuring the details of the organization and its ownership are correct. These include drafting of the corporate bylaws, appointing a board of directors, creating the shareholder's ownership change agreement, issuing stock certificates, and taking minutes during meetings. Corporations are also governed by firm formalities, protocols, and structure which must be followed closely. These include following the bylaws, maintaining a board of directors, holding annual meetings, keeping minutes at board meetings, and creating annual reports. Some types of corporations also have other restrictions they need to adhere to. For example, S-corps have a limit to the number of shareholders allowed (up to 100), and these must be U.S. citizens. C-corps face taxation as an entity and its shareholders are taxed on the profits. In S-corps shareholders are taxed only on their individual income, but S-corps can be taxed as C-corps if they don’t meet the legal requirements.   Therefore, corporations are expensive to incorporate and run. Designating A Statutory Agent In most states, a business cannot incorporate if it doesn’t have a statutory agent because its filing is considered incomplete. If a business doesn’t have an agent, it can also be dissolved administratively by some states. Also known as registered agents, statutory agents are essential to ensuring the smooth running of a business. Incorporation Rocket highlights the important processes offered by professional registered agent services. These companies offer a significant role in ensuring a corporation avoids all the pitfalls of remaining compliant. Final Take Since an array of tax and legal issues are at stake, beginning with the end in mind is crucial. It may be worth getting an expert opinion on which structure or combination thereof you’ll be using. Finding statutory agents and a range of other related services should be the easy part, even for foreigners starting a business in the U.S. Updated on Oct 15, 2021, 2:28 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 15th, 2021

Three Bizarre Reasons Why Inflation Is Here To Stay

When I was about five years old in the early 1980s, my dad brought home our first computer. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more I’ll never forget it– it was an clunky IBM with a tiny, orange, monochromatic monitor, and dual floppy disks. It had 640 kilobytes of RAM, and no hard disk. […] When I was about five years old in the early 1980s, my dad brought home our first computer. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more I’ll never forget it– it was an clunky IBM with a tiny, orange, monochromatic monitor, and dual floppy disks. It had 640 kilobytes of RAM, and no hard disk. I loved it. With that computer I learned how to program, how to navigate a command-line interface, how to design algorithms, and how to solve constant problems… because it was ridiculously buggy and would break down all the time. It was also painfully slow. The boot-up process could easily take an hour, from the time I flipped on the power switch, to the time I saw the ‘DOS prompt’. Sometimes I think that computer is a great metaphor for the global economy. Turning it off is nothing; you flip the switch and the power goes off. But starting it back up again takes a long time. And the process isn’t so smooth– sometimes it crashes during bootup. The Great Plague Last March when the Great Plague was upon us, nearly every industry, in nearly every country in the world, practically shut down. And many businesses went bust, never to return. Eighteen months later businesses have largely reopened. But like my old computer, the reboot process has been riddled with critical errors and system failures. For example, right now there are countless businesses in industries from retail to manufacturing that are experiencing severe labor shortages. Supply chains around the world are breaking down, resulting in product shortages and major transportation bottlenecks. The end result of this dumpster fire is that prices are soaring. And I wanted to spend some time today connecting the dots to help explain some of these important trends. Let’s go back to last March again when everything shut down. You probably recall that dozens of large companies declared bankruptcy, like Nieman Marcus, GNC, JC Penny, etc. But there were other companies that went bust which most people have probably never heard of. They were in more mundane, less sexy industries… like corrugated paper and wood pulp. Yet while their demise was hardly noticed, it turns out they would have a significant impact on the global economy. Surge In Global Shipping Demand Global shipping demand surged last year in ways that had never been seen before. Suddenly, instead of efficient supply chains shipping goods to large marketplaces (like retail and grocery stores), consumers wanted everything delivered to them. While the total volume of shipping was largely the same (or even less) than previous years, the number of individual shipments increased dramatically. In other words, instead of a single large shipment to a store or supermarket, companies were making thousands of tiny shipments to individual consumers. This meant more trips… and more packaging. More cardboard boxes. More plastic wrap. More plastic containers. More Styrofoam. And the prices for all of these materials has spiked. The price for polyethylene, for example, which is used extensively in shipping, has increased from $820 per ton to $1,850 per ton. Polypropylene prices are also up from $1,100 per ton to $1,770 per ton. It’s a similar trend with cardboard and corrugated paper. And these price increases aren’t simply due to high demand either. Supply has fallen. Last March when a number of wood pulp producers went out of business, no one noticed and no one cared. But it turned out that more than 10% of all North American paper capacity vanished, practically overnight, just before demand started to surge. And this capacity cannot be simply turned on again with a flip of a switch. It takes a lot of effort to resurrect a bankrupt factory, to re-hire and re-train workers. (We’ll get to the worker issue in a moment.) It’s a similar trend around the world– foreign factories have closed, and those that remain open are struggling to retain workers and operate under strict COVID protocols. Manufacturing efficiency is way down as a result, so they’re not producing enough supply to keep up with demand. The Actual Shipping Problems Then there are the actual shipping problems– the crazy delays, especially on the West Coast of the United States, that prevent container ships from delivering their cargo. It’s not that there aren’t enough ships in the world; in fact, the total global capacity in terms of TEUs, or 20-foot Equivalent Units, is slightly higher than pre-pandemic. But a range of factors, including COVID rules and union regulations, means there’s a shortage of maritime crew to operate the vessels. There’s also a shortage of dockworkers, truck drivers, forklift operators, etc. at the ports. This is especially true in California, whose regulatory environment makes port operations extremely difficult and inefficient. Yet sadly for the United States, California’s ports are the busiest and most important in the country; most of the seafreight from China is offloaded at the Port of Long Beach or Port of Los Angeles, so bottlenecks there cause a major ripple effect across the country. Right now there is a backlog of ships waiting to unload their cargo in southern California. This makes the COVID policies of California especially important for the rest of the United States; whatever Gavin Newsome decides has a huge impact on the national economy. Labor Shortage Labor is obviously another major issue in this messy economic reboot. Thanks to a steady digest of mass media Covid hysteria, there are still plenty of people who are terrified to leave their homes and go to work. Moreover, there are so many people who got used to being home over the past 18-months, that now they only want a job where they can work from home. This is a major problem for businesses… and why it’s so hard for restaurant companies, fast food joints, retail shops, factories, etc. to find workers. People would rather stay home. The government hasn’t exactly been helpful in this department when they were paying outsized unemployment benefits to encourage everyone to stay home. That effect is lingering. There’s another trend at work here, though. For the last several years, politicians have been fighting hard to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. It turns out that no one really wanted those jobs to begin with. Younger people in particular don’t have as much interest in those sorts of traditional jobs; they’d rather be ‘influencers’ and make their money posting butt selfies and snapshots of their contrived lifestyle. This was already becoming an issue prior to COVID; large companies– especially those in industries that were considered unappealing to Gen Z– were complaining how difficult it was to hire, train, and retain young workers. Now it’s borderline impossible. Businesses also have to compete with the government for labor, which has gobbled up workers and put them to work as ‘contact tracers’. And retail companies that are lucky enough to find employees are forced to misallocate those scarce resources to do unproductive tasks, like checking everyone’s ‘papers’ when customers walk through the door. And then, of course, if a business has been able to navigate all of those crazy obstacles, Hunter Biden’s dad is now forcing you to fire any worker who hasn’t been [unmentionable word– thanks Google]. Federal Reserve’s Monetary Blowout On top of all of the above is the Federal Reserve’s monetary blowout. They’ve printed trillions of dollars over the past 18 months to ‘support the economy’. Yet even though the unemployment rate is down to 4.8%, they’re STILL printing at least $120 billion per month in new money. All that new money has helped fuel giant asset bubbles in stocks, bonds, property, and commodities. Energy prices in particular have risen sharply, and this tends to cause all other prices to rise. The result of all of this insanity is inflation. Lots of it. The problem is that most of these trends are not going away anytime soon. The Fed may start to taper its money printing. But they have very little room to raise interest rates meaningfully to combat inflation. Plus the labor issues, government policy, shipping, manufacturing shortages, etc. are going to last for a while. In fact, you’d think the correct government policy right now would be to create incentives for people to work, to create new businesses, and to invest in new technology that could automate and clean up the bottlenecks. At a minimum you’d think they’d stay the hell away and let capitalism do its job. After all, free market competition is one of the greatest tools to fix any economic woes, especially inefficiencies and resource misallocation. Yet all of the policies they’re proposing are anti-competitive and anti-market. They want to create DISINCENTIVES to form businesses and make investments. It’s the exact opposite of what they should be doing. (This is what happens when you put a socialist in charge of writing the budget.) So the next time one of these politicians or central bankers say that inflation is ‘transitory’, you can be certain they’re completely clueless about what’s happening in the real world. On another note… We think gold could DOUBLE and silver could increase by up to 5 TIMES in the next few years. That's why we published a new, 50-page long Ultimate Guide on Gold & Silver that you can download here. Inside you'll learn... How you could Double Your Money with an asset That Has a 5,000 Year History of Prosperity Why gold could potentially DOUBLE, and why silver could increase by up to 5 TIMES The 5 smartest, safest and most lucrative ways to own gold and silver (and one way you should definitely avoid) Why gold is the ultimate anti-currency and insurance policy against the systematic destruction of the US dollar (that everyone should at least consider owning) Why ETFs are a lurking timebomb and why you want to avoid them like the plague And everything else you need to know about buying, owning, storing and investing in precious metals This 50-page report is brand new and absolutely free. Article by Simon Black, Sovereig Mman Updated on Oct 15, 2021, 4:01 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 15th, 2021

A Saudi dissident sued Twitter for a 2nd time, saying spies at the firm hacked his account and leaked his contacts" names to the kingdom

US prosecutors have already charged two Saudis who worked at Twitter from 2013 to 2016 with spying for a foreign government. Ali al-Ahmed. AP Two Saudi nationals who worked at Twitter from 2013 to 2016 are accused of spying for the kingdom. They are accused of hacking the account of dissident Ali al-Ahmed and exposing his sources. Al-Ahmed sued Twitter for damages in California this week. He sued the firm in New York last year. A Saudi dissident in the US is suing Twitter for a second time, alleging that Saudi spies working at the tech firm hacked his account and exposed his sources to the kingdom.Ali al-Ahmed, who was granted asylum in the US, sued Twitter in the Southern District of New York last year, alleging that the Twitter employees Ahmad Abouammo and Ali al-Zabarah hacked his account between 2013 and 2016 and leaked the personal details of his sources to Saudi intelligence.US prosecutors charged Abouammo and al-Zabarah with spying for a foreign government in July 2020.However, the judge overseeing al-Ahmed's claim in New York recently refused to accept that New York was a suitable venue for the case.Now, al-Ahmed is suing Twitter again on its home turf.On Wednesday, Al-Ahmed filed a complaint seeking damages in the US district court in the Northern District of California."I am doing this for the many victims that were lost to Saudi executions and prisons who followed my account," he told Insider on Friday."The entire truth about the Twitter Saudi spies must come out."'Enabled ... and/or otherwise turned a blind eye'In the complaint, lawyers for al-Ahmed said Saudi Arabia "was successful in using Twitter's internal resources to identify Mr. Al-Ahmed as a critic of the government and ultimately silence him.""Twitter have enabled, collaborated, colluded, conspired with, aided and abetted, and/or otherwise turned a blind eye to KSA's efforts to suppress, torture, falsely imprison, terrorize, and murder dissenters both within Saudi Arabia and around the world," the complaint said.The lawsuit also held Twitter accountable for allowing the alleged spies to access Al-Ahmed's account. "On numerous occasions, Alzabarah and Abouammo mined Twitter's internal systems for, inter alia, personal information regarding Mr. Al-Ahmed, email addresses, contacts, phone numbers, birth dates, and internet protocol ('IP') addresses," the complaint said.Twitter declined to comment.In a previous interview, Al-Ahmed told Insider that the hack had led to his sources back in Saudi Arabia being killed, tortured, or disappeared."It is very distressing and it really hurts me greatly because I know some of them have died, many have been tortured, and remain behind bars," al-Ahmed told Insider."The difference between their being free, or not free, is our connection on Twitter."One of those killed, al-Ahmed told Insider, is Abdullah al-Hamid, the founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, a human-rights group in the kingdom. Al-Hamid died in Saudi state custody in April 2020.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

James Gorman: We’re Seeing Fruits Of Long-Term Strategy

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) Chairman & CEO James Gorman on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET) today, Thursday, October 14th. Following is a link to video on CNBC.com: Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Morgan Stanley CEO Gorman: We’re Seeing Fruits Of […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) Chairman & CEO James Gorman on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET) today, Thursday, October 14th. Following is a link to video on CNBC.com: if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Morgan Stanley CEO Gorman: We’re Seeing Fruits Of Long-Term Strategy JIM CRAMER: Chairman and CEO James Gorman. Welcome to “Squawk on the Street,” thank you for, for coming in to talk about how well your, your bank is doing. JAMES GORMAN: Happy to do it as long as you don't ask me to go on Jeopardy, Jim. CRAMER: No, we're gonna hold off on that. That's a different, different subject. But, you know what, you deserve to be on because, you know, what is the best wealth management business in the world. 300 billion in new money this year, what is happening that people can bring in 300 billion in wealth management? GORMAN: Yes, it's amazing. I mean the team's done an unbelievable job. The reality is we're managing, you know, over four trillion, nearly four and a half trillion and with success comes success. We have a lot of clients who feel very comfortable with the brand, the platform. The technology we've invested in through E*TRADE. I mean it's just, it's all come together. This has sort of been our dream for over a decade and finally we're seeing the fruits but I mean, 12 years ago or so, I think our assets were about 500 billion. So, they've gone up, eight, nine times in that period and as you know, this is very sticky money. It's a great business so we're thrilled. CRAMER: Well that's what we're going to talk about. At one point, Morgan Stanley before you came in, had what I regarded as episodic earnings. They’d be good, and then bad and good and bad and therefore it's very hard to give a price earnings multiple. The business that you're bringing in, including by the way E*TRADE, is really sticky and steadily growth, growth, secular growth. And I'm wondering what you when you sit around your board meetings, doesn't someone say, you know what, how come we're still at 12 times earnings because this is a secular growth story, it's not cyclical, I'm trying to understand why you're not given a greater price. GORMAN: Yeah, well it's getting there. I mean to be fair we were, you know, we were sub 10 and I thought that was just nuts. We’re now managing if you put wealth and asset management together, which gives us the balance, that's about six and a half trillion on that we're generating revenues of over 30 billion. Just that, and that's very sticky but on the other hand the investment bank and what it's done the resurgence of fixed income after it was restructured dramatically in 2015. You know, equities is number one, the investment bank itself and M&A is on fire, the equity underwriting. So, Jim, it’s this balance and speed concept that I've talked about, and, you know, we're starting to get the multiple. I mean we're getting the recognition, you look at some of the other pure wealth players in the marketplace, they're trading at, you know, 20, 30 times earnings, you know, we'd love a piece of that and I think our investors are starting to understand that so it's getting there. CRAMER: Well I think it is. I mean if you added buy now, pay later, I guess we get 30 times earnings. I’m always struggling about the love of Robinhood and how important it is and I want to stack that up against you and I want you to include a company that you bought at the time was called Solium but it's a company that you've made into Shareworks, who is a younger investment base and whose base is larger? GORMAN: Well first I have a lot of respect for Robinhood. I mean what they do introducing a lot of young investors to the marketplaces. I know you've said this and I believe that that's a good thing and as long as they’re prudently investing they understand the markets go up but they also go down then, you know, we're, they've got ,they've got a real winner so a lot of respect for what those guys have done. But, you know, we've sort of done the same thing but we've done it within the Morgan Stanley platform and brands so maybe it doesn't get that kind of recognition solely as a technology company. I mean that's basically 300 programmers they gave us an opportunity to get into the workplace space between Solium and E*TRADE and our existing business, we're touching over 30 million households and they’re wealthy households, right. There's significant money and by the way they want to borrow and they want to park their cash there, they're taking out mortgages, so it's got multiple verticals so if we can, we can go after to help these people find financial stability and that's what I'm really excited about. It's the combination of the traditional advisor model, the E*TRADE direct model and the solely Morgan Stanley workplace model. We're getting people at work, you're getting them online and you're getting them through an advisor and that to me is the magic mousetrap. DAVID FABER: James, it’s David. You know, I’m looking at your stock price which is not doing much of anything right now and I'm wondering, is it the perhaps because people think when it comes to capital markets, this thing just can't keep going at this rate. You pointed it out, of course, whether it's fixed income or now equities, you know, the outperformance of expectations, the percentage gains, year over year or from ’19. I don't know if you've ever seen anything like this in your career but can it continue at this rate? GORMAN: Oh, sure, sure it can and listen the market, you know, I don't have a problem when I see the market if our stock is at $100 I don’t know I haven't, I can’t look at the screen right now because I'm looking at your camera but we’re at that or about that, you know, we were $50 a year ago, the stock was up 34% I think in 2020 during COVID. We’re up 40 plus percent this year already. I mean it's, it's, you know, the market cap is over 180 billion it's had a phenomenal run, but there's a whole lot more to go. I mean if you, if you take that thread that Jim was pulling on about the mobile expansion and you take the fact that we built these enormous businesses that have huge scale advantages and, and to operate on a global basis, as you know, David in M&A and capital markets across borders, that's not an easy lift. You don't just turn up one day and say that's the business I want to be in. You got to build that over decades. So, I think they're incredibly resilient, the share gains that we've done through the institutional side, you know, have worked out great and I think it's gonna keep going. I'm really positive on the story— FABER: You do I mean because— GORMAN: We brought a market environment so— FABER: Right but we watch it no I mean, we're here at the New York Stock Exchange. We see the listings happen for a long time it was Chinese companies then it was SPACs then it was now it's just straight IPOs. That's one part of capital markets activity but you really expect that you're always, I mean that you're going to maintain these kinds of growth rates when it comes to equities under a fixed income for the next year or two? GORMAN: You know, yeah, we're not going to compound at this level but look at some of the other things going on, I mean you've got global GDP growth in pretty much every major economy in the world is going through global GDP growth. We've got enormous fiscal stimulus. We've got record low interest rates, people want to transact, you've got the, you know, the move from commercial lending to capital markets across all of Europe is still in the very early days so, you know, I'm not uncomfortable in saying we've got we clearly have a growth platform out there, whether it will be at the level we're seeing right now in M&A, obviously not. That's our pipeline suggests that's with us for a while to come, but that's not going to be, you know, over the next five years. We're not going to maintain that kind of growth, but the resilience of the model, the scale advantages, we've got the efficiency ratio now under 70%. I mean all these things are real, then when you double the dividend which we did, you're giving investors, you know, a 2.8% yield at 100 bucks. I mean that's not for nothing, right, and you're buying back about 3% of stocks so investors are getting a return of 7% before we get any of that through. CARL QUINTANILLA: James, one of the headlines from the call was about crypto where you said it's not a huge part of the business demand from our clients. Is that because it's early days, do you expect that to change? GORMAN: You know, Carl, you know, I’ve said this before I think crypto, you know, it's not a fad. It's not going away and obviously the blockchain technology supporting it is a real innovation. We're not seeing among very wealthy clients they might put, you know, I talked to people maybe 1% of their portfolio in it. Nobody's putting 10% of their portfolio into it. So, it's an interesting thing I mean a lot of people want to participate, they don't know how crypto is all really going to play out. I see, you know, Bitcoin this morning I think it's trading. I don't know 55,000, 60,000. So, a lot of people made a lot of money on it but it's not, it's not a core part of their diversification strategy. It's an option that they're playing out and with very wealthy people. Now with some of the younger folks, it's it's different. They, they're using, they've got less money at risk and frankly they're at a stage in life they can take more risks so you're seeing more, more interest at that level. E*TRADE had much more interest than the traditional Morgan Stanley client base. CRAMER: That makes sense. James, you have drawn a line in the sand with people coming to work, people showing up, being able to judge someone as a first-year associate, second year, third, very traditional and I've always felt very right. Pushback? People think that you're wrong, people not wanting to go to Morgan Stanley versus other places, what is the culture right now on this issue? GORMAN: Yeah, I don't think there's been a decision I've made that I haven't had some pushback it's, I tell people you don't get just the good bits of being a leader, you get the good and bad bits and some of it is people don't like it when you make decisions. And by the way that counts for everything from what you put in programming on the show to, you know, what's going on in politics. So that's okay, I can deal with that and, you know, fundamentally what I said was and, you know, the quote I use which got a lot of attention was, “If you can go to a restaurant, you can go to the office.” What I didn't say Jim was and you've got to be in the office five days a week forever. Clearly, we've moved to a more flexible work environment but we'd like to see people in and around their colleagues at least several days a week. I mean, let's that's how we do our best work, that's where our best innovation happens from bringing people together and training and developing them. I mean it's okay for me working from home. I've, I'm at the tail end of my career. For the kids who are 25, they want to be in and around and learn from the seniors so again we'll be flexible and we are being flexible, but we still want to see you in the office some of the time job dependent, etc. We've had some folks as you would imagine on the trading floor they’ve been in five days a week from the get go and that's what their job demanded. Client facing people have to do what the clients want, so we'll be flexible, but we're certainly intentional. I think it's very important to share your learning and development skills with the young kids. FABER: Yeah, I think there's no doubt. I do sense frustration from some of your peers, James, though in terms of people not showing up on Fridays and yet knowing at this point as you say flexibility is part of the allure for other employers and seems to be something that you simply have to provide regardless of whether you want to. Do you agree? GORMAN: I don't know. I mean, David, you know, it's interesting some of the early companies that came out and said, you can absolutely do whatever you like in terms of working, they've retracted from that. I mean it's not every employee gets to choose exactly how they work in the same way they don't choose how they get paid or when they get promoted. Now there's got to be a balance in this so you're not going to please everybody on this topic. What I've said is between now and the end of the year, we're still in the category of what can we do from a health and safety. In New York City, for example, we require you to be vaccinated to come into the buildings. Guess what? 96% of our employees are vaccinated and they showed us their attestation cards. Other parts of the world, they're not even open. Now, you know, Australia, where I grew up, I mean they've barely opened the economy up yet they're still, you know, in lockdown phases in different parts of the country. By 2022, ‘23, then we'll really see what the right model is by business group and then by individual. CRAMER: Well, I've got to tell you James, the stock is down which is a rare opportunity because this was a great quarter. My charitable trust owns it. We talk about it a lot when it comes to the CNBC Investing Club and I just can't thank you enough for coming on and explaining why your bank is different and positive and I think much better than almost everybody else in the industry. James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley. GORMAN: Thanks, thanks guys and by the way, the stock being down it's not all bad news. We are in the middle of a big buyback program so I’m okay— FABER: There you go. Alright. Updated on Oct 14, 2021, 12:20 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 14th, 2021

Accessing “Whole” – People Is the Path to Sustained Innovation and Growth

Putting the human back in human resources turns work from a transactional exchange into a transformational connection. Creating authentic connections opens the door to advancing productivity and building a culture of innovation to sustain growth in and out of crisis. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more In the dogged pursuit of emergent technology, […] Putting the human back in human resources turns work from a transactional exchange into a transformational connection. Creating authentic connections opens the door to advancing productivity and building a culture of innovation to sustain growth in and out of crisis. 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 Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more In the dogged pursuit of emergent technology, we can often overlook the most critical factor in organizational success: People. In the quest for talent, businesses become focused on human resources for knowledge, skills, and ability. We seek out the relevant experiences but see people as simply the storage bins for talent. However, people aren’t solely made up of experience relevant to their jobs. People are made up of whole life experience that impacts every corner of their being including their work. If they are having a negative experience at home, at work or otherwise, guess what? It is going to manifest in their work performance. It will have an impact on business. Business tends to covet all resources a human can offer but with less of the human vulnerabilities. There Is No Work/Life Balance For years society has chased after “work/life balance,” but the reality is there is no separation between work and life. I prefer to speak in terms of work/life integration precisely because work is part of life and life is part of work. More than connected, they are integrated. The human experience cannot be successfully segmented. Mental, Physical, Social, Financial, it all matters. It all impacts life therefore it all impacts work. We saw this play out with the overnight shift to remote and hybrid work. People’s personal lives were on display as work and home fused into a single location. Now, as a CEO my control over what goes on in the personal lives of my employees is almost non-existent. Sure, I can care; I can be empathetic to their experiences, but without overstepping my bounds I simply don’t have a direct role in their personal lives. The greatest influence business executives can make stems from how they lead their companies. As a CEO, I am charged with providing stability in periods of upheaval whether they derive from internal or external sources. Let’s look back to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seemingly overnight, at least 220 million people worldwide lost full-time job alone (Source: COVID-19 and the world of work, International Labor Organization, 2021). The receding tide of widespread financial insecurity deflated our collective spirit. A SHRM poll found nearly six in ten Americans felt increased symptoms of depression. As leaders, we must understand how life impacts work performance and ultimately organizational productivity. Recognizing how these twists, trials and traumas manifest in the workplace can help us formulate a response and, if necessary, adjust our strategies. And because it impacts the balance sheet, it should definitely matter to the CEO, the CFO, the COO. Many executives I speak with claim they have little, to no interest in the lives of their employees. They assume leadership plus strategy plus talent somehow equals performance. But when we bury our heads in the sand, we shouldn’t be shocked when these issues land on our doorstep and performance suffers. As COVID-19 has made us painfully aware, business leaders need a broader radar to detect crisis whether they stem from internal or external sources. To be truly effective, leaders’ must be cognizant of what their workers are experiencing—that’s simply doing your job. For years we’ve been telling people to bring their whole selves to work, only to balk when parents need to take leave to care for an ill child. It’s time to walk the walk. As a CEO, executive, leader or people manager your sphere of influence extends further than you know. Finding Humanity In A Global Pandemic We all had a front row seat to see how intertwined home and work life truly is. Leaders had no choice but to be keenly aware of what workers experience and how it impacts their work. As we look to reset our workplaces, we must take into account workers entire lives. Their lives aren’t going always be on screens for all to see. It will take an intentional effort to stay plugged into what they are going through. Their humanity, and their whole self, is too often neglected as their coveted talent is methodically mined. When times are good, we can skate by with these tendencies. But when people and organizations face strife, neglect of people’s whole selves can quickly devolve into workplace troubles. As a CEO I’m not omniscient or omnipresent. As much as I might want to, I alone cannot sustain a connection with hundreds of employees. Managers reach more people in an organization on a daily basis. That is precisely why I emphasis the moniker, “People Managers.” They are critical to transmitting organizational culture, mission, values, and objectives. The C-Suite plays a large role in determining our organization values and establishing our culture. When you want to engage the bulk of your workers business executives can do so through People Managers, but you need good ones. I say it all the time. People don’t quit companies, they quit their managers. It is not uncommon to hear: “great company, but I couldn’t stand working for Bob.” So, the great work you’re doing in the C-Suite won’t register, if you have poor People Managers not executing that vision on the front line. In a 2019 SHRM report on toxic workplace culture, we discovered that 58 percent of employees who quit their jobs due to workplace culture blamed their People Managers. Their ability to clearly communicate the culture, build positive workplaces by listening, and implement accountability by setting expectations is vital to your success. People Managers are the ones best positioned to cultivate the awareness of the workforce. They are better suited to keep a pulse on how workers are doing on an individual level and check for signs of distress and disfunction that could hinder their work performance. But organizations must prioritize and invest in developing great People Managers. Investment in People Managers is multiplied in the workforce. However, the greatest tool in their toolbox is empathy. Empathy is vital because it opens up a space for employees to be their entire selves. When that happens, we can better gauge and respond to issues that would otherwise be invisible. Empathy builds the trust and credibility required to better understand people and engage them in the work. Truly listening to workers yields insight on how to best manage workers and adapt work to produce at a higher level. Empowering the right people is critical for growth and innovation. Technology Is A Tool; Innovation Is The Process; Innovators Are The Source Going back to people. It’s really people who drive business. Innovators are the ones that discover the breakthroughs that evolve business. Your best ideas come from creative minds with unique viewpoints. Survival in the pandemic meant birthing new ideas to meet challenges daily. Maintain an understanding of who and where your best ideas come from. Invest in those sources regularly. Those people who felt empowered to take risks in order to accomplish something new are your change agents. They imbue your organization with the agility and flexibility to meet tomorrow’s challenges. They are the one’s more likely to ask for forgiveness over permission. It’s the innovators who are inspired by future opportunity, not blinded by past success. Breakthroughs are fueled by people being curious enough to ask the questions that make others feel uncomfortable. Facing the uncomfortable requires being open to new concepts and trusting that there is a new solution around the corner. Innovators trust there is a way forward even when they can’t yet see it. Fostering new ideas requires a willingness to test a concept and be wrong, so we can learn something new and build it into the next iteration to test again. Innovators value the process of creation and thinking beyond convention. To commit to ideation, we must be willing to set time and money aside away from operations to “play,” to tinker. Again, it requires being ok with risk and possible failure. Embrace failure. Autopsy your failures to find out what went wrong. Those lessons shed light on the way forward. Conversely, the fear of failure can paralyze action and limit success. Past success can also blind you to future opportunity. That is part of the vulnerability of the status quo where hyper focus on day-to-day operations and crises can have a chilling effect on innovation. Fat And Happy When I worked for Blockbuster, we found that our revenues grew in relation to the number of stores we opened. We made our mission to be everywhere. For us that meant putting a brick and mortar storefront in every corner of the global. And nobody was going to beat us at that game. Meanwhile, Netflix took that premise, stepped back and reimagined what “being everywhere” could mean. As movies became digital, Netflix saw the next delivery mechanism for movies. First, it was mailing DVDs on request, then morphed into streaming subscriptions. Subsequently, Blockbuster became obsolete almost overnight. Focusing on their past definition of success robbed them of the time and energy needed to envision future potential. Are you investing in your innovators? Are you regularly reimaging your execution? Are you evaluating emerging technologies to understand their potential to transform your operations? Do you have a start-up mentality embedded in your business? There are no shortages of organizations that talk innovation. They point to R&D as their evidence. But innovation doesn’t just take place in R&D. From service to manufacturing to finance and marketing, innovation can be cultivated in every aspect of an organization. But it requires a willingness to identify, recruit, develop and advance creative talent. But oftentimes, those creative people defy convention. They can and often do have vastly different outlooks on life. And that’s what we want. People who challenge convention. They often bring attitudes, behaviors and even an appearance that is outside of our expectations and workplace norms. We rely on them not to fit in, but to stretch the workplace culture. Their idiosyncrasies are part of the whole package. As I said earlier, organizations tend to want that creative talent sans the messiness of humanity. If we are truly intentional about embedding innovation within our Culture, we have to embrace “whole people.” This means employing empathy. This means being accepting of some of the eccentricity that innovators bring. If you want an Elon Musk you’ve got to be willing to embrace his quirkiness. I would argue it could be worth it. You want people who have the ability to focus on an objective without being locked in on a particular route. People who are willing to uncover better ways to getting the work done. People who look at our collection of assets and MacGyver them into something new. The emergence of e-books should have been fatal to Amazon Books who had built a revolutionary system for inventory and distribution of physical books. They saw value in that efficient operation and reapplied their product fulfillment strategy to selling just about anything. That doesn’t happen unless you have a culture infused with a flexible mindset that can adapt to shifting paradigms. It doesn’t happen without the visionaries who have license to reinvent the wheel. Article By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and author of Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval About the Author: Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is President and Chief Executive Officer of SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. With over 300,000 members in 165 countries, SHRM is the largest HR professional association in the world, impacting the lives of 115 million workers every day. As a global leader on the future of employment, culture and leadership, Mr. Taylor is a sought-after voice on all matters affecting work, workers and the workplace. He is frequently asked to testify before Congress on critical workforce issues and authors the weekly USA Today column, "Ask HR." Mr. Taylor's career spans over 20 years as a lawyer, human resources executive and CEO in both the not-for-profit and for-profit space. He has held senior and chief executive roles at IAC/Interactive Corp, Viacom's Paramount Pictures, Blockbuster Entertainment Group, the McGuireWoods law firm, and Compass Group USA. Most recently, Mr. Taylor was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. He was appointed chairman of the President's Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and served as a member of the White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board during the Trump Administration. He is a Trustee of the University of Miami, Governor of the American Red Cross, and member of the corporate boards of Guild Education, iCIMS, and XPO Logistics (NYSE: XPO).. He is licensed to practice law in Florida, Illinois and Washington, D.C. All author proceeds will benefit the SHRM Foundation, which is committed to empowering HR as a social force for change. To learn more, please visit reset.shrm.org. Updated on Oct 14, 2021, 11:25 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 14th, 2021

Facebook Plan To Prevent Future Leaks Was Leaked

Since Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been under fire after internal revelations by whistleblower Frances Haugen, the company is now taking measures to reduce leaks. However, in a paradoxical twist, Facebook’s measures have been leaked. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more “Leaky Leaks” As reported by The New York Times, the internet giant told […] Since Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been under fire after internal revelations by whistleblower Frances Haugen, the company is now taking measures to reduce leaks. However, in a paradoxical twist, Facebook’s measures have been leaked. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more “Leaky Leaks” As reported by The New York Times, the internet giant told its staff on Tuesday that it was making some of its internal online discussion groups private. “Many Facebook employees join online discussion groups on Workplace, an internal message board that workers use to communicate and collaborate with one another,” the media outlet says. The company is limiting access of non-related workers to groups that contain conversations about safety and other sensitive matters, comprising an area known as “integrity.” The move looks to reduce the number of people engaging in chats on topics that do not pertain to their area of expertise. An engineering director said, “As everyone is likely aware, we’ve seen an increase in the number of Integrity-related leaks in recent months.” “These leaks aren’t representative of the nuances and complexities involved in our work and are often taken out of context, leading to our work being mischaracterized externally.” Facebook is famous for its open working environment but is turning more suspicious after having to deal with disclosures relating to toxic speech and misinformation on its platform. The NYT reports that the communications department warned on an internal forum used for companywide announcements: “OUR ONE REQUEST: PLEASE DON’T LEAK.” “Avoiding Misunderstandings” Facebook anti-leak moves stem from the blazing controversy aroused by Frances Haugen, an ex-employee-turned-whistleblower who filtered thousands of pages of company documents to authorities, lawmakers, and media. She also vented sensitive information during an interview on “60 Minutes,” saying that the company is aware of how damaging the Facebook and Instagram platforms are, regarding misinformation and the mental health of female teens. She also filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and testified to a Senate subcommittee this month, as reported by The NYT. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement: “Leaks make it harder for our teams to work together, can put employees working on sensitive subjects at risk externally and lead to complex topics being misrepresented and misunderstood.” Facebook is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders’ families. Updated on Oct 14, 2021, 10:16 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 14th, 2021

Facebook told staff it would seal off some internal message boards to prevent leaking. The change was immediately leaked.

Facebook is making some discussion groups private, per the NYT. It comes a week after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Tobias Hase/picture alliance via Getty Images Facebook is restricting access to some staff message boards to prevent leaks. Facebook said some boards that relate to platform safety would be made private, The New York Times reported. Last week, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress. Facebook told employees on Tuesday it would restrict access to some internal message boards to prevent leaks, The New York Times first reported on Wednesday.The company told staff it would restrict access to some employee message boards that relate to platform safety and protecting elections, both of which come under the umbrella of "Integrity," per The Times.Some groups would be made private instead of public in the coming months, Facebook said, according to the report. Facebook also said it would go through some Integrity-related discussion groups and start removing people that don't work directly on safety and security, The Times reported.The move comes a week after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testified before Congress. Haugen left the company in May 2021, and later leaked internal documents to The Wall Street Journal. Haugen has also filed at least eight whistleblower complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).An engineering director wrote in the announcement, viewed by The Times, that, "as everyone is likely aware, we've seen an increase in the number of Integrity-related leaks in recent months.""These leaks aren't representative of the nuances and complexities involved in our work and are often taken out of context, leading to our work being mischaracterized externally," the director added, per The Times.Facebook appeared to confirm the change in a statement to The Times, and said the move had been in the works for months. In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook confirmed the authenticity of the announcement viewed by The Times.A Facebook spokesperson told Insider in a statement: "Leaks decrease the effectiveness, efficiency, and morale of the teams working every day to address the challenges that come with operating a platform for billions of people."They can also put employees working on sensitive subjects at risk externally and lead to complex topics being misrepresented and misunderstood," they said.The Times viewed internal comments from staff reacting to the announcement. While some were supportive of the change, others said it reduced transparency and collaboration at the company."Siloing off the people who are dedicated to integrity will harm both active efforts to collaborate and reduce the cultural expectation that integrity is everyone's responsibility," one employee comment viewed by The Times read.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement following Haugen's testimony that the company's work had been "taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative."Haugen is also due to meet with Facebook's independent Oversight Board.Another whistleblower named Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist at Facebook who went public with her criticism of the company in April 2021, said this week she would be willing to testify before Congress.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 14th, 2021

Netflix CEO said the company believes content "doesn"t directly translate to real-world harm" in defense of Dave Chappelle special, report says

GLAAD pushed back on the claim, saying media can lead to "real world harm, especially for trans people & LGBTQ people of color." Dave Chappelle's latest special, "The Closer," has been defended by Netflix head Ted Sarandos. David Livingston/Getty Images In an email, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos said on-screen content doesn't translate to real-world harm. Sarandos cited a decline in violent crime in recent decades despite an increase in violent content. He was defending Dave Chappelle's "The Closer," which has been criticized for transphobic comments. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said this week the company believes on-screen content "doesn't directly translate to real-world harm," in another defense of Dave Chappelle's new comedy special, Variety reported.The streaming giant has come under fire from some of its employees for hosting the special, "The Closer," which activists say features transphobic comments. In the special, Chappelle says "gender is a fact" and defends "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling, who has also been criticized for transphobic comments. Chappelle also said he identifies with TERFs, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists.Sarandos initially defended the special in an email sent to company leadership on Friday, according to The Verge. He doubled down on the remarks in a company-wide email sent on Monday and obtained by Variety after Netflix employees protested the special and the decision to keep it on the platform."With 'The Closer,' we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real-world harm (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence, etc.)," Sarandos wrote. "While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn't directly translate to real-world harm."He continued: "The strongest evidence to support this is that violence on screens has grown hugely over the last thirty years, especially with first-party shooter games, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly in many countries. Adults can watch violence, assault, and abuse - or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy - without it causing them to harm others."In response to the comments, GLAAD released a statement pushing back against Sarandos's claims about the impact of media: "GLAAD was founded 36 years ago because media representation has consequences for LGBTQ people. Film & TV have been filled with stereotypes and misinformation about us, leading to real-world harm, especially for trans people & LGBTQ people of color."One transgender Netflix employee who spoke out against the special in a viral Twitter thread last week also argued that transphobic content translates to physical harm, listing off transgender people who have been killed.The employee, Terra Field, was suspended by the company but was later reinstated.Chappelle's "The Closer" was the third most-watched piece of content on Netflix in the US on Wednesday.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 14th, 2021

A group of nearly 50 nonprofits has launched a campaign to "effectively end Facebook"s current business model" in the wake of whistleblower testimony

The organizations are calling for a data privacy law to "shut down Facebook's surveillance machine" following Frances Haugen's Senate testimony. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan A group of almost 50 nonprofits is trying to "stop Facebook" in the wake of multiple company crises. It wants a data privacy law "strong enough to effectively end Facebook's current business model." The effort was spurred by testimony from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen last week. Dozens of human rights organizations have started a campaign calling for action against Facebook following a week of turmoil for the tech giant. The coalition of nearly 50 nonprofits launched a new website, HowtoStopFacebook.org, on Wednesday. The organizations backing the effort include names like the Center for Digital Democracy, the Government Accountability Project, Fight for the Future, and PEN America.The groups launched the campaign in response to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen's testimony before Congress last week.Haugen, a former Facebook employee, told a Senate hearing that the company has sown "more division, more harm, more lies, more threats, and more combat." In recent weeks, Haugen had leaked tens of thousands of pages of company documents that laid the groundwork for a multi-part Wall Street Journal investigation into Facebook. The documents showed that Facebook knew Instagram negatively affects teens' mental health and that employees were aware that a 2018 algorithm change would elevate false and politically divisive content. "Whistleblower Frances Haugen has shined a light on how Big Tech companies like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube use harmful algorithms to recommend content in order to maximize profit, and the mass surveillance and data harvesting practices that power the algorithms," the petition reads. "Stopping these companies from amassing data by passing strong privacy laws that put people-not corporations-in control of our personal information will severely diminish these platforms' harms."The groups are calling on Congress to subpoena information for an investigation into Facebook and to pass data privacy legislation that is "strong enough to effectively end Facebook's current business model." They're also asking that the Federal Trade Commission "move forward with rule making that prohibits companies from collecting, purchasing or otherwise acquiring user information beyond what is needed to provide the service requested by the user, and from using this information for another purpose or to transfer it to another company without the user's explicit, opt-in consent.""The best way to stop Facebook's harms for the whole world is to cut off the fuel supply for its dangerous machine," the new website says. "These dangerous algorithms use our own personal data to manipulate us. They're hurting our kids, undermining democracy in the U.S. and globally, and exacerbating discrimination."Besides Haugen's testimony, Facebook was hit with two outages in less than five days last week, affecting countless users around the world in a meltdown which many say highlights a growing need for antitrust action against the company. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 13th, 2021

Almost 4 in 10 workers plan to leave their jobs this year - here are their biggest reasons why

COVID has changed what employees prioritize. For many, the decision to leave comes down to flexibility over salary. Nearly four in 10 workers said they're planning to look for a new job in the coming year. Justin Paget/Getty Images Almost 4 in 10 workers plan on looking for a new job this year, according to a survey by Workhuman. Those leaving are citing a desire for more flexibility among their top reasons for quitting. To retain workers, employers should improve company culture and show more employee appreciation. After 18 months of uncertainty, stress, and adaptation on the job, employees know what they will and won't tolerate at work - and soaring resignation numbers are the result.That's the top-line finding of "The Great Resignation," Workhuman's fall 2021 international survey. Nearly 4 in 10 workers said they're planning to look for a new job in the coming year, a figure that should terrify workforce planners and managers alike.Labor Department data confirm this: Quit rates are up according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a big jump coming in recent months.Many workers, having survived the worst recession and work disruptions of their lifetimes, are determined to improve their work situations, and the tight talent market gives them the opportunity and market clout to do so.Employers who respond directly to this new worker mindset will hold onto their most valuable talent and attract workers disaffected by less flexible organizations.Flexibility is a key concernThe first reaction of leadership might be to engage in a "salary arms race" to retain key employees. Bumping up pay doesn't address fundamental changes in employee outlook, however, and small or medium-sized businesses can't compete with big firms that can throw cash reserves or debt at the problem.30% of those looking to leave their employer cited, "I want more flexibility" as their primary reason for leaving. In a key data point for companies with diversity initiatives, a desire for flexibility was the highest among Black respondents (39%). Feeling battered on all sides, employees also want to be thanked and acknowledged for showing up despite seemingly endless disruptions. In short, people want more respect for their efforts, and more power to control their work and home lives.The survey of more than 3,500 workers in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland showed an especially high risk of departure among working parents (65%). Women are feeling increasingly burned out, a phenomenon affirmed by McKinsey's latest Women in the Workplace report.Fathers have tasted, some for the first time, a situation in which they both held down demanding jobs and had more time with children. One driver of resignations has been people questioning their lifelong habit of putting work first.Culture trumps salaryThe survey suggests three areas of opportunity for companies to improve retention by improving their management methods and company culture:Better communication.Greater psychological safety.More employee appreciation.1. Better communication: Managers must adapt their style from giving orders to coaching people. Frequent check-ins with employees more than doubled workers' feelings of meaning, purpose, trust, and belonging. "Leaders who adopt a coach approach ... provide just-in-time feedback that turns the very nature of work into a model for partnership." says Joe Hirsch, author and TEDx speaker. Implicit in coaching dialogue is the message that the managers' main job is to bring out the best in those they manage.2. Greater psychological safety: According to Harvard professor Amy Edmondson, psychological safety is "a shared belief that I can bring my full self to work, that I will not be humiliated or made to feel less good about myself if I speak up with ideas, with questions, with concerns, and yes, even with mistakes." The Workhuman survey asked respondents to rate their agreement with seven key statements indicating psychological safety. They found that workers who indicate they might look for a job experience significantly lower average psychological safety than those who aren't looking. When people feel included for who they truly are, they feel safer and are less likely to be on the lookout for new employers.3. More employee appreciation: How people are paid versus how much also affect employee satisfaction. When 1% of the total salary budget is directed to a social recognition program, in which employees can attach material awards to moments of appreciation, engagement improves, according to Workhuman.Those recognized in the last month were nearly three times as likely to say their culture got better, with more connection and cohesion across teams. Perhaps this has to do with the inverse relationship between stress and gratitude. As in previous years, the data reveals that the more recently someone has been thanked at work, the lower their stress level and the greater their sense of gratitude.The Great Resignation shows that employees are moving toward a holistic view of work-life integration, where both are important and possible to manage without burning out. Your people improvised and innovated their way to new methods of working during the pandemic. Their willingness to work where companies honor that newfound ability is an opportunity for leaders to hire and hold the best talent.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 13th, 2021

Uber Drivers Say a ‘Racist’ Algorithm Is Putting Them Out of Work

Some Uber drivers say they have been prevented from working due to what they claim is racially biased facial verification technology Abiodun Ogunyemi has been an Uber Eats delivery driver since February 2020. But since March he has been unable to work due to what a union supporting drivers claims is a racially-biased algorithm. Ogunyemi, who is Black, had submitted a photograph of himself to confirm his identity on the app, but when the software failed to recognize him, he was blocked from accessing his account for “improper use of the Uber application.” Ogunyemi is one of dozens of Uber drivers who have been prevented from working due to what they say is “racist” facial verification technology. Uber uses Microsoft Face API software on its app to verify drivers’ identification, asking drivers to submit new photos on a regular basis. According to trade union the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and Uber drivers, the software has difficulty accurately recognizing people with darker skin tones. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] In 2018, a similar version of the Microsoft software was found to fail one in five darker-skinned female faces and one in 17 darker-skinned male faces. In London nine out of 10 private hire drivers identify as Black or Black British, Asian or Asian British, or mixed race, according to Transport for London data. This poses a potential issue for those who work for Uber. In an email to TIME, an Uber spokesperson said that its facial verification software is “designed to protect the safety and security of everyone who uses the Uber app by helping ensure the correct driver is behind the wheel.” In a letter to the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) in April, Microsoft wrote that it was testing its software with a focus on “fairness” and “accuracy across demographic groups,” according to the BBC. ‘Racist’ algorithm Last week around 80 Uber drivers and protestors gathered outside the ride-hailing app’s London headquarters in Aldgate to waving placards reading “Scrap the racist algorithm” and “Stop unfair terminations,” to protest about the software’s role in disproportionately leading to terminations of drivers of color, among other concerns. Ogunyemi—who was unable to attend the protest because he is based in Manchester—has three children, and since March he says his wife has taken on full-time work to support the family. Even so, he has fallen into arrears on loan and mortgage payments, he says. CourtesyUber Eats delivery driver Abiodun Ogunyemi says his account was suspended after Uber’s facial recognition software failed to verify his photo. The delivery driver, who until recently had a 96% customer rating, had run into difficulties with the automatic facial identification software before. Drivers are given the option of submitting their pictures to a computer or an Uber employee for review and Ogunyemi often had to wait for additional human verification after submitting his photos. When Uber rejected his picture in March, he says, the situation turned into “a nightmare.” After his appeal of Uber’s decision was rejected, Ogunyemi asked to speak to someone more senior, but his request was denied, he says. IWGB has since stepped in for Ogunyemi, sending evidence to Uber on his behalf. Last month, he received a message from Uber saying his account had been reactivated and that his photo had initially been rejected by a member of staff due to “human error.” Yet, when Ogunyemi tried to access his account, he was asked to upload another picture for verification. He immediately submitted a new photo, which was denied. His account remains blocked. “Every single day that I cannot work has a negative impact on my family,” he told TIME in a phone call. “My kids need to go to school, I need to give them pocket money. I need to pay for their bus pass.” Uber’s spokesperson said that its system “includes robust human review to make sure that this algorithm is not making decisions about someone’s livelihood in a vacuum, without oversight,” but did not address Ogunyemi’s case. Ogunyemi says he knows of five other drivers, all of whom are Black, who have had their accounts terminated because of issues with facial identification. IWGB says that 35 drivers have reported similar incidents to the union. Driver identity concerns Uber began using the problematic software after it was stripped of its license to operate in London in November 2019 amid safety concerns. Authorities found that more than 14,000 trips had been taken with 43 drivers who had used false identities. There were 45,000 Uber drivers licensed in London at the time. A year later, Uber won an appeal to have its license reinstated, but promised to root out unverified drivers by using regular facial identification procedures. Last week it was reported that an unnamed Black British Uber driver is taking the company to court alleging indirect race discrimination because the facial recognition software was preventing him from working. According to the driver’s claim, he submitted two photos of himself, which were rejected by the platform. The IWGB, which is supporting his claim alongside Black Lives Matter U.K., said his account was later deactivated and he received a message saying: “Our team conducted a thorough investigation and the decision to end the partnership has been made on a permanent basis.” It said that the matter was “not subject to further review.” The ADCU is also taking legal action against Uber over the dismissal of a driver and a courier due to the software failing to recognize them. In the U.S., a similar case was taken to a Missouri court in 2019, filed under civil rights law. The plaintiff, William Fambrough, claimed he was forced to lighten the photos he submitted for immediate verification, since he worked “late nights” for Uber and the software could not identify his face in “pitch darkness.” The company said the photos were fraudulent and his account was suspended. Fambrough’s claim was ultimately unsuccessful. According to Professor Toby Breckon, an engineer and computer scientist at Durham University, England, facial recognition software is designed for well-lit photos. He says that people with lighter skin tones tend to be more easily recognized by the software, even in badly-lit environments. The data on racial bias in Uber’s software is “particularly bad,” although there is currently no software without a racial bias, Breckon says. His team of researchers, who are working to reduce racial bias in facial recognition algorithms, has found that skin tone is not the only factor: the technology equally struggles to identify a variety of facial features and hair types. Read more: Artificial Intelligence Has a Problem With Gender and Racial Bias. Here’s How to Solve It At the London protest, drivers expressed anger about the dismissal of their colleagues, which some believed was a symptom of systemic racism within the company. George Ibekwe, an Uber driver whose account was suspended after a customer complained that he had argued with another driver during the trip, told TIME that he believed racism was at play when his account was suspended without further investigation. Uber’s spokesperson did not comment on Ibekwe’s case. “I haven’t had any criminal record in my life,” he said. “It is totally devastating. It affects me personally, financially, and mentally.” Without an income, he says he has been forced to claim unemployment benefits. Another driver at the protest, who asked not to be named, claimed he was terminated after a customer complained he was “staring” at them. He said there was “no evidence, no investigation, and no interview” before his account was suspended. Uber’s spokesperson did not comment about these allegations when asked by TIME. Uber drivers’ rights Uber drivers have long fought against worsening pay (despite rising fares) due to higher service fees and unsafe working conditions. In February, the British Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers must be treated as workers, rather than self-employed, entitling them to earn a minimum wage and take paid vacation leave. The ruling was the culmination of a long-running legal battle over the company’s responsibility to its drivers. Similar efforts are underway in other countries around the world, including Spain, the Netherlands, and South Africa, while in California, legal wrangling over ride-sharing drivers’ rights is ongoing. According to Alex Marshall, president of IWGB, the U.K. Supreme Court ruling has opened the door to drivers suing Uber on the basis that the company has failed to protect them from discrimination. He says that since the tribunal alleging indirect race discrimination against a driver was launched, “Uber seem to be slightly on the backfoot.” “We’re sending off emails [about facial identification errors], and we’re hearing decisions getting overturned a lot quicker than in the past,” he says. The outcome of the upcoming court case may have major implications for Uber’s facial identification processes, and could set a precedent for use of the technology. “We’re seeing this movement growing,” Marshall says. “We’re seeing the power switch back to the drivers and we’re going to keep fighting.” Ogunyemi will be watching the other drivers’ tribunals closely and says he is considering whether to approach a lawyer himself. “It’s been six months since I’ve been out of work,” he says. “I have tried everything humanly possible to reason with Uber. I am not going to sit around any longer waiting for them.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 12th, 2021

Dollar Remains Strong and Rushes Further. Gold in Pain?

The old saying goes: in the case of gold and the dollar, the latter’s uprising is the former’s downsizing. Will we see this materializing once again? Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The USD Index Bursting Through Its Rising Resistance Line With the USD Index shrugging off the weak U.S. nonfarm payrolls print […] The old saying goes: in the case of gold and the dollar, the latter’s uprising is the former’s downsizing. Will we see this materializing once again? 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 Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The USD Index Bursting Through Its Rising Resistance Line With the USD Index shrugging off the weak U.S. nonfarm payrolls print on Oct. 8 and demonstrating more and more resiliency as the months progress, the dollar basket has not only verified the breakout above the neckline of its inverse (bullish) head & shoulders pattern, but it’s also finding higher levels of support. To explain, after bursting through its rising resistance line (which is now support), the recent consolidation is perfectly normal within a medium-term uptrend. Moreover, mirroring the behavior that we witnessed in June, the USD Index’s small correction after its RSI (Relative Strength Index) hit 70 was followed by another sharp move higher. As a result, the greenback’s technical foundation remains robust. For context, I wrote on Oct. 4: While a short-term consolidation could ensue following the USD Index’s ferocious rally, a similar development occurred in late June. After a short-term corrective downswing proceeded the USD Index’s sharp rally, the USD Index continued its medium-term ascent soon after. And while gold demonstrated the opposite price action in late June – recording a short-term rally and following that up with a medium-term drop to lower lows – the 2021 theme of ‘USD Index up, PMs down’ should continue to play out over the next few months. To that point, with gold, silver and mining stocks often moving inversely to the U.S. dollar, the greenback’s likely uprising could sink the precious metals over the medium term. Please see below: Equally bullish for the greenback, with the USD Index’s technical strength signaling an ominous ending for the Euro Index, the latter has struggled immensely in recent weeks. And while the Euro Index bounced on Oct. 8 following the weak U.S. nonfarm payrolls print, the European currency closed at another 2021 low on Oct. 7 and has continued its freefall below the neckline of its bearish head & shoulders pattern. As a result, the next stop could be ~1.1500 (the March 2020 highs, then likely lower). For context, the EUR/USD accounts for nearly 58% of the movement of the USD Index, and that’s why the euro’s behavior is so important. Please see below: Adding to our confidence (don’t get me wrong, there are no certainties in any market; it’s just that the bullish narrative for the USDX is even more bullish in my view), the USD Index often sizzles in the summer sun and major USDX rallies often start during the middle of the year. Summertime spikes have been mainstays on the USD Index’s historical record and in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2018 a retest of the lows (or close to them) occurred before the USD Index began its upward flights (which is exactly what’s happened this time around). Furthermore, profound rallies (marked by the red vertical dashed lines below) followed in 2008, 2011 and 2014. With the current situation mirroring the latter, a small consolidation on the long-term chart is exactly what occurred before the USD Index surged in 2014. Likewise, the USD Index recently bottomed near its 50-week moving average; an identical development occurred in 2014. More importantly, though, with bottoms in the precious metals market often occurring when gold trades in unison with the USD Index (after ceasing to respond to the USD’s rallies with declines), we’re still far away from that milestone in terms of both price and duration. Moreover, as the journey unfolds, the bullish signals from 2014 have resurfaced once again. For example, the USD Index’s RSI is hovering near a similar level (marked with red ellipses), and back then, a corrective downswing also occurred at the previous highs. More importantly, though, the short-term weakness was followed by a profound rally in 2014, and many technical and fundamental indicators signal that another reenactment could be forthcoming. Please see below: Just as the USD Index took a breather before its massive rally in 2014, it seems that we saw the same recently. This means that predicting higher gold prices (or the ones of silver) here is likely not a good idea. Continuing the theme, the eye in the sky doesn’t lie. And with the USDX’s long-term breakout clearly visible, the wind still remains at the dollar’s back. Please see below: The Bottom Line As the drama unfolds, the ~98 target is likely to be reached over the medium term, and the USDX will likely exceed 100 at some point over the medium or long term. Keep in mind though: we’re not bullish on the greenback because of the U.S.’ absolute outperformance. It’s because the region is fundamentally outperforming the Eurozone, the EUR/USD accounts for nearly 58% of the movement of the USD Index, and the relative performance is what really matters. In conclusion, the USD Index remains ripe for an upward re-rating and the greenback’s ability to shrug off bad fundamental news has cemented its bullish foundation. Moreover, with the EUR/USD holding on by a thread, the currency pair’s pain is the USD Index’s gain. In addition, with the U.S. 10-Year Treasury yield closing the Oct. 8 session at its highest level since Jun. 3 and the Fed poised to announce its taper timeline in the coming months, plenty of reinforcements support a stronger U.S. dollar over the medium term. And since gold, silver and mining stocks have strong negative correlations with the U.S. dollar, the latter’s uprising could lead to the former’s downsizing. Thank you for reading our free analysis today. Please note that the above is just a small fraction of today’s all-encompassing Gold & Silver Trading Alert. The latter includes multiple premium details such as the targets for gold and mining stocks that could be reached in the next few weeks. If you’d like to read those premium details, we have good news for you. As soon as you sign up for our free gold newsletter, you’ll get a free 7-day no-obligation trial access to our premium Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. It’s really free – sign up today. Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA Founder, Editor-in-chief Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care All essays, research and information found above represent analyses and opinions of Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA and Sunshine Profits' associates only. As such, it may prove wrong and be subject to change without notice. Opinions and analyses are based on data available to authors of respective essays at the time of writing. Although the information provided above is based on careful research and sources that are deemed to be accurate, Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA and his associates do not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the data or information reported. The opinions published above are neither an offer nor a recommendation to purchase or sell any securities. Mr. Radomski is not a Registered Securities Advisor. By reading Przemyslaw Radomski's, CFA reports you fully agree that he will not be held responsible or liable for any decisions you make regarding any information provided in these reports. Investing, trading and speculation in any financial markets may involve high risk of loss. Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA, Sunshine Profits' employees and affiliates as well as members of their families may have a short or long position in any securities, including those mentioned in any of the reports or essays, and may make additional purchases and/or sales of those securities without notice. Updated on Oct 12, 2021, 2:06 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 12th, 2021

The UK Parliament"s expenses watchdog accidentally leaked the names and home addresses of an MP"s staffers

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority accidentally published the names, home addresses, and a phone number of Dawn Butler MP's staffers. Labour MP Dawn Butler. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images The MPs' expenses watchdog published the names, addresses, and a phone number for two Dawn Butler staffers. The incorrectly redacted receipts also had a link to an order confirmation page with the private data. The watchdog is already being sued over a 2017 breach of a salary spreadsheet. The UK Parliament's expenses watchdog accidentally leaked the names, home addresses, and a phone number for parliamentary staffers working for Labour MP Dawn Butler, Insider can disclose.On October 8, in response to a freedom of information request, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) published the receipts for two laptop stands purchased by Butler for her staff to use.The receipts contained the unredacted names and home addresses of two of Butler's staffers, who work for the MP in Parliament. Insider has redacted the staffers' personal data. Part of one receipt which originally showed the address of a staffer. IPSA Links within the receipt were also unredacted, allowing access to the order confirmation pages. The link was still available, allowing access to the order confirmation page. The black boxes are redactions made by IPSA. IPSA These had the names and home addresses of both aides, as well as a phone number and email address for one of the assistants. The staffers' names, addresses, and a telephone number, as well as a Parliamentary email address, were available on the order confirmation page. IPSA IPSA removed the page after Insider contacted it on Monday evening alerting to the data breach, meaning the information was online for three days.An IPSA spokesperson told Insider: "We have contacted both the Member of Parliament and the two staff members to explain what happened and offer our sincere apologies for this mistake. We will review our procedures and make any changes needed to avoid future errors."In a separate letter to Insider, an IPSA official said the organisation takes its information security responsibilities "very seriously," and that "the safety and security of MPs and their staff is our priority."Butler's office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Separately, IPSA is currently being sued by hundreds of political staffers over a 2017 data breach, the Register reported. A spreadsheet was mistakenly published containing MPs' staff names, salaries, hours worked, working patterns, and holiday entitlements. More than 3,000 people were affected.In a letter to MPs in March 2017, IPSA said the breach did not contain "information relating to the security of the individuals" such as phone numbers or addresses.Some staff who had their personal data published received compensation payouts, while 216 claimants are still suing IPSA in the High Court.Possible consequencesThe Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the UK's data regulator, said it had not yet received notification of the recent breach from IPSA.An ICO spokesperson told Insider: "Organisations must notify the ICO within 72 hours of becoming aware of a personal data breach, unless it does not pose a risk to people's rights and freedoms."If an organisation decides that a breach doesn't need to be reported they should keep their own record of it and be able to explain why it wasn't reported if necessary."One expert suggested the leak could lead to enforcement action by the ICO.James Castro-Edwards, a data protection lawyer at Arnold & Porter, told Insider: "The unauthorised disclosure of individuals' personal information may amount to a 'personal data breach' for the purposes of the UK GDPR,'" referring to General Data Protection Regulation, the framework for data protection in the UK."The ICO has a broad range of powers and may take enforcement action against organisations that fail to adequately protect individuals' personal data."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 12th, 2021

Muslim women were held in a cell for months by Chinese police for cyber "pre-crimes" such as accessing WhatsApp and a school Gmail account, book says

A student belonging to one of China's Muslim minority ethnic groups was detained for six months after using a VPN to access her school email account. People are detained by the police after a rally in Hong Kong on December 22, 2019 to show support for the Uighur minority in China. Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images Muslim women were sent to Chinese re-education camps for cyber "pre-crimes," a book out Tuesday reveals. One student said she was detained for using a VPN to open her school Gmail account and submit homework. She shared a cell with a woman arrested for using WhatsApp to contact coworkers, the book says. Women belonging to China's Muslim ethnic groups were detained in a cell for months by Chinese police after being accused of various cyber "pre-crimes," an excerpt from the book "In The Camps: China's High-Tech Penal Colony" revealed. Vera Zhou, a US permanent resident and student at the University of Washington, said she was detained for downloading a VPN in order to access her school homework and email accounts while visiting her father and boyfriend in Xinjiang, China. "They informed me that I will be sent to a 're-education class,'" Zhou wrote in remarks to the US Department of Education. "I was required to change into their uniform which has neon green stripes on the sleeves and pants. The door was locked from the outside.""I was there from October 2017 to March 2018," she added. "I spent my Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 2018 New Year in that cell."The Uighurs and Hui are the two major Muslim ethnic groups in China, living under intense surveillance from the Chinese government. More than one million Uighurs are believed to have been sent to "re-education" camps and prisons like Zhou's, where former detainees detail horrific experiences with torture and medical experiments. Zhou was held along with 11 other Muslim women identified by police as extremist "pre-criminals" through China's internet security law, the book out Tuesday says. The law, implemented in 2017, requires internet network operators to share personal data with Chinese authorities. One woman said she was arrested for downloading WhatsApp in order to talk to coworkers in Kazakhstan. Another woman who sold smartphones said she allowed multiple customers to use her ID to set up their SIM cards. All three were victims of China's high-tech surveillance system that targets Muslim minorities, according to "In the Camps" author Darren Byler.After spending six months at the camp, Zhou was released under a set of conditions requiring her to stay within her local neighborhood and report frequently to a "social stability worker."One day, while going to a movie theatre with friends, Zhou said her ID and face were scanned at a checkpoint, prompting an alarm to go off. Another day, she accidentally walked beyond her neighborhood's border, as her face quickly became highlighted by a yellow square on a nearby monitor that identified her as a Muslim pre-criminal. Zhou soon realized that while her physical confinement had ended, she was still stuck in a digital prison. But when she was finally able to return to Seattle in 2019, the surveillance technology that made her confinement possible had also reached the US. Amazon, with headquarters in Seattle, reportedly purchased 1,500 thermal imaging cameras from a Chinese company that the US has blacklisted due to allegations it helped the Chinese government "detain and monitor the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities," Insider's Ben Gilbert reported last April. The technology is intended to remotely monitor employee temperature as a means of preventing coronavirus from spreading. Despite Dahua 's status with the US government, private businesses are legally allowed to purchase goods from blacklisted companies.In an earlier email exchange with Business Insider, Amazon spokesperson Rena Lunak confirmed that Amazon is implementing "the use of thermal imagers from multiple manufacturers for temperature screening to create a more streamlined experience for our employees."However, she added, "none of this equipment has network connectivity, and no personal identifiable information will be visible, collected, or stored."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 11th, 2021

Blue Tower Asset Management 3Q21 Commentary: Nihon Falcom

Blue Tower Asset Management commentary for the third quarter ended September 2021, providing an investment theses on Nihon Falcom Corporation (TYO:3723). Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The Blue Tower Global Value strategy registered a decline in Q3 of -4.89% net of fees (-4.61% gross). Fears over Covid variants, including the Delta variant, […] Blue Tower Asset Management commentary for the third quarter ended September 2021, providing an investment theses on Nihon Falcom Corporation (TYO:3723). .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 Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The Blue Tower Global Value strategy registered a decline in Q3 of -4.89% net of fees (-4.61% gross). Fears over Covid variants, including the Delta variant, were negatively affecting consumer and investor sentiment. Additional factors were persistent supply chain issues, energy price increases in Europe and Asia, and inflation pressures and labor shortages in the US. One type of company that is able to deal with inflation pressures better than most are entertainment media businesses such as video game developers. The value of their intellectual property assets is unaffected by inflation and as long as they have captured the interest of their target customer base, they don’t have to worry as much about price competition as companies in more commoditized industries. One video gaming company recently added to our portfolio is the Nihon Falcom Corporation. Executive Summary Nihon Falcom is a Japanese video game developer focused on producing roleplaying games (RPGs). Founded in Tokyo in March 1981 by Masayuki Kato, Nihon Falcom is one of the oldest continuously active video game companies in the world. The company played a seminal role in the development of the action RPG genre and the Japanese video game industry in general1. While previously video game software was a fickle industry with boom-and-bust cycles, the industry has been evolving to become more predictable and high quality due to the increasing importance of online distribution and cross-platform licensing. Companies are also able to monetize their IP through sales of branded product merchandise and licensing the soundtracks of games. Today, Falcom’s most valuable gaming intellectual property are two game franchise series, the Trails series (a subset of their larger Legend of Heroes franchise) and the Ys series. Falcom, perhaps due to its small size, has flown under the radar of many investors and trades at a deep discount to peers despite the high quality of their intellectual property. The video game industry is also an attractive market as the value of their IP is inherently protected from commoditization. Game developers have pricing power and should not be as susceptible to harm by an inflationary environment as other industries. Furthermore, games are relatively cheap per hour of entertainment compared to other forms of entertainment. Investment Thesis: Nihon Falcom The video game industry is well into a transition towards digital distribution in lieu of distribution through physical media. This can be seen in the sales of Playstation software where Sony reported that 65% of their Playstation game sales in fiscal year 2020 were through online downloads as compared to 19% in 2015. Publishers generate far larger margins from the sales of digital software than they do from physical media. A game publisher can expect to collect 40%2 of the retail cost of a game sold in a brick-and-mortar store while online platforms such as Steam give them 70-80% of the gross revenue from their games. Additionally, game publishers can practice price discrimination among their users by offering optional downloadable content (DLC) that gives additional features or experiences within the game than enhance the base game. This allows a much greater amount of total profit to be generated from a game as they can more fully exploit each individual player’s propensity to spend. These DLC sales allow games to enjoy a continuous revenue trail even years after the initial sale of the game. While Nihon Falcom was an early player in the Japanese video game industry, they are relatively obscure outside of Japan when compared to other Japanese video game developers such as Konami and Square-Enix. Their lack of international growth is partly due to a decision in the 1990s to continue developing their games for the Japanese PC market rather than developing them for consoles such as the Playstation and Xbox. Falcom has since corrected course and now produces console games as their main market for video game sales. The digital downloads have improved the margins and decreased the cyclicality of sales for the video game development industry, greatly increasing the business quality of game developers. Falcom has managed to take full advantage of the changing industry dynamics as evidenced by the increase of their operating profit margin over the last 10 years. The music of Falcom games is one of the selling points of the franchise to their userbase. They have been able to monetize this through the sale of soundtracks through digital downloads such as the iTunes store. They have also used their music as a promotional tool by offering free licensing of the music for noncommercial use and held online music concerts as part of their release announcements for new games. Digital sales of music are reported in their general licensing segment which also includes foreign language translations of games, ports of games to other consoles, and all other licensing of Falcom IP for merchandise not produced by Falcom. Therefore, it is difficult to determine if music sales or merchandise licensing are a material source of revenue for the overall company. Falcom is unable to compete with larger developers on the visual effects, rendered cutscenes, or graphics of their games. However, they more than make up with it in their attention to the storylines, gameplay mechanics, and music in their products. The games in their series have cross-references to each other and characters from previous games make cameo appearances. These inside references and continuing story arcs keep fans locked into the franchise and waiting for future installments, allow for a more predictable future demand for games. Fans and critics alike have been impressed with the quality of Falcom’s games as their online reviews reveal. Metacritic is an aggregator of critical reviews for entertainment media (similar to Rotten Tomatoes). The average Metacritic metascore for Falcom’s games from 2005-2021 is a 78, an extremely high developer average for that site. On the Steam online store for their PC platform ports, the user reviews for their games are overwhelmingly positive. The positive word of mouth about Falcom may lead to increased demand for their games in North American and European markets. Currently, sales for Falcom games come almost entirely from the Japanese market. Their games are increasing in popularity on international markets which give them a very long runway of potential growth. Risks There are two main risks that Falcom faces in their game development: The quality of their future games and franchise storylines could decrease leading to shrinking customer base. In the 90s, Falcom suffered immensely from the departure of several important employees to other companies. As a small company, each lost employee has a bigger impact on the business than it would for a larger developer. Therefore, another mass departure of employees could imperil their development prospects. Valuation In considering the value one should place on the shares of Falcom, consideration must be given to their large net cash position of ¥7 billion, almost equal to half the market capitalization of the stock. The founder of Nihon Falcom is still the chairman of the company and a major shareholder. Owner-operators tend to be more cautious with deploying the business’ capital and Masayuki Kato has been no exception. Even though Toshihiro Kondo has taken over as the company’s president, frugality and conservative capital allocation is still in the DNA of the company. Therefore, we have elected to use the average enterprise-value-to-earnings-before-interest-andtaxes of a selection of major US and Japanese game developers as the target EV/EBIT of Falcom. EV/EBIT normalizes for leverage and capital structure between companies. Holding EBIT and net cash constant, if Nihon Falcom was trading at the same EV/EBIT multiple of the selected peer group, their share price would be at ¥4234. To demonstrate that this is not merely an effect of their large cash position, using a free cash flow multiple gives an even higher share price. At the same P/FCF as the peer group, their share price would be ¥5700. Nihon Falcom may not converge with their peer group multiples in the near term. Microcap stocks in Japan have a demonstrated ability to trade at depressed multiples for many years. In the case of Nihon Falcom, the high free cash flow yield and significant organic growth should give investors an adequate rate of return even with no rerating of the stock to a higher multiple. I enjoy whenever I receive questions from investors, so please feel free to reach out. Best regards, Andrew Oskoui, CFA Portfolio Manager Blue Tower Asset Management Updated on Oct 11, 2021, 2:50 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 11th, 2021