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Goldman Sachs' search for new clients could see it working with cemeteries and Native American reservations as it looks to grow a $35 billion business

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 3:39pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Goldman Sachs has worked with nonprofit groups like endowments and foundations since 2009. The firm is now considering advising more non-traditional groups, like cemeteries and Native American reservations, as it continues expanding. 
  • The firm's institutional client services business, which was set up in 2009 to manage money on behalf of nonprofits and sits within the consumer and investment management division, is a major growth area.
  • Groups like nonprofits don't have the resources to manage their money in-house, so they're increasingly outsourcing the work. 
  • Those outsourced assets hit $1.1 trillion across the industry last year, and could grow another $500 million over the next five years.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Goldman Sachs, which has long managed money for the country's wealthiest individuals and companies, is looking farther afield for new clients. 

The firm started a business called Institutional Client Services in the consumer and investment management division in 2009 to manage money for nonprofit groups too small to do it themselves. The platform currently manages $35 billion on behalf of more than 500 endowments and foundations. These clients often include the groups that Goldman's wealthy individual clients run, donate to, or otherwise advise: ballets, hospitals, and local nonprofits, among others. 

See more: 'It's good to be Rich': Meet the Goldman Sachs banker who has built a private investing empire that goes head-to-head with Blackstone — and you've probably never heard of him

The firm's head of private wealth management in the Americas, John Mallory, said Goldman is now thinking even more creatively about potential ICS clients, which could include Native American reservations and cemeteries, to broaden its reach. The expansion comes as CEO David Solomon targets wealth management as a major growth area.

The endowments and foundations that ICS advises have about $25 million to $500 million in assets. Mallory said there are about 6,000 nonprofits that fit that "strike zone," with more opportunities for Goldman to target.  

"There are all sorts of interesting pools of capital out there that you don't necessarily think of in the context of nonprofits," he said.

Native American tribal governments, for example, have grown their capital significantly with casino operations. In 2017, Indian gaming revenues hit $32.4 billion, up 4% from 2016, according to the most recent figures from the National Indian Gaming Commission.  

Another attractive pool of capital, Mallory said, comes from cemeteries. They're required to put money, regulated by states, into an endowment. Those funds ensure the site is maintained forever, even after all the plots are sold. 

"Who would've thought, cemeteries?" Mallory said. "People pre-fund the plots they'll ultimately be buried in on behalf of their family to avoid the family being burdened with those costs. They have a huge pool of money that needs to be invested." 

ICS's work is known in the industry as an outsourced chief investment officer, or OCIO. It's become an increasingly attractive business for both consultants and asset managers: according to a study last month from BlackRock and Cerulli Associates, US OCIO assets hit $1.1 trillion last year and could reach $1.7 trillion in five years. About a quarter of those 2018 assets were held by nonprofits. 

Goldman does OCIO work for other groups, too, including corporate pensions and sovereign wealth funds. 

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BlackRock CEO Larry Fink says he sees a 'risk of a melt up, not a melt down' for markets (BLK)

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 3:31pm  |  Clusterstock

  • BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said that markets face the risk of a "melt-up" in an interview with CNBC.
  • He said he felt the probabilities leaned towards a sudden upswell in markets, leading to new highs, where investors face the "risk" of being underinvested
  • The CEO of the $6.5 trillion asset manager cited the Fed's dovish stance as a reason for the positive outlook.
  • Watch BlackRock trade live.

As the S&P 500 approaches all-time highs, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink sees markets at risk of a "melt-up, not a melt down," according to an interview with CNBC

"Despite where the markets are in equities we have not seen money being put to work. We have record amounts of money in cash," the CEO said.

While Fink did not commit to a specific market target, he felt the probabilities leaned towards a sudden upswell in markets, leading to new highs, where investors face the "risk" of being underinvested (and underperforming their peers). "I would clearly tell you at this moment, most investors are exposed by being underinvested at this time."

A market that is "melting up" can prove to be self-fulfilling as investors chase returns driven more by a fear of missing out as much as improvements to corporate fundamentals or improving economic sentiment. For the same reason, "melt-downs" can also be self-fulfilling as investors swing from greed to fear.

Markets have had extreme volatility with the S&P plunging 14% in the fourth quarter of 2018 before recovering to within 1% of previous peaks by April 2019. One important factor, beyond shifting investor sentiment, has been the changed outlook from the Federal Reserve.

Fink also alluded to this when asked why he had shifted from his normally bearish or neutral sentiment. He noted that investors had radically changed their outlook once it was clear the market no longer faced the prospects of a rising rate environment.

The Fed has notably "paused" rate hikes after raising rates four times last year. In addition, the European Central Bank has indicated its willingness to be accommodative in the face of market volatility.

"Central Banks who are, if anything, more dovish than ever, they're not changing their behaviors related to QE anymore. There is a shortage of good assets," said Fink.

BlackRock itself has benefited from this market resurgence, reporting earnings well ahead of expectations. The $6.5 trillion asset manager rose nearly 3% as a result.

Fink also relayed that there was room to run in the IPO market despite the initial choppy trading of Lyft. 2019 has already seen the IPO of three multi-billion companies with several more, including Pinterest and Uber, looking to hit the public markets in the next few weeks.

"I think everybody is looking for a new story. And so, when you have these IPOs it's a new story," Fink said.

BlackRock is up 18% year to date.

 

 

 

 

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South Africa's 'Fancam Sports' Raises USD 100 K From Stadia Ventures an early-stage sport and esports-focused venture capital firm

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 10:49am  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
From Weetracker:
Africa’s sports industry is not at a standstill. In fact, it is now more promising than it has ever been. But in spite of being a proven force which provides employment opportunities for the development of the continent’s economy and the improvement of individuals, the role of sports in Africa is still under-realized. The means have not been used to their full potential, like it is in the rest of the world. Electronic sports – esports – have pain put to its promising move and explosion by the reproach of video game publishers.

In an industry that has seemingly been quiet regarding investments for a while, South Africa-based sports tech startup Fancam raised USD 100 K from St. Louis-based Stadia Ventures. The financial development came in the wake of the investor – an early-stage sport and esports-focused venture capital firm – selecting six startups to participate in its Spring 2019 accelerator program. The firm has so far invested in 20 companies since its inception in 2015...[more]

Markets Live: Tuesday, 16th April 2019

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 6:15am  |  FT Alphaville

Live markets commentary from FT.com

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Markets Live: Monday, 15th April 2019

Mon, 04/15/2019 - 6:14am  |  FT Alphaville

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The Future of Payments 2018

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 10:07pm  |  Clusterstock

The payments industry is transforming.

Noncash payments methods are quickly becoming the norm.

Business Insider Intelligence projects digital payments to continue to grow through 2023 and beyond.

This shift has created a battle between incumbents and startups vying to become the leaders of the future of payments.

While incumbents have massive scale to lean on, startups typically offer a much friendlier user experience. Whoever can master both first will win the battle.

That will require navigating four key digital transformations: diversification, consolidation and collaboration, data protection and automation.

In this FREE section of The Future of Payments 2018 slide deck from Business Insider Intelligence, we look at the first key digital transformation: diversification.

Subscribe to Business Insider Intelligence today for full access to the complete deck.

As an added bonus to this FREE section, you will gain immediate access to our exclusive BI Intelligence Daily newsletter.

To get your copy of this free slide deck, click here.

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After nearly 10 years of testing tools and apps to track my money, I keep coming back to an old-school system for 3 reasons

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 10:27am  |  Clusterstock

  • After nearly 10 years of writing about money, Cheryl Lock has tested all kinds of tools and apps to track her finances.
  • No matter what, though, she finds a simple Excel spreadsheet fits her needs best for three reasons: It keeps her honest, it allows her to track multiple systems, and it allows for flexibility.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

My days start and end with the most basic money management tool you’ll find — an Excel spreadsheet.

I’ve been a personal finance writer for about a decade now, and I’ve tested many fancy online tools and apps and resources. Still, despite all the latest helpful technology, I keep coming back to my trusty Excel document. Here’s why.

1. It keeps me honest

Although it’s tedious, as soon as I can after every purchase, I physically log it into my Excel document to keep a running total of my monthly credit card purchases against my overall budget. I categorize things with color blocks — yellow for purchases that will be paid out of my husband’s and my joint checking account, white for those I’ll cover out of my own funds, purple for my health insurance payment and other health-related items — and so on and so forth.

!function(){function e(){var e=document.createElement("script"),n=document.getElementById("myFinance-widget-script"),a=t+"static/widget/myFinance.js";e.type="text/javascript",e.async=!0,e.src=a,n.parentNode.insertBefore(e,n);var c="myFinance-widget-css";if(!document.getElementById(c)){var d=document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0],i=document.createElement("link");i.id=c,i.rel="stylesheet",i.type="text/css",i.href=t+"static/widget/myFinance.css",i.media="all",d.appendChild(i)}}var t="https://www.myfinance.com/";document.attachEvent?document.attachEvent("onreadystatechange",function(){"complete"===document.readyState&&e()}):document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded",e,!1)}();

 

I know there are online tools that do this for you — allow you to set categories that the system automatically puts into buckets. I’ve used these, and what I found was that I was always double-checking the system for errors or switching the buckets around anyway. So I figured, why not cut out the middleman?

2. It’s the best way I’ve found to track my multiple systems

My elaborate Excel system actually includes multiple sheets which, yes, can get cumbersome. However, for a Type A dork like myself, I'm not bothered. I keep four Excel docs:

  1. One that tracks our monthly joint expenses against our budget
  2. One that tracks my own monthly credit card purchases against my own personal budget
  3. One that tracks the full year of expenses for which I’m solely responsible (versus what my husband pays for with his salary) against the income I plan to earn for each month (since I’m a freelancer, this can vary, but tracking it this way helps me set monthly goals)
  4. One that tracks what is currently in my checking account against the bills that will need to be paid in the near future
!function(){function e(){var e=document.createElement("script"),n=document.getElementById("myFinance-widget-script"),a=t+"static/widget/myFinance.js";e.type="text/javascript",e.async=!0,e.src=a,n.parentNode.insertBefore(e,n);var c="myFinance-widget-css";if(!document.getElementById(c)){var d=document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0],i=document.createElement("link");i.id=c,i.rel="stylesheet",i.type="text/css",i.href=t+"static/widget/myFinance.css",i.media="all",d.appendChild(i)}}var t="https://www.myfinance.com/";document.attachEvent?document.attachEvent("onreadystatechange",function(){"complete"===document.readyState&&e()}):document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded",e,!1)}();

That’s a lot of documents, and I could probably consolidate somewhat, but I’ve used this system for years, and it works.

It takes me about 20 minutes each morning to check the Excel sheets against my checking and savings accounts to make sure everything looks accurate, and I usually close out the day by doing a quick five-minute check back, as well.

3. It allows for flexibility

As a freelancer, my income can be sporadic and varied. Some months are busier than others, and I often have to wait a while for checks to come in. Having a system that allows me to manually move things around as needed makes tracking much easier.

!function(){function e(){var e=document.createElement("script"),n=document.getElementById("myFinance-widget-script"),a=t+"static/widget/myFinance.js";e.type="text/javascript",e.async=!0,e.src=a,n.parentNode.insertBefore(e,n);var c="myFinance-widget-css";if(!document.getElementById(c)){var d=document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0],i=document.createElement("link");i.id=c,i.rel="stylesheet",i.type="text/css",i.href=t+"static/widget/myFinance.css",i.media="all",d.appendChild(i)}}var t="https://www.myfinance.com/";document.attachEvent?document.attachEvent("onreadystatechange",function(){"complete"===document.readyState&&e()}):document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded",e,!1)}();

 

Budgeting and personal finance is all about finding the system that works best for you, the one that will best help you stay on track with your goals. I love that there are so many products available these days to help people better manage their money. However, if you feel like you’ve tried them all and you still haven’t found a system you love, allow me to suggest the simple Excel document. It just may surprise you.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Goldman Sachs.  Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Goldman Sachs.

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Millennials are building multimillion-dollar beauty empires on their massive Instagram and Snapchat followings, and it's disrupting a centuries-old industry

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 10:07am  |  Clusterstock

  • From Rihanna to Emily Weiss, more young women are disrupting the beauty space with cosmetic lines that thrive on social media.
  • While millennials are leading the way with the industry's disruption, other generational outliers — notably 21-year-old Gen-Zer Kylie Jenner and 62-year-old Anastasia Soare — are also key players in the trend.
  • Over time, beauty industry marketing has evolved from word-of-mouth and traditional ad campaigns to Instagram tutorials and user-generated content, making it easier than ever to launch a new brand.
  • This has opened the door for celebrities and influencers to create their own beauty brands and sell them to their strong social media followings, transforming fanbase numbers into revenue.
  • This has given rise to a new generation of wealthy women, who sit on top of beauty empire fortunes they created with their own digital prowess.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Social media has minted a new type of money maker: the "selfie-made billionaire."

That's what Natalie Robehmed of Forbes dubbed Kylie Jenner, the world's youngest self-made billionaire ever. 

Jenner's $1 billion net worth comes largely from her eponymous cosmetics line, Kylie Cosmetics, which launched in 2015. Three years later, revenue was an estimated $360 million, the company worth $900 million, Robehmed reported. 

While Jenner may be one of the more extreme examples, she isn't an anomaly — a long history of women have accrued wealth by building beauty empires. The first female self-made millionaire, Madam CJ Walker, built her fortune off a line of hair care products she developed in 1905, according to Isis Madrid of Broadly. Beauty mavens Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brown started their brands decades before the millennium.

In 2018, Jenner was a newcomer to Forbes' richest self-made women list, along with Forbes' other "Instagram-savvy makeup moguls" — Anastasia Soare, Huda Kattan, and Kim Kardashian West, who all also have their own beauty lines.

Then there's Emily Weiss, founder and CEO of cult beauty brand Glossier. On March 19, the direct-to-consumer beauty brand hit unicorn status with new funding that put its value at $1.2 billion, reported Katie Roof and Yuliya Chernova of The Wall Street Journal

While these women aren't the first of their kind to build wealth by tapping into the beauty industry, they are part of a growing number of women who have successfully done so by leveraging social media. What's changed isn't the idea of starting a cosmetics line, but how millennials are disrupting the process in today's technological age while propelling fast company growth and amassing personal fortune.

Read more: Meet the 7 women who made Forbes' richest self-made women list for the first time, including almost-billionaire Kylie Jenner

Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brown got their start through word-of-mouth

"Getting a brand known has from the beginning involved word-of-mouth and getting attention from an influential journalist," Geoffrey Jones, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the book "Beauty Imagined," told Business Insider.

Consider Estée Lauder: "She gave away 80 of her lipsticks as table gifts for a charity luncheon in the Waldorf-Astoria," Jones said. "The rich guests then walked over to the nearby Saks Fifth Avenue to ask for it."

In 1947, Lauder received her first major order for $800 worth of products from Saks. She grew her business with traditional print advertising and word-of-mouth campaigns, believing that women who liked her products would spread the word. In 2018, the company reported $13.68 billion in net sales and Bloomberg estimated the Lauder family to be worth $24.3 billion.

The beauty behemoth now has nearly 30 brands in its portfolio; in 1995, it acquired Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, making the line's namesake founder a millionaire, reported CNBC's Catherine Clifford

Being bought by a big firm is a sign of success, Jones said. Bobbi Brown, who told Inc. she began the line with $10,000, also favored a word-of-mouth strategy. By talking to strangers and friends, she found a business partner, landed a mention in Glamour magazine, conducted market research, connected with a Bergdorf Goodman cosmetics buyer, and secured regular appearances on The Today Show, according to Clifford.

But that was before the disintegration of traditional distribution channels, which Jones said has happened over the past decade.

Look no further than Soare's Anastasia of Beverly Hills line to see this shift in action. According to Forbes, it's one of the first beauty companies to use a successful social media strategy — but Soare didn't begin that way.

The aesthetician first became a celebrity favorite in the early 1990s for perfecting the eyebrow. In 2000, she took the traditional route, launching her first line of products in 20 Nordstrom stores, reported Forbes. But it didn't really take off until Soare took to Instagram in 2013 with a viral social media campaign, which helped land her products in Sephora.

Today, the company's Instagram has 19 million-plus followers, and the company has a Forbes estimated value of $1.5 billion. Soare herself is worth an estimated $1 billion, making her one of the world's richest self-made women.

Read more: This self-made billionaire built her fortune after fleeing communism in Romania in the 80s and building a salon beloved by Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian

A shift to digital means brands can make the consumer an influencer

As Soare's success indicates, "Social media has become the new door-to-door," Jensen said, adding it "allows consumers to research, investigate, and gather information on everything from ingredients to brand values to see if they align to their own. The brands that use social media well are leveraging it to build a two way street of communication with their followers and because of that, they get buy-in to the brand."

Consider Weiss, who realized that social media was "transforming the way beauty products were talked about and bought," and intended to disrupt the industry, wrote Amy Larocca of The Cut, hailing her as the millennial Estée Lauder.

"There are a handful of beauty conglomerates, and it's difficult for them to innovate," Weiss, who uses social media as market research, previously told Business Insider. "Beauty has really gone online, because that's where the customer is."

In 2010, she launched the blog Into the Gloss. It soon became popular among beauty mavens, amassing 10 million page views per month, according to Alyssa Goacobbe of Entrepreneur — a solid platform on which to launch the first four Glossier products in 2014.

Instead of aiming at wholesale, Weiss intended to crowdsource — through social-media platforms, affiliate sponsorships and links, and gossip, wrote Larocca. As Gaby Del Valle of Vox puts it, Glossier's success lies in treating its customers like influencers.

To market a new blush, Cloud Paint, Weiss hired makeup artists to use it on Oscar-attending celebrities and post the results on social media, Giacobbe wrote — regrams resulted in 1,700 user-generated images in one week; by one month, Instagram had 6,368 Cloud Paint images.

In a recent podcast interview, Weiss said that Instagram "has been an incredible tool to show a lot of user-generated content." 

While Weiss' net worth is unknown, the $1.2 billion value of Glossier says enough.

Read more: This beauty startup has become so popular that it has 10,000 people on a waitlist for lipstick

A social media following equals revenue for celebrities foraying into beauty

"Having a large social media following equates to sales," Jensen said.

A strong social media presence is so directly tied to revenue that it can lay the whole foundation for a beauty empire's success — those with stardom and a following already have a fanbase with built-in customers, and nowhere is that more visible than in Kylie Jenner's and Rihanna's respective beauty empires.

"It's the power of social media," Jenner told Robhemed. "I had such a strong reach before I was able to start anything."

Jenner launched Kylie Cosmetics to 50 million Instagram followers on her personal account, reported Sarah Grossbart for E! News. Nearly four years later, that number has more than doubled. "With more than 100 million Instagram devotees, she need only post a selfie touting her shade of the day and her young followers clamor to add it to their carts," Grossbart wrote.

Dubbed "Cosmetics Queen" by Forbes, Jenner continues to push direct-to-consumer Kylie Cosmetics by sharing products, announcing launches, and previewing new items to her 175 million-plus followers across Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, Robhemed reported. 

"I don’t pay for advertisements," Jenner told Fast Company. "I don’t do commercials. Social media is the only way I push it: Snapchat, Instagram."

She didn't sign her first distribution deal until three years later, with Ulta, which she pushed with her "usual social media," Jenner told Robhemed — it sold an estimated $54 million worth of products in the first six weeks.

Read more: How Kylie Jenner became the world's youngest self-made billionaire, from starring in a reality TV show at age 9 to running a $900 million cosmetics empire at 21

Similarly, Rihanna, who has an estimated $260 million net worth and nearly 69 million Instagram followers, launched Fenty Beauty at New York Fashion Week in 2017 — and she first alluded to with an Instagram teaser. In just one month, it made $72 million in earned media value (the potential value it would have earned if paid for all exposure on social media platforms), outpacing Kylie Cosmetics according to a Tribe Dynamics' Cosmetics report released by WWD.

About 132 million people watched Fenty beauty tutorials in the first month of its launch, reported Janice Williams of Newsweek. Within its first 40 days, Fenty brought in $100 million in sales, according to Vogue.

"Fenty Beauty’s social media game has had a clear impact on its success," Williams wrote. "While Rihanna's social media handle flooded Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube with photos, videos and tutorials, millions of people used their own social media accounts to show off their products and offer testimonials."

In its first year alone, Fenty made $566 million, reported the Business of Fashion, citing an LVMH report — it took Estée Lauder 10 years to earn $500 million, according to WWD.

Read more: Rihanna is reportedly launching her own line with one of the biggest luxury companies in the world as her fashion empire continues to grow

Youtube creators translate their personalities into beauty brands

Not every beauty influencer is a celebrity — some gained notoriety because of YouTube or Instagram, and successfully translated their social media personalities into massive beauty brands and multimillion-dollar net worths.

Huda Kattan, called one of the most influential beauty bloggers in the world by The New York Times, began sharing makeup tutorials, how-to videos, and tips on Instagram and YouTube in 2010. Her following grew so much that when she launched synthetic and faux mink lashes in 2013, they sold out on her first day. Today, she has over 577 million Instagram followers between her personal and private accounts and 3.1 million YouTube subscribers.

Kattan told CNN Instagram was the turning point. "It was the catalyst that changed everything," she said. "It changed the dynamics in which people not only communicate but are inspired as well."

Retail sales for Huda Beauty hit $1.5 million the first year — revenue for 2018 was expected to be $300 million, according to Forbes. Forbes valued her company at $1 billion and Kattan herself worth $500 million, based largely on their "valuation of her stake in the company." 

It's a similar success story for influencer Michelle Phan, who got her start sharing beauty tutorials and guides on YouTube — 40,000 people watched her first video the first week; the now defunct channel has nearly 9 million subscribers.

Phan, reportedly worth $50 million, parlayed that success into the cosmetics industry with makeup subscription company Ipsy in 2011, valued at $800 million with more than 1.5 million subscribers just five years later, according to Yahoo. In 2013, she launched her own cosmetic line for L'Oreal called EM Cosmetics. 

"Influence is the new power — if you have influence you can create a brand," Phan told Forbes.

Beauty is booming

It's easy to see why more influencers and celebrities are entering the beauty space — and the effect they're creating when they do. The beauty industry has grown exponentially over the last three decades, Jones said. As of 2010, the beauty industry had global sales of $330 billion worldwide, according to "Beauty Imagined."

"In the past, luxury brands sold through department stores and mass brands sold through drugstores," Jones said. Now, though, "the whole market has fragmented, providing the opportunity for the launch of many new brands."

Over 1,000 beauty brands have entered the prestige market since 2015 because it's lucrative, healthy, and profitable, Larissa Jensen, beauty analyst at The NPD Group, told Business Insider.

It's also easier than ever before to create and launch a brand, Jennifer Walsh, co-founder of retailer Beauty Bar, consultant, and brand marketer, told Business Insider. And the power of digital has made it even easier to reach consumers.

"For decades, we had to rely on print media and TV to introduce a brand or products," she said. "Now, we can have our own channel online. If you have a great product, beautiful packaging, and are good at storytelling, you can truly get your message/product out to others quickly."

SEE ALSO: We did the math to calculate exactly how much money billionaires and celebrities like Jeff Bezos and Kylie Jenner make an hour

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17 hot cars we can't wait to see at the 2019 New York Auto Show

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 9:14am  |  Clusterstock

New York has long been one of the marquee events in the annual auto show calendar. It's also the first major US show to take place after the annual super fest that is the Geneva Motor Show. 

But don't you worry. There's still plenty of automotive hotness to go around.

Read more: 18 hot cars we can't wait to see at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

For over 115 years, the New York Auto Show has been one of the largest car shows in the US and a place for carmakers to see and be seen.

While there are fewer fanciful concept cars to be seen, New York is expected to be a hotbed for new production models ranging from family sedans and compact SUVs to luxury cars and supercars. 

Brands expected to make a splash includes Cadillac, Lincoln, Dodge, Ford, Audi, Mercedes, Acura, Hyundai, Subaru, Toyota, and Maserati. 

Read more: We drove an all-new $90,000 Range Rover Velar SUV to see if it has what it takes to challenge Mercedes and BMW. Here's the verdict.

The 2019 New York International Auto Show will be open to the public from April 19 to April 28 at the Javits Center.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the coolest and most important cars we expect to see at this year's show:

SEE ALSO: 7 ways to make your car last longer and save you money

FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

The major US auto brands will be out in force this year. Cadillac will officially introduce its new CT5 sedan at the show.

Lincoln is set to launch a new compact SUV called the Corsair.

Lincoln's parent company Ford will show off its new 2020 Escape compact crossover.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A day in the life of Playboy's Playmate of the Year, who wakes up at 7:30 a.m., works out with a private trainer twice a week, and helps run a non-profit for women

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 9:00am  |  Clusterstock

  • Jordan Emanuel is Playboy's 2019 Playmate of the Year.
  • She also works as a Playboy Bunny at the recently opened Playboy Club in New York City.
  • Emanuel wakes up at 7:30 a.m., does a 10-step skincare routine, works out with her personal trainer, and spends the day on modeling shoots and auditions or working at the non-profit for women she co-founded.
  • She starts her Playboy Bunny shift at the club at 7:30 p.m, but she gets there early because it takes at least 30 minutes to put on her Bunny costume.
  • Here's a look at her typical day, as told to Business Insider.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

At New York City's Playboy Club, which opened in September 2018, 30 years after the last original club closed down, Playboy Bunnies in their iconic costumes and bunny ears serve drinks to patrons in a swanky lounge setting.

Jordan Emanuel is one of those Bunnies. She works at the Playboy Club on Tuesday nights and she's also Playboy's Playmate of the Year. Being a Playmate is a role that can entail appearing in the magazine, working special events, and acting as an ambassador for the brand.

Read more: A Playboy Bunny is not the same as a Playboy Playmate. Here are the 2 key differences.

But Emanuel's time is spent on much more than her Playboy work. When she's not working at the club as a Bunny, Emanuel's days are taken up by sessions with her personal trainer, modeling shoots and auditions, and working at the non-profit she co-founded, Women With Voices.

"What's great about everything that I do is that it doesn't necessarily require 100% of my time," Emanuel, 25, told Business Insider. 

"I genuinely just like the rotation of keeping it fresh and interacting with new people," she said.

Read more: The creative director of NYC's Playboy Club says he looks for 2 qualities when hiring a Playboy Bunny — and that one red flag will keep someone from getting the job

The Playboy Club's creative director, Richie Notar, told Business Insider in November that one of the main things he looks for when hiring a Playboy Bunny is someone who has something interesting going on in their lives outside the job.

"One of the things that I would like to do ... is focus on people that have something interesting outside of this," Notar said. "I want them to be interesting in different ways other than just bringing you a drink."

Emanuel certainly seems to fit the bill. Here's a look at a typical day in her life. 

SEE ALSO: I visited New York's new Playboy Club, where Playboy Bunnies serve drinks in their iconic costumes and members pay up to $100,000 a year — and it wasn't at all what I expected

DON'T MISS: The creative director of New York City's Playboy Club says that he looks for 2 qualities when hiring a Playboy Bunny — and that one red flag will keep someone from getting the job

Jordan Emanuel is Playboy's Playmate of the Year and a Playboy Bunny at the Playboy Club in New York City.

As a Playmate, she has appeared in the magazine and works special events. But that side of things doesn't take up much of her time at the moment. "As of now, it's more sporadic events and appearances," Emanuel said. "In November I did a video promoting voting and registering to vote."

In addition to her work with Playboy, Emanuel has been doing print and commercial modeling work for about two years.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and all 27 other banks working on Uber's mega-IPO (LYFT)

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 8:45am  |  Clusterstock

  • Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs won the top banking roles on the upcoming Uber IPO, which could reportedly raise up to $100 million for the ride-hailing company.
  • Despite the competition between Uber and Lyft, which went public at the end of March, 11 of Uber's 29 banks are on both IPOs.
  • Here are all 29 banks underwriting Uber's IPO
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs won the top two slots on Uber's impending IPO — joining with 27 other banks to fill underwriting roles for the company, according to Uber's S-1, filed publicly on Thursday.

Despite the competition between Uber and its ride-hailing rival Lyft, the list of bankers has quite a bit of cross-over with the 29 banks on Lyft's own IPO which went down the end of March.

Uber is planning to raise $100 million in the IPO, at a valuation between $90 billion and $100 billion, Reuters reported, making it a top contender for the largest IPO for the year. Those numbers could change between now and the still unknown-date when Uber actually lists on the NYSE.

Read more: JPMorgan and Credit Suisse will get paid almost equal amounts for helping take Lyft public, and it's part of a growing trend for IPO fees

Up to the final months, the IPO competition between Lyft and Uber was fierce. People familiar with the process described strict rules barring some banks from working on both transactions. Yet Uber's S-1 reveals that 11 of the smaller underwriters actually managed to get their names on both IPOs.

The highest ranked double-dipper was RBC Capital Markets, which was the sixth bank on Lyft's cover sheet, and the seventh on Uber's cover sheet.

Read more: Lyft's bankers are trying to compare the ride-hailing app to Grubhub and luxury retailer Farfetch — here's their pitch to investors

The other double-listed banks are JMP Securities, Raymond James, Academy Securities, Cowen, Loop Capital Markets, Canaccord Genuity, CastleOak Securities, Mischler Financial Group, Siebert Cisneros Shank and the Williams Capital Group.

Here are all 29 banks on Uber's IPO:

  • Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC
  • Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC
  • Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith
  • Barclays Capital Inc.
  • Citigroup Global Markets Inc.
  • Allen & Company LLC
  • RBC Capital Markets, LLC
  • SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc.
  • Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
  • HSBC Securities (USA) Inc.
  • SMBC Nikko Securities America, Inc.
  • Mizuho Securities USA LLC
  • Needham & Company, LLC
  • Loop Capital Markets LLC
  • Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., L.L.C.
  • Academy Securities, Inc.
  • BTIG, LLC
  • Canaccord Genuity LLC
  • CastleOak Securities, L.P.
  • Cowen and Company, LLC
  • Evercore Group L.L.C.
  • JMP Securities LLC
  • Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc.
  • Mischler Financial Group, Inc.
  • Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.
  • Raymond James & Associates, Inc.
  • William Blair & Company, L.L.C.
  • The Williams Capital Group, L.P.
  • TPG Capital BD, LLC

SEE ALSO: Uber spent $3.3 billion on acquisitions in 2018 and 2019 — 10-times more than Lyft

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: What's going on with Jeff Bezos and Amazon

'Vulnerable to catastrophe': One market bear explains why stocks will crash 30% by the end of 2019 — and then completely flatline for the next 12 years

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 6:05am  |  Clusterstock

  • Stocks are almost back at a new record high, and investors may think they dodged a bullet following the late-December market meltdown.
  • John Hussman — the outspoken investor and former professor who's been predicting a stock collapse — says overconfident traders are being lulled into a false sense of confidence.
  • He explains why he sees the benchmark S&P 500 tumbling 30% by the end of 2019 before trading completely sideways for the next decade or so.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

With the S&P 500 back within 1% of an all-time high, you may be thinking stocks are headed for another lengthy period of strong gains.

After all, the ongoing 10-year equity expansion stared a bear market in the face on Dec. 24 and rebounded with aplomb. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

Wrong, says John Hussman, the former economics professor who is now president of the Hussman Investment Trust.

For months, even years, he's been telling anyone that will listen that stocks are just as overvalued now as they were ahead of the 1929 and 2000 market crashes. And he views the post-December rebound as the latest in a long series of bullish head fakes built on irrationally exuberant sentiment.

Hussman says it's that overconfidence that will ultimately be the market's demise. In his mind, the recovery since the Dec. 24 bottom is exactly the type of development that makes investors put their blinders up.

"Full-cycle risks have a way of emerging in ways that investors wholly rule out at market peaks," he wrote in a recent blog post. "Glorious half-cycle market advances leave investors vulnerable to catastrophe, because investors hold contempt for anyone who suggests there may be a cliff on the other side of the mountain."

Read more: JPMorgan quant guru Marko Kolanovic shared with us the often-overlooked force dictating market returns — and revealed what it's saying about the future

What kind of catastrophe is Hussman expecting? His expectation for a two-thirds loss in total market value is well-documented at this point. But he has an updated forecast that calls for stocks to drop 30% by the end of 2019.

To make matters more ominous, Hussman says the market's ability to reach a new record high is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. And that's just the first half of his bearish call.

The S&P 500 will lose "an additional 50% of its remaining value over the rest of the down-cycle," Hussman said. "That, after all, is how a market loses 65% of its paper value."

He continued: "That's not so much a forecast as a based case. A 65% loss, unfortunately, would presently represent a run-of-the-mill cycle completion from current valuation extremes."

But what about the following decade? That's where Hussman's forecast gets even more dire. He says that the S&P 500 will see total returns averaging roughly zero over the next 12 years.

The scatter plot below offers a look at how Hussman is thinking about the matter. It shows the relationship between the ratio of market cap to corporate gross-value added, relative to subsequent 12-year returns. As you can see, that ratio is currently close to the lowest on record.

When faced with all of that evidence, a more bullishly inclined investor might argue that valuations can normalize on the fly as fundamental growth catches up to prices.

Hussman isn't buying it.

"The main reason it’s unlikely is that it would require the absence of even a single period of severe risk-aversion among investors, for at least a decade or more," he said. "Another reason is that the question vastly underestimates the length of time that would be required for fundamentals to 'catch up' with current valuations.

Read more: Credit Suisse studied 20 years of Warren Buffett's acquisitions to replicate his approach — and it's identified 12 stocks you should buy right now

So there you have it. Hussman is staunchly refusing to give up his bearish stance. He does, however, acknowledge that investor speculation can be an uncontrollable runaway train of sorts — something that can defy market signals for uncomfortably long, frustrating bulls like himself. That's why he's taking his foot off the brake somewhat.

"All of this effort to jam the speculative bit back into the horse’s teeth requires us to adopt a rather neutral outlook here, until we observe fresh deterioration in market internals," Hussman said.

He continued: "Given the late-stage condition of the financial markets and the economy, my sense is that, as in 1929, they may just run this poor horse straight up and over the cliff."

Hussman's track record

For the uninitiated, Hussman has repeatedly made headlines by predicting a stock-market decline exceeding 60% and forecasting a full decade of negative equity returns. And as the stock market has continued to grind mostly higher, he's persisted with his calls, undeterred.

But before you dismiss Hussman as a wonky permabear, consider his track record, which he breaks down in his latest blog post. Here are the arguments he lays out:

  • Predicted in March 2000 that tech stocks would plunge 83%, then the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index lost an "improbably precise" 83% during a period from 2000 to 2002
  • Predicted in 2000 that the S&P 500 would likely see negative total returns over the following decade, which it did
  • Predicted in April 2007 that the S&P 500 could lose 40%, then it lost 55% in the subsequent collapse from 2007 to 2009

In the end, the more evidence Hussman unearths around the stock market's unsustainable conditions, the more worried investors should get. Sure, there may still be returns to be realized in this market cycle, but at what point does the mounting risk of a crash become too unbearable?

That's a question investors will have to answer themselves. And one that Hussman will clearly keep exploring in the interim.

SEE ALSO: Bank of America has discovered a simple trade that’s tripled the market's return: Buy stocks the 'smart money' hates. Here’s how you can get involved.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The founder and CIO of $12 billion Ariel Investments breaks down how his top-ranked flagship fund has crushed its peers over the past 10 years

#Nigeria needs one #Kenya to build Africa’s first agritech innovation incubator in three years

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 5:17am  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
From Spore:
Over the next three years, the World Bank Group working with national, regional and international partners plans to create Africa’s first agritech incubator located in Kenya. The incubator will scale up agritech innovations by connecting over one million Kenyan farmers to a digital platform– for market access, production information, and financial services.More here

Italy's economy is one of the biggest downside risks to the global financial system and could spell disaster for Europe

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 4:21am  |  Clusterstock

  • The IMF has slashed Italy's growth prospects down from 0.9% this year to 0.1%. Some analysts see the country as a significant risk to the eurozone's financial stability. 
  • Italy's economy has been a topic of much debate since last summer with fears that the country's beleaguered banking sector and ailing productivity could spell disaster. 
  • Banks in Italy are still loaded up with non-performing and poor-quality loans, which underline growing concerns about whether the eurozone laggard will be able to service its debt going forward. 

Italy's ongoing economic problems don't appear to going anywhere soon. The country's bad debts could — in theory — topple the European banking system and slow global growth.

At a fundamental level, Italy poses a threat to an already unstable eurozone. Italian banks are saddled with billions of euros of bad loans, much of it governmental, and fears of contagion are never far away. The eurozone comprises the 19 countries that use the euro as a currency, under the auspices of the European Central Bank. The ECB is duty bound to ensure none of is countries defaults. Italy's debts raise a question, according to analyst Jack Allen of Capital Economics: Why should the healthy economies of Northern Europe, like Germany, continue to support Italian debt that will be technically at risk of default for years or even decades?  

"Over the next ten years, we think that Italy’s economy will fail to grow because productivity growth will remain weak and total employment will fall. As a consequence, the public debt ratio will probably continue rising and eventually prove unsustainable. This would be a bigger problem than the previous euro-zone crisis and could once again endanger the single currency itself," Allen told clients recently.

A similar situation happened in Greece after the 2008 financial crisis. That country was crippled by its own inability to pay its debts. The crisis was contained because Greece's economy is relatively small. Italy, by contrast, is the 9th largest economy globally and sits at the core of the European economy.

A recent IMF report indicated that "potential losses on non-performing loans and mark-to-market declines in the value of government bonds could result in a significant hit to capital for some banks."

The country's issues have been much publicized after the arrival of a new populist government last year and the ensuing battle it had with the European Commission to get its budget approved. 

Italian banks have some €800 billion in government debt on their books and many are carrying risky loans on their balance sheets. Italian institutions hold around 8% of Europes non-performing loans, according to the European Banking Authority figures as of the end of 2018.

After Italy, French banks have the most exposure to Italian government debt with some €285 billion ($323 billion) held in major lenders like Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas. Some $481 billion of Italian government debt was held in non-Italian banks as of June 2018, according to Bloomberg. 

It re-invents fears of a so-called "doom loop" which can see governments struggling to protect banks whose profits are hit by a drop in value of government bonds because of their own inherent weakness.  

"A protracted period of elevated yields in Italy would put further stress on Italian banks, weigh on economic activity, and worsen debt dynamics," the IMF added. Attempts by European institutions to stimulate lending have been unsuccessful for Italy.

The country took on an estimated one-third of the €724 billion ($817 billion) of so-called "targeted longer-term refinancing operations" — a low-interest loan product designed by the ECB to promote lending — but still saw a contraction in loan demand from corporates, according to reporting by the Financial Times. 

Things aren't going to improve anytime soon either. The IMF slashed Italy's growth prospects down from 0.9% this year to 0.1%. The country's stagnating economy and relatively high bond yields put the country in a precarious fiscal position, Oxford Economics wrote in a recent research note. 

The country's low productivity growth could lead to Italy's public debt ratio rising further to unsustainable levels. Jack Allen suggested that Europe's economic laggard could find itself in a "perma-recession," which could have consequences worse than the previous eurozone crisis.

One of the few green shoots for Italy's economy has been the fact that the country's purchasing managers index figures for March reached their highest levels since September 2018, with new orders growing at their fastest pace in six months, according to IHS Markit data.

SEE ALSO: Recession-hit Italy faces a fresh budget crisis after reports of planned government tax hikes

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Elon Musk sent a $100K Tesla Roadster to space a year ago. It has now traveled farther than any other car in history.

Maths AfriQue founded by Cynthia Adaeze Chinule @cynthymatics #Nigeria http://www.mathsafrique.com/

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 12:58pm  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
Founded by Cynthia Adaeze Chinule

Maths AfriQue is an organization focused on reducing to the barest minimum the rate of failure in STEM, especially Mathematics, in Africa and inversely increasing the level of innovation.

The cofounder of MoviePass recounts what led to his firing from the company he'd built from the ground up

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 10:45am  |  Clusterstock

  • MoviePass cofounder Stacy Spikes breaks his silence about what led to his exit from the company.
  • Spikes told Business Insider that in January 2018, he was let go after months of disagreeing with the new owner of MoviePass, Helios and Matheson Analytics, about the $10 subscription price point.
  • Though it was giving the company thousands of new subscribers, Spikes felt it wasn't sustainable.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

 

MoviePass cofounder Stacy Spikes admits he was not a happy camper a few months after Helios and Matheson Analytics bought MoviePass in summer 2017. And it's likely a big reason why he was then let go in the new year. 

Since 2005, Spikes had been building the scrappy startup into a revenue stream the US box office had never had before: movie-ticket subscription. The app was evolving with the times and slowly growing in popularity among moviegoers, with the price point ranging from $12 a month to up to $75 (which included access to 3D and IMAX showings). 

But the moment when the company suddenly came into the popular lexicon, and grabbed the attention of the industry, was in 2017 when Helios and Matheson Analytics became interested in buying MoviePass.

"Ultimately the proposal came in at $25 million for 51% of the company," Spikes told Business Insider. "And in the proposal it said they wanted us to temporarily drop the subscription price to $10 to help climb up to 100,000 subscriptions." 

Spikes said nothing in that proposal worried him, and in the summer of 2017, Helios and Matheson became the owners of MoviePass. In August of that year, the $10-a-month to see a movie a day deal was launched and MoviePass hit 100,000 subscribers in 48 hours. 

"So I'm like, 'OK, turn it off, we reached our goal,'" Spikes said.

But the attention MoviePass suddenly received was too intoxicating for most at the company, especially the new owners. And despite Spikes' warnings, things went forward.

"Where things started to divide is: Myself and a handful of others were methodical about testing price points," Spikes said. "The lowest we ever got down to was $12.99 and as high as $75, where we added Imax and 3D. We knew what was sustainable. But the overriding voice was, 'No, this is awesome, look how fast we're growing.' And it was this moment of 'but $10.' It doesn't fly."

By December, Spikes said the company was growing at a quarter million subscribers a month. And despite his warnings that the company could not survive at that price point, no one would listen. 

With a clear divide between Spikes and the new leaders of the company — Mitch Lowe, who came on as CEO in 2016 (Spikes took the role of COO), and Helios and Matheson CEO Ted Farnsworth — Spikes said he received an email on January 9, 2018 that his services we no longer needed at the company.

Read more: Disney revealed the details of its Netflix rival, Disney Plus, including its price and release date

"After that, I've never spoken to Mitch or Ted," Spikes said. "And I've been watching it all unfold, like everyone else."

Spikes said he and the leadership "just disagreed on the approach." But he's not bitter about leaving the company he launched because, in his eyes, the idea of movie-ticket subscription working in the industry became a reality with AMC, Cinemark, Sinemia, Studio Movie Grill, soon Alamo Drafthouse, and others all getting into the movie-ticket subscription game.

"The good side was cinema had not been taken seriously since Netflix really got its footing," Spikes said. "So what I liked about that was this had risen to the zeitgeist of conversation. 75% of our members were under the age of 26. Cinema was an event people cared about again. So while there is a sadness around the brand, I was happy to see that this is front and center."

Read the entire Business Insider interview with Stacy Spikes. 

SEE ALSO: The 4 new Netflix original movies and TV shows released this weekend

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How 'white savior' films like 'Green Book' hurt Hollywood

A mysterious condition makes marijuana users violently ill, and it reveals a hidden downside to the drug's growing popularity

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 10:05am  |  Clusterstock

  • Frequent marijuana use appears to be causing a mysterious syndrome characterized by severe nausea and repeated vomiting.
  • Little is known about the condition, which is called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS.
  • Business Insider interviewed half a dozen patients diagnosed with CHS, as well as emergency-room doctors who've treated it and scientists who are studying it.
  • Patients say the condition has turned their lives upside down. Experts are concerned it may be more common than once believed.
  • Marijuana is gaining acceptance in the US as more states legalize the drug. But we're just beginning to understand the variety of benefits and risks associated with it.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Alice Moon once reviewed marijuana edibles for a living. So when a doctor told the 29-year-old Californian that she had to stop using cannabis because of a newly discovered syndrome, it threatened to turn her world upside down.

Before giving up the drug, she wanted one last hurrah. She'd end five years of daily weed use on a high note, she thought.

At a special dinner that evening, Moon ate a five-course cannabis-infused meal prepared by the award-winning chef Holden Jagger. Between dishes, Moon and the other guests were encouraged to take hits of an assortment of joints,  hand-selected to complement the flavors in each dish.

Before the meal began, Moon joked with Jagger that it would be her last supper.

A few hours later, she was at home vomiting uncontrollably. She'd spend the next few days in the hospital.

Moon had previously been diagnosed with a condition called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS.

Very little is known about CHS, which was first identified in the early 2000s. The recognized hallmarks of the condition are heavy, consistent marijuana use, violent vomiting and nausea, and a tendency to use extremely hot baths or showers for relief.

Initially believed to be very rare, CHS has increasingly cropped up in medical journals and emergency rooms (ERs) around the world. There is no known cure. The only long-lasting treatment is quitting cannabis completely.

The condition may be preventable, however, which is one reason doctors and researchers say they want more people to know about it. Research suggests that more adults are using marijuana in recent years; whether that has to do with more states legalizing the plant remains unclear.

Cannabis isn't one drug. It is a plant with hundreds of compounds. Each of them could have a unique effect on our health. But we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of what those effects look like because the drug was widely illegal for decades, experts say.

Marijuana's benefits could include relief for the symptoms linked with serious health conditions, from pain and nausea to digestive issues and seizures. At the same time, its risks might include addiction, reduced cognitive performance, and CHS.

"We must recognize that the full range of potential adverse health consequences from cannabis consumption are not fully understood," Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, wrote recently in a major medical journal.

CHS could affect millions of Americans, but we don't know much about it

In interviews that Business Insider conducted with doctors, researchers, and more than half a dozen people who have symptoms of CHS, people painted a picture of a severe but still mysterious illness. Some researchers estimate it could affect millions of Americans; others hope it is less common.

Because marijuana remains illegal on the federal level and the condition was only recently identified, exact numbers on how many people have CHS are difficult to pin down.

The syndrome appears to affect people who consume marijuana heavily across all backgrounds, ages, and genders. Most say they've consumed cannabis several times a day for between two years and up to multiple decades. They describe a condition that appears suddenly and without warning, sometimes hours after marijuana consumption.

For people who've been using marijuana for years, it's as if a switch gets flipped. After the first occurrence, every time someone with CHS uses cannabis, they risk becoming violently ill. Using pesticide-free marijuana, edibles, concentrates, CBD-only products, or vape pens doesn't make a difference, they say.

In some cases, as with other chronic conditions, CHS appears to cause flare-ups that are difficult to predict. Patients can sometimes go weeks without symptoms and then suddenly suffer a particularly intense bout.

Many people with the condition end up in emergency rooms or urgent-care centers, and some are admitted to the hospital. Complications can range from mild to severe and include problems such as infections, kidney failure, and significant weight loss.

If left untreated, CHS can be deadly.

'People don't relate it to marijuana'

Initially, Moon was hesitant to believe that her illness was related to marijuana.

She'd been using the drug for half a decade with no symptoms. To make things more perplexing, she had first turned to cannabis as a way to relieve occasional pain and nausea linked to things such as menstrual cramps. Doctors say Moon isn't alone in her initial disbelief.

"People don't relate it to marijuana because they’ve been smoking for decades" with no recognizable issues, said Dr. Joseph Habboushe, an associate professor at New York University Langone Health and the lead author of a study on the condition published last year.

Moon had been using various forms of marijuana (edibles, concentrates in vape pens, and several strains of the flower form) daily for about three years. Then one day in 2016, several hours after smoking part of a joint, she ended up bowled over with nausea.

After that, she’d get sick to her stomach roughly every month or so. Thinking that alcohol might have something to do with her symptoms, she quit. It didn't help.

She tried improving her diet. Nothing worked. Eventually, she wound up in an urgent-care center, where doctors diagnosed her with heartburn.

Moon's symptoms continued for more than a year. The only thing that helped was spending hours in a steaming-hot bath. 

In 2018, things took a turn. She was throwing up every week. A specialist she saw around that time said it could be CHS and told her the cure was to quit using marijuana. She didn't want to believe it, but she decided she needed to try quitting.

But before giving it up, she went to one last cannabis event. Moon described it as her last supper.

Moon spent that evening — and most of the next two weeks — in the bathroom. Every day, her vomiting was so bad she felt like she could barely come up for air. One morning, she was so weak that she passed out on her front lawn. At that point, she'd had enough.

'I was in denial. I didn't want to believe it was true.'

She quit marijuana completely for three months and was symptom-free. Then she tried CBD, hoping there was some form of cannabis she could enjoy. One day she took 200 milligrams of CBD in capsules. That night, she ended up in the ER.

Within about a week in the ER, Moon developed three ulcers, a hernia, and an infection. She dropped 12 pounds from her already slender frame, missed Christmas with her family and New Year's with her friends.

"I looked like I was dying," she recalled. 

In Colorado, where marijuana is legal, CHS was recently identified as one of the leading drivers of emergency-room visits tied to cannabis.

For a study published last month, researchers looked at ER visits between 2012 and 2016 and concluded that stomach issues such as nausea and vomiting were the main cause of the trips, ahead of reasons such as intoxication and paranoia. Of the stomach issues, CHS was the most commonly reported problem.

"CHS is certainly not very rare," Dr. Andrew Monte, the lead author on the study and an associate professor of emergency medicine at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, told Business Insider. "We see it absolutely every week in our ER."

For Moon, it took a CT scan, an MRI, and an endoscopy to rule out other issues before she took her doctor's initial diagnosis to heart: She had CHS, and she had to stop consuming marijuana.

"I was in denial. I didn’t want to believe it was true," she said. "Cannabis is my world. It's my whole life."

Hot showers give temporary relief, but the only cure is quitting

Researchers first began describing the symptoms of CHS in the early 2000s, but it was not until recently that doctors in different hospitals around the world began defining it as a unique syndrome. Initially, it was often lumped in with other digestive conditions that share some of its features, such as cyclic vomiting.

It is still unknown how many cases of cyclic vomiting could actually be CHS, Habboushe said. Conversely, it’s also possible that some cases of CHS are something else entirely. Complicating things further, some people initially turn to marijuana to help with their nausea and vomiting. (The federally approved THC-containing drug Marinol is prescribed to treat the nausea and vomiting caused by treatments for cancer and AIDS.)

One of CHS's most distinctive features is the tendency for patients to use hot baths or showers to temporarily relieve the symptoms. Other standard remedies for nausea, such as anti-nausea medications, don't work.

Habboushe believes heat helps because of something to do with the way CHS interferes with the body's natural temperature and pain controls. For some reason, hot water signals to the body that everything is okay, and the pain and nausea from CHS subside for at least as long as the water remains scalding.

"It was this need to be swaddled," Susie Frederick, a 30-year-old Portland resident who was told she might have CHS last year, told Business Insider. "That feeling of needing comfort all over."

Frederick asked Business Insider not to use her real name because she works in the cannabis industry.

Frederick is unsure whether her symptoms are CHS or something else, perhaps something linked to hormonal changes. She has a history of other digestive issues, head injuries, and problems with her gallbladder, which complicate things.

Frederick said her episodes of vomiting and nausea tend to happen when she's on her menstrual cycle and when she's traveling or dealing with added stress. She had her first episode after she got a small upper-arm birth-control implant, which releases the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy.

"It’s hard for me to say distinctly that CHS is actually what's happening. It does mimic quite a few other things," Frederick said. 

The nausea linked to CHS appears to be stronger and more intense than the typical nausea linked to things such as motion sickness or pregnancy, according to patients.

Barry Howard, a 28-year-old chef in Birmingham, Alabama, said what struck him most about his CHS was the feeling that he urgently needed to rid his body of something, such as a toxin. Business Insider isn’t using Howard’s real name because he lives in a state where cannabis is illegal.

"It’s not a normal, 'Oh, I’m sick to my stomach' feeling. You feel like your insides want to come out — like you’re trying to push something out," Howard told Business Insider.

Brian Smith died of dehydration after struggling with CHS for months

If someone with CHS keeps using marijuana, severe complications may unfold. In one case, a 17-year-old in Indiana named Brian Smith died after struggling with CHS for more than six months.

Regina Denney, Smith's mother, told Business Insider that Smith was first diagnosed with CHS in an emergency room in spring 2018. On the way to the hospital, he had been vomiting so badly that she had to pull to the side of the road about five times.

At the ER, doctors told Denney that her son was severely dehydrated and warned her that his kidneys, the body's natural toxin-filtering system, were on the verge of shutting down. 

At first, Denney thought his symptoms were related to the heartburn he'd been diagnosed with at age 10, which they'd been treating for years with doctor-prescribed medications such as Prilosec.

After putting Smith on fluids and running a series of tests, they decided to keep him in the hospital overnight.

While waiting on the results, a doctor asked Smith if he smoked marijuana. When he said yes, the doctor said she thought he had CHS. The doctor said CHS is caused by cannabis, and she told Smith the cure was quitting. She didn't say it could be deadly.

'All we'd ever heard about marijuana were the benefits'

Like others diagnosed with CHS, Smith was somewhat doubtful. He'd been using marijuana for years without problems. Nevertheless, he agreed to stop until he saw a specialist.

"All we’d ever heard about marijuana were the benefits," said Denney. "How it helps nausea, how it helps appetite."

The specialist, a gastroenterologist, confirmed the ER doctor's diagnosis a few days later and didn't run any additional tests. He said Smith had CHS and needed to stop using marijuana. Although Smith and his mom still had their doubts, she urged him to stop smoking.

The next two months were excruciating for Denney. Although her son had stopped vomiting — at least as far as she could tell — he continued to lose weight. He also occasionally complained about nausea. At first, she assumed it was related to his heartburn. But one day when she noticed his shoulder blades poking out from the thin cotton of his T-shirt, she began to suspect he was using cannabis again.

"He was skin and bones," Denney said.

Then one night, Denney got up in the middle of the evening to find her son on the couch in the living room holding his stomach. He said he didn't feel good. The next morning, he started vomiting violently. Between sprints to the bathroom, where she'd bend over to hold a bucket under her son and rub his back, and the kitchen, where she was making dinner for her infant grandson, Denney called the doctor.

They'd send some medicine for her to pick up at the pharmacy, they said. But when Denney picked it up, it was the same anti-nausea medication he'd gotten at the ER. After she told the doctor that the medicine they ordered didn't work, they said they would order something else. In the meantime, she went back home.

All of a sudden, at home, Smith collapsed. He grabbed his back, near his kidneys, then his chest. He told his mom he couldn't breathe. Denney immediately called 911. 

By the time the paramedics arrived, Smith had stopped breathing. They tried CPR. Smith was pronounced dead half an hour later.

On her birthday, Denney received her son's coroner's report. When Smith died, he had been severely dehydrated, according to the document. The cause of death on the report, which Business Insider viewed, read "dehydration due to CHS."

Denney couldn't believe it.

"I said marijuana couldn't have killed my son. It doesn’t take people’s lives," she said.

When Denney was cleaning out her car a few days after Smith died, she pulled her son's backpack from the backseat. Inside, she found an unsealed baggy of edibles that looked like candy.

"I have to do something to make people aware," Denney said. "I don’t want anybody to have to go through this. No parent should have to lose a child, especially to something like this."

'People say I work for the feds'

Some people with CHS are hesitant to talk about the condition out of fear that they’ll be viewed as opposed to marijuana and efforts to legalize the plant. Moon and Howard said they got significant pushback from friends, family members, and other people in their communities when they told them about CHS. 

After Moon shared an article that someone recently published about her experience with the condition, her inbox was flooded with hate mail.

"People say I work for the feds. People say I should leave the industry," she said.

Clinicians and researchers are studying marijuana compounds for their potential ability to treat dozens of ailments, and there's already a cannabis-based drug to curb epileptic seizures.

But, at the same time, as research into cannabis' potential benefits continues, a dicey marijuana-as-a-cure-all trend has sprouted. As they seek to take advantage of the growing public perception of cannabis as universally beneficial, hundreds of companies are hawking everything from CBD-based lotions and drinks to cupcakes and candy — many of them without research to support their claims.

People such as Moon, Frederick, and Howard — people who turned to marijuana because they said it helped with other health issues — appear to be caught in the middle. Frederick began using cannabis for sports injuries and said she also used it to help her transition off a high dose of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. 

Howard first turned to marijuana because he thought its therapeutic qualities outweighed its risks.

Howard, who was working toward a college scholarship, had played soccer competitively in high school when he developed a compression fracture in his lower back. The injury left him with lifelong pain. Wanting to avoid opioid painkillers out of concern he'd become addicted, he turned to cannabis.

"If anything, I thought [marijuana] was helping what I was going through," Howard said.

'This doesn't mean marijuana is bad or good'

Monte and Habboushe emphasized that most CHS patients are using very high levels of marijuana — far higher than what they’d consider standard or "recreational" use. To them, that suggests that while CHS is severe, it may also be avoidable with moderate cannabis consumption.

"Using in moderation is probably the best answer to help people avoid this," Monte said. "People who are using 10 times a day are likely at a high risk. Even just daily use is probably too much, unless you’re doing it for medical purposes."

Despite her struggle with CHS, Moon hasn't left the marijuana industry. She no longer reviews cannabis products, having given up any form of the drug, including CBD. Today, she works for multiple marijuana companies and serves as the head of public relations for a cannabis tech startup called Paragon. 

"I'm passionate about cannabis, and I believe in its healing properties. But I also recognize that maybe I’ve had too much," she said.

Since her son Brian's death, Regina Denney has created her own Facebook group in his memory. She hopes to raise awareness about CHS. 

"My goal is to bring something positive out of the heartbreak," she said.

SEE ALSO: A mysterious syndrome that makes marijuana users violently ill is starting to worry doctors

DON'T MISS: A drug derived from marijuana has become the first to win federal approval, and experts predict an avalanche effect

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One of Uber's earliest investors explains why he invested in the first place, and how the company is going to keep growing past its IPO (UBER)

Sat, 04/13/2019 - 9:45am  |  Clusterstock

  • Uber filed regulatory documents Thursday for its highly anticipated public offering.
  • Menlo Ventures, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm, led Uber’s $32 million Series B fundraise in 2011.
  • Shawn Carolan, who co-led Menlo's original investment, says that he's confident Uber is on the right track, citing its willingness to experiment with new lines of business like UberEats. 
  • He says that founder and ousted CEO Travis Kalanick played an undeniably crucial role in the success of Uber, but also acknowledges that his management style led to big problems at the company. 
  • Now, he says, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is the right person to take the company through its IPO and beyond, citing his humility and vulnerability as major pluses. 
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

When Menlo Ventures partner Shawn Carolan first considered investing in Uber, circa 2011, there was reason to be skeptical. For one thing, the deal would value the startup at a $290 million pre-money valuation — pricey for a two-year-old company. 

His attitude changed when he pulled up the app and ordered his first Uber from the second floor of his building. He says the car was waiting for him by the time he walked downstairs. That's when it clicked. 

"[Uber] was the perfect customer experience, similar to what Google did for search,” said Carolan. “They had a viral growth engine and a product people were willing to pay for. You never see that.”

And so, Menlo ultimately decided to invest: That same year, Carolan co-led Uber's $32 million Series B round of funding that same year. Uber would ultimately raise over $24 billion in venture capital and debt financing. 

Fast forward to this week, when Uber filed the regulatory documents to go public ahead of its long-awaited initial public offering, which could value the company as high as $100 billion. Needless to say, Menlo Ventures stands to make a significant return on what Carolan had thought was a pricey investment.  

Read: Here's who's getting rich on Uber's massive IPO

Now, Carolan says, Uber has an even brighter future ahead — assuming it continues to execute. 

“In the end it all comes down to good old fashioned execution. You have to keep making the business better and keep finding the right talent to build the best product. You invest in the areas that build the business and divest from the areas that don’t,” said Carolan.

Kalanick's contribution, and the rise of Khosrowshahi

Carolan says Uber’s growth may not have been possible without founder Travis Kalanick, who was ousted as CEO in 2017, but remains the company’s largest individual stakeholder even after selling $1.4 billion worth of his shares in the company to Softbank. 

Carolan says it’s “undeniable” that Kalanick was an incredible entrepreneur, but the skills and values that helped him build the business didn’t always hold up as it scaled — leading to a string of controversies that shook up the company and, by the company's own admission, damaged the Uber brand.

“I really admired the guy," Carolan said. "Many of the ways he changed the way transportation was working, especially that quickly, needed his skill set. Obviously, it had downsides as well in the business and the culture. There was a lack of sensitivity in people working at the company. The company values around hustle were not being held in check."

Carolan said the decision as a major investor to support the ousting of Kalanick was “sad,” but that ultimately, stakeholders knew Dara Khosrowshahi was a better fit to lead the company as it scaled. According to Carolan, it was Khosrowshahi’s humility and vulnerability that best indicated his ability to lead the company past its troubles. 

Read More: Uber gave CEO Dara Khosrowshahi $45 million in total pay last year, but it paid its COO even more

“I deeply admire Dara. I felt the difference between him and Travis in Dara’s letter [in the filing]. There was a ton of vulnerability, and that language is so powerful coming from leaders of companies like this. That’s real. Nobody’s perfect, and he’s the type of person I know will be working really hard and trying his best to figure out how the system should work,” Carolan said.

Business moves

As Uber continues to meet with potential investors ahead of its IPO, Carolan thinks the company’s investment in long-term lines of business will pay off. 

He points to the success of UberEats, one of the fastest growing parts of Uber’s business, as evidence that the company is willing to take big bets before achieving profitability. He also points to Uber’s acquisition of Jump, a motorized bike startup that Menlo Ventures had previously invested in, as evidence of a longer term strategy around chasing new, often eco-friendlier, modes of transportation.  

"One thing that was always striking was the simplicity of the value [proposition] at the heart of these truly incredible businesses. [Uber]'s is getting from point A to point B. Whether it's a person or a meal, it's a ubiquitous value proposition on the planet."

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