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Here are the 5 biggest questions facing WeWork as it prepares for its IPO (UBER, LYFT, CBRE, WORK)

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 9:32am  |  Clusterstock

  • WeWork is preparing for an initial public offering and is expected to make public its IPO paperwork as soon as next week.
  • The company has been valued like a tech company by private investors.
  • But it faces numerous questions and concerns as it gears up for its offering.
  • Among them: whether it really should be put in the same class as tech companies and how its business will fare in a recession.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

WeWork is gearing up for a big public offering.

But as it does so, it's facing some similarly big questions that could dampen investors' enthusiasm for its shares, limit the amount of money it raises in the IPO, and dog its stock on into the future.

The coworking business, which now calls itself the We Company, will reportedly make public its IPO documents as soon as next week. It is the most valuable startup to head for the public markets since Uber earlier this year.

Read this: WeWork's IPO filing will reportedly be revealed as soon as next week, giving us our best look yet at its business

With a $47 billion valuation, it has been treated like a tech company. And in some ways it has performed like one. It has expanded rapidly and more than doubled its sales last year while also doubling its loss.

But it's also been dogged by consistent concerns about its business model and about its CEO and founder Adam Neumann. Some of those questions may be answered by its IPO paperwork. Answers for others won't be known for months or even years after its debut on the public markets.

As the company prepares for its IPO, here as some of the biggest questions it faces:

SEE ALSO: WeWork has raised $6.1 billion and pioneered the co-working movement — but it increasingly looks like it doesn't understand commercial real estate

Just what is WeWork?

Adam Neumann describes what the We Company is doing as a "global physical platform." But he's been investing heavily in technology and has bought a succession of software startups in recent years. The company has also argued that it's been and will generate valuable data about its clients over the years and how they use its space and that data could be offered as its own service or could form its own future products and services.

But many see We as just a real-estate company. Nearly all its revenue comes from memberships — essentially the rent payments made by its tenants. It's also likely that most of its investments are going toward leases on properties and furnishings for those properties.

The answer to the question about whether its more a tech company or a real estate firm is important because it could have a direct bearing on its valuation — and how much public investors will pay for its stock.

Neumann has been able to convince venture investors, including Softbank, that We is deserving of a valuation akin to a tech company. With a valuation of about $47 billion based on its last funding round, the We Company is worth more than 15 times its expected revenue this year.

By contrast, real estate companies are generally not valued so highly. CBRE Group, for example, has a market capitalization of $18.4 billion, or less than half We's. But the company posted $21 billion in sales last year — more than 10 times the startup — and it was profitable to the tune of $1 billion. Boston Properties, which is considered overvalued, generated about 50% more revenue than We last year, but its market capitalization is less than half that of Neumann's company.

Whether We is a technology company or a real-estate one is "the biggest fundamental question that people seem to be asking," said Robert Siegel, a lecturer in management at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He continued: "The jury is still out on that."



What happens in a recession?

There are good reasons to worry about what might happen to the We Company when the next economic downturn hits.

The company was formed in 2010, after the economy was already starting to rebound from the Great Recession. So it has never experienced a downturn in the US, its largest market, or in many of the other markets it serves, and there's no way to now how it will weather one.

But Regus, which pioneered the co-working market, offers a cautionary tale. It saw a booming market during the 1990s, the last tech-led boom. But when that market went bust, it saw a sharp downturn in its fortunes and ended up filing for bankruptcy.

The concerns about We center around its business model. It rents space on long-term leases, then turns around and, essentially, sublets it to other companies on short-term, often month-to-months, deals. If the economy goes into recession, many of its startup customers could go out of business and many of its growing number of enterprise customers could sharply cut back on their office space. Because their deals with We are likely shorter term than their traditional leases, the startup could bear the brunt of their cutbacks.

"It has not been battle tested, and it's sitting right in one of the most cyclical sectors of the economy that we have," said Tom Smith, cofounder of Truss, an online commercial real estate marketplace. How it will endure a downturn, he continued, is "the many billion dollar question."

In an interview with Business Insider earlier this year, Neumann argued the startup will be well positioned in a downturn. It offers competitive rents that will be attractive to companies looking to cut costs. A growing portion of its customers are enterprise companies, and they're staying in its spaces for longer periods. And it could benefit from the downturn by getting lower prices on leases and seeing less costly construction costs for finishing out its spaces, he said.

Plus, the company has already experienced — and survived — downturns in Brazil, Argentina, and China, he said.

"We have proven in markets where [a recession] has occurred already," Neumann said in the interview. "We're stronger while [a downturn] happens and come out much stronger."



How much can and should investors trust Adam Neumann?

Neumann dominates We. He has majority control of the company despite not having a majority economic interest in it, thanks to shares that give him extra voting power. Such arrangements have come under increasing scrutiny, because they've helped protect tech titans such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet's Larry Page, and Snap's Evan Spiegel from being held accountable by investors or the public at large.

But even before his company has gone public, Neumann has given potential investors reason to worry about how he'll exercise his power once it does.

He reportedly purchased buildings only to turn around and lease them to WeWork. Over the last five years, he's raised $700 million by selling off his WeWork shares or using them to guarantee personal loans. And he and the company reportedly set up a new corporate structure recently that will allow him and other insiders to avoid paying taxes on any dividends We may pay out — while sticking other investors with double taxation.

Those moves are "red flags" for potential investors, said David Erickson, a senior fellow in finance at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of business.

When you consider them in combination with each other, "People start to get a little nervous about, geez is this right management?"

In May, We announced that it is setting up a $2.9 billion fund jointly with outside investors to purchase commercial properties that the fund will then lease to WeWork. Neumann plans to hand over his interest in the properties he's purchased and leased to WeWork over to the new fund. 

But the fund raises its own questions, because its outside investors' interests may not always be aligned with We's.



Will this be another Uber?

We is only the latest unicorn, or startup worth $1 billion or more, to head to the public markets this year. But it's the most valuable and, perhaps, the most anticipated since Uber.

But that's not necessarily such great company to keep. Uber's stock has performed poorly since its IPO and is trading below its offering price. And it's not alone. Lyft and Slack — two other mammoth, well publicized startups that went public earlier this year — are also trading well below their initial prices.

Uber in particular, though, may worry We and its watchers. The company's offering price was significantly below initial expectations and ended up valuing the startup at only a slight premium to its highest private valuation.

And public investors have proven less tolerant of its ongoing losses than its private backers. After announcing a $5 billion loss for its second quarter, the company saw its stock plunge

If you're an institutional investor and bought shares in Uber or Lyft or Slack at the IPO, "you've lost money to this point," said Wharton's Erickson.

That's left a bad taste in the mouths of such investors, who are going to be crucial to the success We's debut.

"That creates a potentially challenging backdrop" to the IPO, he said.



How is competition affecting the market?

When Neumann founded WeWork in 2010, his new company had few rivals other than Regus. But the market has changed drastically since then, especially recently.

Dozens of other startups now offer coworking spaces. And many of the established names in real estate are getting into the game, either by setting up their own coworking divisions or by teaming up with the players.

International giant Hines recently announced a deal with startup Industrious to create Hines Squared, focused on coworking. Boston Properties has Flex, its own coworking offering. Tishman Speyer, another big commercial landlord, last year launched Studio, yet another coworking concept.

Last year, 69 different coworking providers listed space on Truss, said Smith, its cofounder. This year, that number is past 256.

"A lot of people don't talk about that and aren't really aware of how many other competing coworking and [flexible lease] concepts are out in the market competing with WeWork that did not even exist a year ago," Smith said.

That growing competition could pose multiple challenges for WeWork. Much of its business model hinges on being able to charge a higher price for rent than it's paying landlords and, potentially, to be able to raise its prices over the life of its leases. But in a competitive market, it may not be able to raise prices and, in fact, may have to offer significant discounts to lure customers. That's particularly the case as other coworking concepts try to compete against it by offering more high-end features or targeting potentially profitable niches of customers.

But it also could face an increasingly competitive market not just for clients, but also for space. WeWork owns few of the buildings it uses. Landlords could lease space to rivals, reserve space WeWork would have gotten access to in the past for their own coworking arms, or only offer the startup space in less desirable buildings or areas.

For now, WeWork is kind of like the Kleenex of the coworking market, Smith said. It's the brand potential customers recognize and seek out. It also has a big advantage from its huge network of spaces; when they travel, its customers can often find a WeWork office in which to work if they need one.

But as its rivals become better known, begin to offer similar or better services, and build out or team up to create their own networks of spaces, those advantage could fade, said Walter Johnston, a vice president of credit ratings at research firm Morningstar.

"That's definitely a concern going forward," he said.



These 7 tech CEOs and executives lost millions, along with the companies they helped build

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 9:28am  |  Clusterstock

  • Statistics show nine out of 10 startups end up failing — one of the top reasons being lack of cash. So it is no wonder when a company goes bankrupt, its founder or founders may, too.
  • In Silicon Valley, it seems failure is a rite of passage. Medium blog posts by founders detailing why a company is folding and how it is best for the "community" have become all too common.
  • Many failed CEOs of one startup may go on to found bigger and better companies — but some don't.
  • Here are seven tech executives who lost millions, along with the companies they helped build.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Capitalism can be an ugly beast.

According to statistics, nine out of 10 startups are guaranteed to fail — and most of the time it's because a company simply spent all of its money. This means that not only do companies lose millions of dollars, but so do their founders. When companies go broke, the bank accounts and net worths of CEOs typically also take a drastic hit. 

Silicon Valley isn't a place where entrepreneurs are down for long. Failure is seen almost as a rite of passage in some cases — but in others, failure can mean years-long court battles and the possibility of bankruptcy or criminal charges for misleading shareholders. 

Read more: These 10 billionaires have all gone broke or declared bankruptcy — read the wild stories of how they lost their fortunes

The most prominent, widely covered, and dramatized downfall may be that of founder and former CEO of Theranos Elizabeth Holmes, who faces criminal fraud charges alleging she misled not only investors, but policy makers about the capability of her company's blood-testing technologies.

Another example, but with a happier ending, is Napster — the popular, early-aughts music-sharing software, brought down in part by a lawsuit facilitated by metal band Metallica. Though Napster didn't survive, founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning recovered — Parker became the first president of Facebook and Fanning has since invested in a variety of startups himself. 

Failure in the tech industry cannot be thwarted — the risk of losing everything seems to be part of the game. 

Here's the tech execs who lost millions and the companies they built.

SEE ALSO: The first jobs of 14 of the biggest tech executives

By now, Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former CEO of blood-testing company Theranos, is a household name. Holmes was able to secure nearly $1 billion in funding, notably from investors like Rupert Murdoch and US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, before questions about the technology and fraud charges against Holmes caused Theranos to shut down.

Theranos was founded in 2003 when Holmes was 19 and attending Stanford University. By 2015, Theranos had a $9 billion valuation.

But a year later, Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou published a story detailing how the company was operating at a limited capacity and had been generating false and unreliable results for patients. By the end of 2017, Theranos was drowning — the company had no money and its board members were leaving. 

Last September, Theranos laid off its workforce and Holmes faced charges of wire fraud. The company shut down just days later for good. Holmes, who Forbes once estimated had a net worth of $4.5 billion, now has an estimated net worth of $0. 

Source: Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Forbes



Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow founded drone startup Lily Robotics in 2013. By 2015, Lily Robotics had over $15 million in funding and nearly $35 million in pre-sales thanks to a viral video showing the "drone" in action. But just two years later, Lily Robotics shut down, filed for bankruptcy, and was raided by federal agents. The much-sought-after drone? It reportedly never existed.

Lily Robotics pitched itself as a free-following, video-capturing, autonomous drone company. The company captured the gaze of investors like the Winklevoss twins (who famously sued Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook) and firms like Spark Capital (known for funding Twitter and Slack).

Cofounder Balaresque wrote in an email obtained by San Francisco District Attorney that the famed footage of a Lily drone following skiers and kayakers while they trekked through mountains and rivers was shot using a GoPro mounted on a $2,000 DJI Inspire drone. And according to bankruptcy paperwork, Lily was burning through roughly $1 million a month, while customers anxiously awaited their drones. The company filed for bankruptcy, and said in 2017 it plans to refund customers, but it's not clear if anyone has received a refund yet

Business Insider tried contacting Balaresque and Bradlow, but they did not respond to requests for comment. According to LinkedIn, Bradlow is now a product manager at e-scooter company Lime. 

Sources: Wired, Venture Beat, Forbes, Business Insider, Vox/Recode



In its heyday, circa 2011, Sidecar was considered a ride-share pioneer, beating even Uber and Lyft to launch. With just a little over $35 million in funding, though, Sidecar cofounder and former CEO Sunil Paul said the company just could not compete with Uber, which raised over $6.6 billion.

Sidecar eventually shut down operations in 2015, yet was able to sell its assets to General Motors the following year.

"Our vision is to reinvent transportation and we've achieved that with ridesharing and deliveries. It is, however, a bittersweet victory," Paul wrote in 2015. He largely blamed Uber's "aggressive" tactics and "anti-competitive behavior" for Sidecar's defeat, even going as far to file a lawsuit against the company last year.

Paul did not immediately respond to request for comment made by Business Insider, but according to his LinkedIn profile, he is now the founder of Spring Ventures, a venture capital firm. 

Sources: Vox, Reuters, Forbes



Napster was founded in 1999 by then-teens Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning as a free music-sharing and file-swapping service. But after several high-profile lawsuits, Napster folded and agreed to pay $26 million to publishers.

By 2002, Wired called Napster "the company that launched the most innovative Internet program."

But Napster was ultimately and very publicly brought down by a multitude of widely-covered lawsuits, including one facilitated by metal band Metallica, crushing the hearts of its 57 million users in the process. 

This colossal failure did not keep the two software engineers down for long, however. Parker went on to become the first president of Facebook (though ultimately left after a scandal) and Fanning has gotten into investing

Sources: Wired, Business Insider, AdWeek



Jawbone Health, a wearable health and fitness tracker, raised about $950 million. Jawbone spent nearly $1 billion over the course of a decade, but was ultimately unable to produce a wearable that could compete with rival Fitbit.

Jawbone founder and CEO Hosain Rahman filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy for the company in 2017 with plans to sell some of its assets. J.P. Morgan even sued Rahman alleging he defaulted on loans, but the two parties later settled.

Reuters described Jawbone as "the second largest failure among venture-backed companies." 

None of this deterred Rahman's ability to raise millions of dollars, however — he was able to raise over $65 million for a new company this year.

Rahman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Sources: TechCrunch, Forbes, Axios



The meteoric rise of Aereo, the television/video-streaming startup spearheaded by Chet Kanojia, was shot down by the US Supreme Court in 2014 after the court ruled it violated copyright law in 2014, just two years after it was founded. Five months later, Kanojia and Aereo ended up in court yet again — but this time to file for bankruptcy, according to a blog post written by Kanojia himself, in order to "maximize the value of [the] business and assets."

However, Silicon Valley isn't a place where failed entrepreneurs are down for long. In 2016, Kanojia announced his plan to disrupt the broadband industry by providing cheap, fast internet to customers with Boston-based startup Starry.

Business Insider was unable to immediately reach Kanojia for comment. 

Sources: Forbes, Vox, Business Insider, The New York Times



The story of taxi-hailing app Karhoo is one that can be told in five words: It ran out of money. Just 18 months after launch, Karhoo founder and CEO Daniel Ishag stepped down, and days later, the company announced its plan to shut down.

According to TechCrunch, Ishag never declared how much Karhoo was able to raise, but according to Forbes, the company reportedly blew through $52 million in its short life and ultimately filed for bankruptcy.

When Karhoo closed up shop in 2016, it still owed nearly $2 billion in wages to its workers in cities across the world. However, Karhoo found some hope when Nissan/Renault came in to acquire the failed startup. Ishag did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

According to Business Wire, Ishag has since left the transportation and tech realm and entered healthcare with new venture called Baseline Health Technologies, which uses technology to map human health. 

Sources: Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, Forbes, Business Wire



Shyp, an on-demand shipping startup, was frequently compared to Uber for its potential to disrupt an entire industry — but it just wasn’t in the cards. Shyp was able to raise $60 million in funding from firms like Kleiner Perkins, but was ultimately unable to find success. And when Shyp attempted to raise more money, it was turned down.

Shyp's former CEO and cofounder Kevin Gibbon wrote a blog post in March 2018 detailing the plans to shut down Shyp, saying, "Uber had transformed the way consumers thought about transportation. We could do the same, I was told. And I believed it."

Fortune wrote Shyp's failure illustrates an alarming, if not ever-present trend in Silicon Valley, where gullible CEOs like Gibbon believe "that piles of money last forever, and that attracting famous VCs guarantees success."

Just last month, Shyp announced on Twitter its plan to resurrect, but without Gibbon. Gibbon did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

Sources: TechCrunch, Forbes, Fortune, The New York Times 



12 former Facebook insiders who ditched the company and are now outspoken critics (FB)

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 9:03am  |  Clusterstock

  • Not every Facebook employee leaves with a high opinion of the social media giant or its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Cofounder Chris Hughes thinks the company is too powerful and should be broken up. Founding President Sean Parker worries what Facebook is doing to kids' brains. A former strategic partner manager says Facebook has failed its black employees and users.
  • The founders of Whatsapp, Instagram, and Oculus — some of Facebook's biggest acquisitions since 2012 — have all left the company.
  • We rounded up the parting musings of 12 former Facebook employees.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Facebook has seen its share of talent come and go in its 15 year history, and not always with great things to say. Some former employees have looked back at their time at the social media giant and questioned the value and impact that their work has had on society.

Cofounder Chris Hughes made headlines earlier this year by publicly calling for Facebook to be broken up, becoming the highest profile ex-Facebooker to turn on the company. Of course, there are plenty of insiders who have left Facebook who continue to support it. 

Here are 12 former Facebook employees who have criticized Facebook or CEO Mark Zuckerberg since leaving.

SEE ALSO: Here's why the internet is obsessed with 'number neighbors,' a viral trend where people text phone numbers one digit away from their own

12. Chris Hughes — Cofounder

Chris Hughes, Zuckerberg's Harvard roommate, cofounded Facebook. He left in the company in 2007. In 2019, he says the company is too powerful and is calling for it to be broken up. 

"I've been critical of a lot of the company's decisions over the past year, and (Mark) knows that," Hughes said in an interview with CNN Business in May 2019. "It's not personal beef, but it is personal."

"I've been friends with Mark for fifteen plus years, I dont know if we'll be friends on the other side of this piece," Hughes said in the CNN interview. 

In July 2019, The New York Times reported that Hughes had been in meetings with the FTC, DOJ, and state attorneys about a potential antitrust case against Facebook.

 

Sources: New York Times, New York Times, CNN Business

 



11. Palmer Luckey — Oculus founder

Palmer Luckey founded his VR company Oculus in 2012, which Facebook acquired in 2014 for about $2 billion. By 2017, he was out, following a Daily Beast report in 2016 that Luckey was "putting money behind an unofficial Donald Trump group dedicated to 's---posting' and circulating internet memes maligning Hillary Clinton."

In October 2018, Luckey told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin, "it wasn't my choice to leave." When Zuckerberg testified before congress in April 2018, he said Luckey's departure was not related to politics, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, The Daily Beast, Facebook, CNBC



10. Sean Parker — Founding president

The Napster cofounder joined Facebook as its founding president in 2004. He was arrested — but not charged — for cocaine possession in 2005. According to Vanity Fair, the arrest worried Facebook investors, and consequently "with much anguish, (Parker) agreed to depart."

In November 2017, Parker criticized Facebook at an Axios event, saying "God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains."

 

Sources: Axios, Business Insider, Vanity Fair



9. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger — Instagram cofounders

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched Instagram in 2010, and Facebook acquired it for $1 billion in 2012. In 2018, both cofounders left Facebook.

According to The New York Times, disagreements about changes to the service and staffing led to their decision to leave. The Times also reported that the founders weren't happy about the level of control Zuckerberg had begun to assert over Instagram.

At the Wired 25 conference after his departure, Systrom said "there are no hard feelings" towards Facebook, but "No one ever leaves a job because everything's awesome, right?" according to The Verge.

Source: The Verge, New York TimesBusiness InsiderThe New York Times



8. Alex Stamos — Former chief information security officer

Alex Stamos served as Facebook's chief information security officer from 2015 to 2018. According to The New York Times, prior to his departure Stamos "advocated more disclosure around Russian interference of the platform" but colleagues disagreed — his tasks were delegated out consequently. Stamos also reportedly clashed with COO Sheryl Sandberg, once blindsiding her at a board meeting where he began speaking about Russian intelligence operations.

"The truth is there is a bit of a Game of Thrones culture among the executives," Stamos said in a February 2019 interview with CNN. "One of the problems about having a really tight-knit set of people making all these decisions ... if you keep the — the same people in the same places, it's just very difficult to admit you were wrong, right?"

In May 2019, Stamos said Zuckerberg wields too much power and therefore should step down as Facebook's CEO.

Sources: Business Insider, Business Insider, New York Times, CNN



7. Mark Luckie — Former strategic partner manager for global influencers

Mark Luckie, who worked at Facebook from 2017 to 2018, circulated a memo to Facebook employees globally when he left the company and then posted it on Facebook. It's opening line read: "Facebook has a black people problem." Luckie went on to detail how Facebook has failed its black employees and users. He wrote that underrepresented groups are systematically excluded from communication and that racial discrimination at Facebook is real.

Facebook's 2019 diversity report showed that only 3.8% of Facebook employees identified as black, with only 1.5% of technical employees identifying as black.

"We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be micro-behaviors that add up," A Facebook spokesperson wrote to Business Insider around the time Luckie published his memo. "We are going to keep doing all we can to be a truly inclusive company."

Sources: LinkedIn, Facebook, Facebook, Business Insider



6. Chamath Palihapitiya — Former VP

Chamath Palihapitiya worked at Facebook from 2008 to 2011, serving as VP of platform and monetization, and then VP of user growth, mobile & international. 

In November 2017, Palihapitiya criticized Facebook at a talk at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, saying he felt "tremendous guilt" about the effect of social media on society. "In the back, deep, deep recess of our mind, we kind of knew something bad could happen." 

"Chamath has not been at Facebook for over 6 years," Facebook wrote in a response statement. "Facebook was a very different company back then, and as we have grown, we have realized how our responsibilities have grown too."

Palihapitiya consequently backpedaled, writing "I genuinely believe that Facebook is a force for good in the world" in a Facebook post.

Sources: Facebook, Business Insider, Business Insider, Business Insider, LinkedIn



5. Justin Rosenstein — Former engineering manager

Justin Rosenstein worked as an engineering manager at Facebook from 2007 to 2008, during which time he helped develop the Like button. After leaving Facebook, he cofounded digital project management platform Asana in 2008. 

Rosenstein told The Guardian in 2017 that he restricts his own use of social media these days, saying, "Everyone is distracted...all of the time." 

Sources: Business Insider, LinkedIn, Guardian



4. Leah Pearlman — Former product manager

Leah Pearlman also worked on creating Facebook's Like button; in retrospect, she had concerns about the validation feedback loop she created.

In a 2017 interview with Vice, Pearlman said, "You know that episode of Black Mirror, that one where everyone is obsessed with likes? When I saw that I suddenly felt terrified of becoming those people, as well as thinking I'd created that environment for everyone else."

Source: Vice, Business Insider



3. Brian Acton — WhatsApp cofounder

Brian Acton left Facebook in September 2017, three years after it acquired his messaging platform WhatsApp for $19 billion. According to Forbes, Acton's pro-privacy and anti-ads stance for WhatsApp caused friction with Zuckerberg and Facebook.

In February 2018, Wired reported that Acton was working with WhatsApp competitor Signal (which has end-to-end encryption), investing $50 million.

In March 2018, he called for users to #deletefacebook as the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal came to light. 

Tweet Embed:
//twitter.com/mims/statuses/976231995846963201?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
It is time. #deletefacebook

Sources: Wired, Forbes



2. Jan Koum —WhatsApp cofounder

Jan Koum followed his cofounder Brian Acton out the door of Facebook. In April 2018, Koum announced his intent to leave the company. The Washington Post reported that Koum made the decision "after clashing with (WhatsApp's) parent, Facebook, over the popular messaging service's strategy and Facebook's attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption." 

Koum posted on Facebook announcing his departure; Zuckerberg commented, saying "I'm grateful for everything you've done to help connect the world, and for everything you've taught me, including about encryption."

Sources: Washington Post, Verge, Facebook



1. Eduardo Saverin — Cofounder

Zuckerberg's Harvard classmate Eduardo Saverin was the cofounder of Facebook. He managed the business side of Facebook until 2005, when Zuckerberg boxed him out by creating a new Delaware corporation to acquire Facebook's old Florida LLC, distribute new shares to everybody, and leave Saverin out.

Zuckerberg wrote an email to his lawyer asking, "Is there a way to do this without making it painfully apparent to him that he's being diluted to 10%?" about Saverin.

What followed were lawsuits from Facebook and Saverin, Saverin approaching the Winklevoss twins, and Saverin approaching author Ben Mezrich about the book that would become Accidental Billionaires, which would eventually be made into the film The Social Network by David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin in 2010. 

When Saverin and Facebook's lawsuits were settled, Saverin signed an NDA and ceased communication with the press. In a 2012 interview with Veja, a Brazilian magazine, Saverin said, "I have only good things to say about Mark, there are no hard feelings between us." In a 2019 interview with Forbes, Saverin said, "I'm incredibly proud of what Mark has done, to build an institution of its size and value. He'll work hard to get things right."

Sources: Business Insider, Business Insider, Business Insider, Forbes



Facebook is replacing some of Instagram's tech to improve privacy. Here's why it will also super-size the app's money-making potential. (FB)

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 8:30am  |  Clusterstock

  • It looks like Instagram is gearing up to bring a major new revenue stream online.
  • The Facebook-owned app's messaging service, Instagram DMs, is being reengineered with the tech that underpins Facebook Messenger.
  • In theory, this means Instagram will be well-positioned to roll out myriad tried-and-tested revenue generating features such as chatbot ads.
  • A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company is planning this.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Instagram looks to be setting the stage for a major new cash-printing machine.

This week, Bloomberg broke the news that Instagram's messaging service, Direct Messages (abbreviated as DMs), is undergoing a major restructuring. The entire product is being rebuilt using the same tech that underpins Messenger, one of Facebook's other messaging apps. 

It's all part of an ambitious reengineering of Facebook's multiple messaging products — Instagram DMs, Messenger, and WhatsApp — that will allow them all to communicate with each other seamlessly, as well as adding end-to-end encryption. 

Facebook is describing the move as part of its "pivot to privacy" —a strategic shift aimed at safeguarding users' privacy after years of constant scandals. Skeptics argue it's a way to try and make it harder to break the company up under antitrust law if the company's critics arguing that Facebook is an anticompetitive monopoly.

That may be true.

But the move has another likely consequence: It will help Instagram make a ton more money.

A 'Swiss-Army knife' messaging app

Over the years, Facebook has built Messenger into an impressively multi-functional messaging app that lets users do everything from play games with friends to receive receipts for their online shopping. Accordingly, it's stuffed full of monetization opportunities for the company, with ad units and sophisticated integrations for brands looking to interact directly with potential customers. 

Instagram DMs, in contrast, are much more straightforward — they're basically just a standard messaging service. 

Bloomberg reported that the basic look of Instagram DMs "won't change much" post-reengineering. But by integrating Messenger's tech under the hood, Facebook is putting in place a foundation that can accommodate new brand-centric, money-making product features. Chatbot capabilities for example, which are currently available in Facebook Messenger but not in Instagram, allow users to interact with retailers and other businesses through automated chatbots. That's a potential for revenue, through things such as paid chatbot ads, that Instagram doesn't currently have. 

A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment on whether the company was considering this when contacted by Business Insider. But as a strategic move, it makes sense; it would allow Facebook to implement tried-and-tested money making opportunities in Instagram — producing new revenue streams without having to build anything from scratch, and leveraging the Messenger team's existing knowledge on what works.

Ultimately, Facebook's goal is likely for its messaging apps to look a lot more like China's WeChat — an all-in-one messaging app from which users can do everything from ordering food to paying utility bills.  

Instagram is already a cash-printing machine, with an estimated value of over $100 billion, and with a brand that has managed to stay largely free of its parent company's scandals. But this change illustrates that when it comes to monetizing the app, there are still plenty of opportunities that have still yet to be tapped. 

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Apple's long-awaited credit card with Goldman Sachs is launching. A Wall Street firm crunched the numbers around how much money it could make.

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 2:04am  |  Clusterstock

  • The long-awaited Apple Card is rolling out. Alliance Bernstein has estimated it could reap as much as $1 billion in annual revenues for the Apple within a few years.
  • To reach the $1 billion mark, the Apple Card would have to become one of the largest credit cards in the industry, rivaling the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum.
  • That's a tough hurdle, but it's plausible given Apple's hundreds of millions of iPhone users and its brand cachet.
  • "This revenue should be almost pure profit to Apple, as Goldman Sachs bears all of the operational and credit risk for the program," Bernstein wrote in a May research note.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories

Apple has officially launched its much ballyhooed credit-card, in collaboration with Goldman Sachs. Within a few years the card could reap as much as $1 billion in annual profit for the tech giant, with little downside risk.

That's according to estimates that Wall Street research shop Alliance Bernstein put out in May, which analyzed the potential profit prospects of Apple Card and other new business lines against plateauing sales of the iPhone and slowed growth from existing services like iTunes, iCloud, and Apple Care.

Apple Card doesn't represent the largest revenue opportunity of services Apple has planned — that distinction goes to the advertising and TV programs, according to Bernstein — but the card could wind up being some of the easiest cash Apple ends up pocketing.

Here's how the math breaks down.

The revenue split

There are several ways the fee-free card will make money — primarily via swipe fees and interest payments from customers who carry a balance — and if Apple's co-brand partnership is in line with industry standards, the iPhone maker will take a percentage of the revenues. 

Typically, this figure is in the 5% to 10% range, but as Bernstein pointed out, Apple is a premium brand and Goldman is a newcomer to the credit-card business, so the terms were likely sweeter for the tech company. Apple was also more intimately involved the technology behind the card, which integrates with the iPhone and Apple Wallet. 

That notion is further reinforced by the fact that there were several bidders for the Apple Card partnership, and that Citigroup backed out after advanced negotiations over fears the card's consumer-friendly, anti-fee framework would make it a money loser, according to a report from CNBC.

"The split is likely more in favor of Apple given its relative negotiating leverage over Goldman Sachs," Bernstein wrote in the research report. 

But how much revenue can the card generate? Bernstein notes that the two largest rewards cards today, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum, each likely earn in excess of $4 billion in annual revenue. 

The analysts thought it is plausible for the Apple Card to match this over time, though they're aware that doing so for a brand-new card "is obviously a high hurdle."

Millions of iPhone users and unmatched brand cachet give Apple an edge

What the Apple Card has going for it, Bernstein noted, is seamless integration via the iPhone and thus a massive cache of easy-to-reach customers, as well as "brand cachet" among those customers that "is obviously unmatched."

Bernstein has estimated there will be roughly 935 million installed iPhones in circulation worldwide by the end of 2019.

Much of that user base is outside the US — only 42% of Apple's revenues came from the Americas region in 2018, according to financial filings — and the credit card will only be available in the US to start with. But the US alone still represents vast and wealthy group of customers. 

Moreover, the instant cash-back feature along with a competitive 2% cash-back rate for digital purchases should make it popular with low- to middle-income customers. 

If adoption is strong, the card could make Apple as much as $1 billion annually within the next three to five years, but Bernstein said "hundreds of millions" is a more likely scenario.

'This revenue should be almost pure profit to Apple.'

Even if Apple takes 20% of the revenues — double the high end of the traditional co-brand range — that's $800 million a year if the card matches the success of the Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum. 

By comparison, Amazon's co-brand credit cards likely earn the firm $500 million to $1 billion annually, Bernstein estimated.

But the kicker for Apple is this revenue stream comes with with very little work or risk going forward.

Goldman Sachs is essentially paying Apple for access and marketing to its lucrative customer base. The bank will do all the work of operating the credit-card — assessing and managing credit exposure, dealing with angry or confused customers, and collecting bills from delinquent cardholders. 

"This revenue should be almost pure profit to Apple, as Goldman Sachs bears all of the operational and credit risk for the program," Bernstein wrote in the note. 

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WeWork's IPO filing will reportedly be revealed as soon as next week, giving us our best look yet at its business

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 6:22pm  |  Clusterstock

Coworking space startup WeWork could unveil its IPO filing as soon as next week, according to a Bloomberg report Friday.

The company, which is part of The We Company, confidentially filed to go public in April and was valued at $47 billion in its most recent private funding round in January. The S-1 filing in question would give us our best look yet at the high-profile startup's business yet.

According to its most recent financial report in July, WeWork still isn't profitable, but it's growing fast, with its losses and revenues both doubling in 2018 to $1.9 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively, from the year prior. 

WeWork has been sharing select financial information with the public since it began issuing bonds in 2018, but the filing will be the most comprehensive look at its finances yet. According to the Bloomberg report, WeWork is planning to raise more than $3.5 billion in its IPO, which, if it comes to fruition, would make it the second largest IPO in the United States this year.

The company has raised $10 billion in venture funding and debt funding since cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann started the company in 2011. The IPO would allow its roster of prominent investors, including SoftBank, to cash out their shares.

Read More: WeWork cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann reportedly sold shares he owned in the company and took loans worth $700 million

The company's financials have come under scrutiny in the run-up to its public debut as it struggles to turn large real estate investments into a profitable business model. Neumann himself came under fire in July for cashing out a portion of his stake in WeWork and taking loans worth $700 million in total, an uncommon move ahead of such a highly-anticipated IPO. 

WeWork declined to comment. 

SEE ALSO: Eco-friendly home product maker Grove Collaborative acquires feminine care startup Sustain Natural for undisclosed amount

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Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders just slammed the Swiss drug giant Novartis over a new controversy swirling around the world's most expensive drug

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 4:44pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are among a group of five senators who slammed Novartis' AveXis for submitting manipulated data to the FDA ahead of the approval of its gene-therapy drug. 
  • The FDA revealed the data-manipulation issue earlier this week, saying that it affected only a small portion of product-testing data and that the regulator was confident the drug, Zolgensma, should keep being sold. 
  • "This scandal smacks of the pharmaceutical industry's privilege and greed, and Americans are sick of it," the senators wrote in a letter to Ned Sharpless, the acting head of the FDA. 
  • Novartis said it first learned about the data problem in March. But the Swiss drug giant informed the FDA months later, after the gene therapy was approved, the FDA said
  • The five senators encouraged the FDA to "use your full authorities to hold AveXis accountable for its malfeasance," adding that "anything short of a forceful response would signal a green light to future pharmaceutical misbehavior."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Five senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, are slamming the Swiss drug giant Novartis for submitting manipulated data to the US Food and Drug Administration — which was part of a package that led to its $2.1 million drug getting approved.

The FDA made the data problem public earlier this week. It appears to affect only a small amount of data, and the FDA said it "remains confident" the drug, Zolgensma, should still be sold. 

In the pharmaceutical industry, where data is the basis for approval of life-or-death drugs, data manipulation is serious business. The controversy has bubbled up this week, magnified by the visibility of Zolgensma, which at $2.1 million is the most expensive drug in the world, as well as the high profile of Novartis, whose new, young, and charismatic CEO has sought to transform the company

"This scandal smacks of the pharmaceutical industry's privilege and greed, and Americans are sick of it," the senators wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Ned Sharpless, the FDA's acting head. In addition to Warren and Sanders, both 2020 presidential hopefuls, the letter was also signed by Sens. Richard Durbin, Tammy Baldwin and Richard Blumenthal, who are all Democrats.

Novartis declined to comment on the letter from the senators.

.@Novartis manipulated testing data to rush its drug to market & exploit govt perks. Now its $2.1M spinal muscular atrophy drug is the most expensive med in US history. The @US_FDA works for the people, not big pharma, & must hold Novartis accountable. https://t.co/jo7kxqKlp7

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) August 9, 2019

 

Data-manipulation timeline provokes outrage from senators

The timeline of Novartis' disclosure to the FDA also inspired ire from the senators. Novartis heard allegations of data manipulation in March, before Zolgensma was approved in May. But the drugmaker disclosed it to the FDA a month after the approval, on June 28, the FDA said.

Read more: A top executive at Swiss drug giant Novartis told us the inside story of the $2.1 million price tag for the most expensive drug in the world

In a conference call with investors this week, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said the company had been investigating the allegations itself and denied that it had been influenced by the timing of Zolgensma's approval. The data manipulation was carried out by only a few people, and Novartis would "exit" them, he said. 

The drugmaker "tried to do all of the right things," Narasimhan said. "There will be bumps on the road, we'll never be perfect, but we will be relentless in trying to keep improving and being the most highly respected company in our industry."

But the senators disagreed, calling Novartis's actions "unconscionable" and urging the FDA to take action. The regulator has previously said it could impose either civil or criminal penalties.

"We urge you to use your full authorities to hold AveXis accountable for its malfeasance," they said. "Anything short of a forceful response would signal a green light to future pharmaceutical misbehavior." 

The senators also asked the FDA why it had scrapped a regulation proposed last fall, which would have required healthcare companies to quickly report falsified data, and whether that regulation would be reissued because of the AveXis news.

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Stocks slump as US-China trade tensions escalate yet again

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 4:04pm  |  Clusterstock

Stocks returned to a downward spiral on Friday after President Trump floated the idea of canceling upcoming trade talks with China in September, bringing into question whether the world's two largest economies can avoid escalating their trade war. 

While speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump was asked whether the planned talks with China would be cancelled, to which Trump replied: "Maybe. We'll see what happens." The comments come a few weeks before a new round of tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese exports are scheduled to take effect on September 1. 

Trump also said the US would sever ties with the controversial Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. But, if a trade deal was achieved, Trump suggested the ban could be lifted. The company was temporarily banned from doing business with the US earlier this summer. 

Here's a look at the major indexes as of the 4 p.m. close on Friday: 

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All three major US indexes are poised to close in positive territory for the week after days of wild swings brought on by trade comments from Trump and China, fears of a currency war, and loosening monetary policy around the world.

Shares of Nektar Therapeutics cratered 40% on Friday after the company disclosed a quality control problem with one of its key cancer treatments. Wall Street analysts moved swiftly to downgrade the stock as concern grew over the future success of the cancer therapy. 

Shares of Uber plunged as much as 10% after the ride-hailing services lost more money in the second quarter than investors and analysts anticipated. Uber said it lost $5.2 billion during the period, but chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi assured investors and analysts that losses would drop in the coming years. 

CannTrust, a major cannabis producer, fell as much as 8.8% after the company's auditor withdrew results for its most recent quarterly and full-year filings. The Canada-based producer said last week it may have to restate its earnings for the two filings after regulators discovered unlicensed pot greenhouses in early July. The stock then saw a torrid rebound in the afternoon. 

Within the S&P 500, these were the largest gainers:

And the largest decliners:

Healthcare and utilities posted the only gains in the S&P 500 on Friday. Energy, technology, and consumer discretionary firms were the index's biggest losers.

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Uber lost $5.2 billion in 3 months. Here's where all that money went. (UBER)

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 3:59pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Uber posted a $5.2 billion loss on Thursday, its largest ever, sending shares plummeting.
  • A major chunk of that loss was a consequence of two things: stock-based compensation and driver rewards, both stemming from the company's initial public offering in May. 
  • Other major costs for Uber include research and development, on things like self-driving cars, and sales and marketing, in order to keep growing.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Uber lost a whopping $5.2 billion in the second quarter of 2019, the company revealed on Thursday, its deepest quarterly loss ever, thanks to an expensive initial public offering earlier this year.

It's a tremendous amount of money for any company, though a major chunk was thanks to one-off expenses, and the spending is set to decline in coming periods, the company said. Still, investors weren't happy with the results, and the stock plunged as much as 8% when markets opened Friday morning.

"The big picture is we want to be there any way you want to get around your city, and I think we're well on a path to do so in a profitable way," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told analysts on a conference call following the results.

Most Wall Street analysts viewed the quarter as in line with what they expected, even as certain line items might have disappointed. Some even suggested the big sell-off was a buy-the-dip opportunity.

"We see Uber shares as one of the best long-term stories in the Internet and would take advantage of the weakness to add to positions," Lloyd Walmsley, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, told clients. "We think a continued improvement in unit economics and better visibility into the path to profitability could draw more investors to do the work, and given compelling potential upside in a bull case, near term and long term, we would not wait to get involved."

Here are the costs that led to Uber's massive loss in the second quarter:

SEE ALSO: Uber and Lyft are lashing out at New York City regulators over 'malarkey' vehicle caps

Stock-based compensation: $3.9 billion

This was, by far, the largest factor in Uber's loss. The company's income statement included $3.9 billion of such expenses, nearly all of it related to its IPO in May. Uber had handed out restricted shares that vested when it completed its offering; the value of those shares comprised $3.6 billion of its total stock-based compensation expense for the quarter.

Many of the recipients of these shares will be eligible to sell their stock soon, depending on when their specific lockup period ends. Lyft, Uber's biggest US competitor, moved its date for that period to end forward to August 19 from a date in September that coincided with the company's earnings quiet period.

In the next quarter, Uber expects its stock-based-compensation charges to fall dramatically.

"For Q3 2019 stock-based compensation, we expect an expense of $450 million to $500 million," Nelson Chai, the company's chief financial officer, said on the call.

Regardless, many investors ignore the expense of stock-based compensation because it is, at least initially, a noncash cost.



Driver rewards: $299 million

Uber also spent heavily on driver rewards connected to its IPO. The company spent $299 million in another onetime charge for those driver payments.

Khosrowshahi told CNBC on Friday morning that these one-off charges, while painful, were well-deserved and important to retaining drivers and talent.

"The IPO for us was a once in a lifetime moment," he said. "And it was a really important moment for the company. Some of what we did, like the driver-appreciation reward, almost $300 million that we put in the hands of over a million drivers globally, was really important for us to do. It created a messy P&L from an accounting standpoint that I think is hiding underlying trends that are actually very, very healthy for the company."



Research and development: $3.06 billion ($2.6 billion from stock-based compensation)

Research and development was Uber's biggest operating expense on its income statement. But much of that expense — $2.6 billion of the $3.1 billion total — came in the form of stock-based compensation, and that figure ballooned because of IPO-related vesting of certain restricted shares.

Still, Uber is investing heavily in R&D. Between its Advanced Technologies Group, which is developing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, Toronto, and San Francisco; New Mobility, which is launching new e-bikes and adding public-transit options to Uber's app; Elevate, the unit dedicated to making flying taxis a reality; and improvements to its core ride-hailing business' dispatching, routing, and fare algorithms; there's plenty to spend money on.

Read more: Uber has raised another $1 billion for its self-driving unit, which is now valued at more than $7 billion

Here's how Uber defines its research and development spend in regulatory filings:

Research and development expenses consist primarily of compensation expenses for engineering, product development, and design employees, including stock-based compensation, expenses associated with ongoing improvements to, and maintenance of, our platform offerings, and ATG and Other Technology Programs development expenses, as well as allocated overhead. We expense substantially all research and development expenses as incurred.



General and administrative: $1.6 billion ($768 million from stock-based compensation)

Uber's general and administrative spend includes rent for office space around the world, legal counsel, and human resources. As with its research-and-development expenses, its administrative costs spiked, thanks to the IPO's effect on stock-based compensation.

"We expect that sales and marketing expenses will increase on an absolute dollar basis and vary from period to period as a percentage of revenue for the foreseeable future as we plan to continue to invest in sales and marketing to grow the number of platform users and increase our brand awareness," the company said in regulatory filings. "The trend and timing of our brand marketing expenses will depend in part on the timing of marketing campaigns."



Sales and marketing: $1.2 billion ($212 million from stock-based compensation)

Perhaps not surprisingly, Uber spends massive amounts of money on marketing. Even despite laying off 400 employees from its marketing department in July (a move that wasn't counted in this earnings report but will be reflected in the third quarter), the company said this number likely wouldn't be going down. Unlike its research-and-development and administrative costs, relatively little of its sales-and-marketing expenses were in the form of stock-based compensation, so they weren't affected as much by the IPO-related vesting of shares.

Read more: Uber marketing employees describe this week's 'bloodbath' when the company laid off 400 employees in more than a dozen countries this week

"The reorganization [of the marketing department] is about improving effectiveness, and it's about thinking about where we're going to be for the next five years of the company versus where we come from," Khosrowshahi said on the call. "My expectation is that our marketing spend, I can't speak to the — for the second half of the year, but our marketing spend for the next few years is actually going to both increase and be more effective as a result of the changes that we're making in the marketing organization."

In regulatory filings, Uber said its sales-and-marketing spend consisted "primarily of compensation expenses, including stock-based compensation to sales and marketing employees, advertising expenses, expenses related to consumer acquisition and retention, including consumer discounts, promotions, refunds, and credits, Driver referrals, and allocated overhead. We expense advertising and other promotional expenditures as incurred."



Operations and support: $864 million ($404 million from stock-based compensation)

This line includes many of the driver-focused employees in operations support centers, like Greenlight Hubs, throughout the world. This amount, though small, is likely to decrease going forward, Uber said, as it becomes more efficient in "supporting platform users."

It also spiked upward in the quarter because of the IPO-related stock-based-compensation costs.



Depreciation and amortization: $123 million

As time goes by, certain assets may lose value. For physical things, like buildings, vehicles, or machinery, this reduction is known as depreciation. For intangible assets, this is called amortization and is slightly more concrete to calculate.

Unlike tangible items, assets that amortize do so on a "straight-line" basis, according to Investopedia, meaning the same amount decreases from an item's value every period until it reaches zero. Examples of assets that might amortize include costs from capital raises, patents and trademarks, and other intellectual property.

Investors often ignore depreciation and amortization expenses because they're not considered to be a core part of companies' ongoing operating costs and don't necessarily represent current expenditures of cash.



Investors are fleeing emerging-market stocks at the fastest pace since 2015 as trade-war fears escalate

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 3:26pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Emerging-market equities saw their largest outflow since 2015 this week as US-China trade tensions spiked and concerns over global growth mounted.
  • Latin America is the most exposed region because it trades heavily with China, according to analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan. 
  • Read more on Markets Insider.

Signs of stress were plentiful in emerging markets this week as escalating trade tensions between the US and China stoked fears of slowing global growth.

Emerging-market equities saw $6.2 billion of outflows, the biggest weekly total since 2015, according to data compiled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. That coincided with a roughly 2% decline in the MSCI Emerging Market Index.

The flight from emerging markets came as trade tensions between the US and China increased and stoked fears that they have morphed into a global currency war. On Monday, China let the value of the yuan slide as a retaliation to the threat of extra tariffs from President Donald Trump, sending riskier assets such as US and emerging-market equities down roughly 3%.

Since, markets have whiplashed after a trio of central banks issued rate cuts, spurring fears that global growth is slowing and making risky assets look even less attractive. 

Going forward, industry watchers expect trade tensions to continue to weigh on the global economy. This will drag on emerging-market countries, especially those that have less room to leverage monetary and fiscal policy to cushion the shock, Claudio Irigoyen and David Hauner of Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote in a note Friday.

"We expect uncertainty to remain high in August as the next chapter of the US-China trade war unfolds," they said. 

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The performance this week was a shift from earlier in the year, when emerging-market stocks showed signs of improvement after the last time that trade-war news dragged them lower in May. In June, signs of trade progress and a positive economic backdrop sent the MSCI Emerging Markets gauge rising again.

"If you also look at times when it feels that trade may be resolved, or trade issues may be improved, you notice how sharply emerging markets rally," Rashmi Gupta, a money manager at JPMorgan Chase Bank in New York, told Markets Insider in a recent interview.

At the end of July, emerging-market assets were up about 7% since January, though still underperforming developed markets over the same time frame. The rally ended when — following the US Federal Reserve's quarter-point cut in July — Fed Chairman Jerome Powell signaled it wasn't the start of a prolonged easing cycle. That hawkishness was viewed as a headwind to further accommodation and global growth stimulus.

A high degree of Latin American exposure

Within emerging markets, Latin American countries are particularly exposed to trade news, according to Bank of America and JPMorgan. This is because the region has the most countries that export commodities to China. 

Since 2001, annual trade between China and Latin America has increased 18 times, eclipsing exchange between the US and the region, according to Franco Uccelli, the head of investment strategy for Latin America at JPMorgan Private Bank. It's become the main trading partner for South America and the second largest in Latin America, Uccelli said.

"That generates some concern," Uccelli told Markets Insider. "You need your main trading partner to be strong." 

The worry is if the escalating trade tensions between the US weaken the economy in China, demand from the region will decrease, meaning that commodity exports from countries such as Brazil, Peru, and Chile would suffer as they rely heavily on strong demand from China, Uccelli said. Other vulnerable countries include South Africa, Indonesia, and Turkey, Bank of America wrote. 

The volatility in emerging markets is likely to continue, and even if the US and China reach a deal on trade, it should be regarded with some skepticism by investors, Morley Campbell, the chief information officer at Continuous Capital — a part of Resolute Investment Managers — told Markets Insider.  

Still, Campbell said that investors shouldn't overlook emerging markets in the long-term, even though there's short-term volatility risks. 

That's because valuations are still a big discount compared with other equities, many emerging-market countries pay cash dividends, and the class is still poised for blockbuster growth going forward. 

It comes down to getting valuations right, he said.

"Don't bet the ranch," he said. "Maintain a modest but consistent allocation over time."

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The 14 most underrated airlines in the world that are way better than they get credit for

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 2:59pm  |  Clusterstock

  • While some people insist on avoiding certain airlines, or feel nervous about flying on unfamiliar foreign carriers, that could be a big mistake.
  • Despite reputations for stinginess with things like bags or seat size, plenty of low-cost carriers offer phenomenal service considering their incredibly low prices, as long as you pay attention when booking and know exactly what you're getting.
  • Similarly, lesser-known foreign airlines often offer great ways to see the world comfortably, in a safe and cost-effective way.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Here are 14 airlines that I think are consistently underrated based on my own travels, conversations with other travelers, and a ton of discussions online.

SEE ALSO: These are the biggest airplanes in the world today — including one that can carry as many as 850 passengers

Southwest Airlines

Southwest has a reputation for being a more basic airline, but features like no change fees, two free checked bags, and reasonably comfortable seats and amenities are a big plus.



Norwegian Air

Norwegian Air Shuttle offers unbundled fares between the US and Europe. With round trip tickets sometimes available in the roughly $200 range, it's a perfectly comfortable, incredibly cost-effective way to get to London, Paris, or other cities. Just make sure to read the terms carefully to know what is and isn't included.



Ryanair

Ryanair gets a bad rap, but the ultra-low-cost-carrier is perfectly serviceable for the incredibly cheap flights it offers throughout Europe.



EasyJet

Similarly, EasyJet may have a reputation for being utilitarian, but its low prices make it an attractive way to gallivant around Europe.



Wizz Air

Wizz Air is similar to Ryanair and EasyJet but often has less name recognition. This Hungarian-based ultra-low-cost-carrier is perfectly serviceable, and just announced that it's expanding its network to Edinburgh, from which it will operate flights to Poland, Hungary, and Romania.



Nok Air

Nok Air is a low-cost carrier based in Thailand. The airline's flights are mostly domestic and regional, but make a great, quick, cheap way to get around the region if you're stopping in multiple cities during a trip.



Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines — which is based in Seattle — is smaller than its mainline US competitors, but gets consistently high ratings from passengers. It also partners with American Airlines and has a strong frequent-flyer program that is also underrated.



Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand offers a fairly unique feature on its long-haul flights. Dubbed "Economy Skycouch," it lets you book an entire economy row to yourself. It includes a mattress pad and pillows, and costs significantly less than a lie-flat business-class seat.



AirAsia

AirAsia and its long-haul arm AirAsia X offer an inexpensive way to get around Asia and Oceania for cheap during a big vacation.



Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines is often overlooked, but has a history of excellent safety, reliability, and service. The airline flies modern Boeing and Airbus jets, and has direct flights to the US with connecting service available to much of Africa and beyond.



Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines is another one like Ryanair that often gets a bad rap. Yes, the airline is no-frills. Yes, it's stingy when it comes to carry-on bag size. But it's up-front about all of this when you book, and its prices are rock-bottom. Plus, an upgrade to the Big Front Seat can be a fantastic deal.



AeroMexico

AeroMexico operates a joint partnership with Delta Air Lines for flights between Mexico and the US, and the airline's service is fantastic. Whether you score a great business-class deal, or you sit in coach, it's a comfortable and convenient way to get to Mexico and Central or South America.



Royal Air Maroc

With top-of-the-line Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Royal Air Maroc is a great way to fly. The airline serves New York with service to Casablanca, where you can connect elsewhere in Africa or the Middle East.

The airline is set to join the Oneworld alliance in 2020, and American Airlines is launching flights from Philadelphia to Casablanca in the spring. When that happens, it will be possible to fly from virtually anywhere in the US to Casablanca (with a stop in Philly) and on to any of Royal Air Maroc's destinations on a single ticket.



Jetstar

Australian airline Jetstar is often forgotten next to better-known Qantas and Virgin Australia, but its low fares make it a fantastic way to fly across Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia. There's even a flight between Sydney and Honolulu, Hawaii.



A couple paid $1.6 million to move their Nantucket mansion away from an eroding bluff, and it's an increasingly common problem coastal dwellers will have to face

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 2:44pm  |  Clusterstock

For people who live along a coastline, erosion can be their worst nightmare.

That's exactly the predicament two homeowners on Nantucket, a tiny island of 11,000 year-round residents 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, found themselves in. The fast-eroding edge of a bluff threatened the foundation of their 10,000-square-foot home.

The Wall Street Journal's Marli Guzzetta reported that Dao Engle and her husband bought the sprawling home for $8.4 million in 2012, and then spent seven years planning and four months preparing to have the mansion picked up and moved.

According to Guzzetta, the couple was aware of the bluff's eroding edge when they purchased the home — and it heavily influenced the home's low asking price.

"By fixing the problem and redoing the space, we have effectively doubled the value of the home versus what we bought it for," Mrs. Engle told Guzzetta.

Read more: We asked insurance workers where they'd live in the US to avoid future natural disasters — here's what they said

The total cost of the move — which takes into account the disconnection of utilities, the clearing of the site, and the concrete used — was around $1.6 million. The home was removed from its foundation, put on 16 cribs and 16 stakes, and over the span of a week, moved away from the eroding edge.

But the Engles aren't the only ones dealing with the harsh reality of climate change.

Environmental changes are having devastating impacts on real estate across the country. Business Insider's Aria Bendix previously reported that nearly one trillion dollars of US real estate is threatened by rising seas. In fact, by 2100, the homes of 4.7 million Americans may be vulnerable to rising sea levels.

According to a 2018 revised study from researchers at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder, properties that are exposed to rising sea levels sell for around 7% less than similar but unexposed homes.

And, as Business Insider's Katie Warren previously reported, some millennials are preparing for the worst in case of a climate-change disaster and buying up land in rural places like Vermont and Oregon. 

Read the full report at The Wall Street Journal »

SEE ALSO: Millennials are preparing for the worst in case of a climate-change disaster, and it's prompting them to buy rural land in places like Oregon and Vermont

DON'T MISS: David Attenborough warns of the 'collapse of our civilizations,' if climate change continues to be ignored

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The most expensive rental in the Hamptons is hosting a fundraiser for President Trump. Take a look at the mansion and its outrageous amenities, which can be rented for $1 million a month.

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 2:44pm  |  Clusterstock

On August 9, the most expensive rental in the Hamptons will host a fundraising event for President Trump's 2020 campaign. According to The Washington Post, tickets for the event range for $5,600 to $35,000 per couple. 

Located in Bridgehampton, 612 Halsey Lane is also known as "The Sandcastle," will set you back a cool $1 million a month, according to real-estate listing platform Out East.

The Hamptons, a series of beach towns dotting eastern Long Island, New York, is known to be a popular vacation spot for America's wealthiest. In fact, in 2012, Beyonce and Jay-Z stayed at The Sandcastle.

Read more: Inside the most expensive property for sale in the Hamptons, which is listed for $150 million and costs 75 times more than the swanky area's median home

The 11.5-acre property spans 21,000 square feet and boasts outrageous amenities including a two-lane bowling alley and a baseball field. It can also be rented for $550,000 for two weeks. 

Keep reading for a look inside.

SEE ALSO: A massive California ranch that may be the biggest piece of land for sale in the state is on the market for $72 million — here's a look inside

Bridgehampton, New York is a popular vacation spot for celebrities including Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Bethenny Frankel.

Source: Out East



According to Out East, 612 Halsey Lane is the most expensive rental available in the Hamptons and costs $1 million to rent from August through Labor Day.

Source: Out East



On August 9, the 11.5-acre property will host a fundraiser for President Trump's 2020 campaign.

Source: Out East, The Washington Post



The main residence spans 17,000 square feet ...

Source: Out East



... and includes a library, a 10-seat theater, and 2,000 square feet of covered porches. According to the listing, the kitchen is replete with a walk-in refrigerator and a wine room.

Source: Out East



The main residence includes 11 bedrooms ...

Source: Out East



... 10 full bathrooms, and five half bathrooms.

Source: Out East



Amenities throughout the property include a two-lane bowling alley ...

Source: Out East



... a basketball court ...

Source: Out East



... a private spa ...

Source: Out East



... and a 10-seat theater.

Source: Out East



Outdoors, there's a tennis court ...

Source: Out East



... a baseball field ...

Source: Out East



... and a pool.

Source: Out East



The property also includes a separate apartment with two bedrooms, and a pool house.

Source: Out East



Competition to win deals among Silicon Valley VCs is so intense that one investor made a personalized comic book of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey to woo him

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 2:17pm  |  Clusterstock

The tables are turning for investors hoping to land big deals. Instead of entrepreneurs pitching major firms on their startup, investors are vying for a chance to write checks.

To stand out in the crowded venture capital market, some investors are even having to turn to unusual tactics and gifts to convince founders to give them a chance. In a report from The Information Friday, former Oculus founder Palmer Luckey revealed that one particular investor went to great lengths to get in on funding his latest startup, Anduril.

That investor, which Luckey declined to name to The Information, sent Luckey a personalized comic book that showed the Anduril team as superheroes with a glowing chest of money, according to the report.

"The money was the power that was going to help us save the world from foreign military and protect western democracy from being destroyed by Russian and Chinese military," Luckey told The Information.

Read More: Two Sequoia Capital bigwigs once hung out at a coffee shop dressed as 'Toy Story' characters to impress a candidate with a job offer

The gesture was a perfect match for Luckey, who's a big fan of science fiction, and Anduril, which provides imaging software built for vast outdoor spaces. Luckey told The Information that the gesture was unnecessary, however, because they had already decided to let the investor in on the round.

Competition among VCs for a red-hot deal is not a completely new phenomenon in Silicon Valley of course. But  in the past this was the exception — reserved for a particularly hot startup —  rather than the norm. Now, with billions of dollars in capital flowing into the valley, and the arrival of mega-funds like SoftBank's Vision Fund, founders have more backers to choose from than ever before. 

And that means the lengths VCs will go to in order to stand out is sure to keep increasing. Today it's custom comic books. Tomorrow it could be an action movie starring a CGI Palmer Luckey.

Read the full report in The Information here.

SEE ALSO: Female founders say that amid the fertility tech boom, investors are still more willing to put money into male-focused health companies

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NOW WATCH: The incredible story behind Slack, the app that's taken over offices everywhere

A rideshare driver hit a man on a seated e-scooter in Brooklyn, highlighting potential risks as scooters and e-bikes expand nationwide

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 1:51pm  |  Clusterstock

  • A person riding a shared Revel e-moped was seriously injured when he was struck by what appeared to be a rideshare car in Brooklyn, New York, late Thursday.
  • It was not immediately clear whether this was the first major injury to a Revel or e-scooter rider in New York City since they rolled out in May.
  • The collision encapsulated the inherent risks as new forms of transit, including the new shared mopeds, e-scooters, and other micromobility vehicles expand across the United States.
  • This Business Insider reporter was steps away when the collision occurred and witnessed the aftermath.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A person riding a Revel e-moped was struck and seriously injured by a livery vehicle in Brooklyn on Thursday evening.

This reporter was nearby and witnessed the immediate aftermath of the collision.

According to a police officer on the scene, a witness said the Revel moped rider "ate the red light," proceeding through an intersection against the light. 

However, another witness, Margaret Bishop, said that the driver of the Toyota sedan, which had Taxi and Limousine Commission license plates and appeared to be operating as a ride-share vehicle, was speeding. It was driving on a street running perpendicular to the Revel rider.

"I saw the driver blow right through the intersection," Bishop said. "I think he was going 50 miles per hour."

The speed limit on New York City streets is 25 miles per hour, unless otherwise marked. It was lowered from 30 miles per hour in 2014 as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature Vision Zero traffic safety campaign.

It was not clear whether the vehicle was engaged in a fare ride at the time of the collision. A TLC sticker on the car identified it as affiliated a livery base that operates Uber ride-share cars.

While shared standing e-scooters were legalized in parts of New York City in June, Revel's vehicles exist in a different vehicle class. The Revel scooters — which resemble Vespa scooters, rather than ubiquitous e-scooters like Lime and Bird — require a driver's license and are technically classified as mopeds by the New York DMV. However, they do not have pedals, and are speed-capped at 30 miles-per-hour, meaning riders do not need a special motorcycle license to drive them.

The victim, who was not immediately identified, was thrown from the Revel, which slid about 10 feet down the street. He landed face down on the street, and appeared to be unresponsive. He was bleeding from the face and head, and did not appear to have been wearing a helmet — it was not clear whether he had worn a helmet that had flown off of him during the impact, or whether he did not wear one.

He began to regain consciousness and opened his eyes about five minutes after the impact, just as responding firefighters were arriving. He appeared to be confused.

As the firefighters rendered aid, police arrived and began asking the assembled crowd for witnesses. As an ambulance with paramedics arrived several minutes later, the victim appeared to be more responsive, able to talk and articulate where he felt pain.

The victim's condition was not immediately clear. He was taken to Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, according to a police officer on the scene.

Read more: Uber and Lyft drivers reveal the scariest situations they've ever encountered

The incident encapsulates the risks as transit systems continue to evolve and intertwine with the mobility sharing economy in cities around the US. 

Revel began piloting the shared Vespa scooter-style e-mopeds in select New York City neighborhoods in summer 2018 with 68 bikes. It announced an expansion in late May, 2019, and rolled out more than 1,000 units by early June. 

The scooters can be unlocked via an app, and drivers are required to obey traffic laws. Each scooter comes with two helmets — one large and one small — and Revel says it requires riders to use them. The service says that helmets are cleaned every few days.

While risks involved with bicycling and riding scooters on New York City streets are obvious, the understated risk with services like Revel are that riders are often inexperienced driving that type of vehicle.

Although e-bikes have been a common sight on New York City streets for years, particularly among food delivery drivers — although the city says those bikes are not legal — the ubiquity of the Revel mopeds have raised safety concerns since anyone with a valid drivers licence can use one.

The same safety concerns permeate the expansion of standing e-scooters — studies have found a pronounced risk of severe head trauma from scooter accidents, and that as many as 66% of injured users were not wearing helmets.

While Revel offers operating and safety lessons, these are optional for users, and some users have reported a wait to get an appointment.

Read more: I took a $120 Blade helicopter flight from midtown Manhattan to JFK Airport — here's what it was like

It was not immediately clear whether this was the first major injury to a Revel or e-scooter rider in New York City since they rolled out. A cyclist has filed a lawsuit against Revel after a rider allegedly hit him in June.

Ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft, Via, and others have been prominent in New York City for years. Unlike other locations, New York City requires ride-hailing drivers and cars to be licensed as livery vehicles through the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and registered with a base.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Revel said that the company is intent on ensuring rider safety:

We are aware of the unfortunate incident last night in Brooklyn involving a car and a rider. The details of the incident are not yet completely clear, but the safety of Revel riders is very important to us, which is why we verify riders have a safe driving history as part of our registration process, require all riders to use the helmets we provide at all times, follow all traffic laws, and we offer free lessons at our Gowanus headquarters. We will be investigating this further. 

A spokesperson for Brooklyn Methodist hospital declined to comment on the victim's condition, while a spokesperson for the New York Police Department said there was no additional information available.

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If your business makes frequent FedEx purchases, now's a great time to apply for the Amex Business Gold Card and get up to $500 back

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 1:49pm  |  Clusterstock

  • The American Express® Business Gold Card has a new welcome offer that can get you up to $500 back in statement credits when you make qualifying purchases with FedEx in the first three months of card membership.
  • This is only available until November 6, 2019.
  • The Amex Business Gold includes US purchases for shipping as a bonus category, so this is a good business credit card to consider if you frequently use FedEx or other shipping services.

The American Express Business Gold Card is one of several premium Amex cards to get an update in recent years, and it's currently one of the best business credit cards thanks to its bonus category structure — you can earn 4x points on your top two spending categories each month, from a list of options including airfare, US restaurants, and US shipping purchases.

Since its update in 2018, the Amex Business Gold has been all over the place on the welcome bonus front, though. First it offered no points bonus but up to a free year of Google GSuite Basic and ZipRecruiter Standard (useful to some, but not everyone), and then it switched to a relatively low welcome offer of 35,000 points (worth about $700 based on The Points Guy's subjective valuations). 

Now, the Business Gold is switching it up once again, with an intro offer that can get you up to $500 back in statement credits when you purchase qualifying services with FedEx in your first three months from opening the card. 

Amex defines qualifying FedEx services in its offer terms and conditions, and the main exclusions are invoiced payments, international duties and taxes, and other FedEx brands like FedEx freight. 

If your business spends a lot on shipping, the Business Gold is a card worth considering. Not only is the current welcome offer as good as $500 back if you'll already be spending at least $500 with FedEx in the next several months, but the card also offers 4x points on your top two spending categories each month on up to $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year; one of the eligible categories is shipping purchases, including purchases from FedEx and other companies.

The other categories are airfare purchased directly from airlines, US purchases for advertising in select media, US purchases at gas stations, US purchases made directly from select technology providers, and US purchases at restaurants.

You can use Amex points to book travel directly through Amex, or with travel partners like Delta and Marriott if you transfer the points to the respective loyalty programs. 

The current FedEx offer is available until November 6, 2019.

The Business Gold Card has a $295 annual fee. In addition to earning you up to 4 points per dollar on your spending, this card has an airline bonus that gets you a 25% rebate when you use points to book a business or first-class flight through Amex Travel (or a flight of any class if it's with your selected qualifying airline). 

Click here to learn more about the American Express Business Gold Card from our partner The Points Guy.

Join the conversation about this story »

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People with 'subprime' credit scores are reportedly getting approved for Apple's new credit card (AAPL)

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 1:39pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Apple Card, Apple's new credit card, applications are now available for iPhone users. 
  • The bank behind the card, Goldman Sachs, has been approving users for the card who have "subprime" credit scores at the direction of Apple, CNBC reported.
  • Sources told CNBC that Apple asked Goldman Sachs to make sure that as many iPhone users as possible get approved for the Apple Card.
  • However, the report also said Goldman Sachs would give credit limits in line with the users' credit history.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Some people with less-than-stellar credit scores are getting approved for the new Apple credit card that launched this week, CNBC reported.

The bank behind the Apple Card, Goldman Sachs, has reportedly been approving applicants with "subprime" credit scores — a term with a varying definition but often defined as any score around 670. That comes at Apple's direction, the report said, as it wants to make sure that as many iPhone users as possible get approved for the Apple Card.

Apple launched its new credit card under the premise that it would be incredibly popular among consumers, with its low interest and no fees. However, approving credit cards for people with low credit scores comes with risks, as a lower credit score tells financial institutions that you're a higher-risk borrower.

The financial crisis of the last decade has been largely attributed to financial institutions who approved loans for borrowers with subprime credit scores, and who defaulted on their payments.

But CNBC reported that although people with subprime credit scores were being approved for the Apple Card, Goldman Sachs won't provide users with more credit than their credit-score profiles suggest they can handle. Of note is that Goldman Sachs has long been lending to subprime borrowers and has said that the practice helps it predict future economic cycles

Read more: Apple's new credit card, the Apple Card, is available now — here's how it works

iPhone users can now apply for the all-white, minimalist-in-design Apple Card. The card has a number of consumer-friendly features that make it incredibly easy to activate and use. The Apple Card also comes with no annual fees, late-payment fees, or fees for international use, and the interest fees are "among the lowest in the industry," Apple says.

However, the push to eliminate fees has made some financial analysts concerned about the Apple Card's business model, since credit-card fees and interest amounted to an estimated $178 billion total in the US in 2018.

But Goldman Sachs executives have told Business Insider the Apple Card will help to build customer loyalty in the long run, which is more advantageous than immediate revenue.

Neither Apple nor Goldman Sachs were available for comment at the time of publication.

SEE ALSO: The minimalist, titanium Apple Card is perfectly positioned as a status symbol geared toward millennials

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Oyi-1 smartphone #Nigeria for web access via satellite

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 7:53am  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
The BeepTool’s Oyi-1 affordable smartphone makes smartphone technology accessible to everyone in Nigeria and Africa. Secure, reliable, and affordable — Oyi-1 provides practical solutions to life’s everyday problems. Oyi-1 is an affordable smartphone for the rural and poor Nigerians and Africans to access digital services such as finance, telehealthcare, Agriculture, communication and educational services etc. Tekedia reports:
BeepTool makes small satellites with its partners. With its Oyi-I smartphone, you can access the web using a mobile application in areas its satellites cover. The satellites are engineered to serve largely small geographical areas and well optimized...[more

Accountinghub - #Nigeria ’s Small Business Accountant Professional accounting support to keep you in charge of your numbers @accountinghub_

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 7:17am  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
From TechPoint:
...Chioma Ifeanyi-Eze happens to be the founder of Accountinghub — a professional services online shop, focused on offering brilliant bookkeeping and tax support to startups and small businesses. Accountinghub helps “small businesses” set up accounting systems quickly, painlessly and affordably...[more]

Markets Live: Friday, 9th August 2019

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 6:05am  |  FT Alphaville

Live markets commentary from FT.com

Continue reading: Markets Live: Friday, 9th August 2019


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