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February 27 2014


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February 12 2014

Mt. Gox’s Original Creator Is At Work On A Secret New Bitcoin Project
Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 3.14.37 PMIn what should be one of the greatest and weirdest pivots of all time, Jed McCaleb transformed Mt. Gox (short for Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange) from a card-trading platform into what became the world’s one-time leading Bitcoin exchange. Not wanting the legal hassle of operating a crypto-currency exchange, McCaleb sold Mt. Gox to a few Tokyo-based French entrepreneurs he had never met before in 2011. They presided over Mt. Gox as it went on to dominate Bitcoin trading for more than a year by volume. However, over the past six months, the platform has seen a fall from grace as users have had trouble withdrawing their funds. New troubles emerged in the last couple days again, as Mt. Gox said it was halting withdrawals. The company said it was having problems finalizing transactions because of a perceived flaw in the Bitcoin protocol around “transaction malleability.” Other exchanges also halted withdrawals as the Bitcoin Foundation said it working on a solution to the problem. In any case, McCaleb has been free of Mt. Gox’s troubles for years. Now he’s back at work on a new project. And here it is at the mysterious address of It has just this short message: When I sold Mt. Gox a few years ago, Bitcoin was trading at less than a dollar. Today Bitcoin exists in a new environment. Mt. Gox is struggling to keep up. Now, I am building something that will be better for Bitcoin and better for you. I’m looking for alpha testers. -Jed We also hear from a source that he’s raised some funding solely through some instant messages and Skype. (McCaleb is a bit reclusive.)
Meet Alphaworks, The New Crowdfunding-Inspired Investment Platform From betaworks
Screenshot 2014-02-12 05.52.52As crowdfunding swings into the mainstream, the folks at betaworks are dreaming up new and creative ways to leverage the power of the masses. A new venture called Alphaworks takes the traditional crowd-funding model, as made famous by Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and offers equity to backers instead of a product. Here's how it works:

February 07 2014

Russia Bans Bitcoin
bitcoin-thornsRussia doesn’t do things by halves — Bitcoin can no longer be used by individuals and legal entities anymore. If you have a Bitcoin wallet on your computer, you are now breaking the law. The Central Bank of Russia reiterated that the official currency is the Ruble, and that it considers Bitcoin a money substitute. That’s why the cryptocurrency is now banned. The reasons behind this move is that Bitcoin is reportedly used for money laundering and other criminal activities. Moreover, the Russian institution thinks that it’s a purely speculative currency and that there is a great risk of value losses. Yet, banning Bitcoin doesn’t mean that people will stop using Bitcoin overnight. As Bitcoin doesn’t rely on any physical institution but the network of miners around the world, you can’t prevent Russians from using Bitcoin. But companies that are based in Russia and are working in the Bitcoin industry should at least consider relocating. They will probably be the first target of the Russian government. While harsh, this decision shouldn’t come as a surprise. Bitcoin was designed to be unregulated. But over time, many countries and official institutions have decided to try and regulate it. For example, in August, a federal judge in Texas has declared that Bitcoin is a currency and should be regulated just like euros or U.S. dollars. Similarly, New York’s financial services stated that Bitcoin companies should respect the current financial regulatory guidelines. By doing that, the authority wanted to protect Bitcoin holders and companies. Moreover, New York’s top banking regulator is currently writing a new set of rules to decrease illegal Bitcoin activities. Finally, following a parliamentary inquiry, Germany stated that Bitcoin should be considered as “private money.” It has many implications, starting by paying sales tax (VAT). This rule is hard to implement, but it gives an idea of how the German government feels. For all these reasons, Bitcoin won’t be able to remain an unregulated currency for long. In Russia, today’s ban is another step in that direction, and it’s a radical step.
Apple Has Repurchased $14 Billion Of AAPL Shares Over The Past Two Weeks
apple-storeYou can feel Carl Icahn’s presence in Tim Cook’s recent announcement to the Wall Street Journal — Apple just repurchased the equivalent of $14 billion in Apple shares as part of its massive share buyback program. At today’s market capitalization, it represents just over 3 percent of the company. As a reminder, activist investor Carl Icahn recently lobbied on Twitter, saying that Apple wasn’t going far enough when it comes to its share buyback program. We feel $APPL board is doing great disservice to shareholders by not having markedly increased its buyback. In-depth letter to follow soon.— Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) January 22, 2014 Despite an all-time high in sales with more than 50 million iPhones sold, Apple reported mixed results for Q1 2014. Revenue was below the street’s expectations, while profit was above. But with $13.1 billion in profit, the company still manages to generate a lot of cash. In fact, the company’s cash on hand increased to $158.8 billion. It remains a great strategic asset for Apple, but shareholders expect to get some of it back. Apple started looking at handing out dividends a few years ago. And because shares were trading below the company’s expectations, it started repurchasing shares. When it comes to share buyback programs, it is a great vote of confidence for a company’s stock. On the one hand, it means that Apple doesn’t think that it should invest its cash on hand any other way. In other words, Tim Cook thinks that Apple shares are the best financial investment for Apple’s own money. On the other hand, it reduces the number of outstanding shares. Existing investors will own a bigger chunk of Apple. Over the past 12 months, the company has repurchased the equivalent of $40 billion in shares, out of its current $60 billion buyback program. For now, there is no word on another potential buyback program to keep buying shares at the same pace. But a bigger question remains. In January, Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion. What if Apple had used some of its money to buy Nest instead? Many former Apple engineers worked for the smart thermostat company, including Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell who was a founding member of the iPhone development team. Letting his team go and work for Google isn’t a smart decision: TechCrunch has learned that Nest will become Google’s core hardware group. Over the past

February 06 2014

Twitter Lost 12.14 Instagrams In Value Today
twitter-fall-smTwitter had a difficult earnings day yesterday, reporting strong financial results but weak user growth. Some investors immediately dumped their stock. The company lost nearly $16 per share today following the news, or around $8.7 billion dollars in market capitalization. Let’s look at this another way. Facebook offered a deal worth $1 billion to buy Instagram once upon a time. But when that deal closed Facebook’s stock had lost value, and the little photo app was picked up for a mere $715 million. So, Twitter lost 12.14 Instagrams in value today. Investors like growth, and Twitter didn’t have enough.
London Gets Another Fintech Accelerator, As Startupbootcamp Partners With MasterCard, Lloyds & Rabobank
london-rainmaker-loftLast week it was a new European Edtech accelerator pitching for startups. Today a new fintech incubator has been announced, by pan-European accelerator Startupbootcamp, which will be based in London, a stone's throw from the City's Square Mile financial district.
AOL Quietly Changes Our 401(k) Employer Match Program
aol-401kStarting this year, AOL has changed how it distributes its matching 401(k) contributions for all employees, which could put a sizable dent in the retirement accounts for workers who part ways with the company before the end of the year.
Tags: Finance TC AOL

February 05 2014

GroupMe Founder Gets $3.4M to Make Small Business Loans More Accessible With Fundera
funderaIn the past five years, the number of bank loans under $1 million has dropped by more than 20 percent. This puts small business owners, arguably the driving force of our economy, at a severe disadvantage when it comes to starting a business. But Jared Hecht, co-founder of startup success story GroupMe, alongside cofounders Rohan Deshpande and Andres Moranis, is today launching a totally new service called Fundera, built specifically to facilitate small business funding through alternative lending.

February 04 2014

Hey, Big Spender! Venture Investment Soars In January
3731724596_a98fb33195_zHoly shit did venture capitalists spend a lot of money in January. Investments in new companies shot to $5.8 billion by the end of the month up from $3.5 billion over the same period last year, according to data from CrunchBase. It's only one month, not a full quarter, but it seems like venture investors are setting the stage for a very, very active year.

February 03 2014

Thomson Reuters Taps Into Twitter For Big Data Sentiment Analysis
thomson reuters twitter sentimentTwitter bases the majority of its revenue on advertising in and around its main content river, but a new service from Thomson Reuters points to how it also continues to build up its position as a big-data provider to different vertical sectors. Thomson Reuters is now incorporating sentiment analysis gained from Twitter for its Eikon market analysis and trading platform. The commercial terms of the deal are not being disclosed but a spokesperson confirms that it will be "combining a number of third-party and proprietary Twitter feeds for this service."

February 01 2014

Yahoo Could Do Search Because It Needs The Money
Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 5.44.30 PMYahoo could be getting back into the search game. Its long-suffering deal with Microsoft has underperformed, making recent revelations that the company is working on building new search products hardly surprising.
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