Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr


Tesla’s Burning

Friday, 24 November, 2017 0 Comments

Could be the hot title of a film, that, Tesla’s Burning. You know, in the style of Paris is Burning and Mississippi Burning. Not to forget Burn After Reading and, the very topical right now, Burn Hollywood Burn.

But this is a very different script and the full title goes: Tesla’s Burning Through Nearly Half a Million Dollars Every Hour. This is a Bloomberg production and here’s a sneak preview:

“Over the past 12 months, the electric-car maker has been burning money at a clip of about $8,000 a minute (or $480,000 an hour), Bloomberg data show. At this pace, the company is on track to exhaust its current cash pile on Monday, Aug. 6. (At 2:17 a.m. New York time, if you really want to be precise.)

To be fair, few Tesla watchers expect the cash burn to continue at quite such a breakneck pace, and the company itself says it’s ramping up output of its all-important Model 3, which will bring money in the door. Investors don’t seem concerned. Tesla shares rose almost 3 percent to $317.81 Tuesday, giving it a market capitalization of $53 billion. Ford Motor Co. is worth $48 billion.”

The “Monday, Aug. 6.” referred to there, by the way, is August 2018. So will this drama end next year? Well, the wily Elon Musk is always good for a surprise twist and last week he unveiled his latest plan to raise funds. The Tesla CEO is asking customers to pay him upfront for vehicles that may not be delivered for years yet. It’s an old trick, that, but it has worked in the past. Taking In Huge Deposits to Help Fund Tesla Through its Immense Production Challenges is not a very catchy title, but it’s far less scary than Tesla’s Burning. To be continued.

It’s not English as we know it, Jim

Thursday, 18 May, 2017 0 Comments

Sample sentence: “ Pool Cloud Mining offers the highest profit contracts in the cloud mining industry, due to 110% block reward and competitive contract prices. Additionally, our cloud mining contracts provide 100% guaranteed uptime and stable hashrate.”


If you’ve ever thought about where Bitcoin comes from, the answer is that it gets “mined”. Bitcoin mining adds transactions to the block chain and releases new Bitcoin into circulation. The mining involves compiling recent transactions into blocks and trying to solve a computationally challenging puzzle. The first person who solves the puzzle gets to place the next block on the block chain and claim the rewards. The rewards include the transaction fees paid to the miner as well as the newly released Bitcoin.


“Our mining pool has been growing fast with a hashrate of 141.19 Ph/s and now captures 2.93% of the Bitcoin network.” That’s from the introduction to yesterday’s press release announcing that Bitcoin’s cloud mining industry has been opened to the public. “Now Anyone Can Mine Bitcoin” is how the initiative is being marketed. So, instead of having to invest in our own mining gear, we can simply leap into the pool.

Pool. Mine. Cloud. Odd that the cryptocurrency is located in such real-world places.

Fast forward thinking at ING

Tuesday, 4 October, 2016 0 Comments

Revolutions are turbulent, gory affairs. “The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets,” said Baron Rothschild, who made a fortune in the panic that followed the Battle of Waterloo. This time around, it’s the financiers that are filling the streets, driven out by the algorithms in the battle to capture the smartphone customer.

ING Last week, Germany’s second-biggest lender, Commerzbank, said it was planning to cut 9,600 jobs over the next four years and end dividend payments for the first time. Yesterday, Dutch bank ING says it intends to cut up to 7,000 jobs in Belgium and the Netherlands over the next five years as part of a plan to save €900 million a year, speed up the adoption of new technology and “continue to lead in digital banking”.

“Customers are increasingly digital and bank with us more and more through mobile devices,” said ING chief executive Ralph Hamers in a statement. “Their needs and expectations are the same, all over the world, and they expect us to adopt new technology as fast as companies in other sectors.” Quote:

“In order to continue to lead in digital banking, we need to offer a better customer experience, that’s instant, personal, frictionless and relevant. From 2016 to 2021, we intend to invest €800 million in our digital transformation, building a scalable platform to cater for continued commercial growth, an improved customer experience and a quicker delivery of new products.”

Heralding the revolution at ING, Ralph Hamers titled his strategy “Accelerating Think Forward.” It’s kind of instant, but it’s certainly not frictionless for those giving way to the new technologies.

FinTech WOTD: Tokenization

Tuesday, 19 July, 2016 0 Comments

FinTech? It’s a portmanteau word created from “Financial Technology.” It’s hot because it threatens to grab some power from the bloated banks and give the the entire byzantine money business a much-needed shakeup. Heard of Bitcoin? It’s the most popular FinTech cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency? It’s a form of digital currency that uses cryptography for regulation and security. No one is really sure who “mined” it, but the open-source software underpinning it has a shady history. Heard about the Blockchain? It’s where cryptocurrency transactions get recorded. It operates like a public ledger and once data has been entered, it cannot be altered.

All this brings us to our FinTech WOTD (Word of the Day): Tokenization.

Tokenization replaces sensitive data with unique symbols. These “tokens” enable users to retain essential information about their credit cards and transactions without compromising security. Tokenization also turns complex information into short, useful codes.

If you’re still not convinced about the power of FinTech to do good, don’t forget that its advocates say it may help the underbanked to become, well, more banked. Win win.

Language note: There’s tokenization and then there’s tokenism. The latter is the policy and practice of making a superficial gesture towards members of minority groups. Adding a token employee to a workforce usually is intended to create the appearance of diversity — racial, religious, sexual — and so avert accusations of discrimination. Following the Bastille Day terror attack in Nice, Channel 4 was accused of tokenism by putting the hijab-wearing Muslim Fatima Manji in the anchor’s chair.

These eerily Madoffian times

Thursday, 21 April, 2016 0 Comments
These eerily Madoffian times

To understand the magical world of the technology Unicorn (AirBNB, Slack, Snapchat, Uber), one has to speak the language of dizzying money. For example, Limited Partners (LPs) are large pools of capital, such as pension funds, endowments, foundations and high-net-worth individuals, that invest in Venture Capital (VC) firms, hedge funds and the like. And in these Unicorn times, LPs are increasingly being asked to participate in SPVs (Special Purpose Vehicles) especially created to feed the insatiable Unicorns. Well, that’s what Bill Gurley, a General Partner at Benchmark Capital, says.

Gurly has been keeping a close eye on the money flow and he’s noticed something disturbing: “investors have also broadened their SPV marketing to family offices and other pools of capital. The pitches typically involve phrases such as ‘you are invited to’ or ‘we will provide access to’ an opportunity to invest. This ‘you are so lucky to have this opportunity’ pitch is eerily Madoffian.”

That excellent coinage, Madoffian, is a play on the name of the fraudster Bernard Madoff, who scammed investors in a $65 billion Ponzi scheme that was exposed in 2008. The use of his name should alarm everyone and that’s what Bill Gurley seeks to do in a brilliant analysis titled Why The Unicorn Financing Market Became Dangerous… For All Involved. Snippet:

The main message for investors who are just now being approached is the following: it’s not the second inning or even the sixth, it’s the fourteenth inning in a five hour baseball game. You are not being invited to a special dance, you are being approached because you are the lender of last resort. And because of how we meandered to this place in time, parting with your dollars now would be an extremely risky move. Caveat emptor.

To avert disaster, Gurley is calling for “a dramatic increase in the real cost of capital and a return to an appreciation for sound business execution.” Note: What makes his analysis particularly valuable is that he singles out John Carreyrou’s October investigation of Theranos in the Wall Street Journal as “the seminal bubble-popping event.” A month prior to that, Fortune Magazine ran a fawning Theranos article titled “How Playing the Long Game Made Elizabeth Holmes a Billionaire.” That game is up.

The Unicorn

The return of the Boiler Room

Friday, 15 May, 2015 0 Comments

Long-serving British poppy-seller died after being ‘tormented’ by cold-callers” is the disturbing headline on the Guardian story about 92-year-old Olive Cooke, whose body was recovered from Avon gorge in Bristol. There’s more nuance to the story than the headline suggests, but we do learn that “she had felt under pressure from the number of requests she received from charities by phone and letter”, and there is enough evidence to suggest that Ms Cooke was being targeted by those who have made a business out of exploiting the goodwill of the elderly.

But it’s not only the elderly that are at risk from the cold callers. “Boiler Rooms Meet Boardrooms as Scammers Invade City of London” is the title on a Bloomberg story by Neil Callanan today. Snippet: “Cold-calling con artists promising outsized returns are jumping on a surge in the availability of serviced offices at prestigious locations to give their operations an air of respectability, investigators in London’s main financial district say. These ‘boiler rooms’ dupe investors out of about 1.25 million pounds ($2 million) on average before they ‘rip and tear’ and disappear with little trace, they say.”

Definition: “A boiler room is a place where high-pressure salespeople use banks of telephones to call lists of potential investors (known as a ‘sucker lists’) to sell speculative, even fraudulent, securities. A boiler room is called as such because of the high-pressure selling.” Source: Investopedia

The return of the boiler room brings back memories of March 2000, when the NASDAQ peaked at 5132. That was the day when the dot-com bubble burst and lots of people lost their fortunes and their savings. With perfect timing, Ben Younger’s Boiler Room premiered that year. It has lost none of its punch or relevance with the passage of time. BTW, the NASDAQ closed at 5050.80 yesterday, up 1.39%.

Dennis and Pamela People are affected by numbers

Tuesday, 31 March, 2015 0 Comments

Today’s numbers: One in ten 12-13 year-olds worried they are addicted to porn; Russia’s Gazprom Says Net Profit Plummeted 70% in 2014; Latest YouGov / The Sun poll results 30th March: Con 35%, Lab 35%, LD 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%; Bayern finance chief: ‘We could spend 100 million on a player’; US federal agents stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin during infamous ‘Silk Road’ probe.

Charlie Brooker, the creator of Black Mirror, looks at how television runs the numbers.

QUOTE: “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have a key to the universe.” Nikola Tesla

Payments: Facebook has a message for paij

Wednesday, 18 March, 2015 0 Comments

Facebook hired PayPal’s David Marcus last summer to manage its messaging products, and in the company’s July earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg implied that a payment product was coming. And here it is: Facebook users can tie their debit card to their account to transfer money to one another with Messenger. “The Messenger app now includes a small ‘$’ icon above the keyboard which opens a payments screen where users can type the amount they wish to send,” reports Kurt Wagner for Re/code. The feature will be rolled out on iOS and Android in the US before launching internationally.

paij All of this will be watched with interest, no doubt, in Wiesbaden, where the paij app is headquartered. When the European Web Entrepreneur of the Year Awards were handed out last year, the Female Web entrepreneur Award went to Sylvia Klein, founder and managing director of paij. “Strategic partnerships and system integrations will help paij to determine the future of mobile payment apps initially in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and later Europe in general,” she stated. “In the long haul paij has the potential to establish a mobile payment concept taking on global challenges.”

The “long haul” has a short shelf life these days and it’s not just Facebook’s Messenger that’s ante portas. Apple Pay is shaping up to be part of that “global challenge” that paij will have to deal with. By the way, paij might need to move up a gear or two if it’s develop a convincing European battlespace strategy. The company’s last tweet was on 18 February, the most recent Facebook post was on 2 March and those to click the blog link on the company’s site get this alert:

Welcome to Parallels!

If you are seeing this message, the website for is not available at this time.
If you are the owner of this website, one of the following things may be occurring:
You have not put any content on your website.
Your provider has suspended this page.

Obviously, paij needs to work on its messaging.

Champions League: Karl Lagerfeld vs. Uli Hoeneß

Friday, 24 May, 2013 0 Comments
Champions League: Karl Lagerfeld vs. Uli Hoeneß

The German fashion designer, artist and photographer Karl Lagerfeld is a man of many talents, and he doesn’t shun controversy. Unfashionably, he defends the use of fur in fashion. In a BBC interview in 2009 he claimed that hunters “make a living having learnt nothing else than hunting, killing those beasts who would kill us […]

Continue Reading »

Exit Tumblr followed by $1.1 billion

Monday, 20 May, 2013 0 Comments

“The exit, one of the biggest New York has seen shows that with content becoming important, New York is finding its footing on the startup stage.” That’s Om Malik writing about “What Tumblr’s sale means for New York startup ecosystem.” Later, he adds: “It would be one of the biggest exits for a New York-based startup. Sure there have been other exits — Google paid $3.1 billion for DoubleClick, but that was a company that belonged to a different Internet era.” Those not used to seeing “exit” used in this context need to brush up on their venture capitalist (VC) vocabulary because the “exit strategy” is how a VC intends to get out of an investment, profitably. The exit is a way of “cashing out” an investment via an initial public offering (IPO) or being bought out by a bigger player, such as Yahoo. It’s also referred to as a “harvest strategy” or a “liquidity event”.

One of the early investors in Tumblr was Union Square Ventures of which Fred Wilson is a managing partner. Along with being a famous VC, Fred is a famous Bob Dylan fan and those in the know knew that a deal was almost done when he posted “Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight” by Dylan on his Tumblr blog yesterday. And it didn’t.

So why is Fred Wilson cashing out and David Karp cashing in so handsomely? “The world is atwitter about Tumblr’s big exit to Yahoo!” says John Battelle, who claims it’s all about advertising, especially “native” advertising and the “activity stream”.

Asterix and Obelix have left the édifice

Wednesday, 19 December, 2012 0 Comments
Asterix and Obelix have left the  <em>édifice</em>

First out was Christian (Asterix) Clavier. He decamped to London in October. Now, Gérard (Obelix) Depardieu has followed. He’s picked Belgium. Although unvanquished by Caesar’s legions, the two heroes of Gaul have been put to flight by François Hollande’s draconian 75 per cent top marginal income tax rate, increased capital gains tax and enhanced wealth […]

Continue Reading »