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The Creators: Twin brothers eye expansion, multimillion-dollar goal for Main Line pasta sauce brand

With a focus on Greater Philadelphia small businesses and entrepreneurs, "The Creators" is a weekly feature presented by PHL Inno. Check back each Monday for a new profile on a local business. Have a story you think we should know about? Email associate editor Lisa Dukart at ldukart@bizjournals.com. For Bill and John Vesper, there were a lot of roadblocks on their way to launching a successful pasta sauce business. There were so many – from their limited handmade production capacity to the co-packer….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 16th, 2022

Check out these 45 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingDeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Guto Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundCheckout made easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed round Quantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionEmbedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingAn alternative auto lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team.TomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ASoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round.  So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

Check out these 44 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Deploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Guto Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundCheckout made easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed round Quantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionEmbedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingAn alternative auto lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team.TomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ASoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round.  So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 18th, 2022

Bull of the Day: Skyline Champion Corporation (SKY)

Skyline Champion is coming off some impressive quarters and its outlook continues to look strong amid rising rates and rising prices across the economy. SKY stock also appears more enticing as it falls alongside many other homebuilders. Skyline Champion Corporation SKY is a large North American homebuilder focused on manufactured, modular homes, and more. Skyline Champion is coming off some impressive quarters and its outlook continues to look strong amid rising rates and rising prices across the economy.SKY stock also appears more enticing as it falls alongside many other homebuilders. Plus, the prefabricated housing and building sector could just be starting to gain steam in the U.S. and beyond.The Skyline Champion StorySkyline Champion Corporation is one of the largest factory-built homebuilders in North America. The currently-constructed company was formed by the merger between Skyline Corporation and Champion Enterprises in the summer of 2018.Skyline Champion builds a range of manufactured and modular homes, as well as ADUs or additional dwelling units, which is a fancy way of saying some type of guest house. The company also operates a park-model RVs segment. SKY’s offerings service modular buildings for both single-family and multi-family housing, alongside the hospitality, senior, and workforce sectors.Skyline Champion operates roughly 40 manufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. and western Canada and sells its various factory-built housing under various brand names. SKY’s portfolio caters to a somewhat different aspect of the homebuilder and home buying market that might be set to soar.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchManufactured Housing Potential Skyline Champion’s manufactured and modular houses, apartments, hotels, and more, like all prefabricated housing, are built inside plants and factories and then transported to the site in one or more sections to be completed. Manufactured and modular housing is becoming more indistinguishable from traditional on-site made housing.Skyline Champion’s manufactured and modular offerings gained steam during the pandemic housing boom because of both speed and affordability. Two of the main reasons manufactured and modular housing might just be starting to surge again are the faster turnaround times and the lower costs, even if buyers are looking for multimillion-dollar prefabs. Investors should know that there is now a growing luxury and high-end side of the prefab housing market.Soaring demand and ultra-low inventory continues to push up home prices around the country. Home prices rose at a record pace in 2021 and reports suggest the U.S. housing market is still millions of homes short of demand. This trend could grow worse as millennials, who are now the largest generation, are driving the housing market. And millennials are projected to form 6.4 million new households by 2025.The lower average prices and the speed could see manufactured and modular housing pick up the slack in 2022 and beyond. For example, a new single-family home built on-site sold for an average of about $309K excluding the cost of the underlying land in 2020, according to U.S. government data. That same year, new manufactured homes cost $87K not including land.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchGrowth and Outlook Skyline Champion’s 2021 revenue (period ended April 3, 2021) popped 4% to $1.42 billion. This came on top of 1% sales growth in FY20 and 28% expansion in fiscal 2019. Meanwhile, its adjusted earnings climb 33% last year.Thankfully, Skyline Champion ended FY21 on a much higher note, with fourth quarter sales up 49% and its average selling price per U.S. home sold 12% higher at $67K. And it’s ripped off three strong quarters in its fiscal 2022, including 42% revenue growth in Q3 and a 210% climb in adjusted earnings.SKY has been forced to raise its prices to combat surging materials and labor costs, with its average selling price per U.S. home sold up 32% YoY to $83K in the third quarter. Skyline Champion’s total backlog skyrocketed from $489 million at the end of 2020 to $1.5 billion on January 1, as order levels outpace production.Looking ahead, Zacks estimates call for Skyline Champion’s FY22 revenue to surge 50% to $2.13 billion, with FY23 projected to come in another 11% higher. Meanwhile, its adjusted EPS are expected to soar by 150% and 11%, respectively.Other Fundamentals Skyline Champion has topped our EPS estimates by an average of 50% in the trailing four quarters. Plus, its FY22 and FY23 consensus earnings estimates are up by 15% and 14%, respectively since its early February financial release. This bottom-line positivity helps Skyline Champion scoop up a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) right now. SKY also sports “A” grades for Growth and Momentum in our Style Scores system.Skyline Champion boasts a relativity strong balance sheet, with total a total of $382 million in cash and equivalents and $1.1 billion in total assets vs. $335 million in liabilities. SKY’s Building Products - Mobile Homes and RV Builders industry currently ranks #7 out of over 250 Zacks industries right now. This helps show that many of the companies in the larger homebuilder market remain strong despite rising interest rates and prices.Mortgage rates reached 3.45% by the early weeks of 2022, up from their lows of around 2.65% last January. The 30-year fixed rate mortgage did surge nearly 1% since then to hover at 4.42%. But this is still below where it was in parts of 2018 and within the range over the last decade. Plus, mortgage rates are historically low when we expand our view to pre-financial crisis levels. And the demographic trends remain in the industry’s favor.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchBottom LineSKY stock has climbed 192% in the last three years to outpace its highly-ranked industry’s 82% run, the Construction Sector’s 60% and the S&P 500’s 65%. Skyline Champion is also up 25% in the past 12 months to outclimb the benchmark’s 17% pop and its industry’s 15% downturn.SKY shares have tumbled roughly 28% in 2022, including its 6% drop during regular hours Wednesday to put it at $56.44 a share, or around where it was in late July 2021. Skyline Champion stock now trades 44% below its current Zacks consensus price target of $81.50 a share.The pullback, coupled with its strong earnings outlook, has SKY trading at its lowest levels in three years (outside of the covid lows) at 14.3X forward 12-month earnings. This also marks a 40% discount vs. Skyline Champion's own median during the last three years and over 60% below its highs.  All said, investors with long-term horizons might want to consider buying Skyline Champion stock. Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s a little-known chemical company that’s up 65% over last year, yet still dirt cheap. With unrelenting demand, soaring 2022 earnings estimates, and $1.5 billion for repurchasing shares, retail investors could jump in at any time. This company could rival or surpass other recent Zacks’ Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Skyline Corporation (SKY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksMar 31st, 2022

Check out these 43 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Gut Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundCheckout made easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed round Quantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionEmbedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingAn alternative auto lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team.TomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ASoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round.  So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 28th, 2022

NFT Art Collectors Are Playing a Risky Game—And Winning

In Miami, the next generation of art collection showed its colors Behind the high white walls of a nondescript single-story building in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, past the velvet ropes and ticket-checkers, and through a hallway filled with disorienting billows of white smoke lies Aku World, the alternate universe of Aku, a young Black astronaut. The blank walls of one room were covered with moving projections of this cartoon extraterrestrial universe. At the center, a giant space helmet you could walk inside to view videos. In other rooms: traditional art from the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat and young artists Jade Yasmeen and Floyd Strickland; a “merch” room with virtual 3D displays of branded backpacks and hoodies; and a futuristic sanctum with a massive, ovoid version of a TSA body scanner, used for 4D body-mapping. Visitors could develop and “mint” their own personalized avatars for the Aku World metaverse. A line of patrons snaked out the hallway. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] One of those people on this balmy Thursday evening of Art Basel Miami was Cooper Turley. Wearing designer sneakers, a black turtleneck and a diamond chain, Turley towered over his fellow Aku fans in line, a collection of diverse young people who had managed to snag one of the exclusive tickets to the pop-up. “I’ve been following the story for six months at this point,” Turley says proudly. But Turley, 26, was more than just another Aku fan. An investor in the project, Turley is also an NFT collector and a Twitter personality known for sharing upbeat takes on the future of the emerging world of web3. Originally an avid Pokemon collector—the type of teen who spent hours searching out rare cards on eBay—Turley turned a college music business degree into a career as an angel investor and general crypto expert after becoming intrigued by the concept of so-called “smart” contracts for music, which could more effectively apportion out revenue to the many stakeholders involved in a track. These days, he holds somewhere around 400 to 500 unique NFTs, ranging from an original Crypto Kitty (his first-ever NFT purchase) to a one-of-one from Fvckrender that he bought for a hefty 10ETH (currently about $44,000). “If I were trying to get [my collection] appraised today? It would be, like, a couple million dollars,” he says, doing some quick mental math. How NFT art collecting works Just like there are famous physical world art collectors—Peggy Guggenheim, J. Paul Getty, the Broads—Turley has joined the ranks of high-end NFT art collectors, as non-fungible tokens became the talk of the crypto and art worlds this year. (NFT auction platform OpenSea has tracked over $10 billion worth of sales since it launched in 2017. The buzz peaked last spring with the much-ballyhooed $69 million auction price for a one-of-one Beeple art work.) While an NFT can be anything, the first and most visible use-case so far has been for digital art. Sometimes that means a moving image. Or an audio-visual clip. Or a “profile picture project” (PFP) like CryptoPunks or Bored Ape Yacht Club, drawings that are variations on a theme within a particular universe. (Aku World started out as a collection of Aku NFTs.) Or a physical sculpture with an NFT certificate of ownership. More and more, it also can mean tokens that provide access to exclusive events or content—also a perk, in this instance, of Aku NFT ownership. Read More: Teen Artists Are Making Millions on NFTs. How Are They Doing It? For Turley, being a collector (and investor and advisor) in this space is both a career and, it seems, a calling. His social and professional lives are deeply intertwined. In Miami, his days were a mix of attending events like Aku World and carrying on into near-dawn club adventures with fellow collectors and artists he’s befriended. “There’s one part of my collecting that’s all about patronage,” he says. “It’s my friends getting involved in the space, so I am buying their work to simply say thank you for believing in this, thank you for taking a chance and putting your art into this ecosystem.” The other part is speculation. “There’s a science to knowing which entities are going to go up and being able to flip those,” he says. After all, he’s been able to build a multimillion dollar collection off his early crypto investments and willingness to play that game. The value of community Turley’s approach—recognizing both the power of patronage and the potential of speculation—is one echoed by most collectors in these early, volatile days of the NFT market. Jake Rogers, 38, also found his professional sweet spot as a collector and speculator. Crypto—and NFT art collecting—changed his life; after going through a divorce and diving into crypto self-education via the audio hangout app Clubhouse during the pandemic, Rogers left his role as the program director of a homeless shelter in Atlanta. He’s now a full-time NFT investor based in Miami. (He’s also building out a local cafe for “cannabis, coffee, crypto and tacos,” he says happily.) But you wouldn’t know any of this from his unassuming appearance; he shows up at a low-key pool party on a residential street in downtown Miami in a faded tank top, shorts, and a Patagonia baseball cap covering his grey hair, swigging from a bottle of electric yellow Gatorade. Rogers is here to say hello to the Queens-based music artist and general hype man Artz (real name: Raymond Allende), founder of the artist collective Reject Dreams. Rogers invested in some of Artz’s audio-visual works (and NFTs), and they’re friends via Clubhouse. With boyish energy, he settles onto a couch by a dusty pool table to explain his philosophy of NFT investing. Rogers has 487 works when we talk, and wants to hit 500 by the end of the weekend, with a budget to burn of roughly $200,000. He had been dabbling in crypto since 2017, but made his first NFT purchase in spring 2020, with a reasonably-priced piece from “some brothers in Russia,” he remembers, who he discovered on Clubhouse. “I got in for the community. And then—” he pauses. After he had collected about 100 works he loved, including four Bored Apes, three of which he sold for a healthy profit, “then I got in for the money.” Read More: NFTs Are Shaking Up the Art World—But They Could Change So Much More Now he’s using what he calls “house money,” re-investing his wins. “The reality is, it’s insider trading,” he says wryly. But with a cause: he likes to support early-stage artists who need the money to live. That positive feedback loop, and the sense that he’s making a difference in someone’s life, “is like a drug.” “I came from the world of understanding my privilege and helping people that have nothing,” he says. He has a system now for deciding what’s a worthy project, based on the rarity of the pieces, his trust in the people behind the project, and whether it’s a safe bet or a risky one. Rogers knows it might look like he’s having a midlife crisis right now. But he says he’s never felt a stronger sense of purpose: to invest in the future, and be a part of supporting the paths of artists he believes in—like Artz—who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance. We say goodbye, and he jumps up, snaps a quick selfie with Artz, and heads out to the next art exhibition. “I didn’t even know what the guy looked like until a few weeks ago,” Artz says after Rogers leaves. But his early support has been meaningful in helping Artz raise his profile. Later in the weekend, Artz would perform with rapper Busta Rhymes. Is NFT art “real art”? To outsiders, the NFT art world can look like a joke, or a bunch of high rollers playing a computer game. For those inside it, it is a game—but one with real stakes. Nowhere was that more clear than at the NFTNow x Christie’s party in downtown Miami, hosted in a corporate venue transformed into an NFT art gallery and party spot. On the blacked-out walls, digital works by top-selling artists like Fvckrender, Chad Knight and Dave Krugman popped out of the darkness. The open bar seemed of less interest to most than the works themselves. Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty ImagesGuests view an NFT art piece by German artist Mario Klingemann at Art Basel Miami 2021. Turley circulated with other bigwigs in the scene: collectors like Kamiar Maleki, director of Volta Art Fairs and Colborn Bell, the tall, bearded head of the Museum of Crypto Art; artists and celebrities like Beeple, Fewocious, Jared Leto and Timbaland. The Christie’s co-sign gave this new generation an air of officiality. But at the main Art Basel fair in a cavernous event space on Miami Beach, Turley felt out of place; he admits he’s not a traditional art connoisseur. Most of the booths were hosted by galleries—and NFT artists tend to bypass gallery representation. (One booth by blockchain company Tezos was a hit, however, and 5,000 NFTs were minted there over the course of the week.) “I felt a little bit of a disconnect,” Turley says. “All the art on display was physically appealing, and it looked fantastic,” but he didn’t feel the sense of connection that he could find with NFTs. “One of the things that I like the most about NFTs is that you are not bidding on the art itself, you’re bidding on a relationship with the creator. We are in an early enough stage where that could happen. The reason that a lot of people are spending so much money on NFTs is because they really want to get connected to that artist on a personal level,” he says. Turley himself has advised artists and creators on their NFT entrances. Crypto winter is coming Of course, in an emerging, unregulated market, not all plays are wins. Collectors spoke blithely about getting “rugged” on certain NFT investments, about how easy it is for hackers to entice potential investors into fake projects, into scams that result in an empty crypto wallet before they can back out of the exchange. But more often than not, a loss just sparks the desire to try again; risk is the accepted name of the game. Back at Aku World, Turley was joined by artist Isabella Addison and fellow young collector Brett Shear. (Shear focuses on music NFT collecting.) After Turley minted his new Aku avatar, the trio—already tired after a few days of the Miami party circuit—grabbed dinner at a low-key gyro restaurant a few blocks away, then headed to an event hosted by digital music collective Poolsuite. For artists like Addison, the support of these collectors has helped buoy her to stardom. On Saturday night, she was out and about with a collector who goes by the name Seedphrase, who recently estimated his NFT collection’s value at around $12 million. At a party co-hosted by Playboy and Proof of Party, a web3-focused event series, the walls flashed with moving projections of models. Pop star Charli XCX was in the deejay booth. A few hours later, Addison would wake up to hand-paint a Bentley for an auction. She was moving into a new apartment in L.A. soon. The collectors all warned of an upcoming “crypto winter” of increased volatility, for which they’re preparing by diversifying their investments into things like metaverse properties and crypto-focused DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations that invest as a collective). But for artists like Addison who are already reaping the rewards of their patronage, the season ahead looks bright......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 9th, 2021

Inside the New Basketball League Paying High Schoolers Six-Figure Salaries

A lot is riding on Overtime Elite’s fate Most high school hoops players across America—if they’re lucky—travel to their games in a yellow school bus. They might—if they’re lucky—compete in front of the local junior college scout. But members of Overtime Elite, the new professional basketball league for 16-to-19-year old stars, arrive in style, to play before a far more influential audience. On a crisp autumn morning in Atlanta, more than two dozen Overtime Elite (OTE) pros, who make at least six-figure salaries, stepped off a stretch limo bus, one by one. The players entered the brand-new 103,000 sq.-ft. facility built by Overtime, a five-year-old digital sports media startup that developed a huge following after posting Zion Williamson’s high school dunks on Instagram. Waiting for them at OTE’s inaugural “pro day”: some 60 pro scouts, including reps from 29 out of 30 NBA teams, sitting along the sideline and behind the baskets. They leafed through the scouting packet provided by OTE, which included information like the wingspan and hand width of each player plus advanced statistics on their performances during preseason scrimmages, whispering to one another about which ones they were excited to see. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Andrew Hetherington for TIMEEmmanuel Maldonado, Ryan Bewley, Bryce Griggs, Jalen Lewis of Overtime Elite taking a quick break from warm ups at the practice courts at the OTE arena. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEPlayers stretch next to practice courts at the OTE arena. As the league’s coaching staff led players through NBA-style drills, the scouts eyed Amen and Ausar Thompson, a set of rangy 6-ft. 7-in. twins from Florida who skipped their senior year of high school to join OTE. The brothers made clever dribble moves, before driving down the lane to throw down thunderous dunks. “The Thompson twins are obviously top talents,” says ESPN draft guru Jonathan Givony, who was also in Atlanta for the OTE pro day. “Those guys are ready to be seriously considered as NBA draft picks.” OTE made a strong first impression, but the evaluators universally agreed that not all of the 26 OTE players in the gym were bound for the NBA. Given the supply of global talent chasing that dream, and the precious few spots available, elementary math suggests such an outcome is all but impossible. The coaching came across as high-level. Anton Marshand, a scout for the Cleveland Cavaliers, expects to make frequent trips to Atlanta this season. “For us to be able to evaluate them now and see their growth over time, that’s the key,” says Marshand. “It’s a pro environment.” Andrew Hetherington for TIMEAmen Thompson (#1) of Team OTE on the show court at the OTE arena. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEAusur Thompson and Amen Thompson chat after practice. OTE is launching at a landmark moment in the history of American sports. For decades, talented teenagers in fields like acting and music could monetize their unique gifts by signing lucrative, life-changing financial agreements. But archaic rules and attitudes largely kept athletes from doing the same, preventing them from cashing in until they reached major pro leagues like the NFL or the NBA. Those restrictions are now going the way of the peach basket. In June, the Supreme Court captured these shifting assumptions concerning athletic amateurism in a ruling that prevents the NCAA from capping education-related benefits. In a scathing concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that the business model of the NCAA, an organization that has long kept college athletes from being paid—despite the millions in revenue many of them generate for their institutions—would be “flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.” About a week later, the NCAA, with public opinion and the highest court in the land turning against its outdated notions of amateurism, relented, and allowed college athletes to profit off their names, images and likenesses. Read More: Why The NCAA Should Be Terrified Of Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh’s Concurrence Naturally, businesses—many of them upstart tech platforms—have stepped into the fray, hoping to turn a profit by helping young athletes cash in on new opportunities. Brands like Icon Source, INFLCR and PWRFWD are promising to open up sponsorship opportunities, build social media presence and sell the merchandise of college athletes. A company called Opendorse aims to connect athletes with sponsorship opportunities—not unlike, say, how Uber connects drivers with riders, or Airbnb matches hosts and vacationers. With the loosening of name, image and likeness, or NIL, restrictions, Opendorse expects to quadruple its annual revenue in 2021 to more than $20 million. Tim Derdenger, a professor at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, estimates that the NIL market for college athletes alone could reach more than $1 billion in five years. But by betting on the popularity of high school basketball players, Overtime is taking a more radical, and potentially transformative, approach. Overtime’s pitch to players: forget college basketball. OTE promises to pay six-figure salaries and offer access to high-level coaching and skill development in a sports-academy setting, to prepare athletes for a pro career. OTE has also hired teachers and academic administrators so that players can secure their high school diplomas. The operation has financial backing from an All-Star investor lineup, which includes Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions fund, Drake, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and a slew of NBA players like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Trae Young. In March, Overtime raised $80 million. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEPlayers take classes at a WeWork space in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEBryce Griggs and TJ Clark leave the locker room on to the OTE practice courts in Atlanta. Signing with OTE isn’t a decision players take lightly. Under current NCAA rules, athletes with OTE contracts are classified as professional players who have forfeited any eligibility to play college basketball, an enterprise that, despite all its flaws, is a proven path to lifelong educational benefits and the NBA. If an OTE player does not make it to the NBA or secure a professional gig overseas, Overtime is pledging to kick in $100,000 to pay for a student’s college education. “You can’t beat that,” says Bryson Warren, a would-be high school junior from Arkansas who’s eligible for the 2024 NBA draft. “At the end of the day, I can still be a doctor and make NBA money.” For some, however, the OTE deal sounds almost too good to be true. At pro day, the same scouts who looked up to the ceiling of OTE’s airplane-hangar-size structure in wonder, asked the same question: How is OTE going to survive? The sports landscape is littered with failed professional leagues. Overtime has spent millions on a school, a coaching and basketball operations and performance staff rivaling that of NBA teams, not to mention salaries and housing for its players and a massive new structure. Dan Porter, Overtime’s CEO and co-founder, has heard all the skepticism. “Everyone wonders, What’s the business model?” he says. Porter points to OTE’s late-October opening weekend of games as a sign of the league’s promise: he says OTE content generated 23 million views, and 8.8 million total engagements, across social media. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEJai Smith of Team Elite makes his pre-game entrance on the inaugural night of games at the show court at the OTE arena. What’s more, now that top prospects can sign lucrative sponsorship deals while at proven collegiate powers like Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas, OTE may have to increase salary offers, further driving up its costs. And if Overtime’s marketing prowess helps the players build enough of a social media following to make OTE profitable, will that focus on building brands deter from their athletic development? OTE’s bottom line alone can’t thrive; the company needs to produce NBA draft picks. “We told kids when we recruited them,” says OTE director of scouting Tim Fuller, “our national championship is when you shake [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver’s hand.” A lot is riding on OTE’s fate. Success has potential to create economic empowerment and more options for young, mostly Black athletes who for far too long have been funneled into a system that mostly enriches white coaches and administrators, but not them. It could spawn copycats across sports (with the unintended consequence of further igniting the hyperspecialized, hypercompetitive $19 billion youth sports feeder system that often offers parents a false sense of their kids’ pro potential). OTE’s failure, however, might not cost just Bezos and Drake a rounding error of their overall wealth. Much worse, this disruptive idea could derail dreams. A new model OTE placed its recruiting call to Troy Thompson in the spring, at a fortuitous time. Troy’s twin sons, Amen and Ausar, had just played nearly 30 games over five weeks on the AAU circuit, where overuse injuries are becoming more common. The boys, who were based in Florida, had traveled to Illinois, Wisconsin, Arizona, Missouri and Georgia during this swing. They were able to showcase their ability, but the twins barely had time to practice on the all too common travel sports grind. Were they actually improving? “OTE called right when my mind was going, ‘O.K., I’ve got to find a way to slow this thing down,’” says Troy. The OTE offer—a six-figure salary, plus the emphasis on player development in an academy setting—sounded attractive. “It’s like we’re getting to fast-forward their dreams,” says Troy, who works in security. Ausar was on board. Amen, however, took a little more convincing. “He’s hardheaded,” Ausar says of his twin brother, who was sitting next to him during an OTE post–pro day brunch of pancakes, shrimp, lobster, grits and potatoes, served at a Georgia Tech off-campus apartment complex that houses the OTE players. (It abuts a golf course, and includes a leafy courtyard and a pool.) Amen was looking forward to chasing another high school state title. He had always dreamed of playing college basketball, even as a “one-and-done” player who enters the NBA draft after freshman year. Kansas, Florida, Auburn and Alabama had already offered the twins basketball scholarships, and Kentucky had reached out with interest. “It’s just what I’ve known,” Amen says of college basketball. “And it’s shown to be proven.” After “a million conversations,” says Amen, he was on board. He ultimately thought he had outgrown scholastic competition. In Atlanta, the Thompsons mention to TIME that they have just missed their final high school homecoming. But Amen insists he’s still going to prom. “I’m just going to walk in,” says Amen. He quickly realizes party crashing won’t be so simple. “As soon as I left the school, they didn’t let me shoot in the gym anymore,” says Amen. “So, actually, I will need to have a date [from the school] to prom.” Adjusting to Atlanta took some time. At first, Troy says, his sons complained about the OTE curfew. According to OTE’s dean of athlete experience and culture, former 10-year NBA veteran Damien Wilkins, during the week players must be in the residence building at 10 p.m., and in their apartments at 11 p.m. But Amen and Ausar have gotten accustomed to the rules, and they insist they have no regrets about forgoing their senior year of high school, and the potential to win a national championship in college, to join OTE. Troy believes them. “I guess they’re loving it where they are,” he says. “Because, guess what? Dad hardly ever gets a phone call.” The OTE weekday starts around 9 a.m. when the players arrive—on the limo bus—at school. (Starting in early November, classes will be held at the OTE facility; before then, while building construction was being completed, the classes took place at a WeWork space in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood.) On an October day, one group of students are solving radical expressions in math; in social studies, a trio of players listen to a lecture about English colonial labor systems. A skeleton stands in a common area: the science teacher is reviewing anatomy. Students work on their “persuasive essays,” which they must turn into a 30–60 second commercial spot. Ausar, reading from a marble notebook, touts the benefits of water aerobics: “Who doesn’t love fun times in the pool?” Amen has picked stretching. “Remember, stretching over stress,” Amen says, snapping his fingers and pointing to the camera. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEPlayers take classes at a WeWork space in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEOvertime Elite players relax between classes at the WeWork space. Academics last around 3.5 to 4 hours a day, before the players grab lunch and head to basketball practice. Class sizes are small: the student-teacher ratio rarely exceeds 4 to 1. OTE’s academic head, Maisha Riddlesprigger—Washington, D.C’s. 2019 principal of the year—has heard too many times for her liking the assumption that OTE’s academic component serves as window dressing. “I think that comes from this deficit mindset that you can’t be an athlete and a scholar at the same time,” says Riddlesprigger. Veteran educator Marcus Harden, OTE’s senior administrator for academics and development, admits he worried that these high school juniors and seniors with healthy bank accounts and pro basketball ambitions would tune out classwork. And while some OTE players are more invested in school than others—fighting student phone-scrolling habits in class is an ongoing battle—Harden insists that overall, the students have exceeded expectations. “We would be negligent if we sent them out into the world with fake diplomas,” says Harden. “Even with the short day, I can say we’re doing this with integrity.” For the sake of students who might not make it in basketball, OTE must deliver on this promise. Still, former NBA player Len Elmore, a Harvard Law School grad and current senior lecturer at Columbia University’s sports management program, worries that even if the players who get injured or don’t pan out do return to college, they still might be worse off—savings accounts notwithstanding. “Come on, we’re talking about 17- and 18-year-olds who now have fizzled out at their dream,” says Elmore. “And now you expect them to go to a college that they were recruited by, or that they could have been recruited by, and enroll and go to class and watch other guys playing college basketball, knowing that they could have done that? That to me could also create some mental health issues.” ‘It’s lit’ When Porter, the OTE CEO, was head of digital at superagency WME in 2016, he spotted a shift in the way Gen-Z and younger millennials consumed sports content. Young people were less interested in sitting in front of a TV to watch live basketball or football games. They craved stories, personalities and highlights. They wanted it on demand, on their mobile devices, specifically on the social media platforms that spoke best to them, like Instagram. Porter co-founded Overtime late that year, focusing at first on high school basketball. A proprietary technology allowed videographers to shoot clips in gyms across the country and upload them to the cloud; the company’s social media editors fired off their favorite highlights. Williamson, who despite being built like an offensive lineman could throw down 360-degree slams on his comically inferior schoolboy competition, emerged as Overtime’s first star. The company built a young digitally-native cult following that has grown to more than 50 million followers across Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and other platforms. “If you are an ESPN or a traditional publisher, you can’t appeal to a young audience with a bunch of traditional sports programming,” says Porter. “You also can’t go on your accounts, and be like, ‘It’s lit,’ and a bunch of 50-year-old guys who are looking to figure out who they are going to start on their fantasy team are like, ‘I don’t understand what this is.’” Read more: As College Athletes Finally Start Cashing In, Entrepreneurs Big And Small Also Look To Score Overtime has since branched out into e-commerce, as well as longer-form programming, like a documentary about current Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields that lives on YouTube (and attracted some 426,000 views). Blue-chip companies like Gatorade, McDonald’s and Nike have advertised on the platform; Rocket Mortgage sponsored a post in which Miami Dolphins rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle looks for houses in South Florida. When Overtime was recruiting former Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers exec Brandon Williams to run OTE’s basketball operations, Williams, who was previously unfamiliar with the brand, knew he needed to consider the offer when his 10-year-old son gushed over the Overtime stickers that were sitting on his desk—he told Dad Overtime was kind of a big deal. Later, when some little kid spotted Williams wearing an Overtime shirt at an airport, the boy curved his hands into an “O”—a reference to the Overtime logo—as if approving Williams’ youth cred. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEBryce Griggs of OTE with the ball during the inaugural night of games in the show court at the OTE arena. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEThe OTE bench watches the game at the show court at the OTE arena A few factors coalesced to give birth to Overtime Elite. For one thing, Porter got weary of hearing feedback from college basketball programs that they appreciated Overtime giving their recruits exposure on the high school level, since the schools could then capitalize on their popularity. “I’m like, ‘That’s good for you, but that’s not very good for me,’” says Porter. An Overtime-branded league could keep personalities in the company’s ecosystem and give the startup a valuable piece of intellectual property. And the experience of another early Overtime star, current Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball, opened Porter’s eyes. Ball spent one of his high school years—and part of the season he would have typically spent in college before becoming eligible for the NBA draft—playing overseas in Lithuania and Australia. He became the third overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft, and won last season’s rookie of the year honors. To Porter, Ball’s experience proved that talented players were willing to try a different path to the NBA. Former NBA commissioner David Stern, who passed away in January 2020, initially told Porter and Overtime’s other co-founder, Zack Weiner, that they were crazy. Overtime already had a compelling core business, and Stern knew from experience the hassles of running a sports league. But Stern eventually came around to the idea; his son, Eric, is one of OTE’s investors. Overtime Elite has signed multiyear, multimillion-dollar sponsorship agreements with Gatorade and State Farm. Both companies have prominent signage at the 1,100-seat “OTE Arena,” which is also part of the 103,000-sq.- ft. structure in Atlanta. OTE’s showcase court, which hosted its first set of games on Oct. 29, features LED lights and a Jumbotron. Topps is producing trading cards for OTE players; Porter says that “hundreds of thousands of dollars’” worth of cards have already sold, and that they should start appearing in Walmart, and hopefully Target, in December or January. Some NFT initiatives are sure to follow. OTE is not live-streaming games yet—Porter wants to create scarcity and buzz—but the content team is creating a mix of highlight packages and an episodic behind-the-scenes docuseries on the players. Overtime—which has yet to turn a profit—expects annual revenue to reach up to $300 million in five years, with Overtime Elite bringing in about a third of that haul. The company, and its investors, are betting that Overtime’s built-in brand notoriety and audience will differentiate OTE from other upstart sports leagues that have failed. “We don’t have that same kind of cold-start problem,” says Porter. ‘Dunk lines for content’ But the high stakes aren’t limited to Overtime’s bottom line. Players are placing their futures in the company’s hands, which puts the onus on OTE’s basketball development staff to ensure that, at worst, each player receives at least a lucrative pro offer overseas. The players do have impressive tools at their disposal. During one practice, for example, a biomechanical engineering Ph.D. rushes to tuck a microchip into the shorts of a few players: this technology allows OTE’s four-person analytics and data science team, led by applied math PhD. and former Philadelphia 76ers researcher Ivana Seric, to track how far and fast players move during practices. This information allows the coaches to better control wear and tear. Cameras atop each shot clock on the OTE practice courts can show, for example, how far to the left or right players are missing their shots. They can adjust accordingly. A 10-person on-court coaching staff, led by former UConn coach Kevin Ollie (who won the 2014 men’s national championship with the Huskies) fans out at four different baskets during practice, allowing players to work on team concepts, like defending screens and pick-and-rolls, and individual skills (they take ample corner threes and floaters, both key tricks of the NBA trade). Like any upstart, however, OTE has experienced hiccups. When Porter came to visit the academic session, a couple of players were unafraid to point out to him that the flimsy boxed roast beef and cheese sandwiches served for lunch—they may have fit it at the Fyre Festival—were subpar nourishment before practice. “This looks scary,” Porter admitted, eyeing the sandwich. “I wouldn’t eat it.” OTE launched in March, and settled on Atlanta as its home in May, meaning the facility, which comes chock-full of amenities like two oversize bathtubs for recovery and a players’ lounge and NFL-size weight room—as well as classroom and office space—needed to be constructed in five months. A few days before OTE’s opening games Halloween weekend, Ollie shouted instructions at practice over hardhats’ drilling; construction detritus forced one door to remain open, allowing a cool Georgia draft to accompany the players on the practice floor. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEKevin Ollie, Head Coach and Director of Player Development of the OTE coaches Team Elite during the inaugural night of games at the show court at the OTE arena. Andrew Hetherington for TIMEYoung fans in the stands watch the action at the OTE arena. While OTE deserves credit for executing its vision so quickly, it could be trying too much too soon. “They’re kind of building the parachute after they jumped out of the plane here,” says Dr. Marcus Elliott, founder and director of P3, a southern California-based sports science institute that provides advanced biomechanical analyses of elite athletes. Ollie was unhappy with this team’s effort at the first practice after pro day—and let the players know it. The energy was far from NBA-level, he told them. This scolding didn’t stop some of the players from lining up near a basket afterward, to show off their leaping ability for Overtime’s ubiquitous cameras. “Dunk lines for content,” said an OTE staffer who was looking on. Dunk lines for content. You probably couldn’t find a more fitting phrase to encapsulate the year 2021 in sports media and culture. Or a more spot-on reminder that kids are placing their basketball gifts in the hands of a digital marketing juggernaut. “I see the potential of this disruption to lead to a much more just and better world for these young athletes,” says Elliott. “But I also see lots of peril. It’s not about getting paid 100 grand to play as a 16- or 17-year-old. It’s about getting your second or third contract in the NBA. And those are challenging and sophisticated blueprints to put together. And so the fact that their DNA has nothing to do with development, that’s concerning.” Andrew Hetherington for TIMEA player hangs onto the net at the OTE practice courts. Overtime insists all incentives align. The company has hired experts like Ollie and the data scientists because the growth of OTE’s business hinges on the Thompson twins, and others, achieving their basketball dreams. After practice, Amen watches film with an OTE assistant coach; Ausar takes part in a small group shooting session that ends at 6 p.m. They both know that to make it to the next level, they must improve on their outside shooting. “I’m going to be in the gym,” says Ausar. “I have nothing better to do. I don’t do anything in Atlanta. I just chill in my room and watch basketball.” Amen and Ausar have talked to each other about backup careers; they both believe they’d be solid hoops commentators. But that can wait. When asked where they both see themselves in two years, neither brother hesitates. Nor do any of the OTE players when asked about their futures. “The NBA.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 9th, 2021

ATRenew Inc. Reports Unaudited First Quarter 2022 Financial Results

SHANGHAI, May 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- ATRenew Inc. ("ATRenew" or the "Company") (NYSE:RERE), a leading technology-driven pre-owned consumer electronics transactions and services platform in China, today announced its unaudited financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022.  First Quarter 2022 Highlights Total net revenues grew by 45.7% to RMB2,206.5 million (US$348.1 million) from RMB1,514.4 million in the first quarter of 2021. Loss from operations was RMB134.8 million (US$21.3 million), compared to RMB111.4 million in the first quarter of 2021. Adjusted income from operations (non-GAAP)[1] was RMB3.9 million (US$0.6 million) compared to an adjusted loss from operations of RMB33.6 million in the first quarter of 2021. Total Gross Merchandise Volume ("GMV[2]") increased by 51.6% to RMB9.4 billion from RMB6.2 billion in the first quarter of 2021. GMV for product sales increased by 57.1% to RMB2.2 billion from RMB1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2021. GMV for online marketplaces increased by 50.0% to RMB7.2 billion from RMB4.8 billion in the first quarter of 2021. Number of consumer products transacted[3] increased by 31.3% to 8.4 million from 6.4 million in the first quarter of 2021. [1] See "Reconciliations of GAAP and Non-GAAP Results" for more information. [2] "GMV" represents the total dollar value of goods distributed to merchants and consumers through transactions on the Company's platform in a given period for which payments have been made, prior to returns and cancellations, excluding shipping cost but including sales tax. [3] "Number of consumer products transacted" represents the number of consumer products distributed to merchants and consumers through transactions on the Company's PJT Marketplace, Paipai Marketplace and other channels the Company operates in a given period, prior to returns and cancellations, excluding the number of consumer products collected through AHS Recycle; a single consumer product may be counted more than once according to the number of times it is transacted on PJT Marketplace, Paipai Marketplace and other channels the Company operates through the distribution process to end consumer. Mr. Kerry Xuefeng Chen, the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of ATRenew, commented, "During the first quarter of 2022, our business operations demonstrated resilience against the volatility brought by a series of resurgences of COVID-19 outbreaks due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. We attribute our resilience to the hard work and commitment of our team and the continued implementation of our city-level service integration strategy. Our upgraded strategy proved invaluable as we navigated challenges posed by regional lockdowns leveraging fulfillment capabilities from nearby cities to combat supply chain interruptions. However, as macro uncertainty remains in the near future, we will prioritize operational efficiency and aim at achieving decent growth while synchronizing our business model with China's dual-carbon goal through the coming decades." Mr. Rex Chen, the Chief Financial Officer of ATRenew, added, "We are pleased to report another profitable quarter, with non-GAAP operating income reaching RMB3.9 million. This result, achieved in the face of the continuing macro headwinds, demonstrates the extent to which we have optimized our cost structure compared with the same quarter last year. Our swift adoption of flexible and safety-focused operations safeguarded and bolstered our overall growth. During the lockdown in Shanghai, in addition to providing our employees with care and support, we also donated anti-COVID supplies to universities and communities in Shanghai as part of our effort in further integrating corporate social responsibility into our commercial operations. In the near term, we will remain prudent in our expansion and expenditure in the event that regional lockdowns continue. We employ a disciplined and balanced capital allocation strategy in order to ensure that we have sufficient cash to sustain business operations and tackle potential contingencies. Meanwhile, we firmly believe that strategically investing in supply chain capabilities and technology will widen our competitive moat in the long run." First Quarter 2022 Financial Results REVENUE Total net revenues increased by 45.7% to RMB2,206.5 million (US$348.1 million) from RMB1,514.4 million in the same period of 2021. Net product revenues increased by 45.7% to RMB1,908.9 million (US$301.1 million) from RMB1,310.5 million in the same period of 2021. The increase was primarily attributable to an increase in the sourcing volume and the corresponding sales of pre-owned consumer electronics through PJT Marketplace, Paipai Marketplace and the Company's offline channels. Net service revenues increased by 46.0% to RMB297.6 million (US$46.9 million) from RMB203.9 million in the same period of 2021. The increase was primarily due to the increases in transaction volume on PJT Marketplace and Paipai Marketplace. OPERATING COSTS AND EXPENSES Operating costs and expenses increased by 44.7% to RMB2,352.5 million (US$371.1 million) from RMB1,626.2 million in the same period of 2021. Merchandise costs increased by 49.7% to RMB1,640.0 million (US$258.7 million) from RMB1,095.7 million in the same period of 2021. The increase was primarily due to the growth in product revenues. Fulfillment expenses increased by 32.8% to RMB296.2 million (US$46.7 million) from RMB223.0 million in the same period of 2021. The increase was primarily due to (i) the increases in logistics expenses and operation center related expenses, which were in line with the increase in sales of pre-owned consumer electronics; (ii) an increase in personnel cost in connection with the Company's growing business; and (iii) an increase in the recognition of share-based compensation expense resulting from options granted to employees with an IPO condition since the second quarter of 2021. Selling and marketing expenses increased by 38.3% to RMB307.8 million (US$48.6 million) from RMB222.6 million in the same period of 2021. The increase was primarily due to (i) an increase in sales promotion and coupon expenses in connection with business development; (ii) an increase in personnel cost in connection with the Company's growing business; and (iii) an increase in the recognition of share-based compensation expense resulting from options granted to employees with an IPO condition since the second quarter of 2021. General and administrative expenses increased by 53.1% to RMB45.0 million (US$7.1 million) from RMB29.4 million in the same period of 2021. The increase was primarily due to the increase in the recognition of share-based compensation expense resulting from options granted to employees with an IPO condition since the second quarter of 2021. Technology and content expenses increased by 14.4% to RMB63.5 million (US$10.0 million) from RMB55.5 million in the same period of 2021. The increase was primarily due to (i) the increases in operation center and system upgrade related expenses in connection with the Company's growing business; and (ii) the increase in the recognition of share-based compensation expense resulting from options granted to employees with an IPO condition since the second quarter of 2021. LOSS (INCOME) FROM OPERATIONS Loss from operations increased by 21.0% to RMB134.8 million (US$21.3 million) from RMB111.4 million in the same period of 2021. Adjusted income from operations (non-GAAP), excluding amortization of intangible assets and deferred cost resulting from assets and business acquisitions and recognition of share-based compensation expense resulting from options granted to employees, was RMB3.9 million (US$0.6 million), compared to an adjusted loss from operations of RMB33.6 million in the same period of 2021. NET LOSS Net loss increased by 70.3% to RMB161.4 million (US$25.5 million) from RMB94.8 million in the same period of 2021. Adjusted net loss (non-GAAP)[1] was RMB35.8 million (US$5.7 million), compared to RMB36.4 million in the same period of 2021. BASIC AND DILUTED NET LOSS PER ORDINARY SHARE Basic and diluted net loss per ordinary share were RMB0.99 (US$0.16), compared to RMB32.13 in the same period of 2021. Adjusted basic and diluted net loss per ordinary share (non-GAAP)[1] were RMB0.22 (US$0.03), compared to RMB1.94 in the same period of 2021. CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS, RESTRICTED CASH, SHORT-TERM INVESTMENTS AND FUNDS RECEIVABLE FROM THIRD PARTY PAYMENT SERVICE PROVIDERS Cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, short-term investments and funds receivable from third party payment service providers decreased to RMB2,419.5 million (US$381.7 million) as of March 31, 2022, from RMB2,421.9 million as of December 31, 2021. Business Outlook For the second quarter of 2022, the Company currently expects its total revenues to be between RMB2,000.0 million and RMB2,050.0 million. This forecast only reflects the Company's current and preliminary views on the market and operational conditions, which are subject to change.  Recent Development On December 28, 2021, ATRenew announced a share repurchase program, effective immediately, to repurchase up to US$100 million of its shares over a twelve-month period. As of March 31, 2022, the company had repurchased 4,753,840 American depositary shares ("ADSs") in the open market at an average price of US$4.73 per ADS, with a total cash consideration of US$22 million. Conference Call Information The Company's management will hold a conference call Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at 08:00 A.M. Eastern Time (or 08:00 P.M. Beijing Time on Tuesday, May 24, 2022) to discuss the financial results. Listeners may access the call by dialing the following numbers: International: 1-412-317-6061 United States Toll Free: 1-888-317-6003 Mainland China Toll Free: 4001-206115 Hong Kong Toll Free: 800-963976 Access Code: 8697849 The replay will be accessible through May 31, 2022, by dialing the following numbers: International: 1-412-317-0088 United States Toll Free: 1-877-344-7529 Access Code: 7316914 A live and archived webcast of the conference call will also be available at the Company's investor relations website at ir.atrenew.com. About ATRenew Inc. Headquartered in Shanghai, ATRenew Inc. operates a leading technology-driven pre-owned consumer electronics transactions and services platform in China under the brand ATRenew. Since its inception in 2011, ATRenew has been on a mission to give a second life to all idle goods, addressing the environmental impact of pre-owned consumer electronics by facilitating recycling and trade-in services, and distributing the devices to prolong their lifecycle. ATRenew's open platform integrates C2B, B2B, and B2C capabilities to empower its online and offline services. Through its end-to-end coverage of the entire value chain and its proprietary inspection, grading, and pricing technologies, ATRenew sets the standard for China's pre-owned consumer electronics industry. Exchange Rate Information This announcement contains translations of certain RMB amounts into U.S. dollars at specified rates solely for the convenience of the reader. Unless otherwise noted, all translations from RMB to U.S. dollars are made at a rate of RMB6.3393 to US$1.00, the exchange rate set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System as of March 31, 2022. Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures The Company also uses certain non-GAAP financial measures in evaluating its business. For example, the Company uses adjusted loss from operations, adjusted net loss and adjusted net loss per ordinary share as supplemental measures to review and assess its financial and operating performance. The presentation of these non-GAAP financial measures is not intended to be considered in isolation, or as a substitute for the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Adjusted loss from operations is loss from operations excluding the impact of share-based compensation expenses and amortization of intangible assets and deferred cost resulting from assets and business acquisitions. Adjusted net loss is net loss excluding the impact of share-based compensation expenses, amortization of intangible assets and deferred cost resulting from assets and business acquisitions and tax effect of amortization of intangible assets and deferred cost resulting from assets and business acquisitions. Adjusted net loss per ordinary share is adjusted net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders divided by weighted average number of shares used in calculating net loss per ordinary share. Adjusted net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders is net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders excluding the impact of share-based compensation expenses, amortization of intangible assets and deferred cost resulting from assets and business acquisitions and tax effect of amortization of intangible assets and deferred cost resulting from assets and business acquisitions. The Company presents non-GAAP financial measures because they are used by the Company's management to evaluate the Company's financial and operating performance and formulate business plans. The Company believes that adjusted loss from operations and adjusted net loss help identify underlying trends in the Company's business that could otherwise be distorted by the effect of certain expenses that are included in loss from operations and net loss. The Company also believes that the use of non-GAAP financial measures facilitates investors' assessment of the Company's operating performance. The Company believes that adjusted loss from operations and adjusted net loss provide useful information about the Company's operating results, enhance the overall understanding of the Company's past performance and future prospects and allow for greater visibility with respect to key metrics used by the Company's management in its financial and operational decision making. The non-GAAP financial measures are not defined under U.S. GAAP and are not presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The non-GAAP financial measures have limitations as analytical tools. One of the key limitations of using non-GAAP financial measures is that they do not reflect all items of income and expense that affect the Company's operations. Share-based compensation expenses, amortization of intangible assets and deferred cost resulting from assets and business acquisitions and tax effect of amortization of intangible assets and deferred cost resulting from assets and business acquisitions have been and may continue to be incurred in the Company's business and is not reflected in the presentation of non-GAAP financial measures. Further, the non-GAAP measures may differ from the non-GAAP measures used by other companies, including peer companies, potentially limiting the comparability of their financial results to the Company's. In light of the foregoing limitations, the non-GAAP financial measures for the period should not be considered in isolation from or as an alternative to loss from operations, net loss, and net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders per share, or other financial measures prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The Company compensates for these limitations by reconciling the non-GAAP financial measures to the nearest U.S. GAAP performance measures, which should be considered when evaluating the Company's performance. For reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures, please see the section of the accompanying tables titled, "Reconciliations of GAAP and Non-GAAP Results." Safe Harbor Statement This press release contains statements that may constitute "forward-looking" statements pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as "will," "expects," "anticipates," "aims," "future," "intends," "plans," "believes," "estimates," "likely to" and similar statements. Among other things, quotations in this announcement, contain forward-looking statements. ATRenew may also make written or oral forward-looking statements in its periodic reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), in its annual report to shareholders, in press releases and other written materials and in oral statements made by its officers, directors or employees to third parties. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements about ATRenew's beliefs, plans and expectations, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement, including but not limited to the following: ATRenew's strategies; ATRenew's future business development, financial condition and results of operations; ATRenew's ability to maintain its relationship with major strategic investors; its ability to provide facilitate pre-owned consumer electronics transactions and provide relevant services; its ability to maintain and enhance the recognition and reputation of its brand; general economic and business conditions globally and in China and assumptions underlying or related to any of the foregoing. Further information regarding these and other risks is included in ATRenew's filings with the SEC. All information provided in this press release is as of the date of this press release, and ATRenew does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement, except as required under applicable law. Investor Relations Contact In China:ATRenew Inc.Investor RelationsEmail: ir@atrenew.com In the United States:ICR, LLC.Email: atrenew@icrinc.comTel: +1-212-537-0461   ATRENEW INC. UNAUDITED CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS (Amounts in thousands, except share and per share and otherwise noted) As of December 31, As of March 31, 2021 2022 RMB RMB US$ ASSETS Current assets: Cash and cash equivalents 1,356,342 1,126,509 177,702 Restricted cash 150,000 — — Short-term investments 510,467 880,000 138,817 Amount due from related parties, net 410,088.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMay 24th, 2022

One Step Closer To Recession: Goldman Cuts S&P Price Target To 4,300; Slashes GDP Forecast

One Step Closer To Recession: Goldman Cuts S&P Price Target To 4,300; Slashes GDP Forecast It took Goldman three months to slash its (widely mocked) 2022 year-end S&P price target of 5,100 published in mid-November (at the time we said it would take just a few months for the target to be cut and we were right) to 4,900 in mid-February. Back then Goldman's chief strategist David Kostin listed three scenarios, the third and most bearish of which was that if the US economy tips into a recession, "the typical 24% recession peak-to-trough price decline would reduce the S&P 500 to 3600" to which we said that's what would happen "but before we get there expect another 200 point S&P target in one month, and then another, and then another." One month later, this is precisely what happened, when in mid-March Goldman's David Kostin again cut his year-end price target to 4,700 (from 4.900), but more importantly, Kostin grudgingly raised the odds of a recession writing that "the current S&P 500 index level of 4260 suggests roughly a 40% likelihood of a downside recessionary case." He then noted that in such a "recession" scenario, the bank expects reduced earnings and valuation multiples would cause the S&P 500 to decline by 15% to 3600, similar to the 24% drop he had warned previously (Goldman also noted that this represents a 15% drop from current levels and is probably sufficient to trigger the Fed's put). So fast forward another two months, when our prediction that Goldman would continue to slash its S&P price target by 200 points every month or so was spot on again, because as of this weekend, two months after Goldman cut its S&P target to 4,700, the bank's chief equity strategist has just published his latest forecast (full note available to professional subscribers), taking down the bank's price target to 4,300 (or 200 points per month for two months); as a reminder this was 5,100 just three months ago! How does Kostin explain this dramatic reversal in his original cheerful forecast, which apparently could not anticipate any of the things that took place in the past few months? Here's how: We revise our forecasts for earnings, interest rates, and the yield gap. We lower our S&P 500 year-end 2022 price target to 4300 (from 4700). Our new price target represents a 7% return from today. Our 3-month forecast equals 4000, with expected gains likely coming later in the year. Finally admitting what we have been saying all along, Kostin concedes that "much higher equity prices in the near-term would ease financial conditions and be antithetical to the Fed’s goal of slowing economic growth", in other words, every time stocks jumped it would only prompt Powell to come out with even stronger hawkish jawboning . That said, while Goldman expects an overshoot to 4,000 in the near-term (or undershoot since the S&P dropped as low as 3,855 on Thursday, touching the edge of a bear market), the bank remains somewhat hopeful that the worst is now behind us and "a contraction in economic growth is priced in equities and our baseline forecast suggests the worst of the decline is likely behind us assuming a recession is averted." Kostin also assumes that as the year progresses "investors will gain confidence about decelerating inflation, the path of Fed tightening, and recession risk, and equities will rise modestly driven by EPS growth." Kostin then breaks down the revision in his forecast by factoring in for a stronger than expected Q1 earnings, offset by everything else deteriorating: 1Q earnings season was better-than-feared. Consensus expected +5% year/year growth in S&P 500 EPS, but firms realized +11%. Both sales and margins posted positive surprises. Analyst revisions to 2022 and 2023 have been slightly positive, mostly driven by Energy. We raise our 2022 S&P 500 top-down EPS growth forecast to +8% (vs. +5% previously). We maintain our 2023 EPS growth forecast of +6%. Our revised S&P 500 EPS estimates equal $226 and $239. Faster sales growth and better-than-feared Financials earnings are the primary drivers of our revision. Our net margin forecast remains unchanged. We expect margins will rise by 11 bp to 12.3% in 2022. However, excluding Energy, we forecast net profit margins will contract by 22 bp as input cost pressures weigh on companies. Our sales, margin, and earnings forecasts remain below bottom-up consensus. Our economists’ 2022 real US GDP growth forecast is below-consensus and China’s zero COVID policy poses a clear downside risk to EPS growth. From a revenue perspective, we expect the headwind from a stronger trade-weighted dollar will need to be incorporated into analyst models. Investors have already started to reflect this risk; our domestic sales basket (GSTHAINT) has outperformed our international sales basket (GSTHINTL) by 10 pp YTD. While quarterly net profit margins have slipped modestly from their peak in 2Q 2021 to 12.1% in 1Q 2022, consensus expects an expansion during in 2H 2022, which appears too optimistic in our view. However, we believe it will take time for analysts to trim their forecasts closer to our top-down estimate. Our S&P 500 valuation and index forecasts assume that market participants price the index at year-end 2022 based on the consensus 2023E estimate of $250. Higher interest rates. Our Rates strategists now expect the nominal 10-year US Treasury yield to rise to 3.3% at year-end 2022 (vs. 2.7% previously) driven by real yields. We assume real yields will end 2022 at 0.5% (vs. 0% previously). Our forecast is that the P/E remains unchanged from today at 17x. Previously, we assumed the low real rate environment would support a P/E of 20x, 10% below the valuation at start of the year. But YTD the market has priced the equivalent of 8 additional 25 bp Fed hikes and real rates have risen sharply. During the last 8 weeks real rates have surged from -1.0% to +0.2%. Our revised outlook of lower growth and higher rates no longer supports meaningful P/E expansion. Our new P/E multiple forecast ranks in the 70th historical percentile and is consistent with pre-pandemic multiples, but below the past cycle’s peak of 18x in 2018. In our baseline, the relative valuation of stocks vs. real rates would rank in the 46th percentile vs history. Lower yield gap. We expect the gap between the S&P 500 EPS yield and real 10-year US Treasury yield will narrow modestly to 530 bp (vs. 560 bp today). This yield gap would match the level experienced in April 2021 but remain above the average since 1990. We model the yield gap as a function of economic growth, policy uncertainty, the size of the Fed balance sheet, and consumer confidence. By the end of the year, our baseline assumes a slight improvement in growth expectations relative to the pessimistic outlook currently priced by cyclical vs. defensive industries. Valuation will benefit from reduced policy uncertainty and higher consumer confidence. These positive dynamics should more than offset the headwind from tightening financial conditions and allow the earnings yield gap to compress. While Kostin tries to sound hopeful, the reality is that for the third time in a row the Goldman chief strategist not accidentally brings up that in a "downside" scenario, "a recession would push the S&P 500 11% lower to 3600", which is just slightly above the level Morgan Stanley expects stocks drop to in this bear market before they reverse. However, in a novel twist, today for the first time Kostin admits that if by year-end the economy is poised to enter a recession in 2023, "a combination of reduced EPS estimates and a wider yield gap would drive a lower index level" suggesting that the S&P may slide well below 3,600: Earnings typically fall by 13% from peak-to-trough during recessions. However, equity prices move ahead of earnings. We assume by year-end the current 2023 EPS estimate of $250 would be cut by 7%, consistent with history. Our macro model implies the yield gap widens to 700 bp and the P/E multiple narrows to 15x. Translation: just above 3,400. In another downside scenario, Kostin writes that while the economy may avoid recession, real rates could continue to march higher, which would lead to a lower valuation multiple pushing the S&P 500 index down by 6% to 3800. In this scenario, if the Fed is forced to hike by more than Goldman economists expect and real rates rise to 1% - similar to the peak reached during the last cycle in 2018 - Goldman's macro model suggests that higher rates will more than offset the lower yield gap. In this scenario, the forward P/E would equal 16x, the lowest level since 2020. Bottom line: Goldman has thrown in the towel and the bank which in early February expected stocks to hit 5,100 now says don't be surprise if they drop to 3,400. And that's why the David Kostins of the world get paid the big bucks. But wait, there more... In another confirmation of our skepticism, Goldman's chief economist Jan Hatzius published a note on Sunday in which he again cut his overly optimistic GDP forecast (having done so most recently in March), and now expects GDP growth as follows: Q2 '22 to 2.5% from 1.5% Q3 '22 to 2.25% from 2.5% Q4 '22 to 1.5% from 2.5% Q1 '23 to 1.25% Q2 '23 to 1.5% Q3 '23 to 1.5% Q4 '23 to 1.5% And visually: These changes imply a downgrade in 2022 GDP growth to +2.4% on an annual basis (vs. +2.6% previously) and to +1¼% on a Q4/Q4 basis (vs. 1.6%), and a downgrade in 2023 growth to +1.6% on an annual basis (vs. +2.2%) and to +1½% on a Q4/Q4 basis (vs. +2.0%). In other words, just as we said in March, the hockeystick forecast that Goldman laughably presented two months ago has not only flattened but has inverted. Of course, Goldman has refused to forecast a recession (yet), and instead frames the continuing slowdown (as a reminder Goldman was nowhere near the -1.4% Q1 GDP print), as a "necessary growth slowdown." According to Goldman, the slowdown is a byproduct of the Fed's tightening in financial conditions, and the bank thinks the rate hikes that are currently priced into financial  conditions "are in the ballpark of what is ultimately needed to restore balance to the labor market and cool wage and price pressures. We therefore expect that the recent tightening in financial conditions will persist, in part because we think the Fed will deliver on what is priced." That said, not even Goldman is confident that a slowdown won't push the economy into recession, and cautions that job openings remains "extremely high (+4.5mn vs. pre-pandemic level; right chart, Exhibit 1) and less likely to moderate on their own. And the jobs-workers gap probably cannot meaningfully narrow without a moderation in job openings, and wage growth probably cannot settle back to a sustainable level while the jobs-workers gap remains very elevated. Therefore, the main challenge for the FOMC as it attempts to lower inflation is to convince companies to shelve some of their expansion plans and close enough job openings to restore balance to the labor market, a view Chair Powell endorsed at the May FOMC press conference." It's not just GDP that will get hit: the labor market will too. As the bank concludes in its downward revision, while the slowdown in growth should help lower job openings, "it is also likely to raise the unemployment rate a bit, particularly since the job openings rate typically only falls when unemployment spikes in recessions." Of course, Goldman remains optimistic "that a sharp rise in the unemployment rate can be avoided, especially since typically the job openings rate declines more and the unemployment rate increases less when the job openings rate is very elevated, like it is today." Although we continue to expect that momentum in job gains will push then unemployment rate to a low of 3.4% in the next few months, we now expect that the unemployment rate will subsequently rise back to 3.5% at end-2022, and rise further to 3.7% at end-2023. And since Goldman has been always wrong in its economic forecasts in the past year (just see the bank's horrific CPI predictions) here is our translation of the above: expect the labor market to soon enter freefall, one which will force the Fed to not only reverse its tightening and QT plans, but to go straight from rate cuts to NIRP and back to QE again. And just to confirm that a recession is now inevitable (as is the obvious Fed response) none other than the former boss of both Kostin and Hatzius, former Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, spoke on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, and urged companies and consumers to gird for a US recession, saying it’s a “very, very high risk.”   "Do you think we're headed towards recession?" @margbrennan asks Goldman Sachs Senior Chairman Lloyd Blankfein amid U.S. inflation. "It's definitely a risk...If I were a consumer, I'd be prepared for it, but it's not baked in the cake." pic.twitter.com/IehxU4wSo6 — Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) May 15, 2022 “If I were running a big company, I would be very prepared for it. If I was a consumer, I’d be prepared for it.” A recession is “not baked in the cake” and there’s a “narrow path” to avoid it, said the CEO who lost his job after infamously enabling Obama golfing buddy, former Malaysia PM Najib Razak, to loot billions from 1MDB. Blankfein noted that while some of the inflation “will go away” as supply chains unsnarl and Covid-19 lockdowns in China ease, “some of these things are a little bit stickier, like energy prices.” “How comfortable are we now to rely on those supply chains that are not within the borders of the United States and we can’t control?” Blankfein said. “Do we feel good about getting all our semiconductors from Taiwan, which is again, an object of China.” Bottom line: the question is not if but when the next recession hits, and not if but when the Fed responds with aggressive rates cuts and QE. The full Goldman notes are available to professional subs in the usual place. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/15/2022 - 20:10.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 15th, 2022

The Fed Can"t Fix The Economy, But It Can Break It

The Fed Can't Fix The Economy, But It Can Break It Authored by John Wolfenbarger via The Mises Institute, The Federal Reserve states that it “conducts the nation’s monetary policy to promote maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates in the U.S. economy.” However, let’s look at how well the Fed has done that job since its founding in 1913. Economy and Long-Term Interest Rates Since 1913, the US unemployment rate has ranged from 2.5 percent in the early 1950s to 25.0 percent during the Great Depression. Inflation has ranged from positive 24 percent to negative 16 percent. Inflation is currently 7.9 percent, well above the Fed’s 2 percent target. While the Fed has some influence over money supply, they have no control over money demand or how money is spent, which has a significant impact on employment and inflation. The Fed’s goal to “moderate long-term interest rates” below free market levels is a form of price fixing. Since price fixing never works for long, it is no wonder the Fed has been unsuccessful in this goal. Since 1913, ten-year Treasury rates have ranged from 0.5 percent in 2020 to 16 percent in 1981. Interest rates have been much more volatile than before the Fed, as shown below. Source: Chart courtesy of multpl.com, with annotations by BullAndBearProfits.com. Money Supply and Short-Term Interest Rates Maybe the Fed can’t control the economy, but at least they can control the money supply and short-term interest rates, right? Think again. The Fed controls the monetary base, which is currency plus bank deposits at the Fed. But the popular M2 money supply measure is 3.6 times larger than the monetary base, and the broader money supply is driven by the desire of commercial banks to lend and of people to borrow from them. The Fed has no control over that. The Fed also controls the federal funds rate, which is the interest rate at which commercial banks borrow and lend to each other overnight. But as shown below, the Fed follows market-driven interest rates, such as the two-year Treasury rate (red line), when setting the federal funds rate (black line), since they have no way of knowing where rates should be. Source: Chart courtesy of FRED, with annotations by BullAndBearProfits.com. The Fed’s Real Purpose The Fed’s real purpose is to enable banks to make loans by creating money out of thin air and then to bail them out when their loans go bad. It has been successful in that goal, as we saw with the bank bailouts during the Great Recession. As Murray N. Rothbard explained: Banks can only expand comfortably in unison when a central bank exists, essentially a governmental bank, enjoying a monopoly of government business, and a privileged position imposed by government over the entire banking system. The Fed’s other main purpose is to help the US government borrow. They have been very successful at this, as the government debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio has more than tripled in the past forty years to over 120 percent. The Fed Succeeds in Lowering Living Standards Two of the main negative consequences of Fed money creation are inflation and the boom-and-bust business cycle, both of which lower living standards significantly. Inflation raises living costs and erodes savings, while the business cycle wastes scarce resources by encouraging their allocation to bad investments. Since the Fed’s founding in 1913, the US dollar has lost 97 percent of its purchasing power. Furthermore, Fed policies helped engineer the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of 2008–09. Austrian business cycle theory explains how the business cycle is caused by banks creating money out of thin air, which leads to an unsustainable boom that eventually turns into a bust. The bust happens because the newly created money does not generate the scarce resources (land, labor, and capital) needed to complete all the projects businesses have undertaken with the newly created money. As Ludwig von Mises explained: The wavelike movement affecting the economic system, the recurrence of periods of boom which are followed by periods of depression is the unavoidable outcome of the attempts, repeated again and again, to lower the gross market rate of interest by means of credit expansion. Fed Predictions After reviewing the Fed’s failures, let’s see how successful Fed leaders have been at predicting the economy. Alan Greenspan was Fed chairman from 1987 to 2006. He presided over the 1987 stock market crash, the S&L (savings and loan) crisis, the early 1990s recession, the late 1990s tech bubble, the early 2000s recession, and the early to mid-2000s housing bubble. Naturally, the press called him “maestro” for his work at the Fed. Near the peak of the tech bubble in January 2000, Greenspan bragged about engineering a long economic expansion that he saw no signs of ending. As he said shortly before the NASDAQ stock index collapsed 80 percent and the early 2000s recession started: “There remain few evident signs of geriatric strain that typically presage an imminent economic downturn.” In response to the recession he did not see coming, Greenspan slashed the federal funds rate from 6.50 percent in 2000 to 1.00 percent in 2003, which helped fuel the housing bubble. Then Greenspan encouraged homeowners to take out adjustable-rate mortgages in early 2004, just before he raised the fed funds rate to 5.25 percent over the next two years, which triggered the housing bust. In 2007, Greenspan said this about banks lending to subprime borrowers: “While I was aware a lot of these practices were going on, I had no notion of how significant they had become until very late … I really didn’t get it until very late in 2005 and 2006.” At least Greenspan has been honest about the Fed’s inability to forecast the economy: “People don't realize that we cannot forecast the future. The number of mistakes I have made are just awesome.” Greenspan also admitted that the market is much larger and more powerful than the Fed: “The market value of global long-term securities is approaching $100 trillion [so these markets] now swamp the resources of central banks.” Ben Bernanke was Fed chairman from 2006 to 2014, so he presided over the Great Recession, the worst economic downturn since the 1930s up to that time. In 2002, in a speech titled “Deflation: Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn't Happen Here,” Bernanke bragged that the Fed’s legal right to create money out of thin air would prevent deflation: “The US government has a technology, called a printing press, that allows it to produce as many dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost … under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and, hence, positive inflation.” Naturally, given the Fed’s ability to control the economy, “it” did happen in 2009, with prices falling 2 percent in the wake of the Great Recession. In 2006, Bernanke dismissed the inverted yield curve, which is known by virtually all economists to be one of the best predictors of a recession: “I would not interpret the currently very flat yield curve as indicating a significant economic slowdown to come.” In June 2008, seven months into the Great Recession, Bernanke said: “The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.” Janet Yellen was Fed chair from 2014 to 2018, so she had less time to cause major damage. But true to form, she stated she had no idea the housing bust would lead to a major recession: “I didn't see any of that coming until it happened.” Jerome “Jay” Powell has been Fed chairman since 2018. He helped invert the yield curve in 2019 and has presided over the covid crash and recession, as well as the highest inflation rates in forty years. In early November 2021, when inflation was over 6.0 percent, Powell and the Fed were still calling inflation “transitory” and caused by covid and not the 40 percent increase in the money supply. By March 2022, with inflation rising 7.9 percent, Powell finally raised the fed funds rate by 0.25 percent, with plans to raise rates up to 2.75 percent by the end of 2023. Ominously, given his forecasting track record, Powell thinks he can raise rates that aggressively and achieve the elusive “soft landing” of slowing inflation without driving the economy into a recession, despite the already flattening yield curve. Conclusion The Federal Reserve cannot control the economy or even the money supply and interest rates. And Fed leaders clearly cannot predict the economy, even though the media and Wall Street hang on their every word. But the Fed can lower living standards by destroying the value of the dollar and causing the boom and bust cycle. Economic theory and economic history have proven that government central planning does not work in creating stability or prosperity. That includes centrally planned monetary policy. Tyler Durden Sun, 04/10/2022 - 17:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 10th, 2022

58 thoughtful gift ideas for friends under $100, from cult-favorite skincare to an adult coloring book

Buying gifts for friends is a thoughtful way to show them how much you care. Here are 58 gift ideas for your friend, all for less than $100. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Airbnb Whether it's your friend's birthday or you simply want to say thank you, they deserve the best. We rounded up 58 gifts, each under $100, that your special friend will treasure. Want more gift ideas? Check out all Insider Reviews gift guides here. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. Friends are the ones you rely upon, confide in, and plague with everything from menu choices to whether or not you should move across the country for a new job. So, when gifting occasions roll around, it can be difficult to find something adequately thoughtful to give to that important person — especially within the relatively affordable under-$100 range.To make things easier for you, we put together a list of unique, thoughtful gifts your friend would love to receive — all for less than $100.Below are 58 gifts under $100 your friends actually want:This list includes Sponsored Products that have been suggested by Function of Beauty. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*A portable, Bluetooth record playerAmazonVictrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Portable Suitcase Record Player, available at Amazon, $56.58If they love vintage goods, this record player is the perfect gift to add to their collection. The record player features built-in Bluetooth compatibility and a portable design that offers a modern twist on this retro staple.Customizable haircareFunction of BeautyCustom Shampoo and Conditioner, available at Function of Beauty, from $29.99Function of Beauty revolutionizes haircare by creating a custom line of shampoo and conditioner that's based on hair type and goals. They can choose the formula's color and fragrance as well as add personalized details like their name on the bottle. If they choose to subscribe, their first bottle will be 30% off and shipping is free. Read our full review of Function of Beauty here.*Sponsored by Function of BeautyA set of friendship lightsUrban OutfittersBrookstone Friendship Lamp Set, available at Urban Outfitters, $89.95If your close friend lives far away, let them know you're always thinking of them with this friendship light. Your friend will know you haven't forgotten them by tapping your light to instantly activate their twin light.A luxurious lavender scent perfumeNordstromYves Saint Laurent Libre Fragrance, available at Sephora, from $30A designer perfume like this Saint Laurent fragrance is a fitting gift for a friend who enjoys luxurious items. The floral fragrance's bold lavender scent appeals to the confident friend who's daring and always lives true to herself.A gold bracelet with her favorite football teamBaublebarNFL x Baublebar Gold Pisa Bracelet, available at Baublebar, $30Even if you don't share in your friend's enthusiasm for sports, this sports team bracelet shows you get them. Match the bracelet with their favorite team to help them be prepared for the next game day outfit.A relaxing weighted blanketAmazonLuna Weight Blanket, available at Amazon, $76.99For the friend who's constantly working or just needs a chance to unwind, a weighted blanket can make all the difference. We love this one because it's wallet-friendly but still made from quality materials like Oeko-Tex-certified cotton and natural glass beads. A scent tied to a favorite placeAmazonHomesick candle, available at Uncommon Goods, $34For your old college roommate or your friend who's taken a job across the country, this candle is a sweet reminder of home.A planner to help them stay organizedRifle Paper Co.2022 17-Month Large Planner, available at Rifle Paper Co., $28.80Your Type A friend will thank you for this planner and its neat, detailed layout. The 17-month design means they can finish out this year and be set for the new year. Plus, two pages of colorful stickers can help liven up the notes, weekly, and monthly planning pages.A neoprene makeup bag from a cool startup they'll loveDagne DoverHunter Toiletry Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $40Dagne Dover is one of our all-time favorite handbag companies, and most of that has to do with quality, style, and unmatched attention to detail. The Hunter bag comes in six colors of water-resistant neoprene. It has helpful features like elastic lip gloss loops, slip pockets and a removable zipper pouch for compacts and shadows, and a smooth lining that's easily cleaned. Zipper tabs can be unsnapped to adjust the shape, too. A playful earbud pouch for that one forgetful friendBagguPuffy Earbuds Case, available at Baggu, $15If you have a friend who tends to lose their AirPods or earbuds all too often, this unique case attaches straight onto their keyring. Plus, it's quilted, padded, and machine washable. The pouch fastens with Velcro and comes in fun colors and patterns like leopard print and stripe.A phone case and wallet all-in-oneNomadRugged Folio, available at Nomad, $69.95You might have a friend who doesn't like carrying around bulky wallets and would rather keep it simple and sleek. This leather folio case sports three card slots and one cash slot, and also has a new internal shock absorption bumper that protects against 10-foot drops. Best of all, it's made of Horween leather, which ages and appears more rugged as time passes. A Fitbit for the activity tracker newcomerFitbitFitbit Inspire 2, available at Walmart, $79.95If they're contemplating joining the Fitbit bandwagon, they'll appreciate this uncomplicated activity tracker that monitors their exercise, sleep, and heart rate. It's slimmer than its counterparts, but still lasts for 10 days, has 20+ different exercise modes, and receives basic smartphone notifications.A high-tech towel that's better for their hairAQUISAquis Lisse Luxe Long Hair Towel, available at Anthropologie, $30Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels have inspired a slew of rave reviews online, including one from our own team of reviewers.The towels are made from a proprietary fabric called Aquitex that's composed of ultra-fine fibers (finer than silk) that work to reduce the amount of friction the hair experiences while in its weakest state. It also prevents hygral fatigue — the stretching and swelling of wet hair that makes it vulnerable to frizz and damage — by cutting the hair's drying time by 50%.Their favorite specialty food straight from the sourceGoldbelly/InstagramOrder their favorite specialty foods using Goldbelly, from $27Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior's, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration. A book of witty, quirky postcardsAmazon/Business Insider'Friendship Maintenance: 30 Postcards to Say How Much You Freaking Care,' available at Amazon, $12.95"Friendship Maintenance" adds a more personal touch to the frequent check-ins you're probably already having with one another. The witty postcards weave in themes of friendship in a hilariously relatable way.A tie-dye kitAmazon/Business InsiderJust My Style Tie Dye Kit, available at Amazon, $6.09Tie-dye has made a resurgence: It's a socially distant (or virtual) activity that friends can enjoy together. They'll appreciate this affordable tie-dye kit that will provide them with enough dye for up to 12 projects.A gift card to a popular wine subscription clubWincGift Card, available at Winc, from $60Winc is a personalized wine club — and we think the best one you can belong to overall. Members take a wine palate profile quiz and then choose from the personalized wine suggestions. Each bottle has extensive tasting notes and serving recommendations online, and makes it easy to discover similar bottles. Gift her a Winc gift card, and she can take a wine palate profile quiz and get started with her own customized suggestions. A custom note with a surprise insideGreetabl/Business InsiderGreetabl Gift Box, available at Greetabl, from $15Greetabl is one of the Insider Reviews team's favorite modes of checking in on those we love. The customizable box includes a fun print, a spot for a personal message, and the selection of a small gift like Sugarfina treats or quirky pins. An upgrade to the classic travel pillowAmazonTrtl Pillow Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow, available at Amazon, $32.99One of the best gifts for frequent travelers is a genuinely supportive neck pillow. The super-soft fleece of the Trtl holds the neck and head in an ergonomic position during flight, and it's lightweight — weighing only about a half a pound — so it won't weigh them down too much. Read our full review of the pillow here. There's also a newer, slightly more expensive version that we like too. A hilarious collection of Tinder exchanges that, altogether, become one modern horror storyAmazon/Business Insider"Tinder Nightmares," available on Amazon, $14.95"Tinder Nightmares" is a modern horror story of Tinder exchanges organized by theme, with chapters such as Bad English, Broetry, Strange Requests, Sneak Attacks, and more. The Instagram account of the same name has nearly 2 million followers. But beware — like Tinder, this book is not for the faint of heart. A set of the best socks they'll ever wearBombasWomen's Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, $47.50Men's Original Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, from $47.50Bombas' ankle socks have extra blister tabs to prevent chafing, a honeycomb arch-support system to cradle the foot's arch, and a seamless toe that gets rid of the annoying bump that runs across the toes of most socks. Currently, you can save 20% off your first order with code COMFORT20.A three-month subscription to the book club that put "Gone with the Wind" on the mapBook of the MonthThree Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99This subscription gift was handcrafted for bookworms. Book of the Month has been around since 1926, and it's credited with the discovery of titles like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye." A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber's doorstep.If they're more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here).A makeup and skincare subscriptionBirchboxThree Month Subscription, available at Birchbox, $45Birchbox is a skincare and makeup subscription that sends tons of samples of new and cult-favorite products so subscribers can find products they love without committing to buying full-sized anything in the meantime. It's also a monthly excuse for them to treat themselves.An insulated stainless steel water bottle that keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 6 hoursAmazonDouble Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug (12 oz), available at Amazon, from $26.40This double-wall, vacuum insulated stainless steel mug is especially perfect for commuters who would rather drink hot coffee than room-temperature for the 45 minutes on the subway — or any other time. We're big fans, and it does a pretty incredible job of keeping cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to six hours. A gimmicky-seeming nail polish holder they'll actually wind up usingAmazon/Business InsiderTweexy Wearable Nail Polish Holder, available on Amazon, $9.99Finding a convenient spot to place an open bottle of sticky, vibrant, and fast-drying liquid while you paint your nails is not easy. This $10 nail polish holder looks gimmicky, but it's actually pretty useful. A funny adult coloring bookAmazonWine Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book, available at Amazon, $5.99Adult coloring has had a resurgence in recent years as a great de-stressor (even Kate Middleton is a fan). It turns out, though, that adult coloring is even more fun with adult beverages. Here's one that combines both. A brass and wood display box that's a bit cooler than the average picture frameArtifact UprisingBrass & Wood Display Box, available at Artifact Uprising, from $57Artifact Uprising's brass and hardwood Display Box is a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the traditional picture frame. They can showcase their favorite picture by sliding it into the front of the box, and the box itself can hold up to 50 five-inch by five-inch Square Prints inside.If you're just looking for prints, you can find those starting at $9 here.A renewing honey mask that warms up while it's on their faceSephoraHoney Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask, available at Amazon, from $38This intensely hydrating mask from beauty brand Farmacy is infused with antioxidants to leave the skin looking glowy and plump. It also physically warms up while on the face, so the self care feels a bit more tangible. A silk pillowcase for smoother hair and less breakageAmazonCelestial Silk 100% Silk Pillowcase, available at Amazon, $40.99This Celestial Silk pillowcase is one of the internet's hidden gems. It's nearly $40 on Amazon, but it gives you more silk per square inch than options twice the price at Sephora. It's made out of 100% Mulberry silk — one of the highest quality silks you can buy — and comes in more than 25 colors and three sizes: standard, queen, and king. It's the one I personally own, and it makes a big difference for frizzy hair. A poetry book that has become a phenomenonUrban Outfitters/Business InsiderMilk and Honey, available at Target, from $7.38Rupi Kaur's "Milk and Honey" is a New York Times bestseller and a small cultural phenomenon. It's a collection of poetry and prose dealing with love, loss, femininity, and survival. If they already have this, you may want to look into Cleo Wade's "Where to Begin" here.A yoga mat towel with skid-less technology made by a trusted companyAmazonManduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel, available at Amazon, from $58Manduka consistently makes some of the best yoga gear on the market, and its cult-favorite Yogitoes mat towels aren't an exception — they'd probably be the main response if you asked around yoga studios for a mat towel recommendation. They have patented skid-less technology that uses 100% silicone nubs, and it makes a big difference. Each Yogitoes towel is also made from at least eight recycled plastic water bottles, and the dyes used to make it are free of azo, lead, or heavy metal.A vitamin C serum developed by MIT scientists that keeps selling outMaeloveGlow Maker, available at Maelove, $29.95Maelove is a skincare company founded by a team of MIT grads (skincare obsessives, brain and cancer researchers, and chemical engineers) to make affordable, high-quality skincare accessible. The entire under-$30 line is supposedly great, but this $28 vitamin C serum (which people have likened to the multi-award-winning $166 C E Ferulic Serum) is the real showstopper — and it keeps selling out. I've tried it, and it does a great job of reducing hyperpigmentation, hydrating, and adding a "glow" to the skin.Read our full Maelove review here. A monogrammed leather passport caseLeatherologyStandard Passport Cover, available at Leatherology, from $50For the world traveler, adventure companion, or person who has a lot of places left to see before they're satisfied, this leather passport cover is one of the best mixes of quality for price you're bound to find. You can also personalize your gift further with a monogram (starting as an extra $10). Every time they use it, they'll think of you. A super soft $75 cashmere sweater from a sustainable startupNaadamThe Essential Cashmere Sweater, available at Naadam, $75This $75 cashmere sweater is one of the best I've worn, and it took me by surprise for $75. You can get it in either crew-neck or V-neck styles, unisex sizing, and 20 colors. In person, the cashmere is one of the softest I've felt.Plus, Naadam is a sustainable startup. They avoid toxic chemicals, invest in sustainable grazing practices, fund better vaccination programs for healthier goats, and use 100% clean energy to power production facilities. By cutting out middlemen, they pay nomadic herders about 50% more and charge about 50% less to customers without changing quality.A new book by the co-creator of "Broad City"Amazon/Business InsiderI Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff, available at Amazon, $12.44This book by Abbi Jacobson, co-creator of "Broad City", deals with love, loss, work, comedy, and identity. A soft, durable pair of slippers they'll want to live inNordstromUGG Ansley Water Resistant Slipper, available at Nordstrom, $100They're not a new name, but UGG slippers have stuck around for a very good reason: they're incredibly soft, durable, and made really well. The sole is sturdy enough to withstand walks to the mailbox, and the water-resistant material can take a little gross winter slush on the way there.If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, check out Minnetonka — we're big fans of their mix of price and quality, too.An award-winning at-home facialSephoraDrunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, available at Sephora, $80This now-legendary AHA and BHA at-home "facial" gently resurfaces the skin to remove built-up dead skin cells and reveal brighter, more even skin underneath. It's also won multiple notable beauty awards, including a Best of Beauty from Allure and Reader's Choice from InStyle in 2017. For more skincare products, check out the best luxury skincare on Amazon and best gifts from Sephora here.Popular leggings they can wear anywhereOutdoor VoicesOutdoor Voices Core 3/4 Leggings, available at Outdoor Voices, $88It seems like everyone and their best friend is talking about Outdoor Voices leggings, and these are the company's most sweat-friendly option. A card game to play with other friends to rehash favorite stories and learn some new onesAmazon/Business InsiderThe Voting Game Adult Card Game, available at Target, $19.99The Voting Game is basically a card game that gives you a funny prompt and invites you to anonymously answer "Who's the most likely to..." out of your friends. It's a great way to rehash your favorite memories and learn new stories.A mug with a "coffee reading" tarot-inspired themeSociety6/Business InsiderCoffee Reading, available at Society6, $16.15Perfect for the avid coffee drinker or casual fan of the occult, this ceramic mug made by the independent artists of Society6 is a fun — and useful — gift. They've also got pretty much every mug pattern you could want.A cult-favorite sleeping lip maskSephoraLaneige Lip Sleeping Mask, available at Sephora, $22Laneige's hyper-popular overnight lip mask smooths and moisturizes with vitamin C and antioxidants. Currently, it has over 14,000 reviews and a rating of 4.4-stars on Sephora. A cocktail recipe book that pairs music with good drinksAmazon/Business InsiderBooze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Amazon, $18.41Have a friend that loves music and a nice cocktail? This pairs both for a perfect combination every time. The guide includes music from 70 albums, ranging from the '50s to the '00s, with an accompanying A-side and B-side cocktail for each — all organized by mood. A tiny waffle makerAmazon/Business InsiderDash Mini Waffle Maker, available at Target, $9.99This mini waffle maker may seem more gimmick than substance, but it didn't garner 2,000+ reviews just for being pretty cute. It's compact for small kitchens and people who only want to make three waffles rather than buffet quantities, and it's really easy to clean.A screw-on top that turns a wine bottle into a glassAmazon/Business InsiderGuzzle Buddy Wine Bottle Glass, available on Amazon, $14.99If they're more of a "one bottle per person" vino drinker, why not cut out the middleman with this twist-on bottle-to-glass helper? The personal diary of icon Frida KahloAmazon"The Diary of Friday Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait", available at Amazon, $32In the last 10 years of her life, Friday Kahlo kept a journal full of thoughts, poems, illustrations, and dreams. This is it, and it's a particularly perfect gift for an artistic or feminist friend. Machine-washable sneakers they'll wear all the timeAllbirdsWool Runners, available at Allbirds, $110Soft, lightweight, breathable shoes that wick away moisture and can be tossed in a machine washer when they get dirty — what's not to love? A guard to keep away hot, messy splatterAmazon/Business InsiderFrywall 10 Splatter Guard, available at Sur La Table, $13.99A splatter guard gives you the benefit of an uncovered pan, minus the countertop cleaning and dodging of hot, popping oil.An elegant, unobtrusive diffuser that smells greatSnoweDiffuser, available at Snowe, $40Snowe's Diffuser has the advantage of looking more like home decor than a diffuser, but it also fills the room with a wonderful smell. Plus, the bottles of scent tend to last for months. Pick it up for a friend in five scent options that range from Speak Easy (leather, bitters, burnt cedar) to Pillow Talk (sandalwood, ginger, lavender). A beautiful candle that smells amazingOtherlandManor House Weekend Candle, available at Otherland, $36Otherland is a candle company started by Ralph Lauren's former art buyer, Abigail Cook Stone. If you want to give your friend a candle that burns for 55 hours, looks beautiful, and comes from an up-and-coming startup that they've probably seen (or coveted) before, this is a great option.Read our full Otherland review here.A Tile with a replaceable battery to help them find missing keys and walletsAmazonTile Pro with Replaceable Battery, 2 Pack, available at Target, $55.99Few gifts are going to be as useful as a Tile Pro with a replaceable battery. It'll help them find missing items like keys and wallets. An app on their phone can trigger the Tile to ring out so they can locate where they accidentally left their belongings. Luxurious bodycare productsNecessarieNécessaire The Body Wash, available at Sephora, $25Nécessaire is a line of bodycare products that use vitamins and plant-based oils. It was founded by Randi Christiansen, a former Estée Lauder vice president, and Nick Axelrod, a co-founder of Into the Gloss, the editorial site that preceded Glossier. Read our full Nécessaire review here.A cute plant in a ceramic pot delivered to their doorThe SillShop plants and accessories at The Sill, from $5A plant from The Sill will come in a small ceramic pot with a drainage hole and its own saucer. It comes potted in the company's potting mix and will be delivered to their doorstep. A rechargeable batteryAmazonAnker PowerCore 10000, available at Amazon, $34.99Anker's PowerCore is a powerful, compact external battery that can provide nearly three and a half iPhone 8 charges or two and a half Galaxy S8 charges. A subscription to K-beauty sheet masksFacetory/FacebookFacetory Gift Subscription Plan, available at Facetory, from $19.90Facetory is an affordable monthly subscription to various K-beauty sheet masks. You can opt to pay for one, three, six, nine, or 12 months at a time. A pretty leather wrap for taking chargers and cables on the goMark & GrahamLeather Charger Roll Up, available at Mark & Graham, from $24.99Mark & Graham's Leather Charger Roll Up is made from soft, supple leather and has three separate pockets to stash cables and chargers on the go. Get it monogrammed for free.A box of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolateAmazonChuao Chocolatier Share the Love 36-Piece Gift Set, available at Amazon, $52.99A box stuffed full of chocolate needs no introduction, but this one is a pretty good deal. The box comes with 36 mini bars of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolate, all made in small batches and free of artificial flavors. The 14 flavors range from sweet to savory, and each bar is only 60 calories. A ClassPass gift cardClass PassGift Card, available at ClassPass, choose your amountStart heading to more boutique fitness classes with your friend by making them easier and cheaper to attend. ClassPass lets you drop in to different specialized studios for $15 or less per class.A class or experience for you to take togetherAirbnbCheck out local Airbnb ExperiencesCheck out local GrouponsThrough Airbnb Experiences, you can book an experience like a pasta-making class, brewery tour, or local tour that the two of you can enjoy together. Plus, you can buy this gift as last-minute as you like.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 4th, 2022

Busting The Myth That The Fed Can Control Or Predict The Economy

Busting The Myth That The Fed Can Control Or Predict The Economy Submitted by Jon Wolfenbarger, Founder and CEO of Bull And Bear Profits, an investment website. The Federal Reserve states that it “conducts the nation’s monetary policy to promote maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates in the U.S. economy.” Let’s look at how well the Fed has done that job since its founding in 1913. Economy And Long-Term Interest Rates Since 1913, the US unemployment rate has ranged from 2.5% in the early 1950s to 25% during the Great Depression. Inflation has ranged from positive 24% to negative 16%. Inflation is currently 7.9%, well above the Fed’s 2% target. While the Fed has some influence over money supply, they have no control over money demand or how money is spent, which has a significant impact on employment and inflation. The Fed’s goal to “moderate long-term interest rates” below free market levels is a form of price fixing. Since price fixing never works for long, it is no wonder the Fed has been unsuccessful in this goal. Since 1913, 10-Year Treasury rates have ranged from 0.5% in 2020 to 16% in 1981. Interest rates have been much more volatile than before the Fed, as shown below. Source: Chart courtesy of multpl.com Money Supply And Short-Term Interest Rates Maybe the Fed can’t control the economy, but at least they can control the money supply and short-term interest rates, right? Wrong. The Fed controls the Monetary Base, which is currency plus bank deposits at the Fed. But the popular M2 money supply measure is 3.6 times larger than the Monetary Base. The broader money supply is driven by the desire of commercial banks to lend and people to borrow from them. The Fed has no control over that. The Fed also controls the Federal Funds Rate, which is the interest rate at which commercial banks borrow and lend to each other overnight. But as shown below, the Fed follows market driven interest rates, such as the 2-Year Treasury rate (red line), when setting the Federal Funds Rate (black line), since they have no way of knowing where rates should be. Source: Chart courtesy of FRED The Fed’s Real Purpose The Fed’s real purpose is to enable banks to make loans by creating money out of thin air and then bail them out when their loans go bad. It has been successful in that goal, as we saw with the bank bailouts during the Great Recession. As Murray N. Rothbard explained: “Banks can only expand comfortably in unison when a Central Bank exists, essentially a governmental bank, enjoying a monopoly of government business, and a privileged position imposed by government over the entire banking system.” The Fed’s other main purpose is to help the US government borrow. They have been very successful at this, as the government debt to GDP ratio has more than tripled in the past 40 years to over 120%. The Fed Succeeds In Lowering Living Standards Two of the main negative consequences of Fed money creation is inflation and the boom and bust business cycle, both of which lower living standards significantly. Inflation raises living costs and erodes savings, while the business cycle wastes  scarce resources allocated to bad investments. Since the Fed’s founding in 1913, the US dollar has lots 97% of its purchasing power. The Fed helped engineer the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Austrian Business Cycle Theory explains how the business cycle is caused by banks creating money out of thin air, which leads to an unsustainable boom that eventually turns into a bust, since newly created money does not create the scarce resources (land, labor and capital) needed to complete all the projects businesses have undertaken with the newly created money. As Ludwig von Mises explained: “The wavelike movement effecting the economic system, the recurrence of periods of boom which are followed by periods of depression is the unavoidable outcome of the attempts, repeated again and again, to lower the gross market rate of interest by means of credit expansion.” Fed Predictions Now that we’ve reviewed the Fed’s failures, let’s see how successful Fed leaders have been at predicting the economy. Alan Greenspan was Fed Chairman from 1987 to 2006. He presided over the 1987 stock market crash, the S&L crisis, the early 1990s recession, the late 1990s tech bubble, the early 2000s recession and the early/mid 2000s housing bubble. Naturally, the press called him “maestro” for his work at the Fed. Near the peak of the tech bubble in January 2000, Greenspan bragged about engineering a long economic expansion that he saw no signs of ending. As he said shortly before the NASDAQ stock index collapsed 80% and the early 2000s recession started: “[T]here remain few evident signs of geriatric strain that typically presage an imminent economic downturn.” In response to the recession he did not see coming, Greenspan slashed the Fed Funds rate from 6.5% in 2000 to 1% in 2003, which helped fuel the housing bubble. Then Greenspan encouraged homeowners to take out adjustable-rate mortgages in early 2004, just before he raised the Fed Funds rate to 5.25% over the next two years, which triggered the housing bust. In 2007, Greenspan said this about banks lending to subprime borrowers: “While I was aware a lot of these practices were going on, I had no notion of how significant they had become until very late…I really didn’t get it until very late in 2005 and 2006.” At least Greenspan has been honest about the Fed’s inability to forecast the economy: “People don't realize that we cannot forecast the future. The number of mistakes I have made are just awesome.” Greenspan also admitted that the market is much larger and more powerful than the Fed: “[T]he market value of global long-term securities is approaching $100 trillion [so these markets] now swamp the resources of central banks.” Ben Bernanke was Fed Chairman from 2006 to 2014, so he presided over the Great Recession, the worst economic downturn since the 1930s up to that time. In 2002, in a speech titled “Deflation: Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn't Happen Here”, Bernanke bragged that the Fed’s legal right to create money out of thin air would prevent deflation: “The US government has a technology, called a printing press, that allows it to produce as many dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost…under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and, hence, positive inflation.” Naturally, given the Fed’s ability to control the economy, “it” did happen in 2009, with prices falling 2% in the wake of the Great Recession. In 2006, Bernanke dismissed the inverted yield curve, which is known by virtually all economists to be one of the best predictors of a recession: “I would not interpret the currently very flat yield curve as indicating a significant economic slowdown to come.” In June 2008, seven months into the Great Recession, Bernanke said: “The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.” Janet Yellen was Fed Chair from 2014 to 2018, so she had less time to cause major damage. But true to form, she stated she had no idea the housing bust would lead to a major recession: “I didn't see any of that coming until it happened.” Jerome “Jay” Powell has been Fed Chairman since 2018. He helped invert the yield curve in 2019 and has presided over the Covid crash and recession, as well as the highest inflation rates in 40 years. In early November 2021, when inflation was over 6%, Powell and the Fed were still calling inflation “transitory” and caused by Covid and not the 40% increase in the money supply. By March 2022, with inflation rising 7.9%, Powell finally raised the Fed Funds rate by 0.25%, with plans to raise rates up to 2.75% by the end of 2023. Ominously, given his forecasting track record, Powell thinks he can raise rates that aggressively and achieve the elusive “soft landing” of slowing inflation without driving the economy into a recession, despite the already flattening yield curve. Conclusion The Federal Reserve cannot control the economy or even the money supply and interest rates. And Fed leaders clearly cannot predict the economy, even though the media and Wall Street hang on their every word. But the Fed can lower living standards by destroying the value of the dollar and causing the boom and business cycle. Economic theory and history has proven that government central planning does not work in creating stability or prosperity. That includes centrally planned monetary policy. Tyler Durden Sun, 04/03/2022 - 17:40.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 3rd, 2022

Meta (FB) Steps Forward in Metaverse With VNTANA Collaboration

Meta Platforms (FB) is collaborating with VNTANA to bring 3D advertising to Facebook and Instagram as a step toward the success of metaverse. Meta Platforms FB is collaborating with VNTANA to bring 3D advertising to Facebook and Instagram. VNTANA has been granted access to Meta’s AR publishing application programming interface to automate 3D technology for ads.This recent collaboration is a stepping stone for Meta to bring its advertising business to the metaverse. Brands will now be able to advertise 3D models of their products on Facebook and Instagram, creating a whole new way of interaction between customers and businesses.The recent collaboration by Meta showcases its commitment to bring the metaverse to life. The company has staked its future on building the metaverse, and has entered into strategic partnerships to achieve this goal.  Meta has previously collaborated with AR companies Modiface and PerfectCorp to specifically help beauty and cosmetic brands advertise their products using 3D models. Users can now interact with any product on Instagram and Facebook, and view the same from all angles.This provides a glimpse of what shopping will look like on metaverse with the arrival of modified AR glasses. Some aspects of the metaverse are already functional. Meta said that it will be spending over $10 billion in the next 10 years on further building the metaverse. The company is also investing heavily to develop a VR content ecosystem. The launch of the VR headsets, Rift and Oculus Quest, its first all-in-one headsets with no wires and full freedom of movement, is a step toward this goal.The company also previously entered into a multi-year partnership with Ray-Ban parent, EssilorLuxottica.  The two companies, in collaboration, released a pair of Ray-Ban branded smart glasses in 2021. Meta also unveiled Project Aria, which will help it develop the first generation of wearable AR devices.Per Bloomberg, the metaverse market, globally, is expected to reach $800 billion by 2024.Meta Platforms, Inc. Price and Consensus Meta Platforms, Inc. price-consensus-chart | Meta Platforms, Inc. QuoteWith 3.6 billion users across Meta’s different social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp & Messenger, the company is connected to roughly 75% of the internet, which will help it attain significant market share in the metaverse.Currently, Meta holds a Zacks Rank# 4 (Sell) due to increasing legal woes and global geopolitical unrest hampering top-line growth.  The company’s shares have tumbled 34.7% in the year-to-date period, underperforming the Zacks Internet – Software industry’s and the Zacks Computer and Technology sector’s declines of 29.5% and 12.3%, respectively.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Other Players in MetaverseMeta is not the only company to claim its stake in the virtual reality space, i.e., the metaverse.Microsoft MSFT recently acquired Activision Blizzard in an all-cash deal for $68.7 billion to competitively enter the world of gaming in the metaverse.Microsoft’s strategic plan to buy Activision has helped it become the third largest gaming company in the world and provided it with the expertise to claim its stake in the multimillion-dollar metaverse market.NVIDIA's NVDA best-in-class graphics rendering chips will undoubtedly be a core component of Meta’s Oculus visual functionality in the metaverse.NVIDIA is also gaining a decent market share among gaming service providers . Its strong lineup of advanced graphics cards has made it a favorite graphics card provider, and is expected to help the company enter the gaming world in the metaverse.Meta is facing stiff competition from its social media peer Snap SNAP in the virtual world. Snapchat is among the most preferred social media platforms of millennials and the Gen-Z.The real value of the company is not in its social media profile, but the AR features that attract users and content creators to its platform. Snap has recently acquired the neurotech company, NextMind, a Paris-based startup that develops non-invasive brain-computer interface technology using electronic devices. The acquisition is expected to help Snap realize its long-term AR goals and enter the metaverse. Just Released: Zacks' 7 Best Stocks for Today Experts extracted 7 stocks from the list of 220 Zacks Rank #1 Strong Buys that has beaten the market more than 2X over with a stunning average gain of +25.4% per year. These 7 were selected because of their superior potential for immediate breakout. See these time-sensitive tickers now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA): Free Stock Analysis Report Meta Platforms, Inc. (FB): Free Stock Analysis Report Snap Inc. (SNAP): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksMar 26th, 2022

Why YouTube Has Survived Russia’s Social Media Crackdown—So Far

The platform's popularity may have helped to shield it Six days after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the YouTube account of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny posted a new video. In a style part investigative journalism, part polemic, the video’s hosts report that one of President Vladimir Putin’s allies, Russian senator Valentina Matviyenko, owns a multimillion-dollar villa on the Italian seafront. The video contrasts the luxurious lifestyle of Matviyenko and her family with footage of dead Russian soldiers, and with images of Russian artillery hitting civilian apartment buildings in Ukraine. A voiceover calls the war “senseless” and “unimaginable.” A slide at the end urges Russians to head to squares in their cities to protest at specific dates and times. In less than a week, the video racked up more than 4 million views. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] For Russians, Navalny’s YouTube channel is a key source of information that contradicts the Kremlin line. It has more than 6.4 million subscribers and is managed by a group of his allies under self-imposed exile in Lithuania. It is a thorn in the side of President Vladimir Putin, and a tonic for a country where TV news is dominated by the misleading narrative that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is actually a peace-keeping exercise. Despite this, YouTube has largely been spared from the Kremlin’s crackdown on American social media platforms since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a month ago. On Monday, a court in Moscow banned Instagram within Russia, labeling its parent company, Meta, an “extremist” organization. Earlier in March, Russia blocked Twitter and Facebook, too, after the platforms placed restrictions on Russian state-backed media. Instagram was used by over 50% of Russian internet users, according to data provided to TIME by market research firm eMarketer. The app had been a particular venue for activism: Many Russian celebrities spoke out against the invasion of Ukraine in their Instagram stories, and Navalny’s Instagram page posted a statement criticizing the war, and calling on Russians to come out in protest. Read More: ‘It’s Our Home Turf.’ The Man On Ukraine’s Digital Frontline But YouTube, the most popular social media platform in Russia—used by more than 75% of the country’s internet users according to eMarketer—remains accessible, even though it is an even more popular outlet for opposition activists, and has leveled similar bans against Kremlin-funded media outlets. On March 11, YouTube’s parent company Google announced that it would block Russian state-backed media globally, including within Russia. The policy was an expansion of an earlier announcement that these channels would be blocked within the European Union. “Our Community Guidelines prohibit content denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events, and we remove content about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine that violates this policy,” Google said in a statement. “In line with that, effective immediately, we are also blocking YouTube channels associated with Russian state-funded media, globally.” The move upended years of status quo. YouTube always had the option to ban Russian state media outlets, which would have cut the Kremlin adrift from some of its most effective tools for spreading disinformation both within Russia and in the outside world. But the platform faced a dilemma. Russia’s government had repeatedly indicated that it would retaliate against any bans of Kremlin-funded media by banning YouTube entirely within the country. That could leave many millions of Russians cut off from independent news and content shared by opposition activists like Navalny’s team. (It would also effectively delete 75 million YouTube users, or some 4% of the platform’s global total—representing a small but still-significant portion of Google’s overall profits.) What emerged was a compromise, of sorts: YouTube and other social media companies would allow RT and Sputnik to remain on their platforms, and Russia would allow sites like YouTube and Instagram to keep operating in Russia. So after Google announced it was banning Kremlin-backed media on March 11, YouTube users in Russia braced for a retaliatory ban that would take YouTube offline. But such a ban has not yet materialized. Today, YouTube remains the most significant way for tens of millions of ordinary Russians to receive largely uncensored information from the outside world. Mikhail Svetlov—Getty ImagesMembers of the media take photographs of the screen showing Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny at the penal colony during the trial in Pokrov, Vladimir region, Russia on Feb. 15, 2022. Part of the reason for YouTube’s survival amid the crackdown is its popularity, experts say. “YouTube is by far and away the most popular social media platform in Russia,” says Justin Sherman, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s cyber statecraft initiative. The platform is even more popular than VK, the Russian-owned answer to Facebook. “When you’re talking about blocking something like Twitter, which is used by a far smaller, albeit influential subset of the Russian population, that’s a very, very different question to blocking access to the most popular internet platform in the entire country.” Twitter was used by 5% of Russia’s internet users before it was banned in the country, according to eMarketer. Still, Sherman says the situation is volatile, with Russia now more likely than ever before to ban YouTube. For an authoritarian government like Russia’s, “part of the decision to allow a foreign platform in your country is that you get to use it to spread propaganda and disinformation, even if people use it to spread truth and organize against you,” he says. “If you start losing the ability to spread misinformation and propaganda, but people can still use it to spread truth and organize, then all of a sudden, you start wondering why you’re allowing that platform in your country in the first place.” YouTube did not respond to a request for comment. Observers say that if Russia were to ban YouTube, it would be devastating for the country’s opposition movement. “YouTube especially has been really key for independent media and activists [in Russia] to publish their content,” says Natalia Krapiva, a Russian-speaking lawyer at the digital rights group Access Now. “It has been very influential to help people see the corruption of the government. If YouTube gets blocked, it’s going to be harder and harder for people to see that.” How the Kremlin weaponized YouTube On the same day as Navalny’s channel posted the video about Matviyenko, elsewhere on YouTube a very different spectacle was playing out. In a video posted to the channel of the Kremlin-funded media outlet RT, (formerly known as Russia Today,) a commentator dismissed evidence of Russian bombings of Ukrainian cities. She blamed “special forces of NATO countries” for allegedly faking images of bombed-out Ukrainian schools, kindergartens and other buildings. The video, along with the rest of RT’s channel, has now been removed from YouTube. But until it was banned on March 11, RT’s channel boasted of being the “most watched news network on YouTube,” claiming to have 10 billion cumulative YouTube views. It had more than 4.7 million subscribers on its main channel, and millions more across a network of others. Before they were banned from the platform, the YouTube channels of Kremlin-funded media were some of the most significant online distributors of Russian disinformation, according to Joan Donovan, an expert on disinformation at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center. “YouTube has, over the years, been a really important place for spreading Russian propaganda,” Donovan said in an interview with TIME days before YouTube banned Russian state-backed media. Read More: How Putin Is Losing at His Own Disinformation Game in Ukraine Despite its popularity, Google took only limited steps to tackle Russian state media before 2022, out of the belief that doing so would prompt retaliation that could impact its ability to remain a valuable tool for Russian civil society, says Sherman. But the company did bend to some international pressure. In 2018, YouTube started labeling videos from RT with a notice that they are “funded in whole or in part by the Russian government.” Still, Sherman says, “historically, Google has preferenced staying in the Russian market, and catering as needed to the Russian government to stay in the market.” In July 2021, the Russian government passed a law that would require foreign tech companies with more than 500,000 users to open a local office within Russia. (A similar law passed previously in India had been used by the government there to pressure tech companies to take down opposition accounts and posts critical of the government, by threatening employees with arrest.) Google complied, opening an office in Russia. Then, in September 2021, as protests mounted against electoral fraud in recent elections, a group of apparent agents, believed to be members of the Russian intelligence service, turned up at the house of Google’s most senior executive in Moscow, according to the Washington Post. The apparent agents reportedly demanded that Google take down an app designed by allies of imprisoned opposition leader Navalny to help coordination of protest voting. Within hours, Google removed the app from its app store. (Apple faced similar demands, and also removed the app from its app store.) The heightened risk to free expression in Russia Experts say that Russia’s ongoing crackdown on social media platforms heralds a significant shift in the shape of the Russian internet—and a potential end to the era where the Kremlin tolerated largely free expression on YouTube in return for access to a tool that allowed it to spread disinformation far and wide.   Konstantin Zavrazhin—Getty ImagesRussian Police officers detain a woman holding a poster that reads: “I do not want to kill anyone” during an unsanctioned protest rally against the military invasion on Ukraine, in Central Moscow, Russia on March,6,2022. The result, many fear, is a new system where the biggest losers will be the Russian opposition. “If Russians are cut off from access to YouTube, that would do enormous damage to Russian civil society,” Sherman says. “It would also push Russians more towards domestic platforms like VK, which are far more censored and far more surveilled by the Russian government than anything that the West is providing.” The only hope that many activists have left is that, amid a surging anti-war movement, Putin may not want to take the risk of banning YouTube, the most popular service on the Russian internet. But even so, the public response to such a move would be difficult to predict. “Non-politically active people also use YouTube,” Krapiva says. “If they have these services taken away from them, they might turn against the government. Or they might turn against the West.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeMar 23rd, 2022

Keurig (KDP) Looks Poised on Brand Strength Amid Supply Woes

Keurig (KDP) shows strength on strong demand for its brands, market share growth and robust price realization. Supply-chain disruptions continue to threaten. Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. KDP has been showing resilience on solid demand for its brand portfolio, robust market share gains, and in-market performances across categories and brands. The company remains poised to benefit from strength in the Packaged Beverages, Beverage Concentrates and Latin America Beverages segments. Volume/mix benefits and improved net price realization also bode well.However, we cannot ignore the headwinds arising from supply-chain disruptions, which have been plaguing the industry. Input cost inflation, labor shortages, rising transportation and logistics costs, and supply-chain disruptions have been threatening the margins. These are likely to keep affecting the company in the near term.Factors Aiding GrowthKeurig has been experiencing continued strength in the Packaged Beverages segment. It delivered robust top-line growth in the fourth quarter mainly due to solid volume/mix benefits from the Packaged Beverages segment. The segment reported sales growth of 17.1% in the fourth quarter. Segment sales rose 17% at cc, gaining from a favorable volume/mix of 10.3% and a higher net price realization of 6.7%. The segment benefitted from growth in CSDs, particularly Dr Pepper, Canada Dry, Sunkist, A&W, 7UP, CORE Hydration, Vita Coco, Clamato, Yoo-Hoo, and Bai and Squirt, as well as growth in Polar, Snapple and Mott's.KDP also witnessed a strong in-market performance in the fourth quarter. The company witnessed a dollar consumption increase of 12.6% across the cold beverage retail base, including growth in categories such as CSDs, premium unflavored water, apple juice, apple sauce, and coconut water. The key brands aiding growth were Dr Pepper, Sunkist, Canada Dry, A&W and Squirt CSDs, CORE Hydration and Evian, Vita Coco, Polar, and Mott's apple juice and apple sauce. On a two-year basis, the consumption of KDP’s cold beverages grew 27%.The company's Sunkist brand remained one of the leading fruit-flavored CSD brands, with double-digit consumption growth, followed by the solid performance in zero-sugar CSDs. The Dr Pepper brand is also performing well on robust consumption growth. The company's manufactured pods and tracked channels witnessed year-over-year market share growth of 3.4% in the quarter, driven by strength in partner brands, and KDP-owned and licensed brands. This somewhat offset sluggishness in private label pods.The dollar market share for pods manufactured by KDP advanced 83.5% in the fourth quarter. The company witnessed improvement in the away-from-home channel’s performance in the quarter. The retail consumption of single-serve pods manufactured by KDP rose 11.2% in IRi-tracked channels on a two-year basis.Driven by these, the company reported a strong fourth-quarter 2021, wherein the bottom line was in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate, while sales surpassed the same. Both metrics improved year over year. Results gained from a solid portfolio demand.Management also issued an encouraging 2022 view. The company expects net sales and bottom-line growth in the mid-single-digit range. Adjusted earnings are likely to be in the high-single digits in the second half of 2022.Near-Term HeadwindsLike others in the industry, Keurig continues to witness headwinds related to input cost inflation, labor shortages, rising transportation and logistics costs, and supply-chain disruptions, which are likely to persist in the near term. These, along with the adverse impacts of rising Omicron cases in the fourth quarter, acted as deterrents. Also, product unavailability due to supply-chain headwinds led to higher inventory.Management expects supply-chain challenges to be more pronounced in the first quarter of 2022 and improve in the other three quarters. Inflation is expected to hurt margins for most of 2022, with chances of a slight improvement in late 2022.Other Stocks Showing ResilienceWe have highlighted three other resilient companies in the beverage industry, namely The Coca-Cola Company KO, Fomento Economico Mexicano FMX and PepsiCo Inc. PEP.Coca-Cola, the Atlanta, GA-based global beverage giant, has been benefiting from its strategic transformation and ongoing recovery worldwide. Revenues gains from the investments and ongoing recovery in markets, where the pandemic-led disruptions are subsiding, have been key drivers.Strength across the majority of the markets, investments in marketplace, recovery in certain markets and the cycling of last year’s pandemic-led impacts have been aiding Coca-Cola’s volumes. KO provided an upbeat 2022 view. It is poised to gain from innovations and accelerating digital investments. However, pressures from higher supply-chain costs, including transportation and input costs, remain concerning. Higher marketing spends are also worrisome.Fomento Economico Mexicano, alias FEMSA, has exposure in various industries, including beverage, beer and retail, which gives it an edge over its competitors. FEMSA participates in the beverage industry through Coca-Cola FEMSA, the world’s largest franchise bottler for Coca-Cola products. In the beer industry, it enjoys a notable position with its 14.76% stake in Heineken, a leading brewer, with operations in 70 countries. The company operates in the retail space through the FEMSA Comercio subsidiary.FEMSA focuses on offering customers more options to make contactless purchases by intensifying digital and technology-driven initiatives across operations. It is also on track with its strategy of creating a national distribution platform in the United States through the expansion of its footprint in the specialized distribution industry.PepsiCo, one of the leading global food and beverage companies, has an edge over other beverage companies due to its exposure to the convenient food business. The company is benefiting from broad-based growth across categories and geographies. Volume growth and robust pricing gains, driven by strong realized prices across all segments, have been the key drivers.PepsiCo continues to benefit from investments in brands, go-to-market systems, supply chains, manufacturing capacity and digital capabilities to build competitive advantages. It is also gaining from the resilience and strength of global beverage and convenient food businesses. Looking into 2022, PEP expects to retain the strength and momentum witnessed in 2021. Just Released: Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 In addition to the investment ideas discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top picks for the entirety of 2022? From inception in 2012 through 2021, the Zacks Top 10 Stocks portfolios gained an impressive +1,001.2% versus the S&P 500’s +348.7%. Now our Director of Research has combed through 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank and has handpicked the best 10 tickers to buy and hold. Don’t miss your chance to get in…because the sooner you do, the more upside you stand to grab.See Stocks Now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report CocaCola Company The (KO): Free Stock Analysis Report Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A.B. de C.V. (FMX): Free Stock Analysis Report PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP): Free Stock Analysis Report Keurig Dr Pepper, Inc (KDP): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksMar 18th, 2022

Vail Resorts Reports Fiscal 2022 Second Quarter Results, Increases Quarterly Dividend, Provides Updated Fiscal 2022 Guidance and Announces Fiscal 2023 Employee Investments

BROOMFIELD, Colo., March 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE:MTN) today reported results for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 ended January 31, 2022 and provided the Company's ski season-to-date metrics through March 6, 2022, both of which were negatively impacted by COVID-19 and related limitations and restrictions. Highlights Net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. was $223.4 million for the second fiscal quarter of 2022 compared to net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. of $147.8 million in the same period in the prior year. The increase is primarily due to the greater impact of COVID-19 and related limitations and restrictions on results in the prior year. Net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. in the second quarter of fiscal year 2020 was $206.4 million. Resort Reported EBITDA was $397.9 million for the second fiscal quarter of 2022, compared to Resort Reported EBITDA of $276.1 million for the second fiscal quarter of 2021. The increase is primarily due to the greater impact of COVID-19 and related limitations and restrictions on results in the prior year. Resort Reported EBITDA for the second quarter of fiscal year 2020 was $378.3 million. Results improved in January and February relative to results through the peak holiday period, with season-to-date total skier visits up 2.8% and total lift revenue up 10.3% through March 6, 2022 compared to the fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period through March 8, 2020. Ancillary lines of business continue to experience decreased revenue versus the comparable period in fiscal 2020, particularly in food and beverage, given the disproportionate impact related to numerous operational restrictions related to COVID-19 and staffing challenges. The Company updated its fiscal 2022 guidance range and is now expecting Resort Reported EBITDA to be between $813 million and $837 million. The guidance range includes an estimated $13 million of Resort Reported EBITDA from the recently acquired operations of Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain resorts (together, the "Seven Springs Resorts") for the period from the transaction closing on December 31, 2021 through the end of the fiscal year, partially offset by $6 million of related acquisition and integration expenses. The Company is making investments in the guest experience for fiscal 2023 by significantly increasing compensation for seasonal frontline staff. For the 2022/2023 North American ski season, the Company will be increasing its minimum wage to $20 per hour, while maintaining all career and leadership wage differentials to provide a significant increase in pay to all of its hourly employees. The Company will also be making a substantial investment in its human resource department to support a return to full staffing and deliver a better employee experience. The increase in wages and the return to normal staffing levels will represent an approximately $175 million increase in expected labor expense in fiscal 2023 compared to fiscal 2022 expected labor expense. In addition, as previously announced, the Company is investing $327 million to $337 million of capital in calendar year 2022 to expand capacity at 14 resorts with 21 new lifts and a major terrain expansion for the upcoming season. The Company's Board of Directors approved an increase in the quarterly cash dividend to $1.91 per share beginning with the dividend payable on April 14, 2022 to shareholders of record as of March 30, 2022. Unless otherwise noted, the commentary on results for the three months ended January 31, 2022 includes the results of our recent acquisition of the Seven Springs Resorts prospectively from the acquisition date of December 31, 2021. Commenting on the Company's fiscal 2022 second quarter results, Kirsten Lynch, Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are pleased with our financial performance for the quarter. Visitation trends and demand for the experience at our resorts remain encouraging, particularly with destination guests, with results improving post-holidays as conditions improved, more terrain was opened and the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant receded. As expected, results for the quarter significantly outperformed results from the prior year, due to the greater impact of COVID-19 and related limitations and restrictions on results in the prior year period. "The 2021/2022 North American ski season got off to a slow start. The confluence of storm cycles, staffing challenges and the spike in Omicron variant cases created challenges through the holiday period impacting our resorts' ability to fully open terrain as planned and negatively impacting the guest experience during that time. Despite numerous measures taken ahead of the season, including an investment in wages, available staffing was below targeted levels heading into the holidays, consistent with challenges faced by the broader travel and leisure industry at that time. During the holidays, COVID-19 cases associated with the Omicron variant dramatically accelerated, impacting both guest travel plans and staffing exclusions, despite having a vaccinated workforce. At some resorts, more than 10% of our employees were unable to work due to COVID-19 at one time. To address these challenges, the Company increased hourly compensation during the holidays and for the remainder of the ski season at a cost of $20 million in fiscal 2022. "Following the holiday period, the experience across our resorts improved markedly, with better snowfall, a stabilization and ultimately reduction of cases of COVID-19 and overall better staffing, allowing us to open terrain across our resorts that was close to normal levels for that time period. Throughout the quarter, we experienced relative strength in destination visitation and lift ticket sales, particularly at our western U.S. ski resorts, which exceeded our expectations in January in particular. Whistler Blackcomb was, as anticipated, disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 related travel restrictions, creating challenging results for U.S. destination and international visitation to the resort. Excluding the Seven Springs Resorts, total visitation for the quarter increased 2% compared to the second fiscal quarter of 2020. "Relative to the second fiscal quarter of 2020, our ancillary lines of business experienced revenue declines, particularly in food and beverage, which was disproportionately impacted by numerous operational restrictions associated with COVID-19 and overall staffing challenges. Resort net revenue for the second fiscal quarter of 2022 decreased 2% relative to the comparable period in fiscal year 2020, primarily as a result of the headwinds in our ancillary lines of business and approximately $33 million of pass revenue that would have been recognized in the second fiscal quarter of 2022, but was deferred to the third fiscal quarter as a result of delayed openings for a number of our resorts. Our lodging business experienced strong results during the quarter, with average daily rates ("ADR") exceeding our expectations, partially offset by lower than expected occupancy rates, particularly during the early season. "Relative to the second fiscal quarter of 2020, Resort Reported EBITDA increased 5% despite the challenging early season conditions and COVID-19 related dynamics. Resort Reported EBITDA margin for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 was 43.9%, an increase from 40.9% in the second quarter of fiscal 2020." Season-to-Date Metrics through March 6, 2022 & Interim Results Commentary The Company reported certain ski season metrics for the period from the beginning of the ski season through March 6, 2022, compared to each of the two prior year periods through March 7, 2021 and March 8, 2020, respectively. Given the significant impacts of COVID-19 in the prior year period, including significant capacity restrictions that limited skier visits and ancillary revenue, the Company is also providing metrics relative to the comparable fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period, which was prior to our announcement to close our resorts on March 15, 2020 for the remainder of the 2019/2020 season. The reported ski season metrics are for our North American destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas, and exclude the results of our recently acquired Seven Springs Resorts and our Australian ski areas in all periods. The reported ski season metrics include growth for season pass revenue based on estimated fiscal year 2022 North American season pass revenue compared to both fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2020 North American season pass revenue. The data mentioned in this release is interim period data and is subject to fiscal quarter end review and adjustments. Season-to-date through March 6, 2022, total skier visits were up 11.7% compared to the prior year season-to-date period and up 2.8% compared to the fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period. Season-to-date total lift ticket revenue, including an allocated portion of season pass revenue for each applicable period, was up 21.0% compared to the prior year season-to-date period and up 10.3% compared to the fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period. Season-to-date ski school revenue was up 60.2% and dining revenue was up 75.7% compared to the prior year season-to-date period. Relative to the comparable period in fiscal year 2020, ski school revenue and dining revenue were down 8.9% and down 27.0%, respectively. Retail/rental revenue for North American resort and ski area store locations was up 40.7% compared to the prior year season-to-date period, and down 2.8% versus the comparable season-to-date period in fiscal year 2020. Commenting on the season-to-date metrics, Lynch said, "Company performance has continued to improve throughout the post-Christmas period, with particular strength in destination visitation and lift ticket sales. Despite significant growth of our pass program this year, visitation for the season-to-date period was only modestly up 2.8% compared to fiscal 2020, given the Company's strategy to shift lift ticket guests into an advance commitment pass product. Whistler Blackcomb was negatively impacted by COVID-19 related travel restrictions, creating challenging results for U.S. destination and international visitation to the resort. The ancillary lines of business continue to experience revenue declines, particularly in food and beverage, which is disproportionately impacted by numerous operational restrictions associated with staffing and COVID-19." Lynch continued, "It is important to highlight that our season pass unit growth of 47% for fiscal year 2022 created significant revenue stability in a period with challenging early season conditions and COVID-19 impacts. The growth in pass units did not drive dramatic increases in visitation, as the Company is shifting lift ticket guests into advance commitment products. In fact, the growth we saw in visitation in the period ending March 6, 2022, compared to fiscal 2020, occurred on weekdays and non-holiday periods, which were up approximately 9% in visits, compared to weekend and holiday periods, which were approximately flat in visits. We also saw peak daily visitation at our resorts during the period, very consistent with previous years. For the season-to-date period ending March 6, 2022, 69% of our visits came from season pass holders compared to 56% of visits in the same period in fiscal year 2020. We remain committed to our strategy to move lift ticket purchasers into advance commitment products, which offers benefits to our guests, and stability to our employees, our communities and our Company. Operating Results A more complete discussion of our operating results can be found within the Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations section of the Company's Form 10-Q for the second fiscal quarter ended January 31, 2022, which was filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The following are segment highlights: Mountain Segment Total lift revenue increased $90.8 million, or 21.1%, compared to the same period in the prior year, to $521.6 million for the three months ended January 31, 2022, primarily due to an increase in pass product revenue and an increase in non-pass lift ticket purchases. Pass product revenue, although primarily collected prior to the ski season, is recognized in the Consolidated Condensed Statements of Operations throughout the ski season on a straight-line basis using the skiable days of the season to date relative to the total estimated skiable days of the season. Challenging early season conditions during the early portion of the 2021/2022 North American ski season resulted in delayed openings for a number of our resorts and, as a result, we expect to recognize approximately $33 million of pass revenue during the three months ending April 30, 2022 that would have otherwise been recognized during the three months ended January 31, 2022. Ski school revenue increased $35.7 million, or 63.3%, dining revenue increased $21.8 million, or 67.7%, retail/rental revenue increased $36.7 million, or 40.7%, and other revenue increased $7.4 million, or 22.7%, each primarily due to fewer COVID-19 related limitations and restrictions on our North American winter operations as compared to the prior year, as well as an increase in demand over the prior year. Operating expense increased $86.1 million, or 23.9%, which was primarily attributable to increased variable expenses associated with increases in revenue, and the impact of cost discipline efforts in the prior year associated with lower levels of operations, including limitations, restrictions and closures resulting from COVID-19. Mountain Reported EBITDA increased $106.0 million, or 37.5%, for the second quarter compared to the same period in the prior year, which includes $5.4 million of stock-based compensation expense for the three months ended January 31, 2022 compared to $5.5 million in the same period in the prior year. Lodging Segment Lodging segment net revenue (excluding payroll cost reimbursements) for the three months ended January 31, 2022 increased $29.8 million, or 73.9%, as compared to the same period in the prior year, primarily as a result of fewer COVID-19 related limitations and restrictions as compared to the prior year, as well as an increase in demand and ADR compared to the prior year. Lodging Reported EBITDA for the three months ended January 31, 2022 increased $15.8 million, or 244.6%, for the second quarter compared to the same period in the prior year, which includes $1.0 million of stock-based compensation expense for both the three months ended January 31, 2022 and 2021. Resort - Combination of Mountain and Lodging Segments Resort net revenue increased $222.0 million, or 32.4%, compared to the same period in the prior year, to $906.4 million for the three months ended January 31, 2022. Resort Reported EBITDA was $397.9 million for the three months ended January 31, 2022, an increase of $121.8 million, or 44.1%, compared to the same period in the prior year, which includes $2.6 million of acquisition and integration related expenses which are recorded within Mountain other operating expense. Total Performance Total net revenue increased $221.9 million, or 32.4%, to $906.5 million for the three months ended January 31, 2022 as compared to the same period in the prior year. Net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. was $223.4 million, or $5.47 per diluted share, for the second quarter of fiscal 2022 compared to net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. of $147.8 million, or $3.62 per diluted share, in the second fiscal quarter of the prior year. Additionally, fiscal 2022 second quarter net income included the after-tax effect of acquisition and integration related expenses of approximately $2.0 million. Return of Capital Commenting on capital allocation, Lynch said, "Our liquidity position remains strong. Our total cash and revolver availability as of January 31, 2022 was approximately $2.0 billion, with $1.4 billion of cash on hand, $417 million of U.S. revolver availability under the Vail Holdings Credit Agreement and $214 million of revolver availability under the Whistler Credit Agreement. As of January 31, 2022, our Net Debt was 2.1 times trailing twelve months Total Reported EBITDA. We are pleased to announce that our Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend on Vail Resorts' common stock of $1.91 per share. The dividend will be payable on April 14, 2022 to shareholders of record as of March 30, 2022. Additionally, a Canadian dollar equivalent dividend on the exchangeable shares of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. will be payable on April 14, 2022 to shareholders of record as of March 30, 2022. The exchangeable shares were issued to certain Canadian persons in connection with our acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. We will continue to be disciplined stewards of our capital and remain committed to prioritizing investments in our guest and employee experience, high-return capacity expanding capital projects, strategic acquisition opportunities and returning capital to our shareholders through our quarterly dividend and share repurchase programs." Commitment to our Employees and Guests Commenting on the Company's investments for the 2022/2023 ski season, Lynch said, "As we turn our attention to the 2022/2023 ski season and beyond, the Company will be making its largest ever investment in both its employees and its resorts, to ensure we continue to deliver our Company mission of an Experience of a Lifetime. The experience of our employees and guests is core to our business model, and the Company intends to use its financial resources and the stability it has created through its season pass program to continue to aggressively reinvest to deliver that experience. We believe our business model allows us to make these investments and achieve our short and long-term financial growth objectives." Employee Investments Commenting on the employee experience, Lynch said, "Our employees are the core of Vail Resorts' mission of creating an Experience of a Lifetime. We are pleased to announce a significant investment in our employees for next winter season, with an increase in the minimum hourly wage offered across all 37 of our North American resorts to $20 per hour for all U.S. employees and C$20 per hour for all Canadian employees, and an increase in wage rates for hourly employees as we maintain all leadership and career stage differentials. Roles that have specific experiences or certification as prerequisites, such as entry-level patrol, commercial drivers, and maintenance technicians will start at $21 per hour. Tipped employees will be guaranteed a minimum of $20 per hour. The Company will also be assessing targeted increases, beyond inflation, for our salaried employees and will be making a significant investment in our human resource department to ensure the right level of employee support, development and recruiting. Talent is our most important asset and our strategic priority at all levels of the Company and we expect these investments will be an important step to enhance the experience for our employees through increased hiring, retention and talent development. Our employee investments are intended to help us achieve normal staffing levels, and in turn, deliver an outstanding guest experience. The increase in wages and the return to normal staffing levels will represent an approximately $175 million increase in expected labor expense in fiscal 2023 compared to fiscal 2022 expected labor expense, including inflationary adjustments." Capital Investments Regarding calendar year 2022 capital expenditures, Lynch said, "We remain dedicated to delivering an exceptional guest experience and will continue to prioritize reinvesting into the experience at our resorts. We are committed to continually increasing capacity through lift, terrain and food and beverage expansion projects and are making a significant one-time incremental investment this year to accelerate that strategy. As previously announced on September 23, 2021, we are excited to be proceeding with our ambitious capital investment plan for calendar year 2022 of approximately $315 million to $325 million across our resorts, excluding one-time investments related to integration activities, employee housing development projects and real estate related projects. "The plan includes approximately $180 million for the installation of 21 new or replacement lifts across 14 of our resorts and a transformational lift-served terrain expansion at Keystone. In addition to the two brand new lift configurations at Vail and Keystone, the replacement lifts will collectively increase lift capacity at those lift locations by more than 45%. All of the projects in the plan are subject to regulatory approvals and expected to be completed in time for the 2022/2023 North American winter season.  "The core capital plan is approximately $150 million above our typical annual capital plan, based on inflation and previous additions for acquisitions, and includes approximately $20 million of incremental spending to complete the one-time capital plans associated with the Peak Resorts and Triple Peaks acquisitions and $3 million for the addition of annual capital expenditures associated with the Seven Springs Resorts.   "We continue to remain highly focused on developing and leveraging our data-driven approach to marketing and operating the business. Our planned investments include network-wide scalable technology that will enhance our analytics, e-commerce and guest engagement tools to improve our ability to target our guest outreach, personalize messages and improve conversion. We will also be investing in broader self-service capabilities to improve guests' online experience and engagement. In addition, we have announced a $4 million capital investment plan in Vail Resorts' Commitment to Zero initiative, which includes targeted investments in high efficiency snowmaking, heating and cooling infrastructure and lighting to further improve our energy efficiency and make meaningful progress toward our 2030 goal. "We plan to spend approximately $9 million on integration activities related to the recently acquired Seven Springs Resorts. Including one-time investments related to integration activities and $3 million associated with real estate related projects, our total capital plan is expected to be approximately $327 million to $337 million. Including our calendar year 2022 capital plan, Vail Resorts will have invested over $2 billion in capital since launching the Epic Pass, increasing capacity, improving the guest experience and creating an integrated resort network." Outlook Commenting on fiscal 2022 guidance, Lynch said, "Despite the challenging start to the season through the holidays, we have increased the midpoint of our Resort Reported EBITDA guidance as compared to our original guidance, demonstrating the resilience of our business model and the benefits of our advance commitment strategy. The update to guidance is primarily driven by the strong demand from destination guests at our western U.S. resorts, particularly with regard to lift ticket sales, that we expect will continue through the remainder of the season and the contribution from the Seven Springs Resorts. Additionally, our Lodging business is expected to outperform our original expectations in the remainder of the year with a strong outlook on both occupancy and ADR across our properties and the addition of the Seven Springs Resorts. The outperformance is partially offset by the challenging U.S. destination and international visitation trends at Whistler Blackcomb, the $20 million investment in front-line staff bonuses, increased wages for our summer operations and the inclusion of an estimated $6 million in acquisition and integration related expenses specific to the Seven Springs Resorts. We now expect net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. for fiscal 2022 to be between $304 million and $350 million, and Resort Reported EBITDA for fiscal 2022 to be between $813 million and $837 million. We estimate Resort EBITDA Margin for fiscal 2022 to be approximately 32.9%, using the midpoint of the guidance range. The updated outlook for fiscal year 2022 assumes normal conditions and operations across our resorts for the remainder of the ski season and no incremental travel or operating restrictions associated with COVID-19 that could negatively impact our results, including for our Australian resorts in the fourth quarter. The guidance assumes an exchange rate of $0.79 between the Canadian Dollar and U.S. Dollar related to the operations of Whistler Blackcomb in Canada and an exchange rate of $0.72 between the Australian Dollar and U.S. Dollar related to the operations of Perisher, Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia." Commenting on the outlook for fiscal 2022, Lynch said, "There are a number of dynamics related to COVID-19 and unusual weather that are negatively impacting fiscal 2022 that are important to highlight as we begin to plan for fiscal 2023. All of the estimates below assume normal conditions throughout our ski seasons, continued strength in consumer demand, consistent economic dynamics relative to what exists today and no material ongoing impacts from COVID-19. Travel trends at Whistler Blackcomb, our Australian resorts and our group business were all materially, negatively impacted by COVID-19 in fiscal 2022, and early season results across our resorts were depressed with challenging snowfall and conditions. Returning to normalized levels would result in estimated incremental Resort Reported EBITDA of approximately $100 million in fiscal 2022; The Seven Springs Resorts did not have a full year of operating results, and was impacted by acquisition and integration related expenses. Full year results with no acquisition or integration related expenses would result in estimated incremental Resort Reported EBITDA of approximately $7 million in fiscal 2022; Our ancillary businesses were capacity constrained in fiscal 2022 by staffing and, in the case of dining, by operational restrictions associated with COVID-19. Returning our ancillary business to normalized levels would result in estimated incremental Resort Reported EBITDA of approximately $75 million in fiscal 2022, which includes the incremental revenue and operating expense associated with normal capacity but excludes incremental labor expense. The normalized labor expense for the ancillary businesses is included in the approximate $175 million labor investment. Offsetting the estimated $182 million of expected favorable Resort Reported EBITDA impact from returning the business to normal levels noted above relative to projected fiscal 2022 results is the approximate $175 million labor increase from fiscal 2022 to fiscal 2023 that is expected to be necessary to return the Company to normal staffing levels given the staffing shortages in fiscal 2022 and the current labor market dynamics in our resort communities. The estimates above do not take into account any fiscal 2023 projections for volume, price or expense growth, which will be evaluated and incorporated in our full year fiscal 2023 guidance that we plan to outline in September 2022. The following table reflects the forecasted guidance range for the Company's fiscal year ending July 31, 2022, for Reported EBITDA (after stock-based compensation expense) and reconciles such Reported EBITDA guidance to net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. Fiscal 2022 Guidance (In thousands) For the Year Ending July 31, 2022 (6) Low End High End Range Range Net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. $                304,000 $                350,000 Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests 21,000 15,000 Net income 325,000 365,000 Provision for income taxes (1) 67,000 76,000 Income before provision for income taxes 392,000 441,000 Depreciation and amortization 254,000 248,000 Interest expense, net 149,000 143,000 Other (2) 13,000 6,000 Total Reported EBITDA $                808,000 $                838,000 Mountain Reported EBITDA (3) $                783,000 $                807,000 Lodging Reported EBITDA (4) 28,000 32,000 Resort Reported EBITDA (5) 813,000 837,000 Real Estate Reported EBITDA (5,000) 1,000 Total Reported EBITDA $                808,000 $                838,000 (1) The provision for income taxes may be impacted by excess tax benefits primarily resulting from vesting and exercises of equity awards. Our estimated provision for income taxes does not include the impact, if any, of unknown future exercises of employee equity awards, which could have a material impact given that a significant portion of our awards are in-the-money. (2) Our guidance includes certain known changes in the fair value of the contingent consideration based solely on the passage of time and resulting impact on present value. Guidance excludes any change based upon, among other things, financial projections including long-term growth rates for Park City, which such change may be material. Separately, the intercompany loan associated with the Whistler Blackcomb transaction requires foreign currency remeasurement to Canadian dollars, the functional currency of Whistler Blackcomb. Our guidance excludes any forward looking change related to foreign currency gains or losses on the intercompany loans, which such change may be material. (3) Mountain Reported EBITDA also includes approximately $21 million of stock-based compensation. (4) Lodging Reported EBITDA also includes approximately $4 million of stock-based compensation. (5) The Company provides Reported EBITDA ranges for the Mountain and Lodging segments, as well as for the two combined. The low and high of the expected ranges provided for the Mountain and Lodging segments, while possible, do not sum to the high or low end of the Resort Reported EBITDA range provided because we do not expect or assume that we will hit the low or high end of both ranges. (6) Guidance estimates are predicated on an exchange rate of $0.79 between the Canadian Dollar and U.S. Dollar, related to the operations of Whistler Blackcomb in Canada and an exchange rate of $0.72 between the Australian Dollar and U.S. Dollar, related to the operations of our Australian ski areas. Earnings Conference Call The Company will conduct a conference call today at 5:00 p.m. eastern time to discuss the financial results. The call will be webcast and can be accessed at www.vailresorts.com in the Investor Relations section, or dial (800) 289-0720 (U.S. and Canada) or (323) 701-0160 (international). A replay of the conference call will be available two hours following the conclusion of the conference call through March 28, 2022, at 8:00 p.m. eastern time. To access the replay, dial (888) 203-1112 (U.S. and Canada) or (719) 457-0820 (international), pass code 9288951. The conference call will also be archived at www.vailresorts.com. About Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE:MTN) Vail Resorts, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is the leading global mountain resort operator. Vail Resorts' subsidiaries operate 40 destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek,.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMar 14th, 2022

Abcam Plc Results for the 12- and 18-month periods ended 31 December 2021

Growing demand for Abcam's portfolio of in-house products drives calendar 2021 revenues up by 22% at constant exchange rates Acquisition of BioVision completed 26 October 2021 CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom, March 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Abcam plc (NASDAQ:ABCM, AIM: ABC)) (‘Abcam', the ‘Group' or the ‘Company'), a global leader in the supply of life science research tools, today announces its final results for the 18-month period ended 31 December 2021 (the ‘period'). The Group's accounting reference date changed from 30 June to 31 December during the year1, therefore these financial statements report on both a 12- and 18-month period. SUMMARY PERFORMANCE £m, unless stated otherwise   12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)(‘CY2021') 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)(‘CY2020')   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited) Revenue   315.4 269.3   462.9 Adjusted gross profit margin*, %   72.2% 70.0%   71.8% Reported operating profit   7.1 1.0   24.4 Adjusted operating profit**   60.4 50.6   95.5 Adjusted operating margin, %   19.2% 18.8%   20.6% Share-based payments related to pre-CY2021 schemes   (12.9) (13.3)   (22.0) Like-for-like adjusted operating profit (post share-based payments related to pre-CY2021 schemes)***   47.5 37.3   73.5 Like-for-like adjusted operating margin***, %   15.1% 13.9%   15.9% Net (Debt) / Cash****   (24.1) 211.9   (24.1) * Excludes the amortisation of the fair value of assets relating to the inventory acquired in connection with the acquisition of BioVision. ** Adjusted figures exclude impairment of intangible assets, systems and process improvement costs, acquisition costs, amortisation of fair value adjustments, integration and reorganisation costs, amortisation of acquisition intangibles, share-based payments and employer tax contributions thereon, the tax effect of adjusting items and credits from patent box claims. Such excluded items are described as ‘adjusting items'. Further information on these items is shown in note 4 to the consolidated financial statements. *** In previous reporting periods, share-based payments have not been included within adjusting items. With the approval of the Profitable Growth Incentive Plan (‘PGIP') during CY2021, management considers it to be more appropriate and more consistent with its closest comparable companies to include all share-based payments in adjusting items. To aid comparison with our previous presentation of results, we have included the adjusted operating margin in the table above on a like-for-like basis, excluding this change (‘Like-for-like'). **** Net Cash comprises cash and cash equivalents less borrowings. CY2021 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS1,2 Revenue growth of +22% (+17% reported) at constant exchange rates, compared to CY2020, including a 1%pt contribution from the acquisition of BioVision +38% total in-house CER revenue growth (including Custom Products & Licensing3 and   £2.6m of incremental revenue from BioVision) (+32% reported) Revenue from in-house products and services contributed 61% of total revenue (including Custom Products & Licensing3 and £2.6m of incremental revenue from BioVision) Adjusted2 gross margin increased by over 200 basis points to 72.2% (CY2020: 70.0%), benefiting from the contribution of higher margin in-house products and volume leverage resulting from the increase in revenue Adjusted2 operating profit of £60.4m (excluding share-based payments), equating to an adjusted operating margin of 19.2% (CY2020: 18.8%) Adjusted2 operating margin on a like-for-like4 basis improved over 300 basis points to 16.5% in H2 '21 (Jul-Dec), from 13.3% in H1 '21 (Jan-Jun) Statutory reported operating profit increased to £7.1m from £1.0m in CY2020 Net cash inflow from operating activities increased to £62.9m (CY2020: £58.9m) BUSINESS HIGHLIGHTS Focus on serving customers' needs globally as research activity levels continued to normalise and demand for Abcam products increased Positive customer transactional Net Promotor Score ('tNPS') of +56 (CY2021) and product satisfaction rates at all-time highs Completed the acquisition of BioVision, Inc (‘BioVision'), a leading innovator of biochemical and cell-based assays, in October 2021, for cash consideration of $340m (on a cash free, debt free basis) High employee engagement, with the business ranked in the Top 5 in the Glassdoor UK Employees' Choice Awards in January 2022, for the second year running Strengthened and expanded leadership in commercial and operational teams with senior hires in Commercial, Brand, China, and Supply Chain Expanded the Group's global presence, with the opening of new and enlarged sites in China, the US (Massachusetts, California, Oregon), Singapore, and Australia Upgraded supply chain systems at three locations, implemented new data architecture, and began transition to a new e-commerce platform, with completion of the digital transformation due in 2022 Completed the secondary US listing on Nasdaq's Global Market in October 2020 (supplementing existing listing on AIM on the London Stock Exchange) Expanded Asia, digital, and life science industry experience on the Board of Directors, with the appointments of Bessie Lee, Mark Capone and Sally Crawford, as Non-Executive Directors SHARE TRADING, LIQUIDITY AND LISTING Following our listing on Nasdaq in October 2020, the number of Abcam shares traded as ADSs on Nasdaq has doubled. While only 10% of our shares trade in the US market, it represents 25% of liquidity The Board continues to review options to increase share liquidity and intends to consult with shareholders on these options in due course CY2022 GUIDANCE Global lab activity continues to recover, though some uncertainty remains CY2022 trading performance YTD is in line with our expectations Expect total CER5 revenue growth of c.20% (including BioVision) with mid-teens organic CER revenue growth Expect continued adjusted gross margin improvement from the contribution of higher margin in-house products and full year impact of the BioVision acquisition Expect total adjusted operating cost growth (including depreciation and amortisation) at mid-teens percentage, as we slow rate of investment and leverage recent investments LONG TERM GOALS TO CY2024 CY2024 revenue goal target range increased by £25m to £450m-£525m, adjusted to incorporate BioVision6 and current operating performance Adjusted operating margin and ROCE targets remain unchanged Commenting on today's results, Alan Hirzel, Abcam's Chief Executive Officer, said: "I am grateful to everyone at Abcam for their dedicated effort through this most challenging time and thank our customers and partners for their ongoing trust and support. We have had another successful year operationally and financially despite the ongoing challenges. As we look ahead to 2022, we expect to create more innovation and success out of the past two years of investment as we installed elements of Abcam's long term growth strategy. The scientific community remains our guide and with their support we are becoming a more influential and trusted brand globally." Analyst and investor meeting and webcast: Abcam will host a conference call and webcast for analysts and investors today at 13:00 GMT/ 09:00 EDT. For details, and to register, please visit corporate.abcam.com/investors/reports-presentations A recording of the webcast will be made available on Abcam's website, corporate.abcam.com/investors Notes: On 2 June 2021, Abcam announced that it had changed its accounting reference date from 30 June to 31 December. Following this extension, these financial statements are for the 18-month period ended 31 December 2021. To assist understanding of the company's underlying performance, like-for-like financial information for the 12-month periods ended 31 December 2021 (‘CY2021') and 31 December 2020 (‘CY2020') have also been provided. These results include discussion of alternative performance measures which include revenues calculated at Constant Exchange Rates (CER) and adjusted financial measures. CER results are calculated by applying prior period's actual exchange rates to this period's results. Adjusted financial measures are explained in note 2 and reconciled to the most directly comparable measure prepared in accordance with IFRS in note 4 to the interim financial statements. Custom Products & Licensing (CP&L) revenue comprises custom service revenue, revenue from the supply of IVD products and royalty and licence income. In previous reporting periods, share-based payments have not been included within adjusting items. With the approval of the Profitable Growth Incentive Plan (‘PGIP') during CY2021, management considers it to be more appropriate and more consistent with its closest comparable companies to include all share-based payments in adjusting items. To aid comparison with our previous presentation of results, we also calculate adjusted operating margin on a like-for-like basis, excluding this change (‘Like-for-like'). Average CY2021 exchange rates to GBP as follows: USD: 1.378; EUR: 1.159, RMB: 8.891, JPY: 150.7 Last 12-month BioVision recurring revenues of £17.8m at point of acquisition, adjusted for non-recurring COVID-19 related revenues, and sales to Abcam during that period. The information communicated in this announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014. For further information please contact: Abcam + 44 (0) 1223 696 000 Alan Hirzel, Chief Executive OfficerMichael Baldock, Chief Financial OfficerJames Staveley, Vice President, Investor Relations       Numis – Nominated Advisor & Joint Corporate Broker + 44 (0) 20 7260 1000 Garry Levin / Freddie Barnfield / Duncan Monteith       Morgan Stanley – Joint Corporate Broker + 44 (0) 207 425 8000 Tom Perry / Luka Kezic       FTI Consulting + 44 (0) 20 3727 1000 Ben Atwell / Julia Bradshaw   This announcement shall not constitute an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. This announcement is not an offer of securities for sale in the United States, and the securities referred to herein may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration except pursuant to an exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Any public offering of such securities to be made in the United States will be made by means of a prospectus that may be obtained from the issuer, which would contain detailed information about the company and management, as well as financial statements. Forward Looking StatementsThis announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any express or implied statements contained in this announcement that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements, including, without limitation statements of targets, plans, objectives or goals for future operations, including those related to Abcam's products, product research, product development, product introductions and sales forecasts; statements containing projections of or targets for revenues, costs, income (or loss), earnings per share, capital expenditures, dividends, capital structure, net financials and other financial measures; statements regarding future economic and financial performance; statements regarding the scheduling and holding of general meetings and AGMs; statements regarding the assumptions underlying or relating to such statements; statements about Abcam's portfolio and ambitions, as well as statements that include the words "expect," "intend," "plan," "believe," "project," "forecast," "estimate," "may," "should," "anticipate" and similar statements of a future or forward-looking nature. Forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, including, without limitation: a regional or global health pandemic, including the novel coronavirus ("COVID-19"), which has adversely affected elements of our business, could severely affect our business, including due to impacts on our operations and supply chains; challenges in implementing our strategies for revenue growth in light of competitive challenges; developing new products and enhancing existing products, adapting to significant technological change and responding to the introduction of new products by competitors to remain competitive; failing to successfully identify or integrate acquired businesses or assets into our operations or fully recognize the anticipated benefits of businesses or assets that we acquire; if our customers discontinue or spend less on research, development, production or other scientific endeavours; failing to successfully use, access and maintain information systems and implement new systems to handle our changing needs; cyber security risks and any failure to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of our computer hardware, software and internet applications and related tools and functions; we have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and failure to comply with requirements to design, implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could have a material adverse effect on our business; failing to successfully manage our current and potential future growth; any significant interruptions in our operations; if our products fail to satisfy applicable quality criteria, specifications and performance standards; failing to maintain our brand and reputation; our dependence upon management and highly skilled employees and our ability to attract and retain these highly skilled employees; and the important factors discussed under the caption "Risk Factors" in Abcam's prospectus pursuant to Rule 424(b) filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") on 22 October 2020, which is on file with the SEC and is available on the SEC website at www.sec.gov, as such factors may be updated from time to time in Abcam's other filings with the SEC. Any forward-looking statements contained in this announcement speak only as of the date hereof and accordingly undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. Abcam disclaims any obligation or undertaking to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this announcement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, other than to the extent required by applicable law.The Group has changed its year end to December 31 and, as a result, this year's results present an 18-month accounting period, which ended on 31 December 2021. The comparison to the previously reported 12 months ended 30 June 2020 presents substantial period-on-period increases due to the longer period of account in the current reporting period and provides little helpful insight into the underlying performance of the business. To provide more useful commentary, both the CEO and CFO reviews largely focus on the financial and operating performance of the business in the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (‘CY2021') compared to the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (‘CY2020'). The audited financial statements in the back of this report contain statutory results for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 and a comparison to the year ended 30 June 2020. CEO Report Moving forward with courage and hope As we continue to grapple with the challenges of our times, I am convinced that for all of us in the science community, the only way to move forward is with courage and hope. Over the last several decades, the positive impact of life science on the human condition has been profound. For example, across every income level and every country where there has not been a catastrophe, life expectancy has increased by nearly 20 years since the 1960s. Life science, medical discovery and innovation have been central to this health and social progress. In the last two decades, since the sequencing of the human genome, research in life sciences has more than doubled, and with it the potential to make even more progress. New discoveries can take 10 years or more to make a tangible difference and I am hopeful that our children will reap greater benefits in health and lifespan in the years to come. As I think about these inspiring achievements, alongside the development of our own business, I am determined to ensure Abcam continues to innovate and play a key role in helping our customers reach their scientific and career goals. We remain resolutely focused on enabling scientists to make breakthroughs faster, with better quality research tools and a passion for collaboration. It won't stop there either. We see a greater role for Abcam to accelerate the transition of discovery to clinical and social impact. I have always believed in the power of collaboration and the global response to the pandemic has shown the benefits of such collaboration. With the challenges ahead we will find ways for researchers, funders, publishers, tools companies, translational researchers, clinicians, diagnostics companies, pharmaceutical companies, and regulators to work together in common purpose as one. Improvements our business has made in product performance and consistency and our expanding network of commercial relationships are significantly reducing the time from first discovery to a better patient outcome. We look to put more effort toward this collaborative approach as we build our business. This collaborative spirit is also championed within our teams. Efforts we have been making to improve inclusion and diversity have amplified more voices through groups led by our people and outreach activities in our communities. Despite everything we faced in 2021, and the disturbing geopolitical aggression in Europe at the start of 2022, we see this period as an exciting time for proteomics research. I remain confident that Abcam is well positioned to influence and improve the journeys from discovery to impact, while sustaining value creation for all stakeholders. Our performance We achieved the major strategic, operational and financial goals we set for the business in the period and continued to make significant operational changes and to implement our growth strategy. Feedback from our customers was excellent, with a customer tNPS of +56 (CY2021). Sales of our in-house products grew strongly as we scaled up our capability here. Because these are sold at a higher margin, we started to feel the benefits of increased operational leverage. The business transition to 2024 is nearly complete and we will soon be able to fully reap the benefits of what we have been building over recent years.   Indeed, the biggest contributor to Abcam's growth and value and the main reason why we are winning more market share is the portfolio of proprietary products developed and manufactured at Abcam. This burgeoning in-house library of recombinant antibodies, immunoassays, conjugation products, proteins, and cell lines is offering customers the right products, to the right pathways, with a promise to go the distance from discovery to clinic. Customer demand for this portfolio drove in-house product revenue to £174m in CY2021 (CY2020: £129m), equivalent to 41% annual CER growth (36% excluding BioVision). Our investment of 14% of revenue (own product) back into R&D (including capitalised product development) is helping us sustain the growth and higher customer satisfaction in these areas. The BioVision acquisition in October 2021 added one of our largest suppliers to the in-house portfolio, with strengths in biochemical and cell-based assay kits. Business integration is moving ahead as planned and we expect it to provide further innovation opportunities within this portfolio. Risks around the global pandemic remain – as evidenced by the emergence of the Omicron variant in late 2021 – but data suggests that overall lab activity increased consistently during 2021 in our largest markets. Progress toward our strategic goals We aim to deliver consistent, durable growth and performance in a responsible way. Despite the continued disruption of COVID-19, we have seen sustained progress during the period as we continue to deliver on the growth strategy announced in November 2019. Strategic KPI performance (in-house product revenue growth and customer transactional net promotor score) was positive, feedback on our products has never been stronger, and we continue to make market share gains worldwide. At the same time, we are focused on ensuring the significant investment made in our innovation capabilities, systems and processes, facilities, and people support our long-term growth aspirations. As we seek to further strengthen our position as the partner of choice for our customers and partners, we have made further progress against each of the following strategic goals to drive sustained organic growth set out in 2019: 1. Sustain and extend antibody and digital leadership 2. Drive continued expansion into complementary market adjacencies 3. Build organisational scalability and sustain value creation Innovation and our impact on scientific progress Our product portfolio enables breakthrough proteomics discovery by our customers and partners. They are working to innovate and discover proteomic mechanisms such as the role of signaling and regulatory proteins in biological pathways – ultimately leading to diagnostics and treatments for diseases such as cancer and immune deficiency disorders. Their success depends on rigorous product performance and reliability, and it's these factors that continue to guide our innovation efforts. Since 2019, we have put more resources into innovating faster in antibodies and immunoassays, and we have complemented these areas with new product categories such as conjugation kits, proteins/cytokines, engineered cell lines, and now a range of BioVision cellular and biochemical assays. In total, new products introduced since 2019 represented approximately 7% of 2021 revenue (CY2021) and our own-product revenues (including Custom Products & Licensing) contributed over 60% of total revenue in the last 12 months. We are confident that our customer data insights and our approach to innovation and marketing underly this strong growth driver from internal innovation. In CY2021, our teams developed and launched over 2,500 high-quality antibody products, including recombinant RabMAb antibodies, antibody pairs, SimpleStep ELISA kits and new formulations that enable faster labelling and assay development. These new product introductions combined to meet two objectives for our new product development: fill unmet needs in research and increase product quality. As we have developed our high throughput innovation capability, we have also made bolder moves to delist third party supplied product that doesn't meet our customer quality needs. Together, these actions have substantially improved Abcam's quality and our overall brand preference. According to the most recently available industry data, these innovations and other initiatives have led Abcam to become the most cited antibody company. Abcam products were cited more than 70,000 times in scientific journals in 2020 and the business now has a citation share of over 22%, up approximately two percentage points on the previous year (source: CiteAb, based on over 300,000 recorded citations for 2020 as of February 2022). Most importantly, we have seen a continued strengthening of customer feedback during the period, with product satisfaction rates at all-time highs (rolling 12-month period to 31 December 2021). Extending Abcam's leadership in research antibodies has provided a strong foundation to expand into adjacent product categories used in protein research. We took our first adjacent product category move in 2014 with the introduction of proprietary immunoassays. In total these (non-primary antibody) product categories now contribute over 30% of total revenue. In CY2021, total CER revenue growth from these categories was 32% demonstrating the progress made developing these capabilities and the growing customer interest in these high-quality product portfolios. Other, newer product categories have had less time to develop than either our antibody or immunoassay portfolio, but we are seeing similar growth performance and opportunities here. Extending the impact of our innovation through partnership and collaboration Across the translational research, drug discovery and clinical markets, we are focused on strengthening our position as a leading discovery partner to organisations looking to access high quality antibodies and antibody expertise for commercial use within their products and assays – a philosophy we refer to as ‘Abcam Inside'. The period has seen good progress in this regard, with continued growth in the adoption of our products for use on third party instrumentation platforms, or by partners for their use in the development of clinical products. We established several new platform partnerships during the period while significantly expanding existing co-development programmes with current partners, including recently announced strategic partnerships with Alamar and Nautilus Biotechnology. We also grew our specialty antibody portfolio – signing 85 new outbound commercial agreements in CY2021 with organisations that have the potential to lead to new diagnostic or therapeutic tools in years to come. To date, approximately 1,000 of our antibodies are now validated for commercial use on third party platforms or as diagnostic tools, with over 3,000 more currently undergoing evaluation by our partners. We believe both areas remain significant long-term opportunities for the Group. Building a scalable enterprise Over the last two years our teams have been putting ideas, know-how, and capital to work installing new capabilities as we build scalability into our operational infrastructure, including our manufacturing and logistics footprint and IT backbone and digital capabilities to support our growth. At the same time, global supply chains have faced significant challenges primarily as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These additional pressures have been resolved by additional investment in manufacturing equipment and processes, while also introducing additional shift patterns in order to achieve better use of our resources. Further progress is expected as we pursue changes to our processes, including quality control, kit development and logistics as well as benefits expected from our integrated business planning process. We also completed several important global footprint initiatives in the period, with site moves or upgrades completed in Boston, Fremont, and Eugene in the USA; Hangzhou and Shanghai in China; Adelaide in Australia; Amsterdam in the Netherlands as well as relocating our Hong Kong operations to Singapore. These initiatives enable more efficient customer service, manufacturing, supply chain and logistics processes; create additional capacity needed to meet our growth objectives; and reduce risks that were identified in our ongoing risk management process. Across our IT and digital infrastructure, roll-out of the final stages of our ERP renewal programme continued, covering manufacturing and supply chain. Systems have now been successfully deployed across the Group's major manufacturing hubs, with final deployments in other small sites due for completion in 2022. At the same time, development of the next generation of our customer-facing digital platform has continued. The new platform is being designed to enable a step change to the customer experience, supporting dynamic content, a more personalised experience and driving enhanced search and traffic. Beta-testing in select markets was launched during the year and we remain on track to launch the new site in 2022. Sustaining social and financial value creation Our impact flows from our vision and purpose, which ultimately lead to a positive impact on the world: helping the scientific community accelerate breakthroughs in human healthcare. The more successful we can be as a business, therefore, the greater the difference we can make in the world. Our vision to be the most influential life sciences company comes with a commitment to the highest ethical standards, not just in our own conduct, but across our value chain. We have made further progress against each of our four priority areas (those seen as most important to sustaining value creation, namely: Products; People; Partners; and Planet) and were pleased to be ranked first by Sustainalytics, a leading ESG ratings agency, across its universe of more than 1,000 healthcare companies globally. Full details of our commitments, performance and progress will be provided in our 2021 Impact Report to be published in April and made available on our corporate website (corporate.abcam.com/sustainability). Of course, the ability of Abcam and our industry to continue to thrive will depend on future generations of scientists and so it's exciting to see that more young people than ever are taking STEM subjects. I am proud of Abcam's support in this area through our work with In2Science UK and The Henrietta Lacks Foundation. We have also made significant progress on our diversity and inclusion during the period. A new D&I strategy was launched alongside the establishment of multiple Employee Resource Groups, an enhanced family leave policy, and the introduction of diversity and inclusion targets that are tied to senior management compensation. These and other initiatives ensure that we are building an exceptional workplace for our teams, and it was pleasing to once again be recognised by Glassdoor as one of the top 5 employers in the UK in 2021. Attractive outlook We remain on track to achieve the five-year plan that we set out in 2019. In 2022, we will complete a few large-scale tasks to help us scale the business over the next decade. Once those are complete, the agenda for the year will largely focus on refining what we have installed, learning from the market, and making adjustments to drive double digit revenue growth and improve profit margins. With the addition of BioVision and adjustments for ongoing revenue, plus our confidence in the performance of the business, we have raised our revenue target for 2024 to a range of £450m-£525m, representing growth rates that are two to three times our underlying market and reflect the durable growth of Abcam. None of this attractive outlook could happen without great energy and effort by everyone involved. I thank our colleagues for their unwavering dedication, our customers for the trust they place in us, and our board of directors and our shareholders for their continued support. Alan HirzelCEO CFO Report The Group has changed its year end to 31 December. As a result, this year's results will present an 18-month accounting period, which ended on 31 December 2021. As a result, the comparison to the previously reported 12 months ended 30 June 2020 presents substantial period-on-period increases due to the longer period of account in the current reporting period and provides little helpful insight into the performance of the business during 2021. In order to provide a more useful comparison, this review largely focuses on the comparison of the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (‘CY2021') to the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (‘CY2020'). The audited financial statements in the back of this report contains the statutory results for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 and a comparison to the year ended 30 June 2020. In preparing the CY2020 and CY2021 balances, the Group has applied consistently its accounting policies as disclosed within note 1. Although CY2020 and CY2021 are not audited financial periods within these financial statements, the balances have been extracted from the Group's underlying accounting records and reconciled in line with previously disclosed statements. For further information on the composition of CY2020 and CY2021, refer to the ‘Basis of preparation' section in the back of this report. The CFO's Report and Financial Review includes discussion of alternative performance measures which are defined further in the Notes to the Preliminary Financial Information. These measures include adjusted financial measures, which are explained in note 1b and reconciled to the most directly comparable measure prepared in accordance with IFRS in note 4. Further detail on the Group's financial performance is set out in the Preliminary Financial Information and notes thereto. Constant exchange rates ("CER") growth is calculated by applying the applicable prior period average exchange rate to the Group's actual performance in the respective period. Continued strong performance The Group reported revenue for CY2021 of £315.4m (CY2020: £269.3m), a CER growth rate of 22%. This figure includes a contribution of approximately one percentage point, or £2.6m, from BioVision following the acquisition's completion on 27 October 2021. Growth in revenue from our own, in-house (catalogue) products was 41% (CER) for CY2021, including a four-percentage point contribution from BioVision. While laboratories continued to relax COVID-19 related restrictions during the period, and data indicates overall lab activity levels increased through 2021, activity had not fully returned to pre-COVID levels by the end of the period due to the emergence of the Omicron variant in late 2021. Adjusted operating profit (before all share-based payment costs) for CY2021 was up 19%, to £60.4m (CY2020: £50.6m). This equates to an adjusted operating profit margin (excluding share-based payments) of 19.2% (CY2020: 18.8%). After share-based payment charges related to share incentive schemes in force prior to the start of the year, of £12.9m, like-for-like adjusted operating profit was £47.5m, equivalent to an adjusted operating profit margin of 15.1% (CY2020: 13.9%). Total revenue and adjusted operating profit for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 was £462.9m and £95.5m respectively. The Group's statutory results for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 are covered in more detail in our audited financial statements contained herein. Investing in future growth Despite the disruption inflicted on our customers and industry by COVID-19, the long-term opportunities for growth across our markets continue to strengthen and, consistent with the strategic plans we set out in November 2019, we have further invested in our business through the period to capture these opportunities. Our global team increased to approximately 1,750 colleagues by the end of 2021 (31 December 2020: 1,600) and, overall, total adjusted operating costs in CY2021 rose 21% to £167.3m. We also committed a further £47m in capital expenditure (net of landlord contributions) during CY2021 to growth and scaling opportunities across the business, including capitalised product innovation, global footprint enhancements – including the opening of our flagship US site in Waltham, Massachusetts – and the implementation of the final stages of our ERP implementation. Underpinning our invest-to-grow strategy is our robust balance sheet and financial position. Net cash generation from operating activities increased to £62.9m in CY2021 (CY2020: £58.9m) and we ended the period with a small net debt position of £24.1m. Operational leverage and increased profitability As expected, over the last two years the Group's profit margins have been suppressed by the effects of both COVID-19 and the implementation of the Group's five-year growth plan. Many of our major investment plans are now substantially complete, and as we look forward, we expect to see the rate of investment reduce and the resultant delivery of operational leverage as the value of our investments are realised. We are pleased with the progress made over the most recent six-month period, where our adjusted operating margin (excluding share-based payments) was 20.3% as compared to 17.8% for the first six months of CY2021 (or 16.5% in H2 compared to 13.3% in H1 on a ‘like-for-like' basis, including share-based payments relating to pre-2021 share plans). As we look forward, we expect this operating leverage to continue to levels consistent with those levels laid out in our five-year growth plan, with a goal to reach over 30% in CY2024. Acquisition of BioVision In July 2021, we announced the signing of an agreement to acquire BioVision for $340m on a cash-free, debt-free basis. The purchase closed in October 2021, and we are now working on the integration, building on our combined expertise, and enhancing our presence in cell based and metabolic assays. To support the financing of the acquisition, we drew down approximately £120m on our revolving credit facility in October 2021. US Nasdaq listing The Group successfully added a secondary US listing on Nasdaq in October 2020, supplementing its existing admission to trading on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market whilst raising approximately £127m ($180m). The listing supports the Group's plans to enhance liquidity in our shares, attract a greater number of US-based life science and growth investors and provide the Group with an acquisition currency in the US market. We were pleased with the demand for the offering from long-term, life science investors. Interest has grown since, with the number of American Depository Receipts (ADRs) in issue doubling. The board continues to review options to increase share liquidity and to ensure investor demand is met, and intends to consult with shareholders on these options in due course. Outlook, 2022 guidance and long-term goals to 2024 We have made good progress in many areas during the year and our top line performance has seen good momentum coming out of the pandemic. Whilst short-term returns on our core business have inevitably been reduced by COVID-19 and our investments, I am confident in a continuation of the trajectory we have seen over the last six months, and the potential return our organic and inorganic investments will generate over the medium- and long-term. CY2022 Guidance Global lab activity continues to recover, though some uncertainty remains, with trading performance in the first two months of CY2022 in line with our expectations. For CY2022 overall, we currently estimate total reported revenue to increase by approximately 20% on a constant exchange rate basis, including the impact from the acquisition of BioVision, with organic CER growth of mid-teens. We expect continued adjusted gross margin improvement through CY2022, due to the contribution of higher margin in-house products and the full year effect of BioVision transaction. Total adjusted operating costs (including depreciation and amortisation) are expected to grow at a mid-teens percentage rate, as we slow the rate of investment and leverage our recent investments. Long-term goals to CY2024The Group expects to deliver improving operating leverage as the pace of investment graduates. We are increasing our 2024 revenue goal by £25m to £450m-£525m, adjusting to incorporate BioVision and our current operating performance. Our adjusted operating margin and ROCE targets remain unchanged. This commentary represents management's current estimates and is subject to change. See the Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements on page 3 of this release. Summary Performance   Reported Results   Adjusted Results   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated) £m 12 months ended 31Dec 2021(unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated) £m 12 months ended 31Dec 2021 (unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31Dec 2020 (unaudited) £m Revenue 462.9 260.0 315.4 269.3   462.9 260.0 315.4 269.3                     Gross profit 329.2 180.2 224.6 188.5   332.3 180.2 227.7 188.5 Gross profit margin (%) 71.1% 69.3% 71.2% 70.0%   71.8% 69.3% 72.2% 70.0%                     Operating profit 24.4 10.4 7.1 1.0   95.5 54.0 60.4 50.6 Operating profit margin (%) 5.3% 4.0% 2.3% 0.4%   20.6% 20.8% 19.2% 18.8%                     Earnings per share                   Basic earnings / (loss) per share 7.7p 6.0p 1.9p (0.4)p   33.2p 20.5p 20.8p 18.0p Diluted earnings / (loss) per share 7.6p 6.0p 1.9p (0.4)p   32.9p 20.3p 20.6p 17.8p                     Net (debt)/cash at end of the year1 (24.1) 80.9 (24.1) 211.9   (24.1) 80.9 (24.1) 211.9 Return on Capital Employed 3.1% 1.6% 0.9% 0.1%   12.0% 8.3% 7.6% 6.6% 1. Excludes lease liabilities Calendar Year Results The Group has prepared the following Calendar Year results to enable a more consistent like-for-like review of the trading performance of the business. The Calendar Year results are an Alternative Performance Measure and cover the trading period for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (CY2021) compared with the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (CY2020). The basis of preparation applied to the Calendar Year results together with a reconciliation to the Group's Statutory IFRS Results are provided at the end of this report. Consolidated statement of profit and loss for the 12 months ended 31 December   CY2021(unaudited)   CY2020(unaudited) £m Adjusted Adjusting items Reported   Adjusted Adjusting items Reported Revenue 315.4 - 315.4   269.3 - 269.3 Cost of sales (87.7) (3.1) (90.8)   (80.8) - (80.8) Gross profit 227.7 (3.1) 224.6   188.5 - 188.5 Selling, general and administrative expenses (150.6) (39.1) (189.7)   (120.6) (23.9) (144.5) Research and development expenses (16.7) (11.1) (27.8)   (17.3) (25.7) (43.0) Operating profit 60.4 (53.3) 7.1   50.6 (49.6) 1.0 Finance income 0.3 - 0.3   0.4 - 0.4 Finance costs (2.7) - (2.7)   (3.6) - (3.6) Profit / (loss) before tax 58.0 (53.3) 4.7   47.4 (49.6) (2.2) Tax credit / (charge) (10.8) 10.5 (0.3)   (8.8) 10.1 1.3 Profit / (loss) for the financial period 47.2 (42.8) 4.4   38.6 (39.5) (0.9) Consolidated cashflow statement for the 12 months ended 31 December £m CY2021(unaudited) CY2020(unaudited) Operating cash flows before working capital 68.2 63.0 Change in working capital 4.0 (7.8) Cash generated from operations 72.2 55.2 Income taxes paid (9.3) 3.7 Net cash inflow from operating activities 62.9 58.9 Net cash inflow / (outflow) from investing activities (291.5) (153.7) Net cash inflow from financing activities 111.4 116.0 Net (decrease) / increase in cash and cash equivalents (117.2) 21.2 Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period 211.9 189.9 Effect of foreign exchange rates 0.4 0.8 Cash and cash equivalents at end of the period 95.1 211.9       Free Cash Flow * 6.0 5.6 * Free Cash Flow comprises net cash generated from operating activities less net capital expenditure, cash flows relating to committed capital expenditure and outflows in respect of lease obligations Financial review Revenue   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 Jun 2020 (audited) £m   12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m 12 month % Change CER CY2021 % Split** Catalogue revenue by region               The Americas 163.7 96.8   112.4 95.3 26% 38% EMEA 121.5 68.4   82.3 73.2 15% 28% China 84.4 39.1   57.1 42.7 34% 19% Japan 28.4 18.8   18.6 19.3 5% 6% Rest of Asia Pacific 34.8 20.0   23.4 21.0 17% 8% Catalogue revenue sub-total* 432.8 243.1   293.8 251.5 22% 100% In-house catalogue revenue* 245.0 114.4   171.5 128.8 39% 58% Third party catalogue revenue 187.8 128.7   122.3 122.7 4% 42%                 Custom products and services 8.4 6.3   5.7 5.7 6% 30% IVD 8.9 4.7   6.3 5.9 15% 33% Royalties and licenses 10.2 5.9   7.0 6.2 20% 37% Custom Products & Licensing (CP&L) sub-total 27.5 16.9   19.0 17.8 14% 100%                 BioVision 2.6 -   2.6 -     Total reported revenue 462.9 260.0   315.4 269.3 22%   * Includes BioVision product sales sold through Abcam channels post closing of the transaction on 26 October 2021 but excludes incremental BioVision sales sold through non-Abcam channels of £2.6m. ** Numbers may not add up due to rounding In the 18-month statutory reporting period ended 31 December 2021, the Group generated revenue of £462.9m, which represents an increase of 78% on the results for the 12 months ended 30 June 2020, reflecting the extended accounting period. The Directors believe underlying business performance is better understood by comparing the performance for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (CY2021) and the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (CY2020). In CY2021 revenue was £315.4m, representing CER growth of 22% and reported growth of 17%, after a 5%pt headwind from foreign currency exchange. The acquisition of BioVision added approximately 1%pt to revenue growth. Revenue growth continues to be driven by a recovery in laboratory activity from the depressed levels experienced in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and by increasing demand for our growing portfolio of in-house products. Catalogue revenue grew 23% CER in CY2021 compared with CY2020 (18% reported), with revenue growth from our in-house products of 41% CER including BioVision (35% reported) or 36% CER excluding BioVision. Except for Japan, which suffered greater COVID-19 related disruption, all major territories grew at double digit rates, with China, which now accounts for 19.4% of revenue, the fastest growing region with CER growth of 34%. Custom Products & Licensing (‘CP&L') revenue, rose 14% on a CER basis (7% reported). Within CP&L, IVD and royalty and license sales grew double digit on a CER basis as the number of out-licensed products and commercial deals continues to grow, whilst custom projects returned to growth as customer activity levels improved following a more muted period of activity due to COVID-19. Gross margin   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)% 12 months ended 30 Jun 2020 (audited)%   12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)% 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)% Reported Gross Margin 71.1 69.3   71.2 70.0 Amortisation of fair value adjustments 0.7 -   1.0 - Adjusted Gross Margin 71.8 69.3   72.2 70.0 Reported gross margin for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 was 71.1%. Reported gross margin for the period was impacted by the fair value adjustment of BioVision inventory following the acquisition, totaling £6.0m. Approximately half, or £3.1m, of this cost was amortised in the period, with the balance of £2.9m to be amortised in CY2022. Before this impact, adjusted gross margin for CY2021 increased by just over 2 percentage points to 72.2% (CY2020: 70.0%), reflecting a favourable movement in product mix towards high margin in-house products, as well as volume leverage resulting from the increase in revenue. In-house product sales (including CP&L revenue) contributed 61% of total revenue in CY2021 (CY2020: 54%). Operating profit Operating profit for CY2021 increased to £7.1m (CY2020: £1.0m). Adjusted operating profit for the same 12-month period increased to £60.4m (CY2020: £50.6m), representing an adjusted operating profit margin of 19.2% (CY2020: 18.8%) reflecting the Group's planned investment, the impact of COVID-19, and the step up in depreciation and amortisation. The calculation of adjusted operating profit has been updated to exclude share-based payments of £20.0m and £13.3m in CY2021 and CY2020 respectively. A reconciliation between reported and adjusted operating profit is provided in note 4 to the financial statements. Reported operating profit for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 was £24.4m (12 months to 30 June 2020: £10.4m). Operating costs and expenses   Reported   Adjusted*   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated) £m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited) £m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated)£m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m Selling, general & administrative (263.3) (131.5) (189.7) (144.5)   (211.5) (111.5) (150.6) (120.6) Research and development (41.5) (38.3) (27.8) (43.0)   (25.3) (14.7) (16.7) (17.3) Total operating costs and expenses (304.8) (169.8) (217.5) (187.5)   (236.8).....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMar 14th, 2022

LaGuardia Airport"s newest concourse is fully open with a brand-new section for American Airlines, 4 more gates, and a premium lounge— see inside

Developers gave the concourse the feel of a hotel lounge and travelers will also have access to new shops, eateries, and lounges, in the new LaGuardia. Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/Insider LaGuardia Airport and American Airlines are celebrating the opening of the second half of Terminal B's Western Concourse.  Four new gates opened on Thursday along with new retail shops and a 20,000-square-foot American Airlines Admirals Club.  As part of the LaGuardia redevelopment plan, the new Terminal B is replacing the 1960s-era Central Terminal Building.  Christmas has come early for travelers going through LaGuardia Airport.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe latest phase of the renovation and overhaul for the infamous airport made its debut on Thursday with the opening of new gates, retail shops, and lounges in Terminal B.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderTwo concourses in LaGuardia's current flagship terminal are now fully open and the redevelopment as a whole is 90% complete. By 2023, Terminal B will be completely transformed.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI visited the newly opened LaGuardia terminal and saw how it has turned the infamous airport into one of the best in the USThursday's opening also marked the end of a nearly 60-year era for the Central Terminal Building, from which the final flight departed on Wednesday night. Known for its low ceilings and aging infrastructure, the piers have only served to bring down LaGuardia's reputation in recent years.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderInsider joined representatives from American Airlines and LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the private company tasked with the terminal's redevelopment, on a tour of the newly opened section of the Western Concourse. Here's what travelers can expect.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAmerican Airlines will be the Western Concourse's primary tenant and the airline's passengers, as a result, will be the beneficiaries of Thursday's expansion.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderPassengers bound for the Western Concourse will proceed through the arrivals and departures hall, also known as the headhouse, as they normally would. American's ticket counters remain in their usual positions and going through the Transportation Security Administration's security screening will remain the same.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAnd while en route to the new concourse, travelers will notice that Terminal B's retail area, currently covered in holiday decorations, is being filled out with more and more shops and restaurants.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderIn the mall section, called The Bowery Bay Shops, Minute Suites is the latest addition in which travelers can reserve a private room to rest and relax before a flight. Travelers enrolled in the Priority Pass program can use Minutes Suites through their membership.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI used a credit perk to dine for nearly free at an airport restaurant and it's my new favorite travel hackEateries in the terminal span from fast-food spots like Wendy's to Texas-style barbecue joints like Hill Country Barbecue Market.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderSit-down restaurants have also opened in the terminal including Mulberry Street, an Italian restaurant from chef Marc Forgione.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderNot all eateries have opened in the terminal even after more than one year since its June 2020 debut. But the hope is that more will open as construction comes to an end and more passengers visit the terminal.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderPassengers bound for the Western Concourse will still have to use a temporary passageway to get to their gates as the pedestrian bridge has still yet to be completed.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderOnce construction on the pedestrian bridge is complete in early 2022, travelers will have a more direct routing to the Western Concourse with a shorter walking distance to boot.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe shell of the bridge is largely complete and sits just behind a temporary wall in the terminal.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderA new restaurant will also be opened along the pedestrian bridge with an outdoor seating area that offers direct views of the Manhattan skyline.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAnd once the passenger bridge is open, aircraft will be able to taxi underneath it just as they can underneath the pedestrian bridge connecting the headhouse with the Eastern Concourse. The additional taxi lane will help prevent the congestion that once plagued Terminal B.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderBut until the bridge is ready, travelers will still have a bit of a walk in order to get to the Western Concourse that actually includes a trip back in time to the old Central Terminal Building.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThis connector that currently bridges the two buildings is one of the old passageways that linked the former Terminal B parking garage with the check-in area. Passengers also walk through a hallway from the Central Terminal Building.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderLaGuardia Gateway Partners estimates that the walking time from the security checkpoint to the Western Concourse is between six and seven minutes. It’s a shorter walk to the Western Concourse than the Eastern Concourse that will be aided by moving walkways.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe difference between the old Concourse D and the newly-opened section of the Western Concourse is immediately clear as the developers have gone from one extreme to another. Incredibly low ceilings in the former terminal have been replaced with 55-foot ceilings in the new one.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderWhile travelers formerly had to fight for space in the old terminal, there's almost too much space in the new one.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderLaGuardia Gateway Partners designed the airport to have the feel of a hotel lounge. And as such, travelers may notice that the sights and sounds of the terminal are not the same as they might expect from other airports.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderConcessionaires have limits on how they play music and terminal announcements are kept to a minimum. Carpeted flooring also keeps noise levels down in the gate area as opposed to the tiled flooring commonly found at other airports.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderEven lighting fixtures have are not the type to be found in a typical airport.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe concourse is very clearly built for arriving and departing passengers rather than connecting passengers as the majority of American's customers are either originating or terminating in New York.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderSignage for arriving passengers guides them towards baggage claim rather than to connecting gates and most of the flight information display screens are located towards the center of the concourse as opposed to in the main gate areas.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAs the first half of the Western Concourse has already opened, businesses have been able to open and are already serving customers. Eateries include Bar Veloce, Beecher's Market Café, Sweetleaf Coffee, and Gotham News while retail stores include The Scoop and InMotion.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe Scoop will use Amazon's "Just Walk Out" technology that replaces cashiers with cameras that detect purchases.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI visited a brand-new Amazon Go-powered store at Newark Airport and it's clear more airports should adopt the tech as travel returns to normalSome of the shops and eateries in the Western Concourse won't open until the new year with future eateries including the Hunt and Fish Grill and Mi Casa Cantina.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderA new arrival in the terminal that opened along with the new gates is the American Airlines Admirals Club.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderLocated on the second floor of the concourse, American opened the first phase of its 20,000 square foot lounge on Thursday with a capacity for around 130 passengers.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe full lounge will be able to accommodate more than 350 passengers — around 50 more passengers than the former Admirals Club in Concourse D — allowing more of American's flyers to be welcomed in.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe Admirals Club is conveniently located at the bottom of the pedestrian walkway that brings passengers to the Western Concourse and is the last stop before descending down into the gate area. Behind a temporary wall is the escalator bank used to access the pedestrian bridge.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderA team of American customer agents greets customers and processes them into the club. They can also assist with travel itineraries when needed.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderA living room greets passengers as they enter complete with a mix of armchairs and couches.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAmerican used New York City-inspired design elements with darker design accents including black metal and rustic finishes, in line with the terminal's goal to incorporate local flair into the redevelopment.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderBut the colors of the American brand can be found throughout the lounge.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderGlass walls along the edge of the lounge let patrons look down into the concourse while still providing a modicum of privacy.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThere are no COVID-19 pandemic-related capacity restrictions in effect and seats are not blocked off for social distancing, as was the case for most of 2020.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAn informal cafe can be found at the edge of the lounge that's intended to be a temporary placeholder until larger dining areas open in the final phase of the lounge.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAll food in the lounge is self-serve and options consist mostly of snacks including hummus, snack mixes, cheese cubes,Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderPastries and sweets also include Rice Krispie treats, cookies, and marble bread.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderHot options include Italian wedding soup and lounge staff also serve avocado toast and guacamole throughout the day.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe complimentary lounge offering is intended to be small bites while more fulfilling food items can be purchased.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderMenus are accessible via QR codes found throughout the dining area.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderSome alcoholic drinks are complimentary in the lounge and a full bar will open once the second phase is completed in spring 2022. The liquor display found in the Concourse D lounge will be brought into the new section, as well.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderA variety of seating can be found in the cafe area ranging from small tables to private booths.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAnd while there are no seats blocked for social distancing, lounges are already designed to maximize privacy.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderIndividual seats with high walls, for example, are ideal for solo travelers looking to keep their distance and privacy in luxury.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderJetBlue departures are also displayed on flight status boards in the lounge as part of the new Northeast Alliance between JetBlue and American.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAmerican and JetBlue passengers departing out of the terminal's Eastern Concourse will, however, have to leave some extra time to walk over to the other building.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThursday's debut is just the latest cause for celebration at LaGuardia but the hits will keep on coming. Delta Air Lines will be opening the first phase of its terminal renovation plan in the spring as part of a $3.9 billion project.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderDelta is months away from debuting its new $3.9 billion terminal at New York's LaGuardia Airport with 37 gates and its largest lounge everChase will be building a lounge of its own, the Chase Sapphire Lounge, in partnership with The Club, giving the airport its first lounge that will be open to Priority Pass members and Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe Chase Sapphire Lounge will join the new American Express Centurion Lounge in Terminal B that's open to all Platinum and Centurion cardholders.Touring American Express' new Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAmex just opened its newest lounge inside LaGuardia Airport's brand-new terminal and it's just what the infamous airport neededIn less than a decade, nearly all of LaGuardia's terminals will be entirely new builds. The only remnant of the old LaGuardia will be opposite the airport at the 1930s-era Marine Air Terminal.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderIn 10 years' time, using New York City's two airports will be a radically different experience for air travelers.Touring LaGuardia Airport's new Western Concourse at Terminal B.Thomas Pallini/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 18th, 2021

Leapfrogging Legacy Banking To A Bitcoin Standard

Leapfrogging Legacy Banking To A Bitcoin Standard Authored by Mitch Klee via BitcoinMagazine.com, How looking at the history of technological adoption can give us insights into where Bitcoin could be embraced the fastest... INTRO Throughout time, technology has proven to change our lives by leveraging efficiencies in energy. New ways in how we hunt have saved time and energy for innovation and to live more intentionally. Currently, Bitcoin presents an immense opportunity to change the lives of those who are burdened by old forms of manipulated money and preserve their time and energy. It is the first self-sovereign, programmable money that is proving to destroy expectations of every “expert” imaginable. At the intersection of money and technology, Bitcoin's network effect is spreading like a mind virus to all corners of the globe. This is not a coincidence but the manifestation of a zero to one moment; a radical new technology that will change nearly everything it touches. This article explores the idea that some regions and nations have a higher susceptibility to adoption in new monetary networks. Specifically, I will outline how the unbanked populations of emerging countries can leapfrog legacy systems, straight into a new monetary standard. But first, let's lay the groundwork for understanding how this can happen with some concepts. DEMOCRATIZATION OF TECHNOLOGY To understand leapfrogging, let’s first look into something that naturally happens when humans produce technology: the democratization of technology. As we make technology, the cost reduces, while the ease of production increases. Our tools get better, people’s skills improve, securing the material for production gets easier, logistics improve, and everything is less costly as humans continue increasing the output/yield over time. Simply put, cost goes down, while production goes up. Figure 1. A great example is the printing press. Before this innovation, each book had to be typed out or written one by one and distributed almost by osmosis. This means books were more expensive and were only in the hands of the few. After the printing press, people were able to automate a portion of the process by creating blueprints of the books. This cut down labor costs, and there was a huge explosion in printed material. This may have put people out of work; but it also introduced better dissemination of information to a wider group of people and new opportunities to produce more books for less cost and effort. Another example is photography. Historically, taking photos on film took hours to produce in a dark room. The film had to be brought to a local expert and it would take several days to get back the finished product. Smartphones and photoshop technology made this essentially free. It was then possible to download an app or use the built-in app on smartphones, take pictures, and immediately process them. Democratization of technology has been happening across every single aspect of human society since the beginning of time. Humans create tools to make it easier and cheaper to survive. Each tool becomes better, we then expand and evolve with less energy improving the quality of life. Fast-forward to the internet age. Emerging countries are just now tapping into the power of the internet. Although there are many factors underlying the reasons for expansion, one thing that is known is that technology builds on itself, making each successive technology easier to produce. Not only is there growth, but there is exponential growth. Certain times throughout history, technology has made such a large leap forward that it allows extremely poor countries to skip the legacy technology and quickly adopt the new one. This is called leapfrogging. LEAPFROGGING EXPLAINED Leapfrogging is when the cost to produce one technology is too great for a population, so when a new, drastically cheaper technology is created it’s quickly adopted and the old tech is skipped. This is the coexistence and benefit of separate populations within society. Let's look at the mobile phone revolution as a way to explain leapfrogging. Some societies did not have the wealth or infrastructure to adopt landlines and phone communication when it was brand new, but when the mobile phone was introduced, this gave mostly everyone around the world the ability to opt-in. Figure 2. Landlines in the U.S., 1900–2019. Figure 2 shows the number of landlines in the U.S. population from the 1900s to 2019. Throughout the entirety of the 20th century, the landline was being adopted in the U.S. Consequently it only took a decade to dethrone this old technology. The decline started when the benefit of cell phones outweighed the cost compared to landlines. This is where democratization hit the tipping point and we saw a huge jump from one technology to the next. Now it’s extremely cheap to use technology that is 100 times or even 1,000 times more advanced than the previous. Mobile phones usurped landlines because they were more affordable, easier to use and more mobile. Figure 2 shows how quickly a society can adopt a technology that has significantly more benefits than the previous, even in an advanced society. A similar thing is happening with television and the internet. Netflix came out and disrupted how people consume media on the television. As more platforms emerged, and people realized they could pay a fraction of the cost for a Netflix subscription rather than $100 for cable and a bunch of commercials, the switch was easy. Legacy systems were bogged down by all of the brick-and-mortar stores and overhead costs. They could not compete and pivot quickly enough, so they lost their seat at the table. Figure 3. Number of telephone subscriptions in the U.S. versus worldwide. When comparing fixed telephone subscriptions to other countries, the U.S. was way ahead of most. Many factors were contributing to this. Wealth played a huge part, but much of it was the production and first movers’ advantage. The U.S. was the first country to set up telephone lines from Boston to Somerville Massachusetts and expanded from there. Other countries did not have this opportunity, so they were laggards in the technology simply by default. It also made it easy to have a grid to run on top of, being a technologically advanced country with a power grid. Because it was so resource-heavy to set up this grid, this took over 30 years to build up the infrastructure. Figure 4. Landline subscriptions compared to GDP per capita, 2019. One of the main reasons why it was so hard to increase telephone subscriptions in other countries is because of the initial cost. You can’t just tap into a telephone line, there needs to be a large grid, infrastructure and companies/governments willing to build out this grid. Figure 4 shows that there is a rough line at a GDP per capita of $5,000 to get off zero and start communicating via landline. As the GDP per capita grows in a country, it is more likely they adopt fixed landlines. This is a huge barrier to entry as they try and compete to be a part of the 21st century. With telephones, it brings an easier flow of information across long distances quickly. These are important technologies that helped first-world countries advance quicker than their counterparts. This technology could mean the difference between surviving and thriving in the modern era. Figure 5. Mobile phone subscriptions versus GDP per capita, 2019. Things get much different when you start looking at mobile phones in Figure 5. To have a mobile phone is drastically cheaper than having a landline, all costs considered. Before, you needed the infrastructure and everything that came with installing a landline phone. But with mobile phones, even at a GDP per capita of less than $1,000, you get ~50% penetration of adoption within the population. All of the countries that were left out of communication with landlines, now have leapfrogged the old technology, right into a new standard of mobile phones. People benefit, businesses benefit and countries benefit immensely from these technologies. With mobile communication, people have higher leverage over their energy output. Businesses and life in general are more efficient, in turn creating a higher GDP for the country. It is a feedback loop that is good for all of humanity. When one group of people creates new technology, everyone benefits at one point or another. FROM LANDLINES TO MOBILE PHONES TO INTERNET-CONNECTED SMARTPHONES Not only are poorer countries leapfrogging into mobile phone communication, but they are, in turn, jumping right into the internet age. On top of that, (Android) smartphone costs are dropping significantly every year, with the average cost down by 50% from 2008 to 2016. With the growing ability to connect with the rest of the world comes more opportunities to learn and grow with the rest of the world. An incredible amount of information is available on the internet, and the benefit of being on the network is immeasurable. Figure 6. Mobile versus landline subscriptions, worldwide, 1960–2019. When comparing the numbers of mobile phone users to the numbers of landlines, you get a huge disparity in the pace at which they were adopted. Fixed landlines were around for almost 50 years before they started to see some real competition. Thinking back to our Figure 5, this makes sense, because the cost to build infrastructure is drastically higher than that of mobile phones. The opportunity a landline brought to civilization was immense, but the cost-effective mobility of cell phones transcends previous communication technology by a longshot. As of September 2021, the world’s population was ~7.89 billion people. Of that, there are 10.5 billion cell phones with network connections. That is 2.52 billion more activated phones than there are people. This becomes thought-provoking when adoption data starts to reveal where mobile phones are headed next. As people adopt mobile phones, smartphones are becoming cheaper and more abundant. The cost of production for smartphones is less and less each year, and soon there will be little reason to have a cell phone without internet connection because the cost difference will be so minuscule. Smartphone abundance is allowing people around the world to tap into the internet and it is estimated that “by 2025, 72% of all internet users will solely use smartphones to access the web.” Figure 7. Share of the population using the internet, 1990–2019. Currently, the world is in a transitionary period of communication. Not all of the world has access to the internet, only 65%, with an increasingly rapid pace of adoption. Because it is so inexpensive to get a mobile phone, and the benefits are immense, the world is being onboarded at an incredible rate. To answer the question “What is Leapfrogging?” we can look directly at mobile phones. But it’s not just one leapfrog, it’s more of a continuous onboarding to the digital revolution for the entire human population. Things are getting cheaper, and technology is moving exponentially forward, toward a more connected future. Soon, everyone will have access to the internet and will bring about new and exciting opportunities for the world to grow. With the high rate of adoption in communication technology, mobile phones swept across low-GDP countries allowing information to spread. Smartphones are a small hop away from mobile phones. With smartphones comes all sorts of opportunities not to mention the connection to the world's internet. In developing countries, the internet is starting to hit its hockey stick moment. Adoption continues to grow and as smartphones get cheaper, more people in the world have access to the internet, connecting them to their local and global economies and new innovations will come about in unforeseen ways. This begs the question, what monetary network will they use to transact in the digital age? It's taken years to get the legacy banking system up to speed. We’ve bootstrapped and “Frankensteined” many different ways to connect the internet to a centuries-old banking infrastructure, but these newly onboarded countries have the opportunity to skip that altogether. With no legacy banking infrastructure rooted within the nation, this leaves the door wide open for a new legacy. LEAPFROGGING ONTO A BITCOIN STANDARD It seems the stage is set for a paradigm shift. A perfect storm is brewing in populations that lack bank accounts and access to store their wealth. Coupling this with connection to the internet, and 21st-century e-commerce and monetary system, it is impossible for countries not to adopt it. Because bitcoin is a global asset with no intermediaries, its infrastructure is inherently global. Any improvements to the network, the entire world will benefit automatically without having to update the old tech. Unlike landlines, there is no infrastructure to build, and the barrier to entry is almost zero. You just opt in with a bit of hardware and an internet connection. As of 2017, according to the World Bank, there are 1.7 billion adults in the world without a basic transacting account. Most of these countries with higher rates of unbanked are poor, have high rates of inflation and lower currency stability, not to mention a disconnected state government ripe with problems. This is extremely common when looking at currencies in other low-GDP countries. So, what are some of the biggest factors in which people would want or need to adopt Bitcoin? If we can answer this question, then maybe we can quantify and pinpoint which countries have the biggest opportunity and most to gain from adopting a Bitcoin standard. Figure 8. World’s most unbanked countries (Source). Figure 8 shows the top-10 most unbanked countries as of February 2021. The Oxford dictionary defines “unbanked” as “not having access to the services of a bank or similar financial organization.” Much like building the infrastructure for landlines, it’s expensive to build banks and serve the local economy. Not to mention, many of the people living in these countries don't have the amount of money that would warrant the cost of owning a bank account. Some even share bank accounts with members of their families to save on costs. There is a huge opportunity to solve the problem of banking in low-GDP countries, but many of the digital banking companies around the world are constrained by regulation and geographical jurisdiction. It may be hard to grasp the importance of a bank account having never lived without one, but without a bank, citizens cannot secure funds safely. Without secure funds, the future is uncertain. This is where Bitcoin can solve some of the problems in these less developed and emerging countries. There are three specific ways in which these problems could be solved. 1. Bank the Unbanked Bitcoin gives everyone the ability to be their own bank with something as little as a cell phone. All that's needed is to be connected to the network and accept funds. The smartphone does all of this. It allows people to download a bitcoin wallet, connect to the internet and start transacting. There are many ways in which one can use this wallet. Coincidentally, the countries above who have low banking numbers within their population, also have mobile phones and high internet penetration. This is an open door from a technological standpoint, allowing people to opt into Bitcoin and secure their funds digitally. In addition to using the Bitcoin network to transact on your phone, you can also use it as a cold storage solution. Cold storage is similar to a savings account. This savings account or cold storage is disconnected from the internet, making it harder for people to steal your funds. With the old technology of banks, you would have to pay for this solution, but with Bitcoin, it's free, just download the software and/or buy a hardware wallet. There are some cold storage solutions where you can pay for a hardware device, but creating a phone wallet and securing your keys, gives the people an entry point and on-ramp to storing their wealth in a digital bank. 2. Securely Store Value Over Time The second opportunity is the store of value function. Many of the countries that have unbanked populations and poverty issues are a result of a currency problem. In my previous article, “Bitcoin As A Pressure Release Valve,” I wrote that certain countries have hyperinflated currencies with no option but to turn to the black market. Most of the time, these countries use the U.S. dollar to transact since it holds its value better relative to their currency. Strictly from a monetary standpoint, bitcoin is scarce. It is the most scarce form of money there is. There will only ever be 21 million bitcoin in existence and when the value rises, the production does not increase. This is called elasticity or the lack of elasticity in bitcoin’s case. Unlike fiat money, no government, central bank or agency can print more. And unlike gold, silver or any other commodity, when the demand rises, the amount that is mined stays the same. The first completely inelastic asset in existence is a result of preprogrammed architecture, with consensus in the network that’s default is to not change the protocol. People that live in countries where the money is known to be manipulated, understand Bitcoin almost immediately. When the idea of something that can't be manipulated is presented, the concept of scarcity and 21 million is understood. With the reality of incorruptible money, the current regime in power can't stuff their pockets without alienating the population through force. These people understand this idea because they have experienced it firsthand. When food prices rise faster than people can spend a weekly budget on groceries, it is immediately apparent the importance of a completely scarce, un-manipulatable asset. In developed countries with low levels of unbanked, people have ways of storing their wealth. They have a 401k and IRA, and most people own property. This is a way of storing value over time. It may not be completely efficient, but it is sufficient enough to escape some level of inflation. The alternative would be to keep your dollars in a savings account, and the real yield of that is negative and not a smart way to store money. These countries put money in financial devices, because it is the smart thing to do and it preserves time and energy. Unbanked countries have no way of storing long-term value. It is degraded and evaporated through manipulation and high levels of money printing. Emerging countries cannot store time and value into financial instruments. There is no Apple stock or S&P 500 to put money into. They are stuck with low levels of wealth that are stolen away on an ever-moving treadmill. There is no way of truly saving value or energy spent over time. For the first time, Bitcoin gives the world, particularly those in emerging countries, the ability to hold their value in a closed system that cannot be inflated. Much like the opportunity the mobile phone brought to change communication, bitcoin is the first “store of value'' that is available for low-GDP countries to buy and hold. It allows them to securely transfer their wealth over time, without fear of inflation or confiscation. Add on top of that, if they need to transfer wealth out of the country and flee an oppressive regime, bitcoin is the first asset that gives the ability to do so. Large amounts of gold cannot be taken on a plane or property and homes cannot be transferred to another country. Bitcoin gives people the freedom to do what they want with their earned value, without fear of a centralized power removing it. Bitcoin preserves the fundamental human right of property. 3. Connection to the Digital Economy The third problem Bitcoin solves is connecting and transacting digitally. Being a digitally native asset, bitcoin smooths the rails of commerce allowing low-GDP countries to join the 21st century of commerce. This is huge, and what cell phones did for communication, digital commerce will do the same. It immensely increases our ability to transact and exchange value. Bitcoin allows anyone, anywhere, to join a digital transacting network and exchange value natively over the internet, whether in person or without knowing them at all. Digital economies move at the speed of light, while old-school economies move at the speed of osmosis. This brings more time and efficiency for people on both ends of the transaction. Businesses spend less time on transactions, widen their addressable market, and start putting more time and effort into other things that can improve their work. It is the difference between transacting daily in cash and using a preprogrammed point of sales system. It is simply better. Not only does Bitcoin make things easier and frees up more time, but it is programmable money. Like the internet, Bitcoin can be built in layers. Each layer brings a new way to use it that widens the possibilities and use cases. What the internet did for communication, Bitcoin will do for money. Combining all three of these factors, you get a massive magnetic pull toward adoption of the new technology. It is hard to slow the movement of technological adoption and impossible to stop. Like throwing a match on a tinder-filled hillside, years of opportunity build up in countries that lack technology where innovation and adoption prepare to explode at the right moment. QUANTIFYING BITCOIN ADOPTION IN LOW-GDP COUNTRIES Figure 9. LocalBitcoins and Paxful Vietnamese dong (VND) combined volume in Vietnam (Source). Looking at every one of the top-10 countries from Figure 8, they all have meaningful adoption in Bitcoin and it is growing every week. Not only is Vietnam number two on the unbanked list, but it is also number one on the “Chainalysis 2021 Global Adoption Ranking.” In fact, looking at Figure 10 of adoption through LocalBitcoins and Paxful, USD volume shows that every one of the countries in the top-10 list of unbanked have meaningful adoption. Figure 10. LocalBitcoins and Paxful Vietnamese dong (VND) combined volume. What does this tell us about Bitcoin adoption in unbanked countries? It tells us that it's working. Continuing to see these trends improve will be good for Bitcoin adoption and not to mention the countries in which they are adopting it. All the ingredients are there. Most are unbanked with high internet access and an unreliable currency that isn't natively digital. All you need is time for the adoption to take hold. There are also some concerns that come up when thinking about Bitcoin adoption. Like, “How can they adopt bitcoin when it is so volatile?” Well, there are a few solutions to this problem. The first is that when a population has no choice, something as volatile as bitcoin could mean the difference between losing 30% or losing 90% over the span of one year. Keep in mind that bitcoin is already solving three of the major problems listed above, we are just remedying the problem of volatility. First, look at just bitcoin and its use cases today. For some countries, their currency is just as volatile if not more volatile than bitcoin. Not only that, but it is volatile to the downside, continuing to lose value as the government steals and prints away spent time and energy. If bitcoin were to be used, sure it might be volatile, but this volatility is either short lived, or it’s to the upside. Now look at bitcoin while using it for everyday transactions through Strike, as a more technical solution. This solution is currently available now in El Salvador as a test case and is starting to roll out to more and more countries. People use the Bitcoin and Lightning rails every single day but transact in USD, choosing to either save in bitcoin or not. This solution gives the best of both worlds. One, a population has the ability to transact short term in a currency that isn't volatile, like other emerging countries. Two, this gives access to the payment rails of Bitcoin and the ability to save in the most scarce asset in existence. Looking back historically, bitcoin has grown at a 200% compound annual growth rate and this has the opportunity to conserve and grow wealth immensely. For someone in a developing world, this is life changing. As this trend of adoption in underbanked countries continues, new and exciting ways where Bitcoin is used will emerge. For the first time in history, countries have the ability to store wealth in something that cannot be stolen. It gives the opportunity to transact freely without the permission of the state or government, and it allows people to break free from imposed serfdom. Bitcoin is here and it is only getting bigger. There is a change in the tides of time, and Bitcoin is a once-in-a-millennia technology that is pulling the shores. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 18:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 3rd, 2021

Bonhoeffer 3Q21 Commentary: Case Study – Millicom

Bonhoeffer Capital Management commentary for the third quarter ended September 2021, providing a case study for Millicom International Cellular SA (NASDAQ:TIGO). Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Dear Partner, The Bonhoeffer Fund returned -2.8% net of fees in the third quarter of 2021. In the same time period, the MSCI World ex-US, a […] Bonhoeffer Capital Management commentary for the third quarter ended September 2021, providing a case study for Millicom International Cellular SA (NASDAQ:TIGO). if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Dear Partner, The Bonhoeffer Fund returned -2.8% net of fees in the third quarter of 2021. In the same time period, the MSCI World ex-US, a broad-based index returned -0.7% and the DFA International Small Cap Value Fund, our closest benchmark, returned -2.5%. Year to date, the Bonhoeffer Fund has returned 22.9% net of fees. As of September 30, 2021, our securities have an average earnings/free cash flow yield of 14.3% and an average EV/EBITDA of 4.7. The DFA International Small Cap Value Fund had an average earnings yield of 11.1%. These multiples are lower than last quarter primarily due to increasing earnings and declining share prices. The difference between the portfolio’s market valuation and my estimate of intrinsic value is greater than 100%. I remain confident that the gap will close over time and the portfolio quality will continue to increase as we increase allocations to faster-growing firms. Bonhoeffer Fund Portfolio Overview Our investment universe has been extended beyond value-oriented special situations to include growthoriented firms using a value framework, including companies that generate growth through consolidation. There have been modest changes within the portfolio in the last quarter in line with our low historical turnover rates. We have sold Cambria Automotive which is in the process of being acquired and used the proceeds to increase our holdings in Asbury Automotive, Countryside Properties, and Millicom. As of September 30, 2021, our largest country exposures include: South Korea, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, and Philippines. The largest industry exposures include: distribution, telecom/media, real estate/infrastructure, and consumer products. We added to some smaller positions within the portfolio and are investigating additional consolidation plays with modest valuations in industries that have nice returns on invested capital such as fiber rollouts, convenience stores, and IT services. Compound Mispricings (37% of Portfolio; Quarterly Average Performance -8%) Our Korean preferred stocks, the nonvoting share of Telecom Italia, Wilh. Wilhelmsen, and some HoldCos all feature characteristics of compound mispricings. The thesis for the closing of the voting, nonvoting, and holding company valuation gap includes evidence of better governance and liquidity. We are also looking for corporate actions such as spinoffs, sales, or holding company transactions and overall growth. Throughout the year, Net1 UEPS has been accumulating cash from the sale of its non-core assets including a Korean transaction processing network and its stake in a crypto bank. This cash, in addition to issuing some debt, was used to purchase Connect, a merchant transaction processor catering to small and medium businesses. This acquisition will complement its consumer fintech EasyPay transaction and ATM network and expand Net1 UEPS’s total addressable market to include small and midsized businesses and lead to profitability. The Korean preferred discounts in our portfolio are still large (25% to 73%). The trends of better governance and liquidity have reduced the discount in names like Samsung Electronics, and more preferred names trade at a premium to common shares. We continue to like the prospects for LG Corp preferred post LX Holdings spinoff from both a business and discount perspective. The current discount to NAV is 74% for the LG Corp preferred. In addition, this discount is based upon a base value of LG Corp with reasonable implied EV/EBITDA multiples of LG Corp subsidiaries of 4.7x for LG Electronics, 13.6x for LG Chemical (including LG’s EV battery division), and 16.7x for LG Household & Health Care. Public LBOs (37% of Portfolio; Quarterly Average Performance -1%) Our broadcast TV franchises, leasing, building products distributors, and roll-on/roll-off (RORO) shipping fall into this category. One trend I’ve noted in these firms is growth creation through acquisitions which provide synergies and operational leverage associated with vertical and horizontal consolidation and the subsequent repurchasing of shares with debt. The increased cash flow is used to pay the debt and the process is repeated. Millicom, this quarter’s case study, is a public LBO that has financed many of its investment opportunities with debt. The recently announced buyout of its Guatemalan JV partner illustrates this. The debt, when used in situations like this, has been paid down over time as Millicom generates a lot of free cash flow and can increase returns like leveraged rollups, as described below. Distribution Theme (41% of Portfolio; Quarterly Performance +3%) Our holdings in car and branded capital equipment dealerships, convenience stores, building product distributors, and capital equipment leasing firms all fall into the distribution theme. One of the main KPIs for dealerships and shopping is velocity or inventory turns. We own some of the highest-velocity dealerships in markets around the world. There have been challenges in some markets hit by COVID, like South Africa and Latin America; but there should be recovery now that vaccines have been approved and distributed. GS Retail, the second largest convenience store operator in Korea (with 14,600 convenience stores and 320 grocery stores), is the security we received for the buyout of GS Home Shopping. We have applied our growth methodology described in the last quarterly report. The following is a summary: The convenience store business is growing and consolidating worldwide. As a result of the acquisition, management is planning on using the younger customer data from GS Retail, the older customer data from GS Home Shopping, and the GS distribution network (42 logistics centers supporting convenience, grocery, and home shopping customers) to provide older and younger customers their products instore (convenience store) or next-day home delivery across Korea. Management expects 10% growth overall, composed of underlying convenience store growth of 4-5% and 5% from cross selling and digital commerce from the merger. Given the fixed costs in the convenience store network and distribution infrastructure, management expects cost synergies to generate net income margins of 5.0%. If these revenue and growth rates are realized, then a P/E closer to comparable convenience stores BGF Retail (Korea), Seven & I, and Alimentation Couche-Tard of 15-20x is not unreasonable. This range has significant upside from current P/E multiple of 5.9x and five-year forward P/E of 4.3x. Telecom/Transaction Processing Theme (36% of Portfolio; Quarterly Performance -2%) The increasing use of transaction processing in our firms’ markets and the rollout of 5G will provide growth opportunities. Given that most of these firms are holding companies and have multiple components of value (including real estate), the timeline for realization may be longer than for other firms. Telecom Italia continues to work with the Italian government and Fiber Corp to merge their telecommunications infrastructures together. Vivendi has called an emergency board meeting to ensure Telecom Italia will retain control of the combined telecommunication infrastructure after the merger. We view this action as a positive despite the decline in Telecom Italia’s share price. The updated sum-ofthe- parts analysis (as detailed in previous letters) implies an upside of 80–100%. In my opinion, much of the recent decline is due to concerns that Telecom Italia will give up control of the combined telecommunications infrastructure. Consumer Product Theme (10% of Portfolio; Quarterly Performance -7%) Our consumer product, tire, and beverage firms comprise this category. The defensive nature of these firms has led to lower-than-average performance due to the stronger performance from more recoverycorrelated names. One theme we have been examining is the increase in sales of adult products (tobacco, alcohol, and lottery) in convenience stores as other stores are removing these products from their product offerings. GS Retail is taking advantage of this trend in Korea. Real Estate/Construction Theme (23% of Portfolio; Quarterly Performance -3%) In my opinion, the pricing of our real estate holdings has been impacted by both a recession and the communist takeover in Hong Kong. The current cement and construction holdings (in US/Europe via BFS and Countryside and in Korea via Asia Cement) should do well as the world recovers from COVID shutdowns and governments start infrastructure programs. Asia Standard also declined during the quarter due to the concern over the decline in its Chinese real estate developer bond holdings. Asia Standard holds a large number of Chinese real estate developer bonds, including those of Evergrande and Kaisa. The Evergrande bonds have declined to about 20% of face value as of September 30 (they were at 40% of face value on July 31, 2021, the last market-to-market valuation date for Asia Standard’s bond portfolio) while the Kaisa bonds have declined to 85% of face value. I ran a stress test assuming a 25% decline in the bond portfolio from July 31, 2021. This is 2x the 13% decline in the portfolio from Evergrande and Kaisa bond prices between July 31, 2021, to September 30, 2021. The resulting NAV/share is $8.09 versus the $10.09 NAV as of July 31, 2021. The September 30 stock price of $0.85 is at a 91% discount to the stressed NAV and 92% to the July 31, 2021, NAV. Consolidation Frameworks In our Q1 letter, we described how we are examining growth opportunities associated with consolidation in fragmented industries. Growth from consolidation can be a resilient form of growth as it is dependent upon the availability of target firms and associated cost and revenue synergies versus overall market growth. When consolidation growth is combined with modest industry growth, some exciting growth can be realized. If the firms also exhibit operational leverage from economies of scale/scope, then the combined effect can be significant growth in earnings or free cash flows. The advantage of this type of growth is that it is realized over time and not recognized by the market in advance. This can be seen in the price charts of many of these firms moving from the lower left to the upper right over time as the growth is realized. Fragmented markets can have long runways associated with consolidation and economies of scale and scope which can lead to cash flow growth in excess of the market growth for many years. We try to identify these markets and firms that can ride the consolation wave over a long timeframe. Some of these firms have valuations reflecting some of the future growth and some have little to no premium reflecting future growth from consolidation. Currently, the internet (an innovation) is providing more consolidation via additional fragmentation of retail demand from offline, online, and omni-channel selling channels. An example is traditional auto dealers using an omni-channel sales approach and Carvana who is exclusively online. Bonhoeffer is looking for businesses that are adopting the innovation (internet distribution) which will enhance growth going forward but where it is not recognized by the market yet, as evidenced by the current stock price. Some analysts have developed useful frameworks to evaluate consolidation or serial acquirer situations. Scott Capital has developed a useful framework1 for categorizing consolidators, shown below: Scott has categorized these types of firms depending upon the level of target integration. Most of the firms we have been examining recently have been rollups (firms in the same industry) with scale-driven synergies and operational leverage. We also hold one platform (Wilh. Wilhelmsen) and one holding company (LG Corp). Another way to look at these firms is cross-sectionally based on total addressable market (TAM) size and integration of operations, as described by Canuck Analysts Substack2 below: Using this framework for our current areas of interest (rollups), I have been monitoring acquisition multiples in the car dealers (Asbury Automotive), local TV and radio firms (Gray Television), building supply distribution (Builders First Source), Latin American telecommunications (Millicom), cement firms (Asia Cement), equipment leasing firms (Ashtead), and network processing (Net 1 UEPS). In each of these segments, multiples have been modest. None of these firms have done international “diworsifying” deals to date and some have recently divested unrelated firms (Net 1 UEPS, Daelim Industrial and LG Corp). In each of these markets, the market share of the top firms is less than 10% except for GS Retail, where itself and FRB have a dominant share of 31% each, and Millicom, where it has a leading or number two position in eight of its nine markets where it competes. The small market shares provide a large runway for consolidation in its existing industry for years to come. Also, none have made international expansion into new markets outside their existing footprints. A return benchmark developed by the Canuck Analysts Substack3 is shown below: This framework, used in combination with calculating return on incremental capital, can illustrate where the invested capital returns can be modest. As an example, we will look at Asbury Automotive. Asbury’s returns on invested capital averaged 13%, and the return on equity averages 31% over the past 10 years plus an organic growth rate of 2 to 3% per year based upon US auto sales and maintenance service costs. This results in an ROIC plus ½ of annual organic growth of about 15%. The size of Asbury’s acquisitions has been about $1.4 billion over the past five years. Below is Asbury’s return on incremental invested capital over the past 10 years which has averaged in the upper teens during that period. For other serial acquirers like Ashtead, the organic growth rate is 6% and its ROICs over the past 10 years is 14% resulting in an ROIC plus ½ of annual organic growth of about 17%. The size of Ashtead’s acquisitions has been about $2.0 billion over the past five years. Conclusion As always, if you would like to discuss any of the philosophies or investments in deeper detail, then please do not hesitate to reach out. Until next quarter, thank you for your confidence in our work and have a safe and warm year-end holiday season. Warm Regards, Keith D. Smith, CFA Case Study: Millicom International Cellular SA (TIGO) Millicom International Cellular SA (NASDAQ:TIGO) provides mobile and broadband telecommunications services to consumers and businesses in Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama) and South America (Columbia, Bolivia, and Paraguay). TIGO provides legacy voice, wireless and data services, and fiber-based services to firms and individuals. Currently, TIGO has 43.1 million wireless subscribers, including 20.3 million 4G subscribers and 4.9 million home customers, including 8.4 million revenue generating units (RGUs) and 4.1 million broadband subscribers. In addition, TIGO’s network includes 5,400 points of presence and 300,000 business customers. TIGO is the number one or two broadband and wireless provider in eight of the nine markets in which TIGO competes. Recently, TIGO announced the purchase of its joint venture (JV) partner’s share of its JV in Guatemala for $2.2 billion. This transaction will be financed by debt and a shareholder friendly common stock rights offering. TIGO provides mobile money/banking services for five million customers in six countries. TIGO also has 10,000 towers and 13 data centers which can be sold and leased backed. TIGO is in the process of separating its towers and data centers (like Telefónica and América Móvil) and its mobile money/banking service to facilitate sales or investments by third parties. In 2017, TIGO sold 3,410 towers in Columbia, El Salvador, and Paraguay for $417 million or $122,287 per tower. Historically, TIGO operated in both Africa and Latin America. Over the past five years, TIGO has divested its African telecommunications assets and purchased additional assets in Latin America. TIGO’s network passes over 12.2 million homes (24% penetration of total homes) and covers 80% of mobile phones. The firm is in the midst of rolling out fiber to homes to provide broadband connectivity to Latin American customers. This rollout is being funded by cash flow from operations. The firm has been described as building a Charter Communications under a wireless Verizon umbrella. This is similar to our Consolidated Communications play with the additional benefit of having a wireless network and a mobile money business. In most countries in which TIGO operates, they have joint ventures or minority interest local partners. TIGO currently has an average high-speed internet (HSI) penetration rate (a take rate of HSI for homes passed) of about 39% across the countries it serves. This has increased by 1.4% since year-end 2020. To put this in context, most cable broadband penetrations are in the 50% plus range. In seven of the nine countries they serve, TIGO is the number one or two competitor in wireless and broadband in two-player markets (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, and Paraguay) and number three in two markets (Nicaragua and Costa Rica). The Q3 2021 mobile average revenue per RGU was $6.40 per month, and the broadband revenue per RGU was $28.10 per month. The largest shares of proportional EBITDA are from Guatemala (38%), Bolivia (11%), Paraguay (11%), Panama (10%), and Columbia (9%). In terms of regions, 70% of EBITDA is from Central America and 30% from South America. TIGO has developed a customer-focused culture at the corporate and country level using NPS as a metric which is collected and used as a management incentive to increase customer satisfaction. In addition, the countries that TIGO serves have stable currencies versus the US dollar. Since 2000, the EBITDA weighted average currency movements have been only 0.7% per year. Another positive trend is the movement of suppliers to US-based firms moving from China to a closer location with political and currency stability—Central America. If we look at the index of economic freedom for the Central American countries in which TIGO primarily operates, they have a moderately free ranking. For the subcategories most of interest to suppliers (tax burden and trade and business freedom), they all are ranked free or mostly free (highest ratings). Millicom and Fiber-optic Rollout The Latin American telecommunications services market is a local, fragmented market. Consolidation has occurred over the past 10 years amongst these local players, and the next generation of technology (fiber-optic connections) is being rolled out. Fiber-optic rollouts are generating organic growth and economies of scale with high incremental user profitability. Millicom has created economies of scale depending upon the geography of the acquired telecommunications firm. There is also the vertical integration across telecommunications services (like wireless, voice, data, cable, and hosting) in a given geography which can create additional economies of scale. With these rollouts, telecommunications companies compete with the local cable companies—and in some cases wireless providers—to provide HSI and other services to customers in their local footprints. Historically, telecommunications and cable firms have had poor customer service, as evidenced by low net promoter scores (NPSs). Keith Rabois, a founder of PayPal, has tweeted, “Formula for startup success: Find large highly fragmented industry w low NPS; vertically integrate a solution to simplify value product.” Part of simplifying the solution is providing multiple services and good customer service. The telecommunication services market fits this description. The new fiber rollouts are analogous to organic startups and thus can also be successful in the vertical integration into these markets. Business and Service Analysis One way to look at telecom business is to divide it into slowly growing (wireless) and quickly growing segments (HSI). The slower-growing wireless business is mature and is growing about 2% per year. The HSI business is growing at an 8% annual rate driven by fiber rollouts in TIGO’s countries. Millicom’s overall mix of wireless and HSI revenue is 33% HSI and 67% wireless, with 67% recurring subscription revenue (HSI and post-paid wireless) but varies by country. The current revenue growth rate is 4.3% and will increase to 5%, by the end of 10 years and the HSI/wireless mix approach 50%/50%. If we look at unit economics of the fiber rollout, it is also quite favorable. According to management, the estimated cost to pass each new customer is about $150; and the cost to connect a customer is $100. This is similar to the cost reported by Oi, a telecommunications firm rolling out a fiber-optic network in Brazil. If you have a final penetration rate of 45% using the current HSI monthly charge of $28/month, and a steady-state EBITDA margin of 45% (which management believes are both achievable at scale; the current margin is 40%), then the payback time is between six and seven years, and the unlevered IRR is 26% and a levered return of 52%. See Exhibit A for details. Latin America Broadband Telecommunications Market The broadband telecom business in Latin America is a fragmented market on an international basis and a concentrated market on a country-by-country basis. The market is a local market, so the smaller country markets only have a few competitors. This leads to less price competition for TIGO than in larger, more urban markets where there are more competitors. Gig speed internet and wireless are core infrastructure services that will be required in the internet service economy. Currently, broadband usage is growing at a 30-40%/year rate and is expected to increase going forward, as more bandwidthintensive applications are developed and rolled out over time. Since most of TIGO’s competition is from cable companies and incumbent telecom firms (that have low NPSs), TIGO has an opportunity to provide improved customer service versus the cable companies. This highlights the importance of the decentralized management system, incentivized and shareholding country managers, and including NPSs in management’s incentive compensation at the corporate and country levels. Of the other publicly traded Latin American telecommunications firms, TIGO has the largest potential to increase HSI organic revenue growth (by 8%) via a fiber rollout in its incumbent territories. This can be seen in the projections based upon the currently planned and financed fiber rollout shown in Exhibit B. The tilt toward the faster-growing Central American countries (which should get some opportunities to replace China as exporters to the US) versus the slower-growing South American countries will also add a nice tailwind. The countries TIGO services had an average real GDP growth rate of 3.2% per year over the past five years versus the overall 0.7% GDP growth rate for all of Latin America. Downside Protection TIGO has been reducing debt over the past few years with a current proportional debt/EBITDA of 2.7x and a goal of 2.0x. TIGO has a bond rating of Ba2 and yields 3.5% for five- to 10-year bonds. TIGO is in a defensive business—telecommunications services—which has a large amount of recurring revenue. HSI data revenues are increasing, while wireless revenues are increasing at a slower rate. See below for projections and Exhibit B for more detailed projections. Below is the proportional historical and projected revenue, EBITDA, and FCF since 2016 when the Guatemalan and Honduran JVs were deconsolidated. Management and Incentives One of the risks in emerging-markets investing is management, as they may have different incentives than those to which Western investors are accustomed. In this case, you have a management team based in the US (Miami) that has been historically influenced by the firm’s domicile, Sweden. TIGO is led by a former Liberty Latin America executive, Mauricio Ramos. He brings the Liberty Media playbook (a successful leveraged rollup strategy of cable-related properties and associated shareholder friendly corporate actions) to the markets that TIGO serves. TIGO is listed in Sweden and the United States and brings the corporate governance practices, capital allocation, and shareholder renumeration approaches to its operations throughout Latin America. In many countries, TIGO has local JV partners which provide TIGO with access to the local connections. TIGO has management incentives, including TIGO stock (with minimum levels for country managers) at both the corporate and country levels. The capital allocation is also done at both the corporate and country levels. This country-level capital allocation, incentives, and stock ownership is unusual for a Latin American company. The major categories of capital allocation for TIGO are: 1) purchasing minority interests from partners, 2) investing in the HSI broadband rollout described above, 3) selective acquisitions, 4) repurchasing shares, or 5) distributing dividends. Categories 1, 2, 3 and 4 have the most well-defined and highest returns and have been used by management in the past. In 2020, the CEO’s management compensation was 20% base salary and 80% incentive-based bonus, of which short-term incentive (STI) is 50% equity based (TIGO shares) and 50% cash based and long-term incentive (LTI) is 100% equity based (TIGO shares). The 2020 STI compensation was based on service revenue growth, EBITDA growth, operational cash flow growth, NPS, and other operational goals. The 2020 LTI compensation is based upon service and EBITDA growth and relative total shareholder return versus peers. The 2020 equity-based shares were issued at $38.09 per share, and the 2019 shares were issued at $42.70 per share. Overall, 700,000 shares were granted in 2020 (about 0.7% of shares outstanding per year). The management team owns 0.7% of TIGO common stock. TIGO has stock ownership guidelines of 5x the salary for the CEO, 3x for other senior managers, and 1x for country managers. Valuation The valuation of TIGO is an interesting exercise because its expected growth rate is accelerated by the fiber rollout and share buybacks described above. The implied growth using the Graham Formula, adjusted to today’s interest rates ((8.5 + 2g)*(4.4/AAA bond rate)) and the current P/E, is -1.8%, clearly implying that the market expects TIGO’s cash flows to continue to decline. Some benchmarks for growth are the projected sales growth rates of 4.5% per year (based upon the fiber rollout), an EBITDA growth rate of 6% per year, and an adjusted free cash flow growth of 12%. The question is whether this growth rate is sustainable over the next seven years. Given the key penetration, margin, investment, and timing assumptions in the projection model, I believe it is. TIGO is the only Latin American publicly traded telecom firm that has a rollout of this magnitude (adding 18% to revenue) scheduled over the next five to seven years. One firm that also has a Latin American footprint is Liberty Latin America (LILA). LILA has grown revenues and EBITDA at about 8% per year since 2015. The EBITDA margin is similar to TIGO, but historically the conversion to FCF from EBITDA was 50% less than TIGO—25% for TIGO and closer to 12% for LILA. The current FCF multiple of LILA is about 16x. If that multiple is applied to TIGO’s FCF, it yields a value of $74 per share, which I believe is a reasonable 12-month target. If, over the five to seven years, a 12% FCF growth is attained, then the earnings will be $8.19. Applying a 23.8x multiple to these earnings (implying a 4% growth rate over the subsequent seven years) means a value of $195 per share is obtained. Another way to look at valuation is on an enterprise basis. If we value TIGO on a forward EBITDA basis of 9x EBITDA (the current multiple of cable overbuilder WOW!), then the resulting value is $200 per share. If we consider both benchmarks, then a $200 price target is not unreasonable. See Exhibit B for details. This results in a five-year IRR of about 42%. In addition to the core assets, TIGO has about 10,000 towers (with an additional 2,000 under construction), 13 data centers, and a mobile banking division. According to management, these non-core assets are being prepared for either sale-leasebacks or investments by third parties. The estimated value of the towers and data centers is about $2 billion—$1.1 billion for the towers and $900 million for the data centers. The tower valuation of $1.4 billion is based upon an estimated value per tower of $120k based upon tower transaction values (TIGO’s historic transactions averaged $122k/tower and a 2021 Telxius transaction was $110k/tower, 9,300 Latin American towers for €900 million) and Telesites’s current valuation of $252k/tower times 12,000 towers. The data center valuation of $750 million is based upon an estimated value per data center of $58k which is based upon Latin American data center transactions (Anxel data centers were purchase by Equinix for $58k/center, three data centers for $175 million, and Telefónica data centers were purchased by Asterion for $58k/data center, nine data centers for €550 million) times 13 data center. Adding together the towers and data centers, the total valuation of these assets is $2.1 billion. The mobile banking division (TIGO Money) can be valued using a range of values based upon the value of African mobile banking firms and Latin American neobank firms. The mobile banking business had 5 million customers and 48 million transactions in 2020. If we use African mobile banking transactions (20 million Airtel customers were purchased for $2.6 billion and 46 million MTN customers were purchased for $5.0 billion), the average value per user is $121. If we use $121/customer times 5 million transactions, it implies a $600 million value for TIGO Money. If we use recent Latin American neobank transactions (40 million Nubank (Brazil) customers were purchased for a $30 billion valuation and 3.5 million Ualá (Argentina) customers were purchased for a $2.45 billion valuation), the average value per user is $750. If we use the midpoint of the African mobile banking and Latin American neobanks of $435, we get $435 times 5 million customers, and the resulting value is $2.2 billion. This is additional value of $2.7 to $4.2 billion ($27 to $42 per share) in addition to the core business value estimated above. So, for example, if you assume a 12% FCF growth rate and the value of non-core assets, you get a total value of $255 to $270 per share. Comparables Given the fiber rollout and the size of TIGO, the comparable firms include US and Italian small-cap telecommunications firms. One of the larger issues in Latin American firms versus developed markets is currency risk, however; as described above, TIGO’s currency risk is similar to developed markets’ risk. The following are the comparable firms in the US and Italian telecommunications markets. The smaller Italian telecom firms have smaller floats than the US firms and are majority controlled (70%+) by the original owners. There have been some private equity acquisitions in the US rural local exchange carriers (RLEC) space, namely Cincinnati Bell and Alaska Communications. These firms have a similar dynamic associated with their respective fiber rollouts, and private equity firms have invested in these firms for similar reasons that make CNSL attractive. Cincinnati Bell has been purchased by the private equity firm Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, which outbid an original offer from Brookfield Asset Management. Alaska Communications is also in the process of being purchased by ATN International and Freedom 3 Capital. The EV/EBITDA paid by these buyers was 6.5 to 6.9x EBITDA for assets with lower margins than the current price of TIGO (4.6x EBITDA). Benchmarking In comparison to other US and Italian firms, TIGO has above-average (but good) FCF ROE and a high EBITDA margin. With TIGO’s fiber rollout and customer take-up, the fixed asset turns and ROEs should increase. With these favorable operational metrics, TIGO has one of the lowest current and 2021 P/FCF ratios of either group. Risks The primary risks to achieving a target valuation of $72 per share for TIGO include: a lower-than-expected broadband penetration of fiber rollout communities; and a quicker-than-expected decline in the legacy telecom lines. Potential Upside/Catalysts The primary upsides/catalysts include: faster-than-expected penetration of uptake of broadband services; operational leverage due to economies of scale; and re-rating to reflect higher growth. Timeline/Investment Horizon The short-term target is $72, which is more than double today’s price. I think the investment thesis can play out over the next three to five years. By that time, TIGO’s net income and earnings should have appreciated by 75%, and the fair multiple could triple with a 4% increased growth rate. If that is the case, then TIGO will attain a 6.7x return to $235 over five years or 46% annualized. This is similar to a “Davis double,” where both underlying earnings increase along with the fair value multiple. Updated on Dec 1, 2021, 1:24 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkDec 1st, 2021

Understanding intangible assets and how they generate value for investors and businesses

Intangible assets can't be physically seen, but are still just as valuable as other asset types. Tangible assets are physical, such as a house or money, while intangible assets are non-physical and include software or patents.© Marco Bottigelli/Getty An intangible asset is a type of asset that you can't physically touch or see but is still just as valuable. Examples of intangible assets are licenses, copyrights, a brand's name, and computer software. Intangible assets are more difficult to value than tangible assets, but are crucial to a company's success. Visit Insider's Investing Reference library for more stories. Assets are anything you own that have value, and can be tangible or intangible. An intangible asset is an asset that is not physical but still worth value that can be converted to cash. Intangible assets can be things like someone's intellectual property, a brand, copyright, or even a mailing list of clients. The key aspect that makes intangible assets stand apart from other types of assets is that they are not physical in nature and don't have an obvious physical value attached to them. However, this doesn't make intangible assets any less valuable. How intangible assets work Intangible assets are most common among businesses and are classified by their growth and value over time. They're long-term assets that the company plans to use for more than one year. An intangible asset can be classified specifically as definite or indefinite. An example of a definite intangible asset would be a patent or copyright with no current plans to extend the legal agreement. This intangible asset is considered 'definite' because there's a foreseeable end to the asset's value which in this case is when the legal agreement for the patent ends. An indefinite intangible asset represents something like a company or brand's name. There are no limits based on age, contract, or regulatory obligations. Companies tend to record intangible assets on a balance sheet but include only things that the business buys or acquires (like a patent, email list, or a solid website) are included. The intangible asset must have a long life span and value that's clearly identifiable. Sooner or later, a business will acquire an intangible asset whether it's obtaining a license to operate, building the brand's name (which results in a direct increase of profit), or trademarking something. These assets can be acquired by:Purchasing themReceiving a government grantCreating them in-house (software or a company that performs research that leads to the creation of a product or solution)Common characteristics of intangible assetsNot physical and don't have an obvious physical valueHolds long-term value for a businessCan be amortized, which refers to the process of spreading the cost of an intangible asset over a specific period of time (usually the life of the asset's value)Quick tip: Amortization is great to consider for intangible assets you acquire at a price. For example, if a company buys a $30,000 license that is active for 10 years, the annual amortization for the license will be $3,000 per year (30,000/10). This means the asset will decline in value by $3,000 each year.How do you value intangible assets?Intangible assets can have incredible value. However, sometimes it can be challenging to determine their exact value. There are well-known million-dollar brands right now that contribute to the overall value of the company if it were ever sold. Determining how much intangible assets contribute to the overall value of the company or calculating how much it would cost someone to duplicate your asset are both common valuing tactics."Companies will often provide a value via an expense booking for intangible assets that are required," says Daniel Milan, managing partner at Cornerstone Financial Services. "Examples would include the cost of filing for and creating a patent or the time and effort it took to create a customer mailing list. While they may not create a quantifiable book value for the business, you will often see the realized value of tangible assets in the premium a purchasing company pays for a company they acquire."Another way companies measure value is by taking amortization into account to determine how much the intangible asset is worth for the current year and future years. Finally, businesses can use cash flow projections to measure the future benefits the specific asset will bring to the business. What are the 5 intangible asset types? There are five main types of intangible assets. Here is a summary and each one and how to tell the difference.1. GoodwillGoodwill is an intangible asset when one company acquires another. Things like the value of a company name and brand, customer loyalty, or even good employee retention are examples of a goodwill asset. You can calculate a rough estimate of a goodwill asset by using this formula: P - (A - L)P = Purchase price of the target companyA = Fair market value of assetsL = Fair market value of liabilities"Goodwill does not always make it onto a balance sheet and will show up on a separate line than other intangible assets if it does," says Milan. "This is somewhat due to the more difficult nature of measuring them directly from a valuation standpoint."Note: A balance sheet is a financial statement that's commonly used by companies and shows both intangible and tangible assets, debts, and equity at any given point in time. Companies shouldn't add intangible assets that are not valued or that were created and not acquired to a balance sheet.2. Brand equityBrand equity represents the worth of a brand and its ability to generate sales and profit for the company. Depending on the company, the brand name can be critical to the success of the business. When a company has a positive brand equity, customers may be more willing to pay a high price for its products, even if they could get the same thing from a competitor for less. "An example of this is the brand recognition of Pepsi for PepsiCo," says Milan. "It has intangible value that has a significant impact on the sales for PepsiCo, and thus, the success of the business." 3. Intellectual propertiesIntellectual properties (IP) is what's created in someone's mind that can be used to produce a positive result, service, or product. Some examples of intellectual properties include trademarks, copyrights, patents, franchises, designs, literary works, and trade secrets that are valuable to the company and its products or services. Research and development (R&D) is another type of intellectual property and refers to when a company performs research with the goal of developing a new product or solution. IP and R&D go hand-in-hand because the research alone may or may not produce a valuable asset, but the development side will. 4. LicensingA license is another example of an intangible asset. It can be something that legally enables a business to operate and make money. A business may also purchase licensing to use a particular software in order to operate and make sales. 5. Customer listsCustomer lists like mailing lists are a valuable intangible  asset because having it can help businesses increase or sustain profits. If you have a list of people who have placed an order before or prospects that are likely to become customers in the future, you can use this information in your marketing and sales strategies. Intangible assets vs. tangible assets Assets are usually divided into two main groups: tangible and intangible. Both can be bought and sold and do share some similarities. However, they are mainly opposites. Here's how both of them differ from each other.Intangible assetsTangible assetsNon-physical; can't touch themCan touch or seeMore challenging to determine its valueEasier to measure/calculate valueInclude goodwill and intellectual propertyInclude machinery, land, inventory, and cashCan't be destroyed by natural incidencesCan be destroyed by natural incidences (fire, flood)Can amortizeCan depreciateThe financial takeawayWhile intangible assets can't be seen or touched, they can still hold value and are important when it comes to ensuring the success and growth of a business. These types of assets can also contribute to shareholder value as well. If you invest in specific companies, you may want to examine which intangible assets have contributed to the company's value and success. Consider what you think or feel when you hear the words Coca Cola, Apple, or Starbucks. Just those brand names alone demonstrate Goodwill value.Keep in mind that you also have open access to view any publicly-traded company's balance sheet via their quarterly or and annual reports. You can usually find this information by going to the company's website and clicking on a tax for 'Investors' or 'Investor Relations.' That way, you can examine their assets in more detail.Stock vs. share: What's the difference?Digital assets are becoming the new normal — here's how to buy cryptocurrencyAsset Management: What to know about this fast-growing industry that could increase your wealthLiquid assets are an important part of a portfolio because they can be quickly converted into cashRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 19th, 2021