All posts on February, 2017


ApprovedBusinessBusiness and finance

Snap’s IPO will be the largest in years

WHEN Snapchat first became popular in 2013, many thought the messaging app would disappear almost as quickly as its vanishing messages. Instead, it has become one of the most intriguing internet firms to emerge in years. When Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, goes public at an expected valuation of $20bn-25bn—the IPO is expected in March—its market debut will be the most closely watched since Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce giant, floated in 2014. Snap’s offering documents may be filed publicly as soon as this week.

Snapchat has captivated youngsters in the West with its quickly disappearing content and playful features. It appears to have connected with youth more successfully than older rivals such as Facebook (or its messaging service, WhatsApp). Users share digitally enhanced photos and videos of themselves vomiting rainbows and morphing their faces into animal masks. Around 41% of Americans aged 18 to 34 use the ephemeral messaging service every day, and 150m people globally spend time on it every day. 

Older grown-ups should pay attention too. Snapchat is experimenting with new technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and…Continue reading

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ApprovedBusiness and financeFINANCEFinance and economics

The custodian-bank business

NO ACTOR has ever sat nude in a bathtub to explain the intricacies of the bank-custody business, as Margot Robbie did for mortgage-backed securities in “The Big Short”, a successful film. The blame lies with the custody business’s virtues, not its flaws.

Instead of the 2% fees Ms Robbie mentions for offloading rubbishy securities onto suckers, bank-custody fees are tallied in hundredths of a percentage point. Custody bankers are generally neither glamorous nor crooked. They are accountants and software engineers catering to well-informed clients: the owners and managers of huge amounts of financial assets. The services they offer include: holding, valuing and transferring securities; receiving interest and dividends; and providing notice of corporate actions. The business grows with the financial markets, but more slowly. Years of almost seamless and scandal-free performance have made the business well-nigh invisible. But not quite.

Custody has habitually been “sticky”: the loss of a large account is unusual. But on January 25th BlackRock, a gargantuan asset manager, announced that it was moving custody assets worth $1trn from State…Continue reading

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ApprovedBusiness and financeFINANCEFinance and economics

The custodian-bank business

NO ACTOR has ever sat nude in a bathtub to explain the intricacies of the bank-custody business, as Margot Robbie did for mortgage-backed securities in “The Big Short”, a successful film. The blame lies with the custody business’s virtues, not its flaws.

Instead of the 2% fees Ms Robbie mentions for offloading rubbishy securities onto suckers, bank-custody fees are tallied in hundredths of a percentage point. Custody bankers are generally neither glamorous nor crooked. They are accountants and software engineers catering to well-informed clients: the owners and managers of huge amounts of financial assets. The services they offer include: holding, valuing and transferring securities; receiving interest and dividends; and providing notice of corporate actions. The business grows with the financial markets, but more slowly. Years of almost seamless and scandal-free performance have made the business well-nigh invisible. But not quite.

Custody has habitually been “sticky”: the loss of a large account is unusual. But on January 25th BlackRock, a gargantuan asset manager, announced that it was moving custody assets worth $1trn from State…Continue reading

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Software

LibreOffice Update Offers Fresh Experience

The Document Foundation on Wednesday announced the general availability of LibreOffice 5.3, one of the office suite’s most feature-rich upgrades since 2010, when it forked from OpenOffice at version 3.3. Dubbed “5.3 Fresh,” this latest release takes the development of LibreOffice in a new direction with a focus on updating the user experience, according to Italo Vignoli of the Document Foundation.

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BusinessBusiness and finance

Silicon Valley’s criticism of Donald Trump

EARLY in 2016 Schumpeter went to a dinner with one of Silicon Valley’s luminaries, a man of towering intelligence and negligible humility. Asked about the upcoming election, he scoffed: it didn’t matter who America’s president was. Politics had become irrelevant, he said. Technology firms, and their leaders, would carry on fashioning brilliant products and generally carrying out God’s work on Earth, regardless of who occupied the White House. Cue smirks and more Hawaiian Kampachi all round.

Now Silicon Valley has thrust itself into a presidential stink. Technology groups were the first among big firms to slam Donald Trump’s executive order of January 27th, which temporarily bans people from seven mainly-Muslim countries in the Middle East from entering America. Tim Cook, Apple’s boss, criticised it to employees. Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook said he was “concerned”. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, told staff he was “upset” on the day of the order, and a day later the firm’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, was spotted among hundreds of protesters at San Francisco airport.

Just a month earlier all these technology firms and more…Continue reading

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BusinessBusiness and finance

Silicon Valley’s criticism of Donald Trump

EARLY in 2016 Schumpeter went to a dinner with one of Silicon Valley’s luminaries, a man of towering intelligence and negligible humility. Asked about the upcoming election, he scoffed: it didn’t matter who America’s president was. Politics had become irrelevant, he said. Technology firms, and their leaders, would carry on fashioning brilliant products and generally carrying out God’s work on Earth, regardless of who occupied the White House. Cue smirks and more Hawaiian Kampachi all round.

Now Silicon Valley has thrust itself into a presidential stink. Technology groups were the first among big firms to slam Donald Trump’s executive order of January 27th, which temporarily bans people from seven mainly-Muslim countries in the Middle East from entering America. Tim Cook, Apple’s boss, criticised it to employees. Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook said he was “concerned”. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, told staff he was “upset” on the day of the order, and a day later the firm’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, was spotted among hundreds of protesters at San Francisco airport.

Just a month earlier all these technology firms and more…Continue reading

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Wall Street

Apple Goes on Record-Breaking Spree

Apple stunned Wall Street with Q1 earnings that set new quarterly unit and revenue records in key product segments, and its highest-ever earnings per share. CEO Tim Cook said the company set all-time revenue and unit records for its iPhone and Apple Watch brands, all-time revenue records for its Mac and Services businesses, and all-time revenue records for four of its five geographic sectors.

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Emerging Tech

3 Teams Qualify for Tube Test in Hyperloop Pod Competition

Elon Musk’s hyperloop dream began to take shape in reality last weekend as 27 teams, including six from outside the U.S., participated in a competition to create the mass transit vehicle of the future. The competition in Hawthorne, California, sponsored by SpaceX, which Musk founded, attracted teams made up mostly of students who created pods designed to run on hyperloop transportation systems.

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Trends

Tech Industry Gets Political

In the last decade or so, the tech industry has become increasingly political, which is different from being politicized. If I had to guess, I’d say that for the most part everyone is on the same page. However, many of the largest technology concerns have come to the realization that to protect their outlook, they need representation in Washington in the form of lobbyists.

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