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Archive for July 22nd, 2009

Bryant ‘optimistic’ Odom will stay with Lakers

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is optimistic the NBA champions will re-sign key free agent Lamar Odom. “I’m optimistic that he’ll be back,” Bryant said Wednesday at a news conference in Singapore as part of a six-country Asian tour. “He makes us a

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Patrick Barkham: The plight of Britain’s ancient trees

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

We are home to some 100,000 of the oldest trees in Europe. But is our neglect and ill-treatment in danger of killing them off?Above crumpled grey roots like the enormous feet of a prehistoric elephant, leaves form a vaulted roof as

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Altria Group 2Q profit rises, boosts forecast

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Altria Group Inc., owner of the nation’s biggest cigarette maker Philip Morris USA, said Wednesday that its second-quarter profit rose 9 percent partly as lower corporate expenses and the impact of an acquisition helped offset a decline in the number of..

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Ivory Coast ordered to cut stadium capacity after crush (Reuters)

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Ivory Coast have been fined and told by FIFA to cut capacity at Abidjan’s Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium after at least 19 people were killed during a stampede there before a World Cup qualifier against Malawi in March.

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AirTran swings to 2Q profit of $78.4M

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

AirTran Holdings Inc., parent of discount carrier AirTran Airways, on Wednesday posted a $78.4 million second-quarter profit even as revenue fell almost 13 percent. The earnings news offered a bright spot in a struggling industry, which has been hit hard

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I’m ready to die, says Mumbai gunman

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving suspect from terror attacks, tells court that he wants no mercy and is ready to dieThe lone surviving gunman in the Mumbai attacks said today that he was ready to go to the gallows and wanted no mercy from the court for

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Covestor Now Lets You Trade Alongside Its Top Amateur Investors

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

The end game for many social investing sites is to create their own investment management products that link member’s brokerage accounts to the trading data generated by the top portfolios on each site. Today, Covestor is the first major social investing site to launch a stock trading product. It is called Covestor Investment Management (CVIM).

Covestor had to become an SEC-registered investment adviser (like competitor kaChing did last December, although kaChing still has yet to launch an investment product). Covestor has seeded CVIM with ten of the top traders on its site, representing a variety of investment styles from growth to value to market timing. You can see their portfolios on Covestor, but the ones they trade on CVIM are different and you get only an aggregate view of their returns and top holdings. Once you subscribe to them, you get a full detailed view.

What Covestor is actually selling is investment data. Each of the ten “portfolio managers” are trading for their own accounts. They never hold any of your money. CVIM merely links their trading data to a brokerage account you set up either with TD Ameritrade or Interactive Brokers. You select which accounts you want to follow, and CVIM automatically instructs the linked brokerage account to mimic the trades in proportional amounts. Covestor charges a management fee of about 1.5 percent of your assets being managed, or $12.50 per month (whichever is greater), which it splits with the investors being tracked. You also end up paying the fees for each trade to your brokerage (up to $17 per trade).

Covestor CEO Perry Blacher argues that at least you know exactly what you are paying and that this can turn out to be less than investing in a mutual or hedge fund:

With a mutual fund or hedge fund you absolutely pay per trade. It is another transparency issue. The mutual fund does pay commissions, they pay fees to the broker that sells stock to them it is just you don’t know how much commission they paid as it is reflected in your own performance. In other words they may have bought a stock at $11.25 but it will appear as if it were bought at $11.13. They wrap the commission into the cost of the security/securities.

In the end, nobody is going to care about the fees. It is the performance of each portfolio that matters. I’m not convinced that really good amateur investors can do any better than professional investors. Over time, they nearly all get beaten by the S&P 500. If you take a look at how each of the ten Covestor “model managers is doing, some are beating the S&P 500 this month, but none are beating it over the past three months. I’d definitely want to see some outperformance before I put any money behind these guys. But I like the fact that Covestor is leveling the playing field for smart investors to virtually manage funds and compete with the institutional establishment.

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Video: Kevin Spacey Tries to Explain Twitter to David Letterman

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

This is a video featuring Kevin Spacey. He’s a man who gets paid millions of dollars to pretend to be other men, for entertainment. And here he is on the “Late Show With David Letterman” trying to explain Twitter, the pulse of the planet, to Mr. Letterman.

Key points to remember: Twitter is free; you type with your thumbs; it’s “a waste of time.”

Mr. Spacey: “And now, I’ll get, in about an hour, lots and lots of people saying ‘hi’ back.”
Mr. Letterman: “That really is a miracle.”


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On the Apparent Apple Suicide

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Every once in a while you get a story so strange and horrible that it takes a while to sink in. I’m talking about the suicide of a Foxconn employee who was caught doing something with an “Apple’s Iphone prototype” and jumped out of the window.

Matt wrote:

So the story goes that a 25-year-old man at Foxconn – where Apple’s Iphones are born – was to send 16 Apple’s Iphone prototypes to Apple from the Chinese factory, but one was lost somewhere. The Foxconn security department then proceeded to illegally search the man’s apartment and interrogated him. But that was too much for the man that might be responsible for leaking a prototype of the next Apple’s Iphone.

A few days ago on July 16, he jumped from a 12-story building because of the incident. It’s probably not out of the realm of possibilities that he not only was roughed up, but also lost his job even though that’s not mentioned in the report.

This means two things: that there is an Apple’s Iphone prototype floating around (a highly dubious proposition considering that they would not have “mailed” any prototypes to Foxconn nor does Foxconn particularly need prototypes from Cupertino – they only need plans and someone from Apple to supervise the manufacture) and that the CE industry is built on false promises and exploitation. It’s financial exploitation, physical exploitation, and psychological exploitation and we’re all part of it.


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Cautiously Optimistic: CrunchBase Q2 Report Shows Upticks In VC Funding and Exits

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

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Is the worst behind us? The broad worldwide recession hit the venture capital and startup communities hard last year. Memories of the NASDAQ meltdown and venture capital “nuclear winter” earlier this decade sent everyone into a tizzy as they feared a repeat performance—venture dollars froze and hundreds of thousands of tech workers were laid off.

But it appears that the worst is over for now. Or at least, the broad indicators suggest that venture and entrepreneurial activity has stabilized and may in some cases be trending up. In Q2 2009 we tracked via CrunchBase a total of 400 estimated new startups founded, $6.4 billion in new venture capital financings and $15.8 billion in merger and acquisition activity. (Download the full report here for $195) And we only tracked 20,000 new layoffs, just 10% of the 200,000 we saw let go in Q1 2009.

Of course this could just be the calm in the eye of the storm, with significant additional turbulence up ahead. Venture capital returns continue to flatline—there are simply too many venture firms investing too much money, and the IPO market for startups remains effectively shuttered. We either need a path towards liquidity for startups or a much smaller venture capital market.

But the Q2 CrunchBase numbers make us cautiously optimistic.

For one thing, we estimate a rebound in the number of start-ups being founded (always a good sign). There were already 191 companies in CrunchBase founded in Q2 2009 (at the time we did our final data run) . We expect that number to reach more than 400 as a result of a normal lag in self-reporting.

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Venture investments are also coming back. They increased 19% from $5.4 billion in Q1 to $6.4 billion in Q2 2009. This compares to $5.3 billion in Q2 deals counted by Dow Jones VentureSource and only $3.7 billion by Thomson Reuters in the MoneyTree Report which came out last night. (Each report is based on its own set of data and different methodologies). Although the trend is up from last quarter, our Q2 2009 data is 24% lower than Q2 2008.

The number of deals we tracked in the quarter was 516, a bit lower than the 560 in Q1, but the average deal size went up. Also, we saw a greater appetite for early stage investing, with the money going into Series A investments increasing 83 percent to $900 million. Series B investments still dominated with 104 deals totaling $1 billion. The average deal size was $12.4 million, with the median deal size at $5.5 million.

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The M&A action is also starting to pick up. CrunchBase counted 214 exits totaling $15.8 billion for Q2 2009. Aggregate M&A volume is 50% higher than the Q1 total of $10.3 billion, though still down 40% from $25.8 billion a year ago. About half of that total, however, comes from a single transaction: Oracle’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems (announced during the quarter, but still pending). Other large M&A deals included Glaxo SmithKline buying Stiefel for $3.8 billion, Intel acquiring Wind River for $884 million, OpenText snatching Vignette for $310 million and Intuit buying PayCycle for $175 million.

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The full 35-page second-quarter report (including 29 interactive exhibits in excel and 33 PDF graphics) is available for $195 as a download here. This quarter, we added all our raw data and tables into excel files so readers can easily cut-and-paste charts into their own reports and slice-and-dice the data for their own use. We’ve also included a number of graphics that readers can use for third party publishing, linking is appreciated. Of course, you’re also welcome to grab the data free of charge through our CrunchBase open API.

See the report table of contents and a list of exhibits here.

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