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Montel Williams is suing 'scam' medical-marijuana companies he says used his face to sell products

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

montel williams

  • Montel Williams is suing a number of websites that he says used his likeness to sell scam medical-marijuana products.
  • The sites — with names like Secrets of ISIS, Beauty Strong LLC, and Advanceable Technology LLC — are linked to an Arizona businessman, Timothy K. Isaac, who had previously pleaded guilty to a charge related to selling misbranded drugs.
  • The ads were made to look like ABC News and Forbes contributor articles and used fake testimonials from celebrities.
  • Customers who ordered a "free sample" of the product were locked into an automatic credit-card billing scheme they couldn't cancel, according to the complaint.

 

Montel Williams is suing a number of "scam" medical-cannabis companies in Arizona he says used his face to sell products without his permission.

According to the complaint, a network of corporate entities, with names such as Secrets of ISIS and Advanceable Technology, linked to Timothy K. Isaac, are accused of using Williams' likeness to hawk scam cannabidiol products and entrap customers into buying products that may not actually contain cannabidiol.

Isaac, a former weightlifter, pleaded guilty in 2009 to several charges, including one related to selling misbranded drugs. Isaac is named personally as a defendant in the suit.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an active compound found in the cannabis plant; it has medicinal but no psychoactive properties.

Williams is a longtime medical-marijuana advocate. He started using the drug to ease symptoms associated with his multiple sclerosis in 1999 and founded Lenitiv Labs, a medical-marijuana company, earlier this year. It's geared toward the California market, with plans to expand to other states.

marijuana medical

Lenitiv Labs operates a research division and offers a line of medical-grade cannabis oils and other products containing CBD as well as THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

"When Montel entered the cannabis industry by founding Lenitiv Labs, he did so because he believes patients deserve safe, efficacious cannabis medicines," Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Williams and Lenitiv Labs, said in an email to Business Insider. "It’s important to understand what this scam was — this was a shameless and calculated attempt to weaponize Montel’s and Lenitiv’s credibility against seriously ill consumers."

Fake ads

After Williams spoke with Janet Burns, a freelance reporter and Forbes contributor, about his new venture in April, his words and face started appearing on the internet as ads for CBD products that he had never endorsed, with brand names like Revive CBD Oil and Hemptif CBD.

According to Burns, who first wrote the story of Lenitiv's founding, websites designed to mimic a Forbes contributor page and an ABC News article used portions of her original story and doctored quotes from Williams and other celebrities as testimonials for the products.

Fake testimonials from Whoopi Goldberg, who started her own line of medical-cannabis products, Whoopi and Maya, as well as Bill Gates, music mogul Dr. Dre, and Lady Gaga also appeared alongside those of Williams.

At least 12 sites hosted the ads that linked back to the sites that are linked to Isaac, according to the complaint.

ABC FAKE NEWS screenshot montel

Customers began complaining to Williams about the products they purchased, according to the complaint, even though he had nothing to do with the product. And, after customers had signed up for what was advertised as a "free trial," they were locked into an automatic credit-card billing scheme with no way to cancel, according to the complaint.

Isaac denied on Wednesday that he was responsible for running the ads.

"I'm tired of being blamed for stupid things," Isaac told The Phoenix News Times. "I'm tired of people trashing my name."

In 2009, Isaac pleaded guilty to a slew of federal charges related to a company he ran that imported a prescription-free Viagra-like drug from China, The Phoenix New Times reported that year.

The firm that Williams retained, Davis & Gilbert LLP, has "very successfully" handled a similar case wherein Dr. Oz's likeness was used to endorse scam products, Franks told Business Insider in an email.

"This suit was an easy decision for us because it’s true to the principles that underly Montel’s advocacy and on which the Lenitiv brand was founded," Franks added.

"Mr. Williams has instructed his attorneys to pursue this litigation aggressively," Franks said. "We intend to name more defendants as we learn the identities of the scammers involved."

Business Insider could not reach Isaac for comment.

SEE ALSO: Support for marijuana legalization reaches a record high — and even a majority of Republicans back it

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NOW WATCH: I spent a day trying to pay for things with bitcoin and a bar of gold

China's Bitcoin Exchanges Shift to P2P Model After Crackdown

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Following China's crackdown on trading against the yuan, some of the country's major bitcoin exchanges are now shifting to the OTC market.

Bitcoin Wallet BitGo’s Segwit2x Stance ‘Based Primarily on Market Price’

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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Introducing a Programming Language so Simple, It “Fits on a T-shirt”

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

http://plas2017.cse.buffalo.edu/

Blockstream is introducing Simplicity, a new programming language for blockchain-based smart contracts, intended for inclusion in Blockstream’s sidechains and eventually in Bitcoin. The new language was presented by its creator, Russell O'Connor, Infrastructure Tech Developer at Blockstream, at the ACM SIGSAC Workshop on Programming Languages and Analysis for Security (PLAS 2017).

"Simplicity is a blockchain programming language that is so simple, it fits on a t-shirt,” O'Connor told Bitcoin Magazine. “It is critical that smart contracts behave in ways that all participants expect, and applying formal verification to Simplicity allows us to achieve that.”

Simplicity is still a Blockstream Research & Development project, but there’s potential for its use in Blockstream products in the future, according to the company’s announcement.

“Simplicity is flexible enough that I anticipate many new, domain-specific, languages will generate Simplicity, and this will give users the freedom to generate smart contracts using the tools that most suit their needs," added O'Connor.

O'Connor’s paper, titled “Simplicity: A New Language for Blockchains,” presents Simplicity as “a new programming language, designed to be used for cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications, which aims to improve upon existing cryptocurrency languages, such as Bitcoin Script and Ethereum’s EVM [virtual machine], while avoiding some of the problems they face.”

Bitcoin script is limited by design and unsuitable for complex smart contracts that need more than a small set of simple templates to perform tasks like digital signature verification. Ethereum, on the other hand, includes a more expressive and flexible, Turing-complete programming language, which allows for arbitrarily complex smart-contracts in principle.

But, in practice, Ethereum doesn’t support static analysis to pre-determine the computing resources that a program will require and, thus, filter out too costly contracts and infinite loops. Therefore, pre-paid “gas” fees are lost when an Ethereum program “runs out of gas.” The simpler Bitcoin scripting, which supports static analysis, doesn’t present similar issues.

In a post to the bitcoin-dev mailing list, O'Connor proposed Simplicity as an alternative to Bitcoin Script, noting that static analysis is important for both node operators and for Simplicity program designers.

“Static analysis is a technique that provides a universal algorithm to determine how much any Simplicity program will cost to run before you stake your money on it,” O'Connor told Bitcoin Magazine.

Simplicity can be seen as a more flexible alternative to Bitcoin scripting, not Turing-complete but expressive enough to build useful smart contracts for blockchain applications, or as an alternative to Ethereum, which will support static analysis and other desirable features including improved safety, formal semantics, and Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (MASTs).

While Simplicity is intended as a low-level language for smart contracts, O’Connor envisages the possibility of compiling programs written in higher-level languages (like Ethereum’s Solidity) to Simplicity.

“Ivy and the Σ-State Authentication Language are existing programming language development efforts that may be suitable for being compiled to Simplicity,” notes O’Connor in the paper. “For the time being, generating Simplicity with our [Haskell] and [Coq] libraries is possible.”

The next step in Simplicity’s development will be a bare-bones SDK (Software Developer Kit) that will include formal semantics and correctness proofs in Coq, a Haskell implementation for constructing Simplicity programs and a C interpreter for Simplicity. Then, the new language will be ready for initial deployment in the Elements project, Blockstream’s open-source codebase for sidechains, so that developers can start experimenting with the code.

But, as O’Connor stated on bitcoin-dev, “Only after extensive vetting would it be suitable to consider Simplicity for inclusion in Bitcoin.”

The post Introducing a Programming Language so Simple, It “Fits on a T-shirt” appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

STOCKS RISE, JOBS REPORT FALLS SHORT: Here's what you need to know

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

hot air balloon


The big news was in US economic data, with the October jobs report release showing the economy added fewer jobs than expected.

We've got all the headlines, but first, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 23,539.19, +22.93, (+0.10%)
  • S&P 500: 2,587.84, +7.99, (+0.31%)
  • Nasdaq: 6,764.44, +49.49, (+0.74%)
  1. The US economy added 261,000 jobs in October. The report fell short of the 331,000 expected by economists. The unemployment rate did, however, fall to 4.1% — a 17-year low. Average hourly earnings were weak, growing by 2.4% year-on-year, versus expectations of 2.7%.
  2. Broadcom is mulling an acquisition of rival Qualcomm. The possible deal, reported by Bloomberg, would merge two of the biggest semiconductor manufacturers. Prior to the news, Qualcomm was valued at roughly $80 billion. Both companies saw their stock rise following the report, with Qualcomm jumping just over 13% for the day.
  3. The GOP tax plan includes a "bubble tax" on those making more than $1 million. The increased rate would claw back the benefit from getting the first $45,000 of taxable income for an individual taxed at a marginal rate of 12%.
  4. Sears and Kmart announced 63 more store closures. The struggling retailer will close 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores across the country. The news comes after Sears got a $60 million dollar loan from the hedge fund owned by its CEO, Eddie Lampert.
  5. Equifax said its executives did not engage in insider trading. A special committee formed by its board concluded that the executives who sold stock in the company ahead of the disclosure of the massive data breach did not engage in insider trading.

Additionally:

A key middle-class tax break in the Republican plan is temporary — and that doesn't make much sense

Traders were betting against Papa John's long before the NFL's national-anthem controversy

The Republican tax plan imposes a new divorce penalty

'NEW ENERGY': Analysts are bullish about Apple's strong Q4 earnings

Fake meat and free markets: Here's how North Korea feeds itself

Starbucks’ fastest-growing menu category has nothing to do with coffee

SEE ALSO: These 10 US cities saw the biggest wage increases in October

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Broadcom is reportedly eyeing a $80 billion+ deal — and the CEO was just at the White House (AVGO)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

hock tan trump

  • Chipmaker Broadcom is reportedly exploring a deal to acquire rival Qualcomm, which is valued at more than $80 billion.
  • Broadcom CEO Hock Tan joined President Donald Trump in the White House Thursday to help unveil the White House tax plan and announce the company's relocation to the US.
  • The potential merger features the fourth- and sixth-largest chip makers in the world, and would likely come under antitrust scrutiny from the US Department of Justice.
  • Relocating to the US removes the need for any deal to be examined by the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS).

 

Semiconductor giant Broadcom is reportedly exploring a deal to acquire $80 billion rival Qualcomm.

The timing of the news is notable, coming as it does a day after its top executive made a high-profile visit to the White House to support President Donald Trump's tax plan and announce its relocation to the US. Broadcom CEO Hock Tan joined Trump in the White House Thursday, lauding the White House's efforts to make the US more business friendly.

"Thanks to you, Mr. President, business conditions have steadily improved. The proposed tax reform package will level the global playing field and allow us to compete effectively in worldwide markets," Tan said during his address. 

The timing of those warm words, when the company might be looking at an industry changing deal, could be coincidental. Still, any deal for Qualcomm is likely to have political ramifications. 

First, the potential marriage of industry rivals — Broadcom is the fourth- largest chip maker in the world while Qualcomm is the sixth — could come under antitrust scrutiny from regulators. The US Department of Justice just this week made overtures to block AT&T's $85 billion bid for Time Warner, for example, while European regulators are looking in to Qualcomm's proposed $47 billion deal for NXP Semiconductors.

Second, Broadcom's relocation to the US is relevant,  too. 

The company has been trying to complete a $5.5 billion acquisition of technology firm Brocade Communications Systems since last year, but the deal has been hung up awaiting approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) in the United State — a government committee that vets foreign investments in US-based companies. 

The two firms had initially set a November 1 first deadline to complete the deal, but last month they pushed the deadline back

Since Broadcom will be a US-based firm itself, it will no longer need approval from CFIUS. And that would hold true for a deal with Qualcomm, too. 

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NOW WATCH: TOP STRATEGIST: Bitcoin will soar to $25,000 in 5 years

Bitcoin Cash Price Rises 26%, Correlation to Bitcoin Surge?

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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(+) Altcoins – There’s Blood in the Streets

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

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Broadcom is reportedly exploring a massive acquisition of $80 billion Qualcomm (AVGO, QCOM)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

qualcomm

The semiconductor giant Broadcom is exploring an acquisition of $80 billion Qualcomm, according to a Bloomberg News report on Friday citing people familiar with the matter. It would be the biggest-ever purchase of a semiconductor manufacturer.

Shares of Qualcomm surged roughly 15% on the news, while Broadcom's stock climbed more than 3%.

According to the Bloomberg report, Broadcom is in talks with financial advisers but no final decisions have been made.

Broadcom, which has a market value of $110 billion, on Thursday announced it would move its headquarters to the US from Singapore.

Qualcomm is also trying to complete a $47 billion purchase of NXP Semiconductors.

It has been a quieter year for mergers-and-acquisitions activity so far in 2017 — with US inbound M&A volume for the first nine months at $199.3 billion, down 39% from last year, according to Dealogic — though the activity in semiconductors shows just how much consolidation is taking place.

Tech acquisitions, in particular, have dropped sharply. The sector's M&A volume in the Americas reached $117.9 billion in the first nine months of 2017, a 58% decrease from the same period in 2016, Dealogic data shows.

However, John Waldron, a cohead of the investment-banking division at Goldman Sachs, recently told Business Insider he expected big-ticket M&A to pick up.

Of his firm's debt operation, Waldron said, "If what we think is going to happen happens, which is more endgame consolidation, that would be really good for this business."

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Qualcomm is spiking on a report it could be acquired in a record-breaking deal (AVGO, QCOM)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

qualcomm stock price

Shares of Qualcomm are spiking after Bloomberg News reported that rival Broadcom is exploring a takeover of the semiconductor maker, citing people familiar with the matter.

Qualcomm is up more than 12% on Friday while Broadcom is bouncing around but up about 1.5%.

The deal, if it goes through, would be the largest ever takeover of a chip maker, according to Bloomberg.

Broadcom is worth about $109 billion, while Qualcomm is worth about $82 billion at the time of the reports.

This story is developing, check back here for more.

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Bitcoin is Coming to Rofex, Argentina’s Largest Futures Market

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

The US economy added 261,000 nonfarm payrolls in October, the most in over a year, rebounding after weakness in September that was caused by hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas.

Economists had forecast a median increase of 313,000 after an initially reported drop by 33,000 in September. The September figure was revised to a gain of 18,000 in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' data released Friday.

Here's the latest on the Trump administration's efforts to reform the tax code:

In Wall Street news, Jason Karp, the head of $3.4 billion hedge fund firm Tourbillon Capital, is preaching patience. The head of JPMorgan’s nearly $2 trillion funds business issued a stark warning for a large group of Wall Streeters. The emergence of a new kind of fund could "radically alter" the investment industry.

And the cofounder and president of asset management giant BlackRock believes artificial intelligence will never fully replace humans in the investment world.

A men's clothing startup once favored by Wall Streeters was accused of failing to deliver on its promises — and now everything is out of stock.

As expected, US President Donald Trump named Jerome Powell, a current Federal Reserve governor and former finance executive, as his choice to replace Janet Yellen as chair of the world's most powerful central bank. His tenure is unlikely to be a smooth sail, according to Business Insider's Pedro da Costa. 

In deal news, Sprint and T-Mobile are reportedly working to save their merger, and Starbucks is selling one of its tea brands for $384 million.

Apple announced its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2017 on Thursday, and blew past analysts' expectations. Here's what you need to know:

Lastly, here are the 15 finalists for Business Insider's 2017 Car of the Year.

Join the conversation about this story »

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MORGAN STANLEY: Amazon will destroy these 4 industries the fastest (AMZN)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

jeff bezos

You've probably heard the term "Amazoned" recently. It refers to Amazon's power to erase billions of dollars of competitor market cap by simply announcing that it's entering a new sector.

It's an effect most clearly demonstrated by Amazon's recent acquisition of Whole Foods, which has sent shockwaves across competing grocery stores, brick-and-mortar retailers, and even pharmacies.

To see how far this Amazon effect will go, analysts at Morgan Stanley surveyed their peers to see which sectors will be the most impacted by Amazon in the near- and long-term.

Most analysts surveyed, more than 40 in total, said that food retail would be the sector hit the hardest. Amazon entering the food retail space through its Whole Foods purchase has already erased billions from grocer's market caps.

In second place were department stores, with 49% of analysts saying that's the sector Amazon would disrupt the most in the next 12 months. This makes sense as consumer habits have been shifting towards ecommerce amid the retail apocalypse.

In the non-consumer space, Wall Street sees logistics and transportation as the most vulnerable to Amazon, with 43% of analysts voting for this option. Retail real estate investment trusts came in second, with 36% of the vote. Amazon owns significantly less warehouse space than people think, with Walmart way out in front by that measure. The Whole Foods purchase adds about 1 million square feet of space to Amazon's warehouse holdings, but the company is looking to expand, which analysts think could upset the retail real estate industry.

 Morgan Stanley's survey also asked analysts about which industries were mostly safe from Amazon's reach. They replied saying dollar stores would take the longest for Amazon to disrupt in the consumer space, while healthcare and commercial REITs would be the safest in the non-consumer space.

As for the sector that has been the most unfairly impacted by Amazon? Well, that would be auto parts retailers, according to those surveyed.

Shares of Amazon are up 27.55% this year.

Click here to watch Amazon's stock price move in real time...

amazon stock price

SEE ALSO: Everyone is focused on the wrong area of tech right now

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$7,410: South Korean Investors are Trading Bitcoin on a High Premium

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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One grocery store is successfully fighting back against Amazon (SFM, AMZN)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Whole Foods

  • The stock price of many grocers was hit hard after Amazon bought Whole Foods. 
  • Sprouts Farmers Market was included in the group affected by Amazon, but lower prices and a focus on produce may save it from Amazon's death grip.
  • Sprouts is one of the best-positioned grocers right now, according to one analyst.
  • Watch Sprouts Farmers Market's stock price move in real time here. 

 

The day Amazon's $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods went through, grocery stores across the nation watched their share prices tank as the disruptive giant officially entered their domain.

Sprouts Farmers Market was among those grocers affected by the deal. It dropped 17.21% in three days as the Whole Foods deal was finalized and completed. But, the company isn't standing still. It reported its third-quarter earnings on Thursday, and beat Wall Street's expectations for earnings and revenue by a wide margin.

Mark Carden, an analyst at UBS, called Sprouts' report "straight up fresh" and is bullish on the future of the company.

"While one can attribute some of its beat to cycling a very promotional environment last year, we don't think the improvement was a one-off," Carden said in a note to clients.

When Carden started his coverage of Sprouts in March, he said that the company's produce, low prices, and ability to convert the occasional shopper into a regular is driving growth at the company, and he reiterated the importance of those strengths after the company's report.

Sprouts saw a boost from a stronger than anticipated produce growing season in the third quarter, and in general, the company has a strong produce section that is consistently priced lower than the competition, according to Carden. 

Sprouts' low prices in produce and across the rest of the store strikes at the heart of Whole Foods' biggest weakness. The minute Amazon took over, it lowered prices for many popular items at Whole Foods, but Sprouts' competitive price advantage will stay until Amazon can lower prices more aggressively across the entire store, Carden said.

Lower prices allow Sprouts to compete, not only against its organic competitors like Whole Foods, but also against regular grocery stores. It's what helps Sprouts attract customers from a wide geographic area and convert them to regulars, said Carden.

"We believe its differentiated model supports double digit revenue growth for the next 5 years," Carden said. He rates the company a "buy" and has a price target of $26, which is 26% higher than the company's current price of around $20.71 on Friday morning.

Sprouts is up 6.21% this year.

Read about how Amazon is bringing its biggest weapon to Whole Foods to ensure its success here.

sprouts farmers market stock pirce

SEE ALSO: Amazon is bringing its biggest weapon to Whole Foods to make sure it succeeds

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Starbucks’ fastest-growing menu category has nothing to do with coffee (SBUX)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Starbucks baristas food

  • Starbucks posted disappointing revenue numbers and lowered long-term guidance on its earnings call Thursday.
  • Non-coffee beverages and food saw strong growth, saving the chain's bottom line. 


Starbucks stock tanked 7% after-hours Thursday when the company reported disappointing revenue for the fourth quarter.

Beyond the top-line miss, however, investors found some hope in the coffee giant’s earnings — especially in the non-coffee areas of its menu like food. The stock jumped 4.37% once markets opened Friday.

"Our food program continues to grow and expand with food mix now over 21% for the first time ever in Q4, giving us confidence that we will reach our target of 25% food mix by 2021," CEO Kevin Johnson said on the company’s earnings call.

The chain has doubled down on its food offerings recently, and now offers everything from breakfast sandwiches to sous vide egg bites. Last year, the company announced it would add high-end breads and pizzas to its food menus through a licensing deal with Milan-based Princi bakery.

This could follow the successful pattern Starbucks found in its La Boulange acquisition, which “helped transform Starbucks' supply chain to a more consistent, national supply chain,” an analyst told Business Insider last month.

Non-coffee refreshments — everything from Oprah Chai to shaken teas  — are also quickly growing, Starbucks’ head of real estate John Culver said on the call.

“Plant-based beverages and alternatives [are] big area of opportunity for us, and our customers are asking for it,” he told analysts. “We're also seeing very strong growth as it relates to iced and refreshment. Iced and refreshment, in the quarter iced espresso grew 15%, and refreshment grew 24%, so iced and that area of the business presents a big opportunity…We're seeing good strong growth on breakfast sandwiches. We're seeing good strong growth on Sous Vide Egg Bites."

To be sure, the company still makes most of its revenue from coffee. Over half of Starbucks revenue last year came from beverages, a huge chunk of which it is safe to assume came from coffee.

Wall Street now has an average price target of $62.46 for Starbucks stock, according to Bloomberg data, roughly 10% above the $56.27 level shares were trading Friday morning.

Shares of Starbucks are up 1.79% so far this year.

Follow Starbucks' stock price live here.

Starbucks stock price

SEE ALSO: TOP ANALYST: Starbucks could be an 'indirect casualty' of the retail apocalypse

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NOW WATCH: Gary Shilling calls bitcoin a black box and says he doesn't invest in things he doesn't understand

Bitcoin Price: First Signs of a Tired Bull?

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The bitcoin bull market may be reaching a point of exhaustion, according to price action analysis.

Why this New York City preschool accepts bitcoin but doesn't accept credit cards

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Marco Ciocca is the co-founder and chairman of The Montessori Schools in Flatiron and Soho. In May the school sent an email to parents alerting them that they could now make their tuition payments in bitcoin. We went to speak to Ciocca at The Montessori Flatiron to find out how the transactions work, why it's better for the school than accepting credit cards, and whether any parents actually paid in bitcoin. Following is a transcript of the video.

Sara Silverstein: I’m here with Marco Ciocca, the co-founder and chairman of The Montessori Schools in Flatiron and SoHo and also the head of my daughter’s school. Do you accept bitcoin?

Marco Ciocca: We do, we do. As of this past summer, we made the decision to accept, at the moment, bitcoin and ethereum.

Silverstein: And how did you make that decision?

Ciocca: I’d been sorta following the space for a few years — just really noticed that a lot of forward thinking businesses were starting to accept it. The more I looked into it in terms of ease of payment, low fees, speed of the transactions — and I went to a couple of the conferences and spoke to some of the developers to kind of learn the upside and obviously the negatives of accepting it.

You know, it sounded like something that really fit with our philosophy at the school.

And in that time, also we had probably a handful of parents who mentioned, “Hey do you accept bitcoin? I’ve got this bitcoin. Can we pay tuition in bitcoin?”

So all those things kind of put together led us, you know, meet as an administration and decide whether or not to do it.

Silverstein: Do you use a third-party system?

Ciocca: We do, we do. We have a merchant account with one of the bigger exchanges here in the US. It’s relatively simple to set up and we just send out a request, like an invoice like you would typically and they can just wire it to our wallet. We have a system where it instantly converts to fiat to US dollars.

So we don’t actually hold the bitcoin, so we don’t you know, play with kind of floating it or any fluctuation like that. We instantly convert it to dollars and it transfers to our bank account. So it’s as if someone wrote us a check or paid us in cash or sent us a wire. It’s just less expensive and it’s quicker.

Silverstein: And is there any sort of transaction fee? Like, what do you get to keep?

Ciocca: Yeah, there’s about a 1% transaction fee, which is less than, you know, 2, 3, 4% sometimes with credit cards. And credit cards obviously take – A lot of them get declined and then you have more fees and then you have to recharge them and that’s been kind of, sort of a headache for — especially for schools.

Silverstein: So do you accept credit cards?

Ciocca: We don’t. We don’t accept credit cards.

Silverstein: So you accept cash?

Ciocca: Cash, check, wires and bitcoin.

Silverstein: To me, originally the — you accepting bitcoin seemed like a bit of a novelty and I have come around completely on that side. Did anybody actually end up paying in bitcoin?

Ciocca: Yes, we had about a handful of parents that paid in bitcoin. Among them were some parents who actually, you know, their businesses are based on blockchain. So it was something they were readily familiar with. You know, other parents that are in this space as their, you know, career, go to the school as well.

So it’s definitely something that our parent body understood.

There were obviously those that were like, you know, “What is this?”

And you know, it was quite easy to explain it to them. It’s like paying with, you know, if you’re gonna pay a check or wire. If you don’t want to pay one way or the other, it’s just another form of payment. It’s not something that, you know, you have to do. It’s just something else we offer.’’

Join the conversation about this story »

Bitcoin Bull Tom Lee Cautious as Bitcoin Price Nears $7,500

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

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'The middle innings of frothy speculation': A $3.4 billion hedge fund is sounding the alarm

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

froth bubbles

  • Tourbillon Capital is a $3.4 billion New York hedge fund led by Jason Karp.
  • The fund has lost money in its flagship fund, but says despite the bull market, there are still stock-picking opportunities; it just requires patience.

 

Jason Karp, the head of $3.4 billion hedge fund firm Tourbillon Capital, is preaching patience. 

The firm's flagship Global Master fund has lost money in 2017. And in an October letter to investors, Karp leads with a quote from author David G. Allen. The quote reads:

"Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind."

The firm's global master fund had a net return of -1.3% in the third quarter, according to the letter, and is now down about 3% for the year. Its long-only fund is up about 10% this year.

In an introduction, Karp said the firm is seeing "a number of warning signs that point to the middle innings of frothy speculation." He cited:

  • "The valuation spreads between growth (people are heavily overpaying for growth and quality) and value (one of the cheapest vs. growth ever)
  • "The unprecedented inflows into illiquid assets (private equity, VC, art, wine, etc.).
  • "The 500% appreciation of Bitcoin and the dozens of "cryptocurrency" hedge funds that have all launched in the last six months,
  • "The amazingly low volatility perpetuated by investment vehicles that sell volatility to enhance what is already the lowest yield environment in several thousand years."

These comments echo earlier letters, which have discussed the challenges of managing money in the current bull market.  In the October letter, Karp added that despite this, there are investment opportunities for those willing to look "ugly" for some period of time.

He cited examples of stocks which underperformed "for just long enough to cause abandonment (usually 18-months to 3 years)."

"Then with a little spark, there is a staggering, abrupt move," he said.

He cited Baidu, which gained 39% in the third quarter, and GM, which gained 43% in five months. And the letter identified a number of investment ideas: Fleetcor, Vantiv, Softbank, eBay.

"Although it feels as though there has never been a harder time to fight the consensus, remain low-net and avoid the all-too-easy trends, we also believe there has never been a more important time to have patience," the letter said. 

Fleetcor is up about 14.6%, Vantiv is up 8.8%, Softbank is up 11.6% and eBay is up 6.5% from June 30 through the morning of November 3, according to Bloomberg data.

Tourbillon had $2.7 billion in hedge fund assets as of mid-year, per the Absolute Return Billion Dollar Club ranking. It manages about $3.4 billion firmwide.

Before launching Tourbillon, Karp was a portfolio manager at Steve Cohen's SAC Capital and a co-chief investment officer at Carlson Capital.

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A men's clothing startup once favored by Wall Streeters was accused of failing to deliver on its promises — and now everything is out of stock

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Combatant Gentleman

  • Combatant Gentlemen is a men's clothing startup that was founded on selling stylish clothing at accessible prices.
  • Earlier this year, Business Insider reported that customers were not getting their orders in a timely manner.
  • Now, the company's website seems completely devoid of product as the CEO says that the company is focused on filling existing orders.

 

Men's clothing startup Combatant Gentlemen was built on delivering stylish garments at accessible prices.

The company — founded in 2012 by Vishaal Melwani, a former tailor who's now the CEO; Mohit Melwani, his cousin; and Scott Raio — quickly grew a following, and at one time, it was one of the preeminent brands at Goldman Sachs' headquarters. It even landed a spot on Forbes' list of America's most-promising companies in 2015.

But earlier this year, some customers told Business Insider that their orders were not arriving in a timely manner — and sometimes, they weren't arriving at all.

At the time, CEO Vishaal Melwani said that the troubles were due to supply issues at factories in China, and that he was working on fixing it.

"It literally sent shockwaves down us," Melwani said in July. "When you scale fast, you have to be ready for the repercussions, and that's what we're learning."

He added that it had been a "slow process getting it back up to 100%."

Several customers have recently reached out to Business Insider saying that they are still waiting for orders or refunds from earlier this year. One email from a customer, received on November 2, said that both suits and refunds were outstanding from an order that had been placed in March.

The customers also said that they were having a difficult time getting in contact with the company, as its phone no longer seems to work. The phone number no longer appears on the company's website. 

Every product on the company's website is currently listed as out of stock. That's prompted some customers — many still experiencing issues with getting product from the company — to speculate that it could be going out of business.

In an email to Business Insider, Melwani said that's not the case.

"We have decided to make sure that all of our wedding orders were taken care of to launch more product on the site. Our number one goal is to take care of our clients that were affected by the product delay and then return to business as usual," he said.

Melwani said fresh inventory will come in early to mid-November.

combatant gentlemen

combatant gentlemen

SEE ALSO: Furious customers are accusing Wall Street's favorite shirt startup of failing to deliver on its promises

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$200 Billion: Bitcoin Price Catapults Crypto Market Cap to New Record High

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Apple is $20 a share away from being the first $1 trillion company (AAPL)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Tim Cook

  • Shares of Apple are up more than 4% after earnings.
  • The company saw a year/year increase for its iPhone, Mac, and iPad segments.
  • If the company hits $193.60 per share, it will have a market cap of $1 trillion.
  • Watch Apple's stock price move in real time here.

Apple is closer than ever to becoming the first-ever trillion dollar company in the US after its fourth-quarter earnings report.

Shares of the company are up 4.34% on Friday after the company's fourth-quarter earnings result beat expectations. Apple reported GAAP earnings of $2.07 per share compared to Wall Street's expectations of $1.87 per share, on revenue of $52.6 billion compared to the $50.5 billion expected.

Apple sold 46.7 million iPhones in the fourth quarter, for an average selling price that wasn't boosted by the newer, higher-priced iPhones yet. It sold 11% more iPads than the same period last year, and 10% more Macs.

The jump that happened after the strong numbers means that Apple is only about $20 per share away from becoming the first $1 trillion company, as measured by market capitalization. The company needs to hit $193.60 per share, an 11% move higher from its current price of $175.12, to hit the fabled trillion dollar mark.

Apple is now worth more than $902 billion after the company's earnings report, and has gained about 9.2% over the last month, meaning the $1 trillion mark could be right around the corner for the company. This calculation assumes that the number of outstanding shares stays at its current levels.

On Friday, Apple released its iPhone X. Customers stood in days-long lines for their chance to buy the new flagship phones, which were expected to be in limited supply due to production constraints.

"We'll see how things go" was CEO Tim Cook's response to one analyst asking about the perceived supply and demand mismatch for the iPhone X. The company issued guidance for the December quarter that was higher than analysts' expectations though, which seemed to hint that Apple is expecting big numbers from the new phone.

Apple is up 44.74% this year following its post-earnings bump.

Read more about the company's earnings here...

apple stock price

SEE ALSO: 'Firing on all cylinders': Apple crushes earnings, beating its own expectations

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SEC issues warning on celebrity-endorsed investments

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Price of Bitcoin

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Fintech Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a statement calling for investors to be wary of investments endorsed by celebrities.

In the statement, the SEC pointed out that celebrities can be lured into unsound investments just like the general population, and that companies can even use a celebrity for marketing purposes without their consent.

This warning likely comes in response to the increasing popularity of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and celebrities — like Paris Hilton and Jamie Foxx — publicly voicing their own interest in such investment options. The agency further encouraged investors to gather background information on companies, including their registration or license status, to learn about their financial situation, and stressed the importance of being aware of overall risks and fees.

Despite the announcement, the price of Bitcoin soared to yet another new record of $7,351 yesterday, suggesting the ICO-related warning has been overshadowed by Bitcoin’s hard fork planned for November 16. This latest hard fork could result in a new cryptocurrency — like Bitcoin Cash or Bitcoin Gold — and investors are likely hoping that they will receive free tokens of the new cryptocurrency formed following the hard fork. It remains to be seen what will happen to the price of Bitcoin after the hard fork, dubbed Segwit2x, and how regulators’ warnings will affect cryptocurrency activities in the long term.

Sarah Kocianski, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together a report that compiles various fintech snapshots, which together highlight the global spread of fintech, and show where governments and regulatory bodies are shaping the development of national fintech industries. Each provides an overview of the fintech industry in a particular country or state in Asia or Europe, and details what is contributing to, or hindering its further development. We also include notable fintechs in each geography, and discuss what the opportunities or challenges are for that particular domestic industry.

 In full, the report:

  • Explores the fintech industry in six countries or states, and identifies individual fintech hubs.
  • Highlights successful fintechs in each region.
  • Outlines the challenges and opportunities each country or state faces. 
  • Gives insight into the future of the global fintech industry. 

To get the full report, subscribe BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now

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Ripple Price Outlook Positive on Korean Volume, Analyst Prediction

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Ripple's XRP cryptocurrency has gained 10 percent in the last 24 hours? What's going on?

Traders were betting against Papa John's long before the NFL's national anthem protests started (PZZA)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

papa john's nfl

  • Short interest on Papa John's stock has been hitting multi-year highs for months, dating back to well before the NFL season.
  • The company saw shares drop 8.5% in a single day this week on weaker sales, which it blamed on NFL national anthem protests turning football fans off.
  • One analyst says the rise of delivery apps that make local pizza joints competitive is a better explanation for Papa John's struggles.

 

The CEO of Papa John's made waves earlier this week when he blamed the NFL national anthem protests for his company's flagging sales.

As it turns out, those trading Papa John's stock had started souring on the company well before the NFL season even started.

The blue line in the chart below shows Papa John's short interest — or a measure of wagers that a share price will drop — as a percentage of shares on loan. It repeatedly hit multi-year highs as far back as the first quarter, when football fans were still planning their Super Bowl parties for last season, according to data compiled by IHS Markit.

The gauge then spiked to new highs in the period around May and June. And now, on the heels of the disastrous earnings report that kick started the whole controversy and sent the stock down 8.5% in a single day, short interest is yet again historically elevated.

PJs short interest

Based on how bearish traders had been getting on Papa John's shares for months, you can be sure they weren't counting on anthem protests to kill pizza sales.

So if the NFL protests aren't the reason for the struggles facing Papa John's, what is? Simon Colvin, an equity and credit markets analyst at IHS Markit, thinks that the rise of delivery apps may have something to do with it.

They've "leveled the playing field for independent operators," he told Business Insider. "These new platforms have the possibility to threaten the siloed model that the likes of Papa John’s and Domino’s have built over the years."

He notes that Domino's has also seen a "significant" pickup in short selling activity of late.

With all of this considered, combined with Pizza Hut's statement that the NFL isn't hurting its business, it appears Papa John's needs to come up with a new excuse.

SEE ALSO: The investment chief at the world's first tax-reform ETF tells us how to trade Trump's plan

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Equifax says its executives didn't engage in insider trading

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Equifax trading

  • Equifax executives sold nearly $2 million worth of the company's stock ahead of the disclosure of a massive data breach earlier this summer.
  • Equifax says a special committee formed by its board concluded that there was nothing wrong with the stock sales.
  • The special committee's report concludes that "none of the four executives had knowledge of the incident when their trades were made."

 

Equifax, the consumer-data giant targeted in a hack that exposed the personal data of nearly half the US population, said Friday that a special committee formed by its board concluded that the executives who sold stock in the company ahead of the disclosure of the massive data breach did not engage in insider trading.

Several employees sold nearly $2 million worth of stock between the time the company learned of the breach and the time it disclosed the breach, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

The special committee's report concluded that "none of the four executives had knowledge of the incident when their trades were made, that pre-clearance for the four trades was appropriately obtained, that each of the four trades at issue comported with Company policy, and that none of the four executives engaged in insider trading."

The committee conducted dozens of interviews and reviewed over 55,000 documents, including emails, text messages, and phone logs, according to Equifax. 

The committee was formed by the board in September in order to conduct an "independent review of various aspects of the cybersecurity incident and the Company's response to it. " It is comprised of independent directors and is advised by independent counsel.

In September, Equifax reported a massive data breach, saying hackers may have accessed the personal details, including names and Social Security numbers, of more than 143 million consumers from mid-May to July. Equifax, which said it learned of the breach in late July, said credit-card numbers for about 209,000 people and certain documents for another 182,000 were also accessed.

All the executives still owned thousands of shares of the company after the sales were completed, filings show.

The disclosure of the breach was swiftly met with criticism because of the delay in alerting the public to the hack, as well as problems with the website that Equifax set up for people to check whether their details were at risk.

SEE ALSO: All the countries Trump will visit in Asia — and what he'll encounter when he gets there

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Jobs rebound after hurricane disruptions, unemployment rate falls to 17-year low

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

american flag construction workers

  • Job growth bounced back in October after a slowdown in September that was driven by the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Restaurants, bars, and hotels recorded the biggest rebounds. 
  • The unemployment rate fell to 4.1%, its lowest level since 2000.  
  • Wage growth was flat month-over-month. The average was dragged down by the number of lower-wage employees who returned to work after sheltering from the hurricanes. 

The US economy added 261,000 nonfarm payrolls in October, the most in over a year, rebounding after weakness in September that was caused by hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas. 

Economists had forecast a median increase of 313,000 after an initially reported drop by 33,000 in September. The September figure was revised to a gain of 18,000 in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' data released Friday.

Restaurants, bars, and hotels made up much of the rebound in jobs, offsetting the decline in September that reflected disruptions from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. The monthly report does not include Puerto Rico. The BLS data captured people who got paychecks for the month, and many employees in these industries weren't paid when they were absent from work. 

State-level data for September showed that Florida's jobs market was impacted the most by hurricanes, as payrolls declined 127,000. It's not certain that all those jobs were regained by the reference week for the October jobs report, which included the 12th day of the month. 

"Hurricane job loss is in a given month (e.g., September) is typically followed by a bounce-back over the following three monthly payroll reports," said John Herrmann, a rates strategist at MUFG Securities, in a note. That means the distortions may continue through the end of this year.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.1%, its lowest since 2000. The size of the workforce also shrank, indicating that unemployment rate's drop was caused by fewer people looking for jobs. 

Average hourly earnings growth in October was flat (0.2% month-on-month expected), largely skewed by the number of workers in lower-paying jobs that returned to their jobs after the hurricanes. Earnings rose 2.4% year-on-year (2.7% expected). 

"Today's number is not a gamechanger from a market-participant standpoint," said Tony Bedikian, the head of global markets at Citizens Bank. "It's probably not from the Fed's view as well. The market is still anticipating the likelihood of a December hike. Today's number doesn't sway that overall market view." 

SEE ALSO: The GOP tax plan has the real-estate industry in a panic and talking about housing recessions

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Zimbabwean Bitcoin Exchange Prepares for Segwit2x Hard Fork

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

10 things

Here is what you need to know.

Apple crushed on earnings, beating its own expectations. It reported profit and revenue that exceeded Wall Street analyst targets, growing sales for all three of its major product lines — iPhone, iPad, and iMac.

The iPhone X is on sale now — and people have queued up for days to be first to get it. Announced in September, the iPhone X is the first major redesign of the iPhone in years, with an almost edge-to-edge screen, facial-recognition technology, and an increased emphasis on augmented reality.

President Donald Trump is headed to Asia. The president will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The White House says Trump will be aiming to "underscore his commitment to longstanding United States alliances and partnerships, and reaffirm United States leadership in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region."

Trump picked Jerome Powell to replace Janet Yellen as Fed chair. His appointee is a current Federal Reserve governor and former finance executive, and he'll face key decisions on whether to continue raising interest rates as the economy sends mixed signals about the growth outlook.

Trump's Twitter account was deleted for 11 minutes by a Twitter employee on their last day of work. This was done to Trump's personal account rather than his official White House account.

UK house price growth is set to slow by half over the next 5 years. That's according to estate agents Savills, who released the forecast on Thursday. They see prices growing 14.2% between 2018 and 2022, a drop-off from the 28% price growth seen in the previous five years.

Australian retail sales fell short of expectations. Data from the ABS showed nominal sales growth in September was flat at 0.0% in seasonally adjusted terms, short of forecasts for a gain of 0.4%.

Stock markets around the world gained. Hong Kong's Hang Seng (+0.3%) rose in Asia, while the Nikkei also climbed (+0.53%). The FTSE 100 (+0.12%) led strength in Europe, which saw Germany's DAX increase (+0.29%). The S&P 500 is set to open up 0.1% near 2,579.

Earnings reporting remains heavy. Fortis, Moody's, Revlon, and US Concrete are among the companies set to report quarterly earnings on Friday.

US economic data flows. Monthly nonfarm payrolls will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET, as will the US unemployment rate. Other economic data includes: average hourly earnings, trade balances, and factory orders.

SEE ALSO: The investment chief at the world's first tax-reform ETF tells us how to trade Trump's plan

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

Argentinian Futures Exchange Eyes Bitcoin Offering

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Argentina's largest futures market, Mercado de Termino de Rosario or Rofex, is considering offering cryptocurrency products to investors.

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Bitcoin Price Sets New Record As Cryptocurrency Market Tops $200 Billion

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Amid a surging cryptocurrency market, bitcoin price gains have continued today, reaching a new all-time high of over $7,450.

Newsflash: Bitcoin Price Peaks at New Record High Near $7,450

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein: I'm Open to Bitcoin

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has said that he has not comfortable with bitcoin, but he is open to the cryptocurrency.

(+) Top 3 Ways to Crush Day Trading and Swing Trading Altcoins

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BlackRock cofounder: Artificial intelligence won't replace humans

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Robert Kapito, President of BlackRock, and Mark Miller, Managing Director, iShares Institutional Business at BlackRock, ring the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on May 20, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by )

  • BlackRock has been betting big on artificial intelligence in finance in recent years.
  • But President Rob Kapito said he believes the future "will be human and machines."
  • A.I. is "just a way to make us much more efficient," Kapito said at a conference in London.


LONDON — The cofounder and president of asset management giant BlackRock believes artificial intelligence will never fully replace humans in the investment world.

Rob Kapito said on Thursday: "We're moving into an era — probably half of you here have look at your iPhone 15 times since I walked up on stage — where everyone is using technology. Why shouldn't technology play a very big role in the financial services?"

Earlier this year BlackRock announced plans to consolidate some actively managed mutual funds into more automated funds, with 36 people leaving the company as a result. The New York Times headlined the news: "At BlackRock, Machines Are Rising Over Managers to Pick Stocks."

But Kapito said on Thursday: "It's not going to replace humans. I believe it will be human and machines."

Kapito was speaking at the Barclays New Frontier conference in London on Thursday, discussing how technology is changing and influencing financial services.

Rob Kapito, BlackRockBlackRock has moved quickly and decisively to invest in artificial intelligence and its applications in finance over recent years. The asset manager, which handles $5.7 trillion globally, acquired automated investment platform FutureAdvisor in 2015 and invested £60 million into early-stage UK venture capital fund Forward Partners, which plans to invest the money into "applied" A.I.

"Everybody seems to be talking about artificial intelligence and big data," Kapito said on Thursday, adding that many people did not seem to fully understand it.

He said artificial intelligence technology is "just a way to make us much more efficient in how we handle all that data," rather than a way to cut out humans.

"There are two and a half quantile bytes of data that are created every day," he said. "We didn't have this data. All of a sudden we have mega amounts of data. What are you going to do with it? How do you know if it has any significance? We have to build ways to bring all this data in, analyse it, and see if it has any significance. "

Kaptio was being interviewed on stage by Barclays CEO Jes Staley and the BlackRock president told him: "Your industry issues 4,000 broker reports a week — who are supposed to read those? That's 53 different languages, 36,000 pages.

"At BlackRock, we could read those because we're picking out certain keywords that we think will have a significance for the companies that we own. That's how we would read it."

Kaptio added: "In designing the portfolio for the future, you have to have both active and passive strategies. We were analysing the performance of our actively managed strategies and various strategies did not perform their benchmark for 10 to 15 years. So we said, well you should be expressing that portion of your portfolio in a passive way."

Kapito cofounded BlackRock in New York in 1988 along with a group of others.

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50-foot 'coffin homes' and an £87 million townhouse deal highlight the scale of inequality in Hong Kong

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

In this Thursday, March 28, 2017 photo, Wong Tat-ming, 63, sits in his

  • House prices in Hong Kong are among the highest in the world, but it's also one of the world's most unequal cities.
  • Its poorest residents have been priced out of the property market: Hong Kong's poor residents have just 50 square feet of living space per person, according to a new study.
  • This week, a palatial four-bedroom house in the city's exclusive Peak district was sold for a record £87 million ($148.7 million).


LONDON — House prices in Hong Kong are among the highest in the world, but there's a dark side to its property boom.

A new survey of 204 families in one neighbourhood, cited in the Guardian, found Hong Kong's poor residents have just 50 square feet of living space per person on average. That is the equivalent of half a car-parking space, and less space than prisoners in the city-state's maximum security jails enjoy.

Perhaps the grimmest illustration of Hong Kong's housing shortage is its "coffin homes," the poorly-lit, minuscule, and often unhygienic apartments occupied by its very poorest citizens.

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017 photo, Simon Wong, an unemployed man, watches TV in his

READ MORE: Terrifying, first-person photos show the claustrophobic conditions inside Hong Kong's 'coffin cubicles'

The survey illustrates the stark contrast between the living conditions of rich and poor in Hong Kong, one of the world's most unequal cities. On Wednesday, a palatial four-bedroom house in the exclusive Peak district was sold for £87 million ($148.7 million), Reuters reported.

While not all properties are quite so expensive, property prices continue to spiral, and a recent UBS report found a skilled service worker would need to work 20 years to afford a modest 650 square foot flat near the city centre, the longest time-period from a list of 20 leading cities.

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NOW WATCH: I spent a day trying to pay for things with bitcoin and a bar of gold

Finance Bigwig Mohamed El-Erian Says Bitcoin Is a Commodity

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Allianz Chief Economic Advisor Mohamed El-Erian says bitcoin's price volatility makes it seem more like a commodity than a currency.

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(+) Asian Market Update: Bitcoin Remains Above $7,000, Trump Nominates New Fed Chair

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

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Crunch Report | Bitcoin Passes $7,000… Oh My!

TechCrunch, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin passes $7,000, VMware acquires VeloCloud and TransferWise closes on a $280 million investment. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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