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Tezos Foundation Reorganizes, Gevers Steps Down

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

Tezos Foundation Reorganizes, Gevers Steps Down

After months of infighting between the organizers of Tezos, a blockchain project currently in development, and the Tezos Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit that controls the project’s pursestrings, the two remaining original members of the Foundation have “voluntarily” resigned. This means that since December, the entire three-person board has been replaced.

According to an announcement by the Tezos Foundation, Johann Gevers, the former president of the Foundation, has stepped down and will be replaced by Ryan Jesperson, a Tezos project contributor.

Diego Olivier Fernandez Pons also stepped down and will be replaced by Michel Mauny, a senior researcher at Inria, the French company that developed OCaml, the programming language Tezos is written in.  

Another board member, Guido Schmitz-Krummacher, resigned in December “because he was frustrated with the infighting, which was consuming a lot of his time,” according to Reuters. He was replaced by Lars Haussmann, head of accounting firm Haussmann Treuhand AG, on January 31, 2018.

Infighting

Tezos, a blockchain project aiming to compete with the likes Ethereum and Cardano, was co-founded by Kathleen and Arthur Breitman. In an uncapped initial coin offering (ICO) put forth as a “fundraiser,” the project raised $232 million worth of bitcoin and ether in July 2017. Those funds, which ballooned in value to around $1 billion due to this year’s rally in cryptocurrencies, were put in the control of the Tezos Foundation.

The Breitmans, who retain ownership of the Tezos code through Dynamic Ledger Solutions, a Delaware-based company, have been fighting to get rid of Gevers since October. At that time, the Breitmans’ lawyer sent a 46-page letter to the two other members of the Foundation (Schmitz-Krummacher and Fernandez Pons, at the time), accusing Gevers of “self-dealing, self-promotion and conflicts of interest” and calling for his prompt dismissal.

According to reports, the dispute originated a month before Gevers drew up a compensation package for himself, which the Breitmans claimed was excessive and not properly disclosed. It’s likely that the event also acted as a signal to the Breitmans that in setting up the Tezos Foundation, an organization that was supposed to operate completely independently of Dynamic Ledger Solutions, they had put too much control in the hands of too few people.

On October 18, 2017, in a blog post, Arthur Breitman proposed a solution to the power struggle, which involved setting up Tezos AG, a subsidiary of the Foundation that would have its own budget and allow Dynamic Ledger Solutions to operate with less oversight. The Breitmans also proposed increasing the number of people on the Tezos Foundation board from three to seven.

Since October, Gevers had kept relatively silent on the matter until January 28, 2018, when he published a blog post (archived) outlining steps for how the Foundation would push forward with the launch of the platform. (He later deleted the post.)

“I am glad to announce that the Foundation has regained access to banking services, which  —  due to the controversy surrounding the Tezos project  —  had been suspended since October 2017,” he wrote. “This allows us to continue with our top priority, which is to build an operational team that can execute the Foundation’s mission.”

In another interesting turn of events, a few days later, in an attempt to overthrow the Tezos Foundation, community members backing the Breitmans launched an alternative Swiss foundation dubbed “T2.” Wall Street Journal reporter Paul Vigna described the move as “not unlike shareholders in a corporation proposing a new board of directors because they like the CEO more than the board.”

Lawsuits

The infighting, in addition to delays in the launch of the network and a holdup on funds, led to other complications. Since October, at least four class-action suits have been filed against Tezos on behalf of contributors accusing the project of selling securities.

When the project was launched, the Breitmans portrayed the tokens as a donation to the project, but some contributors believed they were investing in a cryptocurrency that would go up in value like bitcoin. Those contributors were given vouchers for tezzies, the native token that will operate on the Tezos platform once it launches; but until the project launches, they are unable to redeem their tokens.

The changeover in board members of the Tezos Foundation may be a sign that good news is on the horizon. At the recent Cyber Days conference at the UCLA Blockchain Lab, Kathleen Breitman hinted the platform would be launching in a few weeks.  

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Kavita Gupta on Lubin, Buterin and Entrepreneurship in the Blockchain Space

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

Feature Interview With Kavita Gupta of ConsenSys Ventures

When ConsenSys, a Brooklyn, New York–based firm that builds decentralized applications and blockchain ecosystem tools on Ethereum, launched a $50 million venture arm, it turned to Kavita Gupta to run it. Working closely with Joe Lubin, the founder of ConsenSys and one of the early founders of Ethereum, Gupta began spearheading efforts to fund early stage Ethereum-based startups through ConsenSys’ rapidly growing network.

A native of India, Gupta received the UN Social Finance Innovator Award in 2015. She has done work at the World Bank, leading the organization’s youth innovation fund. Gupta also has vast experience in the investment world, with stints at high profile firms like McKinsey, HSBC and International Finance Corporation.

Following the recent Cyber Day event she presented at on the campus U.C.L.A, Bitcoin Magazine spoke to Gupta about her journey in working with ConsenSys Ventures.

On Working With Joe Lubin and Vitalik Buterin

A few years ago, Gupta had the good fortune of meeting ConsenSys founder Joe Lubin at a very small luncheon organized by the World Bank. “We had a three-hour conversation and I was a convert. Over the ensuing months, we kept brainstorming ideas about investments in the blockchain space. Hearing about Ethereum got me super excited!”

Since joining the team as the head of ConsenSys Ventures, Gupta’s respect for Lubin has continued to grow. “He’s extremely visionary. As you know, Ethereum is a huge ecosystem and, even though ConsenSys is at the epicenter of it, there are a lot of other players taking things in various directions. So I admire Joe’s patience and faith, specifically his ability to work tirelessly each day with a smile on his face in a now 600+ person company with locales in 28 countries.”

Gupta admits to having been a bit intimidated the first time she met Ethereum founder and mastermind, Vitalik Buterin, but was quickly won over. “Somehow I had it in my head that I shouldn’t approach him and that if I didn’t have a deep Ethereum coding background I’d look stupid. I kept saying to myself, he’ll think I’m just fluff. But to my surprise he gave me two hours of his time when I first met with him in China.

“He’s a very simple, very humble, very sweet, super genius guy. While others have their opinions about him, the Vitalik I know has a very, very high emotional intelligence. I really deeply respect him. Our entire team respects him.”

Gupta has had some experience interacting with infamous, groundbreaking men in the technology space.

“I attended MIT when Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz [were starting] Facebook while at Harvard. Many of us kept bumping into the two of them, which gave us the opportunity to express what we liked or didn’t like about the Facebook wall. We could easily reach them and talk to them as though they were a friend. I feel like working with Joe and Vitalik is kind of like this: two people you can just walk up to and say, ‘I have a question.’”  

Advice for New Entrepreneurs in the Space

She chuckled loudly when asked about whether there are any misconceptions she hears from startup leaders when meeting them for the first time: “They often start out with, ‘Ahh, I’m doing a project on blockchain so my valuation should be $50 million dollars.’ I’m like, no, dude.”

For Gupta, it is important that entrepreneurs start with a solid product first. “Frankly, it’s sad to see even smart entrepreneurs focus their first six months on selling tokens rather than actually building a product. In my opinion, these startups don’t need $50 million to build a product. And for the life of me, I have no clue as to who all of these people are that are investing $50 million in these types of projects with little knowledge of or ever having met the founder.”

Her advice to new startups entering into the Ethereum blockchain space is to read and research voraciously. “There is amazing material out there. You don’t have to be a genius. You don’t have to come from a technology background. Just read online. There are many amazing Reddit threads if you have questions. There are so many meetups. ConsenSys does educational meetups and university programs everywhere. So just make it a priority to go and hang out and capitalize on these opportunities. Find people to exchange cards with and then go and have coffee together. That’s where all of the magic happens.”  

Find people to exchange cards with and then go and have coffee together. That’s where all of the magic happens.

Coming from an engineering background at MIT as well as from an investment background, Gupta seems to have found her niche.

“Honestly, I’m kind of like a kid in the candy store. For me personally, the work that I’m currently engaged in is the best I could have even asked for.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

20% Gains: Nano Floats in a Sea of Crypto Red

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

The post 20% Gains: Nano Floats in a Sea of Crypto Red appeared first on CCN

Nano is the only coin in the top 30 by market cap to have gained significantly on a day when most cryptocurrencies have fallen by high single-digits. At the time of writing, Nano (XRB) is up almost 20 percent to the US dollar and almost 25 percent against Bitcoin. At the time of writing, Nano

The post 20% Gains: Nano Floats in a Sea of Crypto Red appeared first on CCN

The Next Petro? Iranian Minister Reveals Cryptocurrency Plans

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

Iran's central bank is developing a cryptocurrency, though it has no plans to embrace bitcoin.

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.

Upon first glance, Matt Moberg's background fits that of your traditional finance professional.

He got his MBA from a top-tier school, and became a certified public accountant (CPA) early in his career. After an internship at Franklin Templeton, he scored a full-time gig and eventually ascended the ranks over two decades to his current position as lead manager of the firm's $5 billion DynaTech fund.

But it's Moberg's undergraduate background as a European history major he says gives him an edge when it comes to assembling the perfect portfolio. You can read why here

Elsewhere in finance news, there has been a shakeup at the top of one of billionaire Ken Griffin's stock-picking units. And female investment bankers at Barclays get bonuses that are 79% lower than men on average.

In markets news:

And in crypto news: 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We asked Jamie Dimon why JPMorgan is forming a new healthcare company with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway — here's what he said

You can now buy and sell bitcoin and ethereum without paying any fees on Robinhood — but you'll have to get in line

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

Vlad Tenev Robinhood founder CEO

  • Commission-free brokerage site Robinhood is offering users a chance to trade bitcoin and ethereum with zero transaction fees.
  • The feature is only available in select states, and there are already more than 1 million people on the waitlist.
  • The move to trade in cryptocurrencies could place Robinhood as a key competitor to cryptocurrency trading platforms like Coinbase.

Commission-free brokerage site Robinhood, recently valued at $1.3 billion, is now offering its users the chance to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like ethereum and bitcoin, with zero transaction fees.

But if you want to make a commission-free cryptocurrency trade on Robinhood, you'll need to get in line: Since the feature was first announced in January, interest boomed. The service is currently tallying the waitlist to get access to the cryptocurrency trading feature at more than 1 million prospective customers.

Now that the cryptocurrency features are rolling out, though, that waitlist should start to gradually move up. 

The commission-free aspect is a trademark of Robinhood, which has offered the same policy for stock trades over the five years it's been in existence. Extending that policy places Robinhood in prime competition with other popular cryptocurrency trading platforms, including the $1.6 billion startup Coinbase. 

For now, access to commission-free bitcoin and bthereum trades on Robinhood are relegated to users living in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, and New Hampshire, although the company has plans to expand its geographical reach in the future

RobinhoodRobinhood is also introducing Robinhood Feed — a real-time chat for people interested in keeping up to date on cryptocurrencies, market fluctuations, and investing advice.

Like the trading platform, Robinhood Feed has tons of interest: On its site, the company hints that Feed is only available to a limited number of users, and that early adopters will have the chance to give direct feedback on the product.

SEE ALSO: Robinhood dives into cryptocurrency with free bitcoin and ethereum trading

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Economist Ken Rogoff: Cryptocurrencies will eventually be regulated and issued by the government

An investing startup managing $10 billion is copying the largest hedge fund in the world

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

ray dalio

  • Wealthfront, the California investing startup, is adding risk parity to its suite of investment solutions. 
  • The portfolio strategy was first created by Bridgewater Associates, the hedge fund overseeing $119 billion in assets. 


Wealthfront is offering a flagship strategy of the largest hedge fund in the world to its customers.

The California roboadviser, which manages more than $10 billion in assets, is adding risk parity, a strategy used in one of the largest funds overseen by Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund with $119 billion in assets founded by Ray Dalio. 

Risk parity, a portfolio strategy that focuses on allocating risk, was first brought to market via Bridgewater's All Weather Fund, which launched in 1996. 

The All Weather strategy made a 3.5% gain in the third quarter of 2017, according to Business Insider hedge fund correspondent Rachael Levy. Its returns have varied over the years, and as of the end of September the fund managed $53 billion, according to a person with knowledge of Bridgewater's assets. 

Risk parity is the newest addition to Wealthfront's PassivePlus suite of investment solutions. Other features that make up PassivePlus include tax loss harvesting, direct indexing, and smart beta. 

"Wealthfront's PassivePlus marries decades of academic insights with technology to deliver disciplined investment approach that helps our clients achieve their financial goals," Dr. Jakub Jurek, Wealthfront's VP of research, said. 

"Our launch of Risk Parity demonstrates that even more sophisticated strategies can be deployed via software in a cost-effective manner."

Wealthfront has been building out its offerings since it landed $75 million in a fundraising round led by Tiger Global, the New York investment fund. The company announced a feature earlier this year that helps users navigate the home buying process, for instance. 

SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs snagged a senior Google engineer as it looks to carry out its CFO's bold vision

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Ken Rogoff on the next financial crisis and the future of bitcoin

There has been a big shakeup at the top of Citadel's Aptigon unit

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

Ken Griffin

There has been a shakeup at the top of one of billionaire Ken Griffin's stock-picking units.

Rich Schimel, who headed Aptigon, a unit of $27 billion hedge fund Citadel, and David Bonfili, formerly Aptigon's COO, have left, a spokesman for Citadel said in an email to Business Insider.

"Eric Felder has been named Head of Aptigon Capital and Reza Shahi will assume COO responsibilities for the business," the spokesman said, adding that these changes have been made "to strengthen the platform and drive investment performance." The spokesman added that Citadel has "parted ways" with several other Aptigon investment staffers, but did not say who.

Felder joined Citadel last May to launch the Fundamental Strategies unit, and later took on the firm's Global Credit business, per the spokesman. Felder will continue with these roles in addition to heading Aptigon.

The departures mark a sharp turnaround for Aptigon, which launched in 2016 with Schimel at the helm. At the time, Schimel went on a hiring spree from fallen rival Visium Asset Management, bringing on 17 portfolio managers for the unit, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time. Schimel previously co-founded Diamondback Capital.

The spokesman said: "We are committed to the success of Aptigon Capital, and we will continue to recruit leading talent to the team."

SEE ALSO: Citadel's Eric Felder builds out Fundamental Strategies unit

DON'T MISS: Elliott Management, a $34 billion hedge fund, described cryptocurrencies as 'one of the most brilliant scams in history' in a brutal takedown

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Ken Rogoff on the next financial crisis and the future of bitcoin

Venezuela’s On-and-Off Love Affair With Cryptocurrency Mining: It’s Complicated

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

Venezuela’s On-and-Off Love Affair With Cryptocurrency Mining: It’s Complicated

If you want to see first hand how cryptocurrency functions in a market outside of speculative investing, right now, Venezuela is an interesting place to look.

“Venezuela could become a case study repeated all over the world under certain conditions,” said Jeffrey A. Tucker, editorial director of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine. “Crypto is there as the escape hatch, the way out, a tool of emancipation. If you have a power source, you can mine. If you need to save or trade or move your wealth, crypto is there for you.”

Crisis-Catalyzed Currency

Venezuela has been in economic recession for more than a decade. As a result, the government has maintained strict control over its currency, the Venezuelan bolivar (VEF), since 2003.

Venezuela’s most abundant resource is oil. It is the fifth largest oil exporting country in the world, with the largest reserves of non-conventional oil (extra-heavy crude) in the world. Ultimately, it is oil which has catalyzed Venezuela’s cryptocurrency boom.

Falling oil prices since 2014 have spurred the country’s current economic depression. The government’s response has been to increase state control over the economy at the expense of the private sector. In 2017, inflation of the Venezuelan bolivar (VEF) exceeded 650 percent. As the exchange rate continued to tumble, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 12 percent by the end of 2017.

“Many people are leaving Venezuela. The country doesn’t have enough money to provide food, medicine and other necessities for its people,” a Venezuelan programmer aware of cryptocurrency mining procedures in Venezuela told Bitcoin Magazine in an interview, under condition of anonymity.

Power to Mine

In this economically desperate climate, cryptocurrency has found one of its most sustaining use cases as an immutable store of value and currency for individuals who cannot trust their own government. The last two years have seen an enormous spike in cryptocurrency earning and mining, most notably for bitcoin.

Because the Venezuelan government subsidizes electricity past the point of negligibility, the country has become a geopolitical hotspot for mining. Antminer S9s are the most popular computer used to mine bitcoin in Venezuela. They cost about $3,000 each (plus shipping) and usually come from China by way of a covert middle country.

According to our source’s approximation, “Having three S9 miners is about 30 cents a month to pay for electricity. Three devices would be one bitcoin-ish in 10 months.”  The beginning price for mining has made it an effective way to supplement income, with two to three devices per household, though many have scaled their operations to the point where they are able to independently support themselves.

“There must be tens of thousands of people mining in Venezuela,” said Randy Brito, founder of the non-profit website BitcoinVenezuela.com. “People that are earning cryptos, either mining or working, usually use them to buy abroad — they buy food, medicine, car parts, other machinery parts; but the most common thing people buy are foreign currencies in other platforms where they can load cards that they can use to buy on Amazon and other stores that only accept cards and not cryptos directly.”

In Venezuela, bitcoin is the most commonly mined cryptocurrency because it was the first, and it is still currently the most widely used. LocalBitcoins has also given bitcoin the advantage in Venezuela because it does not trade other cryptocurrencies; it is able to operate more safely than other local exchanges because it’s not based within the country.

However, Brito also admitted that Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash and Bitcoin Cash as well as other altcoins are being used more and more often.

According to our anonymous source, there are two main problems with mining cryptocurrency in Venezuela: In a country where the national currency has essentially no value, people are willing to get currency with value at the cost of committing violent crimes; and the government is not on your side.

2017: A Year of Contradiction

2017 was a particularly confusing and uneasy time to mine cryptocurrency in Venezuela. The year began with a government authority crackdown on large scale cryptocurrency mining operations.

Miners were jailed for a laundry list of crimes: "the legitimacy of capital, illicit enrichment, computer crimes, financing of terrorism, exchange fraud and damage to the national electricity system."

By October 2017, authorities were even cracking down on small “household” mining operations. The congruity in all of these raids is that arrested miners could almost always get out of jail through bribes or fines, but they could never get their equipment back.

Brito doesn’t live in Venezuela anymore, but, as a self-described “anarchocapitalist” and libertarian, he is still very critical of its government.

Most of the big mining farms with thousands of ASICs or rigs are run by people close to the government, those that are not and are caught with several devices, end up being raided and the devices subtracted. Regular people buy the devices with foreign currency they have saved or they acquire in the free (black) market, or buy them from others that import them using bolivars inside the country.

“Defaulted-Promise” Coins

On December 3, 2017, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that the Venezuelan government would create its own official cryptocurrency called the Petro. He then went on to highlight the benefits of cryptocurrency mining, introducing a representative from the newly formed National Association of Cryptocurrency Miners.

Less than two weeks later, however, police raids on cryptocurrency mining operations proceeded as though it were still as illegal as ever.

“We are building the Blockchain Observatory for the possibility of a registry for all those who are exercising digital mining in Venezuela. We want to know who they are, we want to know where they are, we want to know what equipment they are using. We want to move toward the regularization of digital mining in Venezuela,” announced the recently appointed superintendent of cryptocurrency, Carlos Vargas, in December 2017.

In January 2018, the Venezuelan government opened online registration for those interested in mining cryptocurrency legally. While Petro is clearly the main focus, authorities have said that those involved in the program can mine other cryptocurrencies so long as they are approved by the state.

There is very limited third-party confidence in the Petro’s success. While some cryptocurrency champions might say, “Wait, a decentralized token representing a finite oil supply could be very interesting, if done right,” most remain skeptical.

“It [Petro] is backed by nothing but the promise of a government that have already defaulted,” said Brito.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Venezuela’s On-and-Off Love Affair With Cryptocurrency Mining: It’s Complicated

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

Venezuela’s On-and-Off Love Affair With Cryptocurrency Mining: It’s Complicated

If you want to see first hand how cryptocurrency functions in a market outside of speculative investing, right now, Venezuela is an interesting place to look.

“Venezuela could become a case study repeated all over the world under certain conditions,” said Jeffrey A. Tucker, editorial director of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine. “Crypto is there as the escape hatch, the way out, a tool of emancipation. If you have a power source, you can mine. If you need to save or trade or move your wealth, crypto is there for you.”

Crisis-Catalyzed Currency

Venezuela has been in economic recession for more than a decade. As a result, the government has maintained strict control over its currency, the Venezuelan bolivar (VEF), since 2003.

Venezuela’s most abundant resource is oil. It is the fifth largest oil exporting country in the world, with the largest reserves of non-conventional oil (extra-heavy crude) in the world. Ultimately, it is oil which has catalyzed Venezuela’s cryptocurrency boom.

Falling oil prices since 2014 have spurred the country’s current economic depression. The government’s response has been to increase state control over the economy at the expense of the private sector. In 2017, inflation of the Venezuelan bolivar (VEF) exceeded 650 percent. As the exchange rate continued to tumble, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 12 percent by the end of 2017.

“Many people are leaving Venezuela. The country doesn’t have enough money to provide food, medicine and other necessities for its people,” a Venezuelan programmer aware of cryptocurrency mining procedures in Venezuela told Bitcoin Magazine in an interview, under condition of anonymity.

Power to Mine

In this economically desperate climate, cryptocurrency has found one of its most sustaining use cases as an immutable store of value and currency for individuals who cannot trust their own government. The last two years have seen an enormous spike in cryptocurrency earning and mining, most notably for bitcoin.

Because the Venezuelan government subsidizes electricity past the point of negligibility, the country has become a geopolitical hotspot for mining. Antminer S9s are the most popular computer used to mine bitcoin in Venezuela. They cost about $3,000 each (plus shipping) and usually come from China by way of a covert middle country.

According to our source’s approximation, “Having three S9 miners is about 30 cents a month to pay for electricity. Three devices would be one bitcoin-ish in 10 months.”  The beginning price for mining has made it an effective way to supplement income, with two to three devices per household, though many have scaled their operations to the point where they are able to independently support themselves.

“There must be tens of thousands of people mining in Venezuela,” said Randy Brito, founder of the non-profit website BitcoinVenezuela.com. “People that are earning cryptos, either mining or working, usually use them to buy abroad — they buy food, medicine, car parts, other machinery parts; but the most common thing people buy are foreign currencies in other platforms where they can load cards that they can use to buy on Amazon and other stores that only accept cards and not cryptos directly.”

In Venezuela, bitcoin is the most commonly mined cryptocurrency because it was the first, and it is still currently the most widely used. LocalBitcoins has also given bitcoin the advantage in Venezuela because it does not trade other cryptocurrencies; it is able to operate more safely than other local exchanges because it’s not based within the country.

However, Brito also admitted that Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash and Bitcoin Cash as well as other altcoins are being used more and more often.

According to our anonymous source, there are two main problems with mining cryptocurrency in Venezuela: In a country where the national currency has essentially no value, people are willing to get currency with value at the cost of committing violent crimes; and the government is not on your side.

2017: A Year of Contradiction

2017 was a particularly confusing and uneasy time to mine cryptocurrency in Venezuela. The year began with a government authority crackdown on large scale cryptocurrency mining operations.

Miners were jailed for a laundry list of crimes: "the legitimacy of capital, illicit enrichment, computer crimes, financing of terrorism, exchange fraud and damage to the national electricity system."

By October 2017, authorities were even cracking down on small “household” mining operations. The congruity in all of these raids is that arrested miners could almost always get out of jail through bribes or fines, but they could never get their equipment back.

Brito doesn’t live in Venezuela anymore, but, as a self-described “anarchocapitalist” and libertarian, he is still very critical of its government.

Most of the big mining farms with thousands of ASICs or rigs are run by people close to the government, those that are not and are caught with several devices, end up being raided and the devices subtracted. Regular people buy the devices with foreign currency they have saved or they acquire in the free (black) market, or buy them from others that import them using bolivars inside the country.

“Defaulted-Promise” Coins

On December 3, 2017, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that the Venezuelan government would create its own official cryptocurrency called the Petro. He then went on to highlight the benefits of cryptocurrency mining, introducing a representative from the newly formed National Association of Cryptocurrency Miners.

Less than two weeks later, however, police raids on cryptocurrency mining operations proceeded as though it were still as illegal as ever.

“We are building the Blockchain Observatory for the possibility of a registry for all those who are exercising digital mining in Venezuela. We want to know who they are, we want to know where they are, we want to know what equipment they are using. We want to move toward the regularization of digital mining in Venezuela,” announced the recently appointed superintendent of cryptocurrency, Carlos Vargas, in December 2017.

In January 2018, the Venezuelan government opened online registration for those interested in mining cryptocurrency legally. While Petro is clearly the main focus, authorities have said that those involved in the program can mine other cryptocurrencies so long as they are approved by the state.

There is very limited third-party confidence in the Petro’s success. While some cryptocurrency champions might say, “Wait, a decentralized token representing a finite oil supply could be very interesting, if done right,” most remain skeptical.

“It [Petro] is backed by nothing but the promise of a government that have already defaulted,” said Brito.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin traders might have found a 'golden opportunity'

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

charts trader screen

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

A potential "golden opportunity" has opened up for cryptocurrency arbitrage traders thanks to big differences in bitcoin's price between South Korean and other exchanges, sometimes as large as 13%.

Here's the scoreboard

In the news:

SEE ALSO: South Korea’s defense ministry is taking steps to keep soldiers from getting caught up in the cryptocurrency frenzy

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin traders might have found a 'golden opportunity'

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

charts trader screen

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

A potential "golden opportunity" has opened up for cryptocurrency arbitrage traders thanks to big differences in bitcoin's price between South Korean and other exchanges, sometimes as large as 13%.

Here's the scoreboard

In the news:

SEE ALSO: South Korea’s defense ministry is taking steps to keep soldiers from getting caught up in the cryptocurrency frenzy

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin traders might have found a 'golden opportunity'

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

charts trader screen

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

A potential "golden opportunity" has opened up for cryptocurrency arbitrage traders thanks to big differences in bitcoin's price between South Korean and other exchanges, sometimes as large as 13%.

Here's the scoreboard

In the news:

SEE ALSO: South Korea’s defense ministry is taking steps to keep soldiers from getting caught up in the cryptocurrency frenzy

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin traders might have found a 'golden opportunity'

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

charts trader screen

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

A potential "golden opportunity" has opened up for cryptocurrency arbitrage traders thanks to big differences in bitcoin's price between South Korean and other exchanges, sometimes as large as 13%.

Here's the scoreboard

In the news:

SEE ALSO: South Korea’s defense ministry is taking steps to keep soldiers from getting caught up in the cryptocurrency frenzy

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin traders might have found a 'golden opportunity'

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

charts trader screen

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

A potential "golden opportunity" has opened up for cryptocurrency arbitrage traders thanks to big differences in bitcoin's price between South Korean and other exchanges, sometimes as large as 13%.

Here's the scoreboard

In the news:

SEE ALSO: South Korea’s defense ministry is taking steps to keep soldiers from getting caught up in the cryptocurrency frenzy

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CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin traders might have found a 'golden opportunity'

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

charts trader screen

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

A potential "golden opportunity" has opened up for cryptocurrency arbitrage traders thanks to big differences in bitcoin's price between South Korean and other exchanges, sometimes as large as 13%.

Here's the scoreboard

In the news:

SEE ALSO: South Korea’s defense ministry is taking steps to keep soldiers from getting caught up in the cryptocurrency frenzy

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NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

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

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

The government of Spain is preparing blockchain-friendly legislation including possible tax breaks to attract companies in the emerging blockchain technology sector, Bloomberg Politics reports.

“We hope to get the legislation ready this year,” said MP Teodoro Garcia Egea, who is preparing a comprehensive cryptocurrency-related bill. “We want to set up Europe’s safest framework to invest in ICOs.”

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and token sales are one of the latest blockchain-related hot trends and have permitted several companies to raise tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars in a short space of time, bypassing the need for prior regulatory approval.

ICOs can be very appealing to speculators because the value of a successful token can rise spectacularly, but regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S., are beginning to clamp down on token sales, claiming that crypto-tokens are equivalent to company shares traded on the stock market. According to the SEC, some ICOs are essentially Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), and should be subject to similar regulations for the protection of investors.

At the same time, too much regulation could stifle innovation and push promising blockchain-based firms to relocate to less restrictive jurisdictions offshore. According to Garcia Egea and the Popular Party, the ruling political party of Spain to which the lawmaker belongs, it’s in Spain’s interest to attract and keep those firms, and, therefore, the country should adopt a blockchain-friendly regulatory approach.

Garcia Egea added that the bill in preparation was inspired by existing blockchain-friendly regulatory frameworks such as those that enable the Crypto Valley in Switzerland. It could include ways to attract investment in blockchain technologies, such as a threshold below which a cryptocurrency investment wouldn’t need to be reported to the regulator, and specific regulations to make it attractive for entrepreneurs to use a blockchain to carry out initial coin offerings, or ICOs, as a financing tool.

As shown by a series of recent posts (in Spanish) published in his personal website, Garcia Egea wants to introduce a whole range of emerging technologies in the Spanish economy, including digital administration, cybersecurity, 3D printing and blockchain technology.

For example, Garcia Egea supports the Alastria consortium focused on the establishment of a semi-public, permissioned national blockchain infrastructure and digital identity system.

“Smart contracts, ensuring the traceability and unchangeability of specific information, raising funds through ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), etc. is possible through this new network [Alastria],” said Garcia Egea (translated by this writer).

“The time has come to establish a legal framework for individuals and firms to execute [smart-contract based] financial transactions in a protected and secure way, using the best available technology,” added Garcia Egea. “This will not only provide legal security to financial investments done through this channel, but it will also place Spain in a privileged position to attract capital, talent and future-oriented projects, and an ecosystem upon which to build the future of the internet of value.”

It seems likely that, if Garcia Egea and the Popular Party manage to convert their vision into law, Spain could become one of the few crypto-havens in the Eurozone, which could result in many innovative technology developers and ICO operators relocating to Spain.

Find out more about cryptocurrency regulation around the world in our feature, Cryptocurrency Regulation in 2018: Where the World Stands Now.



This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin exchange founder arrested for allegedly lying to financial watchdogs

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

FILE PHOTO - Representation of the Bitcoin virtual currency standing on the PC motherboard is seen in this illustration picture, February 3, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

  • The founder of a crypto exchange was arrested for allegedly lying to US regulators, federal prosecutors say.  
  • In 2013, hackers stole 6,000 bitcoin from the platform founded by Jon Montroll and he allegedly tried to cover it up. 

 

The founder of a defunct cryptocurrency exchange has been arrested for allegedly lying to financial watchdogs to cover up a heist of 6,000 bitcoin

Federal prosecutors in New York charged Jon Montroll, the 37-year-old founder of BitFunder, on Wednesday with obstruction of justice and two counts of perjury. Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit against the Texas resident for running a non-compliant exchange, according to a Bloomberg News report

"As alleged, the defendant repeatedly lied during sworn testimony and misled SEC staff to avoid taking responsibility for the loss of thousands of his customers' bitcoin," Geoffrey Berman, Manhattan US Attorney, said.

In July 2013, hackers swiped what would now be worth $60 million of bitcoin from BitFunder, prosecutors said. The heist left the company without enough crypto to cover what users were owed. When questioned under oath by the SEC, Montroll denied the hacking was successful, saying that a technical issue had halted withdrawals. Montroll said those issues were fixed "immediately," according to prosecutors.  

Exchange heists have long plagued the cryptocurrency world, as noted by a wide-ranging noted on blockchain and bitcoin by JPMorgan. 

"It is estimated that a third of bitcoin trading platforms have been hacked and these cyber theft/hackers took over $630 million in bitcoins," the bank said. 

Take a look at some of the largest exchange hacks in the table below (courtesy of JPMorgan):

screenshot markets.jpmorgan.com 2018.02.22 11 16 07

Read the full report on Bloomberg>>

SEE ALSO: The top cryptocurrency traders are asking for a big shakeup to bitcoin futures

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NOW WATCH: VMware CEO reveals which tech will have the most impact on the world, and why Elon Musk is wrong on AI

Robinhood rolls out zero-fee crypto trading as it hits 4M users

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

 Coinbase has some serious competition. Today Robinhood starts rolling out its no-commission cryptocurrency trading feature in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana and New Hampshire. Users can buy and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum with no extra fees, and track those and 14 other coins in its sleek app. That’s compared to paying 1.5 to 4 percent fees in the US on Coinbase. Users can… Read More

Litecoin Cash Has Forked But It's Hardly Trading

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

A scheduled plan to launch a new cryptocurrency by forking the litecoin blockchain is finding little love from major data aggregators and exchanges.

The top cryptocurrency traders are asking for a big shakeup to bitcoin futures

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

trader

  • Bitcoin futures have been up and running for more than two months on Cboe Global Markets and CME, and already market participants are calling for a big shakeup in the market. 
  • A number of market participants are calling on exchanges to switch from cash settlement to physical settlement. 
  • However, such a change would require a number of players including exchanges and clearing houses to upgrade their infrastructure. 


Some of the biggest players in the crypto market are calling for a shakeup in bitcoin futures trading. 

Bitcoin futures started trading on Cboe Global Markets and CME in December and have been steadily growing since, with volumes for both markets at just under 10,000 contracts traded on Wednesday, according to data from Bloomberg. At least 30 firms trade on Cboe, according to briefing documents from the exchange. 

Bitcoin futures are cash-settled futures contracts. At the point of expiration, a trader will receive (or pay out) the difference between the price he or she bought the future at and the settlement price. In contrast, with physical settlement a trader takes ownership of bitcoin at the price established in the futures contract.

The cash-settled bitcoin futures market was seen as an attractive option for those looking to bet on the market without needing the infrastructure to handle the coin itself.

But now many top bitcoin traders, including B2C2, DRW and DV Trading, are calling for the Cboe and CME to switch or add physical settlement. These firms, which also execute multi-million dollar trades in the bitcoin market, were among the first participants in bitcoin futures and are active traders in the market. 

Pricing for Cboe's contracts rely on the auction of a single exchange, whereas CME's contracts rely on a price index composed on four exchanges. The problem with this set up, according to opponents, is that it could result in contracts settling at a price that doesn't reflect the most precise price of the coin. 

"There are so many variables," John Lothian, a former trader and founder of industry newsletter John Lothian News, told Business Insider. 

"Each exchange shows different price levels, they operate in different countries, and are exposed to different regulatory risk," Lothian added. 

Richard Gorelick, the head of market structure at trading firm DRW, which operates crypto trading giant Cumberland, said during a meeting with watchdog CFTC earlier this month: "We continue to have concerns that the way these futures contracts are pegged to these cash markets - which are less transparent - could result in dislocations in the future."

Physical settlement would also better facilitate an arbitrage trade, according to Garrett See of DV Chain, a cryptocurrency trading firm. If bitcoin is trading at a discount in the spot market relative to the futures market, a trader can go long bitcoin and short the future for a profit. See said:

"If they are physical delivery futures, then I know exactly what my P&L will be if I hold it to expiration. If they're cash settled, I have to make another trade to unwind the spot position at expiration and I have to hope that I can unwind my position at the expiration price (including fees) even though I may not have the ability to trade on the exchanges that are being used to determine settlement price."

To be sure, firms like Cumberland and DV Chain stand to benefit from such a set up more than firms that don't trade in bitcoin and are just speculating on bitcoin futures, CoinRoutes chief executive Dave Weisberger said. 

Still, he said that "if the arbitragers costs come down, spreads tighten and the markets get more efficient."

It's also unclear what, if anything, these firms will do if there's no switch to physical settlement. And the switch to physically-settled futures would require the CME and Cboe to build out the necessary infrastructure, which is easier said than done. 

"There's no mechanism for clearing physical delivery," one industry insider told Business Insider. "Today's infrastructure does not yet support the clearing and custody of digital assets in a secure manner. Nor does it have the ability to facilitate simultaneous settlement of cash versus digital assets."

Max Boonen, the founder of B2C2, a UK-based crypto market making firm, supports a physical delivery model, but also noted that such a settlement infrastructure would be difficult to implement. 

"Basically the clearing houses and the FCMs/brokers would need a bitcoin infrastructure to transfer crypto," he said in an email to Business Insider. 

Physically-settled bitcoin futures would also need to get the green light from the CFTC.

A spokeswoman for CME told Business Insider that the exchange doesn't "have plans to introduce a physically-settled contract."

"We are always talking with our customers to understand their risk-management needs as the marketplace evolves," she added. 

Cboe didn't respond to messages seeking comment. 

SEE ALSO: JPMorgan explains why a bitcoin ETF is a 'holy grail' that could change the game

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here’s a great explanation of what the blockchain is from the person tasked with explaining it to the world

Bitcoin Price Ebbs Toward $10,000 as Mid-Week Slump Continues

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

The post Bitcoin Price Ebbs Toward $10,000 as Mid-Week Slump Continues appeared first on CCN

The market’s mid-week slump continued on Thursday, as just three of the index’s 100 largest cryptocurrencies managed to post single-day increases against the US dollar. Following the day’s bearish pivot, the Bitcoin price is at risk of dropping below $10,000, while other top coins continue to shed market share. Altogether, the cryptocurrency market cap took

The post Bitcoin Price Ebbs Toward $10,000 as Mid-Week Slump Continues appeared first on CCN

Project Platypus: Jimmy Song's New Plan to Fund Unpaid Bitcoin Coders

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

Bitcoin Core developer Jimmy reveals Platypus Labs, a project at Blockchain Capital to provide fellowships and more to support bitcoin development.

Bitcoin is back below $10,000

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

bitcoin price today

  • Bitcoin fell below $10,000 for the fourth time of 2018 on Thursday morning.
  • The world’s largest cryptocurrency, which makes up 39.4% of the total market cap for digital coins, has had a volatile year so far. Its price climbed in 2017, but has seen regular swings as much as 20% in either direction in the first months of 2018 so far.
  • Less than a month ago, on February 6, bitcoin plunged as low as $5,922. That’s just 45% of its high of $16,932 set in early January.
  • Most cryptocurrencies are down Thursday alongside bitcoin’s 4.8% slump. Ethereum and Ripple are down 1.82% and 1.4%, respectively.
  • Track the price of bitcoin in real-time here>>

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NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'

Bitcoin is back below $10,000

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

bitcoin price today

  • Bitcoin fell below $10,000 for the fourth time of 2018 on Thursday morning.
  • The world’s largest cryptocurrency, which makes up 39.4% of the total market cap for digital coins, has had a volatile year so far. Its price climbed in 2017, but has seen regular swings as much as 20% in either direction in the first months of 2018 so far.
  • Less than a month ago, on February 6, bitcoin plunged as low as $5,922. That’s just 45% of its high of $16,932 set in early January.
  • Most cryptocurrencies are down Thursday alongside bitcoin’s 4.8% slump. Ethereum and Ripple are down 1.82% and 1.4%, respectively.
  • Track the price of bitcoin in real-time here>>

SEE ALSO: Sign up to get the most important updates on all things crypto delivered straight to your inbox.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'

Iran Backpedals on Bitcoin, Plans its Own State Cryptocurrency

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

The post Iran Backpedals on Bitcoin, Plans its Own State Cryptocurrency appeared first on CCN

Contrary to reports of the Iranian government preparing the ‘infrastructure’ for bitcoin usage in the country, Iran’s central bank has refuted claims of recognizing bitcoin as a legal currency. In November, Iran’s minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) revealed the ministry was preparing to embrace bitcoin as a solution to bypass economic sanctions that

The post Iran Backpedals on Bitcoin, Plans its Own State Cryptocurrency appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Drops Below $10K as Crypto Markets Dip

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

The wider cryptocurrency market may be feeling the heat of a decline in bitcoin prices today.

Riot Blockchain's CEO is pushing back against critics and trying to convince the world his company is serious about crypto (RIOT)

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

John O'Rourke LinkedIn Riot Blockchain

  • Riot Blockchain, one of the first companies to pivot to blockchain and see its stock skyrocket, has been accused of fraud.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, CEO John O'Rourke denied the accusations and outlined Riot's plan to fully realize its pivot to cryptocurrencies. 


When Bioptix, a biotechnology equipment maker, announced in October it was changing its name to Riot Blockchain in order to focus on cryptocurrencies, its stock skyrocketed.

Shares of Riot, which had been trading for less than $10, eventually gained more than 400% — topping out at $46.20 in December when bitcoin was near its all-time high and crypto mania seemed to be in full swing.

"Did we have any idea what the market reception would be? Absolutely not," CEO John O’Rourke told Business Insider in an interview Wednesday. "We never could have predicted that type of market reaction."

Nevertheless, that market reaction to blockchain mania is at the core of accusations against Riot and its executives, including O’Rourke.

Bitcoin mania began to fizzle after the new year. The price of bitcoin, which shares of Riot had seemed to mirror in its rise, began to see dramatic price swings of 20% in either direction.

That volatility, coupled with a damaging investigation by CNBC that O’Rourke has called demonstrably false, have pushed the stock down 72% to back near its pre-pivot lows. Despite the investigation — and a lawsuit filed this week in New York alleging the opposite — O’Rourke maintains Riot has made significant investments in both cryptocurrency mining and exchanges.

In January, Riot successfully acquired 500 government-seized bitcoins in a Department of Justice auction. O’Rourke declined to disclose the amount paid for the lot, but it's likely Riot received a significant discount compared to public exchanges thanks to the volume.

Then, in February, Riot announced a 12.5% stake in Canadian cryptocurrency exchange Coinsquare as part of its ongoing initiative to get into the exchange business. The company plans to open a cryptocurrency exchange within four years.

"I believe the market right now in the US is in real need of additional competitors that are willing to go about it the right way," O’Rourke said. "Right now you really only have two main competitors for US retail customers."

The company is also aggressively scaling its mining operations, with 8,000 mining rigs slated to come online this quarter. The set up could net Riot thousands of BTC per year in mining rewards, depending on the difficulty ratings of the network, which change depending on network demand. "Our ultimate goal is to accumulate a significant amount of bitcoin," O’Rourke said.

Here's a look at the company's installation so far:

Riot Blockchain Bitcoin mining rigs S9 Antminer

To be sure, Riot is still far from profitability. Its most recent quarterly filing for the three months ending September 30 shows an accumulated deficit of $120.8 million and a quarterly loss of $0.98 per share.

"We’re looking probably three to four years down the road before we’re able to generate real fundamentals," O’Rourke said. "The way we look at it is we can plant various seeds in different blockchain technology companies when that does happen.

“Near term, out focus is going to be on cryptocurrency mining as a great way to get leveraged exposure to bitcoin.”

SEE ALSO: Sign up to get the most important updates on all things crypto delivered straight to your inbox.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'

Riot Blockchain's CEO is pushing back against critics and trying to convince the world his company is serious about crypto (RIOT)

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

John O'Rourke LinkedIn Riot Blockchain

  • Riot Blockchain, one of the first companies to pivot to blockchain and see its stock skyrocket, has been accused of fraud.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, CEO John O'Rourke denied the accusations and outlined Riot's plan to fully realize its pivot to cryptocurrencies. 


When Bioptix, a biotechnology equipment maker, announced in October it was changing its name to Riot Blockchain in order to focus on cryptocurrencies, its stock skyrocketed.

Shares of Riot, which had been trading for less than $10, eventually gained more than 400% — topping out at $46.20 in December when bitcoin was near its all-time high and crypto mania seemed to be in full swing.

"Did we have any idea what the market reception would be? Absolutely not," CEO John O’Rourke told Business Insider in an interview Wednesday. "We never could have predicted that type of market reaction."

Nevertheless, that market reaction to blockchain mania is at the core of accusations against Riot and its executives, including O’Rourke.

Bitcoin mania began to fizzle after the new year. The price of bitcoin, which shares of Riot had seemed to mirror in its rise, began to see dramatic price swings of 20% in either direction.

That volatility, coupled with a damaging investigation by CNBC that O’Rourke has called demonstrably false, have pushed the stock down 72% to back near its pre-pivot lows. Despite the investigation — and a lawsuit filed this week in New York alleging the opposite — O’Rourke maintains Riot has made significant investments in both cryptocurrency mining and exchanges.

In January, Riot successfully acquired 500 government-seized bitcoins in a Department of Justice auction. O’Rourke declined to disclose the amount paid for the lot, but it's likely Riot received a significant discount compared to public exchanges thanks to the volume.

Then, in February, Riot announced a 12.5% stake in Canadian cryptocurrency exchange Coinsquare as part of its ongoing initiative to get into the exchange business. The company plans to open a cryptocurrency exchange within four years.

"I believe the market right now in the US is in real need of additional competitors that are willing to go about it the right way," O’Rourke said. "Right now you really only have two main competitors for US retail customers."

The company is also aggressively scaling its mining operations, with 8,000 mining rigs slated to come online this quarter. The set up could net Riot thousands of BTC per year in mining rewards, depending on the difficulty ratings of the network, which change depending on network demand. "Our ultimate goal is to accumulate a significant amount of bitcoin," O’Rourke said.

Here's a look at the company's installation so far:

Riot Blockchain Bitcoin mining rigs S9 Antminer

To be sure, Riot is still far from profitability. Its most recent quarterly filing for the three months ending September 30 shows an accumulated deficit of $120.8 million and a quarterly loss of $0.98 per share.

"We’re looking probably three to four years down the road before we’re able to generate real fundamentals," O’Rourke said. "The way we look at it is we can plant various seeds in different blockchain technology companies when that does happen.

“Near term, out focus is going to be on cryptocurrency mining as a great way to get leveraged exposure to bitcoin.”

SEE ALSO: Sign up to get the most important updates on all things crypto delivered straight to your inbox.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist'

10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, ROKU, BCS, AMZN)

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

Kim Jong Un masks

Here is what you need to know.

Stocks plunged at the end of Wall Street trade. The Dow Jones industrial average tanked 450 points off its highs in the final 90 minutes of trading Wednesday to finish the day down 167 points, or 0.7%. It's on track to open Thursday's session little changed.

Some Fed officials are worried inflation will stay too low. Minutes from February's Federal Open Market Committee meeting revealed Wednesday that some Federal Reserve officials see an "appreciable risk" that inflation remains below their 2% target.

Britain just became the slowest-growing major economy in the world. Britain's economy grew just 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to revised data released Thursday by the Office for National Statistics.

A golden opportunity just opened up for cryptocurrency traders. The price of bitcoin is trading at a 13% premium in South Korea relative to US markets, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

Amazon is selling an exclusive line of over-the-counter medications. The line, called Basic Care, is essentially store-brand versions of medications like allergy medications or pain relievers that you might pick up at a grocery store or convenience store.

Eggo waffles are going bananas because of 'Stranger Things.' Sales of Kellogg's Eggo waffles are up 14% year-over-year, boosted by one a "Stranger Things" main character's obsession with the food.

Barclays slumps to a 1.9 billion British pound loss. The loss was due to a combination of factors including a hit from US tax changes, costs related to the sale of its Africa unit, and continuing payment-protection insurance payments.

Roku is getting destroyed after giving a disappointing revenue outlook. Shares of the maker of connected TV boxes and software for smart TVs tumbled more than 20% in after-hours trading Wednesday after the company said it expected first-quarter revenue of $120 million to $130 million, missing the $132 million Wall Street was expecting.

Earnings reports keep coming. HP reports after markets close.

US economic data trickles out. Initial claims will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is down 2 basis points at 2.92%.

Join the conversation about this story »

10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, ROKU, BCS, AMZN)

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

Kim Jong Un masks

Here is what you need to know.

Stocks plunged at the end of Wall Street tradeThe Dow Jones industrial average tanked 450 points off its highs in the final 90 minutes of trading Wednesday to finish the day down 167 points, or 0.7%. It's on track to open Thursday's session little changed.

Some Fed officials are worry inflation will stay too low. Some Fed officials see an "appreciable risk" that inflation remains below their 2% target, minutes from the February Federal Open Market Committee meeting revealed Wednesday.

Britain just became the slowest-growing major economy in the worldBritain's economy grew just 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to revised data released Thursday by the Office for National Statistics.

A golden opportunity just opened up for cryptocurrency tradersThe price of bitcoin is trading at a 13% premium in South Korea relative to US markets, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

Amazon is selling an exclusive line of over-the-counter medicationsThe line, called "Basic Care," is essentially store-brand versions of medications you might pick up at a grocery or convenience store, like allergy medications or pain relievers. 

Eggo waffles are going bananas because of Stranger ThingsSales of Kellogg's Eggo waffles are up 14% year-over-year, boosted by one of the main characters on Stranger Things' obsession with the food. 

Barclays slumps to a 1.9 billion British pound lossThe loss was due to a combination of factors including a hit from US tax changes, costs related to the sale of its African unit, and continuing payment protection insurance payments.

Roku is getting destroyed after giving a disappointing revenue outlook. Shares of the maker of connected TV boxes and software for smart TVs tumbled more than 20% in after-hours trading Wednesday after the company said it expected first-quarter revenue of $120 million to $130 million, missing the $132 million Wall Street was expecting.

Earnings reports keep comingHP reports after markets close.

US economic data trickles outInitial claims will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is down 2 basis points at 2.92%.

Join the conversation about this story »

A startup that wants to better understand the relationship our gut has to our brain just raised $66 million

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

Kallyope team

  • Kallyope, a biotech startup working to map out the gut-brain axis, has raised $66 million.
  • The series B round will help the company get some of its programs nearer to human clinical trials and continue research on the relationship between the gut and its microbes and the brain.
  • The hope is that by investigating the gut-brain axis, researchers might be able to better treat certain metabolic conditions, like obesity, as well as neurologic conditions like Parkinson's disease. 


A startup working to better understand the relationship our gut has with our brain has raised another $66 million.

New York-based Kallyope raised its series B round from new investors Two Sigma Ventures and Euclidean Capital. They were joined by Polaris Partners, Illumina Ventures, Lux Capital and others that had invested in Kallyope's $44 million series A round in 2015. 

Kallyope is trying to figure out how exactly the brain interacts with the gut by mapping it out. By collecting sequencing information about cells in the gut, for example, Kallyope can better figure out how they're connected to neurons in the brain in a series of circuits. Understanding that relationship could lead to pills that could interact with the gut's signals and in turn pass that message along to the brain.

Over the past few years, even since launching the company, a lot has been learned about the gut-brain axis and the microbiome, the assortment of all the bugs that live in and on you that's an integral part of the gut, Kallyope CEO Nancy Thornberry told Business Insider. 

That goes beyond conditions traditionally associated with the microbes in our gut, such as stomach and intestinal disorders. "There's now compelling evidence for a link between gut-brain and cognition, mood, and diseases such as autism, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis," Thornberry said.

While Kallyope hasn't given too many specifics about its drug programs, the company's initial focus will be in  metabolic conditions, like obesity, as well as neurologic conditions like Parkinson's disease. The recent funding will be used toward building out Kallyope's gut-brain axis platform and getting one of Kallyope's programs near or into human clinical trials. 

SEE ALSO: Startup cofounders who sold their first startup to Google for $70 million and their second for $1.9 billion reveal how they built wildly successful businesses twice

DON'T MISS: A hot startup could be the perfect model for the JPMorgan-Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway healthcare initiative

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NOW WATCH: Ken Rogoff on the next financial crisis and the future of bitcoin

‘Liquid Assets’: South Korea Plans Accounting Standards for Cryptocurrencies

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

The post ‘Liquid Assets’: South Korea Plans Accounting Standards for Cryptocurrencies appeared first on CCN

The Korea Accounting Institute is reportedly planning to categorize cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as ‘liquid assets’ in a bid to classify them in financial statements. As reported by Business Korea, the Korea Accounting Institute (KAI) is in the process of creating an accounting standard for cryptocurrencies. The move underlines the rising prominence of cryptocurrencies that have

The post ‘Liquid Assets’: South Korea Plans Accounting Standards for Cryptocurrencies appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Rally Stalls But Bull Revival Isn't Yet Ruled Out

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

Bitcoin bulls need a convincing break above $11,250 to revive the recent price rally after prices dip once more.

Britain just became the slowest-growing major economy in the world

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

Union Jack Couple Rain

  • Britain's economy grew just 0.4% in the final quarter of 2017, the ONS said on Thursday.
  • That marks a downward revision from the ONS' previous estimate that growth was 0.5%.
  • "A number of very small revisions to mining, energy generation, and services were enough to see a slight downward revision," the ONS said.
  • Britain grew 1.4% in the year, making it the slowest growing major economy, behind both Italy and Japan.


LONDON — The UK's economy grew less than previously thought in the fourth quarter of 2017, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released on Thursday shows.

Britain's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 0.4% in the quarter, according to the ONS's second estimate of growth. The first estimate, released in January, showed growth running at 0.5%, ahead of expectations.

On an annual basis, GDP grew by 1.4% on a year-to-year basis in the quarter, once again below the previous estimate, which was 1.5%.

Services, the dominant sector of the UK economy, accounted for the majority of growth over the data period. Services account for roughly 80% of UK output.

"Services continued to drive growth at the end of 2017, but with a number of consumer-facing industries slowing, as price rises led to household budgets being squeezed," Darren Morgan, the ONS' head of GDP said.

"A number of very small revisions to mining, energy generation and services were enough to see a slight downward revision to quarterly growth overall, despite headline services output being unchanged."

Here's the ONS' chart of UK GDP over the longer run:

Screen Shot 2018 02 22 at 09.45.22

While the downward revision does not mark a big drop, it is nonetheless significant as it reverses the optimism brought by January's suggestion that the economy ended 2017 with growing momentum.

It also pushes the UK back to the bottom of the G7 growth tables, making it the slowest growing major economy in the world in 2017. The growth of 1.4% is lower than that of Japan and Italy, the other weakest nations in growth terms last year.

Earlier in February, data from Eurostat, the eurozone's statistical agency showed the single currency area's economy growing faster than the UK for the first time since 2010. While Brexit uncertainty drags on the UK, Europe is flourishing following years of recovery from the debt crisis which plagued the Single Currency area from 2011 onwards.

It should be noted that Thursday's GDP figures could still be revised higher or lower, and reflect a preliminary sample of all the data the ONS collects about the quarter.

UK GDP has now grown in 20 consecutive quarters. The last time UK GDP shrunk over a quarter was in Q4 of 2012 when the economy readjusted following a huge boost from the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

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UK Treasury Committee Launches ‘Inquiry’ into Cryptocurrencies

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

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The United Kingdom’s Treasury Select Committee, a group of cross-party MPs, is launching an inquiry into cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and blockchain technology in an effort to understand them. The UK Treasury Committee is today opening a new inquiry into cryptocurrencies to focus on both opportunities and risks posed to consumers, businesses and the government. The

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British Gas-owner Centrica is cutting 4,000 jobs after profits collapsed 17% in a dreadful year

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

British Gas

  • Centrica's operating profits down 17% to £1.2 billion in 2017.
  • Competition in North America and political meddling in the UK to blame.
  • The company plans additional cost savings of £500 million annually, which includes 4,000 job cuts.


LONDON — British Gas-owner Centrica is planning to cut up 4,000 jobs by 2020 after a dreadful year, the company said on Thursday.

Centrica announced plans to accelerate its cost-cutting, saying it will slash an additional £500 million from its annual spending by 2020. It plans to do this by introducing more tech to help customers and through the "simplification of our core business processes."

The simplification means 4,000 jobs will be cut over the next three years, although Centrica said it expects to create 1,000 new roles in divisions such as "connected homes" over the same period.

The job cuts come as Centrica announced a terrible set of annual results that even its CEO admitted were "weak." Here are the main figures for 2017:

  • Adjusted operating profit down 17% to £1.2 billion
  • Statutory operating profit down 15% to £2.5 billion
  • Earnings down 22% to £698 million
  • Revenue up 3% to £28 billion

CEO Iain Conn said in Thursday's results statement: "Our financial result in the second half of 2017 was weak, primarily reflecting poor performance in Business energy supply and particularly in our North America Business unit."

Centrica warned in November that results would be hit by "significant market pressure" in North America, precipitating its biggest ever one-day share price drop.

Conn said: "The combination of political and regulatory intervention in the UK energy market, concerns over the loss of energy customers in the UK, and the performance issue in North America have created material uncertainty around Centrica and, although we delivered on our financial targets for the year, this resulted in a very poor shareholder experience.

"We regret this deeply, and I am determined to restore shareholder value and confidence."

The company said it is refocusing on its core consumer energy market with "new propositions which reinforce and strengthen the core of traditional energy supply and in-home servicing relationships."

Centrica also announced plans to sell its nuclear business and said it would not pursue any major M&A in the immediate future.

Despite the poor performance, Centrica shares opened positively in London on Thursday. Shares in Centrica rose by 3% at the open. The company had warned shareholders well in advance of its problems.

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Barclays slumps to a £1.9 billion net loss as Trump's tax plan, Africa sale, and PPI weigh on performance

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

Barclays

  • Barclays had an attributable loss of £1.9 billion in 2017.
  • The loss was down to factors including a hit from US tax changes, costs related to the sale of its African unit, and continuing PPI payments.
  • While Barclays had an attributable loss of almost £2 billion, pre-tax profits rose by 10% to £3.5 billion.


LONDON — British banking giant Barclays made a net loss of £1.9 billion last year as continuing PPI payments and the impact of the USA's new tax rules hit the bank's bottom line.

Barclays took a £2.5 billion hit from the sale of its African business and suffered a "one-off net tax charge of £901 million" due to Donald Trump's new US tax plan, the bank said in its results statement, released on Thursday morning.

The provision of cash for payments surrounding historically mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) continued to impact Barclays too, PPI payments costing it £700 million. That was down from £1 billion in 2016.

Barclays' attributable loss compares with a £1.6 billion profit over the course of 2016. While Barclays made an attributable loss on almost £2 billion, pre-tax profits rose strongly, increasing by 10% from the previous year to £3.5 billion.

"2017 was a year of considerable strategic progress for Barclays," Barclays' CEO Jes Staley said in a statement released with the results.

"The sell-down of our shareholding in Barclays Africa, closure of our Non-Core unit, the establishment of our Service Company, and the creation of our UK ringfenced bank, mean that, in terms of size and structure, we are now the diversified Transatlantic Consumer and Wholesale bank we set out in our strategy in March 2016."

Barclays sold off several portions of its African operation last year, and now owns only 15% of the unit, down from around 60% in March 2016.

Many businesses are being negatively hit by one-off charges in relation to Trump's tax changes as they make adjustments for the new rules. Oil and gas giant BP said it expects a $1.5 billion hit this year, for example.

Shares in the bank reacted positively to the results, with investors likely focusing on the pre-tax profit figure. Barclays' stock price rose around 3% as markets opened, as the chart below shows:

Screen Shot 2018 02 22 at 08.01.33

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Bitcoin Lightning Fraud? Laolu Is Building a 'Watchtower' to Fight It

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

With all eyes on the Lightning Network, bitcoin developer Laolu is working on a technology which takes fraud watching off the hands of users.

Bitcoin: MPs launch inquiry into digital currencies

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

The UK's Treasury Committee has launched an investigation into the risks and rewards of digital money.

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