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Former Ripple CTO's Blockchain Project Coil Enters Closed Beta

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

The new company, which incorporates the Interledger and Codius technologies Thomas helped develop at Ripple, is now available to try out.

CBOE Close to Launching Ethereum Futures: Report

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

CBOE, the Chicago exchange that pioneered the listing of bitcoin futures in the U.S., has quietly begun telling market makers that it is close to launching a new cryptocurrency product: ethereum futures. Citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation, Business Insider reports that CBOE wants to become the first U.S. exchange to list

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Such Bulls Much Wow: Dogecoin Price Leaps Over 30 Percent

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

Dogecoin price today had its Thank-God-Its-Friday moment after rising by more than 30 percent against the US Dollar. DOGE/USD began the day by continuing to its bull run. The pair on Thursday had jumped sharply from 0.00246-fiat to 0.00324-fiat, i.e. 31 percent amidst a strong buying spree. As the Asian trading session began today, the

The post Such Bulls Much Wow: Dogecoin Price Leaps Over 30 Percent appeared first on CCN

Op Ed: DApps Can Increase Audience Engagement for Creators and Influencers

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

Op Ed: DApps Can Increase Audience Engagement for Creators and Influencers

Many of us are familiar with the term “DApp,” which stands for “decentralized application.”

Foundationally, a DApp is an application that runs using blockchain technology on a decentralized network of computers instead of on a central database.

Transactions via a DApp require the consensus of all users on the blockchain. For example, a financial transfer transacted via any DApp cannot be completed unless validated by all computers in the network, sometimes referred to in the blockchain environment as nodes. The funds will not be released and transferred until each node in the decentralized database has agreed upon the validity of the transaction.

DApps are open-sourced software that run on top of other immutable blockchain technologies like Ethereum, allowing for greater transparency in transactions. DApps, although a fairly new concept at this point must, in general, meet the following criteria:

DApps are open source. They are autonomously governed applications, with any changes decided by a consensus of users.

DApps are decentralized. “Decentralized” is the “D” in “DApps.” Records of the application’s transactions are stored on an immutable, public and decentralized blockchain, thus protecting it from the ordinary risks of a central database, like hacking and other types of fraud.

DApps must generate tokens. Validators of the blockchain should be incentivized by the rewarding of cryptographic tokens.

DApps generate tokens via a cryptographic algorithm. Tokens are created by a cryptographic algorithm, like a pProof of wWork (PoW), the algorithm for Bitcoin.

DApps, Meet Influencers. Influencers, Meet DApps

DApps are a wonderful means for social media influencers to interact with and engage their fans. Influencers are defined as social media contributors who have substantial followings, even running into the millions on networks like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. Traditionally, influencers have been tied to these applications as the only ways to interact with their communities.

Enter blockchain technology and DApps, which are introducing exciting new ways of evolving the ecosystem that is home to social authorities, followers, developers and brands.

Influencers, whose focus and energy goes into interacting with and creating content for their audience, often lack the resources and technical know-how to deepen their relationships with their communities. Blockchain technology can enable influencers and developers to come together and form mutually profitable partnerships by developing dedicated apps that enhance interactions between influencers and their followers.

Among those creating innovative platforms that empower influencers and bring greater creativity, flexibility and meaning to influencer-follower relationships are companies like BOOSTO, PATRON and Hunter Corp Records. These companies aim to shift authority away from social media platforms and digital distribution services, putting it back into the hands of artists and content creators.

It’s All About Trust: How DApps Can Benefit Content Creators and Developers

When content creators use traditional apps like Instagram, monetizing talent can become a complex balancing act. Sponsored posts, a tried and true method for creating income as an influencer, can make content come across as fake, causing followers to lose interest and disengage. It can be difficult to maintain the delicate balance between sponsored and organic posts. DApps reduce the need for sponsored content by eliminating middlemen, like advertisers, and enabling influencers to interact directly with their communities.

The transparency of DApps can be leveraged to allow content creators to provide performance-based services for followers, like coaching sessions or classes. Imagine a wild- or foraged- foods expert being able to easily offer online, or even in-person, classes on how to safely forage for mushrooms. No hosting service would be necessary for the livestream or webinar, since such a capability would be built into the specially developed DApp, specifically created by the wild- foods expert with a developer to meet her explicit needs.

DApps work because they provide a foundation of trust that allows for more direct contact between fans and influencers, influencer networks, and social media platforms. The use of tokens further eliminates the need for intermediaries like selling platforms, and allows profits to go directly to content creators and developers. Developers additionally benefit from this system as they can be paid per blockchain transaction.

Smart contracts also help to establish trust between brands and influencers. This makes it possible for them to safely enter into partnerships, and gives influencers even more ways to monetize their talents, like establishing their own online stores, where they can sell personalized services and products from brands they have partnered with.

Marketers and companies who have constantly had to grapple with the problem of determining which influencers are fraudulent and which are genuine now have a trustworthy ecosystem in which to operate and interact, thus opening up more opportunities for influencers to establish solid relationships with brands, and thereby create income.

Where Is This Relationship Going? The Future for DApps and Influencers

Blockchain technology and DApps are poised to revolutionize the influencer universe, creating relationships that are ultimately healthier, more transparent, and more profitable for content creators and developers. The future looks like a truly connected influencer environment in which all participants will thrive.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Kylie Jenner saved Ulta Beauty from a brutal earnings report — and catapulted shares to their best level in over a year (ULTA)

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

Kylie Jenner

Shares of Ulta Beauty surged more than 5% — hitting $268.69, their highest price in more than a year — thanks to a partnership with Kylie Jenner, who said the cosmetics chain will carry her eponymous brand in time for the holiday shopping season.

Ultra initially sank in after-hours trading Thursday following the Chicago-based company’s second-quarter earnings that missed Wall Street’s expectations, before the reality-star and entrepreneur’s announcement helped the stock rebound.

"I'm so excited to let you guys know that @KylieCosmetics will be coming to all @ultabeauty stores around the country this holiday!," the 21-year-old tweeted to her 25 million followers late Thursday, adding that there was "more to come…"

The partnership could be the catalyst Wall Street was waiting for.

"Looking forward, we think newness (Too Faced, Kylie Jenner, & others) expected in 2H should help reinvigorate traffic," Michael Goldsmith, an analyst at UBS, told clients Friday.

"Further, ULTA's flywheel continues to turn. As it gains scale, brands increasingly rely on it for growth. This is evident as it will start carrying Kiehl's, a €1 billion brand."

Jenner's wildly popular cosmetics line has propelled the reality star and half-sister of Kim Kardashian to an estimated net worth of $900 million. She graced the cover of Forbes in July, when the magazine heralded her as one of the US' richest "self-made" women, a claim that quickly garnered criticism for her wealthy upbringing.

And it's not the first time Jenner has moved a stock in dramatic fashion. In Febuary, shares of Snap slid 7% — wiping out $136 million of book value — when she tweeted that she doesn't open Snapchat anymore. 

Ulta is up 12% this year.

Ulta Beauty


SEE ALSO: How Kylie Jenner makes her millions and set herself up to be the world's youngest self-made billionaire

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Navigating Cryptocurrency Exchanges: Experts Weigh In

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


Although one of the primary goals of Bitcoin is to create a currency that is borderless and decentralized, a recurring concern is the way (other than mining) that we are able to actually acquire it and other cryptocurrencies. Crypto exchanges became a necessary component of this equation, and they hold a huge influence over the crypto market worldwide.

At the San Francisco-based blockchain conference Distributed 2018, Ben El-Baz, Chief Strategy Officer at XDAEX, moderated a panel of experts and entrepreneurs involved in international cryptocurrency exchanges, using his own experience at a Hong Kong exchange to ask piercing questions.

Although the exchanges in question were centered in a wide range of areas, the discussion generally centered around the possible impacts of regulation, pros and cons of tokenized business models and user experience.

Tawanda Kembo is the CEO and founder of the crypto exchange Golix, based in Zimbabwe, which is currently one of the longest-running exchanges on the continent. Concerned by the hyperinflation in his country, Kembo founded Golix to try and solve the problem of crypto liquidity in Africa, and discussed some of the challenges and successes of this project.

Jesse Powell is the founder and CEO of Kraken, an exchange that deals heavily in the U.S. and the EU, and he provided insight into the world of more established crypto markets.

Maggie Hsu, part of the business development team at AirSwap, focused her discussion points on the possibilities of decentralized exchanges, as many central exchanges can hold disproportionate influence.

Each of these speakers brings a special focus to the topic of worldwide cryptocurrency exchanges, and their panel goes into great detail on a variety of topics. For the full discussion, and panels on a diverse range of topics in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, visit Distributed’s YouTube channel.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Wall Street has helped eliminate one of bitcoin's biggest problems, and it could fulfill 'Satoshi Nakamoto's original vision'

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

bitcoin john oliver

  • 2018 has witnessed a drop-off in price variations on digital asset exchanges.
  • That trend is tied to the entrance of large Wall Street firms into the market, which makes it more stable, according to cryptocurrency data provider SFOX. 

Many crypto enthusiast long for a day when bitcoin will replace the entire financial system. But in the meantime, Wall Street might actually be helping the digital asset's long term adoption, one firm says. 

New data from SFOX, the cryptocurrency data provider, shows that 2018 has witnessed a drop-off in price variations on digital asset exchanges. The firm argues that trend is tied to the entrance of large Wall Street firms into the market, which makes it more stable. 

"Before institutional firms were actively trading crypto or heavily involved (before 2018) bitcoin price differences between exchanges varied as high as 4.5%," said Danny Kim, head of growth at SFOX. Now price differences are no more than one tenth of one percent, according to SFOX.

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That stability is crucial as if there’s less price fluctuation, then more merchants would feel comfortable about accepting bitcoin, which may lead to wider adoption. 

A number of large Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs and ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, made headlines when they announced their intention to enter the market for digital assets. Behind the headlines, large money managers, hedge funds, and endowments have also been entering the market.

A recent report by Grayscale Investments, a subsidiary of Barry Silbert's Digital Currency Group, showed a steady growth of net inflows into its funds during the first half of 2018. More than half of the inflows this year came from so-called institutional investors, according to Grayscale's report

Their entrance has been made possible by developments in trading technology that has allowed high-frequency trading firms (HFTs) and other market markers to double down on their crypto efforts, Kim said .

"Some HFT firms have been trading since crypto 2014, but have limited themselves because the infrastructure wasn't there. Most if not all HFT firms require a FIX connection (an advanced type of connection to an exchange) at an exchange in order to trade efficiently," Kim said. "Crypto exchanges haven't offered FIX connectivity until recently."

Equity exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, allow traders to house their trading computers in the same building as their matching engines. The service, known as colocation, is becoming more common in crypto. For instance, Gemini began offering colocation in 2017, followed by Coinbase this year. Those developments could help bring more price stability across markets for digital assets, Kim said. 

"As this trend continues, the stabilizing effects of institutional investment will extend beyond price spreads, and on to price fluctuations," Kim said. "Eventually, it could even come to the point where Bitcoin could come to resemble the stable coins people are looking to for payments and is used for Satoshi Nakamoto's original vision: a "Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System."

See also:

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Bitcoin wallet Bitfi withdraws 'unhackable' claim

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

The Bitfi cryptocurrency wallet, backed by John McAfee, had already caused controversy.

Ford 'must execute significant structural change' (F)

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

Ford CEO jim hackett

  • Moody's downgraded Ford's bonds to one level above junk status this week — a move that has even the automaker's biggest fans worried.
  • Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley writes that there's still room for Ford to execute on it's plan — if only he knew what that plan was.
  • Follow Ford's stock price in real-time here. 

Ford got slapped with a downgrade from the debt-rating agency Moody’s on Wednesday — and its most bullish Wall Street analyst isn’t happy about the implications.

Writing to clients Friday, Morgan Stanley said the new negative outlook which accompanies the downgrade to Baa3 from Baa2 — one notch above a junk rating — means "there is still enough time to execute," but comes with a glaring warning: "we just wish we knew the plan."

The Moody’s downgrade on Wednesday came during a bull market, Morgan Stanley points out. In handing down its verdict, Moody’s writes the change "reflects the erosion in the company's global business position and the challenges it will face implementing its Fitness Redesign program."

Most notably, companies that are hit with ratings downgrades will face more expensive debt raises going forward. The bank points out that Ford's debt is already more expensive than its crosstown competitor General Motors. It's also "another sign that the company must execute significant structural change," analyst Adam Jonas writes.

"We estimate that Ford’s $11bn restructuring may be designed to shrink the revenue footprint by 20% to 30%, targeting roughly 25k in headcount reductions," he continued. Jonas has a $15 price target for Ford shares — the highest on Wall Street, according to a Bloomberg poll.

Still, he remains bullish despite the downgrade.

"We believe ratings agency action is an important catalyst to further focus investor and management attention on both the risks and the opportunities inherent in the Ford story," Jonas writes.

"While this has added to the risk of owning the stock, we believe it has also been somewhat discounted in the share price and does not change our view that the company can benefit from a change in strategy."

Ford shares are down 25% this year.

Ford stock price

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Bitcoin Price Intraday Analysis: BTC/USD Reverses from $7,000

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

Bitcoin on Friday recovered more than 3 percent from its intraday low near $6,800. The BTC/USD began the day continuing to its steady upside recovery and reached as above as 7020-fiat during the early Asian trading session. The bounce back could have been more effective had it managed to break above 7000-fiat for a more

The post Bitcoin Price Intraday Analysis: BTC/USD Reverses from $7,000 appeared first on CCN

American Airlines flight attendants are gearing up for battle over the company's 'punitive' new attendance policy (AAL)

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

American Airlines Dallas Airbus A321

  • American Airlines flight attendants are protesting the company's new, more stringent sick policy and the ongoing trouble with uniforms that employees say are toxic.
  • Some flight attendants are unhappy with the airline's new sick policy, which they call "extremely punitive" in light of the health issues that they claim have been brought on by American's uniforms.
  • On October 1, American Airlines and US Airways flight attendants will work under the same collective-bargaining agreement.

On October 1, American Airlines and US Airways flight attendants will work under the same collective-bargaining agreement since the two carriers merged in 2013 to form the "new" American. 

However, a new attendance policy set to get into effect along with the collective-bargaining agreement has led some of American's flight attendants to protest.

The policy's stricter regulation of sick days, compounded by the airline's ongoing trouble with uniforms that employees say are toxic, has led to pushback from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents more than 27,000 of the company's cabin crew.

On Thursday, American Airlines flight attendants gathered in front of the company's headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to protest the policy change. 

"It's time for our company to wake up and understand exactly what's going on with their 27,000 frontline employees," Lori Bassani, national president of the APFA, said in a statement. "We are sick from toxic uniforms, sick from cabin fume events, and sick of being given the run-around with the flawed implementation and improperly programmed new scheduling systems."

American Airlines flight attendants protest sick leaveAccording to Bassani, the airline's new attendance policy, which governs sick leave, is "extremely punitive and does not take into account the unique working conditions flight attendants endure daily."

"We are exposed to ill passengers, foreign foodborne illnesses, toxic cabin air, unhealthy sleep patterns, radiation exposure, and flight attendants cross multiple time zones, to name just a few," she added. 

In a statement to Business Insider, American Airlines said:

"Our new, combined attendance policy recognizes that life happens and provides our flight attendants with latitude to manage their time away from work. At the same time, it encourages attendance accountability which ensures we're appropriately staffed to provide our customers with the great service they expect and deserve when flying American."

American Airlines protestSince late 2016, American Airlines flight attendants have complained of severe allergic reactions including extreme respiratory distress, nausea, headaches, cognitive issues, and full-body rashes attributed to the company's uniforms. 

According to a 2017 lawsuit filed by more than 100 of the airline's flight attendants, chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene, cobalt, cadmium, captafol, chromium, copper, nickel, antimony, benzyl benzoate, hexyl cinnamic aldehyde, and benzaldehyde have been detected in the fabric.

The APFA claims it has received notice of more than 3,500 cases of suspected health reactions tied to the uniforms, which will be replaced in 2020.  

If you're an American Airlines employee and you have a story to share, reach out to this reporter at bzhang@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: Emirates launched a new flight targeted at a small city in New Jersey that most Americans have never heard of — and it's a brilliant strategy

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Yahoo! World’s Sixth-Most Popular Website Now Supports Cryptocurrency Trading

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

The world’s sixth most popular website has launched a service to allow readers to trade bitcoin, ethereum, and other cryptocurrency tokens directly through its platform. Yahoo.com, which according to Alexa ranks as the sixth most visited website both globally and with the U.S., announced this week that it has partnered with financial API developer TradeIt

The post Yahoo! World’s Sixth-Most Popular Website Now Supports Cryptocurrency Trading appeared first on CCN

Eminem's Latest Album 'Kamikaze' Features a Bitcoin Shout-Out

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

The rapper Eminem has given bitcoin's public awareness a boost with a mention of the cryptocurrency on his just-launched album "Kamikaze."

China is once again staring down the biggest Catch-22 in its economy

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

china woman mirror

  • China's economy has started to slow dramatically, even before US tariffs have had a chance to make an impact.
  • The government scrambling to boost growth, and walking back some of the measures it took to rein in debt and credit creation.
  • This means it is once again encouraging infrastructure investment — one of biggest drivers of  China's debt bubble in the first place.
  • Beijing knows this is risky, and an analyst at Societe Generale says that by 2019 it could lead to the full return of shadow government borrowing and/or shadow banking.

The Chinese economy has yet to feel the pain of US trade hostility, but it is slowing dramatically, to the alarm of government officials.

That means the government must once again stare down the Catch-22 of modern Chinese economics. Should it continue to crack down on easy credit and shadow financing to fight the massive debt bubble that's been building since the global financial crisis, or should it loosen the reins in order to keep the economy growing at around 6.5% regardless of any instability tariffs might bring?

This situation is coming to bare on Beijing hard and fast. Bloomberg reports that President Donald Trump could place $200 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods as early as next week.

And even without this pressure, Chinese economic data has been trending down all summer, and the government is looking for ways to stop the bleeding. That may mean returning to some old habits. As Societe Generale economist Wei Yao wrote in recent note to clients, "China has had no economic recovery that wasn't preceded by infrastructure stimulus" in the past 10 years.

The problem with that is that a lot of infrastructure spending was funded by shadow banking and local government financing that was either implicitly or explicitly backed by Beijing. It was one of the main drivers in growing China's debt bubble to the point that the government had to crack down.

Foreign governments, economists, financiers, and nongovernmental organizations like the International Monetary Fund all joined the chorus of people telling China to tighten its credit and slowly deflate its debt bubble years ago.

But infrastructure spending has always worked when China needed a growth injection, and in increasingly uncertain times, what's a country to do? 

What's broken

According to Yao the government's crackdown on infrastructure investment — which has fallen from growing 18.5% in 2017 to just 5.3% so far in 2018 — is the main factor in China's economic slowdown, just as it was a huge factor in its upswing.

From Yao's note:

"Infrastructure funding has suffered severely due to two lines of laudable deleveraging efforts - a clean-up of shadow government borrowing and a deleveraging campaign targeted at shadow banking activities.

We estimate that the combined impact is responsible for half of the year-to-date slowdown, and the rest could be explained by slower issuance of special local government bonds (LGBs), which also had a lot to do with tightening liquidity conditions in the bond market caused by financial deleveraging measures."

Until around May this wasn't a problem. China's economy was looking stable in 2018. For the first time since 2014, it rolled into the new year without incident. There was no stock market crash, no currency issue — nothing. The world thought the bubble was being deflated, and that — as China's leaders have always said — things were under control.

China infrastructure investment impact on growth

But as the year wore on that stability wore out. Now the Chinese yuan is falling and its stock markets are convulsing. Company earnings are hurting thanks, in part, to a lack of easy credit.

The entire world expected any tightening of credit to bring some instability. 

But the other edge of that sword is that China's so-called National Team of economists, officials and technocrats in China are also expected to step up when things get too weird. And so they have. That is why the Ministry of Finance is advocating another go at infrastructure spending, this time with private funds involved.

But no one knows exactly where that help begins, and where it ends. Especially not in the face of a US trade war.

Yao has noted a "dramatic" speed up in the issuance of local government bonds that fund infrastructure projects in recent weeks — one that could push infrastructure investment growth up to 10% in the second half of the year. However, this won't be enough to stabilize the economy if the housing market slows, as she expects it will, in 2019.

That's when the government may be tempted to bring back the shadow financing of infrastructure investment to keep growth around its 6.5% target.

"All in all, we think that the Chinese government will have to make a most difficult decision in 2019: to deleverage or not?" she wrote. "If it makes what we think is the right decision for the long term - to deleverage - then a sharper slowdown is almost certain next year. Based on the signs so far, this scenario looks increasingly likely." 

SEE ALSO: China's economy is starting to show its true colors again

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India keeps its crown as the fastest-growing major economy in the world

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

vegetables vendors india market

  • Economic growth in India was 8.2% in the second quarter.
  • That beat expectations for 7.6% growth and surpassed previous quarter GDP of 7.7%.
  • A strong manufacturing sector and isolation from ongoing trade tensions helped power growth, analysts say.

India's economy expanded more than 8% between April and June from a year earlier, as a surge in manufacturing activity and spending powered the world's sixth-largest economy to its fastest growth in more than two years.  

Gross domestic product in the country grew 8.2% year-over-year last quarter, according to government data out Friday, up from 7.7% in the first three months of 2018. Analysts had forecast 7.6% growth. India is the world's fastest-growing economy and expanding more quickly than China, which reported 6.7% economic growth in the second quarter. 

CLSA analyst Christopher Wood noted resilience in the Indian stock market could signal the economy is accelerating at a time when many other markets in Asia may be near cyclical peaks. Isolation from an ongoing global trade war could be behind recent strength, he added. 

"One reason why is that India, as primarily a domestic-driven economy, is clearly much less exposed to Trump-driven trade concerns," Wood said. 

Growth also surpassed forecasts by the Reserve Bank of India, which has been grappling with a broad emerging market currency sell-off that has helped send the rupee to all-time lows. The central bank raised its benchmark rate by 50 basis points to 6.5% at its past two policy meetings.

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, KO, CRON, AAPL, CBOE)

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McAfee’s Bitcoin Wallet Drops ‘Unhackable’ Claim, Bug Bounty after Backlash

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

After weeks of claiming that its cryptocurrency wallet was unhackable despite being continually disproven, Bitfi has now raised its hands in the air in surrender. In a tweeted statement, the hardware wallet maker said it will no longer use the ‘unhackable claim’ in its promotional materials. “Effective immediately, we will be removing the “unhackable” claim

The post McAfee’s Bitcoin Wallet Drops ‘Unhackable’ Claim, Bug Bounty after Backlash appeared first on CCN

Amazon dethrones Tesla as the stock short sellers hate the most (TSLA, AMZN)

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

elon musk tesla spacex boring

Less than one week after Tesla CEO Elon Musk ended his bid to take the electric-car company private, Amazon has passed it as the most-shorted US stock.

Short interest in Amazon climbed to $9.97 billion on Friday, according to data from S3 partners, passing the $9.83 billion in bets against Tesla’s stock, which for months has been the most-shorted name in the market.

"While there was some short covering the week after the tweet, there has still not been any significant net Tesla short covering on the Street," Ihor Dusaniwsky, head of research at financial-analytics firm S3 Partners, said in a note to clients, per Reuters.

"Any traders who have closed down their positions to realize some profits have been replaced by new ones looking for continued price weakness."

Short interest is calculated as a function of the number of shares sold short and the stock’s price. Tesla on Thursday briefly dipped below $300 — 22% off it's high of $389 during Musk's 16-day bid to take his company private — while Amazon climbed above $2,000 for the first time in its race to a $1 trillion market cap.

Still, depending on where Tesla’s stock goes from the $300 level, there's room for short interest to climb, Dusaniwsky said.

"A $300 Tesla price may be a signal of increased short selling since when Tesla’s stock price dipped below $300 per share in March, shares shorted climbed from 30.0 million to 41.6 million in just over two months," he told Reuters.


SEE ALSO: The SEC wants to make it easier for small-time investors to get in on companies like Uber or SpaceX

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Lululemon surges after crushing earnings and raising its full-year guidance (LULU)

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

lululemon employees

Lululemon Athletica shares are up more than 10% ahead of Friday's opening bell after the company posted strong second-quarter earnings and lifted full-year guidance.

The retailer reported adjusted earnings of $0.71 per share, beating the $0.49 that was expected by Wall Street analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Lululemon said its second quarter sales totaled $723.5 million, easily beating the $666.1 million estimate. Comparable sales were also strong, soaring 19% on a constant dollar basis, well above the 9.5% growth that was anticipated.

"We’re pleased to see the great results of Q2 across all parts of our business now extending into the current quarter," Stuart Haselden, Lululemon's chief operating officer, said in the earnings release. "This ongoing success positions us to achieve our 2020 goals and beyond."

Looking ahead, the company now sees its full-year earnings to be in the range of $3.45 to $3.53 per diluted share, up from its previous calculation of $3.10 to $3.18. Analysts had expected $3.25.

Lululemon shares are up 75% this year.


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$2.4 Million: Japanese Giant Rakuten to Acquire Bitcoin Exchange

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

Japanese e-commerce retail giant Rakuten has announced its foray into the cryptocurrency sector with its acquisition of crypto exchange ‘Everybody’s Bitcoin’ in a ¥265 million ($2.4 million) deal. In an announcement on Friday, the company revealed details of its 100% share acquisition of Tokyo-based crypto exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin through its subsidiary Rakuten Card. The share

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This map shows the huge international reach of Costa Coffee, the mega-chain which Coca-Cola just bought for $5.1 billion

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

Costa Beijing

  • Coca-Cola is buying Costa Coffee for $5.1 billion, a huge move into the coffee market.
  • Costa is based in the UK, but has stores worldwide — here's where they all are.

Coca-Cola is buying the biggest coffee company in Europe, Costa Coffee, for $5.1 billion, it announced on Friday, making its first move into the coffee market.

Though most Costas are in Britain, part of the attraction will inevitably have been the chain's global reach, including 459 stores in China, almost 60 in India, and a solitary outlet in Vietnam.

This map shows you the breadth of Costa's reach, labelling each country with how many stores are there.

COsta worldwide stores

Here's the data in full:

Here's the full list as of May 2018.

UK 2,467

China 459

UAE 150

Poland 147

Ireland 114

India 57 

Saudi Arabia 56 

Kuwait 51

Czech Republic 45

Egypt 44

Russia 35

Qatar 30

Hungary 28

Spain 25

Cyprus 24

Bahrain 23

Oman 22

Bulgaria 21

Philippines 16  

Kazakhstan 12

Latvia 11

Malta 11

France 8

Singapore 6

Portugal 5

Jordan 4

Cambodia 4

Morocco 3 

Vietnam 1

Lebanon 1

Germany 1

Indonesia 1

Despite its global reach, Costa has a distinctive style that repeats itself all over the world. Business Insider published an in-depth store review based on a visit in London earlier today.

But there are, inevitably, some differences, and Costas can be seen next to some major landmarks.

There's a Costa right opposite the famous Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Barcelona Costa

Here's what a store looks like in Jordan.

Costa Jordan

In Beijing, the capital of China...

Costa Beijing

...in Poznan, Poland...

Poland Costa

And one by the coast in Qatar too... 

Costa Qatar

The news broke on Friday that one of Europe's largest coffee chains was selling for $5.1 billion – more than 16 times Costa's expected full-year earnings in 2018, Business Insider reported.

"Hot beverages is one of the few remaining segments of the total beverage landscape where Coca-Cola does not have a global brand," Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said in a statement, Business Insider reported. "Costa gives us access to this market through a strong coffee platform."

The deal comes with the 3,912 worldwide stores.

Read the full details of the acquisition here.

Apart from in the United Kingdom, China has the most stores with nearly 460.

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Bitcoin Lost 10% in August But May Have Made Long-Term Bottom

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

Bitcoin is reporting a monthly loss for August, but its quick recovery from lows below $6,000 likely indicates a long-term bottom has been made.

10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, KO, CRON, AAPL, CBOE)

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

Costa Coffee

Here is what you need to know.

Trump reportedly wants a massive escalation in the trade war with China. President Donald Trump wants to move forward with tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods —after the public-comment period ends on September 6 — Bloomberg reports.

2 of the most successful stock pickers of 2018 say a trait shared by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos holds the key to their success. "And the founder/CEOs? We prefer them because they have an appetite to think longer-term and they're willing to take risk that a rent-an-MBA executive or a successor manager may not be willing to," Anthony Zackery, a portfolio manager at the Zevenbergen Genea Fund, told Business Insider.

Coca-Cola just became a giant threat to Starbucks after buying one of Europe's biggest coffee chains. The beverage giant has agreed to pay Whitbread 3.9 billion pounds, or $5.1 billion, for its British coffee-shop chain Costa Coffee.

Apple sends out invitations for a September 12 event. The tech giant is expected to reveal three new iPhone models and could also unveil other products such as an updated iPad Pro or the next version of its AirPods headphones.

Cboe is telling market makers that it's getting close to launching ether futures. The exchange is waiting on additional clarity from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and could launch by the end of 2018, a person with knowledge of the situation told Business Insider.

Lyft takes a step toward an IPO. The ride-services firm is in talks with an adviser for an initial public offering in March or April, Bloomberg says.

A notorious short-seller has come out swinging against a popular marijuana stock. Shares of the marijuana company Cronos plunged more than 28% on Thursday after Citron Research wrote it "appears to have been deceiving the investing public by purposely not disclosing the size of its distribution agreements with provinces — unlike every other major cannabis player."

Stock markets around the world are lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng (-0.98%) led the losses in Asia, and Germany's DAX (-0.95%) trails in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open down 0.14% near 2,897.

Earnings reporting is light. Big Lots reports ahead of the opening bell.

US economic data keeps coming. Chicago PMI and University of Michigan consumer confidence will cross the wires at 9:45 a.m. ET and 10 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is down 1 basis point at 2.85%.

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2 of the most successful stock pickers of 2018 say a trait shared by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos holds the key to their success

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

Elon Musk

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk is an example of a chief executive who helped build his firm from the ground up and has big ambitions for its growth.
  • Such founders are a huge draw for Zevenbergen Capital Investments, a Seattle-based firm that's also run by a founding CEO.
  • The Zevenbergen Genea Fund has surged 44% this year, outranked only by one fund in Morningstar's universe of US equity funds. 
  • Of visionary founder/CEOs, a Zevenbergen portfolio manager said: "They're willing to take risk that a rent-an-MBA executive or a successor manager may not be willing to."

It's almost impossible to talk about Tesla without mentioning its CEO Elon Musk

Even before his high-profile attempt to take the electric-car maker private, Tesla's brand identity was inextricably linked to the entrepreneur who had the vision for the company and is still firmly in the driver's seat. 

This founder/CEO trait is shared by Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Reed Hastings of Netflix. And it's a cornerstone of the investing strategy that has helped Zevenbergen Capital Investments produce one of the best-performing equity portfolios of this year.

The Zevenbergen Genea Fund has earned a 44% year-to-date return, and only one US equity fund in Morningstar's universe boasted a stronger performance as of Thursday. It aims to invest in large, disruptive companies at their early stages of growth. Its performance easily trounces the 5% average scored by all US funds, the S&P 500's 8.8% return, and the Russell 3000's 10% gain, even as fewer mutual funds succeed at beating their benchmarks this year compared to 2017. 

The Seattle-based firm is a poster child of its own strategy. Nancy Zevenbergen founded the firm in 1987 and still sits on the six-person investment team.

"It's hard to overstate the importance of people at Zevenbergen Capital, but also as an investment approach," Anthony Zackery, one of the firm's portfolio managers, said. 

"And the founder/CEOs? We prefer them because they have an appetite to think longer-term and they're willing to take risk that a rent-an-MBA executive or a successor manager may not be willing to."

Despite Musk's recent run-ins with investors, reporters, and regulators, Zevenbergen Capital is standing by Tesla for the long haul; it was the Genea fund's third-largest holding as of the most recent regulatory disclosure on June 30.

"We still believe in what they're doing," Zackery told Business Insider on Wednesday. "The company has executed on what it set out to do, maybe not always when they set out to." 

Other examples of founder-led companies abound in the Zevenebergen Genea portfolio including Amazon, its top holding, and Netflix. 

Bezos and Hastings "recognized where the world was moving early and were not afraid to invest aggressively in building out the infrastructure in the case of Amazon or content in the case of Netflix," Joseph Dennison, a Zevenbergen Capital portfolio manager, said. 

Still fired up

There are founders of smaller companies who also attracted Zevenbergen's investor dollars. They include Chip Paucek, the CEO and co-founder of 2U, a $287 million company that helps colleges offer online-degree programs. Its stock has soared 36% this year and more than 500% since the company went public in 2014.

Paucek recognized early that the internet can create a better experience for graduate educators, and "displays a rare passion for the education space and a business he has built essentially from scratch," Dennison said.

Another example is Michael Hsing, the co-founder of Monolithic Power Systems, a semiconductor company.  

"He doesn't have to work another day in his life, but when we asked him 'what's your future with the company,' he's still fired up," Zackery said. "He's still really excited about what's going to happen in the next 5-10 years, and that shows the importance or the value of these founder/CEOs who have long-term visions."

It's about big risk and big reward

The faith that entrepreneurs display in their companies also informs Zevenberg Capital's conviction in active management, even though investor dollars continue to flood the passive space.

According to a Moody's report released earlier in August, investors have pulled more money from actively-managed stock funds at the fastest year-to-date pace on record. And, Goldman Sachs found that through August 15, $78 billion flowed into US equity exchange-traded funds and passive mutual funds, while $84 billion was withdrawn from US active mutual funds.

But like active management, building a successful company is about having the nerve to take big swings. 

"Would Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett be three of the richest people on earth if they'd just owned S&P 500 ETFs or index funds?" Zackery asked, responding in the negative.

"They assumed significant risk on endeavours they had significant conviction in, and that's our approach to active investing." 

It's worth mentioning that although Buffett has been a huge advocate of passive S&P 500 funds for the everyday investor, his company, Berkshire Hathaway, built its fortunes by investing in specific, successful companies.  

At the end of the day, company fundamentals still matter, especially if an investor wants to avoid the trap of a cult of personality.

The key thing Zevenbergen considers on a company's books is its revenue growth. That's because it's as clean a read as one can get on customer demand, pricing, and market-share opportunities. A 15% growth rate is the firm's typical hurdle.

"Our product is an unapologetic mix of art and science," Dennison said.

SEE ALSO: BANK OF AMERICA: One of Wall Street's most dreaded recession signals is being wildly distorted — here's what really matters and what may happen next

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Rakuten Is About to Buy a Bitcoin Exchange for $2.4 Million

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

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten is planning another step into the cryptocurrency industry with the acquisition of a local bitcoin exchange.

The City of London has gained a powerful ally in the fight to keep a key business in the UK post-Brexit

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

German, British and European Union flags fly in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany July 20, 2016.

  • Germany’s financial regulator BaFin has sided with the Bank of England and demanded that Brussels take action to prevent mayhem in the derivatives markets post-Brexit.
  • The move shows an alignment with the BoE which has warned that $67 trillion of interest rate swaps and other derivatives could be in trouble if no political support is given to the banks.
  • The EU Commission has so far expressed the view that financial regulation post-Brexit is for the banks and other financial companies to sort out.
  • "It is almost impossible to fix that problem exclusively just by one side of the stakeholders involved" BaFin’s president, Felix Hufeld told Bloomberg, adding, there has to be "a solution on a political level."

The German financial regulatory authority, BaFin, has demanded that EU officials in Brussels take urgent action to prevent mayhem in the derivatives market after Brexit.

The change in German policy is a sign of support for the Bank of England which has warned that $67 trillion of interest rate swaps and other derivatives could flounder if a plan is not agreed on between Europe and the UK before Brexit, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The EU Commission has so far expressed the view that financial regulation post-Brexit is for banks and other financial companies to sort out, even in the event of a wider deal, despite European, Asian and US banks arguing that they cannot do it alone, and that the fall-out if no action is taken could create a global financial shock.

"It is almost impossible to fix that problem exclusively just by one side of the stakeholders involved, let it be the industry itself or individual supervisors," BaFin’s president, Felix Hufeld told Bloomberg at a forum in Frankfurt, adding that the industry must be taken seriously.

There has to be "a solution on a political level" outlining a legislative or regulatory structure to prevent disruption, Hufeld said.

Britain has taken measures to try and guarantee "contract continuity" for foreign banks operating in the City, even if passporting rights are lost, but the EU hasn’t yet reciprocated.

The Bank of England and German regulator BaFin are now working to the same goal, an indication that Germany is starting to step into the negotiations as the threat of a no-Brexit deal persists.

SEE ALSO: $71 billion Japanese giant Panasonic is pulling its European headquarters out of the UK — and Brexit is to blame

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BitPay Enables Merchants to Receive Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Settlements

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

BitPay merchants can now receive settlement payments in Bitcoin Cash, making it the second digital currency settlement option for merchants on the platform. For merchants to receive their settlement in Bitcoin Cash, they will need a wallet address that can receive BCH or they can use the in-built wallet on BitPay. Bitcoin Cash was added

The post BitPay Enables Merchants to Receive Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Settlements appeared first on CCN

Coca-Cola just became a giant threat to Starbucks after buying one of Europe's biggest coffee chains for $5.1 billion

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

costa coffee

  • US beverage giant Coca-Cola will buy British coffee shop chain Costa in a surprise acquisition.
  • Costa, which is currently owned by Whitbread, is being sold for £3.9 billion ($5.1 billion).
  • Coca-Cola currently has no presence in the coffee market, and wants to use the deal to expand into the space.
  • The move is likely to cause ripples for major coffee chains in the US like Starbucks.
  • Shares in Whitbread jumped almost 20% at the open on the news.

Coca-Cola has announced a surprise move to buy Costa Coffee, one of Europe's largest cafe chains, from current owners Whitbread for £3.9 billion ($5.1 billion) in a move likely to send shockwaves through the coffee industry.

Whitbread, which also owns budget UK hotel chain Premier Inn, said that its board had unanimously approved the deal, and that it expects the sale to be completed by the first half of 2019.

"This transaction is great news for shareholders as it recognises the strategic value we have developed in the Costa brand and its international growth potential and accelerates the realisation of value for shareholders in cash," Whitbread's chief executive Alison Brittain said in a statement released to the stock market on Friday morning.

The £3.9 billion figure put on the deal represents a multiple of more than 16 times Costa's expected full year earnings in 2018.

Whitbread had not hidden its plans to spin out the Costa brand, but the sale to Coca-Cola has come as something of a surprise to many in the market, given that Coca-Cola currently has no presence in the coffee market. That lack of a presence is exactly why Coca-Cola wants to buy Costa, however.

“Hot beverages is one of the few remaining segments of the total beverage landscape where Coca-Cola does not have a global brand," Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said in a statement. "Costa gives us access to this market through a strong coffee platform."

Coca-Cola's move into coffee is part of a growing trend from soft drink manufacturers, who are trying to find ways of continuing to grow while consumers move away from sugary, fizzy drinks — which in many markets are now heavily taxed.

Earlier in August, for example, Pepsi paid $3.2 billion to buy SodaStream, which allows consumers to make their own carbonated beverages at home.

Costa's sale to Coca-Cola is likely to be seen as a direct challenge to the dominance of Starbucks in the US coffee space. Costa has more UK stores than Starbucks, and prior to the takeover was already expanding globally. In October 2017 it bought out Yueda, a Chinese coffee chain with which it had operated a joint venture in the country for over a decade.

Costa is the second largest coffee shop chain in China, although its presence there is currently dwarfed by Starbucks' 2,800 stores.

Not only does Coca-Cola's deal with Costa threaten Starbucks' store based operations, but also its retail arm, which sells branded iced coffees and coffee drinks in convenience and grocery stores around the world. In the UK, Costa operates thousands of self-service coffee machines in stores and gas stations, a model which could be expanded to the US.

Shares in Whitbread surged at the open on Friday as a result of the deal, climbing almost 20%, as the chart below shows:

Whitbread share chart costa merger

SEE ALSO: $71 billion Japanese giant Panasonic is pulling its European headquarters out of the UK — and Brexit is to blame

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Bitcoin Price at $7,000: Market Recovers After Minor Drop, WaltonChain Surges 30%

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

In the past 24 hours, the Bitcoin price has recovered from $6,800 to $7,000, as buy pressure in the higher region of $6,000 prevented a further fall to mid-$6,000. As bitcoin price rebounded and averted a large drop to $6,500, most tokens and small market cap cryptocurrencies recovered, pushing the valuation of the cryptocurrency market

The post Bitcoin Price at $7,000: Market Recovers After Minor Drop, WaltonChain Surges 30% appeared first on CCN

Yahoo Finance Now Allows Trading of 4 Cryptos on Its iOS App

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

After having tracked crypto prices for years, Yahoo Finance now adds a new feature to let users trade 4 cryptos on its iOS app, including dogecoin.

'Best PR I've had in a while': Elon Musk celebrates that Steve Bannon called him 'an immature man child' (TSLA)

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

elon musk shrug tesla

  • Elon Musk is welcoming the criticism of Steve Bannon, who called the Tesla CEO "an immature man child" in an interview with CNN.
  • "Can Steve Bannon please insult me some more? Best PR I've had in a while," Musk quipped on Thursday night.
  • Bannon, a one-time strategist for President Donald Trump who was ousted from the White House last summer, has been rebuking Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook, echoing Trump's unsubstantiated claims that the companies are biased against political conservatives.
  • Bannon accused Musk of lying during a weeks-long tarry over a proposal to take Tesla private and called the company "out of control."

Elon Musk would like Steve Bannon to criticize him some more.

Responding to a CNN interview in which the one-time strategist to President Donald Trump rebuked the Tesla CEO and other Silicon Valley giants and called them "man childs," Musk quipped, "Can Steve Bannon insult me some more?"

"Best PR I've had in a while," Musk said Thursday night.

Bannon, who was ousted from the White House in August 2017, has been lashing out at tech companies, echoing Trump's unsubstantiated claims that places like Google and Facebook are politically biased against conservatives.

Trump leaned in on that claim Wednesday afternoon, sharing a video on his personal Twitter account that urged Google to "stop the bias." Google summarily dismantled Trump's argument.

It is not entirely clear why Musk welcomed Bannon's insults. He is not known to take kindly to anything he interprets as a personal slight, as demonstrated by his responses to an avalanche of negative press earlier this summer.

Currently, Musk faces the threat of a libel lawsuit stemming from taunts he lobbed at a British diver involved in the dramatic Thai cave rescue in July.

SEE ALSO: Steve Bannon lets rip on 'man child' Elon Musk

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NOW WATCH: An early bitcoin investor explains what most people get wrong about the cryptocurrency

Mass Adoption of Crypto Far from Being Achieved, Best Chance in Turkey

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

Based on a survey conducted by Statistca on 15,000 individuals, Turkey has the highest percentage of population that has invested in the crypto market. According to the data released by Statistica shown below, 18 percent of the country’s investors have purchased cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum in the past few years. Motive of Residents in

The post Mass Adoption of Crypto Far from Being Achieved, Best Chance in Turkey appeared first on CCN

The SEC charged a cloud executive with insider trading after he allegedly saved his brothers from $600,000 in losses (QYLS)

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

Amer Deeba Qualys

  • The SEC charged a former cloud security executive with insider trading on Thursday.
  • Amer Deeba, chief commercial officer at Qualys, allegedly gave his two brothers advanced warning of poor financial results in Q1 2015 and encouraged them to sell all of their shares in the company. 
  • The financial results ultimately tanked the company's stock 25% the day after earnings, and saved the brothers a total of $581,170, according to the SEC complaint.

A longtime enterprise tech executive was charged with insider trading on Thursday by the Securities and Exchange Commission which alleged that he tipped off his two of his brothers and helped them dump shares in his company ahead of an ugly quarterly earnings report.

Amer Deeba, the defendant, worked at Qualys for 17 years, most recently as chief commercial officer of the cloud security and services company. He had special access to Qualys CEO Philippe Courtot, according to the complaint, and was the only senior executive to sit near Courtot in the office. 

The SEC alleges that Deeba was privy to a significant miss on revenue in the company's Q1 2015 quarter, and encouraged his brothers to sell of their shares on that information before the company announced its results.

Deeba, who has settled the case without admitting or denying the allegations, will be barred for two years from serving as an executive or director at any SEC-reporting company and will pay a penalty of $581,170 — the amount of losses his tip allegedly saved his brothers.

Courtot called Deeba on April 7 and informed him of the low sales figures, according to the complaint. Deeba, who was in Lebanon with his family at the time of the phone call, allegedly passed this information along to his two brothers. Each held shares in the company thanks to gifts Deeba had issued them in 2005, long before the company's 2012 IPO.

Qualys's stock price dropped 25% the day following its May 4 earnings announcement, according to the SEC complaint.

Because they sold their stock ahead of the news, Deeba's two brothers avoided losing a total of $581,170, according to the complaint. Deeba and Qualys could not immediately be reached for comment.

SEE ALSO: The SEC is accusing a startup founder of stealing $48 million from investors to fund private jets and a dairy cow farm

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At least 4 killed in Greyhound bus crash in New Mexico

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

greyhound bus crash

  • New Mexico state police say at least four people were killed in a Greyhound bus crash in northwestern New Mexico on Thursday, local news media reported.
  • New Mexico State Police said a semi-truck blew a tire and crossed into oncoming traffic, colliding with the bus.
  • Forty-nine people were on the bus, Greyhound said.
  • Dozensof injured passengers were taken to local hospitals. 

At least four people were killed in a crash involving a Greyhound bus and a semi-truck in McKinley County, New Mexico on Thursday afternoon, local law-enforcement officials said.

New Mexico State Police said the semi-truck experienced a tire blowout and crossed into oncoming traffic, colliding with the Greyhound bus. Police and emergency personnel were responding to the scene along Interstate 40.

Forty-nine passengers were on the bus, a Greyhound official told KOB-TV. University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque was notified to expect six patients. Gallup Indian Medical center reportedly received 37 patients, NBC News reported, adding that at least four of the injured were taken to a trauma center.

The bus was reportedly traveling from Albuquerque to Phoenix, and was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Friday morning.

Ten investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive at the scene Friday.

Refresh this page for updates

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As Venezuela Takes Aim at Remittances, Bitcoiners Take Collateral Damage

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

As Venezuela Takes Aim at Remittances, Bitcoiners Take Collateral Damage

The Venezuelan government is cracking down on remittance payments with a new banking mandate, one that could put the country’s Bitcoin users on an even tighter leash.

In a letter “addressed to all banking institutions,” the government has ordered all domestic banks to disclose the IP addresses, financial details, transaction amounts and locations of all citizens who access their banking services from outside the country.

Per the measure, Venezuelans are expected to “notify [their] banking institution of [travel] instances prior to [departing], explicitly indicating their destination place(s)” and how long they’ll be out of country, the letter reads.

If a citizen fails to comply with the above stipulations, banks may “enact a special condition that restricts the ability of the client to make online transactions,” effectively locking them out of their bank accounts if they are caught accessing services outside of the county. The bank is then required to “report the policy holder’s name; identification of the resource/asset; date and place of provenance; date of imposed restriction and the IP address from which access was attempted” to the National Entity of Financial Intelligence.

“Lack of compliance with the above stated,” the letter concludes, “will result in the imposing of sanctions in accordance with the terms outlined by the legislative decree.”

An Attempt to Monopolize Money Transfers

The measure, self-described as a means to “preserve the interests of the users and of the general public,” is the government’s attempt to strongarm the community of Venezuelans who migrate to neighboring countries, such as Argentina, to send money home. Their own country’s economy ravaged by hyperinflation, these expats seek work abroad in hopes of earning a living wage to support themselves and their loved ones.

It’s these citizens funneling money back into the country that the government wants to police with its new order.

“A lot of people are sending money to their relatives in Venezuela and they want a cut of that,” Venezuelan Eduardo Gómez, head of support at Purse.io, told Bitcoin Magazine. This strategy, he continued to explain, is much like the Cuban government’s own monopoly over cross-border transaction clearing.

“If you look at what Cuba is doing … the biggest revenue source for Cuba is remittances; it’s all the Cubans living in Florida, in Miami, sending money home to their families. If you want to send money to Cuba, you have to go through the government to sell dollars for Cuban pesos.”

Venezuelan officials are reaching for the same control. In sanctioning state-approved trading houses, which as Gómez suggests are in the government’s back pocket, politicians are hoping to reroute all remittances through these institutions to take a cut of payments. The bank order is the means by which the government intends to coerce citizens to use these services.

And their IP addresses are the leverage. As the order indicates, if a client is caught accessing online banking services abroad, or she fails to report the required information to her bank, then that client could lose banking privileges.

Gómez told us that the government has already come down on citizens using middleman services who offer cheaper money transfer services in neighboring countries, citing his siblings’ use of such services in Uruguay.

This new measure will look to sweep up those they’ve missed, including users of well-known OTC Bitcoin exchange LocalBitcoins.

With Remittances in Sight, Bitcoin Users Caught in Crossfire

“Bitcoin is a threat to [the government] because people are using LocalBitcoins to trade money around,” Gómez said.

While Gómez admitted that there’s less volume on Latin America’s LocalBitcoins hubs compared to international exchange volumes, he did say that “volume is increasing,” as it has become a popular remittance option to circumvent government-sanctioned trading houses.

Expats will even use the service as an alternative to foreign currency transfer intermediaries. Many Venezuelans living and working in Argentina, for example, will convert their Argentinian pesos into bitcoin. Using LocalBitcoins, they’ll search for a Venezuelan trader who uses the same bank as them, something that can be tricky depending on rates, bitcoin-to-bolivar liquidity and transaction size. Once a user finds the right match, they’ll give the buyer their bank account number — or, in some situations, that of a relative — and settle the transaction.

Under the government’s new requirements, Venezuelans who deposit directly into their own bank accounts could be in trouble, Gómez said, as they could have their banking services shuttered on account of illegal use — with similar consequences for those buyers transferring the funds. If the measure takes its desired effect, Gómez believes that it could have damaging  ramifications on Bitcoin’s use and LocalBitcoins’s presence among Venezuelans.

“What this means for Bitcoin in the short term is that it could take some liquidity from LocalBitcoins because I have heard some rumors that a lot of Latin American traders for LocalBitcoins are Venezuelans living abroad. A lot of these guys left the country years ago, so what may happen is that a lot of those traders won’t be able to log into their bank accounts.”

Theoretically, this is easy to overcome. Instead of transferring funds into your own account, for instance, you could have them sent to a relative, instead. Gómez forecasts this as a likely outcome — one that, if it causes an uptick in LocalBitcoins’s popularity, could lead the government to shut down domestic access to the platform entirely.

“In the long term, the government may restrict LocalBitcoins via something like DNS blocking or IP blocking to restrict access to LocalBitcoins in Venezuela. If they see that a lot of people are using LocalBitcoins to circumvent this IP restriction, then they may see it as a threat.”

Still, this action would be a long time coming if it’s ever executed, Gómez predicts, for the same reason why LocalBitcoins is the only cryptocurrency exchange still active in the country: officials use it.

“A lot of people inside the government use LocalBitcoins to sell their bitcoins that they earn via mining because all of the government officials mine,” he said.

Even as the Venezuelan police raid local mining operations, government officials themselves mine with immunity, having bootstrapped their own rigs since the market’s 2017 bull run. Seeing as it’s so popular among officials, Gómez thinks the government will leave the exchange alone — for now, at least.

Bigger Than Bitcoin

In our talk, Gómez indicated that the government’s banking order will no doubt create headaches for Venezuelan Bitcoin users. But by and large, the order is about effecting greater control over all aspects of the economy. Wrangling in Bitcoin users, specifically those sending money across borders, is just one degree of this control.

“Ultimately, the government wants a cut of the pie for remittances,” Gómez said.

LocalBitcoins is certainly cutting into the government’s transaction processing profit, but it’s not only used for money transfers. Gómez also told Bitcoin Magazine that Venezuelans use the service to check the bolivar’s rate against the U.S. dollar, which has become a de facto trading standard for many in-country services.

Venezuelans used to reference DolarToday, a popular service for transparent bolivar-dollar rates. But ever since rumors began to spread that the Venezuelan government covertly purchased the domain to control the rates, “LocalBitcoins is becoming the market reference for the dollar,” Gómez said. Users will refer to the bitcoin-bolivar rate against the bitcoin-dollar rate to arrive at a reliable bolivar-dollar rate.

The government’s economic war, as Gómez indicated, is total — one that looks to tighten the noose around any service or tender that works around officially sanctioned services. Given LocalBitcoins is proving to be a multifaceted tool for those Venezuelans who use it, it’s reasonable to assume that, if its popularity continues to surge, the government may take action.

If it does, this could completely throttle the last access points Venezuelans have to cryptocurrency platforms and services. Gómez said that even though LocalBitcoins is the only operable exchange left in the country, “there’s [still] a lack of liquidity.”

In the event of this closing, Venezuelans will have yet another hurdle to jump when attempting to use crypto; this would neutralize one of the only economic safe havens citizens have left as the bolivar continues to hemorrhage value.

“Venezuelan salaries are so low that there’s not even a way for people to buy crypto. To put things into perspective, the average salary in Venezuela for one month of work is $1. Can you imagine that? Working a full month and only earning $1 at the end of it,” Gómez concluded in our talk.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Origin Protocol Launches Decentralized Messaging Platform

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

Origin Protocol Launches Decentralized Messaging Platform

Origin Protocol, one of the early initial token offerings listed on CoinList, has announced the launch of its new decentralized messaging service. Origin’s latest offering could challenge encrypted giant Telegram, which, while not decentralized, is widely used within the cryptocurrency community.

Decentralized Options for Origin Participants

Origin Messaging was designed to meet the need for a decentralized messaging system, not only for Origin, but for the entire ecosystem. The team believes this is a core service to their marketplace. In their words:

“Messaging is [a] critical component necessary to facilitate meaningful transactions [between users].”

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Origin Co-founder Josh Fraser said the company is built on the belief that “buyers and sellers” should be able to “transact without rent-seeking middlemen.”

He continued, “When you cut out the middleman, you also remove their fees, and both the buyer and the seller are able to get a better price. We’re passionate about promoting free and transparent commerce and giving our community a stake in the network.”

The team has expressed confidence that a decentralized, encrypted, real-time service will best suit users. The Origin Messaging service was designed by leading research and development engineer Yu Pan, who is a co-founder of PayPal and a top engineer at YouTube.

Origin engineer Micah Alcorn outlined the features in Origin’s blog post. These include an open-source framework and secure, end-to-end encryption. According to him, user privacy is paramount, and no one — including Origin and the National Security Agency (NSA) — should have the ability to eavesdrop on user conversations.

The platform is also fully decentralized, built on top of OrbitDB, which is a serverless, distributed, peer-to-peer database that uses IPFS as its data storage and IPFS pubsub to automatically synchronize databases with peers. Furthermore, it is entirely free because though it leverages Ethereum’s infrastructure and signing capabilities, no messages are published to the Ethereum blockchain, which means there are no associated gas fees.

He also lists speed, auditability, ease of use and anonymity as useful features of the new platform. Interestingly, the Origin dApp is ERC-725 compatible, which means users can create non-fungible assets that are used to verify the authenticity of the message recipient’s identity.

According to Origin, “ERC-725 gives you a smart contract that you alone control. This smart contract represents your identity on the blockchain. You can attach as much identifying information to your identity smart contract as you want. You can also get attestations from other trusted third-parties like Origin that verify specific aspects of your identity and add those to your identity smart contract. You can see an example of this in action in the Origin dApp where Origin will verify information like your email address, phone number and Facebook account. After Origin verifies that you control those accounts, we will sign an attestation on your behalf that you can attach to your identity smart contract.”

Of course, users also have the option to include no identifying information at all and choose to be known as nothing but an Ethereum address.

Origin is not the first cryptocurrency project to pitch a decentralized messaging service. Obsidian, a fork of Stratis, for example, has launched its own decentralized messaging platform. Popular messaging app Telegram also had plans to decentralize its services by launching an ICO, though it took a step back from this plan in May of 2018 by canceling the public portion of its fundraising.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Monero Headed to $18k, Ripple Price Primed for 97% Crash: Research

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

Anonymity-centric cryptocurrency monero may be the best buy in crypto right now, and bitcoin’s not far behind. The ripple price (XRP), on the other hand, could be primed for a historic crash. Bitcoin, Monero Have Bright Futures That’s according to a new report from initial coin offering advisory and research firm Satis Group, which attempts

The post Monero Headed to $18k, Ripple Price Primed for 97% Crash: Research appeared first on CCN

Monero Headed to $18k, Ripple Price Primed for 97% Crash: Research

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

Anonymity-centric cryptocurrency monero may be the best buy in crypto right now, and bitcoin’s not far behind. The ripple price (XRP), on the other hand, could be primed for a historic crash. Bitcoin, Monero Have Bright Futures That’s according to a new report from initial coin offering advisory and research firm Satis Group, which attempts

The post Monero Headed to $18k, Ripple Price Primed for 97% Crash: Research appeared first on CCN

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