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Trump Just Replaced His Campaign Manager As He Trails Biden By 15 Points - vice

Trump Just Replaced His Campaign Manager As He Trails Biden By 15 Points

Brad Parscale is out, with just over 100 days until election day.
vice - 1 hour ago
Iceland invites visitors to SCREAM to blow off lockdown steam in bizarre tourism campaign (VIDEO) - rt

Iceland invites visitors to SCREAM to blow off lockdown steam in bizarre tourism campaign (VIDEO)

Despite escaping the coronavirus pandemic largely unscathed, Iceland has decided to open its pristine landscapes up to those suffering under lockdown elsewhere in the world, inviting them to ‘let it out’ with a piercing scream.
rt - 1 hour ago
‘We’re just a pile of misery’: Victims of Germany’s child molesting ‘experiment’ tell RT of their nightmare that lives on - rt

‘We’re just a pile of misery’: Victims of Germany’s child molesting ‘experiment’ tell RT of their nightmare that lives on

Decades ago, they fought for survival every single day – now they have to motivate themselves to live. RT listened to heartbreaking memories of two German men placed in the foster care of a known pedophile by Berlin authorities.
rt - 1 hour ago
Danish ice cream maker to rebrand ‘Eskimo’ desserts over RACISM concerns - rt

Danish ice cream maker to rebrand ‘Eskimo’ desserts over RACISM concerns

Danish ice cream maker Hansens Is will rebrand its ‘Eskimo’ desserts over apparent racist connotations, following complaints by a politician from Greenland. The move was met with mixed reaction online.
rt - 3 hours ago
Beijing claims UK has lost independence on Huawei 5G issue, warns of retaliation over tech firm’s ban - rt

Beijing claims UK has lost independence on Huawei 5G issue, warns of retaliation over tech firm’s ban

China has lashed out at Britain’s decision to exclude Huawei from developing the country’s 5G network, suggesting the move was self-defeating and would negatively affect Sino-British economic cooperation.
rt - 3 hours ago
Man, 27, charged by detectives investigating murder of Lyra Mckee - metro

Man, 27, charged by detectives investigating murder of Lyra Mckee

The man has been charged with two gun offences in relation the journalist's killing in Northern Ireland last year.
metro - 5 hours ago
Device fitted to washing machines could stop 80% of microfibres getting into the environment - metro

Device fitted to washing machines could stop 80% of microfibres getting into the environment

Considerable potential for environmental benefits
metro - 6 hours ago
Sarcastic memes rain down on Twitter after company asks for patience amid ‘security incident’ - rt

Sarcastic memes rain down on Twitter after company asks for patience amid ‘security incident’

Twitter’s support account has been bombarded with snarky replies after the company acknowledged that users may be experiencing issues due to a massive security breach.
rt - 6 hours ago
Instagram users report direct message problems after Twitter suffers massive security breach - rt

Instagram users report direct message problems after Twitter suffers massive security breach

Instagram users say that the platform’s direct messaging feature is down, hours after Twitter was hit by a sophisticated cyber-attack.
rt - 7 hours ago
Alleged screenshots of internal Twitter tools suggest platform maintains user ‘blacklists’ despite denying practice for years - rt

Alleged screenshots of internal Twitter tools suggest platform maintains user ‘blacklists’ despite denying practice for years

Leaked screenshots of Twitter’s internal systems indicate that the company keeps “blacklists” for users it deems undesirable, according to multiple reports. The leaks followed the largest hack in the platform’s history.
rt - 8 hours ago
Twitter puts verified accounts on LOCKDOWN after massive hack hits billionaires, politicians & celebrities - rt

Twitter puts verified accounts on LOCKDOWN after massive hack hits billionaires, politicians & celebrities

Twitter has frozen its verified user accounts following what may be the largest security breach in the company’s history, seeing a wave of high-profile figures swept up in an apparent bitcoin scam.
rt - 14 hours ago
Apple, Bill Gates, Kanye West and Elon Musk ‘hacked by Bitcoin scammers on Twitter’ - metro

Apple, Bill Gates, Kanye West and Elon Musk ‘hacked by Bitcoin scammers on Twitter’

Other victims include Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos and Joe Biden.
metro - 15 hours ago
Felony Charge Dropped Against Homeless Man Dragged Off Subway by NYPD and Punched - vice

Felony Charge Dropped Against Homeless Man Dragged Off Subway by NYPD and Punched

The man was approached by police officers after occupying more than one seat on the subway in May.
vice - 16 hours ago
Russia to blame for landmines found in Libya, says US Africa Command in another self-serving ‘bombshell’ - rt

Russia to blame for landmines found in Libya, says US Africa Command in another self-serving ‘bombshell’

As warring Libyan factions seek aid from Turkey and Egypt, AFRICOM is blaming Russia for landmines that were found near Tripoli in yet another alarmist ‘intelligence assessment’ aimed at getting US troops sent back to Africa.
rt - 17 hours ago
Uyghurs bussed across China for forced labour in factories – new footage - channel 4

Uyghurs bussed across China for forced labour in factories – new footage

The US State Department announced new sanctions today on some employees of Chinese tech companies, including Huawei, for their involvement in human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region; home to the country's persecuted Uyghur community.
channel 4 - 17 hours ago
We need to be ‘rethinking our approach to migration’ and seeing migrants as a benefit – Prof Molly Scott Cato - channel 4

We need to be ‘rethinking our approach to migration’ and seeing migrants as a benefit – Prof Molly Scott Cato

We talk to the author of the report on fertility, Christopher Murray, who is Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington, and Molly Scott Cato, Professor of Economics at Roehampton University and a former Green Party MEP.
channel 4 - 17 hours ago
Fall in fertility rates could see some countries’ populations halve, says report - channel 4

Fall in fertility rates could see some countries’ populations halve, says report

The world's population is set to shrink at a rapid rate after the first half of this century, with huge implications for many countries in the developed world.
channel 4 - 17 hours ago
New measures imposed in Blackburn amid ‘rising tide’ of coronavirus cases - channel 4

New measures imposed in Blackburn amid ‘rising tide’ of coronavirus cases

New measures have been imposed in Blackburn with Darwen, after the area's public health chief warned it was facing a “rising tide” of coronavirus cases.
channel 4 - 18 hours ago
Sunak warns ‘tough choices ahead’ for economy, over taxes and spending - channel 4

Sunak warns ‘tough choices ahead’ for economy, over taxes and spending

‘Tough choices’ lie ahead, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned, as the economy continues to count the cost of the coronavirus pandemic.
channel 4 - 18 hours ago
Johnson pledges independent coronavirus inquiry - channel 4

Johnson pledges independent coronavirus inquiry

Boris Johnson has promised an independent inquiry into the way the government has handled the coronavirus outbreak, saying it would be “in the future” without giving any details.
channel 4 - 18 hours ago
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quartz
SoftBank led 25% of the UK’s fintech investment last year

SoftBank led 25% of the UK’s fintech investment last year

quartz - 5 months ago

SoftBank’s mega-investments made a splash in markets around the world last year, including in the UK’s burgeoning fintech sector: The Japanese company’s $100 billion Vision Fund led two deals that accounted for a quarter of the capital raised by the country’s financial startups.

SoftBank’s outsize transactions in tech companies have raised questions about valuations and whether some firms in its portfolio have too much money. The Vision Fund invested $800 million in Greensill and $440 million in OakNorth, two London-based business lenders, according to industry group Innovate Finance. Those investments made up 25% of the $4.9 billion raised by financial startups (Quartz member exclusive) in Britain last year.

SoftBank and its Vision Fund have faced a wave of media and investor scrutiny lately. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son is credited with a savvy bet in 2000 on Alibaba, which went on to become an e-commerce giant in China that’s now worth more than $600 billion. More recently, however, he and his colleagues have sunk billions of dollars into cash-burning startups, and it was reported late last year that the fund pushed portfolio companies to expand aggressively in spite of staggering losses.

There’s still a “positive halo effect” for a company associated with SoftBank, OakNorth CFO Cristina Alba Ochoa says. Vision Fund executives and its portfolio are rich with valuable connections to executives and business opportunities around the world. “In the last year they made introductions to banks and financial institutions outside the UK that we wanted to meet,” Ochoa said at an industry event hosted by Innovate Finance. “They really introduced us at the right level.”

SoftBank was contacted for this story but didn’t provide comment.

Greensill and OakNorth, unlike a number of unicorns that have emerged in recent years, say they are profitable. And profitability is becoming fashionable again after some privately funded companies, including some backed by SoftBank, got a shock from public markets. WeWork, one of SoftBank’s biggest investments, called off its IPO last year after Wall Street took a look at its financials. Last week Casper, a direct-to-consumer mattress company that didn’t receive any Vision Fund money, listed on the New York Stock Exchange at a valuation that was around half of what venture capital investors had assigned it.

The gap in valuations highlights a weakness in private markets. They “are a very inefficient pricing mechanism, Mark Tluszcz, the CEO at Mangrove Capital Partners, told Quartz in October. One person defines the price. Not a lot of scrutiny.

Greensill got $800 million in May from SoftBank, and that single deal, comprised of one investor, determined the working-capital lender’s $3.5 billion valuation, according to PitchBook data. By contrast, Citigroup’s stock traded more than 250 million times on NYSE in December. (Greensill also raised $655 million of convertible debt financing from SoftBank in October.)

Another question is whether enterprises backed by the Vision Fund have more money than they know what to do with. SoftBank’s companies can be fortified with hundreds of millions of dollars in capital, which is meant to help them surge ahead of their competitors. If people can grow and they have room to grow, I think money can be very useful, Masayoshi Son said in SoftBank’s earnings call with analysts this week. Historically, “whatever the revolution was, always money was necessary, he said.

The strategy can backfire. Wag Labs, a dog walking startup, was reportedly seeking $75 million in funding and ended up with $300 million from Vision Fund. It sought to use the money to go international and add services like dog grooming, but the expansion failed (paywall) and it fell behind rivals, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Vision Fund has gotten attention for its misses, but executives say it has successes, too. Rajeev Misra, chief executive of SoftBank Investment Advisers, which oversees the Vision Fund, says it has about 50 winners in its portfolio, according to a Reuters report. The fund had invested in about 88 companies at the end of last year. Misra told a conference in Abu Dhabi that a dozen or more of its investments could seek IPOs during the next 18 months.

Greensill and OakNorth, meanwhile, say they can handle their tall stack of SoftBank cash. “Our goal is to continue to be profitable but at extremely high growth rates,” said Joe Hyland, chief marketing officer at working-capital lender Greensill. Having the money and having all this dry powder in reserves for international expansion, for acquisitions, is really important,” he said at the Innovate Finance event in London this week. “If youre focused on growth and focused on being a market leader, the more money you have the better.

Despite the benefitsplenty of capital and lots of connectionshas SoftBank’s investment become a distraction? The CFO at OakNorth, which lends to small- and medium-size companies, said it really depends on whether the money is being spent wisely and alters the company’s outlook. “Me, as a CFO, I havent changed my mindset,” she said.

With reporting assistance from Alison Griswold.

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