Snap Needed Emotional Intelligence This Week but Didn't Have Any

Snap, parent corporation of social network Snapchat, has faced a number of recent leaks about the business, including a new round of layoffs. But the company’s reaction, a threat to sue or imprison employees who might talk to the press, was the second time in a week the company showed a disturbing lack of emotional intelligence.

Snap has made some bad moves in the past, like the initial fight among the co-founders. Turning down $3 billion for an acquisition by Facebook and the fall stock plunge. But the biggest problem of late has been the attitudes toward employees that management clumsily communicated.

Patience is understandably running thing. Over the last six months, Snap has faced the following:

  • Expenses raced ahead of income, increasing fiscal pressures as user growth has not kept pace with expectations. (When Fortune writes, “Its first trick was making selfies disappear. Its latest is sending gargantuan piles of cash into the ether,” you know the coverage will be ugly.)
  • The company saw two big stock drops immediately after earnings announcements in August and November.
  • The current stock price of about $14 remains far below the $17 IPO figure.
  • Layoffs this week and October after a September restructuring suggest the level of problem and money pressures Snap faces.

Snap has been like a sieve for insider news getting out to the press, which has made the company irate, as reported by Cheddar’s Alex Heath. This resulted in a harsh memo that in part said the following:

As a result, all employees must keep our information strictly confidential until disclosed by Snap. We have a zero-tolerance policy for those who leak Snap Inc. confidential information. This applies to outright leaks and any informal “off the record” conversations with reporters, as well as any confidential information you let slip to people who are not authorized to know that information.

If you leak Snap Inc. information, you will lose your job and we will pursue any and all legal remedies against you. And that’s just the start. You can face personal financial liability even if you yourself did not benefit from the leaked information. The government, our investors, and other third parties can also seek their own remedies against you for what you disclosed. The government can even put you in jail.

Not that anyone should minimize the need for a basic level of confidentiality. Leaking information from a public company, particularly if some people have a chance to trade on the insights before others do, can be a significant legal risk. But there are different ways to communicate, and Snap management opted for as heavy-handed a one as might be imagined. If they wished an effective deterrent, internal training and emphasis would have been far more effective.

Instead, this move is almost guaranteed to scare employees not into knowing compliance with right actions but further into psychological bunkers and out of the company as soon as possible.

What can you expect when a culture of secrecy reportedly makes many employees feel isolated and in danger? This is like entrepreneurs who are so intent on protecting their “brilliant” ideas that they never learn how limited or flawed the concepts are because they won’t listen. If you regularly divide employees, you miss the communication and collaboration necessary for innovation and solving problems.

And speaking of innovation, as the hammer comes down in this way, it also strikes in another. In the memo released at the time of the most recent layoffs, via Cheddar, CEO Evan Spiegel discussed the need to create a “highly scalable business model” and an “organization that scales internally.” He wrote, “This means that we must become exponentially more productive as we add additional resources and team members.”

To many, that translates as “your life should be ours.” There is only so productive people can be. They aren’t machines, and if you continually expect more and more, even with additional tools and resources (but likely not), you burn people out. That may work if you think everyone but yourself is replaceable and you want to use individuals as tools to make money — but, on second thought, no, it probably won’t. Some have pulled it off, but far more often these attitudes have limited success at most.

Then that memo ended as follows:

Lastly, I’d like to make it very clear that our team is not here to win 2nd place. The journey is long, the work is hard, but we have and we will consistently, systematically, out-innovate our competitors with substantially few resources and in far less time. And we will have a blast doing it.

Put differently: You won’t have the resources you need but you will succeed and work faster and harder because you are order to, and you will enjoy the process whether you want to or not.

The communications style of Snap in these two instances betrays a remarkable degree of emotional tone deafness. Even though the people responsible are likely sure they are motivating employees while helping select for the types of people who will do well by them, they transmit subtexts that are off-putting to many who could be of immense help but are unwilling to submerge themselves into the drive to enhance the financial well being of a tiny group.

The people at Snap could have avoided the problem with a few steps:

  • Clarify and be honest with yourself about what you really want to achieve. Have someone from the outside look at materials, interview people, and offer a disinterested observation of the situation.
  • Look at things from an employee’s viewpoint and put yourself in their shoes. Given the general atmosphere, if you heard this as an employee, how might you react?
  • Recognize that how you feel personally and what you want to accomplish may not work well together. Focus on approaches most likely to produce the needed results, not something that makes you feel vindicated.
  • Get expert help. If you pride yourself on an engineering culture, as Snap seems to, don’t assume you’re also a master of psychology and motivation. Chances are that you aren’t.

raceAhead: Companies With Ethnically Diverse Leadership Make More Money

Your week in review, in haiku.


And now we tell you

openly: We were all such

fools for you. Sweet (D)reams.


I feel no need to

comment in any way on

the whole Tide pods thing.


Beltway shut-down? Stand

up Dreamers! Showtime, Bannon?

Fake news crashes hard.


Don’t know why…there’s cash

and legal stuff for you to

sign…Stormy Daniels.


Dreams restored, lives saved,

angel in America,

hope. Mathilde Krim.

Wishing you a dreamy weekend.

On Point

Companies with racially diverse executives make more Tubmans
A new McKinsey study builds on their landmark 2015 study and examines financial data from more than 1,000 big companies in twelve countries. Bottom line: The link between ethnic diversity and financial performance is stronger than the link between gender diversity and profits. Companies with higher ethnic board diversity were 33% more likely to outperform competitors, companies with higher gender diversity were 21% more likely to outperform competitors. I’ll be getting this study framed.
Wall Street Journal
A top official at AmeriCorps forced to resign after racist comments revealed
Carl Higbie, a former Navy Seal and conservative commentator has resigned his post at AmeriCorps, the nation’s volunteer organization working in poor communities. A CNN investigation revealed that Higbie had a history of making racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments on the radio starting in 2013. Most of the comments occurred when he was the host of an internet talk show called “Sound of Freedom.” It was not subtle. “Go back to your Muslim shithole and go crap in your hands and bang little boys on Thursday nights,” he said. Also, black women think “breeding is a form of government employment.” Kudos to CNN for the investigation, which consisted of listening to the words Higbie spoke aloud for years and pointing them out to the world.
White supremacists are responsible for the majority of extremist-related deaths
According to a new report released by the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacists were responsible for the majority of homicides that occurred during violence related to political extremism in 2017. While the number of extremism-related deaths are low overall, right-wing affiliated people accounted for 20 of the 34, says the ADL. Other groups noted in the report were Islamist extremists, black nationalists, and a variety of “alt-right” groups. The Las Vegas shooting was not included because the motive of the gunman is still unknown.
Fans panic as Tracee Ellis Ross wonders if she’s working too much
Evidently Ross, the beloved co-star of Blackish is paid less than her male counterpart, Anthony Anderson. With negotiations for the fifth season currently underway, insiders say that Ross is asking for her pay to be brought to parity. Part of the issue is that Anderson has a bigger role on the show, but pay equity experts know how to analyze and bridge any gap, am I right?
Madam Noire

The Woke Leader

Life in the #MeToo era: What kind of man do you want to be?
Writer Ijeoma Oluo gets to the essence of #MeToo queasiness, recounting a conversation with a male friend who disappointed her in an all too familiar way. When commenting on an article that talked about men feeding women alcohol to coax them into sex, “[h]e sat in my living room and told me that he took issue with the essay’s insistence that this behavior was predatory or abusive.” First, I was shocked by his obtuseness; if you’re in Oluo’s living room, you must be close enough to understand her unwavering heart on matters of feminism, boundaries, and truth. But as she unpacks their exchange, she frames a serious question. What kind of man do you want to be? “Men who believe that victory lies not in the enthusiastic consent of their sexual partners, but in the tired, resigned, and often scared surrender of unwilling partners[?]”
The Establishment
How a romantic notion of military might is keeping the country divided
Writer and broadcaster Chris Hayes, working with graphic novelist Mike Dawson, has published a searing comic-essay exploring the toxic brew of nationalism, militarism and America-first sentimentality that erupted after 9/11. They claim it was a return to a ‘good versus evil’ posture after the interminable 90s, a time when “the country faced no overarching enemy for the first time in decades…seemingly possessed of no greater national purpose than making money.” It’s a fascinating argument that wends its way back to our cultural habit of romanticizing World War II and military service. “To reinforce the cult of the soldier – is to reinforce the same set of oppositional culture war clichés that undergird our current political discourse,” they say. Food for thought, particularly if you think about all the issues that lay fallow in the 1990s, without a great enemy to give us purpose.
The Nib
Lupita Nyong’o will single-handedly save book publishing
Well, maybe not. But the Academy Award winner is set to publish her first children’s book, about a 5-year-old Kenyan girl with very dark skin, who goes on an adventure with the help of her mother to understand and claim her beauty. Like her protagonist, Sulwe, which means “star” in Luo, Nyong’o struggled with colorism and her self-image as a child. As an adult, she has become an advocate for representation in Hollywood and beyond. She hopes the story will plant a seed of understanding in 5-7-year olds, a time when “you learn all the things that you spend the rest of your life trying to unlearn.”
New York Times

Senate passes bill renewing internet surveillance program

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program for six years with minimal changes, overcoming objections from civil liberties advocates that it undermined the privacy of Americans.

The legislation, which easily passed the House of Representatives last week, is expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump by Friday.

Thursday’s 65-34 passage in the Senate was largely a foregone conclusion, after senators earlier this week cleared a 60-vote procedural hurdle, which split party lines and came within one vote of failing.

Passage of the legislation marked a disappointing end to a years-long effort by a coalition of liberal Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans to redefine the scope of U.S. intelligence collection following the 2013 disclosures of classified surveillance secrets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The bill reauthorizes what is known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which gathers information from foreigners overseas but incidentally collects an unknown amount of communications belonging to Americans.

Slideshow (15 Images)

Under Section 702, the NSA is empowered to eavesdrop on vast amounts of digital communications via American companies like Facebook Inc (FB.O), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google.

But the program also incidentally scoops up Americans’ communications, including when they communicate with a foreign target living overseas. Intelligence analysts can then search those messages without a warrant.

The White House, U.S. intelligence agencies and congressional Republican leaders said the program is indispensable to national security.

Opponents of the program said it allows the NSA and other intelligence agencies to grab data belonging to Americans in a way that represents an affront to the U.S. Constitution.

The bill passed by Congress does add a narrow warrant requirement for cases where the Federal Bureau of Investigation seeks emails related to an existing criminal investigation that has no relevance to national security. Privacy advocates said that essentially gave more protections to criminal suspects than ordinary Americans caught up in the program’s surveillance.

Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Tom Brown

Tom Siebel's billion-dollar software firm raises $100 million

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – C3 IoT, a software company founded and run by longtime Silicon Valley executive Thomas Siebel that helps companies collect and analyze data, has raised another $100 million in a new funding backed by TPG Growth, the company said on Wednesday.

The valuation of C3 IoT was not disclosed. The company had been valued at $1.4 billion in its last funding round in March 2017.

C3 IoT is a software developer for the “industrial Internet of Things,” or a network of devices, vehicles and building sensors that collect and exchange data.

TPG’s Rise Fund, its social and environmental fund co-founded by U2’s Bono and managed by TPG Growth, is investing in C3 IoT for the first time in one of its largest investments to date. TPG Partner Nehal Raj said in a statement that C3 IoT helps create “measurable social impact” in areas such as healthcare and energy.

TPG first invested in C3 IoT in September 2016. The company has now raised $122 million in total and said it is profitable.

Siebel, the chief executive of C3 IoT, sold his company Siebel Systems to Oracle Corp in 2005 for $5.85 billion. Siebel is also investing in the new round, which closed earlier this week, along with Breyer Capital and Sutter Hill.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler

Apple plans second U.S. campus, to pay $38 billion in foreign cash taxes

(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) will open a second U.S. campus as part of a 5-year, $30 billion U.S. investment plan and will make about $38 billion in one-time tax payments on its overseas cash, one of the largest corporate spending plans announced since the passage of a tax cut signed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Between the spending plan, tax payments and business with U.S. based suppliers, Apple on Wednesday estimated it would spend $350 billion in the U.S. over the next five years.

Apple, however, did not say how much of its $252.3 billion in cash abroad, the largest of any U.S. corporation, it would bring to the United States, after the U.S. tax changes cut costs on bringing funds back from overseas. It also did not say whether the spending plan was driven by the new tax law. Apple has traditionally declined to publicly announce its spending plans.

The iPhone maker, whose products are mostly made in Asian factories, said it plans a wave of investing and hiring in the United States and will create 20,000 jobs through hiring at its existing campus and the new one. It will announce the location later this year.

About a third of the new spending will be on data centers to house its iCloud, App Store and Apple Music services, a sign of the rising importance of subscription services to a company known for its computers and gadgets. The company has data centers in seven states and also on Wednesday broke ground on an expansion of its operations in Reno, Nevada, where local officials granted it tax breaks on a downtown warehouse.

The U.S spending would be a significant part of Apple’s overall capital expenditures. Globally, the company spent $14.9 billion in 2017 and expects to spend $16 billion in 2018, figures that include both U.S.-based investments in data centers and other projects and Asian investments in tooling for its contract manufacturers.

If Apple’s overall capital expenditures continue to expand at the same rate expected this year, the $30 billion investment in the U.S. could represent about a third of its capital expenditures over the next five years.

The announced tax payment was roughly in line with expectations, said Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross. The tax bill requires companies to pay a one-time tax on foreign-held earnings whether they intend to bring them back to the United States or not.

Apple had set aside $36.3 billion in anticipation of tax payments on its foreign cash, meaning the payment would not represent a major impact on its cash flow this quarter.

Apple also said it would boost its advanced manufacturing fund, which it uses to provide capital and support to suppliers such as Finisar Corp (FNSR.O) and Corning Inc (GLW.N), from $1 billion to $5 billion. Apple said it plans to spend $55 billion with U.S.-based suppliers in 2018, up from $50 billion last year.


Apple joins Inc (AMZN.O) in scouting for a location for a second campus. Amazon finished taking applications from cities in October for its second campus. Apple has not said whether it has settled on a second campus location yet.

Currently, Apple’s largest U.S. operations are in Cupertino, California, at its new “spaceship” Apple Park headquarters, followed by a facility in Austin, Texas where it houses customer service agents and where contract manufacturers assemble some Mac computers. The company also employs several thousand workers and contractors in Elk Grove, California, where it has customer service agents and refurbishes iPhones.

Apple also has built its own data centers in North Carolina, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and a recently announced project in Iowa and leases data center space in other states.

Additional reporting by Sonam Rai and Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham, Peter Henderson and Marguerita Choy

The Project Veritas Twitter Videos Show the Conservative Backlash Against Moderation

Conservative activist James O’Keefe has returned. In a series of illicitly filmed videos with current and former Twitter employees, the right-wing provocateur claims to have exposed partisan bias at the social network. The offensive may have been inevitable. While O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has mostly focused on the media and liberal institutions, recent moves by platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to more aggressively moderate user content have left them exposed them to this exact sort of attack.

The Project Veritas videos, filmed without apparent awareness or consent, show a range of selectively edited insights from inside Twitter. One engineer for the company says that Twitter would theoretically comply with a Department of Justice investigation into Trump’s Twitter account. Another video shows a series of current and former employees explaining “shadowbans,” a practice by which Twitter will sometimes make it more difficult to find and view a user’s tweets, rather than banning that person outright. And a third, released Monday, explains how the company tracks user behavior and screens direct messages for prohibited content, like porn spammers and unsolicited dick pics.

Many of the employees filmed used sensational language, but they also thought they were talking candidly to strangers at a bar. It’s not exactly unusual to embellish your job—and to elide its nuances—to a potential new friend or romantic interest.

And in any case, none of these gotcha moments amount to anything revelatory. Tech companies comply with valid legal investigations all the time; if anything, Twitter has historically taken a relatively hardline stance against federal intervention. Shadowbanning is such a closely guarded secret that Twitter details the practice in its easily accessible online Help Center. Tracking is how Twitter—and every free platform online—sells ads. And Twitter employees don’t read every single direct message sent on the platform—an insurmountable task—but the company does screen instances in which abusive behavior is reported.

These videos don’t prove that Twitter has a partisan bias against its far-right conservative users. (Indeed, they’re some of its most prolific users.) They do show, though, that the right-wing backlash against tech giants has reached a new height. With every new policy intended to curb abuse, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms invite rancor. The new rules have been necessary to fight an increasingly toxic atmosphere online. But Project Veritas sees those steps, and the ban of high-profile far-right users—over clear, apolitical terms of service violations—as an attempt not to improve discourse online, but to quash the free exchange of ideas.

The Mounting Backlash

O’Keefe’s videos quickly became the top story on sites like Breitbart over the past week, and Fox News host Sean Hannity discussed them on national television. The videos also put Twitter on the defensive, despite uncovering a whole lot of nothing.

“The individuals depicted in this video were speaking in a personal capacity and do not represent or speak for Twitter,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We deplore the deceptive and underhanded tactics by which this footage was obtained and selectively edited to fit a predetermined narrative.”

But to a large segment of right-wing internet users, the videos’ substance doesn’t matter. The way they were filmed matters even less. The footage validated a deep-seated suspicion that social media companies treat conservatives differently.

In one sense, critics are right to say that Twitter has treated its users differently lately. In December, the social media platform rolled out a series of aggressive policies meant to curb abuse and the glorification of violence. When the new rules took effect, a number of far-right accounts were suspended, including the anti-semitic Traditionalist Worker Party and the American Nazi Party.

Removing hate groups from Twitter has been a net good. But deciding whether a user violated these new policies sometimes involves making a subjective decision. By giving up what Twitter saw as absolute neutrality—former executive Tommy Wang famously once described the company as “the free speech wing of the free speech party”—Twitter and other platforms have opened the door to specious claims of bias.

It’s not just O’Keefe. The first Project Veritas Twitter video debuted just two days after “alt-right” troll Chuck Johnson filed a lawsuit against the company. In 2015, Twitter permanently banned Johnson after he tweeted that he wanted to “take out” civil rights activist DeRay McKesson. While Johnson likely won’t win his case, it’s significant that he chose to sue now, and not three years ago when Twitter first suspended his account. The narrative has shifted in his favor.

The so-called alt-right also isn’t only mad because some of their most prominent voices—including Johnson and Milo Yiannopoulos—have been banned. Even those that remain on the platform often allege that Twitter suppresses their views through other means.

After last year’s presidential election, for example, some users said when they tried to respond to Donald Trump’s tweets, their replies disappeared. It turned out that Twitter likely couldn’t handle the volume of replies that Trump generated, and thus the threads were “breaking” by accident.

The incident highlighted how Twitter and companies like it often don’t—or can’t—explain exactly how their services work, leaving users to craft their own conspiracy theories. It doesn’t help, either, that every major tech platform is headquartered in notoriously liberal Silicon Valley, leaving right-wing users to suspect that few tech employees care much about advocating for their viewpoint.

Take also another incident from last summer, when Google fired James Damore, a former software engineer who penned a 10-page memo advocating against Google’s diversity hiring programs. Damore argued in part that biological differences between men and women accounted for gender disparities in fields like software engineering. He was let go for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Right-wing news sources held up Damore’s firing as evidence that Silicon Valley doesn’t welcome conservatives. Damore appeared on Fox News, and Breitbart started a “Rebels of Google” series, where it interviewed former and current employees about partisan bias. Far-right groups even planned a “March on Google,” that never materialized. Damore is now suing Google, alleging that the company is systematically biased against caucasians, males, and conservatives.

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Damore’s firing wasn’t the smoking gun that right-wing media made it out to be. For one, the engineer was only one employee, and others have written memos alleging that the company doesn’t do enough to promote diversity, rather than too much. Damore also said that Google gave special privilege to women, but the company is currently wrapped up in a dispute with the Department of Labor over “systematic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.”

Doubling Down

As pressure against these platforms continues to mount, the most instructive case for Twitter might be the one that has the most merit. A 2016 Gizmodo investigation found that Facebook’s “news curators,” who were in charge of managing Facebook’s Trending Topics bar, had systematically suppressed stories from conservative outlets. The story immediately caused a massive backlash from right-wing users.

Instead of making an earnest, if flawed, commitment to filtering out untrusted sources, Facebook instead fired its entire Trending team, and let an algorithm take over. The trending bar soon filled with fake news and conspiracy theories. Facebook shied away from making its platform a better place in the name of neutrality, and everyone suffered as a result.

So far, Twitter has done the opposite. In the face of persistent backlash from the right, the company has doubled down on its intention to curb abuse and threats of violence. It hasn’t made a public show of firing moderators, or claimed it wants to be entirely neutral. Good. To improve their platforms, companies ultimately have to make value judgements that lots of people won’t like. The question now is whether Twitter’s convictions can survive the backlash.

Social Media and Speech

-Should Facebook and Twitter be regulated under the First Amendment?

-How WeChat Spreads Rumors, Reaffirms Bias, and Helped Elect Trump

Science Says These Factors Determine Good Leadership

For a company to evolve and grow, entrepreneurs must develop into good leaders.

But what are the factors that determine good leadership? Do good leaders share common traits? Are there secrets to becoming a great leader?  What is the impact of gender in regards to leadership? 

The development of sound leaders is a complicated process that is both dependent on the individual, his or her team, and the industry in which they work. But working to become a good leader is essential, especially in today’s business environment, where studies have shown that over 80% of people don’t trust their boss. Eventually, employees leave jobs where they don’t respect their boss. Good leadership is imperative to employee retention and creating long-term organizational success.

There are a variety of skills that provide a solid foundation for good leadership. However, science says that some people are pre-disposed to be better leaders than others.

Inherent traits play a role in leadership potential.

Scientific studies reveal that good leaders are ambitious, curious, and sociable. By having these characteristics you have a better chance to grow within your discipline or company and become a leader. Another critical aspect of leadership is integrity. By having integrity, you can build trusting, supportive teams, with positive work cultures where people feel valued and supported. While a high IQ does have an impact on leadership potential, the correlation is extremely small, less than 5%, when compared to these broader positive traits.   

Are some people born leaders?

Personality traits and intelligence levels are impacted by genetics, which means some people are born with stronger pre-disposition to take on roles in leadership. In fact, estimates suggest that 30-60% of leadership is heritable. However, if you don’t naturally have the traits listed above – sociability, curiosity, ambition, and integrity – it doesn’t mean you won’t become a leader. Through training and coaching, it’s possible to develop the competencies necessary to stand at the helm of a project or company.

Does gender play a role in leadership?

From a leadership potential perspective, gender has little impact. In fact, data has shown that women can be extremely successful as leaders. Over an eight-year study of publicly traded companies, it was discovered that organizations with female CEO’s or female Director’s of Boards produced a better annual return when compared to male counterparts. We don’t have fewer women leaders because of a lack of female leadership potential or a propensity for business. In truth, the number of leaders is currently skewed in favor of males because of social factors such as gender biases, lack of fairness in hiring opportunities, and a history of male dominance in business.

Being in a position of leadership may not feel comfortable for everyone, and that’s okay. As individuals, we engage with the world in different ways, and we have innate strengths that should be utilized to our advantage. Specific traits may lead to a higher propensity toward taking on leadership roles, while other factors such as gender play a much smaller role.

But let me be clear. If you want to become a leader, don’t let scientific studies, your family, or any article convince you that goal is unattainable. You can learn, grow, and evolve, becoming the leader you want to be.


Bitcoin And Altcoins – You Are Missing The Wave

When I was 11, I collected baseball cards. We had a “dealer.” He taught me something very important…something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it – no more, no less.

Haejin Lee is a technical analyst on YouTube and Steem for Bitcoin. I watch his videos – you should too. The other day, he said something that resonated with me and led to an epiphany last night (epiphany is a bit farther down). What he said is that Bitcoin is the truest reflection of market sentiment. The idea behind charting isn’t a bunch of lines; it is social psychology – crowd psychology. He was saying that at this point sentiment is the holy grail of price movement for Bitcoin.

I got into OTCQX:GBTC, a pink sheet fund that only invests in Bitcoin, about two years ago. I did it because I thought it was stupid, literally. And I had seen too many things I deemed stupid go on to turn into huge things, such as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). I didn’t put much money into it as all I could use was my IRA and it was depleted from some withdrawals during bad years. Never having had more than 20% of my IRA in the fund, I have a 12-month average return exceeding 125%. Even after that, I did not realize what is really going on.

So, I’m not doing an introduction into cryptocurrencies; if you are reading this and want the basics explained, there are sources for you to learn the basics. Today, I’m sending this out because not sending it out, not telling the people I know that what they are witnessing is the largest inflection point of their lifetime would be wrong. This is the dawn of a new age. You may or may not remember life before the internet, or cell phones, or smart phones. But stop and think how long each one of those took to be fully adopted and what impact it ended up making in the long run. HUGE! Right?

This is bigger and will happen faster. Each successive one of those technical innovations had a shorter adoption cycle. While cryptocurrencies have been around for almost 10 years, they have just now hit public awareness; before now, maybe the 5% of really technical people might have known what bitcoin was – now, at least most people have heard of it.

The epiphany I had was simply this – the new coins, as they come out, they are not currencies, they are not a representation of ownership, they are – in short – the representation of an idea. People then vote for that idea with their money. So, that idea might be a quick way to exchange money across the globe in a private way, or it might be a new way to rent your next home and run your rental company through digital contracts and tokens. The value is crowd-sourced; this means people vote, in this case, with money. YES, some people are there to ride the ups – get out and then find the next one. There is nothing wrong with that. But, this is not equities, this is not CD with a specific return. This is valuing an idea through crowd-sourced funds.

So, where are we in the adoption cycle? We are crossing the chasm – like a rocket. On the other side is a ton of money about to come in through hedge funds, ETFs, futures, swaps, and whatever other financial instruments people can come up with.

Bitcoin is the most uncorrelated asset there is when compared to the stock market. This means it doesn’t move in any type of relation with the market. That means it is a great investment for someone looking to diversify their portfolio, because owning non-correlated assets is the goal of large fund managers and should be for you, as well.

Where does it end? I don’t think it does. It is not a bubble. Individually, one coin may or may not have a large return, but as a basket, the returns will continue to be in the never before seen category for the immediate future. Simply because of where we are in the cycle. There are even tokens that simply invest in other tokens. THAT is a brilliant place to put your money. Buying the basket will even out the risk. But honestly, given where we are, you could buy ANY coin with an active team working on it and the value will go up. I know that isn’t going to compute for many of you, but literally, I believe you can buy ANY coin and experience large returns. There are coins made as a JOKE that have a total market capitalization in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

I am NOT a financial consultant – you are welcome to look at my profile. I have a degree in chemical engineering and an MBA with an emphasis in Management Information Systems, plus 20 years in data architecture. I cannot “recommend” that you invest in these things. I can tell you I have and will continue to. I can tell you that alt-coins are generally mined with graphics processors and that you basically cannot buy ANY decent processor for anywhere within 25-50% of the price it should cost and you cannot buy them in bulk at all. They are all being bought by very large currency mining companies. They will continue to be bought by such companies for the foreseeable future. There are two more investment ideas for you if you know where to look.

I really love my job, but if I see a situation that makes me think I can retire in a few years, you can bet I will be working towards that in every spare minute I can find.

Disclosure: I am/we are long ARKW, GBTC.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I am long Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and many altcoins and upcoming icos.

Trump's 'Shithole Countries' Comment Tops This Week's Internet News

Last week Facebook decided that maybe it should make some changes to the information people see on the platform; also, a lot of people got very interested in the pay discrepancies between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams. But, beyond that, it was also a week where everyone learned that a school kid could play the Cantina Band song from Star Wars with a pencil.

Yes, it was yet another strange, wonderful week on the internet. But what else happened? Here we go.

President Trump’s Unsavory Comments

What Happened: President Trump reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and some African nations as “shithole countries.” The internet responded in kind.

What Really Happened: There is absolutely no denying that Trump has had an impressively full week, declaring himself a stable genius, denying the possibility that he might be deposed as part of the Russia investigation, and avoiding Kendrick Lamar. But it was his comments reported Thursday that will likely have the longest-lasting impact.


Some were concerned about journalistic standards…

…but many more were concerned about presidential standards, instead.

Naturally, media reports came fast, furious, and horrified. As the fallout from the comments continued, perhaps the most surprising reaction was the fact that the White House didn’t even try to deny it initially.

And they weren’t the only ones failing to denounce Trump’s crude language.

Still, at least one prominent conservative was willing to correct Trump.

As some of the countries mentioned started asking for comment on the comments, Trump said this:

Well, that’s what he said publicly, at least…

The Takeaway: Twitter?

Breitbart Says Goodbye to Bannon

What Happened: Apparently, when shadow presidents fall, it happens quickly and they even lose their satellite radio shows. Sorry, Steve Bannon.

What Really Happened: As those reading Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury book know, there is one figure that looms arguably even larger throughout the entire thing than Trump himself: self-proclaimed genius (hey, another one!) Steve Bannon. Turns out, the ego-stroking he might have gotten from the book was likely a farewell gift, considering how the rest of his week went.

Yes, Bannon has lost the Breitbart job he swiftly returned to after leaving the White House back in August, despite releasing a full-throated walk-back of his comments in the Wolff book. So, what happened?

That’d do it. Sure enough, Breitbart was tweeting about his departure.

But it wasn’t just Breitbart that dumped him, it turned out.

(Bannon lost his Sirius show because it was a Breitbart-related venture, for those wondering; it wasn’t a coincidence, just cause and effect.) As would only be expected, news of his departure was everywhere in the media, but how did the rest of the internet respond?

It wasn’t only glee at Bannon’s misfortune, of course; some were also wondering just who could replace him at the outlet. Or maybe that should be, “what.”

The Takeaway: If only there was some kind of lesson to be learned from the swift rise and fall of Steve Bannon. Maybe it’s this?

The Leak of the Week

What Happened: In a political environment consumed with the concept of leaking, a surprise release of previously secret testimony to Congress took the internet by storm.

What Really Happened: Despite what certain POTUSes might have you believe, the investigations into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia are ongoing, although at least one—the one being carried out by the Senate Judiciary Committee—is running aground thanks to internal strife between Republicans and Democrats on the committee. At the start of the week, one of the topics causing the most upset was the testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson over the origins of the company’s infamous “Russian dossier.”

Simpson testified in a closed session in August, but faced new calls from Republican committee chairman Chuck Grassley last week to testify again, publicly. Simpson and co-founder Peter Fritsch, in an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times, argued that Congress should simply release the transcript of his earlier testimony. Things seemed at an impasse… and then they didn’t. What changed?

People were surprised at how hardcore the move was…

…especially after Senator Feinstein responded to questions about why she did it.

This kind of thing is, well, unusual to say the least, so of course it was everywhere almost immediately. The 312 page document was, unsurprisingly, very enlightening.

This was, in other words, a really, really big deal. Although what kind of a big deal apparently depended on which side of the ideological spectrum you were on.

Expect this one to run and run.

The Takeaway: Actually, wait, we never checked in on how Trump responded to this news. Mr. President?

She Is Spartacus

What Happened: When it looked as if a news story was going to out the creator of a secret list of crappy men, the internet took it upon itself to handle the situation first.

What Really Happened: Perhaps you heard of the “Shitty Media Men” list before last week; it was a Google spreadsheet shared and edited anonymously that listed more than 70 men who were accused of being, to some degree, abusive towards women, whether it was creepy DMs or physical and sexual abuse. Since its creation in October of last year, it’s been the topic of much speculation and discussion, not least of all because no one actually knew where and how the list got started. And then, last week, that all changed.

It all started with a thread from n+1 editor Dayne Tortorici.

There’s much more in that thread, but those are the most salient points. Tortorici’s comments prompted a response from journalist Nicole Cliffe, and follow-ups from other journalists and editors.

It turned out that the writer of the piece, Katie Roiphe, was willing to comment that she was not about name anyone involved in the list.

Maybe the creator(s) of the list wouldn’t be named, and there was no need to worry about doxing! Well, OK, that was unlikely (for reasons we’ll soon get to). But then, something wonderful happened.

Indeed, so many women came forward to claim responsibility that a hashtag was created, #IWroteTheList, to share collective responsibility:

And then, the real author stepped forward.

Donegan’s piece for The Cut had an immediate impact.

The Takeaway: Nicole Cliffe, want to wrap this one up?

The (Flagging) Power of CES

What Happened: Someone at CES 2018 took the idea of “lights out” a little too literally.

What Really Happened: What would be the most unfortunate thing to happen at a trade show where electricity is kind of important?

Yes, the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show was hit by a twohour power outage last week. Before the cause was known—apparently, it was just rain—some people had some… special theories about what was happening.

Others were just philosophical about it all.

Some were even wondering who “won” the blackout. To be fair, a couple of brands definitely tried their best to claim the crown.

Ultimately, though, the answer to who won is fairly obvious, surely.

Some people at the show really seemed to enjoy the darkness, even if they didn’t make off with any free gifts. Hell, some went to so far as to hope it wasn’t a one-off.

The Takeaway: Of course, it’s worth keeping some sense of perspective about things…

Airbnb Has Some Breathtaking Listings in ‘Shithole’ Countries

Responding to President Donald Trump’s reported denigrating comments in a meeting on immigration, vacation-rental platform Airbnb says it will spend at least $100,000 on digital ads promoting listings in Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.

Airbnb says the 75,000 hosts in those locales earned $170 million in 2017, during an expansion push there. The company says it wants to “encourage more travelers to visit these special and beautiful places,” as part of “our mission to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.”

Following Trump’s remarks, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky also highlighted several Airbnb listings on Twitter, including sites in Kenya, Ghana, and Haiti.

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Kenya and Ghana are among the nations least fairly maligned by Trump’s alleged comments. Both have strengthening civil institutions and saw very healthy 2017 GDP growth – 6.1% for Ghana and 5.5% for Kenya, according to the World Bank. Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, has been described as Africa’s Silicon Valley. Foreign investment is accelerating across Africa, substantially driven by China – suggesting that outdated views of Africa are leading to missed opportunities for American influence there.

Trump’s comment, which he has denied but which were confirmed by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, adds to a growing list of White House initiatives and stances widely seen as racist. Airbnb has cannily translated its cosmopolitan ethos into a series of headline-grabbing gestures pushing back against them. It offered free housing to those impacted by Trump’s attempted ban on travel from some Muslim countries, and ran a Super Bowl ad critical of isolationism. Airbnb later preemptively canceled the accounts of white nationalists attending a Charlottesville rally. When that rally turned deadly, Trump was slow to condemn racist demonstrators.

Airbnb is not without its own problems, though, with both specific incidents and careful research highlighting racial discrimination by some hosts on the platform. Airbnb has adopted several initiatives and partnerships to try and remedy the problem.

HP, Inc. – Strong Buy On PC Sales Data

Surprise – people are buying PCs again. Long thought to be a dead market after replacement cycles lengthened and tablets/phablets and hybrids like the Microsoft Surface (NASDAQ:MSFT) increased in popularity, it seems that consumers are treating themselves to computers again.

When you think about it, this doesn’t appear to be a huge surprise – consumer confidence is up, stocks are at record highs, and consumer spending is on the rise, with reports of Christmas sales up ~5% y/y and representing the largest spike in six years. It stands to reason then that some of those dollars flowed into PCs, which have also been in decline for six years.

I’ve been an HP, Inc. (NYSE:HPQ) bull since its stellar earnings report in November, and despite my general aversion to hardware stocks, I can’t help but to think that HP is materially undervalued, in the Warren Buffett sense of the word. HP’s innovative moat and brand power within PCs (which represents two-thirds of its revenues; the other third derives from printers and printing supplies) cannot be understated. Profits are up double digits this year as HP achieved PC shipment growth even as the rest of the PC industry is stalling – this doesn’t sound like a company that deserves to trade at a 12.7x forward P/E, based on analyst consensus estimates of $1.81 in EPS in FY18.

Here’s a look at HP’s one-year chart. The stock has certainly climbed out of its depths, but the ascent in the stock price, in my view, hasn’t kept pace with the ascent in its fundamentals. With its above-average earnings growth, HP should be trading at least at 17x forward P/E – in line with the rest of the market – implying a price target of $31. There’s plenty of room for this company to ride the bull run higher, especially as it’s surfaced from the down-cycle of the PC market.

HPQ data by YCharts

Let’s take a closer look into the IDC report, which has caught headlines across a wide array of both tech and non-tech publications, including Bloomberg and The Verge.

IDC reported that global PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017 totaled 70.6 million units, up 0.7% y/y from 70.1 million units in 4Q16. This is the first y/y rise in six years. Most notably, of the major PC vendors, HP is the one that saw that largest growth in Q4, with 8.3% y/y increase in shipments.

Figure 1. IDC 4Q17 PC shipments report

Source: International Data Corporation

HP’s market share moves are also worth noting; in 4Q16, it trailed 60bps behind lower-end Chinese vendor Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY). In 4Q17, Lenovo saw flat shipment growth (trailing the wider industry at 0.7% growth) while HP galloped ahead and gained 170bps of market share, making it the clear PC leader with more than a point of market share ahead of Lenovo.

Obviously, investors are mostly interested in how this will impact HP’s financials. Well, we won’t know for sure until HP’s Q4 earnings release, but we can look backward at IDC data to understand the correlation between PC shipments growth and HP’s earnings.

In Q3, total PC shipments were down -0.5% y/y while HP’s shipments grew 6% y/y, as reported by IDC’s third-quarter report.

Figure 2. IDC 3Q17 PC shipments report

Source: International Data Corporation

Concurrently, in Q3 (HP’s fiscal Q4), HP’s Personal Systems division reported 13% y/y revenue growth (6 points of unit growth plus ASP growth). This translated into 11% y/y growth company-wide, which beat analyst consensus estimates by 4%, and flowed through to a 24% y/y growth in net income.

Clearly, there is a strong correlation between IDC’s growth data and HP’s earnings – as long as ASPs hold up, HP should be well positioned to report >8% revenue growth in PCs and deliver outsized earnings in its fiscal Q1.

Qualitatively, it’s intuitive to understand why HP’s PC business is so strong; there’s really something for everyone. Its higher-end Spectre line serves the $1,000+ market, HP ENVY serves the ~$800-1,000 market, and its lower-priced HP Pavilion offerings cater to the cheaper end. HP laptops resonate well with all segments of buyers and have a cachet of quality – unlike Lenovo, which despite having higher-end offerings of its own, is often perceived as a budget system.

Key takeaway: HP has had a strong batting average during its past few earnings seasons, and given the extremely bullish data coming out of IDC, there’s good reason to believe the strength will continue into Q1 this year.

Disclosure: I am/we are long HPQ.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Why Apple Could Soon Save More Than $4 Billion in Taxes

Along the spectrum of good and bad weeks for Apple, this past one was middling, at best.

The week kicked off with some debate over just how much Apple is doing to safeguard kids who are spending too much time on their iPhones and not enough time communicating with others. It then turned to reports that Apple will be handing over control of its iCloud data center operations in China to a local company there to comply with Chinese law.

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But behind the scenes as CES—touted to be the world’s largest tech trade show—was in full swing with major tech announcements from all of Apple’s competitors, the company still featured prominently in the news cycle. Apple optioned rights on a new TV drama this week and a little tax quirk could net the tech giant a $4 billion cash windfall.

Here’s a look back at Apple’s week and the good and bad that came with it:

This is Fortune’s latest weekly roundup of the biggest Apple news. Here’s last week’s roundup.

  1. Apple responded to shareholders last week that called on the company to do its part in combating kids’ smartphone addictions. In a statement, Apple said that its products, including the iPhone and iPad, all come with a variety of controls to curb a child’s use of its devices. But the company also promised more controls in future software updates.
  2. Apple might not have been at CES, but its products were featured prominently. Appliance-maker Whirlpool announced at the show that more than 20 of its products, including washers, dryers, and ranges, will get Apple Watch support soon. The feature means users will be able to adjust their range temperatures and see the status on a load of laundry all from Apple’s smartwatch.
  3. The iPhone maker confirmed this week that all Chinese iCloud user data will be handed over to a local company starting on Feb. 28. The move is a response by Apple to Chinese regulatory authorities that are clamping down on foreign companies housing Chinese user data overseas. Some critics see China’s move as another way for the government to spy on its users. Apple, however, has said that user data will be encrypted.
  4. Apple has reportedly green-lit a new “epic” drama series set in a futuristic world called See. The series will likely have eight episodes in its first season and will be directed by Francis Lawrence, the well-known director of films The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2. There’s no word yet on when the show might air on Apple’s streaming services.
  5. A quirk in the tax bill passed at the end of 2017 allows companies that don’t have fiscal years starting on January 1 to reduce through the end of their fiscal years the amount of foreign cash they accumulate. The less companies stockpile overseas between now and the end of their fiscal years, the less they’ll have to pay in tax on offshore cash. Stephen Shay, a tax professor at Harvard Law School, estimated that Apple could save more than $4 billion in taxes by taking advantage of the loophole.
  6. Follow last week’s speculation that he was leaving the company, Apple Music chief and music industry veteran Jimmy Iovine said this week that he’s staying on at Apple. In an interview with Variety, Iovine said that he’s “loyal to the guys at Apple.”

One more thing…A MacBook Air that never connected to the Internet and was kept in a safe was home to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi script, the film’s director Rian Johnson said this week. Johnson said his producer was worried he’s leave his MacBook Air at a coffee shop for anyone to steal.

Want Reach Millennial Customers? Try These Digital Marketing Secrets From Top Media Brands

Millennials–born between 1982 and 2004–spend more than $65 billion each year and influence upward of $1 trillion in total consumer spending. It’s no wonder that brands are practically stalking them. Unfortunately, it seems that they are immune to standard marketing tactics. In fact, some think marketing to them is a lost cause. However, there is a guaranteed way to connect with this attractive and elusive generation: content.

The growth of digital content, both text and video, has transformed the way people engage with information and yes, the content, marketing, and advertising ecosystem has grown incredibly complex. But the good news is that digital content offers a way for companies to forge strong bonds with consumers, according to new research from Nielsen Digital Content Ratings. (For those unfamiliar with them, Nielsen is a global information and measurement company that provides market research, insights and data about what people watch, listen to and buy.)

Recently, Nielson worked with worked with several major digital publishers to learn more about the audiences that engage with their content day-to-day, to help them to put the pieces of the consumer picture together from across digital content types, social platforms, and devices. The results are not only useful to these media brands. They offer insights that are applicable to any brand that is leveraging content to engage millennials.

Here’s a snapshot of what Nielsen found for each publisher and how content marketers can put these insights to work:


BuzzFeed is a leading tech-powered media company, with a cross-platform news and entertainment network. Millennials are particularly drawn to BuzzFeed’s posts and video content. They watch an average of 38 BuzzFeed videos each month, showcasing loyalty to the site’s beloved content, including popular franchises such as Tasty, a massive social food network that provides users with recipes and cooking tutorials. The company’s successful content strategy is evident in their audience engagement figures, with BuzzFeed reaching 83% percent of all Millennials per month.

Show off: Not only does Buzzfeed know how to tell a story that will resonate with this audience, it was early to grasp the appeal of visual, particularly on mobile. Tasty tears a page straight out of Pinterest, leading with large attractive images and clear catchy captions. If your brand lends itself to the visual, do not miss out on any opportunity to paint a picture if you want to engage Millennials. 

Group Nine Media

Group Nine, one of the largest digital media companies and parent of NowThis, The Dodo, Seeker and Thrillist, formed less than a year ago and is already a powerful player in the world of social video. Group Nine attracts audiences from devoted animal lovers to lifestyle enthusiasts to avid news and information junkies. Group Nine has a highly engaged audience, boasting almost 1 billion minutes of content consumed across its four brands. Group Nine’s content performs incredibly well among young adults–reaching 81% of Americans in their 20s.

Positively impactful: Group Nine brands NowThis and The Dodo understand that the Millennial generation cares deeply about the environment, sustainability, corporate responsibility, and more. These brands tap into their passions to connect emotionally while Seeker and Thrillist understand Millennials enthusiasms and interests. Do good and let the world know through engaging stories. Expose your positive impact on the planet. Tell the tale that will take them someplace new and wonderful. Be uplifting and fun. Content that connects with what this generation cares about will carry you far.


Bringing modern and diverse perspectives to how news is reported, Mic provides its audience with a fresh approach to journalism and storytelling. The news network attracts over 40 million unique viewers each month. Mic’s stories demonstrate an ability to connect with and compel younger news followers and engagers, reaching over a quarter of people ages 21-34 in the U.S. Showcasing dynamic content, Mic’s videos have an audience that is 56% female and 42% male.

Keep it real: Mic is a media brand that isn’t afraid to go there. Via its lively reporting and bold delivery, this brand tells it like it is. Millennials are all about transparency and straight talk. If you want to truly connect with them, you need to lean in as more of a trusted ally than objective expert. Share your knowledge but it should feel more like lively dinner party debate than pedantic professor. 


A leading digital media and entertainment company focused on women, Refinery29 provides its engaged audience with stories across categories, including fashion, beauty, entertainment and money. The company’s video and text content reach 62% of women between 18 and 34 and sees even further connection within more narrow, younger groups, reaching over 88% of women between 21 and 24.

Broad interests: Sure, you may want to specifically target female Millennials. But the worst mistake you can make is to box them into one adorable demo that shares the same passions and goals. Yes, we make generational generalizations, but Millennial women are characterized by their wide-ranging interests and Refinery29 treats them like well0rounded human beings. If you want to genuinely engage them, you will too.


VIX, a leading multicultural digital media brand, attracts a largely Millennial audience with a blend of lifestyle tips, social video, entertainment, food and life hacks. With women making up 62% of VIX’s audience, the site’s highest engagement comes from Millennial females, a coveted demographic among consumer brands. Through its content, VIX reaches over 40% of adult women between 18 and 49 in the U.S., attracting viewers to the brand’s English and Spanish language content.

Meet the multicultural millennials: Nielsen previously identified what it calls the multicultural Millennials, which blend a variety of cultures into a new mainstream. They deemed this particularly significant given their growing influence and affluence. VIX hits the sweet spot here, recognizing the varied cultural interests and influences on this generation. If your team, your brand, or your products reflects this emerging Millennial mindset and market, you want to tell that tale in your content. This is a largely untapped approach that will capture a very attractive audience.

There’s more to understanding digital engagement than clicks or even repeat visits. These content companies not only understand their Millennial audiences, but have forged deep relationships with them that brings them back week after week. But content strategies like these don’t have to be for media pros only. Content marketers can tap into their strategies and follow in their successful footsteps to truly engage the elusive Millennial. 

After rejecting Uber, London renews Addison Lee's license

LONDON (Reuters) – London has renewed premium car service Addison Lee’s license to operate in the capital for the next five years, less than four months after Uber [UBER.UL] was stripped of its license.

In September, regulator Transport for London (TfL) refused Uber’s application, citing problems with the company’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks – a decision the Silicon Valley firm is appealing.

Addison Lee, the second-biggest private hire operator in London, was granted a five-year license in 2012, which was extended in 2017 for six months until the end of February this year.

Last year, TfL had been considering a new operator fees system which will now see firms with between 1,001 and 10,000 drivers such as Addison Lee pay 700,000 pounds ($957,000) compared to the 2,414 pounds charged in 2012 for its original license.

Addison Lee’s license now expires on Feb. 28 2023, according to the TfL website.

“Our license has been routinely renewed by Transport for London,” said a company spokesman.

“Addison Lee looks forward to continuing to offer Londoners a high quality, reliable service in getting around town. We are fully supportive of TfL’s efforts to enhance the standard of regulation in the private hire industry.”

Both TfL and Uber declined to comment.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

Hyundai invests in Grab to gain 'foothold' in Southeast Asia ride-hailing market

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) said on Thursday it had invested in Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab, as it seeks to expand into the region to reduce its reliance on China following a damaging diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing.

Hyundai’s first direct investment in a ride-hailing firm gives it a “foothold” in the world’s third-biggest ride-hailing market after China and the United States, it said.

Singapore-based Grab, the biggest operator in the region’s third-party taxi hailing and private-vehicle hailing sector, has expanded to eight Southeast Asian countries.

“The deal should help raise the exposure of Hyundai Motor in the region, while responding to the future mobility market,” said Lee Sang-hyun, an analyst at IBK Securities.

Hyundai’s interest in Southeast Asia has grown since South Korean companies were targeted last year in a Chinese backlash over Seoul’s decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system against Beijing’s objections.

The region of about 500 million people is dominated by Japanese carmakers, while Hyundai has focused on China and the United States.

FILE PHOTO: A Grab motorbike helmet is displayed during Grab’s fifth anniversary news conference in Singapore June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo


Hyundai is also looking to catch up with its peers in future mobility, the personal transport innovations from ride-sharing to self-driving cars that are expected to reshape the auto industry.

While it does offer car-sharing services in the United States and Europe, until now it has watched from the sidelines as competitors like GM (GM.N) and Toyota (7203.T) have allied with ride-sharing partners.

Hyundai and Grab said they would jointly develop services in Southeast Asia, including one utilizing Hyundai’s eco-friendly models such as the IONIQ Electric. They did not disclose the value of Hyundai’s investment.

Hyundai last week announced for the first time a self-driving technology partnership with Silicon Valley start-up Aurora, a shift from its usual preference for developing technology itself.

The Hyundai tie-up is part of Grab’s latest financing round that raised $2.5 billion and included Chinese peer Didi Chuxing, Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) and Toyota Tsusho (8015.T), a Grab spokeswoman said.

Hyundai Motor vice chairman Chung Eui-sun said on Wednesday it is considering building a car plant in Southeast Asia, possibly in Indonesia or Vietnam.

Reporting by Joyce Lee and Hyunjoo Jin; Additional reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in SINGAPORE; Editing by Stephen Coates