Categories
Genel

People in Philippines earn cryptocurrency playing NFT video game Axie Infinity From “International: Top News And Analysis”



As the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Philippines, people in Cabanatuan City north of Manila have found a unique way to ease the hardship brought on by lockdowns — playing video games.The gameplay, however, isn’t just for fun. Axie Infinity, created by SkyMavis, allows players to earn income through nonfungible tokens, or NFTS, and cryptocurrencies by breeding, battling and trading digital pets called Axies.A new mini documentary, released Thursday on YouTube by crypto consulting firm Emfarsis called “Play-to-Earn,” follows several Filipino people who play the game — a mother, three young entrepreneurs, a recent college graduate, a pedicab driver, an elderly married couple and one of the first people in Cabanatuan City to discover Axie Infinity.The phenomenon that first began last summer exploded after a Coindesk article published in August significantly boosted the player base, according to the documentary. Nearly 60,000 people are now playing Axie Infinity, Axie’s head of growth Jeffrey Zirlin told CNBC.While the digital game knows no borders, it has really taken off in the Philippines, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. GDP contracted 9.6% in 2020, the largest annual decline ever recorded since data collection began in 1946, according to IHS Markit. Several cities saw a spike in cases toward the end of March, which resulted in new mandatory lockdowns. The same research found around 26 million people — nearly one quarter of the population — were impacted by those latest lockdowns.”At first I’m not convinced that this game is actually earning by playing, but I tried it,” said one gamer in the documentary named Art Art. “Due to the pandemic, we have no means of earning money. That’s why it spread here in Cabanatuan City.”An elderly married couple of store owners also plays even while working. “While I am in the store, I’m playing,” said husband Lolo, who is 75. “Even when I’m losing, I’ll just play.”Axie Infinity uses NFTs for the rights to each pet that is purchased. To grow these pets, you purchase or farm SLPs, or small-love potions. You can sell these pets or SLPs for cryptocurrency, then swap into your respective currency.”When you’re in the game, it’s like playing chess. It’s a strategic game,” recent college graduate Howard said in the documentary.Axie Infinity drew on inspiration from Pokémon and CryptoKitties. The latter was one of the first games to popularize crypto video games.”As long as you have phone and internet access, you can play,” Zirlin told CNBC.A common criticism of the game is the volatility of cryptocurrencies. Since players “sync and swap” their money through Ethereum, the price action makes some players angsty. Ethereum is up nearly 65% in the last month, but was down 7% during Thursday’s trading day. Tesla CEO Elon Musk made an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” which triggered a 30% plunge in Dogecoin’s trading price.”Axie is its own economy. It might have swings like any emerging market based on macro factors, but long long term we believe that our digital nation will experience high GDP growth which will spur our in-game economy,” Zirlin said.Zirlin predicts more games being added in concert with Axie Infinity, creating a sort of metaverse, as well as wider access through computers instead of only mobile phones.”What matters is having money so we can eat, avoid debts and get through every day. It [Axie Infinity] sustained our daily needs, paid our bills, and debts,” said a mother of three in the documentary. “I was thankful to Axie because somehow it helped us.”The Tagalog, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese versions of this documentary are available here.







Read All

Categories
Genel

$100 million New Jersey deli company fires CEO Paul Morina From “International: Top News And Analysis”



Paulsboro coach Paul Morina cheers on George Worthy as he takes on Bergen Catholic s Wade Unger in the 152-pound bout during a wrestling match at The Palestra in Philadelphia,Joe Warner | USATodayThe shareholders of the mystery $100 million New Jersey deli company Hometown International fired CEO Paul Morina — a high school principal and renowned wrestling coach — after weeks of questions about the firm and his role there, a financial filing revealed late Friday.Hometown International’s majority shareholders also voted to remove the company’s only other executive, vice president and secretary Christine Lindenmuth, who works with Morina as an administrator at nearby Paulsboro High School. The deli, located just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, is Hometown’s only operating business asset.Their ousters came a week after a previously unreported resignation of the president of a shell company, E-Waste, which has multiple connections to Hometown International.Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that the shareholders that voted to remove Morina and Lindenmuth almost certainly included all or some members of two different groups of investment entities, one based in Hong Kong, the other based in Macao, a special administrative region in China.The moves at Hometown International and E-Waste appear — like other recent ones by each of the money-losing companies — to be an attempt to eliminate controversial issues that could harm their joint goal of merging with other firms in a transaction that would exploit their status as publicly traded companies on U.S. markets. Such a transaction would financially benefit existing shareholders.A person familiar with the situation confirmed to CNBC later Saturday that the moves to replace the executives are part of ongoing housecleaning effort at both companies. This person declined to be named.Morina, 62, held a slew of other titles at Hometown International before he was removed. According to financial filings, he owns 1.5 million common shares of the deli owner, making him, on paper at least, worth more than $18 million.Morina was replaced as chief executive officer by Peter Coker Jr., who is Hometown International’s chairman.Coker Jr., who is based in Hong Kong, is aligned with the investment entities there that have major stakes in the deli owner.Coker Jr.’s father, North Carolina businessman Peter Coker Sr., himself is a major investor in the company.The related shell company E-Waste replaced its own president, John Rollo, 66, after similar questions were raised by CNBC about him, that company and its similarly preposterous sky-high market capitalization despite a total lack of ongoing business.Rollo, a Grammy-winning recording engineer, until recently was working as patient transporter at a New Jersey hospital.Rollo, also a New Jersey resident, was replaced as E-Waste’s president by 31-year-old Elliot Mermel, a California resident who is getting paid $8,000 per month in that role.Mermel’s colorful business background includes founding a company that raised crickets as human food, and a partnership in a cannabis-related business with Paul Pierce, the former Boston Celtics superstar basketball player.Pierce, who won an NBA title with the Celtics, last month was fired as an analyst by ESPN for a racy Instagram Live poss that showed him in a room with exotic dancers.On Saturday, the Boston Globe reported that Pierce will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as part of its 2021 class.Mermel also founded a biotech company and an artificial intelligence company, and was a business development consultant to a fertilizer company, according to a financial filing.Mermel, a Colby University graduate, has another company, Benzions LLC, that had been collecting $4,000 each month since December under a consulting agreement with E-Waste.That agreement was terminated as part of his taking over management of E-Waste, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday.Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce waves to the crowd after reaching No. 2 on the all-time Celtics scoring list, surpassing Larry Bird, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Bobcats in Boston on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)Elise AmendolaSEC filings show that Benzions in March signed another consulting agreement with a second shell company, Med Spa Vacations, connected to Peter Coker Sr., which likewise pays Mermel’s firm $4,000 per month.The current president of Med Spa Vacations is former E-Waste president Rollo, who took that job in February, according to filings.The changes in executive leadership at both Hometown International and E-Waste were disclosed in 8-K filings with the SEC.The deli owner’s filing gave no reason why shareholders who control 6 million shares of common stock — which represents about 77% of the company’s voting power — voted out Morina and the 46-year-old Lindenmuth. At least 5.5 million of Hometown International’s common shares are controlled by the Hong Kong and Macao investors.Both Morina and Lindenmuth remain principals in the deli itself, according to the SEC filing.Morina also is involved in an entity that leases the deli space to Hometown International.E-Waste’s filing said that Rollo resigned as president on May 7, a day after CNBC reported on the opaque nature of the Macao group of investors.CNBC did not immediately receive replies to requests for comment from Morina, Lindenmuth, Rollo, Mermel and Hometown International’s lawyer.A spokesman for Maso Capital and its founder Manoj Jain — who controls the investments for the Hong Kong entities invested in Hometown International — declined to comment.Your Hometown Deli in Paulsboro, N.J.Google EarthHometown International first drew widespread attention last month when hedge fund manager David Einhorn, in a letter to clients, pointed out the company’s market capitalization, which had topped $100 million despite owning only a single small Italian deli.That eatery had sales of less than $37,000 in sales for the past two years combined and was closed for nearly half of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.Einhorn noted the incongruity of Morina being Hometown International’s CEO while working his day jobs as high school principal and wrestling coach.Hometown Deli in Paulsboro, N.J.CNBCMorina’s team at Paulsboro high school is a perennial contender for state titles, and he is among the most successful coaches in New Jersey wrestling history.But he has no apparent history of operating either a publicly traded company or food service business before the Hometown Deli opened in his own hometown.However, Morina, whose brother is a New Jersey county sheriff, wrestled in the 1970s at Paulsboro High School with a man named James Patten, who works at Coker Sr.’s firm Tryon Capital.Patten was barred by FINRA, the broker-dealer regulator, from acting as a stockbroker or associating with broker-dealers, according to the regulator’s database.Before that sanction, Patten was the subject of repeated disciplinary actions by FINRA, which included not complying with an arbitration award of more than $753,000 for violating securities laws, unauthorized trading and churning a client’s account.Since Einhorn’s letter, CNBC has reported other eyebrow-raising details about Hometown International and revealed its connections to E-Waste.The stocks of both companies, which trade on the low-tier Pink over-the-counter market, in the past year have risen to stunning levels as ties have been formed between them.Those stock price increases have raised the the question was why some investors would pay so much to buy what is relatively speaking handfuls of shares in either thinly traded company, given their lack of meaningful revenue in the deli owner’s case, or, in E-Waste’s case, a lack of any revenue at all.Even if both companies achieve their goal of engaging in reverse mergers or similar transactions with private firms looking to become publicly traded, current investors will not receive payments that reflect — in any way — the trading price of the stocks.On Friday, just 205 shares of Hometown International were traded, closing at $12.40 per share. Given the company’s nearly 8 million shares of common stock outstanding, that gives it a market capitalization of $96.68 million.E-Waste closed Friday at $9 per share, after no shares traded hands. With 12.5 million shares outstanding, E-Waste has a market cap of $112.5 million.In recent weeks, both the deli owner and E-Waste disavowed their stock prices, saying in extraordinary SEC filings that there was no financial justification for their market capitalizations.The moves followed the demotion of Hometown International from a more prestigious OTCQB over-the-counter market platform for what OTC Markets Group called “irregularities” in their public disclosures, and OTC Markets telling CNBC that it would be eyeing E-Waste as well.A trio of Hong Kong investment entities led by Maso Capital, which last year became some of the largest investors in Hometown International’s biggest investors, are understood to be involved in likewise positioning E-Waste as a reverse merger candidate.The Hong Kong investors include entities that are investment arms of Duke and Vanderbilt universities.E-Waste’s biggest single investor, Macao-based Global Equity Limited, is also the largest investor in the deli owner, and in Med Spa Vacations, another shell company linked to Coker Sr..The office building on Avenida Da Praia Grande in Macao, China, the address for multiple entities listed as investors in Hometown International, the owner of a single New Jersey deli.Catarina Domingues | CNBCRollo remains the president of Med Spa Vacations, a shell company with no business operations whose office address is that of a business operated by Coker Sr.Hometown International loaned Med Spa Vacations $150,000 in February, records show.That loan came after E-Waste was loaned an identical amount by Hometown International in November, according to an SEC filing.Records show that Coker Sr. loaned E-Waste $255,000 last September, most of which was used to pay the prior owners of E-Waste before they sold their shares to Global Equity Lmiited.CNBC’s articles have detailed how Coker Sr., a former college basketball star who has refused to comment when contacted by a reporter, has been sued for allegedly hiding assets from a creditor to whom he owed nearly $900,000 and for business-related fraud. He denied wrongdoing in those cases.He also has been arrested for soliciting a prostitute, according to a Raleigh, North Carolina, police report, and for exposing himself to and trying to proposition three underage girls, according to a 1992 newspaper article.Peter Lee Coker mugshot from the Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification (CCBI).Source: Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of IdentificationA firm controlled by Coker Sr., Tryon Capital, had until recently been collecting $15,000 a month from Hometown International under a consulting agreement. E-Waste was paying Tryon Capital $2,500 per month for its own consulting agreement.Those agreements were terminated last month after CNBC articles described those deals and Coker’s tangled legal history.SEC filings show that Med Spa Vacations is paying Tryon Capital $2,500 per month for its own consulting agreement.Coker Sr.’s partner in Tryon Capital, Peter Reichard, in 2011 was convicted in a North Carolina court of his role in a scheme that facilitated the illegal contributions of thousands of dollars to the successful 2008 campaign for governor by Bev Perdue, a Democrat.The scheme involved the use of bogus consulting contracts with Tryon Capital. Coker Sr. was not charged in that case.Peter Reichard, a top Perdue aide, takes the oath before his apearance in Wake County Court, Wednesday, December 14, 2011 in Raleigh, N.C.John Rottet | The News & Observer | APReichard is also a managing member, with Coker Sr., of an entity called Europa Capital Investments, which owns 90,400 common shares of Hometown International, and has warrants for another 1.9 million shares.Reichard is the son of Ram Dass, the late spiritual and LSD guru who gained renown in the 1960s and 1970s.CNBC earlier this week detailed how Coker Sr. and Reichard in 2010 created eight shell companies that were later sold off to other owners.Most of those shell companies, after they were sold, ended up having their registrations revoked by the SEC for failing to keep current in their disclosure filings, records show.One of the companies ended up being owned by a real estate tax lawyer in New York named Allan Schwartz, who did work for former President Donald Trump decades ago in connection with Trump’s real estate holdings. Schwartz told CNBC he knew nothing about Reichard and Coker Sr., or the deli owner.Hometown Deli, Paulsboro, N.J.Mike Calia | CNBCRecords show that a securities lawyer named Gregg Jaclin was involved in the creation of those shell companies. Jaclin also was involved three years later in the creation of Hometown International.Jaclin was disbarred as an attorney last year after pleading guilty to federal criminal charges related to his creation of shell companies to sell to individuals “who used those shell companies as publicly traded vehicles for market manipulation schemes,” court records show.None of the shells in that scheme were one of the ones created by Coker Sr. and Reichard, or to Hometown International.







Read All

Categories
Genel

Disney’s ‘Shang-Chi’ and ‘Free Guy’ will have 45-day theatrical run From “International: Top News And Analysis”



Simu Liu stars as Shang-Chi in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”DisneyDisney said “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings” and “Free Guy” will play exclusively in theaters for 45 days.The decision to release the two movies exclusively in theaters comes “amidst recent signs of consumer confidence and moviegoing,” said CEO Bob Chapek during an earnings call Thursday.The news comes just hours after the company said its blockbuster film “Jungle Cruise” would debut in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on July 30. Disney has used a similar tactic for “Mulan” and “Raya and the Last Dragon” and plans to use it for the debut of the upcoming films “Cruella” and “Black Widow.””Free Guy,” a Ryan Reynolds feature, is slated to hit theaters Aug. 13, while “Shang-Chi,” a new Marvel film starring Simu Liu, is slated for Sept. 3.”Without a doubt, this is welcome news for theater owners in a world where shorter, but reasonable, windows are no longer taboo,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice. “Today’s news emphasizes an upside to Disney’s case-by-case approach when it comes to short-term hybrid releases and long-term game plans by providing stability in expectations for the studio’s commitment to both the unique audience experience and the financial potential generated by theatrical exclusivity.”Pandemic restrictions are loosening around the country as vaccination rates rise and the number of Covid-19 cases declines. Notably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear face masks in most settings. That recommendation should help give the public more confidence about returning to normal activities and allow states to lift capacity restrictions at movie theaters.Around 90% of the movie theater market place is reopened domestically, but that doesn’t mean that all consumers are comfortable returning to cinemas, Chapek said. He noted that last weekend’s box office was well below the levels of years past.”So, we know the market’s not quite there yet,” Chapek added. “So, the Disney Premier Access strategy, one of the things it gives us right now … [is] that for those consumers that are a little leery still about going into a packed theater, that they can go ahead and watch it in the safety and convenience of their home.”







Read All

Categories
Genel

Colonial Pipeline paid $5 million ransom to hackers From “International: Top News And Analysis”



WASHINGTON – Colonial Pipeline paid a ransom to hackers after the company fell victim to a sweeping cyberattack, one source familiar with the situation confirmed to CNBC.A U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to NBC News that Colonial paid nearly $5 million as a ransom to the cybercriminals.It was not immediately clear when the transaction took place. Colonial Pipeline did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. The ransom payment was first reported by Bloomberg.Earlier on Thursday, President Joe Biden declined to comment when asked if Colonial Pipeline paid the ransom. White House press secretary Jen Pskai told reporters during a briefing that it remains the position of the federal government to not pay ransoms as it may incentivize cybercriminals to launch more attacks.Last week’s assault, carried out by a criminal cybergroup known as DarkSide, forced the company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline, leading to a disruption of nearly half of the East Coast fuel supply and causing gasoline shortages in the Southeast.Ransomware attacks involve malware that encrypts files on a device or network that results in the system becoming inoperable. Criminals behind these types of cyberattacks typically demand a ransom in exchange for the release of data.On Monday, White House national security officials described the assault as financially motivated in nature but would not say if Colonial Pipeline agreed to pay the ransom.”Typically that’s a private sector decision,” Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technologies, told reporters at the White House when asked about the ransom payment.Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber & Emerging Technologies Anne Neuberg speaks about the Colonial Pipeline outage following a cyber attack during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2021.Kevin Lemarque | Reuters”We recognize that victims of cyberattacks often face a very difficult situation and they have to just balance often the cost-benefit when they have no choice with regards to paying a ransom. Colonial is a private company and we’ll defer information regarding their decision on paying a ransom to them,” Neuberger said.She added that the FBI has previously warned victims of ransomware attacks that paying a ransom could encourage further malicious activity.Earlier on Monday, the DarkSide group described its actions as “apolitical” in a statement provided to CNBC by Cybereason.”We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to tie us with a defined government and look for our motives,” the group wrote.”Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society. From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future,” the statement added.Biden told reporters on Monday that the U.S. did not currently have intelligence linking the DarkSide group’s ransomware attack to the Russian government.”So far there is no evidence from our intelligence people that Russia is involved although there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia, they have some responsibility to deal with this,” Biden said from the White House on Monday.He added that he would still discuss the situation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.The Kremlin has previously denied claims that it has launched cyberattacks against the United States.On Wednesday, Colonial Pipeline said in an evening statement that it had restored its operations days after it was forced to shut down its entire system due to the cyberattack. The company described its decision to temporarily close pipeline service as a precautionary measure.”Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal,” the company added.The Colonial Pipeline hack is only the latest example of criminal groups or state actors exploiting U.S. cyber vulnerabilities. Last year, software from the IT company SolarWinds was breached, allowing hackers to gain access to communications and data in several government agencies.In April, Washington formally held Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service responsible for carrying out the SolarWinds cyberattack. Microsoft President Brad Smith described the incident as “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.” Microsoft’s systems were also infected with malicious software.The Russian government denies all allegations that it was behind the SolarWinds hack.







Read All

Categories
Genel

Australia will be ‘patient’ in relations with China, says deputy PM From “International: Top News And Analysis”



Australia will be “patient” as it seeks to repair relations with Beijing, said Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.His country will also be looking for ways to broaden its trade interests, he told CNBC on Thursday.Last week, China announced it would “indefinitely” suspend economic dialogue with Australia, the latest in the rift between both countries. Their relations have soured since last year after Canberra supported an international inquiry into China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.Trade in some products has been caught in the fallout. Beijing has for months targeted a growing list of imported products from Down Under — putting tariffs on wine and barley, and suspending beef imports.When asked on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” what he was willing to do to bring China to the negotiating table following the suspension, McCormack said: “We’ll be patient, we always are.”On Thursday, China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng told reporters in Beijing that Australia needs to halt its “wrong actions” that “interfere” with its trade with China. He also said Australia needs to take steps to promote the healthy development of trade.Gao did not specify what these measures should be. That’s based on a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language comments.China’s overall trade with Australia grew in April, despite the tensions. Chinese imports from Australia rose 49% to $14.87 billion, while exports rose 20% to $5.25 billion, China’s customs agency said earlier this month.”We understand that we’ve got the world’s best products,” McCormack said. “I know our mining resources are valued right across the world … whether it’s coal, whether it’s iron ore … iron ore prices are very strong at the moment.”Beijing imports 60% of its iron ore from Australia, and is heavily dependent on the commodity, which it uses to make steel. China is the world’s top producer of steel. The country is also the world’s largest coal consumer and its greatest source of coal imports was Australia.”Indeed our resources are greatly valued, greatly in demand around the world, and whether it’s China, or any other country, we will work with them always in a friendly and diplomatic and responsible way,” McCormack concluded.He also separately said that Australia is looking to “broaden” its trade interests.”China is a big market for us … we also understand there’s a big world out there … our resources are in great demand and we’ll continue to make sure we diversify our markets,” McCormack told CNBC.







Read All

Categories
Genel

Chip shortage will last another quarter From “International: Top News And Analysis”



Xpeng Motors launches the P5 sedan at an event in Guangzhou, China on April 14, 2021. The P5 is Xpeng’s third production model and features so-called Lidar technology.Arjun Kharpal | CNBCBEIJING — Chinese electric car start-up Xpeng expects the global chip shortage will persist for at least another three months.Automakers around the world have had to cut production due to a shortfall in semiconductors, or chips. High demand for electronics, U.S.-China trade tensions and a major factory fire have affected the highly specialized industry’s ability to manufacture enough chips.”What we’ve seen is that this tight situation will continue for the next quarter or so,” Brian Gu, vice chairman and president of Xpeng, said Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”The challenge is “the visibility of chip supplies is by the minute,” Gu said. “We are paying very, very close attention to the situation. Right now, the impact is limited and it’s reflected in our guidance.”Xpeng’s U.S.-listed shares fell nearly 4.9% in Thursday’s trading session despite the start-up reporting greater-than-expected revenue of 2.95 billion yuan ($456.7 million) for the first quarter.The stock is now down nearly 45% for the year so far, but still holds gains of more than 50% from its IPO in August.Xpeng expects to deliver between 15,500 and 16,000 vehicles in the second quarter. The company said it delivered 13,340 cars in the first three months of the year, topping its forecast for 12,500 cars.Growing revenue from softwareWhile car sales account for the majority of Xpeng’s revenue, the company noted first-quarter results were helped by customer demand for its assisted driving software. The start-up said it recorded revenue from the software for the first time after a rollout of an upgrade to paying customers in the first quarter.Gu said on CNBC that more than 25% of customers have paid for the assisted driving software in the last month, up from 20% last quarter. He expects greater use of Xpeng’s software and lower vehicle production costs will increase the company’s margin in the near future.Later this year, Xpeng plans to launch a second electric sedan, the P5, which includes support for the latest version of the start-up’s assisted driving software.Vehicle margin, a measure of profitability, rose to 10.1% in the first quarter, up from 6.8% in the prior quarter. The company did report a year-on-year increase in net losses, of 786.6 million yuan in the first quarter, versus 649.8 million yuan during the same period last year. Research and development expenses rose 72.2% from a year ago to 535.1 million yuan.Moving ahead into EuropeXpeng pressed ahead with its European expansion plans in the first quarter by delivering more than 300 units of its G3 SUV to Norway, according to the company. The start-up had sent 100 of the cars to the market in December. Xpeng expects to begin delivering its P7 sedan to Norway in the second half of the year.Competition in that overseas market is set to pick up with rival Chinese electric car maker Nio’s plans to open a showroom and begin deliveries in Norway later this year. Nio’s shares fell 7.3% Thursday and are down nearly 36% for the year so far.







Read All

Categories
Genel

Ireland wants remote working to now revive its rural towns From “International: Top News And Analysis”



Terrace of historic shops and buildings, Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland, Irish Republic. (Photo by: Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)Geography Photos | Universal Images Group | Getty ImagesDUBLIN — In March, the Irish government unveiled a plan to revive the country’s rural economy by enticing more people to work remotely.A long-standing challenge for rural Ireland has been the migration to urban areas. With the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic and what can be achieved through remote working, the Our Rural Future plan aims to incentivize more people to stay in or move to non-urban areas.The plan commits to providing financial support for local authorities to turn vacant properties in towns into remote working hubs. This includes a plan for “over 400 remote working facilities” across the country.Grainne O’Keeffe has first-hand experience of attracting people to a rural town. She heads up the Ludgate Hub, a co-working space and start-up support organization in the small town of Skibbereen, about 80 km west of the city of Cork in the south of Ireland.Ludgate Hub — which is named after scientist Percy Ludgate — was set up in 2016 and was an early mover in rural start-up efforts.O’Keeffe told CNBC that Ludgate provides a practical example of attracting founders and employees to a small town.It operates out of an old bakery and is opening a second facility in an empty school building later this year. It has mostly attracted individuals whose start-ups allow for working remotely, including Eric Yuan-backed start-up Workvivo.O’Keeffe said significant investments in physical infrastructure like high-speed broadband and sourcing suitable buildings are key to making any town viable for remote working.Skibbereen is connected to high-speed broadband through a Vodafone-led venture called Siro.”That is without doubt a game changer for every region. That is fundamental and so is having a building that is conducive to a work environment,” she said.Rural broadband connectivity has been a regular bugbear in Ireland. The government’s National Broadband Plan is rolling out services in previously underserved areas but it has had its fair share of delays. Other operators like Eir are in the midst of their own rural rollouts while Elon Musk’s Starlink is testing in one location in Ireland.Work environmentGarret Flower made the move from Dublin to his native county of Longford, in the midlands. He is the chief executive of software start-up ParkOffice, whose team of 15 has now gone fully remote.”The countryside has so much to offer,” he said. “I think remote working is something that can really drive people back to the rural areas.”But he also warned against an over reliance on home working. As lockdowns eventually ease, the availability of office space or desks in towns and villages will be a key component of any strategy, he said.”Not everyone has an enjoyable living area to work from. You can’t put that pressure on everybody to be able to work from their home. I grew up in the family home and it was chaos. I could never have worked with everyone there in the house,” he said.Separately, a government-funded start-up accelerator called NDRC, which is now run by a consortium of business groups around the country, is focusing on developing start-up ecosystems in more diverse areas of the country.One of its members is the RDI Hub, a facility in the town of Killorglin in County Kerry, in the southwest of the country.”In Kerry we traditionally have a very ingrained migration. People leave Kerry. It’s rare that you would stay, most people go away for college, most people go away to start a job. Some come back but the majority go and keep going,” said Reidin O’Connor, the manager of RDI Hub.O’Connor is from the area originally and relocated from Dublin with her partner and children a few months before the pandemic arrived.She said that government efforts on remote working hubs need to focus not only on workers but how they can be integrated into local communities as well.”Hubs should be the space where you have your start-ups and your creatives working together. But you also have classes and it becomes the hive of the community and it’s where people gather,” she said.P A Thompson | The Image Bank | Getty ImagesHousing and transportA lingering issue for the development of any region in Ireland is housing. Prior to the pandemic, the housing shortage was long a hot-button issue. But since the onset of the pandemic, the issue has become more acute with construction activity halting.Of late, institutional investor activity in the housing market has attracted a great deal of public scorn.Ludgate’s O’Keeffe said that rural regeneration efforts will have to contend with housing and that authorities like county councils will need to “recognize that there will be increases in populations and that there is a need for housing to be accommodated.”O’Keeffe acknowledges that transport links between rural towns like Skibbereen and nearby cities like Cork or further afield in Dublin presents challenges too.”It is certainly an issue that we have for us, that remoteness, but I do think digital enablement reduces physical divide,” she said, adding that reducing digital divides can help address shortcomings in physical infrastructure like transport links.Flower said there’s a significant opportunity afoot to revitalize large swathes of the country that could be otherwise forgotten about.”A boatload of my friends in the last recession up and left for Australia and Canada and haven’t come back. We need to put images in people’s heads that they can come back and that they can work these world class jobs in remote parts of the country.” 







Read All

Categories
Genel

Marqeta files S-1 as value tops $16 billion on private markets From “International: Top News And Analysis”



Marqeta Headquarters in Oakland, Calif.Yalonda M. James | San Francisco Chronicle | Hearst Newspapers via Getty ImagesMarqeta has become one of the hottest businesses in digital commerce, even though few consumers have ever heard of it.Its name is about to become much more familiar. On Friday, the company filed to go public and, in its prospectus to investors, disclosed annualized revenue growth in the first quarter of 123% to $108 million, while its net loss narrowed to $12.8 million from $14.5 million a year earlier.in 2020, annual revenue more than doubled to $290.3 million, and the company recorded a loss of $47.7 million.Founded in 2010 and based in Oakland, California, Marqeta sells payment technology that’s designed to detect potential fraud and ensure that money is properly routed. The company issues customized physical cards, which look like credit and debit cards, which contractors from DoorDash or Instacart use to make point-of-sale purchases from restaurants or supermarkets.Many of Marqeta’s top customers are coming off record years as the pandemic pushed commerce to mobile devices. In addition to meal-delivery companies, Marqeta powers Square’s debit card for small business owners and its popular Cash App for peer-to-peer payments. Affirm and Klarna, which provide small-dollar lending to consumers for purchases like bikes and TVs, use Marqeta’s technology to move money with their installment loans.Larry Albukerk, who brokers pre-IPO stocks at EB Exchange, said Marqeta shares have been trading on the secondary market for $33 to $35 a share. Based on a total of 484.4 million Class A and Class B shares, as listed in the prospectus, that values the company at about $16 billion to $17 billion.A year ago Marqeta raised capital at a valuation of about $4.3 billion.”It’s definitely one of the hottest companies in the private markets,” said Alburkerk, who also owns some Marqeta shares. “It’s been a steady performer for the last two years and recently has become one of the most sought-after stocks to buy pre-public.”Albukerk said Marqeta is up there with Stripe and Plaid in terms of fin-tech stocks that investors are seeking, but Marqeta is the only one of the three that trades regularly because the other two companies are more restrictive with ownership transfers.Marqeta competes on one end of the payment technology market with legacy vendors like Fiserv and FIS, and on the other end with modern vendors like Adyen and Stripe. Where Marqeta most differentiates itself is in its card-issuing service, which allows clients to create a very specialized physical or virtual card for heir business partners.The company says in the risk factors sections of its prospectus that its expansion in 2020 mirrored that of its clients in e-commerce and food and grocery delivery. As the economy reopens, spending patterns could change.”Our net revenue growth in recent periods has increased, as additional consumers have shifted to using these services,” the company said. “If this trend in consumer demand and spending patterns slows or reverses as shelter-in-place restrictions ease and as the pandemic subsides, our net revenue growth may be adversely affected.”Marqeta ranked 33rd on CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list last year.WATCH: Marqeta CEO Jason Gardner on partnership with Goldman







Read All

Categories
Genel

Goldman Sachs banker quits after making millions on cryptocurrency From “International: Top News And Analysis”



A collection of bitcoin, litecoin and ethereum tokens.Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesLONDON — A Goldman Sachs executive has resigned after earning a fortune from a cryptocurrency investment, according to industry sources.Aziz McMahon, Goldman’s managing director and head of emerging market sales in London, quit after making millions of pounds from a bet on the digital currency ether, three former employees at the investment bank told CNBC.The former employees, who all know McMahon personally, preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the discussions. McMahon is believed to have cashed in at least £10 million ($14 million) worth of cryptocurrency, the sources said.Earlier reports from eFinancial Careers and The Guardian had said McMahon had left Goldman after making money from dogecoin.It is possible McMahon may have had some holdings in dogecoin, too. He is thought to have now set up his own hedge fund, eFinancialCareers reported.When approached by CNBC, Goldman Sachs confirmed McMahon’s departure but declined to comment any further. McMahon was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC via LinkedIn.Ether, the digital asset McMahon is said to have invested in, has risen more than 400% since the start of 2021. Created some six years after bitcoin, ether is based on a different technology known as Ethereum. Ether and ethereum are often used interchangeably to describe the currency.Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have fluctuated wildly lately. On Wednesday, the entire market shed as much as $365.85 billion after a tweet from Elon Musk that said his electric car firm Tesla would stop accepting payments in bitcoin due to environmental concerns over the cryptocurrency.Musk’s favored crypto is dogecoin, a token that started out as a joke in 2013. Inspired by the meme “Doge,” which features a shiba inu dog and cartoon-style text, dogecoin was intended by its creators as a “fun” alternative to bitcoin.It’s since gained a growing community online and is now the fourth-largest digital asset by market value on CoinMarketCap. While advocates like to call it the “people’s” crypto, investors warn dogecoin is a sign of froth building up in the crypto market.







Read All

Categories
Genel

Earnings reports, the Fed will test the market rally in the week ahead From “International: Top News And Analysis”



A Wall Street sign is seen near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, May 4, 2021.Brendan McDermid | ReutersInvestors will see whether stocks carry their newfound momentum into the week ahead, as major retailers, including Walmart and Home Depot, report earnings and housing data dominates the calendar.The Federal Reserve may also play a role. Minutes from its last meeting will be released Wednesday, and after April’s hotter than expected consumer and producer inflation, market pros will watch it closely.Central bank officials are also scheduled to make comments, including Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida who speaks next Monday.Stocks have been volatile. The rally on Thursday and Friday was unable to reverse the week’s heavy losses. The defensive consumer staples, financials and materials were on track for a positive week among major sectors. The worst performers were consumer discretionary, off about 3.7% for the week, and tech, which was down 2.2%.Technology shares were among the best performers in Friday’s rally, up about 2.1%. Energy was the best performer, up more than 3%.”Watch it with a certain amount of trepidation,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “It’s not like the things that spooked us this week, like inflation, are going away…I think the fact we bounced at the end of the week is constructive.” He added that he still expects the market to move forward with fits and starts.Fed AheadThe Fed minutes should basically be a replay of the last central bank meeting. But that was held before April’s Consumer Price Index was reported to be up a sizzling 4.2% year over year.That last meeting also took place prior to the April employment report that showed just 266,000 payrolls, a quarter of what was expected.”I think the Fed is willing to look through these weird data points. They’re thinking that one data point is not a trend,” said Joseph Song, senior U.S. economist at Bank of America.But the markets have been focused on whether any data helps clarify how soon the Fed may start to talk about winding down its bond buying. That would be a precursor to slowly ending the $120 billion a month asset purchase program, and also a signal that it is one step closer to raising interest rates.Hogan said when the weak employment report was released, the market view shifted away from the idea that the Fed could discuss tapering its bond buying when it holds its Jackson Hole Economic Symposium in late summer.But the market moved back to that view when the hot CPI report was released Wednesday.”We saw hot CPI, hot PPI,” said Hogan, referring to the producer price index. “That tells us the Fed could be behind the curve.”The Fed has said it expects a transitory spike inflation, but concerns it may not be a temporary spike rippled through the market. But Hogan said investors took some comfort from declines in iron ore and copper, down nearly 2% for the week.Retail earnings and housingBig retailers report quarterly earnings throughout the week. Walmart and Home Depot will report Tuesday. Target, TJX and Lowe’s release results Wednesday, and B.J.’s Wholesale and Kohl’s on Thursday.Another disappointing data point was Friday’s April’s retail sales, which came in flat with March. But they are still at a high level. Hogan said based on the sales report, retailers should have done well.”You’re likely to hear the usual suspects are outperforming. It used to be Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s,” said Hogan. He said now others have joined the list, like TJX and Gap, and should do well.Besides earnings, there is housing data. The National Association of Home Builders sentiment index will be released Monday, and housing starts are published Tuesday. Existing home sales will be issued on Friday.Hogan said depending on the data, it may help the homebuilders which fell hard in the past week. He noted that D.R. Horton and Hovnanian were both down for the week.”The home building index is off 5% for the week, even with it being up 1% [Friday]. This is a red-hot sector that has lots of implications,” he said. “What’s good for home sales is good for auto sales. It’s good for Home Depot and Lowe’s.”Homebuilders were part of a broad swath of the market that was bouncing Friday.Scott Redler, chief strategist at T3Live.com, said by the end of the week, some of the growth and tech names were trading better, like Facebook and Alphabet.”The S&P 500 held the 50-day moving average, which is constructive,” he said.The S&P 500 came within about a dozen points of its 50-day, which is the average price of the last 50 closes. It is often a level that acts as support, but if it is broken, it can signal a negative trend.The S&P 500 was down about 1.5% for the week at 4,173.85. The Nasdaq ended the week at 13,429.98, down 2.3% on the week.”The tech sector, which has been under pressure, held its yearly uptrend earlier in the week. Today it felt a little better than the rest of the week,” Redler said Friday. “It doesn’t mean you can go into everything, but you can tell traders are picking away at better acting stocks at these prices.”Week ahead calendarMondayEarnings: Hostess Brands, Lordstown Motors, Tencent Music8:30 a.m. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic on CNBC8:30 a.m. Empire manufacturing10:00 a.m. NAHB index10:25 a.m. Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida at Atlanta Fed conference4:00 p.m. TIC data6:00 p.m. Dallas Fed President Rob KaplanTuesdayEarnings: Walmart, Home Depot, Macy’s, Baidu, Take-Two Interactive, Trip.com, NetEase8:30 a.m. Housing starts11:05 a.m. Dallas Fed President Rob KaplanWednesdayEarnings: Target, Lowe’s, JD.Com, Cisco, Shoe Carnival, TJX, Eagle Materials, Analog Devices, L Brands10:00 a.m. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on economy and monetary policy2:00 p.m. FOMC minutesThursdayEarnings: BJ’s Wholesale, Kohl’s, Petco, Ralph Lauren, Applied Materials, Ross Stores, Deckers Outdoor, Hormel Foods, Palo Alto Networks8:30 a.m. Initial jobless claims8:30a a.m. Philadelphia Fed10:00 a.m. Leading indicators10:00 a.m. St. Louis Fed’s Bullard10:30 a.m. Dallas Fed’s KaplanFridayEarnings: Deere, Foot Locker, Buckle, VF Corp, Booz Allen Hamilton9:45 a.m. Markit Manufacturing PMI9:45 a.m. Markit Services PMI10:00 a.m. Existing home sales12:15 p.m. Dallas Fed’s Kaplan, Atlanta Fed’s Bostic, and Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin on a panel1:30 p.m. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly







Read All