Schlagwort-Archive: million

Bitcoin Price Will Reach $500,000 Realistically: Snapchat’s First Investor

Jeremy Liew, the first investor in Snap Inc., the $24.5 bln parent company of popular social media platform Snapchat, said in an interview with Business Insider that Bitcoin price can realistically reach $500,000 by 2030.

Since its introduction in 2009, with the exception of one year, Bitcoin has consistently been the world’s best-performing currency and asset.

Contrary to the perception of Bitcoin by the general consumer base, Bitcoin’s volatility rate has significantly decreased over the past few years and has transformed into a stable store of value, digital gold and settlement network.

Bitcoin as remittance and settlement network
Bitcoin is currently being utilized globally as a means of payment and efficient remittance method. In fact, as reported by Cointelegraph in February, the Philippines officially recognized Bitcoin as a legitimate remittance and payment method.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country’s central bank, stated in its Circular No.944:

“Rather, the BSP aims to regulate VCs when used for delivery of financial services, particularly, for payments and remittances, which have a material impact on anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT), consumer protection and financial stability.”

According to Liew and Blockchain CEO Peter Smith, the transportability and high liquidity of Bitcoin allow the digital currency to operate as a practical remittance method for the general consumer base. In that regard, Liew explained that Bitcoin is appealing to mainstream investors and users as a strong investment and reliable digital currency.

Liew and Smith noted:

"Expats sending money home have found in Bitcoin an inexpensive alternative, and we assume that the percentage of Bitcoin-based remittances will sharply increase with greater Bitcoin awareness. We believe Bitcoin awareness, high liquidity, ease of transport and continued market outperformance as geopolitical risks mount, will make Bitcoin a strong contender for investment at a consumer and investor level.”

Bitcoin’s distinctive applications are enabling the currency to grow at an explosive rate. Some are utilizing Bitcoin as a wealth management tool, while others are relying on Bitcoin to send and receive payments, to profit in the long run, and settle transactions with low fees and shorter confirmation periods in contrast to bank transfers.

In consideration of Bitcoin’s exponential growth, its limited supply, scarcity and rarity, Liew explained that it is highly likely for Bitcoin price to reach $500,000 as its user base reaches 400 mln. Currently, there exist approximately 20 mln Bitcoin wallets provided by service providers such as Blockchain and Coinbase. Liew expects the user base of Bitcoin to grow by 20 times in the next 13 years.

“Bitcoin's 2030 price and user count total $500,000 and 400 million, respectively. The price is found by taking the $10 trillion market cap and dividing it by the fixed supply of 20 million bitcoin,” a section of the presentation provided by Liew and Smith read.

Why the SEC ruling wasn’t surprising for Liew and Smith
For Liew and Smith, the denial of the Winklevoss twins’ Bitcoin ETF COIN was somewhat expected, primarily due to the inefficiency of the SEC when it comes to the approval of new markets and assets. However, Liew also noted that Bitcoin does not need a strictly regulated channel in order to appeal to a large group of investors.

The Bitcoin exchange market itself provides a high level of liquidity for traders. Thus, it is relatively easy for an average trader to purchase and sell Bitcoin on regulated platforms.

He told Business Insider:

"The SEC’s ruling wasn't a surprise to us. We know that getting this sort of approval is going to take (a potentially long) time. In the meantime, bitcoin is already simple to buy and hold and, as the asset continues to mature, we'll continue to see an increase in the development and deployment of surrounding products."

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Meet the $21 Million Company That Thinks a New iPhone Is a Total Waste of Money

IFixit's founders, Kyle Wiens (left) and Luke Soules, have built a thriving company around a pretty radical idea. CREDIT: Alex V. Murawski

The guys behind iFixit want to show you how to fix everything from your iPhone to your toaster–for free. By doing so, they've built a huge business. Even though Apple totally hates them.
 IFixit's founders, Kyle Wiens (left) and Luke Soules, have built a thriving company around a pretty radical idea. CREDIT: Alex V. Murawski
  
"Here–stand on that," says Kyle Wiens, positioning himself opposite his visitor and reaching for the switch. Then comes the electric hum, followed by the soft jolt and the ground receding. It's a car lift, mechanic's grade, salvaged from a dealership, reinstalled on a concrete pad in Wiens's backyard in Atascadero, California. 

Wiens–who's wearing jeans, a checkered shirt, steel-rimmed glasses, and the kind of haircut you might give yourself with a pair of dull scissors–has about two sloping acres on a rise overlooking U.S. Highway 101, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The high hills beyond are green from this winter's drenching rains. There's a stucco main house, a prefab outbuilding, a chicken coop, a patio with a monster grill, and a work shed that houses motorcycles, dirt bikes, kayaks, wetsuits, a generator, a compressor, a welding torch, hammers, wrenches, and drills, as well as several small piles of disassembled equipment: his many works in progress. The lift is just outside the shed. Wiens uses it for jobs most people would delegate to a professional, like swapping out the transmission on a truck. And for cheap thrills: "It's so cool!"

IFixit co-founders Kyle Wiens (left) and Luke Soules in a loft atop a rock-climbing wall. Note the strategically placed iFixit logos on their laptops.CREDIT: Shaughn and John
It's also there because fixing stuff is his life's work. Wiens, 33, is co-founder and CEO of iFixit, a company whose mission, he says, is to "teach everybody how to fix everything." On iFixit's website is a vast library of step-by-step instruction sets covering, well, let's see: how to adjust your brakes, patch a leaky fuel tank on a motorcycle, situate the bumper sensor on a Roomba vacuum cleaner, unjam a paper shredder, reattach a sole on a shoe, start a fire without a match, fill a scratch in an eyeglass lens, install a new bread-lift shelf in a pop-up toaster, replace a heating coil in an electric kettle, and–iFixit's specialty–perform all manner of delicate repairs on busted Apple laptops and cell phones. More than 25,000 manuals in all, covering more than 7,000 objects and devices. Last year, according to Wiens, 94 million people all over the world learned how to restore something to tiptop working condition with iFixit's help, which frankly was a little disappointing. Wiens's goal was 100 million.

Some of the knowledge stored on iFixit's website is produced internally. Most comes, wiki-style, from the world at large. Either way, the information is always free. You don't have to register. There's no advertising. IFixit makes about 90 percent of its revenue from selling parts and tools to people who wouldn't know what to do with them if iFixit weren't also giving away so much valuable information. The rest comes from licensing the software iFixit developed to write its online manuals, and from training independent repair technicians, some 15,000 so far, who rely on iFixit to run their own businesses.

"We impact the economy in a far bigger way than we capture ourselves," Wiens allows. He's OK with that. That's how you get to everybody and everything. But it's a real business. A 14-year-old, 125-employee, five-time Inc. 5000 honoree growing 30 percent year over year, iFixit topped $21 million in sales in 2016 and delivers steady profits. "We give away a whole lot for free," says co-founder Luke Soules, who's 32. "We like that, and it still works, even if only a fraction of those people give us money."

Consider how we as consumers relate to our electronic gadgets and gizmos. We can't live without them, but we have no more idea about what goes on beneath their shiny exteriors than the apes did about the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. When they break, we feel helpless; we want a new one right away. But there are consequences to consuming like that–environmental consequences, as our discarded toxic technology makes its way into landfills and dumps; resource consequences, as finite supplies of crucial elements like iridium are rapidly consumed and discarded; eco­nomic consequences, as we recklessly empty our pockets to keep pace with the latest and greatest; and human conse­quences, as we grow increasingly frustrated by the magical objects on which we depend.

IFixit and its noble mission may not seem like much of a threat to anyone, least of all the most profitable company on the planet, but Apple has been watching iFixit carefully. Apple doesn't like iFixit, because iFixit writes its own in-house versions of Apple's top-secret repair manuals and shares them with all comers. It sells reverse-engineered Apple-equivalent parts and bundles them with custom-designed picks, tweezers, spudgers (tiny plastic chisels), and screwdrivers in affordable, everything-you-need kits. Working with iFixit, you can replace a cracked screen or a fried battery for a lot less than if you were to take your problem to an Apple store, which might not be an option for you anyway, depending on where you live. Plus, iFixit won't try to sell you a new phone. (Apple ignored repeated requests to comment for this story.)

IPhones equipped with new iFixit replacement screens, awaiting testing.CREDIT: Shaughn and John
Then again, iFixit doesn't like Apple either. At iFixit headquarters in San Luis Obispo, California, the recycling goes in cans labeled with iFixit's logo–it resembles a Phillips screw head–while the cans with the Apple logo are for trash. In eight state legislatures across the country, the two companies are fighting over so-called right-to-repair laws (see "You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Repair," below) that, if passed, will loosen Apple's strict, cradle-to-grave control over everything it sells and eat into its stupendous repair revenue. Apple doesn't report just how huge that repair revenue is, but trade journal Warranty Week estimates that one proxy for that–sales of Apple's extended-warranty repair program, AppleCare–delivered the company a staggering $5.9 billion worldwide in 2016. "It's the world's largest extended-warranty program," says Warranty Week editor Eric Arnum. "Bigger than GM's. Bigger than Volkswagen's. Bigger than Best Buy's or Walmart's."

IFixit wouldn't be here if it weren't for Apple and everything about it–its innovation, its ubiquity, and its arrogance. IFixit is basically a parasite if you think about it that way. Or maybe a pilotfish, swimming with the shark and subsisting on its leftovers. Yet that doesn't begin to capture the fullness of this company's radical mission, or the ambition of its founders, both of which Wiens has spent much time reflecting on.

"I'm really concerned about the transition in society to a world where we don't understand what's in our things," he says. "Where we are afraid of engineering, afraid of fact, afraid of tinkering. When you take something like a phone or voice recorder and you take it apart and you understand it enough to be able to fix it, a switch flips in your brain. You go from being just a consumer to being someone who is actually a participant." This may not be as cool as having your own backyard car lift. But still, it's pretty cool.

Wiens and Soules both grew up in Oregon, but they didn't meet until they got to California Polytechnic State University, where the motto is "Learn by doing." That was 2003, and they've been together ever since–as friends, roommates, 50-50 business partners, and river kayaking buddies. (When Wiens announced he was getting married, his other friends told him he would have to divorce Soules first.) Wiens talks more than Soules and sleeps less; he's the public face of iFixit, its chief explainer and grand strategist. Soules oversees operations and manages iFixit's China supply chain; he's also a pilot and a clarinetist. At Cal Poly, they bonded over their shared geekiness. "I remember him going home for Christmas break," says Soules. "He had a big, old-fashioned desktop computer. He brought it with him on the train."

Wiens's other computer was an Apple iBook G3, the curvy, candy-colored laptop known as the "toilet seat Mac." He dropped it one day, and it broke. Wiens was unfazed. As kids, he and his brother were always taking apart and reassembling old radios and kitchen appliances that their grandfather bought for them at Goodwill. He "spent his life making and maintaining things," Wiens wrote of his grandfather in a eulogistic essay published on The Atlantic's website in 2013; he schooled Wiens in the war against "entropy: the second law of thermodynamics that guarantees everything will eventually wear out"; and he sent him off to college with a toolkit and a soldering iron.

IFixit staffer Alec Thille, at his desk at company headquarters.CREDIT: Shaughn and John
Wiens needed a G3 repair manual. He searched in vain online. Apple doesn't share such knowledge with its customers. That ticked him off. It was his computer, after all. Bought and paid for. Why shouldn't he have access to its inner workings? "This shall not stand," Wiens remembers thinking, and so was born the idea for a business.

Wiens and Soules worked it out over the next several years. Initially, they thought they'd write their own repair manuals and sell them, but–first lesson–information is a tough sell. (No one would pay for eHow's articles or videos, either.) Parts and tools, on the other hand, aren't, so Wiens and Soules became online resellers, clearing out the screwdriver shelves at Sears, ordering hard-to-get parts from catalogs, and filling orders, Michael Dell-like, from their dorm. They called their fledgling company PowerBook Fixit, until Wiens got scared that Apple might hunt them down for trademark infringement. Next, they tried PBFixit, which didn't stick either. "People thought it stood for peanut butter," says Soules. Still, people came. "We didn't make money our first month," says Wiens. "We made money our second month. And we've made money ever since."

They roomed together, sleeping in bunk beds so they'd have more space for inventory. Sophomore year, they moved off campus to a two-bedroom apartment, and eventually to a three-bedroom house with a three-car garage that served as a parts warehouse. Taking care of business while keeping up with classes presented certain challenges. "I'd be on the phone with a customer, trying to walk them through installing their hard drive, and I'm looking at the clock thinking, 'I have a midterm across town in 20 minutes,' " says Wiens. "You can't tell the customer that." Eventually, they hired help. One day, an employee arrived for work at the house having forgotten his key, so he picked the lock. The boss was impressed. "To this day, we still teach lock-picking to new employees," Wiens says. (At times, iFixit has sold branded lock-pick sets despite certain complications; it's illegal to ship them via U.S. mail.)

"In the beginning, we were very carefully iterating on the customer experience around parts," says Wiens. "Then customers would say, 'Well, that's fine, but how do we install it?' So we wrote them a manual. And they would say, 'Well, that's fine, but we don't have tools,' and so we sold them the tools. And they would say, 'Well, the tools are too expensive,' so then we started building kits and just bundled the tools into the price of the parts. It turns out that we were doing something that nobody else in the parts business was."

The year they graduated, 2007, was the same year the iPhone made its debut, presaging a dramatic shift in their revenue stream from fixing computers to fixing handheld devices. What had begun as a part-time gig was by now a profitable, fast-growing business. It didn't provide them with just spending money while they were in college–it paid for college. It also covered the down payment on the $690,000 house in Atascadero that would serve them over the years, sometimes overlappingly, as their shared home, an employee bunkhouse, and iFixit's headquarters. "This could very well be a career for us," Soules remembers thinking senior year; the thought had never occurred to him before. So much for worrying about finding a job.

IFixit staffers pitching in to process the company's latest delivery of its tools inventory from its suppliers. This time around, iFixit received more than 2,000 boxes.CREDIT: Shaughn and John
The front door at iFixit headquarters on the edge of downtown San Luis Obispo is locked. A sign says "by appointment only." There is a bell, however, to which a smiling, bearded 20-something responds. He leads the way through an empty waiting room into a steel-girded, skylighted barn, filled with other bearded 20-somethings and a few of their female counterparts. This building used to be the car dealership where Wiens got his lift. He left the other lift out back for his employees' benefit, though it's not clear how many drive, much less own cars. On their first day, all iFixit workers receive–in addition to a desk, in parts, which they're expected to assemble themselves–$400 toward the purchase of a bike. The parking lot is mostly empty.

Renovating the place took more than a year. The biggest challenge, Wiens says, was figuring out how to insert an upper level into the existing framework and make everything watertight without bringing down the roof. ("It's much harder to repurpose and reuse an existing building than to build a new one from scratch," he concedes, irony apparently unintended.) There's a grand staircase bisecting the central atrium, made with recycled acacia and walnut. Twin monitors on the landing track global activity on the website. The paneling at the top of the stairs is made with two-by-four oak-flavor planks, discarded by the region's wineries. It smells good in here. Not like wood or wine, but familiar and clean. Like a freshly opened box of electronics.

Soules is visiting the company's suppliers in China this week, but Wiens is at his second-floor "desk." It's a treadmill set to walking pace, facing a high-top table holding a stack of outdated software manuals, repurposed as a platform for his laptop.

Wiens doesn't advertise it, but he's a devout Christian. Jen Wiens, iFixit's company chef, wasn't sure what to make of her future husband the first time they met, in Bible class–an insistent chatterbox, a voracious reader (later she would learn that he listens to audio books at double speed), a man given to big ideas and noble pronouncements. "I worked at a law firm downtown," she says. "I was always pretty tired from a 14-hour day. He would sit next to me and just keep talking. He was always really excited. Eventually, I decided maybe I should pay attention."

One of the first times they hung out together, Kyle told Jen that he wanted to change the world. He was still in college, still working out the details of his big vision for "fighting the growth of disposable culture," as he would write years later in iFixit's employee handbook (a 50-page manifesto illustrated with drawings lifted from a 1903 edition of the Boy Scout handbook), "promoting sustainable design, defending ownership rights, and shedding light on the devastating effects of electronic waste." Kyle wasn't quite there yet, though it was clear to Jen even then that when Kyle talked about changing the world, he meant something more than disrupting some tiny corner of the tech industry and making a lot of money for himself. "I knew where he was going," she says.

Where he was going, of course, was this business that would eventually infuriate Apple. But it would also thrill a few enlightened corporate allies–notably Patagonia, which partners with iFixit to help fulfill the lifetime guarantee it offers on all branded gear. "We're really impressed with their ethos," says Nellie Cohen, Patagonia's "worn wear" program manager.

In some ways, iFixit is a conventional success story. It's made money, certainly, though not as much as it could have if that had been the main goal all along. One reason its founders stopped applying for inclusion on the Inc. 5000 several years ago, according to Wiens, is they weren't interested in hearing from any more potential investors. "I think we're both scared of the responsibility to grow and make money at all costs that that would bring," says Soules. And already iFixit has had far more impact, in its own industry and beyond, than companies many times its size–remember, it reached 94 million do-it-yourselfers last year, and has trained thousands of technicians scattered across the U.S.

"I can't think of anything else as exciting as this or as needed," Wiens says. In a world marked by a huge economic divide, he is convinced–as well as convincing–that iFixit can help make owning technology more affordable while creating opportunities for independent repair shops. Add to that the environmental benefit of throwing less stuff away, and maybe the human benefit of making us all just a little bit happier.

One of Wiens's favorite books is Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work. Crawford, a research fellow at the University of Virginia, has an undergraduate degree in physics and a PhD in political philosophy. His book ties all that together with lessons learned in his other career, as a motorcycle mechanic. "We evolved to be tool users," Crawford says. "What people are looking for is that basic experience of individual agency, to see the effect of your own actions and take care of your own shit."

That Wiens and Soules have created a booming business that can help with that? Very cool.

You gotta fight for your right to repair
Eight states are mulling legislation that would thrill iFixit–and anger Apple.

The first car I owned was a 1970-something Ford Maverick. When you opened up the hood, it was easy to do whatever you had to do–new plugs, new belts, oil change. Cars today are packed to the gills with circuitry and software. But that doesn't mean they're unfixable by anyone other than the manufacturer, despite what car companies would have us believe.

A set of screwdriver heads, waiting to be mounted on an iFixit-branded handle. On their first day at iFixit, new employees are given a desk. There's one catch: They have to assemble it themselves.CREDIT: Shaughn and John
Such was the impetus behind Massachusetts's Right to Repair ballot initiative of 2012, which voters approved by 86 percent to 14 percent. It gave car owners and independent repair shops access to the same diagnostic tools, repair manuals, and firmware that licensed dealers have.

Now lawmakers in eight states are pursuing legislation that would extend the concept to cover computers, smartphones, and tractors. "Repair is impossible without access and information," says Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the lobbying firm Repair Association. One such bill was introduced in January by Lydia Brasch, a state senator for a rural district in northeastern Nebraska. She's tired of driving 80 miles to Omaha–to the only Apple store in Nebraska–to get her computer fixed. Her husband, Lee, is a fifth-generation corn and soybean farmer who's had similar issues with his $300,000 John Deere combine. (John Deere, says Gordon-Byrne, is "the Apple of farming.")

Apple, which did not respond to multiple requests to comment for this story, is not happy with what's happening in Nebraska–and Kansas, Minnesota, New York, Tennessee, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Wyoming. Recently, the company sent a delegation to the state capitol in Lincoln to have a word with Brasch. Apple's lobbyists were "respectful," she reports. They offered to back off if she exempted smartphones. Then they tried to scare her, warning if the bill passed, Nebraska would be "a mecca for hackers and bad actors."

But Brasch isn't buying it. "How many billions do you need?" she wonders. "There should be a little piece of the apple for the rest of us to share."

If I can do it, you can do it
I put one of iFixit's kits to the test, on my busted up old iPhone.

My work-issued iPhone 5C worked fine until one day it didn't. The screen fizzed out. No cracks in the glass, just a dense net of wavy vertical lines, rendering the display unreadable. Apple says that its phones should last three years. Mine made it two and a half.

By then, the warranty had expired, which might have bothered me if I were paying, but I wasn't. Work sent me a replacement and the 5C went into a drawer, where according to a study sponsored by SellCell.com, a reseller, some $13 billion worth of old cell phones reside.

Then I heard about iFixit and I wondered: Could a doof like me really fix my old phone? I was encouraged to learn that the 5C earns a reparability score of six from iFixit, on a scale of one to 10, which isn't bad. (My new Galaxy S6 Edge only gets a three.) And that my specific job, a front panel replacement, involved 32 steps, would require 30 minutes to an hour to complete, and had a difficulty rating of "moderate"–not "easy," but not "very difficult" either. I ordered the full kit, parts, and tools, for $54.95, plus shipping.

The first thing I did when my package arrived was watch the six-minute tear-down video on iFixit's website. Then I dove into the illustrated instructions. Step 12, removing the four infinitesimally small Phillips screws that secure the front panel assembly cable bracket to the logic board, caused me the most anxiety. The screws look identical, but they're not. "Accidentally using the 3.25 mm screw or the 1.7 mm screw in the bottom right hole will result in significant damage to the logic board causing the phone to no longer boot properly," I read.

I wasn't certain at the time that I hadn't made that mistake. (I recommend clearing off your workspace before you begin; a magnetic mat would have been helpful too.) Still, I persevered. After reinserting the last two "Pentalobe" security screws (Apple nomenclature) that seal the case, I pushed the power button, held my breath, and beheld with pride a glowing screen. My old 5C, good as new. I showed my wife. 

 

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Trump Plans Have Deal Makers Dreaming Big ($100-Billion-Cash-Takeover Big)

Bayer’s German headquarters. The company’s $66 billion offer for Monsanto last year is the record for an all-cash takeover bid. Credit Volker Hartmann/Getty Images

By MICHAEL J. de la MERCED APRIL 2, 2017

Bayer’s German headquarters. The company’s $66 billion offer for Monsanto last year is the record for an all-cash takeover bid. Credit Volker HartmanNEW ORLEANS — It wasn’t just cocktails on Bourbon Street or lucky breaks at the blackjack tables that contributed to the buoyant mood of the deal makers who gathered here last week. President Trump — and his support for lower taxes and lighter regulations — also had something to do with it.

At a gathering of the nation’s top mergers and acquisitions lawyers and bankers, the consensus was that under the Trump presidency, deal making should boom.

Lower taxes and less regulation, the thinking goes, should contribute to strong stock prices. And when the markets are up, companies are more likely to strike big deals. Finally, the pro-business Trump administration, most deal makers believe, is likely to take a forgiving view when it comes to antitrust matters.

Taken together, it was enough to lift the spirits of the lawyers, bankers and other advisers who attended Tulane University’s mergers conference last week.

Officially known as the Corporate Law Institute, the event is the year’s pre-eminent gathering of mergers advisers, a Davos for the deal maker set. For decades, top bankers and lawyers from Goldman Sachs; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; and other firms have come to the conference, in good times and in bad.

Lawyers who attend earn legal credits (several lawyers said they eagerly awaited a panel discussion on the arcane matter known as shareholder appraisal rights, a topic that makes nonlawyers’ eyes roll). But the real purpose of the event is to network, whether over butter-laden gulf fish at Galatoire’s or sherried turtle soup at Commander’s Palace or at the high-roller poker tables at Harrah’s.

This year’s gathering had more than 600 attendees, setting a record. And the general agreement throughout the crowd attending presentations at the stately Roosevelt Hotel was that the prospects for business were as good as ever. The sentiment was best captured when a senior banker from JPMorgan Chase made the bold claim that, under current market conditions, a company could strike a $100 billion takeover, paid entirely in cash.

Many deal makers had hoped this year would bring more business after a relatively slow 2016. A survey of 120 advisers by the Brunswick Group, a financial public relations firm, found that 44 percent of respondents believed that more mergers would be struck this year than last.

Mergers data for the first three months of the year appeared to at least partly support that. Some 10,229 transactions, worth $771.3 billion, were announced in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters. The dollar value was up 11 percent from the same time a year ago, although the number of deals was down about 11 percent.

Yet doubts were already emerging about whether Mr. Trump will really usher in a boom time for mergers, with the failure of the Republican health care overhaul and the president’s unpredictability threatening to dampen spirits.

Crossing Borders, Making Deals
Mergers worldwide grew 11 percent in the first three months of the year, compared with the period a year ago, as stock markets climbed. Leading the surge were cross-border transactions, which totaled $339.5 billion — the highest level since the first quarter of 2007.

The $100 Billion Deal

The tone for much of the conference was set as Kurt Simon, global chairman for mergers and acquisitions at JPMorgan, made his bold prediction that an enterprising corporate giant today could assemble an all-cash takeover bid of $100 billion.

It was an audacious claim — the record for an all-cash offer is Bayer’s $66 billion bid for Monsanto last year — but it illustrated how favorable the markets are for deal making.

Mr. Simon argued that the right company could borrow enough debt at low interest rates to cover the cash. Investors have largely supported corporate takeovers, pushing up the stocks of purchasers. And the Trump administration, which recently named a health care lobbyist as its choice for the Justice Department’s top merger reviewer, seems unlikely to block many deals.

Some attendees quietly joked that JPMorgan was simply angling for big lending fees. But none disputed the data underlying Mr. Simon’s claim. Interest rates remain low despite two raises by the Federal Reserve. Stock markets have been largely calm, devoid of whipsawing that would give buyers or sellers pause.

“The U.S. economy is in really good shape,” Mr. Simon said.

A Nod to Shareholder Activism

For years, many of the panelists at Tulane argued vigorously that activist hedge funds trying to shake up companies were short-term investors and did not have the best interests of other shareholders at heart.

Now, even the staunchest critics of these activist shareholders concede that the practice is here to stay.
SEE SAMPLE PRIVACY POLICY
This conference was perhaps the first one in which an activist sat on stage with the chief executive of a company his firm had targeted. And each man sang the other’s praises.

Gerald L. Hassell, the chief executive of Bank of New York Mellon, spoke on a panel with Edward Garden, the chief investment officer of Trian Partners, an activist hedge fund that had targeted Bank of New York Mellon. The men discussed how they had cooperated in improving the bank’s financial performance, recounting dinners spent discussing strategy and joint efforts to provide financial benchmarks.

“I just want great outcomes,” Mr. Hassell said when asked who deserved praise for the bank’s turnaround. “It’s not an issue of who gets credit.”

And during another panel on activism, the entire group — advisers both to activists and to the companies those investors target — treated the practice as a permanent fixture on the corporate landscape.

Even Joele Frank, a financial publicist who has long advocated waging war on activists, has mellowed out on the topic.

“The biggest change I’ve seen in my practice is there is positive dialogue between the activist and the company for a settlement,” she told the group.

The Wisdom of Leo Strine

For lawyers in particular, one major draw of the conference is the chance to mingle with judges from Delaware, the corporate home for the vast majority of American companies.

And in particular, that means hearing from the most quotable of them all: Leo E. Strine Jr., the chief justice of Delaware’s Supreme Court.

Mr. Strine is widely regarded as one of the sharpest minds on the Delaware bench, and almost certainly its sharpest wit.

At the Roosevelt, he displayed the offbeat humor that laces his judicial opinions. He described one legally dubious situation as having a smell that was “not Bourbon Street when you’re having fun, but Bourbon Street the next morning.”

Not all was sunshine at the Tulane conference, whether with the mercurial New Orleans weather or with the outlook on transactions.

Panelists pointed to the rise of economic nationalism as a potential dampener on mergers. Both the Brunswick survey and Mr. Simon, of JPMorgan, cited a likely drop in offers for American companies by Chinese and Russian bidders.

Then there was the prospect that the Republicans’ failure to pass a replacement for Obama-era health care regulations made a sweeping tax law overhaul less likely. Some deal makers feared that the issues on which they most want to see reform — corporate tax rates and the taxation of sales made abroad and then brought back to the United States — could end up felled by political gridlock.

“Post-heath care, we have to consider a number of scenarios, one of which is that nothing happens,” said Eileen T. Nugent of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

And finally, there is Mr. Trump himself, and his brand of economic populism.

Merger proposals that would lead to big job cuts would be unlikely to go anywhere, George R. Bason Jr. of the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell said, calling such layoffs “a tragedy for a lot of people.”

A version of this article appears in print on April 3, 2017, on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump’s Plans Fuel Big Dreams by Deal Makers. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

 

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The world’s fastest jet just received $33 million in funding — and flying on it could soon become a reality

The Boom Supersonic's XB-1 could travel from London to New York in three hours and fifteen minutes. 

The world's fastest jet could get you from Sydney to Los Angeles in just over six hours — and travelling on it could soon become a reality.

The Boom Supersonic's XB-1, or the "baby boom," has received $33 million (£26 million) in Series A funding, taking its total raised to $41 million (£33 million), the company said in a blog.

The latest backing came from a group which included Richard Branson's The Spaceship Company — the manufacturing arm of Virgin Galactic — as well as other "tech bosses, engineers, and astronauts," according to The Daily Mail.

Costing more than $329 million (£262 million) to build, the jet could make same-day returns on roughly 500 routes around the globe — potentially as soon as the early 2020s. This means it could fly from London to New York in three hours and fifteen minutes, or Tokyo to San Francisco in five hours.

A flight will cost you, however. Boom Airline's 45 seats are expected to cost $6,600 (£5,250).

The airline will be the "fastest civil airplane ever made and the first independently-developed surpersonic jet," according to the company.

It will travel at 1,451 miles per hour (10% faster than Concorde), and will fly at around 60,000 feet — higher than any other aircraft has flown, according to The Daily Mail, resulting in a quieter, less turbulent experience. It will provide every passenger with a seat that is both window and aisle thanks to its two single-seat rows.

Every passenger will have a seat that is both window and aisle thanks to its two single-seat rows. Boom Supersonic

At the launch of the jet last November, CEO and founder Blake Scholl said: "Concorde’s designers didn’t have the technology for affordable supersonic travel, but now we do."
In a press release last week, in which the company said the funding round had reached $41 million, he added: "Our mission is to make supersonic flight a reality. With this new capital, we are closer than ever to the first flight of our XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator in about a year."

A seat on the Boom Supersonic's XB-1. Boom Supersonic

The funding will be used to "finish development and fabrication of the XB-1 demonstrator and conduct a thorough flight test program including sonic boom testing," according to the company.

"We’re excited to have an option on Boom’s first 10 airframes," Branson said last year. "Through Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing arm, The Spaceship Company, we will provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations as part of our shared ambitions."

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Oculus could cost Facebook up to $11 billion, but it might be worth it

In 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent $2 billion to purchase the virtual reality startup Oculus and its Rift headset. The deal was huge, not just from a price standpoint, but because it was proof of momentum behind the nascent VR industry.

Nearly three years later, though, it looks like that $2 billion was just a down payment for the VR company, as Facebook will likely have to shell out billions more until the social network can get the Oculus’ technology to a point where Zuckerberg and co. are satisfied.

The Facebook founder said as much while on the witness stand for a lawsuit that accuses Oculus of stealing some of its VR technology from video game company ZeniMax Media, according to The New York Times.

From $2 billion to $11 billion

That initial $2 billion payment for Oculus wasn’t even the entire amount Facebook paid for the company. The social networking giant also paid $700 million to keep certain Oculus employees and promised an additional $300 million if the company met specific milestones, according to the report.

On top of that, Zuckerberg said Facebook might have to dump an additional $3 billion into Oculus to shore up its technology.

Why commit to spending nearly $7 billion — plus an extra $2 billion if Oculus loses its lawsuit — on a technology that has yet to blow up in the consumer market? Well, because Zuckerberg is looking beyond VR in the traditional sense. See, where the Rift, HTC’s Vive and Sony’s PlayStation VR are primarily designed as gaming systems, the Facebook founder has his sights on making virtual reality a more social experience.

During the Oculus Connect 3 conference in October, Zuckerberg took the stage to show off a kind of virtual/augmented reality system the company was working on. In the demo Zuckerberg showed how he, through a digital avatar, could interact with friends and family in real time in a digital space as if they were all in the same room.

Price is still a barrier

It’s an interesting gambit, but it’s still far from complete. What’s more, the cost of VR systems like the Rift is still prohibitively high for many consumers. The company is working to bring prices down, though.

For instance, when Oculus launched the Rift in 2016, you needed to purchase a $1,000 to $1,500 PC to run the headset, plus another $600 for the device itself. Since then, the company has worked to ensure the Rift can run on systems that cost as little as $500. Still, at $1,100 for the whole setup, the Rift isn’t exactly cheap.

HTC’s Vive costs $800 and still requires a powerful PC, while Sony’s PSVR costs $400 and only works with that company’s PlayStation 4 console. Sure, gaming enthusiasts might not have a problem spending that kind of cash on a top-notch gaming experience, but none of these headsets is quite there yet. There’s no “killer app” for high-end VR systems.

The most successful headsets, so far at least, have been Samsung’s Gear VR, which costs $100 plus the price of a compatible Samsung smartphone, and Google’s Cardboard, which costs $15 in addition to the cost of a smartphone.

Zuckerberg’s big bet

Zuckerberg is obviously keenly aware of the importance of mobile platforms — the majority of Facebook’s traffic comes from mobile users and that will only continue to grow. Which is why Facebook split Oculus into two divisions, one primarily focused on PC-style VR and the other focused on mobile VR.

The hope is that Facebook and Oculus will be able to create a system impressive enough for all consumers to want to use. How long will it take for the company to get there? If Zuckerberg’s prediction on the stand holds up, it could take anywhere from 5 to 10 years.

Still, Oculus will be in an enviable position if Zuckerberg’s prognostications prove correct. That’s because the Facebook CEO sees gaming as just the tip of the VR iceberg. In its ultimate form, Zuckerberg sees virtual reality as a means to share experiences with others in real time and feel as though you’re actually there.

In a July interview with Bloomberg, Zuckerberg explained how virtual reality is the natural progression from sharing experiences via video, just as video was the natural progression of sharing experiences via photos. VR, then, will almost literally allow us to stand in another person’s shoes as they explore the world.

And with Facebook’s enormous audience — it has roughly 1.8 billion monthly active users, already sharing everything from selfies to wedding videos — the social network is just about the only company that can help push VR forward as a means to connect the masses. If that all works out, and Facebook becomes the VR company just as it is the social network, the billions Zuckerberg spent on Oculus will surely have been worth it.

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