Friday, November 17, 2017

"Bad news from Mashable, BuzzFeed, and Vice shows times are rough for ad-supported digital media"

We had gathered the three stories with the aim of putting a post together, starting with the Wall Street Journal headline:
BuzzFeed Set to Miss Revenue Target, Signaling Turbulence in Media 
which got me snarking (to myself) "That was the signal? BuzzFeed coming in 20% light in November 2017 was the signal?" which reminded me of a 2013 post "Huffington Post Doesn't Hit the Numbers, Gets a Pass From AOL" which naturally enough led to "Nation’s Journalists Remember Quaint Time When ‘Huffington Post’ Seemed Like Death Of News Industry"* when, thank goodness, NiemanLab staged an intervention before things had spun completely out of control.

From NiemanLab:

The rapid growth of Google and Facebook continues to take its toll on digital media companies. 
 
http://www.niemanlab.org/images/wall-street-journal-bad-700x525.jpg

Thursday was a rough day for digital media. Within hours, a series of reports, some unofficial and others confirmed, underscored a bitter reality that’s become increasingly harder to avoid: Not even the biggest digital media startups are immune from the seismic shifts in digital advertising affecting the whole industry. The upshot: Ad-supported digital media is hard, and getting harder. Meanwhile, the duopoly — Google and Facebook — continue to see their own ad businesses thrive.
Here’s a rundown:

More layoffs at Oath. Early in the day, Digiday’s Lucia Moses reported that Verizon’s Oath, which includes The Huffington Post, AOL, Yahoo, and some ad tech products, was laying off 560 staffers, around 4 percent of the company’s overall headcount. Those cuts were in addition to the 2,100 Verizon laid off when it acquired Yahoo in June.

Mashable sells low. Probably the most brutal news of the day came from The Wall Street Journal, which reported that Mashable, a one-time digital media darling, had agreed to sell itself to Ziff Davis to $50 million. For Mashable, that was a significant haircut from its 2016 valuation of $250 million. The low price suggests that, for potential buyers, digital media is an increasingly uncertain bet....
...MUCH MORE

*Nation’s Journalists Remember Quaint Time When ‘Huffington Post’ Seemed Like Death Of News Industry
NEW YORK—Laughing and smiling as they shared stories with one another about the deep-seated professional concerns they held at the time, the nation’s journalists reminisced Friday about the quaint bygone days when the The Huffington Post seemed like the death of the news industry, sources reported. “Gosh, I remember when The Huffington Post first appeared and its strategy of aggregating sensationalistic content and printing hyper-partisan drivel with no discernible editing or fact-checking seemed like the absolute nadir of this industry, but now, having to compete against sites that peddle wholesale fabrications and being beholden to secret Facebook algorithms that control the dissemination of everything we write, those early HuffPo days actually seem pretty wonderful,” said Reuters reporter Casey Sandoval, who explained....MORE

"How To Forecast Markets": A Departing Top JP Morgan Strategist Reveals What He Learned After 30 Years

Unlike most "A Look Back at my Illustrious Wall Street Career and Lessons Learned"—type stories (Henry Clews' Fifty Years in Wall Street excluded) this piece, despite the clickbaity headline, is pretty good.
From ZeroHedge:
One of the most popular JPMorgan analysts, traders and commentators, Jan Loeys, head of global asset strategy and author of the weekly "The JPMorgan View" piece is moving on (to a different, non-client facing part of the company), and is using his last weekly address to JPM clients to recap the main lessons he has learned over his 30 year career.

For those carbon-based traders who still trade on the basis of fundamental analysis, inductive reasoning, and discounting, and forecasting the future - instead of merely relying on the fastest laser-based algos to react to the news or hoping for central bank bailouts - we have excerpted the entire piece, and are excited to note that while Loeys may be leaving, he will be replaced by two of our favorite JPM analysts and commentators, Nikos Panigirtzoglou and Marko Kolanovic, who under John Normand will take over as JPM's new Cross-Asset Strategy team.

So, without further ado, here is the latest, and last, from JPM's Jan Loeys, explaining "What have I learned?" after 30 years of doing this...

What have I learned?
How to forecast markets?
  • The theory and empirical literature of Finance are the best starting point as they deal directly with asset prices. Next are macro economics and statistics. Markets are not Math or Engineering, but a forever learning and adapting system with all of us observing and participating from the inside. Quantitative techniques are indispensable, though, to deal with the complexity of financial instruments and the overload of information we face. Empirical evidence counts for more than theory, but you need theory to constrain empirical searchers and avoid spurious correlations.
  • The starting point of Finance is the Theorem of Market Efficiency which posits that under ideal conditions what we all know should be in the price. Only new information moves the price. Hence, it is changes in expectations about the future that drive asset prices, not the level of anything.
  • How to forecasts view changes? The good news is that changes in opinions about fundamentals such as growth and inflation tend to repeat. This is one driver of momentum in asset prices, and is likely driven by the positive feedback between risk markets and the economy that forecasters naturally find very difficult getting ahead of.
  • I live by Occam’s Razor: If you can explain the world with one variable, don’t use two. This keep-it-simple rule does not deny that reality is complex, nor does it say anything about simple minds. It forces one to focus on the most important fundamental drivers of markets and to cut out the clutter. It reduces the risk of becoming a two-handed strategist.
  • The mode and the mean. There is a fundamental difference between an asset price and a forecast. A forecast is a single outcome that you consider the most likely, among many. In statistics, we call this the mode. An asset price, in contrast, is closer to the probability-weighted mean of the different scenarios you consider possible in the future. When our own probability distribution for these different outcomes is not evenly balanced but instead skewed to, say, the upside, the market price will be above our modal view. Asset prices can thus move without a change in modal views if the market perceives a change in the risk distribution. An investor should thus monitor changing risk perceptions as much as changing modal views.
  • Do markets get ahead of reality? They do, yes, exactly because asset prices are probability-weighted means and the reality we perceive is coded as a modal view. Information arrives constantly and almost always only gently moves the risk distribution around a given modal view. Before we change our modal view of reality, the market will have seen the change in risk distribution and will have started moving already.
  • Are some markets faster than others? I hear frequently in one market, say equities, that they are monitoring other markets, such as credit or bonds, for early signs on what stocks will do. But I hear the reverse frequently in the bond world. I do not like either view and just assume that all markets react at the same speed as they see all information at the same time....
...MUCH MORE

The Fiftieth TOP500 List of the Fastest Supercomputers in the World

We'll be back with more commentary on what's up in High Performance Computing but as a placeholder here's Top500 with the highest of the HPC crowd:

November 2017 
The fiftieth TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers in the world has China overtaking the US in the total number of ranked systems by a margin of 202 to 143. It is the largest number of supercomputers China has ever claimed on the TOP500 ranking, with the US presence shrinking to its lowest level since the list’s inception 25 years ago.

Just six months ago, the US led with 169 systems, with China coming in at 160. Despite the reversal of fortunes, the 143 systems claimed by the US gives them a solid second place finish, with Japan in third place with 35, followed by Germany with 20, France with 18, and the UK with 15.

China has also overtaken the US in aggregate performance as well. The Asian superpower now claims 35.4 percent of the TOP500 flops, with the US in second place with 29.6 percent.
The top 10 systems remain largely unchanged since the June 2017 list, with a couple of notable exceptions.

Sunway TaihuLight, a system developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC), and installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, maintains its number one ranking for the fourth time, with a High Performance Linpack (HPL) mark of 93.01 petaflops.

Tianhe-2 (Milky Way-2), a system developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, is still the number two system at 33.86 petaflops.

Piz Daint, a Cray XC50 system installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland, maintains its number three position with 19.59 petaflops, reaffirming its status as the most powerful supercomputer in Europe. Piz Daint was upgraded last year with NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs, which more than doubled its HPL performance of 9.77 petaflops.

The new number four system is the upgraded Gyoukou supercomputer, a ZettaScaler-2.2 system deployed at Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, which was the home of the Earth Simulator. Gyoukou was able to achieve an HPL result of 19.14 petaflops. using PEZY-SC2 accelerators, along with conventional Intel Xeon processors. The system’s 19,860,000 cores represent the highest level of concurrency ever recorded on the TOP500 rankings of supercomputers.

Titan, a five-year-old Cray XK7 system installed at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and still the largest system in the US, slips down to number five. Its 17.59 petaflops are mainly the result of its NVIDIA K20x GPU accelerators.

Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q system installed at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is the number six system on the list with a mark of 17.17 petaflops. It was deployed in 2011.
The new number seven system is Trinity, a Cray XC40 supercomputer operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. It was recently upgraded with Intel “Knights Landing” Xeon Phi processors, which propelled it from 8.10 petaflops six months ago to its current high-water mark of 14.14 petaflops.

Cori, a Cray XC40 supercomputer, installed at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), is now the eighth fastest supercomputer in the world. Its 1,630 Intel Xeon "Haswell" processor nodes and 9,300 Intel Xeon Phi 7250 nodes yielded an HPL result of 14.01 petaflops.

At 13.55 petaflops, Oakforest-PACS, a Fujitsu PRIMERGY CX1640 M1 installed at Joint Center for Advanced High Performance Computing in Japan, is the number nine system. It too is powered by Intel “Knights Landing” Xeon Phi processors.

Fujitsu’s K computer installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan, is now the number 10 system at 10.51 petaflops. Its performance is derived from its 88 thousand SPARC64 processor cores linked by Fujitsu’s Tofu interconnect. Despite its tenth-place showing on HPL, the K Computer is the top-ranked system on the High-Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG) benchmark....MUCH MORE, including links to all 500 of the fastest machines on earth.

Is Bob Lutz Correct? Is the Entire Car Industry Really Doomed?

Following up on yesterday's Former GM Vice-Chair Lutz: "'Everyone will have 5 years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap'".

From The Drive, Nov. 13:

Is the Entire Car Industry Really Doomed?
Bob Lutz drops a nuclear bomb on everything we know and love. But is he right?
Last week, Bob Lutz—former vice chairman and head of product development at GM, veteran of Ford, Chrysler, BMW & Opel, father of the Dodge Viper, and the automotive world’s most honest man—published a flamethrowing op-ed targeted titled “Kiss The Good Times Goodbye.” It echoes all the arguments of the Kool-Aid drinking mobility “experts” and everyone in Silicon Valley betting fortunes on the end of human driving as we know it. And not just human driving. Dealerships. Car magazines. Brands. If you believe Lutz, everything we know, love, or hate is utterly doomed by the arrival of self-driving cars.

Is Lutz right?

I’ve been saying the same thing as Lutz since 2015, with one crucial difference. I think it’s all over in 50-70 years. Lutz? Twenty.

That’s a big difference. If this had come from some idiot on LinkedIn whose bio said “Change Agent” or “Radical Disruptor,” I’d answer with customary wrath. But this is Bob Lutz, who delivers insight even when he misses the target. Also, the Dodge Viper wouldn’t exist without him. He’s a true car guy, and has nothing to gain by repeating the self-driving agenda. His argument deserves real analysis.

Let’s dissect this line-by-line.

KISS THE GOOD TIMES GOODBYE
“Everyone will have 5 years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap”
By Bob Lutz
It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era.

To suggest the “automotive era” is over suggests a binary change, as if everything is going to flip, very, very quickly. Lutz is obviously a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. I’d argue that we’re approaching the end of the beginning, which started with the Darpa Challenge back in 2007, and probably ended this week with Waymo’s announcement that they were removing the human monitors from their test vehicle fleet in Phoenix.

The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile.
Was the horse ever the prime mover of humans? Not for the humans who didn’t have horses. The horse metaphor is very popular, but it’s not really accurate. At peak horse, the majority of humans in the world had never owned, leased, financed or rented a horse, let alone ridden one. In the United States, cradle of car culture, peak horse occurred just over 100 years ago, when there were approximately 20 million horses in a human population of just over 100 million. Today there are approximately 323 million humans in the United States. Human driven cars? About 274 million, with an annual turnover of 17 million. The average vehicle's lifespan is 11.5 years. Even if 100% of cars sold starting tomorrow were capable of Level 4 self-driving, it would take 16 years to get to 100% ubiquity.

Sixteen years from today. And the tech doesn’t work yet except in limited conditions, even now. In fact, it doesn’t even work in limited conditions. Thank you, Navya.

A lot has to happen to meet Lutz’s timeline. A lot that technology can’t solve, which is human nature. Fortunes have been lost betting against it, and culture is as powerful as the tides. Both can shift, but nothing can force them.

Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules.

Lutz is describing what I call the Autonomotive Singularity, which will manifest the day after the last person with the option of using a steering wheel chooses not to. Hold your horses, because Lutz is skipping over everything in between now and then. You know, the part where people still have choices. People like having agency over outcomes, or at least the sense of it. Human driven car sales are at an all-time high. Cars aren’t merely transportation, but transformation. People don’t just buy cars because they need to get from A to B, and even when they do, they’re willing to pay extra for personalization as an extension of self, which the zero-agency standardized module does little to address. Luxury pods? Sure, but those are statements of wealth. The id requires more. It requires agency and control over machines as a statement of power, and Lutz’s Wall-E scenario will be Kryptonite to anyone who can afford to avoid it. Right now, that’s everybody....
...MUCH MORE 

Felix Salmon Talks Da Vinci: "Notes on $450,312,500 "

November 16, 2017
Nota bene #10
Notes on $450,312,500 
  1. The hammer price was a round $400,000,000, which means that the buyer's premium alone was more than $50 million. By convention, the buyer's premium goes to the auction house for its troubles, but you can be sure that Christie's grossed much less than $50,312,500 last night. The seller will have negotiated "enhanced hammer," which means that the Rybolovlev family will be receiving significantly more than $400 million. On top of that, the lot had a third-party guarantee, which means that Christie's has to split its profits with the guarantor. That said, even after a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign, Christie's surely made a healthy profit on this lot.
  2. The last time this painting was sold by an auction house was only four years ago, in 2013, when Sotheby's sold it privately to Yves Bouvier for $80 million. That decision, to go with a private sale rather than a glitzy public auction, now looks very, very stupid.
  3. Bouvier then flipped the work to Rybolovlev for $127.5 million. When Rybolovlev found out how much Bouvier made on the deal, he was furious, and basically gave up art collecting entirely. His decision to sell the painting was made in anger, out of pique that he had been ripped off. Now it seems he has made more money off one painting, in four years, than most art collectors dream of making in a lifetime. There's probably a moral here, but I have no idea what it is.
  4. The difference between the 2013 sale and the 2017 sale isn't just four years and $300+ million, it's also the difference between a private sale and a public sale. A public sale, at least when it's orchestrated by Christie's in the way that this one was, involves glitz and expensive marketing videos and hour-long lines and lighting worthy of a Thomas Kinkade store...MUCH MORE

Sure, Come On In: "Amazon Key Flaw Could Let Rogue Deliverymen Disable Your Camera" (AMZN)

Lovely.
They say a fix is coming.
From Wired:
When Amazon launched its Amazon Key service last month, it also offered a remedy for anyone—realistically, most people—who might be creeped out that the service gives random strangers unfettered access to your home. That security antidote? An internet-enabled camera called Cloud Cam, designed to sit opposite your door and reassuringly record every Amazon Key delivery.

But now security researchers have demonstrated that with a simple program run from any computer in Wi-Fi range, that camera can be not only disabled but frozen. A viewer watching its live or recorded stream sees only a closed door, even as their actual door is opened and someone slips inside. That attack would potentially enable rogue delivery people to stealthily steal from Amazon customers, or otherwise invade their inner sanctum.

And while the threat of a camera-hacking courier seems an unlikely way for your house to be burgled, the researchers argue it potentially strips away a key safeguard in Amazon's security system. When WIRED brought the research to Amazon's attention, the company responded that it plans to send out an automatic software update to address the issue later this week.

"The camera is very much something Amazon is relying on in pitching the security of this as a safe solution," says Ben Caudill, the founder of the Seattle-based security firm Rhino Security Labs, whose researchers discovered and demonstrated the Amazon Key attack. "Disabling that camera on command is a pretty powerful capability when you’re talking about environments where you’re relying heavily on that being a critical safety mechanism."...MORE
In other Amazon news, From AFNS:
"Popular New Amazon Service Just Comes To Your House And Kills You"

Currencies: "Euro, Yen and Sterling Regain Footing"

From Marc to Market:
The US dollar is trading with a heavier bias against the euro, sterling, and yen, but is firmer against the Antipodean currencies and many of the actively traded emerging market currencies. This mixed performance is the story of the week.

The US 2-10 yr yield curve is flattening further today with the two-year pushing above 1.70% for the first time since the financial crisis. The 10-year yield is slipping toward the middle of this week's 2.32%-2.41% trading range.

There are two big US stories being discussed today. The progress on US tax reform and news that the special prosecutor had subpoenaed documents from more than a dozen Trump campaign officials several weeks ago.

The House of Representatives passed its version of tax reform yesterday. The Republican majority in the Senate is narrower, and only a third face voters next year compared with the entire House. In its current form, it is difficult to see the current bill pass. It did pass the Senate Finance Committee late yesterday. The bill will be debated by the entire Senate after the Thanksgiving break. There will be a dozen legislative sessions between Thanksgiving and the holiday break in December.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, which does for taxes what the CBO does for budgets: official arbiter. It found that the Senate's plan, without including the repeal of the estate tax, leads to higher taxes for those households earning less than $75k a year. Note that the median household income in the US is around $55k. The JCT estimates that 65% of households will experience higher taxes, while 24% will get a cut. Oscar Wilde once quipped that there are only two tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The Senate does not seem to know which tragedy it is writing.

There are seven Republican Senators that have expressed some misgivings, sometimes in contradictory ways. For example, Senator Paul wants broad tax cuts, while Senators Corker, Flake, and Lankford are concerned about adding to US indebtedness. A couple of other Senators are concerned about adding the repeal of the individual health care mandate.

There are several other developments to note today, including Moody's decision to raise India's sovereign debt rating (first time since 2004) to Baa2 from Baa3, with a stable outlook (from positive). This puts it one notch above the other two major rating agencies, Fitch and S&P. Moody's cited progress on institutional and economic reforms. Investors responded favorably, as one would expect. The current 10-year benchmark yield slipped nine bp. The rupee gained 0.25% against the US dollar, and Indian equities rose a little more than 0.5%. The other rating agencies did not comment, but they are likely to wait until after next year's budget is passed. There is some speculation that the upgrade will encourage the central bank to cut rates at its next meeting on December 6.

Meanwhile, German efforts to forge a four-party coalition government continued to be bogged down, as the self-imposed deadline passed. These are still so-called exploratory talks; the concrete coalition negotiations have not begun. There are some genuine policy disagreements on immigration, climate change, fiscal policy, internal security, and Europe. The negotiations are further troubled by the reported leadership challenge within the CSU, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's CDU. The talks are set to continue. The underlying threat is that if the talks fail, new elections would be necessary, and many fear that the AfD would gain more support....MUCH MORE
I have no idea what, if anything, the euro chart is telling us although, if this were an equity I'd be watching for a developing cup-n-handle formation to challenge the September highs:
https://finviz.com/fut_chart.ashx?t=6E&cot=099741&p=d1&rev=636464997166805315

Thursday, November 16, 2017

ISIS Threatens “Christmas Blood” Attack on Pope Francis, Vatican

As we've previously tried to inform the dudes and dudettes of the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant and/or Mum's Basement, going after the Pope won't be like chasing the Yazidi women and children up Mount Sinjar or turning 13-year-old Kurdish girls into sex slaves. It will be a more difficult task for the jihadis.
More after the jump.

From the Mirror:

ISIS' Christmas threat to the Pope: Terror group threaten vehicle and gun attack on the Vatican
The poster - reading "Christmas blood" - depicts a masked jihadi driving a BMW towards St Peter's Basilica

The terror group ISIS has made a chilling threat against the Vatican just weeks before tens of thousands of faithful gather there to celebrate Christmas.

A pro-ISIS propaganda channel made the threat in a poster depicting a car attack.

The poster - reading "Christmas blood" - depicts a masked jihadi driving a BMW towards St Peter's Basilica, where Pope Francis holds mass. 
 https://i2-prod.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article11520959.ece/ALTERNATES/s810/ISISs-Christmas-threat-to-the-Pope.jpg

The poster was released by a pro-ISIS propaganda channel
An assault rifle and a rucksack are visible on the seat next to the driver, who is using a sat nav and driving at high speed....MORE
Here's a post from mid-summer 2014 (serious question: why did the U.S. and EU allow Daesh to metastasize for so long? it had to be a deliberate decision so, why was that decision taken?)

Heads Up For The Swiss Guards: ISIS Says They're Coming to Rome 

 

 al-Baghdadi may find the real Swiss Guards a bit more challenging than the guys pictured in the Vatican's World Cup tweet.

From HuffPo UK:

ISIS Head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Warns 'We Will Conquer Rome' 
Terror group ISIS will march on Rome in its quest to establish an Islamic state from the Middle East across Europe, its self-proclaimed 'caliph' has announced.

In an audio recording Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on Muslims to rally to his pan-Islamic, which ISIS now simply calls 'Islamic State'.

"Those who can immigrate to the Islamic State should immigrate, as immigration to the house of Islam is a duty," he said....MORE

After talking to Muslims who advise not using al-Baghdadi self-designated 'Islamic State', in future I'll probably be referring to IS as "The state formally known as ISIS".

Besides being fashionable, the court jester uniforms of the Swiss Guard are voluminous enough to hide a sandwich and/or the Guard's favorite close quarters equipment, the Heckler & Koch MP7A2 room broom.

http://14544-presscdn-0-64.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/pope-francis-and-the-swiss-guard.jpg


As noted in 2016's
The Battle to Retake Raqqa Syria From ISIS Is Being Led By A Kurdish Woman, Jihadis, Erdoğan Not Pleased
This woman is leading efforts to send ISIS to hell, but Turkey has other plans

 This woman is leading efforts to send ISIS to hell, but Turkey has other plans
 Killer of ISIS swine 

A Few Things We Weren't Comfortable Posting On International Women's Day
Ditto
Hundreds of Former Sex Slaves Take Up Arms To Do What Obama, Cameron Won't: Kill ISIS Pigs
Ditto x 600 

ICYMI: Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ Sells for Record-breaking $450.3 Million

Two from ArtNews.

November 15, evening:

Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ Sells for $450.3 M. at Christie’s in New York, Shattering Market Records
http://1vze7o2h8a2b2tyahl3i0t68.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/11-17_Au_C-PWC_1-1024px.jpg
Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, ca. 1500, sold for $450.3 million.
CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2017
Tonight, at an absolutely packed salesroom at Christie’s headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500) sold for $450.3 million.
That figure is, by a long shot, the all-time record for a painting at auction and the most ever believed to have been paid for an artwork.

The work had carried a guarantee understood to be around $100 million, so it was a certainty to sell, but the bidding blew past that number quickly and kept going over the course of 19 minutes.
Scattered applause and whistles went through the salesroom when the work reached $200 million, causing the auctioneer, Jussi Pylkkanen, to shush the crowd. The bidding slowed around $230 million, as bidders dueled, but it kept climbing—to $240 million, then $250 million, then $255 million, then $260 million. The bidding increments slowed, climbing by $2 million at a time, to $268 million, then $270 million. It reached $282 million, then $284 million. “Still two of you in the game here,” Pylkkanen said.

As he moved toward a sale, the bidding jumped to $286 million, which was then answered with $300 million. “I thought so,” Pylkkanen said, as the room erupted in laughter and cheers. The bidding sat there for a moment. “We’ll wait. Historic moment here,” he said.

But it just kept climbing—to $310 million, to $318 million. “Are we all done in the salesroom?” he asked. It went to $320 million. “We’re still not done!” Then $350 million arrived, followed by $352 million, and Pylkkanen took a drink of water, playing it cool, apparently unconcerned. The bidders would just not stop, and it went up from there. Finally a bid of $400 million came, which was enough to win the day. The buyer will pay about $50 million in fees....MORE
And this morning:

Market News 
‘We Witnessed History’: Christie’s $450.3 M. Leonardo da Vinci Becomes Priciest Work of Art Ever Sold, at $788.9 M. Postwar Sale
History was made at Christie’s postwar and contemporary evening sale on Wednesday night, when Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500), believed to be the last painting by Leonardo da Vinci in private hands, sold for $450.3 million, making it the most expensive art market transaction of all time. It was purchased by a client on the phone with department head Alex Rotter after a 19-minute session that involved five bidders, four on the phone and one in the room.‭

That total is $150 million more than what was believed to be the previous highest transaction, which was recorded when Kenneth Griffin bought Willem de Kooning’s Interchange (1955) from David Geffen for $300 million in 2015. The previous record for a work sold at auction was Pablo Picasso’s The Women of Algiers (Version O), 1955, which sold at Christie’s for $179.4 million in May 2015.

The Leonardo lot accounted for more than half of the total haul for the evening, which came to $788.9 million. Some works passed with a buyer after the Leonardo, in a room filled with people in disbelief, but the auction netted a respectable sell-through rate of 84 percent.

“It’s difficult to find words after such an evening,” Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti said at a press conference after the sale, with Salvator Mundi installed in a gallery behind him. “But certainly this is a great moment for the art market.”

When asked who purchased the work, Cerutti was once again at a loss for words.

“We do not comment on the identities of the buyers, I’m sorry,” he said, while adding, “The bids came from every part of the world.”...MUCH MORE

Former GM Vice-Chair Lutz: "'Everyone will have 5 years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap'"

From Automotice News:

Bob Lutz: Kiss the good times goodbye
'Everyone will have 5 years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap'
Bob Lutz is a former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors. He also held senior executive positions with Ford, Chrysler, BMW and Opel.
This article will be included in “Redesigning the Industry,” a five-part Automotive News series exploring the future of a business in the throes of change.  Part I begins in our Nov. 6 issue with a focus on “Predictions & Possibilities.” 


It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era.

The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile.

Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules.

The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you'll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway.

On the freeway, it will merge seamlessly into a stream of other modules traveling at 120, 150 mph. The speed doesn't matter. You have a blending of rail-type with individual transportation.

Then, as you approach your exit, your module will enter deceleration lanes, exit and go to your final destination. You will be billed for the transportation. You will enter your credit card number or your thumbprint or whatever it will be then. The module will take off and go to its collection point, ready for the next person to call.

Most of these standardized modules will be purchased and owned by the Ubers and Lyfts and God knows what other companies that will enter the transportation business in the future.
A minority of individuals may elect to have personalized modules sitting at home so they can leave their vacation stuff and the kids' soccer gear in them. They'll still want that convenience.

The vehicles, however, will no longer be driven by humans because in 15 to 20 years — at the latest — human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways.

The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents.

Of course, there will be a transition period. Everyone will have five years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap or trade it on a module.

The big fleets
CNBC recently asked me to comment on a study showing that people don't want to buy an autonomous car because they would be scared of it. They don't trust traditional automakers, so the only autonomous car they'd buy would have to come from Apple or Google. Only then would they trust it.

My reply was that we don't need public acceptance of autonomous vehicles at first. All we need is acceptance by the big fleets: Uber, Lyft, FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, utility companies, delivery services. Amazon will probably buy a slew of them. These fleet owners will account for several million vehicles a year. Every few months they will order 100,000 low-end modules, 100,000 medium and 100,000 high-end. The low-cost provider that delivers the specification will get the business....MUCH MORE
HT: the Tesla Motors Club blog.

Related: 
The Other Approach to Autonomous Vehicles: Tampa's Connected Vehicle Tech Demonstration Project

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ponzis: "World's largest collection of manuscripts from bankrupt firm Aristophil to be sold in Paris"

A pretty big deal in this corner of the art & collectibles world.
Plus, commentary from U.S. and International law firm Squire Patton Boggs after the jump.

From The Art Newspaper,

Auctioneer Claude Aguttes will sell the collection of historic books and manuscripts across 300 sales over at least six years as part of liquidation
https://images.graph.cool/v1/cj6c28vh912680101ozc2paxj/cj9yhqzxf045k011804cx17d4/0x0:3971x3120/960x960/SADE1.jpg
Marquis de Sade’s manuscript of 120 Days of Sodom (est €4m-€6m) Aguttes
The sale of the most important private stock of manuscripts in the world will start on 20 December at the Drouot auction house in Paris. The first auction will include masterpieces such as Marquis de Sade’s manuscript of 120 Days of Sodom (est €4m-€6m) and the Surrealist Manifesto released by André Breton in 1924. The sale also includes the manuscript of Poisson Soluble, Breton’s first experience in ‘automatic writing’, and his second Manifesto of 1930. The whole series is estimated at €4.5-€5.5m.

It will take more than 300 sales over at least six years to liquidate the collections of the French company Aristophil, which purchased some 135,000 pieces over 12 years. The firm went bankrupt in 2015, after its founder, the dealer Gérard Lhéritier, accused of running a Ponzi scheme, was charged with fraud and money laundering. It is reported 18,000 clients invested around €850m to buy a share of his collections. Lhéritier denies all accusations and a criminal investigation is ongoing.

The start of the liquidation is to be announced on Tuesday, 14 November, by Paris's commercial court and auctioneer Claude Aguttes, who is handling the inventory and coordination of the sales at Drouot. Sotheby’s and others had proposed to auction the most prestigious lots, but the court chose an auctioneer who was ready to take the entire stock. 

This opening sale is gives a flavour of the wide variety of objects that were handled by Aristophil. It includes manuscripts of novels by Honoré de Balzac and Alexandre Dumas, a 41-page account of the sinking of the Titanic by Helen Churchill Candee (est €300,000-€400,000), music manuscripts by Mozart and Strauss, letters signed by Napoleon, Einstein, Dostoyevsky and Stendhal, and original editions of Proust and Lautreamont. The oldest is a 15th-century translation in French of Alexander the Great’s biography by Quintus Curtius (est €300,000-€500,000)....MUCH MORE
And from Squire Patton Boggs:

Aristophil: was a “Ponzi” stunt at the root of the collapse of a collection specialising in letters, autographs and manuscripts?
Rédigé par Antoine Adeline, Alexandre Le Ninivin le 3 Octobre 2015
A scandal in the world of letters, autographs and old manuscripts would not have gone unnoticed and the case of Aristophil promises to lead to extensive press coverage. A massive fraud, thousands of works, 20,000 investors and hundreds of millions of euros at stake.
A very (perhaps too attractive) investment in letters, autographs and manuscripts
In the 2000s, Gérard Lhéritier created a company called Aristophil with the goal of propositioning anyone to invest in the collections of letters and old manuscripts, with the promise of a return of more than 8% each year; this investment being out of the field of the French Solidarity Wealth Tax.  
Aristophil acquired, over time, a collection of letters and manuscripts, often substantial and re-sold to investors at an entrance fee fixed at €1,500.

The system functioned on the speculative assumption of a resale at a price presented as attractive but higher than for which the good was purchased, be that in the form of (1) shares in joint ownership (Coralys contracts), or (2) full ownership (Amadeus contracts), by way of a funds intermediary (the Finestim society, and its subsidiary, Art Courtage – exclusive distributors of the products), or directly via the Aristophil company.

The process of acquiring something was accompanied by a convention to terms on which each owner (joint or full ownership) consented to the works being stored by Aristophil, during a certain period of time (5 years minimum), at the end of which the owner promised to re-sell the good to Aristophil, who remained free to buy it or not (a call option).

These investments have been offered in France by the aforementioned companies, but also in Austria via Aristophil GmbH, in Belgium via Artesoris or Luxemburg via Artepoly’s. Aristophil would have also had its Swiss, Geneva[1] and Hong Kong, Asia subsidiaries at its disposal.

At the same time, in 2012, Gérard Lhéritier created a Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris, set up in the Hôtel de La Salle, a “hotel particulier” of 1700m² in the very posh 7th arrondissement of Paris[2], then a second in Brussels, in which the acquired works were exhibited.

The concept was appealing: manuscripts and autographs full of history, a promise of elevated re-sale value (8% profitability), the support of big names in art and politics. Many didn’t resist to the temptation of such an investment. The numbers make your head spin: there were nearly 18,000 “investors”, creating a global total of more than €700,000,000 in subscriptions.

However, voices were quickly raised to warn the market that the value of works on which the titles were based did not correlate with the reality of the market and the assurance of recovering the stake. More interest created more and more uncertainty.
istophil society, especially in France.
 
Alerts from the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (“AMF”): investors beware !
From 2003, the AMF published the first warning about conventions of joint ownership proposed by Aristophil, following which the authority took hold of the Paris public protection office. The criminal court, after an investigation into the matter, held[3] that Arisophil’s conduct did not initially come within the scope of practice of the regulator, with contracts not being able to be described as financial products.[4]

Contrary to classic financial products, letters, autographs and manuscripts, are in effect considered as “miscellaneous products” the sale of which is not subject to the prior approval of the AMF.
Based on this decision, the group pursued its activities....
...MUCH MORE 

The Other Approach to Autonomous Vehicles: Tampa's Connected Vehicle Tech Demonstration Project

As opposed to Tesla or Waymo with the LiDAR and the sensors and all, the v2v/v2i/v2x strategy is...well, let's start here and then do a tutorial over the next month or so.

From TechCrunch:

Tampa offers first demo of its connected vehicle technology project, launching with 1,600 cars in 2018
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently published a proposed rule to require all new vehicles to have vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication capabilities. It’s not an official requirement yet, but if it goes into effect in 2019 — a likely timeline for rules like this — manufacturers would be able to phase the technology into their fleets over a few years, with all new vehicles being required to talk to each other by 2023.

The rule not only requires the tech to be on board; it also standardizes the messages that vehicles will share. And because you know you love it, there are plenty of acronyms to be found in the rule. Each car on the road would have a dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) unit that sends out and receives basic safety messages (BSMs).

BSMs are really basic and include data like speed, brake status, and heading — nothing private. The proposal specifically says “NHTSA purposely does not require some elements to alleviate potential privacy concerns.” The goal here is just to make sure all vehicles are speaking the same language in short messages.

The rule also sneaks in a requirement that all vehicles be able to receive over-the-air security and software updates, with “consumer consent … where appropriate.” NHTSA would also like to see firewalls built into vehicles between the V2V modules and the rest of the vehicle’s connected modules to keep ne’er-do-wells from accessing other systems.

That’s not to say V2V will work alone. The rule is quite clear in saying that vehicles should use the information received to engage other on-board sensor and safety systems, like automatic emergency braking. NHTSA also calls out the benefits of vehicles communicating in a swarm and helping each other to see beyond the limits of their own sensors and DSRC messages.

Why bother making an official rule when it seems like the technology is advancing in this direction already? Because the government doesn’t think V2V technology is moving fast enough. “Without government action,”...
...MORE 

"California wildfire insured loss expected to hit $8bn: Aon"

Always looking for a chance to channel an '80's Valley Girl:
Well duh!
Commenting on last month's estimates of the fires' costs:
Oct 18
It's going to be much more than that.
6000+ structures at even $100k average per gets you to $6 bil....
From Artemis, Nov. 10:
Insurance and reinsurance industry losses from the recent California wildfire outbreaks are expected to hit $8 billion, making the event the costliest insured wildfire loss on record, according to Aon Benfield unit Impact Forecasting.

With insurers estimates of losses now coming in and at the high-end of expectations in some cases, it is clear that the recent wildfires in the California wine region and other areas of the state are going to aggregate into the largest impact this peril has had on insurance and reinsurance markets.

Already Travelers has reported a loss of up to $675 million after reinsurance, AIG up to $500 million, AXIS Capital said from $35 million to $45 million, Beazley said it was adding to its recent cat losses, while reinsurer RenaissanceRe warned that the California wildfire impact could be material.
The California Insurance Commissioner recently said that claims filed had already exceeded $3.3 billion, while risk modeller loss estimates were topped by RMS which said it could be as much as $8 billion on an economic basis, with the majority insured.

It looks like the higher estimates are proving to be correct, as Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting unit now joins those calling for an eventual industry impact of around $8 billion.

In recent days other estimates from industry sources have suggested the insurance and reinsurance sector loss would be between $7 billion up to $10 billion, so the sector appears to be coming to similar conclusions on how big an event this is likely to be....MORE
By the 25th of October the headline was "California wildfire costs rising with 8,400+ structures destroyed" putting that $100K average cost right in  the ballpark.

Bloomberg Media sees 5% increase in advertising revenue in third quarter

From TalkingBizNews:
Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith sent out the following to the staff on Tuesday morning:
Dear Colleagues,
At the heart of our efforts to build the world’s leading business and financial company in service of Bloomberg LP is a commitment to innovation as we create a next-generation media model with new products, services, and commercial strategies.
 
While the media industry continues to face strong headwinds, we’ve successfully transformed our business to be majority digital (audience and revenue). We just closed our books for Q3 and I’m pleased to report a strong performance.

Our Q3 total advertising revenue grew +5% year-over-year, driven by digital growth in custom content, video, audio, and programmatic. September was our best digital advertising month ever – up +9% year-over-year. Digital advertising revenue has grown +25% year to date through Q3. Best of all, our Q4 advertising bookings are pacing even stronger.

Meanwhile, traffic across our digital network in August grew +21% year-over-year. Video across our owned and operated properties and on offsite platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube was a bright spot, reaching all-time highs and growing +48% and +210% year-over-year, respectively. We now have five launch partners secured for our forthcoming live breaking news network with Twitter, with more to come. These are exceptional results that should make us very proud....MUCH MORE

Ebullience Indicators: Christie’s Strong Impressionist-Modern Sale Beats High Estimate with $479.3 M. Haul, Led by $81.3 M. van Gogh

From ArtNEWS:

http://1vze7o2h8a2b2tyahl3i0t68.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/11-17_Au_C-ImpMod_2.jpg
Vincent van Gogh, Laboureur dans un champ, 1889, oil on canvas, which sold for $81.3 million. 
The run of November sales in New York began with a $479.3 million Impressionist and modern art evening auction at Christie’s, where the total beat a pre-sale high estimate of $476 million (and crushed the low estimate of $360 million). The sell-through rate was a solid 88 percent by lot, with just eight of the 68 lots failing to find buyers.

The total was the second-highest haul ever achieved at an Imp-Mod sale, bested only by a $491.4 million auction at Christie’s in November 2006, when Oprah Winfrey purchased Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912) for $88 million, making it the fourth most expensive work ever sold at auction at the time. It was one of four works by Klimt in that year’s sale from the Bloch-Bauer family, and that bundle alone netted $192 million.

But even without an estate of such firepower, the sale tonight nearly bested an historic moment in Christie’s lore. “Are we slightly frustrated that did not beat that sale? Sure!” Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti told ARTnews after the sale, with a laugh. “But we are pleased with the result.”

When asked whether he thought ahead of time that the sale would be strong enough to command such bidding, Cerutti said, “We’re not playing the game of predicting—obviously it’s a strong result, but we’re always looking for the best.”...MUCH MORE

Elsewhere in China: "Geely to launch flying cars after Terrafugia deal"

From China Daily, November 14, 2017:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/motoring/img/attachement/jpg/site1/20171114/484d7ec8089d1b746e0e04.jpg
Terrafugia's Transition model can convert from a plane to a car within one minute.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Automotive giant Zhejiang Geely Holding Group said on Monday that it will roll out its first flying car in 2019 in the US after the Chinese company decided to buy Massachusetts-based startup Terrafugia, which is pioneering such vehicles.

Geely said it will acquire all the operations and assets of Terrafugia and has received all the necessary approvals for the deal, including the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. It, however, did not disclose any financial details of the deal.

Founded in 2006 by five graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Terrafugia launched its first flying car model Transition in 2012, with an estimated base price of $279,000 then. In 2013, the company released the design for its next model TF-X, which is the world's first flying car capable of vertical take-off and landing.
It is expected to be available by 2023.

Geely said it would further invest in the flying car business and create additional jobs for Terrafugia upon the completion of the deal. However, the car will not be available in the Chinese market in the short term due to the country's regulations on low-altitude flying.

Geely's innovation center in Hangzhou will also be used by Terrafugia. In anticipation of the transaction, Terrafugia's team of engineers in the US has been tripled over the past quarter with Geely's support.

Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Geely Group, considers flying cars as the ultimate mobility solution. The group's international operations and track record for innovation will make the flying car a commercial reality, he said....MORE

"Goldman Sachs Marks Weinstein Company Stake Down to Zero"

From Fortune:
Goldman Sachs has written down to zero the value of its stake in the Weinstein Company, the movie studio whose co-chairman Harvey Weinstein stepped down last month following sexual assault allegations, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Goldman Sachs’ move comes as the Weinstein Company looks for fresh financing after more than 50 women claimed that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the past three decades.
Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone. Reuters has been unable to independently confirm any of the allegations.

Last month, Goldman Sachs said it was trying to find a buyer for its stake in the Weinstein Company. A Goldman Sachs spokesman had said at the time that the bank valued the stake at less than $1 million.

The source did not disclose how much of the Weinstein Company Goldman Sachs owns, but described the stake as small. He asked not to be identified because the bank has not publicly released its latest valuation....MORE

Questions America Wants Answered: "The iron ore contango: Why now?"

From Platts' The Barrel blog:
The iron ore forward curve has made history in November by recording the longest period of contango* in its brief existence.

On November 1, Platts assessed The Steel Index 62% Fe CFR China swaps in contango from the December strip out to Q2 2018, which has been sustained until now. 
http://blogs.platts.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/111017-forward-curve-structure.jpg
Unlike many bulk commodities in recent years, iron ore’s forward curve has remained stubbornly backwardated, with prices further down the curve being lower than those at the prompt.
This has puzzled many market observers.

In commodity markets a contango tends to signal supply outweighing demand.
In other major commodities, when supply has patently swamped demand – see Brent crude oil futures roughly between Q3 2014 and Q3 2017 – the forward curve reacted swiftly, moving from backwardation to contango.

In iron ore, though, even in the regular periods where either demand has fallen away or supply has grown acutely, the curve has remained backwardated.
Iron ore seaborne price
It should be stated that today’s market situation in iron ore thoroughly supports a contango structure.
Due to attempts to prevent air quality worsening during the heating season in China, steelmakers in the world’s largest-producing nation are being asked to cut back, particularly in sintering – the process that uses iron ore fines (the product on which derivatives contract prices are based)....
...MUCH MORE

"Euro Rides High After German GDP"

 From Marc to Market:
The euro was already trading firmly before German GDP surprised to the upside, and the report helped lift the single currency through $1.17 for the first time ECB meeting in late October. The 0.8% quarterly expansion lifted the workday adjusted the year-over-year rate to 2.8% from a revised 2.3% in Q2, which is the fastest in six years.

Italian Q3 GDP was also firm at 0.5%, matching its best pace in seven years. The 1.8% year-over-year pace is also the best since 2011.

The euro was also boosted by cross rate demand after the softer than expected UK and Swedish inflation. The BOE's preferred measure, CPIH was unchanged at 2.8%. Headline and core CPI was also unchanged at 3.0% and 2.7% respectively. The BOE and the market had expected a small rise. The unchanged report means that BOE Governor Carney does not have to write a letter to the Chancellor to explain the overshoot, which is not more than 1%. Although we expect UK inflation to peak here in Q4, it is not clear with today's report that this is it. That fact that food prices rose 4.2% year-over-year, the most in four years, seems to still reflect the echo of sterling's decline from last year.

Sterling is trading in the lower end of yesterday's range and has been confined to about a quarter a cent on either side of $1.31. On the other hand, the euro has pushed a bit through GBP0.8950 to reach its best level since October 26.

Sweden also reported softer than expected October inflation. The 0.1% decline in October contrasts with expectations for a 0.1% increase. This, coupled with the base effect, saw the year-over-year rate fall to 1.7% from 2.1%. It is the slowest pace since June. The Riksbank has one of the most aggressive monetary policies, with deeply negative deposit rate (minus 1.25%) and repo rate (minus 50 bp) and QE. The euro has rallied to new highs for the year against the krona (~SEK9.8825). The euro had tested SEK9.71 on November 9 before staging an upside reversal. Last year's peak (November 9) was near SEK10.08. This seems to be a bit far, but many short-term traders and medium-term investors may have been caught the wrong way, and the weekly technicals favor the euro.

Against the dollar, the euro is extended the recovery that began last week from about $1.1555 (the lowest level in four months) and is above the 20-day moving average (~$1.1685). We see risk toward $1.1745-$1.1760. We view these euro upticks as corrective in nature and note that the US two-year premium over Germany continues to widen. It stands near 2.43% now, up 40 bp in the past two months.

The US 10-year yield is hovering around 2.40%. The initial push higher in Asia helped extend yesterday's dollar gains to almost JPY114.00, before being sold in the European morning back toward the session low near JPY113.55. Meanwhile, profit-taking weighed on Japanese shares for the fourth session. Some reports suggest that the foreign buying spree may be ending. Weekly MOF figures covering last week will be out in a couple of days. The Topix and Nikkei gapped higher on November 1. The attempt to fill the gaps, which are found near the 20-day moving averages (1770 and 22100, respectively) and the uninspired close warns that the downdraft may not be complete....MORE
Two weeks of EUR/USD via FinViz:

https://finviz.com/fut_chart.ashx?t=6E&cot=099741&p=h1&rev=636462432278405763

Monday, November 13, 2017

"DFJ Co-Founder Jurvetson Exits Firm Amid Harassment Charges "

From Xconomy San Francisco:
One of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capital firm founders has joined the list of VCs who departed from their positions this year in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

Steve Jurvetson, co-founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), confirmed via a Twitter post Monday that he has left the Sand Hill Road firm, where he has long focused on emerging technologies, from genomics to space exploration. He was named to board seats at Elon Musk’s companies Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and SpaceX, as well as Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics.
Jurvetson didn’t resign with any admissions of wrongdoing.

“I am leaving DFJ to focus on personal matters, including taking legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me,” Jurvetson tweeted.

Jurvetson co-founded Draper Fisher Jurvetson in 1985 with Timothy Draper and John H.N. Fisher.
DFJ started an investigation of sexual harassment claims, Recode reported, after Keri Kukral, founder of the science media channel Raw Science TV, posted allegations against the VC firm on Facebook October 23. Kukral didn’t point to Jurvetson by name, but warned that “women approached by a founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful.”

DFJ wasn’t a funder of Kukral’s entrepreneurial ventures, for which she sought financing outside Silicon Valley, she wrote. In her Facebook post, Kukral doesn’t specify where, when, or even whether she personally encountered a DFJ founder, or learned of objectionable conduct from someone else. In addition to warning other women entrepreneurs about an unnamed DFJ founder, her carefully worded post seems to accuse either the firm itself, or Silicon Valley VC firms in general, of wrongdoing.

“Predatory behavior is rampant,” Kukral wrote. “The modes are varied. Silencing behavior ranges from security w/in the firm creating files on women, to potential violations of revenge porn laws, to threats. I have experienced some of these things (not all).”...
...MUCH MORE

Meanwhile, last week the D-man was saying:
Tim Draper On Bitcoin: 'In 5 Years If You Use Fiat Currency, They Will Laugh At You'
I'm starting to think the entire state of California has gone nuts.  

Seriously, I'm not just talking Sand Hill Road, they're as detached from reality as their Hollywood brethren. Now however I'm wondering about all that space between the two as well. 

"‘Cashed-up’ Mother Teresa kept Vatican Bank afloat – journalist "

That headline is just cognitively dissonant enough to be hilarious.
No bail-ins at the IOR !
From RT:
Mother Teresa had such huge savings in the Vatican Bank that if she had withdrawn her funds the institution could have defaulted, according to an Italian journalist. 
Gianluigi Nuzzi’s newly-released book, ‘The Original Sin,’ digs into the Vatican’s darkest secrets and details how, when American archbishop Paul Marcinkus was appointed president of the Vatican Bank, Mother Teresa was believed to have “by far the most cashed up account.”

"If only Mother Teresa had closed the accounts or transferred them, the institute would have risked default," Nuzzi writes, La Presse reports.

The Italian author went on to say how the discovery of Mother Teresa’s bank account is proof of Marcinkus’ long-standing meddling in Vatican affairs.

"There is a power block in the Vatican that obstructs Pope Francis' reforming action just as it did with Benedict XVI – it existed with Marcinkus and his parallel management of the IOR – and it still exists today," Nuzzi said.

"Her [Mother Teresa] account in the Vatican bank is proof that these gentlemen were and still are within the Curia and they trust them. They were also trusted by Mother Teresa, who, as is told, entered the Ior by a secondary door and was welcomed by Monsignor De Bonis, Marcinkus's right arm."...
...MORE


Previously on the Istituto per le Opere di Religione:
April 2014
"Con men stopped entering Vatican bank with €3 trillion of fake bonds"
June 2012
Bizarre Goings-on at the Vatican Bank (again)
September 2010 
Italian police seize $30M from Vatican in probe
Hey! It's the 80's all over again!

October 2011 
Pope Joins #OccupyWallStreet: "Vatican calls for global financial authority"
I know resurrections are more common in Jerusalem but maybe Il Papa thinks he can get Banco Ambrosiano up and running again....
...From Wikipedia:
Banco Ambrosiano was an Italian bank which collapsed in 1982. At the centre of the bank's failure was its chairman, Roberto Calvi and his membership in the illegal Masonic Lodge Propaganda Due (aka P2). Vatican Bank was Banco Ambrosiano's main shareholder, and the death of Pope John Paul I in 1978 is rumored to be linked to the Ambrosiano scandal, giving one of the subplots of The Godfather Part III. Vatican Bank was also accused of funneling covert United States funds to Solidarity and the Contras through Banco Ambrosiano....MORE 
On June 19, 1982 the BBC reported on 'God's Banker'
The body of a top Italian banker has been found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London. 
The Guardian updated the story in 2003's "Who Killed Calvi".

Prior to that the Institute for Works of Religion (aka The Vatican Bank) laundered Gambino Family heroin profits.

More recently we had this Dec. 2010 headline "Vatican Bank hit by financial scandal... again"

So the Pope, Queen Elizabeth and Lloyd Blankfein walk into a bar...

And finally:

June 2017
Yesterday I Learned About ATMs
It started with Paul Murphy at Alphaville's Markets Live:...

...Which of course lead to the question "Do the Vatican Bank ATM's really have instructions in Latin?"
(I had heard that from a less-than-reliable-source)


As it turns out, the answer is:

https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--kiGvE5-w--/c_scale,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/17ktqx1deauuejpg.jpg

Yes, Latin is one of the language options.
In fact there's even a TIL thread at reddit.
Which managed to stay on topic for about four comments:
Pope: Why do I have to push "1" for Latin? It should only be Latin! If you're gonna come here, learn the language! Foreigners!

"And then they ask 'Are you sure you want to withdraw $DCXLII?'"
"$642? The ATMs in the Vatican give out ones!?"
Smallest note in the EU is €5 Maybe it's €640 and two Hail Marys?

"Romanes eunt domus."
The line is "People called 'Romanes' they go the house." "Romanes" is not a Latin word; he pluralized a second declension word as if it were third declension, so it doesn't translate to anything.

"Eunt?? What is eunt???"
3rd person plural present active of the verb 'eo, ire', meaning to go.
And from there it just descended into madness.

Until Il Papa decided to show off by making a withdrawal:

http://www.2oceansvibe.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/bank.jpg
 

"China and the CIA Are Competing to Fund Silicon Valley’s AI Startups"

From Defense One:

The U.S. intelligence community is upping its early-stage investments in machine-learning companies — but Beijing is pouring in far more.  
A trio of new investments in Silicon Valley machine-learning startups shows that the U.S. intelligence community is deeply interested in artificial intelligence. But China is investing even more in these kinds of U.S. companies, and that has experts and intelligence officials worried.
Founded to foster new technology for spies, the 17-year-old In-Q-Tel has also helped boost commercial products. (Its investment in a little company called Keyhole helped produce Google Maps.) Compared to a venture capitalist firm whose early-stage investments are intended to make some money and get out, the nonprofit’s angle is longer term, less venture, more strategic, according to Charlie Greenbacker, In-Q-Tel’s technical product leader in artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, analytics, and data science.

“Our model is to put a little bit of pressure at the right spot to influence a company to make sure it develops things that are useful to our customers,” said Greenbacker, who estimated that their investments in a given startup generally amount to about one of every 15 dollars the company has.
Greenbacker recently discussed In-Q-Tel investments that underline the specific areas that the CIA and other spy agencies want to use AI for: image recognition, natural language processing, and predictive analytics.

The first is Orbital Insight, a company that analyzes satellite images to discover trends and patterns on a global scale. As Orbital’s CEO James Crawford said last year, “The number of ships docked at a Malaysian port, even the color of a wheat field in western Nebraska, are actually signs…visible indicators of economic activity, not just for a local region but for an entire global industry.”
Natural language processing is another a big area of AI investment. Greenbacker highlighted a company called Primer, which sells a tool that can read and summarize text, useful for the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence (now Directorate of Analysis) and the decidedly unsexy work of combing through the world’s court cases, patent filings, and newspapers for relevant data. Primer is the work of Sean Gourley, a co-creator of the Quid analysis and visualization engine and one of the more celebrated young data scientists working at the intersection of Silicon Valley and national security.

What does a spy agency do with all of this data and analysis? Try to predict the future, of course, and the intelligence community has a big interest in AI that will help it succeed there as well. In-Q-Tel invested a company called Celect, which says its predictive analytics engine can help retailers anticipate demand for certain products — and perhaps help intel analysts anticipate national-security problems. When the researchers fed the engine a large database of published news stories, it predicted, with high confidence, a steady increase in negative news about the security situation in Ukraine in the early spring of 2014. And indeed, that happened. (The experiment was done retroactively, after the Russian invasion, when outcomes were known to the researchers — but not to the AI.)...
...MUCH MORE