Thursday , November 15 2018
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Kadhim Shubber

Kadhim Shubber

He is a freelance journalist who first bought bitcoins so that he could buy a beer at The Pembury Tavern, Hackney’s bitcoin pub. He has reported for Slate, Wired, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times and Ampp3d. He is currently studying for a Masters in Journalism at City University London.

Articles by Kadhim Shubber

What’s up at Blippar?

February 19, 2018

Ambarish Mitra, the boss of British augmented reality startup Blippar, will probably not remember 2017 as a banner year.In March, we revealed he had embellished his CV and lied about attending the London School of Economics. (Something he did not acknowledge until we surfaced a recording of him claiming the university as his alma mater.)Soon after, Business Insider raised questions about the business itself, noting the lack of traction Blippar has gained despite raising $100m from the likes of Nick Candy, the property developer, and Khazanah, the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. We echoed those questions here.And then in July, we pointed out that the company’s oft-cited billion dollar valuation was not supported by the available records at Companies House.Hopefully 2018 will be a little

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Some uncomfortable reading for the former administrators of Ve Interactive

February 14, 2018

Last month, we reported on the removal of the administrators of Ve Interactive, a former British technology “unicorn” that was sold in a pre-pack administration for £2m in 2017.A group of creditors, supported by the now bankrupt founder and former chief executive David Brown, had claimed the sales process was botched by administrators from Smith & Williamson.Ve Interactive’s new owners, led by Scottish businessman Douglas Barrowman and entrepreneur Mark Pearson, were not parties in the case.They had ousted Brown in March last year and put in new management who ran the business in the run-up to its administration and sale in April.Barrowman and Pearson were directors of Ve at the time of the sale to Rowchester Limited, the vehicle they and their backers used for the purchase.Separately,

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Second Home pulls plans for “Carport Building”

February 12, 2018

Second Home has withdrawn plans for a major expansion of its flagship east London site after opposition from local residents.The setback is the latest sign of the difficulties the office space provider has faced in opening new sites. Another location in east London is a year behind schedule, while a long mooted expansion into the US is yet to materialise.The proposals would have seen the construction of a nine-storey, glass-fronted building that included accommodation for Second Home members. The Spitalfields Society, a local community group, said the building seemed to have been designed “to light up like a massive lantern”.Rohan Silva, a first time entrepreneur who previously worked for former prime minister David Cameron, and his co-founder Sam Aldenton have won praise for the ambitious

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Michelle Mone brings a touch of the avant-garde to finance

February 9, 2018

People who don’t care for finance could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a dreary, dull and monotonous industry. In fairness, it really can be at times.But it’s also a world where intelligent and ambitious people construct the sort of audacious and creative deals that even hardened sceptics can appreciate.For a taste of that side of finance, look no further than the forthcoming initial coin offering (ICO) from Equi Capital.The venture is the brainchild of Conservative peer Michelle Mone and her partner Doug Barrowman, the Scottish businessman. They hope to raise up to $80m from the general public to build a blockchain-based crowdfunding business for startups.The proposition itself is just as interesting as the ingenious and arguably fine line it walks along existing financial

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Someone is wrong on the internet, Elon Musk edition

February 9, 2018

Nerd pin-up Elon Musk launched his Tesla Roadster into space this week, which is pretty cool. Like, this indisputably and clearly looks very awesome:But not everyone is impressed. Over at The Guardian, Nathan Robinson writes:There is, perhaps, no better way to appreciate the tragedy of 21st-century global inequality than by watching a billionaire spend $90m launching a $100,000 car into the far reaches of the solar system.Which, for a start, fair play. Someone’s got to point at stuff and say, “the thing you think is good is actually bad”. Lord knows, we do it enough around here.The problem is Robinson is wrong and also right but for the wrong reason.First, the obvious point. Musk and SpaceX didn’t launch an electric sports car into space for the hell of it.The car was the

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Jacob Rees-Mogg’s “huge personal windfall” after Brexit

February 8, 2018

Did you hear? Jacob Rees-Mogg is “in line for a huge personal windfall when Britain exits the single market”?Fund manager and anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller says so:Rees-Mogg in line for a huge personal windfall when Britain exits the single market. His firm Somerset Capital has 9.6 billion dollars under management according to its website. Banking on Brexit! https://t.co/ZyjxahRBXy via @LondonEconomic— Gina Miller (@thatginamiller) February 8, 2018As does LBC presenter James O’Brien:Jacob Rees-Mogg is in line for a huge personal windfall when Britain exits the single market https://t.co/AiSTRSmlI6 via @LondonEconomic— James O’Brien (@mrjamesob) February 7, 2018And so do a whole bunch of other people on Twitter.What a scoop, right? The Conservative man of the hour is pro-Brexit because

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Credit Suisse announces: ‘Life comes at you fast’

February 6, 2018

“The nature of volatility is that it desensitizes over time,” he said. “Which is why the index has been tracking down for so long.”— Vix day trader Seth Golden in the New York Times last August.Credit Suisse says that a popular exchange-traded note that was designed to bet against rising volatility will be liquidated on Feb. 21 after the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short Term ETN lost more than 80% of its value in after-hours trade, triggering a technical liquidation, or “acceleration” event. “On the acceleration date, investors will receive a cash payment per ETN in an amount equal to the closing indicative value of XIV on the accelerated valuation date. The last day of trading for XIV is expected to be February 20, 2018. As of the date hereof, Credit Suisse will no longer issue new

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Conservative peer stakes her name on a crypto offering, just as the market crashes

February 6, 2018

The crypto crash shows little sign of abating. Coinmarketcap is awash with red and on Tuesday morning, bitcoin briefly dipped below $6,000, its lowest level since November.Folks who pulled off an initial coin offering (ICO) while the market was hot will be blessing their good luck. Folks like Michelle Mone, the founder of Ultimo lingerie, and her boyfriend Douglas Barrowman, who took over our old friend Ve Interactive, may be hoping they can get under the door before it slams shut for good.The pair have announced a $75m ICO to launch a “cryptocurrency-powered investment platform” called Equi. Mone, who was appointed to the House of Lords by David Cameron, told Business Insider she was staking her reputation on the project:This whole cryptocurrency world is based on trust. People know who

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Further reading

February 6, 2018

Elsewhere on Tuesday,— Volatility jump has traders asking about Vix note poison pill.— We’ve just had a taste of what the tightening will be like.— The government struggles, but the big concession over Brexit has already been made.— How to future-proof the economy: tax all income equally.— The death of clothing.— Massive Pentagon agency loses track of hundreds of millions of dollars.— A (so far) complete timeline of the investigation into Trump and Russia.— Click farms of phantom users flood China’s US$50 billion online advertising market.

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Jefferies claims just half of Purplebricks’ customers sell their homes within 10 months

February 2, 2018

For some time now Anthony Codling of Jefferies has been nipping at the heels of Purplebricks, the richly valued branchless estate agent, criticising its valuation and business model.The latest note from the analyst, published on Thursday after the market closed, provides further ammunition for the bear case on the business, launched in 2014 by brothers Michael and Kenny BruceCodling found that just half of Purplebricks’ customers in November 2016 sold their home within 10 months, far fewer than the 88 per cent figure chief executive Michael Bruce cited on Radio 4 in October that year. More intriguing still is this suggestion about the company’s approach to recognising revenue:A review of PB’s accounting policies raises concerns to us that either its contractual obligations to its customers

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Nobody puts bitcoin in the corner

February 1, 2018

Suppose for a moment bitcoin never existed. And ethereum never existed. And the whole crazy world of cryptocurrencies never happened.Someone comes along and tells you to imagine an electronic network, for moving money anywhere in the world, that no-one owns. It’s an intriguing idea. It’s an unprecedented idea. In the entirety of human history such a thing has literally never existed.Would your response really be: ‘lol the true value of bitcoin is zero’?There’s a lot that’s dumb about cryptocurrencies. The dumb seems to increase proportionally with the price. Every day, some new idiot tries their luck on the ICO roulette wheel in the hope of making the fortune of a lifetime for doing little more than writing a piece of paper and sticking a countdown clock on a website.But there’s a lot

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The entertainment value of bitcoin

January 18, 2018

Every week, millions of people in the UK gamble on the National Lottery. They’ll be rich beyond belief if they win, but the chances are infinitesimal. Everyone knows it. They still buy tickets.The explanation is simple, and it goes a little way to explaining the phenomenon of bitcoin: it’s something to do, to think about, to talk and dream about. In a word, it’s entertaining.Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, are not directly analogous to the fairly mundane practice of buying a Lottery ticket, but this part of its appeal is often ignored in favour of more intellectual or high-brow explanations.It has all the hallmarks of a fun game, played out across the planet with few barriers to entry and all the joy and pain that usually accompanies gambling.There’s a single, addictive reward

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Further reading

January 18, 2018

Elsewhere on Thursday,— Brad Setser: A few words on China’s holdings of US bonds.— How to reconcile risk sharing and market discipline in the euro area.— What’s the Hedge Ratio and what does mean for inflation-linked instruments?— Despotism is all around us: the warnings of Montesquieu.— Surveying the collateral damage from Ticketmaster and Songkick’s bloody antitrust battle.— Out of time: the fragile temporality of Carillion’s accumulation model.— The Apple cash FAQ.— Bitconnect, which has been accused of running a Ponzi scheme, shuts down.— Nintendo has announced a new cardboard-based gaming product and it looks awesome.— Wikipedia’s lamest edit wars 2018.— Google’s self-training AI turns coders into machine-learning masters.— Goldman’s no. 2 allegedly swindled out of $1.2m of wine by

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Kodak makes last desperate bid for relevance with cryptocurrency

January 9, 2018

Today Kodak and WENN Digital, in a licensing partnership, announced the launch of the KODAKOne image rights management platform and KODAKCoin, a photo-centric cryptocurrency to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management.Utilizing blockchain technology, the KODAKOne platform will create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and archive work that they can then license within the platform. With KODAKCoin, participating photographers are invited to take part in a new economy for photography, receive payment for licensing their work immediately upon sale, and for both professional and amateur photographers, sell their work confidently on a secure blockchain platform. KODAKOne platform provides continual

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Don’t worry about Spotify’s weird stock market float

January 9, 2018

In 2016, British challenger bank Metro Bank floated on the London Stock Exchange in an unusual way. Instead of offering shares to new investors like in a normal IPO, it opted for an “introduction” to the market. The company got a ticker symbol, and its stock began trading one day. That was that. Shares have since risen 75 per cent.Over in the US, Spotify is planning to follow in the bank’s footsteps. The Swedish music streaming startup has decided to forego the glitz and glamour of an IPO and instead do a “direct listing”. Like Metro Bank, Spotify won’t offer any new shares. One day, its stock will just begin trading. And that will be that.There has been a substantial amount of concern about Spotify’s decision. People have predicted that potential investors will be put off by the absence

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The winners and losers of rent control

January 8, 2018

Policymakers often ask if something “works”, which basically means there is some notion of maximum efficiency that can be achieved if the right decisions are made. So, does rent control work? Or does railway nationalisation? Or whatever other hot-button issue you want to consider.But in a democracy, people don’t really vote in that way and politicians don’t sell to them like that. It’s more like, “I’m going to make your life better” and, on the flipside, “I’m going to vote for what works for me”.A good example of this dynamic can be seen in a new paper from Stanford economists Rebecca Diamond, Franklin Qian and Timothy McQuade. They look at the impact of rent control in San Francisco and conclude that it made the housing crisis worse, not better:Taken together, we see rent control

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Further reading

January 8, 2018

Elsewhere on Monday,— A tiger by the tail: estimating the UK mortgage market vulnerabilities from loan-level data.— How does uncertainty affect how UK firms invest?— Scottish shell firms used to launder tens of millions of dollars looted from Ukraine by country’s former leaders.— The 100-year capitalist experiment that keeps Appalachia poor, sick, and stuck on coal.— In “triumph of ignorance,” Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop touts $135 coffee enema.— How to fix Facebook — before it fixes us.— Chinese blacklist an early glimpse of sweeping new social-credit control.— The best investigative stories from China — 2017.— The evolution of metro systems in China and Taiwan.

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Further reading

January 5, 2018

Elsewhere on Friday,— — Immobility and the Brexit vote.— College party culture and sexual assault.— The role of trade and information technology in the decline of merchant guilds.— Minimum Wages, monopsony and towns.— A second look at the third largest cryptocurrency.— Ad tech targeted to adults is capturing data from kids at a growing pace.— India’s national ID database With private information of nearly 1.2 billion people was reportedly breached.— Travis Kalanick is selling almost a third of his stake in Uber.— Trump should have known better. Michael Wolff does not mess around.— “New book claims Gary Cohn’s White House life is as abjectly miserable as we’ve always hoped.”

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Eight charts on inequality in the US

January 4, 2018

Deutsche Bank have put out a big, long, 80-page note on “US Income and Wealth Inequality” that is full of great charts, like these:Probably someone should do something about all that before something blows up, but, according to DB, “the bottom line is that inequality is increasing in most countries around the world and there are no signs of this changing anytime soon.”(Happy New Year!)

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don’t cut articles

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Valuing Funding Circle

January 3, 2018

The last time an online lender came to market, investors lost a lot of money.Back in 2014, Lending Club and OnDeck were riding high. The American startups led a pack of online lending companies “disrupting” consumer and business loans respectively.The hype reached fever-pitched as they floated within weeks of each other. Lending Club was valued at $5.4bn. OnDeck at $1.3bn.Investors who had bought shares in either initial public offering would currently be down around 70 per cent. In short, it’s been a mess.So, hats off to Funding Circle, the British online lender that is preparing to follow in the footsteps of its struggling peers across the Atlantic.The eight-year-old startup is planning to float as early as “late autumn,” according to Sky News. (A spokesperson declined to comment on the

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Here’s how European venture capital funds are performing

December 21, 2017

A few weeks ago we discussed our efforts to get performance data from the European Investment Fund, the EU institution that is the cornerstone of the European venture capital industry.The body previously seemed to drag its feet, taking around five months to reveal quite limited data about the performance of its portfolio. But this time the EIF, which is directly responsible for 10 per cent of all investment in European venture capital firms, has been more forthcoming with more detailed information.The two charts below show the performance of the fund’s portfolio, broken down by the vintage and also the location of the managers it backed. The full release is here:The data are limited in parts. For example, there are some vintages where no performance data are provided due to the low number

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Further reading

December 21, 2017

Elsewhere on Thursday,— What is the 10-year TIPS breakeven telling us?— Companies are using Facebook to exclude old people from job adverts.— Scientists describe problems in Philip Morris e-cigarette experiments.— The role Wall Street played in wiping out Puerto Ricans’ savings.— Historians in the future will puzzle at our need to re-explain the term “neoliberalism” over and over again.— Your iPhone will run more slowly as the battery degrades. Apparently this is news.— Venezuela’s brutal crime crackdown: Executions, machetes and 8,292 dead.— Does Disney own all your favourite characters?— Dozens of lawmakers stand to reap a tax windfall due to a GOP loophole.— I tried to make my home energy efficient and it’s ruining my life.— How far ahead of Apple Maps is Google Maps?— This year’s

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Further reading

December 20, 2017

Elsewhere on Wednesday,— Is owning a house cheaper than renting it?— Why so low for so long? A long-term view of real interest rates.— Heterodoxy and the fly-bottle.— Decades after Ford tried to tackle sexual misconduct at two Chicago plants, continued abuse raises questions about the possibility of change.— Republicans have completely forgotten how to talk about tax cuts, and it’s going to come back to bite them.— “We’re witnessing the wholesale looting of America“.— Can evangelicalism survive Donald Trump and Roy Moore?— (1996) How to make a mint: The cryptography of anonymous electronic cash.— Canada firm plans $200m coin/share offering for oil gas.— Coinbase investigates potential insider trading.— Further watching: Life inside China’s total surveillance state.

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The struggles of Second Home

December 12, 2017

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in October last year, Second Home, the workspace led by former government advisor Rohan Silva, celebrated the launch of its new east London site.The three-year-old startup held a “kids day” in London Fields, a large park around the corner from its new space, which was due to open in “spring 2017” with a nursery alongside offices for startups. There was face-painting, piñata-making and a screening of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory inside a large inflatable yellow dome.But more than a year later, Second Home London Fields, the company’s fourth site, is still under construction. Its spring opening was pushed back to September but then delayed again. The new launch date is May 2018, some 20 months after last year’s celebration.The lengthy delay is just one

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Further reading

December 6, 2017

Elsewhere on Wednesday,— Brexit and the Irish Border: Let Northern Ireland decide.— How big is the hedge fund industry?— Dolly Parton: basic income trailblazer.— Lost Einsteins: The innovations we’re missing.— How America learned about “Russian hackers”. (You’re going to have to use Google Translate on this one.)— Weinstein’s Complicity Machine.— Bitcoin could cost us our clean-energy future.— There’s an $814 million mystery near the heart of the biggest Bitcoin exchange.— How brands secretly buy their way into Forbes, Fast Company and HuffPost stories.— A rapper and an 81-year-old woman just met in person after bonding over Words With Friends for more than a year.— Dear guy who just made my burrito.

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A look at an early Deliveroo investor deck

December 5, 2017

The date is December 2013. Deliveroo has been going for less than 12 months, employs just a handful of people, and Will Shu, its co-founder and chief executive, is raising the delivery startup’s first round of funding. In a presentation circulated to investors in London, he details his impressive resume: a MBA from Wharton; five years at Morgan Stanley; and the fact that he’s “eaten 60 chicken McNuggets in one sitting”:Soon after, Deliveroo raised £2.7m from Index Ventures, Hoxton Ventures and JamJar Investments. The heavily loss-making company has since raised almost $1bn and achieved a $2bn valuation.It has shaken up the food delivery sector and attracted controversy for its treatment of thousands of delivery people, who Deliveroo has fought to avoid recognising as employees.More

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Further reading

December 5, 2017

Elsewhere on Tuesday,— A helping hand….. for analysts who cover Alibaba.— Facebook has been using those rants that you delete before publishing to research self-censorship.— Hidden peril awaits China’s banks as property binge fuels mortgage fraud frenzy.— The state of the housing market in Africa.— Here’s how the Republican tax cuts would actually be felt by regular Americans.— Richard Posner, leader of a legal revolution.— More on the American Senate: “It seemed kind of baffling that a senator from Pennsylvania was proposing an amendment that effectively only helped one school in Michigan,” said Mr. Bloom.— People spent $1M on totally useless Ethereum “CryptoKitties”.— New evidence of generational progress for Mexican Americans.— A narrow-minded Brexit is doomed to fail.— David Davis pays

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Ex-boss of former tech unicorn Ve Interactive acted with ‘low standards of commercial morality’

December 1, 2017

There is “strong evidence” that the former chief executive of Ve Interactive acted with “unacceptably low standards of commercial morality” when he ran the once highly valued adtech startup, according to a High Court judge in London.The comments were made in a judgment on Friday against David Brown (pictured), and his business partner Martin King, which placed a worldwide freeze on their assets and ruled that they each owed £3.5m to Bank and Clients, a creditor of the former £1.5bn tech unicorn.Until its downfall this year, Ve Interactive was one of just a handful of British startups valued at over $1bn. It was co-founded in 2009 by Mr Brown, who brought on Mr King as his director of investor relations in 2010. The pair were forced out of the business in March this year by a group of

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The UK will save money when it leaves the European Union

November 30, 2017

The debate over the UK’s “exit bill” from the European Union is quickly losing all connection with reality.This week, the Financial Times and the Daily Telegraph reported that the UK had agreed it would have to honour its financial commitments to the EU. On a gross basis, this means around €100bn of liabilities. On a net basis, this may be around half that sum.There is no doubt that the notion of paying a “bill” is deeply unpopular with the British public, and leading Brexiters are outraged at the idea of eurocrats squeezing London for every last penny possible.But the response from some Remainers, who claim to be the protectors of rational, pragmatic and nuanced debate, is baffling. See Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian:But those remainers who feel no obligation to defend this government

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Further reading

November 30, 2017

Elsewhere on Thursday,— Why we can’t trust basic economic figures.— All is not well in the Visegrad economies.— We are in the most dangerous period in the business cycle.— Never mind the 1 percent: Let’s talk about the 0.01 percent.— Pecking order: Trickle-down economics.— The bear case for crypto, part IV: Bitprime Loans.— Tumblr led the net-neutrality fight—then Verizon bought it.— Textbook co-authored by Roy Moore in 2011 says women shouldn’t run for office.— “Alex DeLarge Forced To Step Down As Leader Of Droogs Amidst Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct”.— Hummingbirds are where intuition goes to die.

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