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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

Cost-cutting drive at former unicorn Ve Interactive hits fifth of UK staff

2 days ago

The new owners of former tech unicorn Ve Interactive have laid off over a fifth of its UK workforce in an attempt to control costs at the once-lauded startup.Nearly 60 people have been made redundant since a consortium led by Scottish tycoon Douglas Barrowman and web entrepreneur Mark Pearson bought the digital advertising startup out of administration in April, according to a company insider.The losses are part of a cost-cutting drive intended to halve spending at the business, which burned through more than £100m in equity and debt funding over eight years under its previous management.“Following an extensive restructuring and streamlining programme Ve Global is now on a break-even track in 2017,” a spokesperson said. “The company is fully-funded and focused on the future.”Until it ran

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Hey kids, drugs aren’t cool. You know what’s cool?

5 days ago

Claiming your revenues are $1bn when they’re apparently about half that number:The privately owned [Vice Media] does not reveal its financial performance. [Chief executive Shane] Smith said two years ago that revenues had hit $1bn, although it later emerged that this figure included bookings, with the real total recognised revenue being closer to $500m..That’s from the FT’s story on Vice Media’s latest funding round, $450m from private equity group TPG at a $5.7bn valuation.This post has been updated to reflect the FT’s amended story.Related link:TPG co-founder David Bonderman: Uber exit after sexist quip — FT.com

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High Court restricts assets of former Ve Interactive boss

9 days ago

The High Court in London placed restrictions on the assets of the former boss of Ve Interactive on Friday after a claim by a creditor of the fallen tech startup.The decision is the latest twist in the story of Ve, a once high-flying digital advertising business whose investors valued it over $1bn, making it a “unicorn” in the tech lingo. The company collapsed into administration in April, before being bought out by new owners who are trying to put it back on track.The claim by Bank and Clients relates to money it lent to the digital advertising startup in October 2016. Thomas Sprange QC, acting for the lender, told the High Court Ve had approached Bank and Clients last year in urgent need of cash. The bank provided a loan, which was backed by a personal guarantee and collateral from David

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Further reading

9 days ago

Elsewhere on Friday,— Where will the trillions of dollars from Fed shrinkage go?— People are punting on Banco Popular bonds and a legal challenge to their forced writedown.— Things are looking up for value investing.— Things are looking down for equities.— “Kyle Bass Remains Short China, Long Delusion”— The incredible shrinking H-1B visa.— British police think the deaths are unsuspicious. US intelligence suspects assassinations by Russian spies. This BuzzFeed investigation into the deaths of 14 people in Britain is essential reading. A snippet:Steven Hall, chief of Russia operations at the [CIA] until 2013, told BuzzFeed News that the 10-year diplomatic standoff triggered by the investigation into Litvinenko’s killing had imposed a “significant hindrance” on relations between Moscow and

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Ve Interactive might not have actually owned its US branch

10 days ago

Back when Ve Interactive was a high-flying billion dollar “unicorn” startup, its biggest market was the US. In 2015, America was the biggest source of revenue for the British digital advertising business and earlier this year former boss David Brown (pictured) singled US employees out for praise, saying in an email, “we all salute you”.But now the company has fallen to earth and been sold to new owners, a dispute has arisen about the relationship between Ve Interactive and its purported US subsidiary. According to Ve’s administrators, Smith & Williamson, it appears the UK company didn’t actually acquire ownership of shares in the disputed US business, Ve Interactive LLC. Brown’s lawyers reject the claim.At the heart of the matter is millions of pounds the administrators say is owed by Ve

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Can you spot the company which has sharing as part of its business model?

10 days ago

Today’s puzzler comes courtesy of equity strategists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who have produced this chart on the “sharing economy”:In case you need some helpful context, they also write:The Sharing Economy is transforming 21st century business via disruptive business models like on-demand, rental, gig, access, collaboration, platforms, circular and P2P. These tech-focused models are unlocking the value of unused and underused assets, driving a shift from asset-heavy to asset-light businesses and enabling access over ownership.Consumers are driving adoption as they hit “peak stuff” and embrace a “shift to thrift” and the “experience economy”. 72% of Americans have already used 1+ Sharing Economy service, and two-thirds of consumers worldwide are willing to share or rent out their

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Playing by the EU’s rules

11 days ago

The Brexit negotiating positions of the UK and the European Union can be boiled down to two simple points of view. The UK would like the benefits of being in the club without the obligations, freedom of movement foremost among them, and the European Union doesn’t want to make exceptions that might encourage others to ask for the same.But that concerns the status of the UK when it has finally left the EU — if and whenever that actually happens. At the moment, Britain is in a kind of pre-Brexit limbo that might generously be called a total mess. Prime Minister Theresa May has turned on the conveyor belt that will carry the country to the exit, but also turned the government into a shambles with her foolhardy decision to call an election.While London is fumbling around, Brussels is patiently

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Mumsnet, a bootstrapped British success

12 days ago

You’ve probably heard of Mumsnet, but if for some reason you haven’t, it’s basically what it sounds like: a website for parents, a sort of Reddit for mums founded way back in 2000 before Reddit even existed.Anyway, it released its 2016 accounts earlier this month. Turnover was up a touch to £7.2m, while pre-tax profits were down 16 per cent to £2.1m “due to increased headcount and office expansion costs”. So, not a bad year. What’s rather more fun, and apologies to everyone who already knew this, is that in 17 years of operation only £25,000 of equity investment has been put into the business:Who knew you could build a decent business online without selling your soul to venture capitalists and splurging hundreds of millions of pounds?

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Snap AV: Lots of people think (tech) stocks are overvalued

12 days ago

That’s from Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s global fund manager survey, and shows a record number saying equities are overvalued. Compare and contrast with the chart below, from the same survey, which suggests this is largely/mostly/partly a tech story:Oh and… the allocation to equities fell in June to a net 40 per cent overweight, 0.5 stdev above its long-term average:

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don’t cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post

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“Mike Mayo will still be Mike Mayo,” says Mike Mayo

13 days ago

Peripatetic bank analyst Mike Mayo has found a new perch, this time at Wells Fargo as head of US large-cap bank research. The self-described “exile on Wall Street” was at CLSA until February when the Chinese brokerage shut its US equities division, after which he attended meetings as a “free agent“. He told our colleagues on FT.com his trademark critical approach would continue at Wells:He said his approach, which drew the retort “That’s why I’m richer than you” from JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon at the bank’s 2016 AGM, would not change now he was at a big bank.“They’re allowing me to hold on to my nominal stock ownership in large US banks so that I can still go to AGMs,” he told the Financial Times. “Mike Mayo will still be Mike Mayo.”Last year, when a checking account mis-selling scandal

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This startup has a new, innovative approach to compliance

13 days ago

Opening a bank account is no easy task for immigrants to a country. In the UK, banks will typically ask for a proof of address, like a utility bill, which leaves people in a Catch-22 situation: they need a bank account to get a place to live, and a place to live before they can get a bank account.Norris Koppel faced this problem when he moved to the UK from Estonia and decided to try and fix it. In 2015, he launched Monese, a fintech startup that offers people from across Europe a UK current account “in minutes”.“Most people believe banks focus on UK residents because there’s a regulatory requirement. It’s just nonsense,” he told us at last week’s MoneyConf in Madrid. “The regulations are not black and white. They give a lot of room for interpretation […] when you are confident and you

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Thought for the weekend

16 days ago

Spent the day laughing at yet another stupid poll from .@yougov. Hey .@benleet do you want to bet for charity? I’ll take the over.— Jim Messina (@Messina2012) May 31, 2017— Jim Messina, former deputy chief of staff to Barack Obama and Theresa May’s data guru.

Thought for the weekend
Thought for the weekend
Thought for the weekend
Thought for the weekend

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Fire Travis Kalanick

17 days ago

In 2014, a woman in India was raped by her Uber driver. According to Recode, Uber executive Eric Alexander doubted her story and obtained the woman’s medical records, which he showed to Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive. Alexander kept his job despite the extreme intrusion into the woman’s privacy. It was only three years later, after Recode uncovered the story, that he was finally fired. Alexander and Uber did not immediately return a request for comment but both Alexander and Kalanick declined to comment to Bloomberg.One day we will look back at what will hopefully be the smouldering wreckage of Kalanick’s career and ask how a person so lacking in basic human and corporate ethics was allowed to run a company for so long.The failings at Uber, not just the failures of governance or

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The “gig economy” is not an innovation

20 days ago

One of the few successes of truth against propaganda in recent years has been the rebranding of the “sharing economy” as the “gig economy”.Marketing geniuses from Silicon Valley want us to believe the ad-hoc sale of labour is a form of utopian paradise, where capitalistic relations are replaced by egalitarianism and “sharing”. The phrase “gig economy” has rightly refocused the debate on to the implications for jobs and labour rights.But the victory has only been half-won. Too many people still talk about the casualisation of work as an innovation, as an impersonal, technological and irresistible force to which we must adapt if humanity is to continue its march into the future. Instead of a reversion to more exploitative form of labour relations, driven by the wealthy people who own and

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A different type of British venture capital post-Brexit?

23 days ago

There’s a shadow hanging over the British technology sector, and unsurprisingly, its name is Brexit. Like any sector in the UK, the break with the European Union is causing all sorts of uncertainties and headaches, but tech in particular is dealing with the potential loss of hundreds of millions of pounds of inward investment from Europe.The European Investment Fund, as we’ve noted previously, accounted for over a third of all the money going into UK venture capital funds from 2011-2015 and is now turning off the tap. It’s a big source of cash for European startups and the UK is effectively already being cut off even before it officially exits the EU.So… the question is, what happens next? What fills the gap?There’s the pessimistic view: nothing replaces the lost cash, at least not all of

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Further reading

23 days ago

Elsewhere on Friday,— The economics of arbitration clauses.— A paper on why “inflation stability implies that low-interest rate monetary policy is, perhaps unintentionally, benign”.— How America’s top 20 per cent perpetuate inequality.— Underestimating Corbyn.— Career optionality:This emphasis on creating optionality can backfire in surprising ways. Instead of enabling young people to take on risks and make choices, acquiring options becomes habitual. You can never create enough option value—and the longer you spend acquiring options, the harder it is to stop.The Yale undergraduate goes to work at McKinsey for two years, then comes to Harvard Business School, then graduates and goes to work Goldman Sachs and leaves after several years to work at Blackstone. Optionality abounds!— Of course

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Uber, the urban planner

26 days ago

In an interview last year, Robert Caro, the acclaimed biographer of New York city planner Robert Moses, shared a simple insight that explained how an architect “can shape a metropolis for generations”:So when I say that one man not only shaped New York but shaped it for centuries to come, because now how can you overcome that? All the people who live in northeastern Queens, or Co-op City in the Bronx, and all of Suffolk and a lot of Nassau County, they’re condemned to use cars. It’s not easy to use mass transit. Moses came along with his incredible vision, and vision not in a good sense. It’s like how he built the bridges too low.I remember his aide, Sid Shapiro, who I spent a lot of time getting to talk to me, he finally talked to me. And he had this quote that I’ve never forgotten. He

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Passive investing is worse than… the misuse of antibiotics

26 days ago

Renaud de Planta is the chairman of Pictet Asset Management, an active investment manager. He also thinks passive investing “could threaten the free-market economy”. These things may or may not be related.The debate about passive investing has, if nothing else, forced writers into a very active search for appropriately alarming metaphors. Bernstein’s Inigo Fraser-Jenkins and team, of course, took the gold medal last August by comparing it, unfavourably, to serfdom and Marxism. De Planta hints at that argument with his reference to the free market economy, but heads off into the world of medicine to sound his alarm in the FT today:A cure-all. This is what passive investing represents to its growing band of proponents. Equity tracker funds, we’re told, will rid the financial market of toxic

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Ve Interactive: The rise and fall of a tech unicorn

May 26, 2017

It was a couple of weeks before Christmas last year and David Brown, the then boss of Ve Interactive, once one of Britain’s most highly valued technology startups, had bussed his staff out into the Oxfordshire countryside for a party.In the sprawling grounds of Stonor Park, a 12th century manor, staff were treated to a private country fair with free booze, carnival games, live music, and an impressive display of fireworks, some customised to show the Ve logo.[embedded content]It was the sort of party a profitable company might throw, but Ve was loss-making and running out of cash. At the end of that month, some staff weren’t paid on time. Brown, 44, assured them it wouldn’t happen again, but there were problems paying wages the next month, and the next. In March this year, he was forced to

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Listen: Blippar boss Ambarish Mitra falsely claiming he attended the London School of Economics

May 26, 2017

A couple of months ago, we published an article looking into the career and claims of Ambarish Mitra, the chief executive of one of the UK’s top technology startups, Blippar. The piece scrutinised his remarkable journey from the slums of Delhi to the head of a British technology “unicorn”, the term for young billion-dollar businesses.One of the things we found was Mitra had not attended the London School of Economics, as some outlets had reported. (One publication even quoted Mitra himself making the claim.) Shortly after we published our story, Mitra wrote to us insisting that any suggestion he studied at the university had not come from him.Since then, we stumbled upon this interview Mitra did in 2016 with the Indian website YourStory, which wrote:[Mitra] enrolled at LSE, one of the top

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British fund managers in Brexit Brawl

May 25, 2017

It’s a fight like you’ve never seen before. A brawl that’s up there with Ali and Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle. Two heavyweights going toe-to-toe until the final bell. It’s… the differing opinions about the UK economy held by British fund managers.In the blue corner! We have Neil Woodford, the once untouchable King of the City who has come a cropper betting on biotech (and a bit of fringe physics) but is now bullish on the UK economy. As per the FT, last week:Mr Woodford, whose new fund is free of geographical constraints, said its portfolio holdings expressed his belief that “people were too downbeat about the UK economy”, and that he saw opportunities in the stock market “right here, right now”.“The bearish mood has resulted in very big share price falls in some domestic cyclical

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Fintech reinvents lottery bonds

May 24, 2017

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have a knack for taking old things and making them look new. The latest example of which is Long Game, which TechCrunch tells us is “a bank account, with a twist”:The personal finance app allows users to play games and win cash prizes up to $1 million. It may sound like a gimmick, but these are FDIC-insured accounts backed by Blue Ridge Bank in Virginia.[…]In addition to the possibilities of cash rewards, users accrue .1 percent interest. She hopes that participants will take saving seriously and view the games as a bonus.While Long Game touts the $1 million prize possibility, so far the largest check they’ve written is $1,000. Like the actual lottery, it’s an odds-based game and the chances of the app making you a millionaire are 1 in 227 million.This is

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‘Thanks for sharing the foxhole’

May 11, 2017

The subject of the email should have been warning enough for Jes Staley, the embattled chief executive of Barclays. At quarter to nine on Wednesday evening, after a bruising shareholders’ meeting, Mr Staley received a message purporting to be from his chairman, John McFarlane. The heading read: “The fool doth think he is wise”.In fact, the message was from a prankster, using the Gmail account john.mcfarlane.barclays@gmail.com. The imposter described Michael Mason-Mahon, an individual shareholder who called for Mr Staley to resign at Wednesday’s annual meeting, “as brusque as he is ill informed” and went on to reassure the Barclays chief executive that together they had successfully seen off any attempt to force Mr Staley out.“Surely the fickleminded nature of the angry few will help tie up

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Does the European Investment Fund have good returns?

May 11, 2017

One of the great lies about capitalism is that private enterprise is separate from the state. Markets have long been a tool of government and government have long been a tool of markets in a symbiotic relationship designed to crush the ordinary man or create prosperity for all, depending on your political outlook.European venture capital is an area where the connections are quite plain to see. The European Investment Fund, a public-private partnership between the EU, commercial banks, and other financial institutions, is the largest single investor into European venture capital funds. In 2014, it directly accounted for 12 per cent of all funding into European venture capital and indirectly accounted for 41 per cent of all venture capital investments into startups that year, according to

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Congratulations…

May 11, 2017

…to Zopa, the “peer-to-peer” lender and wannabe bank that is now the first of the UK’s big three P2P startups to get full authorisation from the FCA:Zopa, the pioneering financial services business, announces that it has today been granted full authorisation by the FCA for peer-to-peer lending (Article 36H).[…]Full Authorisation from the FCA is a pre-requisite for Zopa to offer the Innovative Finance ISAs (IFISA). Following notification that Zopa has been granted full authorisation, it will seek permission from Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) to become an ISA Manager. Further details of the launch of Zopa’s Innovative Finance ISA will be announced following the HMT’s decision.And commiserations to Funding Circle and Ratesetter. Hang in there…Related link:Peer-to-peer may have changed banking,

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Brexit trouble for British venture capital

May 10, 2017

Shortly after the UK voted to leave the European Union, we and others flagged up the European Investment Fund — a huge but little known source of cash for technology investors in Europe. The EIF accounted for over a third of the investment in British VC from 2011 to 2015 and losing access to it is going to be painful.At the time, the fund said it would be business as usual until the UK formally exited the EU. But now, barely weeks after negotiations began, the EIF is already throttling its activities in Britain, as we reported on FT.com with our Brussels colleague Jim Brunsden:The European Investment Fund, a public-private partnership which accounts for more than a third of investment in UK-based venture capital funds, is slowing its activity in Britain and turning away funds that may have

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Powa Technologies, an addendum

May 4, 2017

One of the great unanswered questions about the saga of Powa Technologies, the billion-dollar British startup that crashed spectacularly last year, is what on earth was main investor Wellington Management thinking?Thanks to Rob Copeland and Peter Rudegeair at the Wall Street Journal, we have a partial answer as to why the Boston-based firm ploughed hundreds of millions of dollars into Dan Wagner’s venture. In short, an investor who knew next to nothing about technology decided to try his hand at picking ‘innovative’ startups.According to the WSJ, the man at the heart of the story is Nick Adams, a hedge fund manager at Wellington who made his name investing in banks. After the financial crisis, he turned away from the sector and towards bets on young, risky, private technology companies. Wagner’s Powa Technologies was one. Copeland and Rudegair, citing ‘people famiilar with the matter’, write that Adams “promised not to meddle in [its] day-to-day operations” and never visited Powa’s expensive and opulent London headquarters.(The story also claims Adams didn’t ask for a seat on Powa’s board, though Diane Glossman, who we understood to be Wellington’s representative, was a board member of Powa from 2013, when Wellington first invested in Powa.)More troubling is this paragraph:In December 2015, Wellington boosted its estimate of what Powa was worth, investor documents indicate. Mr.

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A beautiful cloud

May 3, 2017

Say it, silently. Beau Nuage. Beau. Nuage. BeauNuage. Beau Nuage Two Point Oh:No more bulky, breakable umbrella. Meet Beau Nuage, the next generation of folding umbrellas: the high quality umbrella with the first self-drying cover.Not only will it protect you from the rain, your Beau Nuage will be the perfect companion. This strong umbrella is made from first-class materials, with its innovative microfiber cover which dries it. We are back with our second collection: Beau Nuage 2.0, an improved version of our revolutionary umbrella.Yes, for centuries humanity has laboured with the burden of umbrellas that, try as they might, simply don’t get dry again. Our umbrellas might give us temporary respite from the heavens, but they also leave us with a sad legacy: skeletal, water-soaked canopies that never return to their original, dehydrated form. And now, finally, that problem has been solved by Beau Nuage, a Paris-based company currently raising $10,000 for its must-have product.Beau Nuage is not a “simple umbrella”, no. “This is a revolutionary project, bringing several innovations together to make your life easier,” the company says:Thanks to a three-layer technology, our cover absorbs the raindrops and keeps your umbrella always dry.The inner “absorption” layer is made of a special, microfiber fabric which retains water and will absorb the raindrops from your umbrella.

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Jamie Dimon discovers new, radioactive form of chutzpah

April 13, 2017

In an impassioned speech, he said there is dysfunction in the mortgage market that he thinks has cut lending by up to $500 billion a year, boxing out many of the Americans who would benefit the most.His comments were based on a March 31 report from JPMorgan’s fixed income strategy team, which said that “under an early 2000s lending regime, another $500bn of new purchase loans could have been extended in 2016.”“If that number is right, shame on us” for not doing something about it, Dimon said.— via Business Insider, ht @odavis_Related link:Post-crisis mortgages cost more but maybe that’s a good thing — FT Alphaville

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don’t cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

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Small businesses hate fintech lenders more than big banks

April 12, 2017

If there’s one thing the fintech world prides itself on, it’s that customers like them more than the banks. The banks’ stuff is expensive, clunky, and face-meltingly slow, but fintech startups, who are more pure of heart and sound of mind, have cheap, modern, lightning-fast wares. As a result, the only reason customers don’t switch to fintechs and join the revolution is they don’t know what they’re missing out on.Well… not quite. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released its 2016 small business credit survey, which gives us an idea of the experiences of over 10,000 firms across the US. As Matt highlighted yesterday, one of the things we learn from the research is that small business expectations doesn’t tell us much about the economy. But we also get some information on how small business owners view various sources of credit. The results for fintech startups, specifically online lenders, are not as great as you might expect:You’re not reading that wrong. Small businesses in the US are more satisfied with big banks than they are with cool, hip, new online lenders. Despite all the marketing and hype, the fintech players are liked less than the people who set fire to the economy.But that’s not the whole story.

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