Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Oil may drop to $30 says some experts (HEI)

Getty Images

Oil prices continued their downward spiral Friday, falling more than $1, after a short-lived rally of around 5 percent the previous day, as concerns of a disruption to supplies in the Middle East appeared to ease. Against this backdrop, hedge fund managers said the oil price would remain volatile and could even fall as low as $30.
“I believe we have a chance to go down to $30 and then going back up towards $50 or so by the end of the year,” Pierre Andurand, who made his name and fortune in 2008 by predicting a sharp rise and collapse in oil prices, told CNBC.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Drones?...The 10 best for consumers (TechRepublic)

DJI's Phantom series is one of the industry standards when it comes to commercially available UAV drones. The Phantom 2 Vision+ comes ready to use with a first-person camera and retails for a little more than $1000.

Parrot is another industry-leader in the drone space and it's AR series is the company's flagship line. The AR.Drone is easy to fly, but can have connectivity issues when connecting to your phone or tablet as a controller. There are a few different versions of the AR.Drone, reaching up to $500.
The 3D Robotics (3DR) IRIS+ is known for its autopilot. A great drone for "follow-me" video, it utilizes two-axis gimbal stabilization to keep the camera steady. You'll get 16 to 22 minutes of flight time and it costs $750.
The UDI U818A is a great value, coming in at just about $60 on Amazon. It is easy to fly, and great for beginners, but you'll only get about nine minutes of flight time.
Another good quadcopter for beginners is the X5Cfrom Chinese company Syma. It costs about $50 on Amazon and comes equipped with an HD camera.
The Hubsan X4 is available with or without a camera and can be yours for $50-$60. You can adjust the gyro sensitivity and you will get about seven minutes of flight time. The X4 is available in red or black with different color stripes.
If you are unsure of your drone piloting abilities, theHigh Roller might be for you. The High Roller is a caged drone that offers you extra safety from potential crashes. It comes ready to fly out of the box and operates on a 2.4 Ghz radio system.
The Proto-X line of micro quadcopters are great for those looking for a tiny drone with big features. TheProto-X FPV has a camera that gives the pilot a real-time first-person view of the flight. Prices vary, but they average around $220, and they come in six colors.
The QR X350PRO can fly for up to 25 minutes. It offers an available google system that integrates with the FPV camera and allows the pilot to see what the drone sees.
The Blade 350 QX2 comes with a 3000mAh battery and GPS, and has optional pitch control for the unit. While the drone itself usually gets high marks in controllability, the C-GO camera has been met with mixed reviews due to its quality.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

As the Snowden leaks began, there was "fear and panic" in Congress

Summary:Just a few minutes after the first NSA leak was published, the phones of US lawmakers began to buzz, hours before most of America would find out over their morning coffee.
Sen. Ron Wyden (left) speaking to Sen. Dianne Feinstein in June 2013
It was late evening on June 5 two years ago in a muggy Washington D.C., when almost every phone belonging to a member of Congress began to ring.
News broke in The Guardian that the elusive National Security Agency was forcing Verizon, one of the nation's largest phone companies, tohand over on a rolling basis the phone records of its entire customer base.
Dozens of US lawmakers were finding out for the first time of this potentially massive domestic surveillance program, as were the American people who were reportedly ensnared by it.
But a handful of privy lawmakers in Congress were not surprised at all. One of those was Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who along with his colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee had been secretly briefed on the program years prior to the program's leaking.
About fifteen minutes after the story broke, Wyden received another call on his cell phone.
"I can't tell you what you want me to tell you!," he told the caller. It was Wyden's former communications director Jennifer Hoelzer, who had spent more than half a decade by the senator's side. It wasn't news to her that her former boss had known about the secret program, but she was surprised that he was still barred from confirming or denying its existence.
By the end of the first hour -- approaching midnight -- press officers for the members on the Senate Intelligence Committee were unable to comment to journalists on the record about a program that they, as non-clearance holding staffers, weren't even aware of themselves.
"There was an incredible amount of fear and panic, because nobody knew what else was coming," said a senior congressional official with direct knowledge of the events on that and subsequent days, who declined to be named for this story.
"Nobody knew how sensitive these leaks were, and whether or not this was the sort of thing that would put individuals at risk," the person said. There was a strong suspicion that the leaker was someone within the intelligence community -- perhaps someone high up in the chain of command with access to internal intelligence documents. There was a scramble among those with security clearance to find out what had been leaked, and who might have leaked it.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) released a joint statement first thing the next morning on June 6 as the American people were reading the news over their morning coffee. The statement said that members of Congress had been "briefed extensively" on the program.
Except, that wasn't entirely true.
Some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee later admitted they weren't even aware of the full scope of the program. Sens. Angus King (I-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who joined the committee months before the Snowden disclosures, told one local newspaper a day after news of the leaks broke that they had not known "specifics" of certain surveillance programs, including the phone records program.
Wyden became one of the few committee members (with the exception of Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and his then-colleague Mark Udall (D-CO), who are both allies of Wyden) to comment publicly.
In his statement, Wyden doled out his critical rhetoric, saying that he had been "concerned" for years about the program. He also said the program's effectiveness was "unclear."
Wyden's former chief of staff Josh Kardon, who served for more than a decade between 1996 and 2010, explained that prior to the leaks the senator was clued up because he wouldn't just rely on what the intelligence officials were telling him.
Kardon said the senator would "develop his own sources" within the intelligence community instead of relying on the White House to give him straight answer.
By law, the intelligence agencies have to keep the committee (and other key leadership-holding members of Congress) informed of their activities, but they would instead drip feed information and hope nobody asked too many follow-up questions. Things were so bad, said a former staffer close to Wyden who did not want to be named for the story, that the senator could have asked the simplest of questions, like "if anybody had the time," to which an intelligence agent would respond with, simply, "yes."
A day after the first leak, a second surveillance program -- known as PRISM -- was revealed.
The secret program was met with instant backlash from Silicon Valley after it was shown to allow the collection of almost every shred of user information held by nine named technology giants. Inside the walls of Congress, that panic had turned to anger at the inability to speak out.
It was clear by now that the first leak was not an isolated incident. It would be a guessing game as to what would come next -- even to those who thought they were in the know.
This is part two in a series of reports based on interviews, conducted over a period of eight months, with lawmakers and their staffers, policy-makers, security leaders, and key figures who have played a role in the NSA surveillance saga.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

36th Hemispheric Congress: Tourism / El Turismo en el 36 Congreso Hemisférico

"Tourism and its specialties" will be the main theme of the plenary to be held within the 36th Hemispheric Congress of Latin Chambers of Commerce and Industry to be held from June 1 to 4 2015 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

International specialists in the field will share with the audience their successful experiences: 
Mr. Charles Tait , Director of Sales Greater Miami Convention and Visitor Bureau will talk about Miami, Capital of the Americas and soon the World; 

Eng. Enrique Solana , President, Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism of Mexico (CONCANACO - SERVYTUR ),+ educational campaigns and strategy will showcase Mexico's ability to lure tourist destinations. 

Mr. Juan Miguel Moreno, the Chamber of Commerce of Almeria, Spain will address the Gastronomic Tourism issues, and 

the Tourism Minister of Poland will address medical tourism 

"El Turismo y sus especialidades" será el tema principal de la plenaria que se realizará en el marco del 36 Congreso Hemisférico de Cámaras de Comercio e Industria Latinas a efectuarse del 1 al 4 de junio de 2015 en el Hotel Biltmore de Coral Gables.

Especialistas internacionales en el tema compartirán con el público asistente sus exitosas experiencias. 

Así el Lic. Carlos Tait, Director de Ventas del Greater Miami Convention and Visitor Bureau nos hablará de Miami Capital de las Américas y muy pronto del Mundo; 

el Ing. Enrique Solana, Presidente, Confederación de Cámaras Nacionales de Comercio, Servicios y Turismo de México (CONCANACO-SERVYTUR) contará la campaña educativa de México; 

el Lic Juan Miguel Moreno, de la Cámara de Comercio de Almería, España tratará el tema Turismo Gastronómico y 

el secretario de Turismo de Polonia tratará el Turismo Médico.

Mrs. Betty Gradera
305 642 3870 ext 202

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Amazon begins Webstore phaseout: Why it makes sense


Summary:Amazon says it is no longer accepting new sellers into its ecommerce platform service, which has been steadily losing out to the competition.

It's curtains for Amazon's ecommerce platform Webstore.
After reports surfaced last week that Amazon would discontinue Webstore on July 1, 2016, the internet giant posted a message on the platform's homepage that at least somewhat confirms its demise.
Amazon first notified Webstore users via email that the service would shut down, promising support as sellers migrate their e-commerce operations to another platform. MarketingLand.com obtained a copy of the email:
We realize your own website is important to your business. We will support the Webstore service until July 1, 2016 to give you 15 months to prepare for the change.
Please make sure you secure all relevant data from your Webstore by July 1, 2016, as you will not have access to Amazon Webstore content or features after this date. Amazon Webstore's data export features can be used for this purpose as you migrate to a new platform.
The 15-month window gives Webstore users a decent amount of time to find another provider. Still, as the news spread to message boardsfor Amazon sellers, sentiments ranged from "good riddance" to "what now?" And that's where the story gets interesting.
Amazon launched Webstore in 2010 as a means for SMB retailers to create and run their own online shop. For $79 per month, plus sales charges between 2.10 percent to 2.90 percent, the platform helped small merchants create a mobile, tablet and desktop website, with additional features such as inventory and order management, payment processing and shipping services.
But in the five years since, the platform's momentum stalled. Amazon doesn't break out the official tally of Webstore users, but estimates indicate there are only several hundred companies currently using the platform.
"Amazon has been bleeding customers from this platform," said Peter Sheldon, VP and principal analyst for ecommerce at research firm Forrester.
Even as the venerable king of ecommerce, Amazon struggled to appeal to smaller online sellers because of the conflicting relationship it presented.
At a most basic level, small merchants were, in a way, sleeping with the enemy. Although Webstore users were able to maintain their own brand presence on their store, Amazon's branding was always nearby. And if the price was right, shoppers could buy a cheaper product directly from Amazon in just a couple clicks.
"I think merchants themselves have a conflict of interest," continued Sheldon. "You can always tell if a merchant is running an Amazon store -- the flow, the structure, the UI and the checkout process -- it was all Amazon. So in terms of trusting Amazon as their core channel, it was probably a step too far for some of these merchants."
Beyond Amazon's frenemy reputation, it seems Webstore was also lacking in the innovation department. User complaints have described Webstore as cumbersome, with features failing to provide customers with the most up-to-date functionality. Under those conditions, Webstore users were drawn to the bevy of competitor platforms making headway in the market.
"Everyone is gong to the new kids on the block," Sheldon added. "Shopify, Bigcommerce -- they have taken hundreds of millions in VC funding and have built compelling features. Amazon couldn't compete."
But it's also possible Amazon simply did not want to compete. The profits Amazon made from Webstore were likely negligible, turning the business from strategic to more of a distraction. Exiting the Webstore business will allow Amazon to reallocate its resources to one of its more profitable segments. While it remains speculation at this point, Amazon's same-day delivery and FAA approved delivery drones could be in for an investment boost.

Monday, March 23, 2015

12 drone disasters that show why the FAA hates drones (TechRepublic)

Love them or hate them, drones are here to stay. Here are 12 drone mishaps that show why some people are still wary. 

Whether good or bad, everyone seems to have an opinion on drones. Few technological advancements are as hotly debated as drones are right now.
The definition for what constitutes a drone varies, but most people agree that a drone is a remotely-piloted, unmanned aerial vehicle or aircraft. The distinction usually comes in its purpose -- commercial or military.
With regard to military use, objections are fairly obvious -- people have ethical concerns about "drone strikes," or the idea that a remotely-piloted aircraft could swoop in on a target and destroy it, especially when that target is a person. On the commercial end, though, arguments are more complicated.
Consumer drone use brings with it privacy concerns (many models have attachable cameras), regulatory issues, and concerns about the skill level of amateur pilots. Although, drones have done quite a bit of good in the world as well, such as disaster recovery, reforestation, and delivery of goods.
Still, things go awry. Here are 12 drone disasters contributing to public wariness.

1. Drone crashes near the White House

On Monday, January 26, 2015, a drone crash landed on the White House lawn. The White House does have its own specific flight restrictions, but the drone wasn't easy to detect. Immediately after the incident, the White House went into lockdown. The US attorney decided not to charge the drone operator, Shawn Usman, after determining the drone was not under his control at the time of the crash.

2. Drone "attack" on German Chancellor Angela Merkel

During a Christian Democratic Party campaign in September 2014, a Parrot AR drone crashed in front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The drone was piloted by a German Pirate Party member as a government surveillance protest. No one was harmed, but the situation raised concerns over similar experiences with weaponized drones.

3. Drone cuts off tip of photographer's nose

What started out as goofy holiday promotion ended terribly when a drone crashed into the face of Brooklyn Daily photographer Georgine Benvenuto, clipping the end of her nose and cutting her chin. The drone was a promotion by TGI Fridays called "Mobile Mistletoe," and it carried mistletoe above diners prompting them to kiss.

4. Drone injures Australian triathlete

At the Geraldton Endure Batavia triathlon in Australia, a drone was being used to photograph competitors when it crashed into triathlete Raija Ogden, causing a minor head wound, which required stitches to close. The drone operator, photographer Warren Abrams, claims that the drone crashed after someone in the audience stole control of it from him.

5. Drone injures bystanders in Virginia crowd

In the fall of 2013, spectators gathered at the Virginia Motorsports Park for the Great Bull Run, a festival with live music, drinking, a tomato fight, and a bull run similar to the Running of the Bulls in Spain. During the festival, a drone being used to record video crashed into the stands, injuring several people in attendance.

6. Drone flies too close to a news helicopter

One major concern for consumer drone use is the potential for operators to pilot drones into occupied airspace. In Washington, a news helicopter was covering a fire when the pilot noticed a drone flying too close for comfort. Nothing happened in this particular incident, but the FAA said it receives 25 reports a month of drones flying too close to manned aircraft. Recreational drone flights are supposed to be kept under 400 feet.

7. Drone nearly crashes into Airbus A320

In July 2014, a drone narrowly missed colliding with an Airbus A320 as it was taking off from London's Heathrow airport. The plane was at about 700 feet when the incident occurred and BBC reported that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rated the incident as a "serious risk of collision," the top rating it can give.

8. Drone caught carrying drugs near the border

On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, a drone carrying methamphetamine crashed in Mexico near the US border. The drone was transporting more than six pounds of crystal meth when it crashed in a supermarket parking lot in the Mexican city of Tijuana. According to the DEA, drones are becoming a common means to transport drugs over the border.

9. Drone flies over Bank of America Stadium

Unsuspecting fans and players alike were surprised when a drone flew over Bank of America Stadium during a Carolina Panthers football game in Charlotte, North Carolina. The drone caused no harm or damage in its operation, but its operator was detained and questioned afterwards. This incident, along with similar situations, prompted the FAA to criminalize drone flight in certain areas.

10. Drone flies over Comerica Park

The Detroit Tigers were playing against the Baltimore Orioles in a Major League Baseball game when a drone went buzzing by overhead. Being that professional sporting events usually attract fans in the tens of thousands, a weaponized drone could cause serious injury. Drones are difficult to detect and make security harder to enforce at such events.

11. Drone crashes into Grand Prismatic Spring

A Dutch man crashed his drone in the Grand Prismatic Spring, a famous hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. At the time, park rangers were concerned that the downed drone, as well as attempts to remove it, could hurt the spring.

12. Drone attacked by hawk

In the ultimate case of nature fighting back against man-made machines, a drone met its demise at the talons of a red-tailed hawk flying in a Cambridge, Massachusetts park. The drone caught the skirmish on its attached camera and the ensuing video went viral. While this probably won't be a common occurrence, the argument can be made that drones still pose a threat to wildlife.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Company Securing Your Internet Has Close Ties to Russian Spies (BusinessWeek)

Kaspersky Lab has published reports on alleged electronic espionage by the U.S., Israel, and the U.K.—but it’s yet to look at Russia

Image result for Russian Spies

Kaspersky Lab sells security software, including antivirus programs recommended by big-box stores and other U.S. PC retailers. The Moscow-based company ranks sixth in revenue among security-software makers, taking in $667 million in 2013, and is a favorite among Best Buy’s Geek Squad technicians and reviewers on Amazon.com. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Eugene Kaspersky used to work for the KGB, and in 2007, one of the company’s Japanese ad campaigns used the slogan “A Specialist in Cryptography from KGB.” The sales tactic, a local partner’s idea, was “quickly removed by headquarters,” according to Kaspersky Lab, as the company recruited senior managers in the U.S. and Europe to expand its business and readied an initial public offering with a U.S. investment firm.
In 2012, however, Kaspersky Lab abruptly changed course. Since then, high-level managers have left or been fired, their jobs often filled by people with closer ties to Russia’s military or intelligence services. Some of these people actively aid criminal investigations by the FSB, the KGB’s successor, using data from some of the 400 million customers who rely on Kaspersky Lab’s software, say six current and former employees who declined to discuss the matter publicly because they feared reprisals. This closeness starts at the top: Unless Kaspersky is traveling, he rarely misses a weekly banya (sauna) night with a group of about 5 to 10 that usually includes Russian intelligence officials. Kaspersky says in an interview that the group saunas are purely social: “When I go to banya, they’re friends.”
Kaspersky says government officials can’t associate his company’s data with individual customers and that he hasn’t had to worry about increased pressure to demonstrate loyalty to Vladimir Putin. “I’m not the right person to talk about Russian realities, because I live in cyberspace,” he says.
Nonetheless, while Kaspersky Lab has published a series of reports that examined alleged electronic espionage by the U.S., Israel, and the U.K., the company hasn’t pursued alleged Russian operations with the same vigor. In February, Kaspersky Lab researchers released a remarkably detailed report about the tactics of a hacker collective known as the Equation Group, which has targeted Russia, Iran, and Pakistan, and which cybersecurity analysts believe to be a cover for the U.S. National Security Agency. Kaspersky Lab hasn’t issued a similar report about Russia’s links to sophisticated spyware known as Sofacy, which has attacked NATO and foreign ministries in Eastern Europe. Sofacy was reported on last fall by U.S. cybersecurity company FireEye.
While Kaspersky Lab is the most prominent cybersecurity business with close ties to the Russian government, that affinity with the country’s spooks reflects a yearslong shift by security companies toward choosing sides. Most major security-software makers work with the U.S. in some capacity. Any government relationships can make a company’s products harder to sell in a paranoid global marketplace, says Rick Holland, principal analyst of security and risk management for Forrester Research. “It’s a challenge for any security company out there,” Holland says. “What are your ties to government?”
Kaspersky Lab’s ties dramatically increased after two waves of executive departures, say four of the former insiders. The first came in 2012, after Kaspersky scotched an IPO partnership with Greenwich (Conn.) investment firm General Atlantic. Afterward, Chief Business Officer Garry Kondakov circulated an internal e-mail saying that from then on, the company’s highest positions would be held only by Russians, say two people who saw the e-mail. Board meetings, once conducted in English, were now in Russian. The company denies that the e-mail was ever sent.
In 2014 after a handful of senior managers, including Chief Technology Officer Nikolay Grebennikov and North American President Steve Orenberg, asked Kaspersky to consider appointing a new CEO and retaining only the chairmanship of the company, he fired them.
Chief Legal Officer Igor Chekunov, who regularly joins Kaspersky’s banya nights, is the point man for the company’s work with the Russian government, three of the insiders say. Since 2013 he has managed a team of 10 specialists who study data from customers who have been hacked and provide technical support to the FSB and other Russian agencies. The team can access data directly from any of the company’s systems. While Kaspersky Lab’s managing director for North America, Christopher Doggett, says its data are anonymous, two people familiar with the technology say it can be altered to gather identifying information from individual computers and has been used to aid the FSB in investigations. Chekunov had no biography on the company website prior to a query from Bloomberg Businessweek. Spokeswoman Sarah Kitsos says he served as a policeman after working in the KGB’s border patrol.
FireEye shows how these relationships work in the U.S. The company was guided early on by the CIA, which uses its technology and for years maintained a stake in the company through the agency’s investment arm, In-Q-Tel. FireEye has revealed Chinese and Russian hacking but has yet to do a major report calling out spying by the U.S. Although FireEye CEO David DeWalt praised Kaspersky Lab’s Equation Group report, he wouldn’t say whether his company is researching the group. “Is it any mystery what origins they have and who probably fed them these information sources?” he says. “You look at all of that, and you just go, ‘Hey, this is the reality we’re in now.’ ”
In head-to-head tests, Kaspersky Lab’s software still performs well against competitors. “The techies love us,” Doggett says. But the ruble’s slide will likely dent the company’s 2014 earnings, which it posts in dollars online. More important, Kaspersky has struggled to win federal U.S. contracts. “There’s a cyber isolationism that’s definitely emerging,” says Holland, the Forrester analyst. “They have to overcome any perceived or actual alliances.”
The bottom line: Popular security-software maker Kaspersky Lab has close ties to Russian military and intelligence officials.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Fuzzy, Insane Math That's Creating So Many Billion-Dollar Tech Companies (BusinessWeek)

Snapchat, the photo-messaging app raising cash at a $15 billion valuation, probably isn't actually worth more than Clorox or Campbell Soup. So where did investors come up with that enormous headline number?

Here's the secret to how Silicon Valley calculates the value of its hottest companies: The numbers are sort of made-up. For the most mature startups, investors agree to grant higher valuations, which help the companies with recruitment and building credibility, in exchange for guarantees that they'll get their money back first if the company goes public or sells. They can also negotiate to receive additional free shares if a subsequent round's valuation is less favorable. Interviews with more than a dozen founders, venture capitalists, and the attorneys who draw up investment contracts reveal the most common financial provisions used in private-market technology deals today.

The backroom agreements are becoming more common as tech companies stay private longer, according to the interviews and financial documents obtained by Bloomberg Business. The practice obfuscates the meaning of a valuation, which can become dangerous down the road because private investors aren't taking the same risks a public-market shareholder would. By the time a company does go public, the valuation it got from VCs may not align with its balance sheet. Just ask Box.

Some VCs defend the practice by saying valuations are just a placeholder number, part of an equation fueled by other, more important factors. Those can include market share, growth projections, and a founder's ego. The number is typically set by the company and negotiated alongside various provisions designed to protect a new backer's money. That often comes at the expense of employee shareholders and earlier investors, whose holdings are diluted to make room for new entrants. If you've seen the movie The Social Network, you have an idea of how that works.

"These big numbers almost don't matter," says Randy Komisar, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "Those numbers are just a middling shot at a valuation, and then it's adjusted later" through various legal techniques, if an earlier valuation was too high, he says.

For Uber to get to $40 billion or Airbnb to $20 billion, you'd need to get a little creative with the variables underlying that logic. Since private tech companies often lack earnings or enough historical data to inform projections—or, in the case of Snapchat, any significant revenue—investors can't rely on the metrics available for public companies. If there were a math problem for determining a tech startup's valuation (for the record, there isn't), it might look like this:

Illustrator: 731

Founder's hopes and dreams

A founder often starts off with a number in mind, based on the startup's last valuation, the valuations of competitors, and, for good measure, the valuation of the company's neighbor down the street. It can become a sort of arms race. When Slack Technologies founder Stewart Butterfield decided to raise $120 million, his goal was to crack a $1 billion valuation for his corporate software startup. The other appealing thing about a big number: It means founders don't have to give away as many of their shares to raise a lot of capital. 

Billion-dollar companies join a club of "unicorns," a term used to explain how rare they are. But there are more than 50 of them now. There's a new buzzword, "decacorn," for those over $10 billion, which includes Airbnb, Dropbox, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Uber. It's a made-up word based on a creature that doesn't exist. “If you wake up in a room full of unicorns, you are dreaming," Todd Dagres, a founding partner at Spark Capital, recently told Bloomberg News.

Venture capitalists may remind founders not to get carried away because they may need to raise money again soon, perhaps in a less-favorable market. Fundraising at a lower valuation is known as a "down round." It's a major Silicon Valley no-no in terms of perception, and it can have negative effects, depending on the other stipulations of the agreement. (More on that later.)

How fast it's actually growing

A tech startup's cash flow is less important than you might think. It's something investors look at for a sense of how quickly a startup is growing its revenue, if the company has any. Financiers also look to find the number of people using the product, regardless of whether they pay for it. Investors salivate over what's called "hockey-stick" growth curves, indicating massive uptake. Costs, especially operations costs, are largely ignored for fast-growing companies. (To borrow an old aphorism, you have to spend money to make money.) Investors hope that early growth is indicative of future growth, although this can overlook the impact of early adopters.

Downside protection

Here's where things start to get tricky: Buried in their corporate filings, startups tuck away all sorts of provisions that reward investors for accepting these mega-valuations. The practice is more regular and egregious in financing rounds for mature companies. Their capital requirements tend to be much larger, so they must turn to more sophisticated investment firms that demand these kinds of terms. Startups that are generous with these guarantees can garner much higher valuations.
Each provision covers different ways to make sure new investors get paid back, even if disaster strikes, if an initial public offering gives the company a market cap far less than its private number, or, more commonly, if the startup has to raise money again at a lower valuation. One stipulation, called senior liquidation preference, ensures that a certain group gets its money back before anyone else, including employees. Another class, called downside protection or ratchets, automatically grants additional shares in the event of a declining valuation, removing a great deal of risk that the stake will ever lose value.
"When we're talking about these decacorn-type valuations, generally, the way these deals are structured is: They could be worth that much; it's not a fake number, but it's not the same as buying the stock in the public market," says Jason Lemkin, managing director at Storm Ventures. "There's always some kind of warrant, some kind of ratchet, some kind of downside protection."

Investor FOMO

In addition to minimizing the chance of getting burned, investors fear missing out on the next Google or Facebook. A severe case of FOMO can cause some to do crazy things to get into the hottest deals. But they don't just want the promise of an IPO or an acquisition someday; they want it to happen soon.
The firms giving cash to mature startups are often hedge funds, investment banks, and sovereign wealth funds, which can't afford to wait seven to 10 years for a bet to deliver returns, as a VC can. If a startup's board of directors promises a short, plausible timeline for taking the company public, investors are more likely to give leeway on eye-popping valuations. In exchange for coughing up hundreds of millions to keep the lights and espresso machines on, these investors may also arrange to get shares at, say, a 20 percent discount to the IPO price. Or they may still push to get paid back first and in full.
"When investors are demanding these provisions more, especially things like senior liquidation preferences, that tells me that there's more risk and uncertainty in the market, and they're really protecting themselves," says Barry Kramer, a partner at Fenwick & West, a law firm involved in some of the Valley's hottest deals. "I don't like to use the word bubble, but it's a sign of concern that valuations are getting too high."

There is, however, a further number that's grounded in reality. It's the valuation based on common stock, which is generally what employees receive, and it's calculated by professional auditors. That figure usually isn't anywhere close to the headline number. "It may be 30 percent less; it may be 50 percent less," Kramer says. "They don't necessarily disclose that to the public until the time of their IPO."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

BritWeek in CAMACOL

CAMACOL celebrated BritWeeK, with a gathering-evening with officials representing the British authorities in South Florida, local and British business leaders. The following is our TV program "Economic Remarks" devoted to this event:

British Consul General in Miami: David Prodger

David Prodger took up his appointment as British Consul General in Miami in August 2014.

David has served in a number of roles, both in the UK and overseas, within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) since joining in 1999. Prior to this he worked in the private sector as a land surveyor, project manager and business development manager.

His previous post was as Deputy Head of Security Policy in FCO London where his prime responsibility was leading UK European security policy. This included: overseeing UK policy towards NATO including in preparation for the 2014 UK-hosted NATO Summit in Wales; leading the UK's EU common security and defence policy; overseeing bilateral security policy relations between the UK and other European countries; and relations between the UK and the EU and NATO Allies, as well as other partners; conventional arms control in Europe policy; and UK space policy.

David has also served as Deputy Head of Mission and Consul General at the British Embassy in Brussels, where he also led the political and public diplomacy team. Before that he was Head of the Commercial Team at the British Embassy in Buenos Aires where his main responsibilities were to promote UK exports and work closely with British investors during and after the 2002 economic crisis. He has also held other posts in the FCO covering the Middle East and Latin America.

Prior to joining the FCO, David was a Chartered Surveyor, working with the UK's national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey, on projects to assist international land reform in Central and Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. He has also worked as a computer analyst in market research and in the upstream oil exploration and production business with BP and others across a range of locations from Papua New Guinea, the Persian Gulf, the North Sea and Colombia.

David is married to Tiffany and has three children.


David Prodger tomó posesión de su cargo como Cónsul General británico en Miami en agosto de 2014. David ha trabajado en una serie de funciones, tanto en el Reino Unido y en el extranjero, dentro del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de la Commonwealth (FCO) desde que se incorporó en 1999. Anteriormente, trabajó en el sector privado como seguridad pública, director del proyecto y el desarrollo de negocios.

Su posterior trabajo fue como Jefe Adjunto de Política de Seguridad en FCO Londres, donde su principal responsabilidad lideraba la política de seguridad del Reino Unido Europea. Esto incluye: la supervisión política del Reino Unido hacia la OTAN incluyendo, en preparación para la Cumbre de la OTAN residenciado en el Reino Unido 2014 en Gales; que conduce la política de seguridad y defensa común de la UE en el Reino Unido; supervisión de las relaciones bilaterales políticas de seguridad entre el Reino Unido y otros países europeos; y las relaciones entre el Reino Unido y la UE y los aliados de la OTAN, así como otros asociados; control de armas convencionales en la política de Europa; y la política espacial del Reino Unido.

David también se ha desempeñado como Jefe de Misión Adjunto y el Cónsul General de la Embajada Británica en Bruselas, donde también dirigió el equipo de la diplomacia política y pública. Antes él fue Jefe del Equipo Comercial de la Embajada Británica en Buenos Aires, donde sus principales responsabilidades eran promover las exportaciones del Reino Unido y trabajar en estrecha colaboración con los inversores británicos durante y después de la crisis económica de 2002. También ha ocupado otros puestos de la FCO cubren el Oriente Medio y América Latina.
David está casado con Tiffany y tiene tres hijos.


BritWeek es una organización sin fines de lucro, se inició en Los Angeles en 2007 por Nigel Lythgoe y el entonces Cónsul General Bob Peirce, para resaltar la fusión creativa entre el Reino Unido y California, y ahora Miami. En marzo de 2013, lanzamos oficialmente Visitas BritWeek Miami!

La misión de BritWeek es crear mayor conciencia de las muchas maneras en que Gran Bretaña y los EE.UU. trabajan en estrecha colaboración, y además construyen esta relación para avanzar en los negocios, las artes y la filantropía en estas dos regiones prósperas del mundo.

Cada primavera, BritWeek acoge un programa de eventos que promueve la creatividad británica, la innovación y la excelencia en California a través de múltiples categorías, entre ellas, el cine, la televisión, la música, el arte, la moda, el diseño, venta al por menor, el deporte, la filantropía, los negocios y mucho más. Los eventos tienen lugar a lo largo del Gran Los Angeles, Orange County y San Francisco. Este año, BritWeek expandió más allá de California hasta las costas de Miami! Los eventos atraen el apoyo de miles de personas, incluyendo celebridades internacionales, así como líderes empresariales y políticos.

Contribuciones filantrópicas de BritWeek han incluido la recaudación de fondos para numerosas organizaciones benéficas, incluyendo Malaria No More, Save the Children, LA's BEST, Hospital de Niños de Los Ángeles, y Big Brothers Big Sisters, y programas de promoción de los deportes de los niños, la alfabetización de los niños y prácticas profesionales internacionales.