My last post on the topic of disintermediation during a paradigm shift was Wall Street Should Be First To Invest In Reggie Middleton's UltraCoin, Much Of It Won't Be Here In 10 Years! I clearly illustrated the potential for growth of Bitcoin related companies and cited statistics for the transformation of the financial industry as we know it today.

This post introduces long form research from the analysts at Veritaseum, the same team that brought you the hard hitting BoomBustBlog research. The first page of the report says it all - "Stress Test on Banks’ Earnings Facing the Veritaseum UltraCoin Value Transaction Platform".

research report cover

Excerpts from deeper into the report...

research report 2research report 3

And of course the inevitable... What happens when a less expensive product is introduced into the market with similar or superior attributes? Margin Compression! We analyzed three big Wall Street banks, starting with the "Riskiest Bank on the Street" (time permitting, reference our hard hitting, prescient research from early 2008).

Veritaseum research report on Morgan Stanley Margin Compression

I invite all to download the free Veritasuem Research Report for July 2014. I also invite all to meet me for the soft beta launch of Veritaseum's UltraCoin Value Trading Platform in my suite at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, the evening of Saturday July 19th (this is also the weekend of The North American Bitcoin Conference in Chicago, where I will be speaking on the topic of money center bank disintermediation.

You will get to touch, play with and trade value via UltraCoin. Below is a screenshot of UltraCoin running on a Mac. I will also be taking applications for large scale beta testers and entities who wish to have customized value trading solutions created for them.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 11.05.24 

 
Published in BoomBustBlog
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 09:04

Bitcoin (and Apple) Mythbusting 101

Yesterday, I did a radio interview with Benzinga. In it I busted myths about Apple, Bitcoin and Coins in general (ABCs). Listen to the interview below and the info sheets afterwards and let me know if you knew this stuff was possible with today's tech - and Apple! 

As for Apple...

And more on http://Ultra-Coin.com...

Why am I so bullish on Bitcoin? Note: this is not an offer to buy or solicitation for securities and is presented for illustrative purposes only.

Veritaseum Executive Summary page one

Veritaseum Executive Summary page two

As we roll out Veritaseum's UltraCoin ZeroTrust Smart Contracts, I'll be posting much more on "the new way of doing business".

Media Exposure

  1. Reggie Middleton Intro
  2. How Reggie Middleton's Start-up Patented The Future of Global Finance!
  3. Reggie Middleton on Wikipedia
  4. Who is Reggie Middleton?
  5. Bitcoin is not just digital currency. It's Napster for finance.
  6. Reggie Middleton's UltraCoin @ NYC CryptoCurrency Convention
  7. Reggie Middleton Wins CNBC Stock Draft for the 2nd time in a row - with the same stock
Published in BoomBustBlog

After an interesting discussion with those in my laboratory, I've decided to apply the forensic analysis team from BoomBustBlog to the privately funded companies in the Bitcoin space. See my post from yesterday for much of the reason why.

As clearly predicted yesterday, the better funded of the payment processors will initiate a pricing blood bath they'd likely kill for...

From PayPal's subsite on Mass Payments:

Paypal Mass Pay Site Screenshot

 As you can see, PayPal has already imbued its service with much of the attributes that are being offered by the Bitcoin payment processors. They also have a material advantage as of right now, a massive installed base.

I also cannot emphasize enough how damaging the all too necessary customer service option is to margins. You see, the problem is most service companies don't put enough into customer service and handholding of the customer. From an optimal perspective, this should actually be part of the marketing and sales process, but it's often either non-existent or implemented as an after thought after enough customers start bitching and complaining, or worse yet (and likely most often the case) leaving!

As a company with mature management, it appears as if PayPal is trying to head this off at the pass as it attempts to change consumer behavior and prod them into adopting its new electronic currency payment system...

Paypal Mass Pay Site Support Screenshot

 Now, let's compare PayPal to the newly funded Bitcoin payment processors...

Bitpay

Funding Rounds (3) - $32.50M

- See more at: http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/bitpay#sthash.yvlqpNtr.dpufBitpay prices

An interesting departure from the per transaction/fee model, Bitpay implemented a subscription system which benefits those customers who perform a large quantity of relatively small transactions moreso than those who process large orders.

I calculate Bitpay's most recent $30 million series A round to have been at around 9.2x sales, valuing the company at $160 million. This is a guestimate, of course, since I do not have access to internal numbers.  

Next we have Coinbase...

Funding Rounds (3) - $31.70M

- See more at: http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/coinbase#sthash.CD8IPTp6.dpufCoinbase 

There's also Circle, founded by Mr. Allaire of Coldfusion fame (sold to Adobe Systems).

Funding Rounds (2) - $26M 

- See more at: http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/nfc-direct#sthash.dd0DaxHc.dpuf

Circle has not publicly launched yet but promises to bring a new level of simplicity and user-friendliness to the bitcoin payment ecosystem, concentrating more on a banking paradigm then the technical bent that bitcoin is known to represent. This is all you need ot know about the Circle business model as it relates to this discussion of impending margin compression...

Circle

Free=Margin Compression!

Let's see how this plays out for customers. The most lucrative segments for this industry is the SME (small and medium business enterprises) who process anywhere between 10 and 1,000 transactions per month. Why? Because there are simply more SMEs than they are big companies in the world. Let's see what the two biggest bitcoin processors look like when stacked up against PayPal's Mass Pay product for the SME market...

image019

image027image028image029

Of course, the Bitcoin transactions are likely a loss leader for additional, value added services for many companies in the not too distant future. As a matter of fact, I feel that the payment space will quickly become commoditized by Bitcoin technology - forcing these companies and many more (I'm talking about you Mastercard, Visa and Western Union) to innovate and offer significantly and materially better value for the buck.

Imagine what this competitive landscape will look like when Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover and Western Union jump into the fray. Of course, before that a much greater portion of the VC and private equity community will wake up and realize the opportunity in Bitcoin to pour more cash into it than sugar into a Bubble gum machine (emphasis on "Bubble"). The key is to get in early, and get in right. But how does one do that and where will this tale of uber margin compression end?

Well, the research report from which this info is being prepared will be offered to accredited and instituional investors starting next week, at least those who have an interest in UltraCoin. 

My next article on this topic will explicitly illustrate how UltraCoin can assist ALL players (that's right, including PayPal, Bitpay, Circle, Coinbase, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover and Western Union) as well as their direct customers, in climbing up both the food chain and the value proposition ladder - thus rapidly repairing the margin compression damage they are about to bring upon thier business models.

 image014

 

Published in BoomBustBlog

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Reggie Middleton discussion UltraCoin at the 2014 FinTech conference at Dechert LLP.

Coindesk asks "Do Patent Filings from eBay and Western Union Pose a Threat to Bitcoin?" I feel  the question is in and of itself missing the point. To explain this fully, I have to share a little bit about myself, particularly my weaknesses. I'm the type of person who is very knowledgeable about his strengths and his weaknesses, but sometimes I don't see my strength for what it is, and that is tantamount to a weakness in a highly competitive environment.

Case in point, in discussing whether or not competing patents have been filed for smart contract transacion processes by those who seek to be in my space with my contract engineer (a very skilled software architect and IP attorney), I displayed what I considered a healthy level of paranoid concern. I found it hard to believe that no one bothered to patent the most innovative, disruptive and groundbreaking aspect of this new crop of digital currencies - the ability to program them. As those who follow me know, I've spent a lot of resources developing, designing, refining and patenting advanced smart contracts (see How Reggie Middleton's Start-up Patented The Future of Global Finance!). I actually found it highly unlikely that no one had come up with this idea before me. Matt (my contracts engineer) said, "You know, it actually takes an uncanny amount of vision to have seen the scope of this stuff and act upon it, not to mention to have done so 6 months ago. Not many people are like you." Right then and there, it hit me. People really do not see things the way I do! 

Most know me from my prescient calls in banking, finance, real estate and tech (see Who is Reggie Middleton?). I've demonstrated a knack for seeing future trends and determining when things (such as valuations and opportunities) are out of whack. With that being said, the big media interest in Bitcoin combined with the increasing VC interest in Bitcoin companies (reference BitPay Gets $30 Million in Venture Capital Funding) is a very good thing for the industry, but also illustrates shortsigtedness in both the investment community and many practitioners.

The problem with the processors...

When bitcoin is as easy as PayPal to use then it will be on the path to mass adoption, but to assume that’s the most lucrative path to take in bitcoin company private equity investment begs the wrong question. Here’s the strategic landscape as I see it.

Bitcoin is very inexpensive to use as a transfer agent. A transaction may be safely sent without fees if these conditions are met (this is excerpted directly from the Bitcoin Wiki, verbatum):

  1. It is smaller than 1,000 bytes.
  2. All outputs are 0.01 BTC or larger.
  3. Its priority is large enough

Otherwise, the reference implementation will round up the transaction size to the next thousand bytes and add a fee of 0.1 mBTC (0.0001 BTC) per thousand bytes. Note that a typical transaction is 500 bytes, so the typical transaction fee for low-priority transactions is 0.1 mBTC (0.0001 BTC), regardless of the number of bitcoins sent.

Bitcoin as of 5/18/2014 is $444.74m, thus the fee for this transaction is roughly 4 cents, if not outright free. If a processor is transferring $10,000 on behalf of a customer, whether at one time or 100 times throughout the course of a month, the processor’s fee cost would range from $0 to $4, while the processor would likely charge (as of the date of this writing, $0 to $100). The traditional processors such a Visa or Paypal  would charge hundreds (as in up to 50x more!) for the same deal!

That 25x markup on the high end is significant (even for the Bitcoin companies), and ripe for disintermediation itself (that's right, the disintermediaing agents are poised for disintermediaion). Particularly once the UX of Bitcoin evolves, as email and web browsing did, and users realize how easy and cheap it is to jump onto the blockchain and do this stuff themselves.

Even assuming users don’t follow the historical model of those that left proprietary walled gardens (think AOL) and jumped directly into the open World Wide Web themselves, there are no material barriers to entry to enter into the processing business other than potentially a money transmitter license. The only material barrier, hence the business opportunity, is that Bitcoin is cumbersome to use. As the UI/UX polish increases and the amount of competitors in the space increase, the lower the prices charged - hence the margins - will be.

With such low barriers to entry and potentially humongous markups to exploit, what do you think happens next? The wild, untamed hordes of competitors swoop down upon the masses, and we have a concerted race to zero, and likely negative margin as competitors attempt to make processing a loss leader to draw users into the folds of richer, higher margin services!!!

 The race to marginal zero, then negative, does not make a strong business plan. So, what do these companies such as BitPay, Coinbase, etc. do once that point is reached (rather quickly)? They look to value added (high margin) services on top of their low margin, utility-like payment infrastructures.

Enter smart contracts and the true use of programmability in the crypto-currencies. The easiest and the likely first implementation of such will be multi-sig operations which allow multiple parties to share funds without having to worry about trusting and single party in a transaction. Our ZeroTrust Letters of Credit (patent pending) is just such a product. It allows for multiple parties to tranfer payment for simple and complex transactions contingent upon the mutual agreed upon successful execution of said transactions. This is done without the parties having to:

  1. Know each other
  2. Trust each other
  3. Have any form of proximity to each other;

and can be done using micropayments all the way up to multi-million dollar macro payments. The barriers to this business are much higher. For one, it takes more than just programming code. You have to be able to congeal the legal logic of the conventional law in equity contract into code. You have to be able to congeal the business logic into code, and you have to be able to implement it into the blockchain or whatever other underlying transmission mechanism you choose to utilize.

Once the race to negative zero is in full swing, a few of the wiser companies will wake-up and say "Hey, there has to be a better way, and we think we found it!". It is at that point Reggie Middleton's UltraCoin products and assets will shine. It is not hard to foresee that the entrenched companies (Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Western Union) may enter a bidding war with the new comers armed with material VC warchests (much more than we're seeing with $30 million investments of today - all over the guys who had the foresight to see the next evolutionary step in plain vanilla payments - smart transactions and self-executing digital contracts and transactions.

We're actively looking for financial and intellectual capital. If you, as an accredited investor, are looking for an opportunity in the higher end of the digital currency space, I think we should talk. In addition, if you are a higher level Java/C++ developer willing to take risk, we need to talk. I'm available at reggie at ultra-coin.com.

 
Published in BoomBustBlog

Bloomberg ran a story earlier this week illustrating the human capital flight out of the Wall Street machine and into tech:

At elite universities, fewer MBA and finance candidates are willing to even consider a life of missed weddings, busted romances and deep-into-the-night deal negotiations. The percentage of Harvard Business School graduates entering investment banking, sales or trading dropped to 5 percent last year from 12 percent in 2006, while those entering technology almost tripled to 18 percent during that period.

At the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the percentage of MBAs entering investment banking dropped to 13.3 percent last year from 26 percent in 2006, while those entering tech more than doubled to 11.1 percent.

 Those of you who have been following finance from the Wall Street/Bay Street/Canary Wharf perspective realize that this is a cyclical occurence. Basically, Wall Street falls out of favor with MBA whiz kids every ten years of so. But!!!! This time is different. This time around, Wall Street, et. al. is about to succumb to the destructive forces of technology that transformed, revolutionized, disintermediated, gutted and absolutely reinvigorated the media, news and retail industries. 

That's right! The Internet Paradigm Shift has finally hit Global Finance... and it's going to hurt, and hurt a lot!

As many know, the I've poured my time and resources into a start-up by the name of UltraCoin. Many have been clamoring for white papers and details, and I have been purposely secretive about such. The reason? I needed to entrency protection from my competition - the money center banks. How did I do this? Well...

I patented the future of Global Finance!

patent to the Future of finance big

This video illustrates my presentation to both the mainstream and alternative media as I start my capital raising rounds from venture capitalists and strategic investos alike. Check it out!

We're looking for financial and human capital as we prepare to expand globally. Financial capital is self-explanatory. On the human capital side...
We're seeking a full stack contract developer. Must be proficient in: Java or C#; git, bzr, or similar. Must have a solid understanding of: race conditions and how to avoid them; scalable concurrency and data integrity architectural concepts (replication, sharding, etc.); software development processes and best practices. Proficiency in some CRUD technology (*SQL, NoSQL, etc.) as well as and some scripting language (Javascript, PHP, Python, etc.) is highly preferred. Experience with the Bitcoin protocol is a huge plus. Your first interview is to e-mail your resume along with a response to this challenge: https://gist.github.com/mbogosian/28815ae606c663c983c3

Must be willing to sign an NDA. You should be knowledgeable and competent, but we prefer grit to genius. Prima donnas need not apply.

Published in BoomBustBlog

 It started in 2012 wiith the article "Deadbeat Carrier Creative Destruction In The Ongoing Mobile Computing Wars". That's when I warned that margins in the carrier space will collapse - just as they did in the cellular handset space, as new business models and the effect if Android start to ripple and reverbrate. My latest article in the series, "The Smallest & Liveliest Of The DeadBeat Carriers Successfully Launched Wireless WMDs" detailed how T-Mobile will throw the gauntlet down and turn the wireless industry on its head - at great risk not just to margins but entire business models. To wit:

There are 4 major national carriers in the US, basically two big ones two smaller ones. The smallest of the 4, T-Mobile, consistently get beat up - losing out on the right to subsidize the iPhone at a loss (like AT&T used to and Sprint still does) and basically losing subscribers. Then they decided to do something about it. They said, "Hey, let's stop being deadbeats!". By changing their pricing plans and eliminating subsidies and instead selling pure access to their virtual pipes (like a carrier is supposed to) combined with actual "real" financing of the hardware (at competitive rates, nonetheless) they essentially committed DeadBeat Carrier Blashphemy. The only issue was, it worked, to the chagrin of the competition - reference:

 Reggie Middleotns Carrier Cost ComparisonReggie Middleotns Carrier Cost Comparison

Reggie Middleotns Carrier Subsidy Cost ComparisonReggie Middleotns Carrier Subsidy Cost Comparison

  As a matter of fact, in Deadbeat Carriers Compete, aka #MarginCompression!!! (exactly ONE year ago), I prognosticated that T-Mobile will kick off a pricing war that will bring about the greatest savings to the wireless consumer it has seen since the birth of the industry. I even went so far as to include and online interactive spreadsheet for readers to analyze their own savings - or potential therefore.

Well, fast forward to today and we get to see if Reggie's thesis is still holding water. From the Street.com in How the Consumer Wins In the Wireless Wars:

Carriers are engaging in a price war in order to win market share, with T-Mobile's "uncarrier" plans really shaking things up. T-Mobile has been aggressively trying to grab market shares by eliminating consumer "pain points," specifically the issue of locking customers into two-year contracts. T-Mobile has been rolling out programs to entice customers to switch their carrier, with the latest three offerings announced in April, where the company under the "Simple Starter," "Tablet Freedom" and "Overage Freedom" - eliminated all domestic overage charges for consumers, even those on legacy plans. T-Mobile had announced in March 2013 its "Simple Choice" plan that offered no annual service contract and low out-of-pocket costs on smartphones.

The company must be doing something right, given its impressive first-quarter subscriber growth of 2.4 million total net customer additions for the three months, making it the "fastest growing wireless company in America," it said in its earnings release last week.

Both Verizon and AT&T are combating T-Mobile by touting payment agreements for customersthat require little to no down payment, more data, and fewer service charges when it comes to multiple phones or being able to pay for the device itself in installments as appealing features to switch over. (Check with your carrier to see the latest offers available.)

That said, it's easy for consumers to get confused by the growing array of options, but it's clear that for once, the consumer is winning since costs associated with smartphones are becoming more transparent and understandable. "This trend, combined with a wider selection of fully functional mid-range and low-end devices, should help win over the undecided consumers but also will shift the growth away from the high end," Kantar stated.

Between the first quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of this year, spending on smartphones on contracts dropped to $93 from $119, while pre-pay spending dropped to $148 from $187, Kantar said.

Now, the mainstream media and sell side analytical community is just a year (or two) late in realizing this, but better late then never, eh? Also from the Street.com we have Why T-Mobile Is Beating AT&T and Verizon:

 T-Mobile US shares were surging 8.1% to $31.67 following news that larger rival Sprint was prepping plans to propose a buyout of the carrier as its impressive subscriber growth for the first-quarter shows that consumers are digging its offerings.

T-Mobile, known for its "Un-carrier" initiatives, has been aggressively trying to grab market share by eliminating consumer "pain points," specifically the issue of locking customers into two-year contracts like Verizon , Sprint and AT&T . T-Mobile has been rolling out programs to entice customers to switch their carrier, with the latest three offerings announced in April, where the company under the "Simple Starter," "Tablet Freedom" and "Overage Freedom" - eliminated all domestic overage charges for consumers, even those on legacy plans. T-Mobile had announced in March 2013 its "Simple Choice" plan that offered no annual service contract and low out-of-pocket costs on smartphones.

The company must be doing something right, given its impressive first-quarter subscriber growth.

T-Mobile reported first-quarter earnings results earlier this morning in which it boasted 2.4 million total net customer additions for the three months, which included more than 1.8 million branded net customer additions, making it the "fastest growing wireless company in America," it said in its earnings release. T-Mobile ended the quarter with 49.1 million customers, it said. On the other hand, the company experienced "record low" churn of 1.5%, down 20 basis points from the fourth quarter and down 40 basis points from the year-earlier period.

...  T-Mobile actually posted a net loss of $151 million, or 19 cents a share, for the three months ending March 31, compared to a profit of $106 million, or 20 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter, according to its quarterly filing. However, revenue at the Bellevue, Wash.-based company rose 47% to $6.87 billion year over year. 

... Adjusted EBITDA came in at $1.1 billion, down 12.2% sequentially, which it attributed to increased equipment sales due to the "significant acceleration in customer growth and the success of its Un-carrier 4.0 - Contract Freedom offer." Adjusted EBITDA margin was 20% compared to 24% in the fourth quarter of 2013.<story_page_break>

... T-Mobile expects branded postpaid net additions between 2.8 million and 3.3 million for the full year and adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $5.6 to $5.8 billion, it said.

Althouth T-Mobile may be hard pressed to replicate that pop in revenues and subscribers, I expect the trend to continue until and unless the other carriers match it in both pricing model and marketing efforts. I doubt they will do this until it is too late. They should, but they won't. That is unfortunate for thier investors for, as T-Mobile is the smallest of the top 4 national carriers, this is Verizon/ATT/Sprint's (in that order) fight to lose!

In addition, as revenue and subscriber rate increases subside, EBITDA may level off as the switching incentive costs amortize. This is not even considering what may happen if an entrepenurial and disruptive force (ex. Google Loon offshoots) appears on the scene.

Published in BoomBustBlog

called the Apple short before it became vogue! I called the Blackberry short beforethey became the industry whipping boy! I warned about Nokia and made clear that Samsung Will Be Ready To Do That Fruit Thing! How'd I know all of this? It's quite simple, I explained it all in 2012 - Smartphone Hardware Manufacturers Are Dead. Well, now the chickens continue to come home to roost, as per CNBC:

In order to deal with such pressures, Samsung appears to be pricing the Galaxy S5 lower than its predecessor S4, according to Kang, who has collected pre-order prices for the device from around the world.

"It reflects the trend of smart phone commoditization – Samsung will have to learn to create profits at a lower price point," Kang said.

Earlier this week, Samsung said it's on track to post its second straight quarter of profit decline, as slowing smartphone sales growth continued to weigh on earnings.

Samsung Electronics 1Q profit view just shy of estimates

The South Korean tech giant estimated that its January-March operating profit fell by 4.3 percent to 8.4 trillion won, slightly below an average forecast of 8.5 trillion won, according to Reuters.

I've created an infrastructure that significantly expands these investment markets by allowing anyone, anywhere with an Internet connection (of almost any speed) to participate in almost any of the world's public financial markets. Taking the subject matter of this article into consideration, we can short Samsung on its own home exchange of Korea for nearly any amount, from $10 million US down to $8 ...

The Family 2095-2097 - Copy

These same young investors can even hedge thier currency translation risk with a Korean Won US dollar forex pair, for 55 basis points!

manage currency risk in Ultracoin while using it to short Samsung

Armed with the information from simply reading my blog posts, your brothers from Haiti or Botstwana can now take short positions in these (margin)doomed hardware manufacturers - taking the other side of the trade from these big name financial institutions that don't seem to read my writings.

 DSC08625DSC08627

These are kids that I taught UltraCoin to during my trip to Haiti a couple of weeks ago. Before you assume, the kids are actually quite bright and adept at math, and yes - kdis can easily trade with UltraCoin. My kids have been doing it for months!
thumb Slide16

My UltraCoin project will nearly double the available potential investors able to profit from these markets. By making the ability to participate in multi-asset class prices moves bi-directionally (that's right,  long and short) I will be increase the liquidity of said markets by almost 2 billion people, as per McKinsey:

  • 2.5 billion adults, just over half of the world’s adult population, do not use formal financial services to save or borrow.
  • 2.2 billion of the unserved adults live in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • Of the 1.2 billion adults who use formal financial services in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, at least two-thirds, a little more than 800 million, live on less than $5 per day (purchasing power parity adjusted).
  • Regulatory and policy environments, as well as the actions of individual financial services providers, affect usage levels in a way that is, to a large extent, independent of countries’ socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.

I just had the pleasure of meeting this young lady from Botswana who's trying to spearhead Bitcoin adoption in her country. I've made friends and I'm going to supply her with the means to have the whole country trading a whole variety (UltraCoin can trade more than 10,000 tickers - stocks, bonds, options, futures, indices) of financial assets very soon. 

I'll leave it up to you to determine who'll win those trades. These are interesting times indeed. For those who are not aware of how far I've come in transforming the way value is traded across geo-political and socio-economic lines, I urge you to view the following video and/or peruse the embedded presentation below it.

 

Samsung Follows Footsteps Of Apple, HTC, Nokia - Wasn't ...

Sep 6, 2013 - Smartphone Hardware Manufacturers Are DeadNov 29, 2012 - Two and a ... BoomBustBlog Mar 7, 2013 - applecutsabreandriod3d Two and a ...

Sep 27, 2013 - Here I go again – Hardware is Dead & Samsung Agrees Featured ... raw fundamentals and margins, let's look at the newest crop of hardware.

Jan 25, 2013 - A Glimpse of the BoomBustBlog Internal Discussion Concerning the Fate of Apple - This ... So, you ask, "How is it that hardware is dead?" Well.
 

Nov 29, 2012 - Two and a half years ago I declared in my mobile computing wars series that Google would commoditized the mobile computing space, thereby ...

Dec 10, 2012 - Last week I told the world that hardwarevendors are DEAD! At least the fat margin business modelhardware vendors (like those whose name rhymes with Snapple). ... Related BoomBustBlog Subscription-only Research:.

 
Published in BoomBustBlog

thumb Slide7

Let's quote some of the last lines of my last article on Bitcoin: "Witness the drivel that comes out of the the analyst's reports (and yes, I thoroughly ridiculed each one):

  1. Theres' Something Fishy In The House Of Morgan, Pt. 2: Bitcoin Fear, Envy & Loathing
  2. Does the Mainstream Media Assist Wall Street In Hypocritical Hypothesis For Fear Of The Next Paradigm Shift?"

You see, first JP Morgan threw baseless fear tactics, then Citibank jumped into the fray. Well, guess whose next? Goldman Sachs, of course. Everybody's favorite fair game player. As excerpted from Business Insider today:

"Dominic Wilson and Jose Ursua of the firm's markets research division are first up. They argue that Bitcoin fails to meet both basic criteria of a viable currency: while there remains an outside chance for widespread acceptance as a medium of exchange, as a stable source of value, it has so far failed. That undermines the premise that Bitcoin could serve as a way of short-circuiting exchange rates in inflation-prone countries."

 And Reggie, Chief of Bullshit Patrol & Related Crimes Division chimes in with a Google search on promintent "failed" currency processors:

Bitpay user growth google searchcoinbase user growth google search

But wait a minute! Goldman's business business is growing at a fraction of this pace, and actually negative in some areas. So, if Bitcoin as a currency and payment system is a failure, what the hell is Goldmam? Of course, Business Insider goes on to report...

For most users what matters is not the comparison with other currencies, but a comparison with the volatility of the currency that they hold (dollars in the US for instance) in terms of the things that they need to buy. The volatility of consumer prices (in dollars) has been even lower than FX rates, even if measured over a period including the 1970s. Put simply, if you hold cash today in most developed countries, you know within a few percentage points what you will be able to buy with it a day, a week or a year from now.  

This is Bullshit! Say it to the more mathematically challenged, my bonus hungry friends. Let's run the math using theusinflationcalculator.com:

Dollar as a store of value

As you can see, if you measure things from the '70s as the esteemed, erstwhile Wall Street aficiaondo from Goldman recommended, then you would have less than 17% of your buying power left. Yes, bitcoin is volatile, but its volatility stems from the price going up and down, while the USD has primarily just went down. You know that saying about the frog in the slowly heated boiling pot of water, right?

In addition, both of the largest Bitcoin payment processors absorb the exchange rate volatility for their customers, or did the best of breed Goldman analysts somehow overlook this pertinent fact?

 

Eliminate the bitcoin volatility risk with BitPay's guaranteed exchange rates. ... Import your BitPay sales into QuickBooks, to report and reconcile your bitcoin  ...

 

In addition, there are cutting edge products being introduced by tall, handsome, charsimatic and highly intelligent entrepeneurs who have a long track record of out gunning Goldman et. al. that allow anyone to hedge Bitcoin volatlity against any prominent fiat currency.

Back to those Goldman guys...

Wilson and Ursua include this graph showing volatility of Bitcoin versus the Argentine peso, the yen, the euro, the pound, and U.S. inflation. It's not even close. 

bitcoin volaitlity

But wait a minute! If the largest payment processors absorb the volatility and market risk of their customers, then Goldman must assuredly be referring to the currencies above from an investment perspective, no?

Yes! Bitcoin is truly volatile, indeed, but the guy at Goldman are cheating, hoping that the rest of us don't know our finance and/or basic common sense. You see, they are looking at just one side of the equation - the side that favors fiat currencies and disfavors bitcoin. You see, risk is the price of reward. For every reward you seek, you pay a price in risk. The goal, as a smart investor, is to pay little risk for much reward. Goldman is trying to make it appear as if you are paying nothing but risk for bitcoin and getting little reward in return. Let's see how that pans out when someone who knows what they're doing chimes in. From the BoomBustBlogresearch report File Icon Digital Currencies' Risks, Rewards & Returns - An Into Into Bitcoin Investing For Longer Term Horizons:

Bitcoin risk adjusted returns

You see, with high volatility (aka, risk), it's hard to earn your cost of capital, not to menton surpass it. Isn't that right, employess of Goldman Sachs? Let me jog your collective memories, as excerpted from the BoomBustBlog post on When the Patina Fades… The Rise and Fall of Goldman Sachs???

GS return on equity has declined substantially due to deleverage and is only marginally higher than its current cost of capital. With ROE down to c12% from c20% during pre-crisis levels, there is no way a stock with high beta as GS could justify adequate returns to cover the inherent risk. For GS to trade back at 200 it has to increase its leverage back to pre-crisis levels to assume ROE of 20%. And for that GS has to either increase its leverage back to 25x. With curbs on banks leverage this seems highly unlikely. Without any increase in leverage and ROE, the stock would only marginally cover returns to shareholders given that ROE is c12%. Even based on consensus estimates the stock should trade at about where it is trading right now, leaving no upside potential. Using BoomBustBlog estimates, the valuation drops considerably since we take into consideration a decrease in trading revenue or an increase in the cost of funding in combination with a limitation of leverage due to the impending global regulation coming down the pike.

gs_roe.jpg

 

 Now that we see how hard it is to truly produce Alpha, I query thee... What do you think would happen if a financial maverick, an out of the box thinker who's different from all of those other guys, got a seed round of funding for the most disruptive product to hit the finance world since the printing press? What if that seed round was for $8 million dollars, with a preferred A series coming right behind it? What would such a cash flush company do, being one of the most cash flush Bitcoin companies in the world? Hmmmnnn!!!

Speakin' of Goldman Sachs...

I anticipate being in the market very soon for (I'm not thier yet, but hopefully very soon):

CTO - Chief Technology Officer

COO - Chief Opertating Officer

General Counsel

CMO - Chief Marketing Officer 

CFO - Chief Financial Officer

As well as skilled Java and Blockchain developers.

Hit me via reggie at ultra-coin.com if you have an interest in coming on board.

Published in BoomBustBlog

No, Facebook is not stupid for paying $19B for Whatsapp! If they didn’t do it, Google would have!

No, contrary to popular pro-Facebook belief, Whatsapp is not a synergistic buy. Remember, Facebook already has a near identical application (Facebook Messenger) already used by probably hundreds of millions.

So, why did Facebook spend this money (stock)? It’s quite simple and rather obvious, but my competitors in the sell side are remiss in not discussing it... Facebook is DYING as a GROWTH company! My analysis of Facebook's Q1-2013  results read much differently from all of sell side Wall Street's -  The Truth About Facebook That No Media Outlet Or Analyst Has Bothered To Notice:

In my previous warnings of Facebook euphoria, I brought up the topic of growth many times, particularly active user growth. Reference The World's First Phenomenally Forensic Facebook Analysis - This Is What You Need Before You Invest, Pt 1, while remaining cognizant that this was written exactly 1 year ago:

Thus, it is highly unlikely one can legitimately factor in the type of growth needed to justify the current Goldman $50B valuation - particularly when you consider that Facebook's growth is already slowing!

Well, let's see if I had a valid point now that we have clear and convincing historical evidence from which to base our analysis... (click any of these graphics to enlarge to print quality size)c

thumb image008 copythumb image008 copy

Uh huh! Facebook is MOVING BACKWARDS! IT'S LOSING USERS! LOOK OUT BELOW!!!

thumb image014 copythumb image014 copy

At this point, I can't help myself. I MUST point out the literal rippoff that Goldman Sachs pushed as a once in a life time investment a year and a half ago. As excerpted from Facebook Registers The WHOLE WORLD! Or At Least They Would Have To In Order To Justify Goldman's Pricing: Here's What $2 Billion Or So Worth Of Goldman HNW Clients Probably Wish They Read This Time Last Week! while remaining cognizant that this was written exactly 1 year ago...

Just a day or two later I penned Facebook Is Now Relying on Developing Markets For Growth, Is It Working? Let's Delve Into The Numbers...

Facebook is a farce even with the froth taken off of the IPO price. Why? As gleaned fromInternet World Stats...

 image004 copyimage004 copyimage012image012image013image013

These stats are from the 2011-2012 YEAR! Growth has likely slowed more since then! Here's a tidbit for those who don't subscribe that clearly illustrates... When it sounds too good to be true, it's probably not true!

FB IPO Analysis  Valuation Note Page 01FB IPO Analysis Valuation Note Page 01FB IPO Analysis  Valuation Note Page 02FB IPO Analysis Valuation Note Page 02FB IPO Analysis  Valuation Note Page 03FB IPO Analysis Valuation Note Page 03FB IPO Analysis  Valuation Note Page 04FB IPO Analysis Valuation Note Page 04

 

In More Doubts About "Liking" Facebook, I referenced the following infographic from Finance Degree Center:

facebook

As luck would have it, Whatsapp is the fastest growing company (in terms of active users) in the history of technology. Whatsapp also is the messaging market leader in nearly all major developing nations.

So, what Facebook is doing is buying user growth. It’s doing so because…

  • Not only can it not generate said user growth organically anymore, but
  • It is actually losing subscribers

How does Facebook remedy its growth problems? Well, it should be evident at this point, it’s buying the growth! Of course, this begs the question, does a growth company really have to purchase growth? This is a rhetoric question, which leads to this rather painful discovery (posed as a question): If Facebook is no longer a growth company, why doesn’t its valuation reflect that of a rollup instead of a growth company?

If Mr. or Mrs. Market Participant broaches this question, look out belowwwwwwwwww……

Dated Facebook analysis is available to download for all paying subscribers (FB Q4-2012 Analysis & Valuation Note - update with per share valuation). I'm available to discuss this with professional and institutional subscribers via phone or Google+. Click here to subscribe or upgrade.

Published in BoomBustBlog

Cryptocurrencies have been on a tear over the last 2 years, both in terms of mindshare and returns. This is particularly true of the last year, in which Bitcoin (the de facto proxy for cryptocurrencies) has heaved from $13 to $950, making a pit stop at $1200 along the way. This 7,308% return looks to be outrageously delectable to many a speculator and has even caught the eye of an institutional fund or two. The problem is, and what many novice investors have a problem conceptualizing, that astute institutional “investment” funds actually have a problem dipping their toes in the wilding appreciative yet hyper-volatile world that is cryptocurrencies.

The reason is because “investment funds” as opposed to beta chasing “trading” or “hedge" funds seek a measured return on investment. The raw returns that you see spouted for Bitcoin and the various alt.coins are actually not what the smart institutional money is looking for.

Put another way, you tend to get what you pay for. Risk is the price of reward, with risk being defined as deviation from expected return. You nearly never get a reward without bearing some risk to attain said reward. On the flip side, you should always demand a commensurate reward for the risk that you take. Measuring reward without taking into consideration the risk paid to attain such reward is akin to jumping out of the top floor of a 50 story building to revel in the exhilaration of the drop without taking into consideration what happens when you reach ground level. All in all, it tends to end ugly.

My clients are told that if you assumed $1 of risk to reap $1 of reward, then you effectively made nothing from an economic, risk adjusted reward perspective. This is difficult for the layperson to understand since those who reaped said dollar are left holding one dollar of nominal returns which looks, smells and spends like a dollar. They don't seem to get it until that third or fourth go around when they get 30 cents back for the dollar they invested (versus an amount over a dollar, hence a negative return). You see, probabilistically, you can reap more than you sow over the short term simply out of dumb luck. Realistically, the law of averages will catch up to you and eventually (and most likely close to immediately) you will reap what you sow, or... you get what you pay for!

Similarly, if bitcoin investors/traders believed they are doing well when bitcoin jumps from $13 to $950, they may be mistaken. The reason? Bitcoin has a modified beta of roughly 673! That means that it is volatile. Very volatile! More volatile than practically any basket of currencies or stocks you can think of. This volatility means that in a short period of time it's just as easy to be on the losing side of the trade of this asset as it is to be on the winning side. So, you're lucky if you bought at $500 and rode it to $950, but you could have just as easily bought at $1,200 and rode it down to $500.

With these concepts in mind, you should always adjust for risk before attempting to measure reward. By doing that you will find that you can compare disparate assets, ventures and opportunities that have different reward propositions and even different horizons by measuring the risk (or the economic cost) of the investments and then adjusting the actual or expected reward desired to compensate for said risk commensurately.

Notice how, if one were to take this approach, one can see the different risk adjusted returns between the top two cryptocurrencies by market value. Bitcoin is the most popular, but Litecoin is the most profitable - even when fully adjusted for risk.

ridk reward

The UltraCoin team has run these calculations, among many other currencies, on every cryptocurrency with a market value over $1 million. In addition, these currencies have been aggregated to form what we have coined as the "UltraCoin Cryptocurrency Composite Index" - a basket of cryptocurrencies upon which our custom UltraCoin derivatives can trade, hedge, invest and speculate.

These indices and calculations (not to mention a bevy of other calculations to assist in trading) are part and parcel of the UltraCoin client.

CryptoCurrencyComposite Index

The graph below depicts the outrageous raw returns had by holders of bitcoin. It also denotes the extreme volatility experienced therein, particularly from late 2013 onward.CryptoCurrencyComposite Index graphIf one were to place a hurdle rate of required return to compensate for said volatility, the return curve will look somewhat different.CryptoCurrencyComposite Index graph - adjusted

As you can see, all that glitters is not necessarily gold! I will be pushing for the beta release of the UltraCoin client quite soon, quite possibly at the Berlin Bicoin conference. In the meantime, for those of you who have not had a chance to play with the software, here are a few screen shots.

currency transalation errortest 

Published in BoomBustBlog