- Lyft might be the biggest IPO in U.S. history… but it won’t be for long
- How terrorists use social media to radicalize the youth
- Is bitcoin’s future over?
- Harvard scientists discover key to human immortality
Lyft Seeks $23 Billion Valuation
Rideshare second-fiddle Lyft is seeking valuation between $21 and $23 billion for its upcoming IPO. (Good for them. If you don’t value yourself, who will?)
This would put its stock price in the range of about $62 to $68 a share.
They did the math: Lyft is basing its estimates on a presumed $2.1 billion of fundraising during the initial offering. Underwriters will adjust the final figure based on investor response.
Lyft may be small potatoes compared to biggest-kid-on-the-playground Uber. But even if its IPO clocks in on the lower side of the estimation, it would still be one of the largest U.S. IPOs of all time.
Reasons to take a Lyft
- Lyft gives its drivers a larger share of the profits.
- Stop Uber from taking over the world.
- No Uber available.
(The record for the largest U.S. IPO is currently with Amazon-for-Chinese-knockoffs Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), who blasted onto the market at $21.8 billion in 2014.)
Monster-rival Uber is set to IPO just a few months after Lyft. And by some estimates, Uber will clock in at a historic $120 billion valuation.
The David and Goliath of driving you home from the bar
At a glance, Uber has the rideshare game all sewn up. But every year, Lyft ekes out a larger slice of the market.
If Lyft can keep this up year-over-year, Uber will have some serious competition on its hands in just a few years.
Buy me: The ominously named market dominator had the chance to buy out Lyft a few years ago in exchange for 15% of Uber’s stock. Then-CEO Travis Kalanick balked at their offer. Uber probably regrets that decision now.
The Silicon Valley elite are going to make a mint off of these historic IPOs. But regular investors like you and me never had a chance.
Uber’s early investors:
- Lady Gaga’s manager
- Jeff Bezos
- The CEO of Airbnb
- Ashton Kutcher
- Jared Leto
Sure you could buy some stock after the IPO and it might go up over the next few years. But the serious gains are made by the folks who got in long before IPO (like Oscar-winner Jared Leto).
For example, if you bought shares of Facebook after IPO… you’d be up more than 360%.
Not bad. But that’s nothing compared to the gains the insiders pocketed before Facebook went public.
You see, while the little guy was paying $42 a share after the IPO, Silicon Valley insiders were getting into Facebook when it was trading for just $1 on the private market.
And they made an absolute fortune. Dynasty Wealth found: “The first $500k invested into Facebook appreciated into $21 billion.”
That’s a return of 4,199,900%.
Now obviously you can’t invest in Uber or Lyft pre-IPO. (Unless you have a time machine and look like Jared Leto.) But my researchers have found a backdoor investment that will profit directly from Uber’s success.
Right now, you can buy shares in this tiny company for a little over $15. But that won’t last for long. These guys are making the technology at the heart of one of Uber’s biggest innovations.
Is Bitcoin’s Future Over?
This morning, Cboe Global Markets announced plans to pull the plug on its bitcoin futures trading service.
Back to the futures: A future is a contract that allows investors to bet on the price of a stock rising or falling. (In bitcoin’s case, you should have bet on faaaaaaalllling.)
Cboe was the first U.S. exchange company to trade bitcoin futures. It launched the service in the middle of the 2017 crypto craze when bitcoin could do no wrong.
At the time, the digital currency had newly minted somewhere between 20,000 and 200,000 new millionaires, according to BitInfoCharts.
Bitcoin was trading for $17,000. And everyone was buying. Young. Old. Even my dog was buying bitcoin (she lost everything, poor pup).
We all know the rest of the story. Bitcoin crashed, the crypto markets lost an estimated $400 billion, and mainstream investors soured on the idea of a digital currency.
What does the future hold?
Today bitcoin has leveled off and hovers around the $4,000 mark.
Cboe will wind down its bitcoin futures market in June when the last contract expires. But this ain’t the end of bitcoin futures.
According to a report by Bitcoinist, Cboe’s main rival CME saw record high volumes of bitcoin futures in July 2018 and has “consistently shown to be more popular among traders [than Cboe], particularly in recent months.”
Both exchanges have seen a lull in bitcoin futures trading. But in December, when Cboe traded just $250 million in bitcoin futures, rival CME still saw roughly $1.5 billion in monthly volume. And you can expect that volume to go up now that there’s less competition on the market.
What do you think? Is bitcoin dead on arrival? Or are we due another media-fueled revival? Click here and give it to me straight.
Why Terrorists Love Social Media
A gunman opened fire on two mosques Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 and injuring 50 more.
Please note: We won’t be discussing the actual gunman here or in future issues of One Last Thing. The goal of this terror attack was publicity and this e-letter won’t be a part of that. Instead, we are going to look at the role of social media and technology in the attack.
As you’ve heard by now, the attack was live-streamed to Facebook. Facebook deleted the account after it was notified by New Zealand police. But it was already too late.
Facebook users had been recording the video and it wasn’t long before copies started popping up on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and elsewhere on Facebook.
But the attack’s disturbing ties to the internet and internet culture did not start and end there.
8-Chan is a lawless internet forum with a large base of white supremacist users.
Twenty minutes before the attack, the gunman posted links to his Facebook, where the video was being live streamed, and a 74-page manifesto.
The manifesto itself is a hodge-podge of racist talking points and references to internet memes. The whole thing comes across as a way to “troll” journalists or anyone trying to look for a deeper meaning in the manifesto.
YouTube has identified what it believes to be the YouTube account of the gunman and suspended it.
Many of the talking points in the manifesto are ripped straight from videos on this channel. Moreover, the channel’s logo was printed on the attacker’s guns.
If it was not the gunman’s account, he was at the very least a fan. And watching these videos probably played a part in his radicalization.
PewDiePie is the owner of a children’s video gaming channel on YouTube. He’s come under fire in the past for recommending videos made by white supremacists.
The channel is one of the most-subscribed-to on YouTube, and has been jostling for months with an Indian channel called T-Series.
Before opening fire, the gunman shouted “subscribe to PewDiePie,” which is a meme that references this rivalry with T-Series.
Again, rather than reading too much into the meaning behind this, it’s likely the attacker’s sole motivation was because he knew it would get media attention and that he thought it was funny.
Terrorism and Social Media
Social media is a terrorist’s dream come true.
The goal of terrorism is to incite fear, spread your message, and radicalize other like-minded people. And unfortunately, social media is perfect for that.
Live casting an attack, as the New Zealand gunman did, is instant free PR for a terrorist organization. Most folks will think the footage is horrific. But it’s especially effective at reaching out to like-minded people and inspiring them to join the cause or commit their own acts of violence.
We saw this in action before in 2013, as African terrorist group Al-Shabaab live-tweeted the Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya.
But the real danger lies in the parts of the terrorist PR machine that you and I don’t see in the evening news. In select forums, groups on Twitter, and in the dark corners of YouTube, terrorist organizations can reach out to young, impressionable minds and slowly mold them.
At the heart of this radicalization process is… YouTube’s video algorithm.
Now, the algorithm itself is not evil. It’s just a bunch of numbers and equations. And whoever wrote it certainly didn’t intend for it to be used to radicalize young people.
The algorithm is just an equation to increase revenue earned by the website. It just so happens that one of the best ways to do that is to radicalize people.
The algorithm’s goal is to serve up videos to a user to keep them on the site for as long as possible. The longer they watch, the more ads they see, the more money the website makes.
The problem started when the algorithm realized something. The best way to keep viewers on the site is to keep the viewer’s attention by constantly upping the ante.
Let’s say your kid is interested in a left-wing or right-wing idea. Nothing crazy or violent, just a standard policy they could have heard about on the radio on the way to school.
So they watch a video about it on YouTube. And when it’s over YouTube recommends something a little more extreme. They click on it, feeding the algorithm. And the video after that is even more extreme.
Soon your kid is going down a rabbit hole of increasingly extremist opinions. They log off but when they come back, their video feed is still full of people espousing violence and hatred.
Studies have found that this environment creates an echo chamber effect. Where every video only serves to confirm the opinions of the other videos. Simply put, your kid starts to believe these views because it’s the only ones they’re hearing.
It might be coming from a relatively small group of people. But that echo chamber becomes their whole world.
From there it’s not hard to see how people become so radicalized that violence seems like the only logical option.
Social media has tried to avoid facing its terrorist problem for too long. But it’s unavoidable after such a heavily publicized attack that wore its social media influences on its sleeves.
For now, the only thing to do is to remember the victims and to let the fame-hungry gunman be forgotten as he should be.
ONE LAST THING
Harvard Scientists Discover Key to Human Immortality
Scientists at Harvard have discovered how to turn full-body regeneration on and off with the flick of a switch.
I’m talking limbs, organs, bones, chunks of flesh: chop em off and they will grow right back (well, eventually). Feeling a little old? Flick the regeneration switch and call your 21-year-old self out of retirement.
The potential applications for this technology are limitless. I hate to tempt fate and say the “I” word out loud… but we could be looking at an honest-to-goodness immorality switch.
Now, as with all bleeding-edge breakthroughs, this discovery hasn’t been tested on humans yet. But there’s one small scientific detail that is extremely promising.
Scientists discovered this regeneration switch in panther worms. (Don’t bother googling them. They don’t look like panthers.)
These worms are the kind that regenerate missing parts if you cut them off. So, it’s no big deal if one of these bad boys regenerate their butts. It’s what they do.
What’s significant is that scientists have found the control switch for the regeneration in these worms. It’s a small section of DNA called the early growth response (EGR) that can turn the panther worm’s regeneration abilities on and off.
I know, I know. Who cares if scientists worked out a way to ruin a worm’s day?
Stick with me here, folks. This is about to get interesting.
That exact same sequence (the EGR genes) is present in human DNA. Until recently, scientists referred to these genes as “junk DNA” because it didn’t look like they did anything.
Well, it turns out this trash DNA might just happen to be the key to human immortality… it just happens that its default setting is “off.”
Obviously, this is very early days for this new and potentially world-changing science. But we’re going to be watching it closely.
(What would you do if you could grow new limbs? I’ve never been much of a risk taker but I might start throwing my hands up in the air at Six Flags. Click here and tell us your plans for immortality.)
Closing Data for 3/15/19:
|S&P Index 500||2,822.47||↑ 0.50%|
Click here to send us your comments and tell us what you think. Do you agree with us? Do you think our ideas are stupid? Bring it on. We can take it.
How about breaking up Warren? She obviously doesn’t understand business development. This is a scary proposal.
— Beth S.
(On Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to break up big tech)
Warren’s proposal is certainly extreme. To be honest, I’m not even sure what a world without big tech would look like. One thing I do know is that consumers will end up paying for many services which are free right now. I’ve asked our tech trends expert James Altucher to give us a more accurate rundown on the fallout of Warren’s proposal. Expect to see that in a future issue.
I’d agree [Beto O’Rourke] has a chance — depends on who else comes to the crowded podium in the Democratic primaries.
— Thomas L.
Boy, they’re going to need a bigger stage at the DNC for all these candidates. The Dems aren’t doing themselves any favors by putting forward these many runners. It only serves to water down their message and makes the party look divided and unfocused.
Editor, One Last Thing