Odds and Ends 

Pillar launches with $5.5M from Kleiner Perkins and others to tackle your student loan debt

A new startup aims to help you get your student loans under control. Today, an app called Pillar, backed by $5.5 million in seed funding led by Kleiner Perkins, is launching a simpler way for consumers to better understand their student loan debt — and even pay it off early. To do so, the app connects with your student loan servicer and bank, then makes personalized suggestions based on your loans, your income and your spending. When it finds a way you can make a bigger dent in your overall…

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Odds and Ends 

Google launches new Assistant developer tools

At its I/O conference, Google today announced a slew of new tools for developers who want to build experiences for the company’s Assistant platform. These range from the ability to build games for smart displays, like the Google Home Hub and the launch of App Actions for taking users from an Assistant answer to their native apps, to a new Local Home SDK that allows developers to run their smart home code locally on Google Home Speakers and Nest Displays. This Local Home SDK may actually be the most important…

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Odds and Ends 

Payment service Toss becomes Koreas newest unicorn after raising $80M

South Korea has got its third unicorn startup after Viva Republica, the company beyond popular payment app Toss, announced it has raised an $80 million round at a valuation of $1.2 billion. This new round is led by U.S. firms Kleiner Perkins and Ribbit Capital, both of which cut their first checks for Korea with this deal. Others participating include existing investors Altos Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Goodwater Capital, KTB Network, Novel, PayPal and Qualcomm Ventures. The deal comes just six months after Viva Republica raised $40 million to accelerate growth, and it takes…

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Odds and Ends 

Today in brighter crypto news: SEC says tokens are securities

Crypto news got a little boost last week after a dark month of crashes, stablecoins and birthdays. The SEC ruled that two ICO issuers, CarrierEQ Inc. and Paragon Coin Inc., were in fact selling securities instead of so-called utility tokens. “Both companies have agreed to return funds to harmed investors, register the tokens as securities, file periodic reports with the Commission, and pay penalties,” wrote Pamela Sawhney of the SEC. “These are the Commission’s first cases imposing civil penalties solely for ICO securities offering registration violations.” From the release: Airfox,…

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Odds and Ends 

In venture capital, its still the age of the unicorn

Howie Xu At the time, the piece defined a new breed of startup — the $1 billion privately held company. When Lee did her first count, there were 39 “unicorns”; an improbable, but not impossible number.. Today, the once-scarce unicorn has become a global herd with 376 companies on the roster and counting. But the proliferation of unicorns begs raises certain questions. Is this new breed of unicorn artificially created? Could these magical companies see their valuations slip and fall out of the herd? Does this indicate an irrational exuberance…

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Headlines 

A Trader Named Morgan Stanley Just Left Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley. No, really. The fixed-income trader, who just happens to share a name with the 82-year-old Wall Street firm, has left the bank, a person with knowledge of the matter said. Stanley joined in 2012 after graduating from Boston College, according to records from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Stanley, whose middle name is Adam, didn’t return LinkedIn messages seeking comment on his next career move. A spokesman for the New York-based bank declined to comment. Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-17/morgan-stanley-leaves-morgan-stanley-yes-you-read-that-right

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Odds and Ends 

Snap is reportedly laying off around 100 employees

Snap is laying off around 100 employees that are part of its engineering staff, according to multiple reports from CNBC and Cheddar. The company expects to lay off as many as 100 people in the engineering department, according to those reports. It’s another sign of potentially re-aligning efforts as it looks to remake itself into something that’s differentiated from products like Instagram, which is repeatedly copying many of Snap’s core features like Stories. With that constant risk of copying at stake, Snap has had to make some drastic moves, like…

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Headlines 

Goldman Says Stocks May Dive 25% If 10-Year Yield Hits 4.5%

If the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield hits 4.5 percent by year-end, the economy would probably muddle through — stocks, not so much, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Goldman’s base-case scenario calls for a 10-year yield of 3.25 percent by the end of 2018, though a “stress test” out to 4.5 percent indicates such a move would cause stocks to tumble, economist Daan Struyven wrote in a note Saturday. He also said the economy would probably suffer a sharp slowdown but not a recession. “A rise in rates to 4.5…

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Odds and Ends 

7 Pricks Who Defied The Odds And Didnt Go Into Finance

The hard truth: Nowadays, if you’re a prick who wants to be anything but a financial analyst, the deck is pretty much stacked against you. We won’t depress you with the statistics, but in short, it’s extremely rare for pricks to make a living in any field other than finance. And yet, amazingly, some do. Here are seven assholes who inspired us by breaking the cycle: <img src=””> Society looks at Sean’s meaty neck, crew cut, and baseball cap and thinks one thing: finance. But Sean is living proof that…

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Odds and Ends 

Researchers find that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to $1,000

Researchers Neil Gandal, JT Hamrick, Tyler Moore, and Tali Oberman have written a fascinating paper on Bitcoin price manipulation. Entitled “Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem” and appearing in the recent issue of the Journal of Monetary Economics the paper describes to what degree the Bitcoin ecosystem is controlled by bad actors. To many it’s been obvious that the Bitcoin markets are, at the very least, being manipulated by one or two big players. “This paper identifies and analyzes the impact of suspicious trading activity on the Mt. Gox Bitcoin…

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Odds and Ends 

Apples bid to become a $1 trillion company starts this week

While people spend more than $1,000 for the right to eventually get an iPhone X (as well as sell that right to eventually get an iPhone X for more than $1,500), we’re seeing Apple is doing a pretty good job of setting the stage as to whether it can make its case to Wall Street that it can be a $1 trillion company. We’ve noted before that quarterly financial reports from companies are, generally, the moments that consistently swing stock prices for companies. And while Apple is hoarding a ton of cash,…

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Odds and Ends 

Atlassian is on one heck of a run

When Atlassian went public at the end of 2015, it was a bit of an anomaly: a tech IPO whose numbers looked quite good with some profitability. It’s been almost two years since that IPO, and since then, the company’s valuation is at around $9 billion. The company popped 32% on its first day and hit a valuation of $5.8 billion. A lot of that is thanks to an insane run this year so far, where the stock is up more than 65%. And that run continued today after reporting…

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Headlines 

Bitcoin Futures Could Open the Floodgates for Institutional Investors

Bitcoin is spiking to a record after CME Group Inc. said it’s planning to launch bitcoin futures as the move could open the floodgates of investors who have been standing on the sidelines as bitcoin soared over 500 percent this year. The cryptocurrency jumped as much as 5.2 percent to $6,416.39 after the CME said it will start offering trading the derivatives in the fourth quarter. Futures will be settled in cash based on a bitcoin index that CME started calculating in November.  The move comes after the Chicago Board Options…

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Odds and Ends 

Tesla has fired hundreds of employees after performance reviews

Tesla fired hundreds of employees following what the company said is an annual performance review process, the company told TechCrunch. The news was first reported by The Mercury News. “Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period,” a Tesla spokesperson said. “This includes both constructive feedback and recognition of top performers with additional compensation and equity awards, as well as promotions in many cases. As with any company, especially…

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