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Sequoia makes its first foray into Taiwan with AI investment
Venture Capital
<p>Venture capital behemoth Sequoia Capital has made its first incursion into Taiwan, leading a $23 million Series B round investment in Appier, a "smart marketing" company using artificial intelligence. </p> <p>The startup, which announced its investment on Tuesday, uses AI to tracks the browsing habits of web audiences across multiple devices in order to provide better targeted advertising. </p> <p>UOB Venture Management, JAFCO Asia, TransLink Capital, and MediaTek Ventures are among those who also took part in the deal which brings Appier's total funding to $30 million. CEO and co-founder Chih-Han Yu, who has seen his company grow 600% since its Series A round in June 014, said:<br /> “We are living in a post-mobile era: the era of cross screen. Artificial intelligence is the best approach to resolve this complexity and make cross screen easy. In fact, advertising is just the beginning. We believe in the future our AI can help businesses solve a variety of difficult analytical problems.”<br /> Photo: Allan Ajifo</p>
Video: Larry Fink -- Investing for the long term
Asset Management
<p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ATtTaFDPcY&amp;feature=player_embedded<br /> In a short-term world driven by quarterly returns, shareholder pressures, endlessly compressed news cycles and election campaigns that start before the last one has ended, how can the public and private sectors develop strategies and invest for the long term?<br /> Laurence D. Fink, chairman and C.E.O., BlackRock, introduced by Andrew Ross Sorkin, columnist, DealBook founder and editor at large, The New York Times.<br /> Photo: tallalex85</p>
Bill Gross says its time for the Fed to turn on 'Operation Switch'
Asset Management
<p>Forget 2012's "Operation Twist," it's time for "Operation Switch," says Bill Gross in his latest investment outlook. Central banks need to raise their inflation targets to benefit the markets, he says. The Fed needs to produce a steeper yield curve to allow businesses and savers to increase their profit margins. Gross explains:<br /> I propose an “Operation Switch”. Instead of 2012’s “Operation Twist”, which sold 2-5 year notes and reinvested the proceeds in longer dated Treasuries now resting in their portfolio, the Fed should do just the reverse. After all, the twist did nothing to improve YOY GDP growth – it may in fact have lowered it as the above argument claims – dropping GDP in the 4th quarter of 2013 to .9% YOY following the “Twist” in 2012. The Fed now holds upwards of $2 trillion longer dated Treasuries and mortgages that can be “switched” into 2-5 year paper, steepening the yield curve and benefiting savers, liability-based businesses, and the economy itself. But they won’t, you know. Yellen and Draghi believe in the Taylor model and the Phillips curve. Gresham’s law will be found in the history books, but his corollary has little chance of making it into future economic textbooks. The result will likely be a continued imbalance between savings and investment, a yield curve too flat to support historic business models, and an anemic 1-2% rate of real economic growth in even the most robust developed countries.<br /> &nbsp;</p>
Square readying IPO prepares to hit the road for Thanksgiving pricing
Venture Capital
<p>Square is ready to hit the road. According to unnamed sources at CNBC, the payment app founded by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is revving up to price its shares by Thanksgiving week.</p> <p>In a filing with the SEC, Square has said it hopes to raise $275 million. The company raised money last year at a valuation of $6 billion.</p> <p>Square is a favorite among payments mavens and it is ubiquitous among small merchants. But just how it makes money is unclear. It seemed destined for greatness when Starbucks forged a deal with the fledgling company about three years ago. Turns out, Starbucks is a better negotiator than Square, which never got much customer traction for its wallet.  Investors are also concerned about just how much attention Dorsey will be paying to the payments company, which is in a very crowded space.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Junk Bond ETFs: Old black is the new black again
Asset Management
<p>If exchange trade funds inflows are an accurate gauge, market participants have largely scoffed at interest rate concerns this year while pouring billions of new assets into fixed income ETFs. Year-to-date, two bond funds rank among the top 10 asset-gathering ETFs while no bond funds are found among the year's worst outflow offenders.</p> <p>That statistic du jour being bandied about is that bond ETFs listed around the world now have over $500 billion in combined assets under management. Even in what is a tricky environment for bonds and fixed income funds, high-yield corporate bond ETFs are contributing to that growth.</p> <p>To this point in the fourth quarter, four of the top 10 asset-gathering ETFs are bond funds and the leader of that pack is the SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bnd ETF ...</p> <p>Full story available on Benzinga.com<br /> Photo: Got Credit</p>
China’s policies, Fed’s taper tantrum – more treats, less tricks
Asset Management
<p>This article is an excerpt from a previously released Sidoxia Capital Management complementary newsletter (November 2, 2015). </p> <p>Have you finished licking the last of your Halloween chocolate-covered fingers and scheduled your next cavity-filled dental appointment? After a few challenging months, the normally spooky month of October produced an abundance of sweet treats rather than scary tricks for stock market investors. In fact, the S&amp;P 500 index finished the month with a whopping +8.3% burst, making October the tastiest performing month since late 2010. This came in stark contrast to the indigestion experienced with the -8.7% decline over the previous two months.</p> <p>What’s behind all these sweet gains? For starters, fears of a Chinese economic sugar-high ending in a crash have abated for now. With that said, “Little Red riding Hood” is not out of the woods quite yet. Like a surprising goblin or ghost popping out to scare you at a Halloween haunted house, China could still rear its ugly head in the future due to its prominent stature as the second largest global economy. We have been forced to deal with similar on-again-off-again concerns associated with Greece.</p> <p>The good news is the Chinese government and central bank are not sitting on their hands. In addition to interest rate cuts and corruption crackdowns, Chinese government officials have even recently halted its decades-long one-child policy. China’s new two-child policy is designed to spur flagging economic growth and also reverse the country’s aging demographic profile.</p> <p>Also contributing to the stock market’s sugary October advances is an increasing comfort level with the Federal Reserve’s eventual interest rate increase. Just last week, the central bank released the statement from its October Federal Open Market Committee meetings stating it will determine whether it will be “appropriate” to increase interest rates at its next meetings, which take place on December 15th and 16th. Interest rate financial markets are now baking in a roughly 50% probability of a Fed Interest Rate hike next month. Initially, the October Fed statement was perceived negatively by investors due to fears that higher rates could potentially choke off economic growth. Within a 30 minute period after the announcement, stock prices reversed course and surged higher. Investors interpreted th</p>
Ken Griffin knows what makes Citadel work
Hedge Funds
<p>After 25 years, Citadel has become a $25 billion hedge fund. The firm took a hard hit during the financial crisis, but has since recovered, writes the New York Times.</p> <p>"In our firm's earliest days, our understanding of the power of great software engineering and quantitative analytics helped Citadel stand out," writes Griffin in a letter to investors. "But history is littered with companies started by entrepreneurs who failed to sustain such early bursts of success...What, then, has driven our longevity and our success? The answer is simple: Our sustainable competitive advantage doesn't just come from our technical prowess; it comes from assembling teams of extraordinary individuals who have the creativity, resourcefulness, ambition and tenacity to take on the world."<br /> Photo: Wikipedia</p>
This emerging markets ETF can deal with the strong dollar
Asset Management
<p>Much has been made of the strong dollar's impact on emerging markets equities and the relevant exchange traded funds. Price action bears out that impact.</p> <p>Over the past year, the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF VWO and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF EEM, the two largest emerging markets ETFs by assets, are both down just over 15 percent while the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish Fund UUP, the U.S. Dollar Index tracking ETF, is higher by 10.2 percent.</p> <p>The declines of EEM and VWO do not paint the entire picture of the repudiation suffered by emerging markets ETFs at the hands of the strong greenback. From Brazil to South Africa to Turkey, scores of emerging markets funds have been pummeled by the rising dollar and speculation that higher U.S. interest rates could stoke a raft of credit ratings downgrades throughout the developing world.</p> <p>Read more at Benzinga.<br /> Photo: images money</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
China’s QDII2 set to launch
Asset Management
<p>China’s policy makers take the long view. During the past five years the momentum for renminbi internationalization and increased cross-border investment has picked up, most notably with the introduction of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect program late last year.</p> <p>On Friday, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) approved the latest channel for private individuals – those with at least Rmb1 million ($158,000) – to diversify their portfolios with foreign assets.</p> <p>“The central bank gave the official nod to QDII2, the version of the qualified domestic institutional investment scheme for individuals to launch in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ). This will allow eligible wealthy investors to invest in overseas real estate, financial assets and direct investments,” reports AsianInvestor. (paywall)</p> <p>In addition, the PBoC will allow onshore managers to set up index fund subsidiaries in the FTZ and has approved domestic managers segregated account subsidiaries to make cross-border investments.</p> <p>No implementation date has been announced yet, but these developments are a sign that its strategy of opening up China’s capital markets and fund industry remain on track.</p> <p>This is despite this year’s wild stock market fluctuations and a host of macroeconomic concerns.<br /> Photo: epSos .de<br /> &nbsp;</p>
The world's best guide to the ride share funding wars: The money behind Uber, Lyft, and Didi Kuaidi
Venture Capital
<p>In recent days it has come to light that Uber is looking to raise another $1 billion, just three months after its last mega round. It's no surprise that Uber is burning through cash. With local competition in almost every market it operates, the ride-hailing app has made a lot of enemies and needs a big war chest.</p> <p>In the U.S. it competes with Lyft; in China it grapples with Didi Kuaidi; in India it's up against Ola, and in Southeast Asia it has GrabTaxi to deal with. Now it seems these competitors are forming a global alliance to take Uber down. A recent example:  In September Didi and Lyft decided to link their apps. The Chinese firm also invested $100 million in Lyft to seal the deal. The pair are now expanding this tie-up to include GrabTaxi and Ola, squeezing Uber into a global four-way clustercuss.</p> <p>But who are Uber and its backers really up against? A look at the roster of investors on both sides offers a revealing insight on the corporate alliances behind the the battle for dominance in the ride-hailing app space:</p> <p>Main backers of Uber</p> <p> Baidu: This Chinese internet giant is a major rival of Alibaba and Tencent . It has led two rounds for Uber totalling $1.8 billion, including its most recent fundraise for Uber China.<br /> Goldman Sachs: A early investor in Uber's $37 million Series B, this venture capital tourist led a $1.6 billion debt financing for Uber at the start of the year.<br /> Tata: The Indian conglomerate made the decision to bet against local player Ola and invest $100 million in Uber in August.<br /> Microsoft: The Silicon Valley giant got behind Uber in July taking part in its $1 billion Series F.<br /> BlackRock: The asset manager was relatively early to the game, backing Uber's $1.2 billion Series D round.<br /> Google: The search engine behemoth backed Uber via its venture capital unit, taking part in the $37 million Series B round and leading the $258 million Series C in 2013.</p> <p>Main backers of the alliance (Lyft, Ola, Didi Kuaidi, GrabTaxi) </p> <p> Softbank: The mastermind behind the alliance. The Japanese telecoms company backed Didi Dache/Kuaidi Dache prior to their merger earlier this year. It also led a $210 million and $250 million Series D round for Ola and GrabTaxi, respectively, and re-upped with both this year. Softabank also owns an indirect share in Lyft via its stakes in Didi Kuaidi and Alibaba.<br /> Alibaba: The Chinese internet giant and Baidu rival was an early backer of Kuaidi Dache prior to its merger, and led the most recent $2 billion round for the newly formed Didi Kuaidi. It also took part in two rounds for Lyft, including the most recent.<br /> Didi Kuaidi: A taxi app with several VC-backers, its also in invested in GrabTaxi and Lyft.<br /> Temasek Holdings: The Singapore investment fund took part in Didi Kuaidi's most recent $2 billion round. It also led a Series A round for GrabTaxi via its subsidiary Vertex Ventures. It came back for the Series B round in May last year<br /> Tencent Holdings: This Chinese internet firm was an early backer in Didi Dache, prior to its merger. Also took part in Lyft'sSeries E round.<br /> Tiger Global Management: Backed the Didi Kuaidi merger.  Led the Series A round for Ola, and every round thereafter. Took part in two investment rounds for GrabTaxi.</p> <p>&nbsp;<br /> Photo: bfishadow</p>