Yearly Archives: 2018

Twitter’s former CEO called Mark Zuckerberg a ‘ruthless execution machine,’ but many Silicon Valley insiders don’t agree

Mark Zuckerberg.

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Mark Zuckerberg.
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Charles Platiau/Reuters

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is at the center of a debate about the role of social media in a democracy.
  • Silicon Valley executives shared their opinions of Zuckerberg in an article in The New Yorker on Wednesday.
  • Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo called Zuckerberg a “ruthless execution machine,” but other executives described him more sympathetically.

As Facebook finds itself at the center of a global debate about free speech, fake news, and the role of social media in a democracy, much of the attention has been focused on the company’s tight-lipped CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

An article in The New Yorker published on Wednesday details Zuckerberg’s efforts to reform Facebook, and it painted him as someone who would do anything to win. The article gave executives across Silicon Valley a chance to share their opinions on the controversial CEO.

“He’s a ruthless execution machine, and if he has decided to come after you, you’re going to take a beating,” Dick Costolo, the former CEO of Twitter, told Evan Osnos for The New Yorker.

Costolo isn’t the only one who feels that way. LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman acknowledged that’s a common perception and that he initially felt similarly about Zuckerberg, although he said the two are now close.

“There are a number of people in the Valley who have a perception of Mark that he’s really aggressive and competitive. I think some people are a little hesitant about him from that perspective,” Hoffman told The New Yorker.

“For many years, it was, like, ‘Your LinkedIn thing is going to be crushed, so even though we’re friendly, I don’t want to get too close to you personally, because I’m going to crush you.’ Now, of course, that’s behind us and we’re good friends.”

The way Hoffman sees it, he told Business Insider last year, although early interactions with Zuckerberg were painfully awkward – “there was a lot of staring at the desk and not saying anything” – he has since matured into an “articulate” and “highly capable” leader.

Yet negative perceptions of Zuckerberg persist, even if they are far from universal in Silicon Valley. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and an early hero of Zuckerberg’s, pushed back on the idea that Zuckerberg was arrogant.

“Somebody who is smart, and rich, and ends up not acknowledging problems as quickly as they should will be attacked as arrogant. That comes with the territory,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that Mark’s an arrogant individual.”

The public impression of Zuckerberg has been partially shaped by the 2010 film “The Social Network,” which detailed the company’s early years, and portrayed Zuckerberg as cold, calculating, and driven mainly by a desire to meet women.

Neither Zuckerberg nor Facebook chose to be involved in the film, and many at Facebook disagreed with the unflattering depiction of their leader.

“From its facts to its essence to its portrayal, I think that was a very unfair picture. I still think it forms the basis of a lot of what people believe about Mark,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told The New Yorker.

As for what Zuckerberg himself thought of the movie?

“First impressions matter a lot, and for a lot of people that was their introduction to me,” Zuckerberg told The New Yorker.

Although Zuckerberg said he’s not “insulted” by his public reputation, he did acknowledge there is a “natural zero-sumness” to the social media industry that influences the way he leads Facebook.

“I care about succeeding,” he said. “And, yes, sometimes you have to beat someone to something, in order to get to the next thing. But that’s not primarily the way that I think I roll.”

Read the New Yorker article here »

One of Canada’s largest cannabis companies is surging after getting approval to export new products to Germany

A budtender pours marijuana from a jar.

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A budtender pours marijuana from a jar.
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David McNew/Getty

  • Tilray, one of Canada’s largest cannabis companies, surged on Thursday after the company announced it had received regulatory clearance to export flower products to Germany.
  • The company is poised to become the first to sell both flower and oil products in Germany.
  • Tilray has soared over 500% since it went public in July. Other marijuana stocks have also seen big price gains.
  • Watch Tilray trade in real time here.

Shares of Tilray surged as much as 9% in premarket trading on Thursday after the Canadian medical-cannabis producer said it had received regulatory approval to export more products to Germany.

Tilray’s medical-cannabis oil was already on shelves in German pharmacies. The company will soon be able to sell its whole-flower products in addition, making it the only producer that sells both types in Germany.

In a statement, Tilray said some patients who require medical cannabis with a higher potency will have access to this kind of treatment for the first time.

“Today’s announcement marks another milestone for Tilray as we expand operations in the European Union,” Brendan Kennedy, Tilray’s CEO, said in the statement.

Tilray’s shares have surged over 500% since they went public in July. For the second quarter, the company reported revenue of $9.7 million – topping the expectation for $9.02 million. Also, it reported an adjusted loss per share of $0.17, less than analysts’ forecast for -$0.85.

Tilray said it would release details on how patients in Germany can access its whole-flower products later this year.

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Markets Insider

Google’s introverted cofounder has mysteriously disappeared from public life and is reportedly spending more time on his private Caribbean island

The Google cofounder Larry Page.

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The Google cofounder Larry Page.
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Andrew Kelly/Reuters

  • At a time when founders of major tech companies are increasingly stepping into the spotlight, Larry Page of Google has faded from public view.
  • He is taking less and less interest in Google’s day-to-day and is spending more time secluded on his private Caribbean island, Bloomberg reports.
  • Page is still active in the tech world but devotes his time to futuristic projects, such as investing in flying-taxi firms.
  • Page declined to attend a recent Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on big tech where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, testified.

Larry Page has faded from public life.

While other founders of major tech companies, such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter, have recently been compelled to step into the spotlight, Page is withdrawing more and more from public life to spend time on his private Caribbean island, Bloomberg reports.

Page founded Google with Sergey Brin in 1998. Both are senior executives at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, where Page still holds company all-hands meetings, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg notes that in the 1990s Page was found to have vocal-cord paralysis. He opened up about the condition in 2013. He said it made his voice softer and made long monologues more difficult. The 45-year-old Google cofounder has not spoken in public since a TED talk in 2014, despite Google’s recently coming under attack from President Donald Trump, who has accused it of left-wing bias and antitrust violations.

Google’s leadership was strikingly absent from a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, gave evidence. An empty chair was theatrically left for Google after Page and Google CEO Sundar Pichai declined to attend.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia tore into Google’s leadership for failing to turn up. “Given its size and influence, I would have thought the leadership at Google would want to demonstrate how seriously it takes these challenges and to lead this important public discussion,” he said.

Bloomberg spoke with the early Google investor turned critic Roger McNamee about Page being a no-show. “Google has been incredibly lucky to date that Facebook’s failures have been so much more in focus, but they’re every bit as bad,” he told Bloomberg. “By not showing up, it did Facebook a huge favor. If you’re a shareholder, you should be furious. They guaranteed the intensity will go way up.”

Being absent from public life doesn’t mean Page has withdrawn from the world of tech entirely. According to Bloomberg, Page has stopped taking an interest in corporate dealings at Google in favor of futuristic projects that capture his interest. For example, Page has made major investments in flying-car companies like Kitty Hawk and BlackFly.

Page has always guarded his privacy, but a withdrawal from public life may draw the ire of some now that Google is coming under the microscope along with social-media companies.

Trump tweets that Hurricane Florence got ‘more powerful’ after it’s downgraded 2 categories

  • President Donald Trump appeared to raise the level of alarm over the coming Hurricane Florence on Twitter on Thursday by saying the storm had grown “even larger and more powerful.”
  • But the storm had been downgraded 2 categories since Wednesday.
  • Though the storm has expanded in area and still poses a serious threat of flooding, its windspeeds have reduced.
  • Trump prides himself on his administration’s response to hurricanes, despite 2,975 dying from storms Puerto Rico in 2017.

President Donald Trump appeared to raise the level of alarm over the coming Hurricane Florence on Twitter on Thursda, saying the storm had gotten “even larger and more powerful” despite it being downgraded from a category 4 to a category 2 storm.

Trump on Wednesday warned US citizens in the path of Florence to evacuate immediately. Overnight the National Hurricane Center downgraded the storm based on deteriorating wind speeds, which are now around 110mph rather than previous highs of 130mph.

However, the National Hurricane Center tweeted not to focus on the wind speeds. “Life-threatening storm surge flooding, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are still expected,” it said.

Experts have said the the rain and flood waters from Florence, rather than its speed, are the real source of danger.

While the storm has expanded in area, and still holds a tremendous amount of water capable of flooding and doing damage, it is less powerful than it was on Wednesday.

The latest track of the storm suggests that it will strike close to the North Carolina-South Carolina border before heading further inland. As of 8 a.m. Thursday, the storm was 170 miles from the North Carolina shore. 10 million people live in the storm’s path.

Trump has celebrated his administration’s response to hurricanes, including the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and killed 2,975 people there.

Kroger tumbles after missing on sales

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Apeel Sciences

Kroger shares plunged more than 7% ahead of Thursday’s opening bell after missing Wall Street’s sales forecast.

The grocer posted revenue of $27.9 billion, missing the $28.6 billion that was expected by Wall Street analysts, according to Bloomberg data. Kroger said it earned $0.41 per share after adjusting for some pre-tax gains, topping the $0.38 that was expected.

“We are only two quarters into our three year Restock Kroger plan, and we are making solid progress,” CEO Rodney McMullen said in the earnings release.

“Kroger customers have more ways than ever to engage with us seamlessly through our recently-launched Kroger Ship, expanded availability of Instacart, successful ClickList offering, and selling Simple Truth in China through Alibaba’s Tmall.”

Looking ahead, the company reiterated its earnings guidance for the current fiscal year, which is $2.00 to $2.15 per share after adjusting some items. Analysts were expecting $2.12.

Kroger is up 3.5% this year through Wednesday.

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Business Insider

European Central Bank holds and says rates won’t change until next summer at the soonest

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi testifies before the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee in Brussels, Belgium, February 15, 2016.

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European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi testifies before the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee in Brussels, Belgium, February 15, 2016.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman

  • European Central Bank leaves monetary policy entirely unchanged at the September meeting of its governing council.
  • Base deposit rate stays at -0.4%, and will remain there until at least next summer, the ECB said.
  • It continues to expect to end its quantitative easing programme by the end of 2018.

The European Central Bank left its monetary policy entirely unchanged at the September meeting of its governing council on Thursday, as had been expected.

That means a base deposit rate of -0.4%, and a quantitative easing program of €30 billion per month – a figure that will be reduced to 15 billion euros per month from the end of September as the bank winds down its bond buying.

The ECB will cease purchasing bonds from the end of 2018, subject to “incoming data confirming the medium-term inflation outlook” for the eurozone.

Interest rates in the eurozone will stay at their present level until “at least through the summer of 2019,” the ECB added.

The ECB’s announcement comes on a busy day for global central banks, with the Bank of England leaving its policies unchanged, and Turkey’s central bank defying President Erdogan to raise rates to 24%.

Trump mocks JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s ‘smarts’ after he said he could beat Trump in 2020

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon.

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US President Donald Trump shakes hands with JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon.
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Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

  • President Donald Trump has responded to JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who said he could beat Trump in an election.
  • Dimon said yesterday that he is smarter and as tough as Trump, as well as being self-made rather than having inherited wealth.
  • Dimon quickly walked the comments back and said he was wrong about beating Trump.
  • Trump pounced on him and said he didn’t have the “smarts” to win an election, and also that he is a poor public speaker.

President Donald Trump responded to the claim from JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon that he could beat Trump in an election.

Trump mocked Dimon on Twitter after the banker said he could win over Trump because he has greater intelligence and equal toughness.

Dimon, a lifelong Democrat, said he could beat Trump at a JP Morgan event on Wednesday, before quickly backtracking.

“I think I could beat Trump,” Dimon said. “Because I’m as tough as he is, I’m smarter than he is… I would be fine. He could punch me all he wants, it wouldn’t work with me. I’d fight right back.”

“And by the way, this wealthy New Yorker actually earned his money,” Dimon said. “It wasn’t a gift from daddy.”

Within hours, Dimon released a statement regretting what he said.

“I should not have said it,” the statement said. “I’m not running for president. Proves I wouldn’t make a good politician. I get frustrated because I want all sides to come together to help solve big problems.”

Trump seized on Dimon’s comments in a tweet bashing his intelligence and presence on Thursday morning.

“The problem with banker Jamie Dimon running for President is that he doesn’t have the aptitude or ‘smarts’ & is a poor public speaker & nervous mess – otherwise he is wonderful,” Trump tweeted. “I’ve made a lot of bankers, and others, look much smarter than they are with my great economic policy!”

Since taking office, Trump has overseen consecutive quarters of strong economic growth in jobs and GDP, though fact checkers find he often takes too much credit for the economy’s success.

Morgan Stanley is reportedly getting ready to offer clients exposure to bitcoin with a new trading product

Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley James P. Gorman participates in a panel discussion at the New York Times 2015 DealBook Conference at the Whitney Museum of American Art on November 3, 2015 in New York City.

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Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley James P. Gorman participates in a panel discussion at the New York Times 2015 DealBook Conference at the Whitney Museum of American Art on November 3, 2015 in New York City.
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Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

  • Morgan Stanley is diving deeper into the world of cryptocurrencies and is planning to offer trading of a new product tied to bitcoin, according to a Bloomberg News report.
  • The new bitcoin swaps at Morgan Stanley would represent the latest move by a Wall Street bank in the crypto space.
  • Watch bitcoin trade in real time here.

Morgan Stanley is planning to offer trading of a derivative product tied to bitcoin, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

The New York financial-services firm is reportedly planning to offer bitcoin swaps, which would give investors exposure to the performance of the digital currency without having to buy it, according to the report. The product is ready to go-live, but the firm is waiting for the right amount of demand from institutional clients.

Morgan Stanley, which has been clearing bitcoin futures trades for its clients, is the most recent bulge-bracket bank to dive deeper into the market for digital currencies. The bank has not said it is trading bitcoin itself.

Citigroup, for instance, has created what it’s calling a digital asset receipt, thought to be the most direct way to invest in cryptocurrencies without owning them, according to people with knowledge of the project. It works much like an American depository receipt, which has been around for decades, to give US investors a way to own foreign stocks that don’t otherwise trade on local exchanges. The foreign stock is held by a bank, which then issues the depository receipt.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is exploring a custody product for cryptocurrencies and already actively trades bitcoin futures and other products tied to the digital coin.

As for Morgan Stanley, the bank hired Andrew Peel from Credit Suisse in June as head of digital assets, according to Bloomberg.

Despite Wall Street’s intensifying interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the market for such assets has plummeted this year. Bitcoin is down more thn 50% this year.

The lira is going wild after the Turkish central bank defied Erdogan and hiked interest rates

  • Turkey’s central bank raised its interest rate to 24% from 17.75% on Thursday, beating market forecasts.
  • Earlier in the day, Turkish President Erdogan stoked fears that the central bank’s independence could be under threat by calling for low interest rates.
  • The lira is surging against the dollar as a result, with a swing of 4% from negative to positive.

LONDON – The Turkish lira was surging against the dollar on Thursday after the country’s central bank defied the wishes of the president and hiked interest rates.

The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey raised its benchmark rate of interest to 24% from 17.75%. That beat the market consensus of a hike to 22% and calmed investor fears that the CBRT wouldn’t raise rates at all.

Analysts have been calling for the central bank to raise rates by as much as 10 percentage points to combat runaway inflation in Turkey, which is running at about 18%.

Earlier in the day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he believed Turkey should have low interest rates and called them a “tool of exploitation.” Erdogan is ideologically opposed to interest rates and has called them “evil.”

The lira has come under sustained pressure this summer, in part over fears that Erdogan is exerting greater influence over the CBRT, which is meant to be independent.

Erdogan’s comments on Thursday sent the dollar spiking by as much as 3% against the lira. The CBRT’s decision dramatically reversed this, however, with the dollar falling by as much as 5% against the lira at one point.

Here’s how the dollar looked against the lira roughly 10 minutes after the CBRT’s decision (remember that when the lira appreciates, the dollar falls):

dollar lira

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Markets Insider

“This was a hike beyond what the market was thinking and in the context of the earlier comments from president Erdogan, is being treated warmly by markets,” Neil Wilson, the chief market analyst at Markets.com, said in an email.

“It represents a major and important reassertion of the central bank’s independence and shows they will not be bullied by politicians, although to a large degree its hand was forced by the 18% print on August inflation.”

Turkish bonds also improved on the rates decision. The yield on 10-year bonds fell by 90 basis points to 19.28%.

Bank of England leaves rates on hold

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

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Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.
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Hannelore Foerster/Getty

  • The Bank of England left interest rates on hold at its September meeting.
  • The bank raised rates at its previous meeting in August so was always unlikely to change policy for a second consecutive month.
  • The base rate of interest remains at 0.75%.
  • The bank’s decision came just two days after it was announced that Governor Mark Carney has extended his stay at the helm of the central bank until early 2020.

The Bank of England left interest rates on hold at the September meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), as had been universally expected.

The nine-member MPC voted unanimously to leave rates on hold at 0.75%.

The central bank raised its base rate of interest from 0.5% to 0.75% last month and was always likely to leave rates unchanged on Thursday. Any other outcome from the meeting would have been a significant surprise to markets.

“With Brexit negotiations heating up, the BoE will more than happy to drift into the background, having come under fire for its views in the past,” Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said in an email.

“With the outlook so uncertain and hanging on the outcome of these negotiations, there’s little upside to the central bank making any changes to its policy message between now and the end of the year.”

The bank is widely expected to increase rates further in the coming years, but the timing of such rate hikes remains unclear, and the next move in rates will almost certainly not happen until 2019.

Minutes from the September meeting of the MPC said that: “Any future increases in Bank Rate were likely to be at a gradual pace and to a limited extent.” This was the same language used during the August MPC meeting.

The bank provided an update on its planning for Brexit alongside the rate announcement. The bank said that it continues to base its projections on “a smooth adjustment to the average of a range of possible outcomes for the United Kingdom’s eventual trading relationship with the European Union.”

However, it did note that uncertainty over Brexit has increased in recent months.

“Since the Committee’s previous meeting, there have been indications, most prominently in financial markets, of greater uncertainty about future developments in the (EU) withdrawal process,” it said.

The bank’s meeting comes just two days after it was announced that Governor Mark Carney has extended his stay at the helm of the central bank until early 2020. He was previously set to leave next summer.