Worthless?

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The verdict is in and it’s a big giant “NO.” As in, NO!, Yahoo will not spin off its pricey stake in Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba. The stake, which is reported to be worth an estimated $30 billion, will stay put and instead, all of Yahoo’s assets and liabilities will be cast-off into the sunset to go and form their very own company. That, my friends, is what they call a “reverse-spin off.” Turns out, the IRS couldn’t be trusted NOT to tax an Alibaba spin-off, which would potentially leave shareholders to foot a $10 billion tax bill. Yahoo, whose shares are currently trading at under $34 yet is apparently worth nothing, will keep its internet biz and its 35% stake in Yahoo Japan. The company, despite being one of the top five most-visited websites every single day, just couldn’t seem to compete with Google and Facebook when it came down to selling search and display ads. Although shares of Yahoo are down 30% this year, this reverse spin-off is likely to draw a lot of interest for companies looking to make an acquisition. But don’t hold your breath as this reverse spin-off process could take a year to complete.

Bad day, mate…

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Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In other parts of the world, Australian police raided the home and office of Craig Steven Wright – a name that in all likelihood means absolutely nothing to you. Unless of course you’re a bitcoin enthusiast. Following leaked emails and other assorted information, investigations by both Wired magazine and Gizmodo have concluded that Wright is likely Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym for the creator of bitcoin, the crypto-currency that has captivated the world. Sort of. In March of 2014, a Japanese American man who goes by the name Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was falsely identified as bitcoin’s reclusive creator while he also steadfastly denied it. As for the police raid, well, here’s where things get weird-er. Australian Federal Police are saying that the bitcoin reports that have been surfacing about the creator’s true identity have nothing to do with its current operation and raid and referred media calls to the Australian Tax Office, which also could not comment. Naturally.  The home in question, which was being rented by Wright, is considered to be relatively modest, especially for someone who is potentially sitting on about one million bitcoins.  Incidentlly, the Australian government doesn’t much care for the crypto-currency. As stricter rules were imposed for Australian banks to impede money laundering and terror financing, bitcoin operators bore the brunt and major banks in Australia closed the accounts of bitcoin companies back in September.  If Wright really and truly is Satoshi Nakamoto, then his bitcoin stash amounts to about $400 million, which should be more than enough to pay his legal fees.

Get your resume ready…

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If you’re currently not working at Airbnb, then maybe you need to ask yourself why. According to Glassdoor’s 2015 list of best places to work, the home-sharing company takes the number one spot with one employee quoted as saying, “Fast growth, amazing people.” Can you say that about your company? Hmmm. Airbnb wasn’t even on the list last year but this year more than made up for it as it not only pushed Google out of the top spot but kicked it down to number eight. Or maybe Google did that all on its own. In any case, business management consulting group came Bain & Company came in at number two, while Guidewire snagged third place. Social media giant Facebook took the five spot, while LinkedIn ranked number six. Curious to see where else you’d rather be working? Well, there are 50 companies listed and surely you could find gainful employment by at least a few of them.

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McDonald’s Turnaround Plan Needs Salt; Warren Buffet Likes His Sugar; Chevy Volt Wants to Electrify

Would you like to supersize that?

Image courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook finally revealed to all who were maybe mildly interested about his big plan is to steer McDonald’s back towards fiscal awesomeness, all in the course of a 23 minute video. The world’s biggest burger chain wants to re-franchise 3,500 of its stores. Because franchising offers “stable and predictable cash flow” from collecting fees, it will supposedly save the company about $300 million a year.  And who doesn’t like saving $300 million. Then, Easterbrook wants to make the company’s corporate structure and bureaucracy less “cumbersome” by dividing the company up into four neat little parts. Well, maybe not little. But certainly neater.  The first part is all about U.S. stores. International markets like, Australia and the U.K make up part number two. The third part is labeled high growth markets  – think China and Russia. Then, all those other countries in the world make up the fourth group.  Of course, no master revival plan would be complete without incorporating a customer-focused approach and the ever-menacing prospect of…accountability. But hey whatever works. And something needs to after the company posted a 2.3% drop in sales and revenue that was way too short of its target. Despite detailing this new plan Mc Donald’s couldn’t get Wall Street excited enough to send shares up, even a little.

Enjoy a Coke with Warren Buffet…

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Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you couldn’t make it to the the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting this weekend, also known as Woodstock for Capitalists, here are but a few of the pearls from that auspicious event. Wells Fargo, Coke, IBM and AmEx rock, at least according to the Oracle of Omaha. Mr. Buffet clearly knows a thing or two of what he speaks since his company has a market value of a staggering $350 billion. When he discussed Coca Cola and the $16 billion stake his company owns in it, the debate about the adverse health effects of sugar didn’t seem to concern him. He feels that people enjoy Coke and thus, it apparently makes them happy. Unlike Whole Foods, which he said, “I don’t see smiles on the faces of people at Whole Foods.” No doubt Whole Foods was not happy about that comment. He was also asked about his involvement with 3G Capital with whom he is now buying Kraft Foods. People have taken issue with 3G over its practice of buying companies and then laying off many of its employees. Mr. Buffet, however, said, “I don’t know of any company that has a policy that says we’re going to have a lot more people than they need.”  How charming. As for naming a successor, well, he didn’t.

Low-voltage…

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even though gas prices are pretty low, making gas-guzzling SUV’s that much more appealing, that’s not stopping car companies, like GM, from parading out its latest eco-friendly models. The 2016 Chevy Volt model is making its debut and what is supposed to be so electrifying about it is that it’ll be around $1,500 less than the 2015 model. It’ll also get 30% more mileage from a single charge than the 2015 model. It’s a bit redesigned and there’s even a $7,500 federal income tax credit. But to be fair, it’s not a fully electric vehicle because if you find yourself coasting along  the highway – or any road, for that matter – and the battery juice runs out, the Volt becomes just another regular gas guzzler.  If that doesn’t bother you – and why should it – then consider that Chevy is offering 0% financing for 72 months for qualified buyers. Unqualified buyers should take the bus. California’s even offering a $1,500 rebate which pretty much means that GM doesn’t think there’s going to be a waiting list for this particular automobile. Because let’s face it, a Tesla it’s not.

Über’s But a Hot Global Mess; PetSmart’s New Leash on Life; Who Wants to be a High School Millionaire?

Ügh, Uber…

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Über has once again made itself the star of yet another publicity disaster. As the hostage crisis raged in Sydney, Autralia’s central business district, many people fled the city via Über, only to discover that the company’s fares spiked to about four times the usual rate. Classy, huh? Following some epic social media backlash, Über undid the deed, blaming the mishap on the company’s algorithm which automatically increases fares based on demand. And in this particular emergency, you can bet demand increased. Über, however, is graciously offering to refund its users up to $200. But over in France, ÜberPop has been banned. The Inetrior Ministry argues that it’s because there is no required training, background checks and other basic requirements for ÜberPop drivers. Taxi drivers there simply feel that it’s unfair competition. A court still has yet to decide on a final ruling. ÜberX drivers, though, are in the clear since they do require permits. In Rio de Janeiro the service is illegal and you can forget about using it in the Netherlands too. Perhaps things might start to improve in the United States, where the company has apparently enlisted the help of over 160 lobbyists in fifty different cities.

Gone to the dogs…

Image courtesy of Mister GC/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Mister GC/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Things are looking up at PetSmart now that a London-based equity firm picked up the Phoenix-based pet supply company for $8.7 billion, or “ruffly” $83.00 per share. That number, by the way, is at a 39% premium – nothing to bark at, mind you. Back in July, activist investor Jana Partners was looking to pick up the company, after all, it had close to a 10% stake in the company. Apollo Global Management was an even more recent contender. But BC Partners emerged as the new owners. PetSmart currently has close to 1,400 stores across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. The pet industry is expected to be a $59 billion business this year.

Most likely to graduate a multi-millionaire…

Image courtesy of  David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It seems high school lunch time was getting in the way of Mohammed “Mo” Islam’s career. So he did what any teenage financial whiz kid would do: he parlayed his financial acumen into a rumored $72 million fortune. While that number can’t officially be confirmed, the high-schooler did acknowledge his net worth is in the high eight figures. Not bad for someone who’s not even old enough to vote. The Stuyvesant High Schooler first started trading penny stocks at the age of nine years old, with money he made from tutoring. But he got badly burned in that lesson and took break allowing himself to get more well-versed in the stock market, particularly with crude oil and gold futures. His “studies” paid off and now he has his own apartment, which his parents won’t let him live in, and a new BMW which he is not legally allowed to drive. The only thing that’s standing between him and his broker-dealer license and hedge-fund dreams is his age –  he’s only 17.