Bitcoin Makes its Stateside Debut; Bad Day for Barbie; Fruity Pebbles Gets Some Company

It’s a bit time…

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The first US regulated bitcoin exchange has made its US virtual debut. San Francisco-based Coinbase raised $106 million with some of that backing coming from Andreessen Horowitz and even the New York Stock Exchange. Which must mean that this whole crypto-currency thing is super legit, despite the fact that there is no government backed regulation for it, nor is it backed by the FDIC. But no worries as Coinbase, which already has 1.9 million users, 2.2 million accounts and 40,000 companies signed up with it, says it is insured against hacking, internal theft and accidental loss.  How very forward-thinking. Especially considering that earlier this month, European bitcoin exchange, Bitstamp, suffered a hack attack that cost it about $5.2 million. Of course, nobody will forget how Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox was forced to call it quits after getting brutally hacked…to bits. Coinbase is currently allowed to conduct business in 25 states and makes its money by taking 0.25% of Bitcoin transactions. How very industrious. But the exchange doesn’t take its cut for the first two months after opening an account because Coinbase very thoughtfully felt this would be a good gimmick to attract more business. Hey, sign me up. Now if I could just get myself some Bitcoins…

Just not that into you anymore…

Image courtesy of ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Big changes are taking place at Mattel, the toy company famous for the ever-evolving “Barbie Doll.” Barbie is, in part anyways, the reason for the major power shift at Mattel. It seems girls are just not that into her anymore. Sales of the doll worldwide have been falling for the past few years with this last quarter, which included the holiday shopping season, ending on a particularly dismal note. Barbie, her friends and that malleable Malibu Dream House just can’t compete anymore with Disney’s Frozen dolls. Barbie also can’t seem to compete with electronic devices (and really, what can?). Mattel earned close to $150 million and $0.44 a share, which seems decent, unless of course that is a 60% drop from what the company pulled in last year. Mattel also said that because the dollar was so strong against other currencies, it affected sales. Except the dollar’s strength against other currencies didn’t seem to affect sales of the aforementioned Disney Frozen dolls and electronic devices.  Hence, Bryan Stockton, who up until this morning was Mattel’s Chairman and CEO, will be replaced by Christopher Sinclair , who will become interim chairman and CEO.

Man that’s a lot of cereal…

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Post Holdings Inc., which is best known, in my most humble opinion anyways, for Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles, has decided to pick up MOM Brands to the crunchy tune of $1.15 billion. MOM Brands is best known, in my most humble opinion for Malt-O-Meal hot cereal – and perhaps, even better known for its seventies/eighties era commercial with that kid who asks for some more Malt-O-Meal, which was supposed to send our mothers into a tizzy to run out and buy boxes of the low-in-sugar breakfast (it should be duly noted that I didn’t fall for it). I wonder what became of him. In any case, MOM Brands is also known for ripping off other cereals and selling them for less, or as they say in the land of marketing, value brands. Laugh all you want, but those value brands brought in revenue of $760 million and $120 million in profit. This new crunchy company combo will take an 18% bite out of the market share for cereal, with General Mills and Kellogg’s still taking 30% of market share.

Coach Goes Shoe Shopping; Bitcoin of a Breach;

Well-heeled…

Image courtesy of biosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of biosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Luxury handbag and accessories maker Coach (COH) went shoe company shopping to go with all its merchandise and decided to settle on $530 million worth of Stuart Weitzman shoes. Coach announced this morning that it’s buying luxury shoe company Stuart Weitzman, which was/is actually owned by private equity firm Sycamore Partners LLC, who is getting $530 million in cash for the company. But if all goes well, in that Stuart Weitzman hits its revenue goals in the next three years, Sycamore stands to gain another $44 million – a win/win for all. In 2013, the footwear maker pulled in $270 million while Coach has been undergoing some growing pains in the last couple years as it struggles to compete with trendy rivals Michael Kors and Kate Spade. Shares of Coach rose $0.46 in pre-market trading which can only mean one thing – Wall Street is totally into the purchase.

Oops! It happened again…

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bitstamp, Europe’s top bitcoin exchange had to put the kibosh on services after 19,000 bitcoins went missing. In case you were wondering…which I know you were, that’s over $5 million. No withdrawals and no deposits (which probably won’t be an issue) can be made with Bitstamp as of now, but it has reassured its customers that “their balances held prior will not be affected and will be honored in full.” Awww. that’s sweet. How very responsible and conscientious. Sort of. Apparently the exchange’s “operational wallets were compromised” which sounds like something out of a movie. The rest of the exchange’s bitcoin stash is kept in “cold storage.” And while that just sounds like the secret compartment in the back of your mother’s freezer, it’s actually a term to describe computers that aren’t connected to the internet but hold information. Like my Commodore 64 I had when I was eight.  The breach doesn’t quite have the stench of epic failure of the Mt. Gox breach collapse almost a year ago, which saw $650 million worth of the crypto-currency mysteriously disappear along with the collapse of the exchange itself.  However, the breach is still alarming enough to shake up the unregulated bitcoin universe. Bitcoins are, by the way trading in the $270 range, which is cute and all but nothing like its $1,240 peak, pre-Mt. Gox collapse, of course.

Stamp’d out…

Image courtesy of anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The United States Postal Service had its best fiscal quarter in seven years. In fact, this quarter was up 18% over the same time last year.  A very impressive feat considering that volume for mail is down 26% in the last ten years. But even with that 18% increase the USPS continues to operate at a loss. Those pieces of paper to which you affix stickers with a monetary value on it – you do realize I am talking about stamped envelopes, don’t you? – have gone down in volume by a third. Even though the price for stamps kept going up and up and up… the postal service still saw $17 billion in losses in the last decade. To help recoup some of those billions, the postal service consolidated over 300 processing facilities, cut 212,000 jobs and nixed 23,000 routes. And now expect snail mail to get even snail-ier with the average delivery time going up from 1.8 days to 2.1 days.