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.

Big Bitcoin Winner, A Hedge Fund Goes to the Dogs and Labor Department Is Looking Up…Almost

Smooth as silk…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Venture Capitalist Tim Draper is a bit bitcoin richer these days after he won the lot of 30,000 crypto-coins auctioned off by US Marshals. The seized bitcoins came courtesy of Ross Ulbricht, alleged operator of the Silk Road online marketplace for drugs and guns. The original plan was for the government to auction off the coins in nine blocks but Draper had other plans and as he simply puts it, “paid more than other people.” Those other “people” included 45 bidders and 63 bids. The estimated value of the coins is somewhere between $17 million and $19 million. It seems Draper of the VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson has big plans for his newly acquired bitcoins which actually don’t involve a space voyage. Instead, the VC plans to use it for his Bitcoin startup Vaurum that is geared towards providing liquidity to markets with shaky currencies. The government still has 144,000 bitcoins so maybe you’ll have better luck at the next auction.

How smart…

Image courtesy of debspoons/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of debspoons/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Activist hedge fund Jana Partners has gone to the dogs. And cats. And fish…The fund is looking to buy the PetSmart and disclosed its 9.9% stake in the company. The chatter had Wall Street howling, sending shares up about 13%. The Phoenix-based company has seen its shares fall 18% in 2014 and reported some poor first quarter earnings. PetSmart has been trying to combat fiercer competition from companies like Amazon Prime and other e-commerce outlets by offering more grooming services and fresh food. The company has over 1,300 stores and is valued at almost $6 billion. And that’s nothing to bark at.

Laboring away…

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Labor Department is celebrating Independence Day early announcing that not only did the economy add 288,00 jobs, as ADP suggested yesterday, but also that unemployment took a much needed and much appreciated drop from its arrogant little perch of 6.3% to 6.1% The economy has added around 200,000 jobs for the last five months and many say that the Great Recession, that obnoxious unwelcome visitor that overstayed its visit, has officially been over for five years. Unfortunately states like Illinois, New Jersey Florida have yet to receive that memo as those states and 29 others are still trying to regain all their jobs. Nevada is also still trying to recover its economic mojo, signaling that while the recession, that started in 2007, has been over for several years, recovery has been mixed and slow. But on the bright side, North Dakota saw a huge energy boom and with that a 28% increase in jobs.