2019-02-02

Tech Review | Analysts Giving Up On Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency

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Tech Review (TR 2019-02-02)--Domain Mondo's weekly review of tech investing news: Features • 1) Giving Up On Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency, 2) Amazon Alexa And Google Assistant Becoming Omnipresent, 3) Investing: The Week & Notes: WEF, EU, Brexit, US, 4)ICYMI Tech News: Facebook, Nvidia, Twitter, Google, Oracle, Huawei, China VC, Microsoft, Amazon, Startup Starbreeze Implodes, Personal Tech: Chromebooks vs Windows?

1) Giving Up On Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency
Bitcoin in US$
Bitcoin in US$
Bitcoin Volatility Problematic For Analysts: Crypto enthusiasts such as Mike Novogratz made wild predictions on Bitcoin's price in 2018, most of which proved wrong. Tom Lee of Fundstrat said Bitcoin would hit $25,000 by end of 2018. It didn't happen. Now, Lee, and others, are not making timing calls at all. 2019 is off to a rough start for cryptocurrencies, with most coins continuing their downturn in January.

However, Ripple CEO says decentralized payment systems are likely to win:

Ripple's Brad Garlinghouse discusses blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies at a CNBC-hosted panel in Paris. CNBC International TV video above published Jan 31, 2019.

Ripple supports tokens representing fiat currency, cryptocurrency, commodities, or other units of value such as frequent flier miles or mobile minutes. Ripple purports to enable "secure, instantly and nearly free global financial transactions of any size with no chargebacks." The ledger employs the decentralized native cryptocurrency known as XRP, which as of September 2018 was the second largest coin by market capitalization. Ripple has been adopted by banks and payment networks as settlement infrastructure technology (sources via Wikipedia.org).

Building Crypto, from Vision to Reality

a16z.com video (podcast) above with Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong), Chris Dixon (@cdixon), and Sonal Chokshi (@smc90) Where are we, really, right now -- in terms of what we can/ can't do with crypto today? And what will it take to get from vision to mainstream reality? This episode of the a16z Podcast covers all this and more. It's based on a conversation that took place between Coinbase CEO and cofounder Brian Armstrong and a16z crypto general partner Chris Dixon, interviewed by a16z editor in chief Sonal Chokshi, at our at our annual Summit in November 2018 -- following a series of presentations that covered everything from early adoption, myths, and the global need for crypto; to crypto as seen through the lens of trust; to key terms and concepts that enable entirely new use cases on top of crypto. But what are the missing pieces needed to get us there? Is crypto is too much like a religion... and if so, how does one build a company, culture, community in such an intense environment? Where does the history of open source come in? And finally, what are some of the most interesting applications and trends in the space? Video above published Jan 1, 2019. Disclosures.

See also:
  • "Participation by financial institutions in bitcoin trading appears to be fading," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a research note to clients--forbes.com
  • Bitcoin Is Worth Less Than the Cost to Mine It, JPMorgan Says--
  • bloomberg.com.
  • JP Morgan: Blockchain Needs To Be Separated From Bitcoin & Crypto--ethereumworldnews.com.
  • Bitcoin Failed as a Safe Haven to the U.S. Stock Market: JP Morgan--newsbtc.com.
  •  Bloomberg Technology video published Jan 30, 2019.
  • Three reasons why you should stay away from bitcoin!--Bitcoin has bit the dust--zerohedge.com.

2) Amazon Alexa And Google Assistant Becoming Omnipresent

Until recently, Amazon $AMZN and Google $GOOG $GOOGL competed for presence in our homes through their own hardware: smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, TV add-ons like Chromecast and Fire TV and even home security systems like Nest and Ring. At CES 2019, partners from both companies launched dozens of new products that will bring Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant into nearly every aspect of our lives. Both firms also revealed how widespread their ecosystems are.

Google said that by the end of January, more than 1 billion devices will have Google Assistant built-in. That's up from 500 million in May, but a lot of that growth is because Assistant now ships as a standard feature on Android phones. Google Assistant is also built into 10,000 different smart home devices from more than 1,600 brands, the company said.

Amazon said there are now more than 150 products with Alexa built directly in — which means you can talk right to it without also owning an Echo — and more than 28,000 products from 4,500 brands that support it. That means you need an Amazon Echo to control the gadget. Amazon also said it has now sold more than 100 million Alexa devices. CNBC.com video above published Jan 13, 2019.

3) Investing
graphic: "INVESTING"  ©2017 DomainMondo.com
The Week: NASDAQ Composite +1.4% | S&P 500 Index +1.6% | DJIA +1.3%
Investing Notes: the benchmark S&P 500 Index is UP 8% so far in 2019.

WEF a dud and joke: "This year's now-concluded World Economic Forum conference in Davos was mostly a dud and increasingly a joke in financial circles, with Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid going so far as admitting that 'we had a DB drinks reception for our clients last night and one said to me that in 11 years of coming here the best advice would be to trade in the opposite direction to the main theme of the conference over the next 12 months'"--zerohedge.comFormer Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz  was heckled after he said he might run for U.S. president:“Go back to Davos with the rest of the billionaire elite who think they know how to run the world.”

EU: France's ‘Yellow Vests Movement"--Mouvement des gilets jaunes--should be taken seriously says AXA CEO--in a CNBC International TV video published Jan 26, 2019, AXA CEO Thomas Buberl says Europe’s social contract isn’t working anymore.
  • France: the November 2018 data shows unemployment at 8.9%, well above the 6.7% EU rate. Current levels are also above prior cycle lows of 7.2% in February 2008.
  • Italy: unemployment currently sits at 10.5%, far above the EU’s 6.7%. The prior cycle low in Italy was 5.8% in April 2007.
  • Spain: unemployment remains stubbornly high, 14.7% based on the November 2018 data. The lows from May 2007 were 8.0%. 
Above data via DataTrekResearch.com:
  • The Eurozone problem: with German unemployment at just 3.3%, how does the European Central Bank consider normalizing both interest rates and its balance sheet when systematically important Eurozone economies like France, Italy and Spain remain at essentially recessionary levels of unemployment?
  • What are the political ramifications of high unemployment across these large countries? See "Yellow Vests Movement" (above) for the answer.
  • "Personally, I just don’t think Europe works – its imbalanced in favour of the few."--Bill Blain.

Brexit? Christian Ulbrich, global chief executive of JLL, the property agency, told Financial News  that his company leased more space in the City of London 'Square Mile' during the final three months of 2018 than in any other quarter on record. CBRE also reported 3.9 million sq ft of deals had closed across all of central London during the quarter, above the 10-year average.

US: Every year, roughly 14% of the US population moves from one state to another, according to US Census Bureau data--top inbound states (dark blue) and top outbound states (medium blue):
source: 2018 Migration Report | northamerican.com (pdf)
Apparently, Americans don't like high-tax states like Illinois, California, New Jersey and New York, but prefer living in Idaho, Arizona, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, and Florida. Also note U.S. jobless rates across the largest 5 US states (December 2018 data): California: 4.2%; New York: 3.9%; Pennsylvania: 4.2%; Texas: 3.7%; Florida: 3.3%. The national unemployment rate:  3.9%.

4) ICYMI Tech News:
graphic: "ICYMI Tech News" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
Facebook: "Even after losing roughly a third of its market cap, Facebook $FB may yet prove to be one of the great shorts of all time"--The Fall of Facebook Has Only Begun--medium.com. Also: Facebook knowingly duped game-playing kids and their parents out of money--revealnews.org.

Nvidia Jan 28 Financial Guidance: "deteriorating macroeconomic conditions, particularly in China, impacted consumer demand for NVIDIA gaming GPUs"--NVDA shares fall 14% and are now off 44% since Jan 29, 2018 (as of Jan 28, 2019):
Nvidia's Problems May Grow Worse--seekingalpha.com.

Twitter’s CEO keeps "substituting talking for doing"--Jack Dorsey has a lot to say, but he has more to do--theverge.comTwitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) will release financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2018 on February 7, 2019, before the market open at approximately 7:00 am EST. Twitter will host a conference call / LIVE webcast to discuss these financial results at 8:00 am EST, at investor.twitterinc.com. Tweet your question to @TwitterIR using #TWTR.

Google LLC vs Oracle America, Inc., software copyright dispute, Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (pdf) in the US Supreme Court.

U.S. Indicts Huawei--accused of stealing trade secrets, defrauding banks--bloomberg.com. See also "Huawei will struggle to assuage western concerns - Suspicions are as much about China’s system as about the company itself"--ft.com.

China VC: "The number of China’s venture capital deals dropped to 713 in the fourth quarter of 2018, down 25% from a year earlier, with the amount of funding shrinking 12% to $18.3 billion ... Competition for job vacancies has intensified with an average applicants-to-jobs ratio of 32 to 1."--scmp.com.

Walmart, Amazon scrambling to comply with India's new e-commerce rules--reuters.com.

Startup Starbreeze implodes: "How did things go so badly wrong in such a short space of time? According to over a dozen current and former Starbreeze (starbreeze.com) staff members, who asked to remain anonymous in order to protect their careers, the writing had been on the wall for some time. But even as staff lost faith in the studio and its bosses, nobody, it seemed, thought Starbreeze's fall from grace would turn out to be quite so dramatic."--eurogamer.net“How did you go bankrupt?" Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.--Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

Personal Tech: after January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or support for PCs running Windows 7 (unless you pay extra), so for many Windows 7 users, it will be decision time (Microsoft Windows 10, Apple Mac OS, Google Chrome OS, or Linux) during the next 12 months. Editor's note: personally, I am transitioning to Google Chrome OS (Chromebooks) and recommend the two chromebooks I am familiar with: Google Pixelbook and Acer Chromebook 15There are plenty of other nice chromebooks available, but no matter your budget, be sure to get at least 4GB of RAM, and do your own due diligence, e.g., https://www.reddit.com/r/Pixelbook.

-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo  

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