It sounds like a teenager's dream and a parent's nightmare. Peter Thiel, PayPal's co-founder, is paying 24 college-aged students $100,000 to just say no — to college. For two years, winners of the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship have focused on developing business ideas instead of heading to class. The fellows will work in Silicon Valley with a network of more than 100 mentors where they "will pursue innovative scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship and begin to build the technology companies of tomorrow," the press release states.
Tag Archives | Business
Could the entire hedge fund industry rest upon tens of thousands of instances of lying, cheating, and stealing? Well, at least they’re immensely generous (with their political donations). Via Guernica:
… Read the rest
1. Insider Trading. If the Feds could tape every hedge fund we’d get an earful of how hedge funds use “expert networks” to transfer bits of illegal information that provide hedge fund managers with knowledge of events that are sure to move markets and make them a bundle.
2. Ponzi Schemes. Madoff isn’t the only one. Hedge funds and Ponzi schemes are made for each other since the funds are designed to evade so many disclosure regulations. It’s virtually a sure thing that every new year will reveal another Ponzi scheme through which a hedge fund steals money from investors and then uses new investor money to pay returns to the old investors.
3. Tax Evasion. No surprise here. Wherever you find billionaire financiers, you’ll find schemes to move money around the globe to dodge taxes.
Can we charge Bank of America an overdraft fee? The San Francisco Gate writes:
… Read the rest
Bank of America has agreed to pay $410 million to settle a lawsuit in which the lender is accused of manipulating debit transactions to maximize overdraft fees. The agreement is believed to be the first financial settlement by a large bank in a case alleging deceptive overdraft practices. It may presage the outcome of related claims against 30 other lending institutions, including Wells Fargo, Citibank, Chase, Union Bank and U.S. Bank.
San Francisco’s Wells Fargo is embroiled in a separate lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco brought by California customers. That case started before the multistate legal action, but has not concluded because Wells has filed an appeal.
In August, U.S. District Judge William Alsup issued a scathing ruling ordering Wells Fargo to pay its California clients $203 million. He said the bank’s goal was to “maximize the number of overdrafts and squeeze as much as possible” out of customers.
This should be more troubling, but it feels like business as usual in Washington. Dan Foomkin writes on the Huffington Post:
Members of the House of Representatives considerably outperform the stock market in their personal investments, according to a new academic study.
Four university researchers examined 16,000 common stock transactions made by approximately 300 House representatives from 1985 to 2001, and found what they call “significant positive abnormal returns,” with portfolios based on congressional trades beating the market by about 6 percent annually.
What’s their secret? The report speculates, but does not conclude, it could have something to do with the ability members of Congress have to trade on non-public information or to vote their own pocketbooks — or both.
A study of senators by the same team of researchers five years ago found members of the higher chamber even better at beating the market — outperforming it by about 10 percent, an amount the academics said was “both economically large and statistically significant.”
Read More: Huffington Post
One of the biggest insurance companies in the world held a party for salesmen where they were rewarded with the services of prostitutes. Munich Re is the world's biggest re-insurer — in other words, the company acts as an insurance company for other insurance companies. One of its divisions, Ergo, told the BBC that the party had taken place to reward salesmen in 2007. A spokesman said the people who organised it had since left. The gathering was held at a thermal baths in the Hungarian capital Budapest as a reward to particularly successful salesmen.
In a perfect example of a big media company looking to capitalize on current events, The Walt Disney Company has trademarked “Seal Team 6,” which also happens to be the name of the elite special forces team that killed Osama Bin Laden. The trademark applications came on May 3rd, two days after the operation that killed Bin Laden… and two days after “Seal Team 6″ was included in thousands of news articles and TV programs focusing on the operation. Disney’s trademark applications for “Seal Team 6″ cover clothing, footwear, headwear, toys, games and “entertainment and education services,” among other things.
The tin-foil-hatted nuts at BusinessWeek explain how and why Facebook will become the largest bank in the United States. (Perhaps most disturbing is the thought of a universal currency called ‘the zuckerberg’.)
… Read the rest
Becoming a financial powerhouse would help Facebook avoid the fate of many once-popular networks. AOL, Friendster, Second Life, and MySpace all dreamed of growing forever, too. To survive, Facebook must become more than glorified e-mail. Sharing photos and gossip with friends might make Facebook hard to leave. But upload your checking account and Facebook may just be forever.
Nongamers may have missed Facebook’s clever foray into the world of “virtual currency,” where Facebook Credits cost 10 cents each and can be exchanged for game points or cartoony gifts. Those dimes are adding up—the U.S. market for virtual goods will reach $2.1 billion in 2011.
For better business, Samoa decides to switch time zones. BBC reports:
The South Pacific island nation of Samoa is to jump forward in time by one day in order to boost its economy.
Samoa will do this by switching to the west side of the international date line, which it says will make it easier for it to do business with Australia and New Zealand.
At present, Samoa is 21 hours behind Sydney. From 29 December it will be three hours ahead.
The change comes 119 years after Samoa moved in the opposite direction.
Then, it transferred to the east side of the international date line in an effort to aid trade with the US and Europe.
However, Australia and New Zealand have increasingly become Samoa’s biggest trading partners.
[Continues at BBC News]
Kevin Zeese is an attorney and former candidate for U.S. Senate with a law degree from George Washington University. He contributes to a website attacking the agenda of the national Chamber of Commerce (StopTheChamber.com) and ran for office within the Green Party.
Zeese is concerned that malevolent business interests will have undue influence on elections, due to those interests’ expanding ability to influence elections anonymously. On the phone, he took great pains to differentiate the national hub from your local, garden variety chamber of commerce, which Zeese insists can very well represent the interests of local businesses. The local chambers, he said, had attempted to distance themselves from the national hub, the distinction for him lying in his instinct that the national was undermining decentralization of interests.
I asked him, “So I guess I’d just like to start off by asking you to describe in your own words why you think the Chamber of Commerce apparently has a problem with you or doesn’t want you to speak your mind?”
With this, Zeese laughed with glee, and, catching his breath, said, “Well, that’s a good way of putting it.”
If the hundreds of uses for cannabis doesn’t plead the case for its legalization, the money made from its medical industry just might do it. The Washington Independent reports:
… Read the rest
The American Independent has previously reported on the growing corporatization of the incipient medical marijuana industry at a time when medical marijuana dispensaries scrabble to hold on to their businesses in the face of a multi-pronged federal crackdown. But there are signs afoot that it just may become ever more corporate if a Big Pharma push to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recognize a cannabis-derived drug is successful.
Last week, British prescription drug manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals announced a licensing agreement with drug giant Novartis, maker of Ritalin and Excedrin, to begin selling GW’s drug Sativex in markets across Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Middle East. The medication is already available in Britain, where it’s produced and marketed by Bayer, and in Canada and Spain.