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September 18, 2020

The Blizzard on Wall Street – News Roundup Sept. 14-18

Yeah,  I know, Apple debuted new tech this week. But there’s way cooler news than that to cover. Don’t believe me? Then keep reading and see for yourself.


The Business Buzz

A blizzard on Wall Street. Well, not literally. But Snowflake’s much-anticipated IPO on Wednesday sure caused a flurry of stock sales and news coverage. Snowflake — in case you somehow haven’t heard of it — is a cloud-based data management software company. It helps other businesses organize and manage their data by warehousing it on the cloud. Founded in 2012, the tech company made history this week by being the “biggest initial public offering for a U.S. software company in history.” The shares started out at $120 a pop, but they reached as high as $319 on Wednesday (they’ve settled to around $245 as of this writing). And that puts Snowflakes current valuation at more than $60 billion — a huge increase from the $12.4 billion valuation it hit during February’s private funding round. Private investing firms that invested in Snowflake early on — like Sutter Hill Ventures, Iconiq Capital, and Altimeter Partners — were some of the biggest winners this week as the value of their shares soared. It’s yet another glimpse at the massive returns that can come from investing early.

The WHF downside. It’s no secret that remote work is likely here to stay. But there’s a new drawback that has nothing to do with crying children or barking dogs. Working from home gives many employees the chance to move out of crowded and expensive regions like New York City and San Francisco. And that could get them a paycut. Companies like VMware, Facebook, and Twitter have announced (or are considering) policies that would base an employee’s salary on the cost of living for the region they live in. Workers for VMware who leave Silicon Valley could see pay cuts of up to 8% of their current salaries. 

Meanwhile, in a recent Wall Street Journal interview the co-CEO of Netflix stated that remote work really doesn’t mesh with the company’s culture. Netflix joins Amazon as a major company that won’t be hopping on the WFH train anytime soon.

If you thought we could get through a new roundup without talking about TikTok… Remember how I said last week that I thought we’d see an extension for the sale of TikTok to an American company? Well, I was somewhat right and very wrong at the same time. Early in the week we got the news that Oracle had won the bidding war. However, the Oracle-TikTok deal isn’t a full sale of the app or its data — it’s been termed more as a “partnership.” And the whole thing still needs approval from the White House and the Committee on Foreign Investment. So, I was wrong about needing an extension for the sale deadline.

Then the next shoe dropped. On Friday, the Commerce Department released regulations that officially banned the download and use of TikTok (as well as WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging app). The regulation came with a major caveat though — US companies can continue to provide web-hosting services on TikTok until November 12. The allowance was made as an acknowledgement of the Oracle deal. So, the deadline for the full banning of TikTok in the US was extended in an effort to enable the deal. Much like Oracle (who’s set to gain 60% stake in the app), I’ll take a half victory over none.


The Private Market

Fraud never looked so ironic. The FBI arrested Adam Rogas this week on charges of securities and wire fraud. Rogas allegedly raised more than $100 million from investors by modifying his company’s financial records to show millions in transactions that never occurred. The grand irony? Rogas’s company — NS8 — is a fraud prevention startup based out of Las Vegas. I’m guessing Rogas has a deep understanding of fraud since independent auditors apparently failed to detect the false financials he created. 

Impact investing at its finest. Amazon announced the first set of companies it is backing with its Climate Pledge Fund this week. The $2 billion fund was launched in June. It’s part of Amazon’s many-pronged plan for addressing climate change — which includes the entire company becoming carbon neutral by 2040. 

Amazon is investing in Redwood Materials, CarbonCure Technologies, Turntide Technologies, Pachama, and Rivian. These companies range from making greener concrete to recycling batteries to electric vans. The investment amounts were not disclosed, but Amazon did state that it wants to bring other businesses into the venture capital fund. Good PR and the chance at some solid investments seems like a pretty good combo to me.

Nothing but the numbers. With dozens of equity crowdfunding platforms out there, it can be hard to figure out which ones are right for you. That’s especially true when you consider all the different characteristics you can assess them on. But fear not! This list breaks down the top 10 crowdfunding platforms across metrics like total capital raised, investor fees, and types of securities offered. Pretty nifty stuff right there.


The Fun Stuff

Explore the stars. Even if you’re not hyped for the new Dune movie (though really, it looks awesome), you can explore far-flung star systems with this awesome web visualization of our stellar neighborhood. Although it’s not 100% scientifically accurate, it’s still a gorgeous view of the stars that are closest to us. FYI, you’ll want to use Google Chrome to get the full experience.


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About: Aryelle Young

Aryelle Young is a published writer and editor with experience across industries. She has worked with an independent publishing company and as a proposal writer for a government contractor. Her original work has also been published in various journals and one short story collection. At KingsCrowd, she strives to provide insightful and actionable content for all readers. Aryelle graduated with a Creative Writing degree from George Mason University.

View Aryelle Young's articles

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