Manhattan - http://www.thirdworldcompany.com
Tom Johansmeyer is a New York-based blogger. His latest project, ThirdWorldCompany.com, is the intersection of F*ckedCompany.com and FML.
Eight more banks failed last week, bringing the 2010 total to 50. Three of the failures were in Florida, and two were in California. Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington had one bank failure each.
In Florida, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took over Riverside National Bank, First Federal Bank of North Florida and AmericanFirst Bank. TD Bank Financial Group a division of Canadian company TD Bank (TD) took the deposits and nearly all the assets of each. Riverside National had $3.4 billion in assets, with First Federal at $393.3 million and AmericanFirst at $90.5 million.
Continue reading Bank Failure Tally for 2010 Hits 50
When Twitter announced its search-based advertising model, little more than a Google (GOOG) knockoff, the market yawned. It didn't seem like much after months and months of speculation, not to mention Twitter's promises that this was something "we would love and would be awesome."
Now, the details are out, and it could be more interesting than expected. On Twitter's blog, Biz Stone lays out "Promoted Tweets," ending the jokes such as Stephen Colbert's, "So, I assume that 'Biz' in 'Biz Stone' does not stand for 'Business Model."
Continue reading Twitter Claims Its New Ad Model Is Different
Catastrophe bond capacity is maturing, and not much of it is coming back. In the first quarter, $1.8 billion in cat bond risk capital matured, and only $508 million returned in the form of new issuances, according to Thomson Reuters. This quarter, $2.77 billion is maturing, and the absence of first-time issuers makes it unlikely that the market will replace it all. More than a billion of it was from State Farm's Merna Re transaction. The successor to it has already been issued, cleverly named Merna Re II, at only a fraction of the previous bond.
Continue reading Catastrophe Bond Issuance Gap Is upon Us
Life was so much easier when Twitter
wasn't worried about making money. Some spectacular venture capital deals propelled the company's value to over $1 billion, and user trends shot bragging rights up proportionately. Its ascendancy resulted in large part from the efforts of the Twitter ecosystem where companies developed 70,000 applications
that have made life easier or more measurable for Twitter users. It's easy to lose track of how much of our Twitter interaction lies on third-party apps – from photo sharing to smartphone applications to URL shortening.
As long as Twitter's functionality ambitions remained modest, the ecosystem knew it would thrive. As we head toward the Chirp conference
for Twitter application developers concerns over the future of the ecosystem abound. Here are five reasons why the companies around Twitter may start to worry about the microblogging juggernaut.
Continue reading Five Reasons Twitter App Developers Fear Twitter
Last year, American International Group (AIG
) lost up to $2 billion because its Financial Products group unwound most of its remaining trades
with Goldman Sachs (GS
). Of course, this was the situation that led to the insurer's near-collapse in September 2008. The losses sustained last year resulted from AIG's continued efforts to extract itself from a precarious financial situation.
AIG's realized losses came on approximately $3 billion in mortgage-collateralized debt positions. After last year's extrication, AIG has $1.3 billion in CDOs with Goldman Sachs, because the company believed the positions could perform better than their current prices would reveal.
Continue reading AIG Derivative Exit Costs $2 Billion
Friday marked the failure of another bank
, pushing the 2010 total to 42. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took over Beach First National Bank in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The bank had $585.1 million in assets and $516 in deposits. Bank of North Carolina, based in Thomasville, is taking over the failed bank's assets and deposits. The Beach First failure is expected to cost the FDIC $130.3 million.
A growing number of loan defaults, especially in the commercial real estate sector, have put considerable pressure on banks across the country. In fact, failures are expected to peak this year, exceeding the 140 that occurred in 2009
, which was the worst year since 1992.
Continue reading Bank Failures Hit 42, Expected to Exceed 2009's 140
After a dismal 2009, there is hope for the art auction segment. There was reason for optimism at in the past quarter, as the major houses started to move impressive pieces again, and momentum continued through the beginning of this year. Now, we're getting ready to move into the busy months of May and June. Unlike last year, auctioneers, collectors and dealers seem to be ready to play.
May 2008 was essentially the last hurrah of an art market rally that had lasted several years and created incredible amounts of paper canvas and bronze wealth. It was at this point that Sotheby's (BID) sold a fairly late triptych by artist Francis Bacon for an incredible $86 million to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, a transaction that has become the poster child for the excesses of the art market.
Continue reading Sotheby's Betting on Matisse and Warhol
Twitter's new look won't be limited to the redesigned Twitter home page. Doug Bowman, creative director at the social media company, posted a screen shot of a refreshed design for Twitter Thursday, according to SocialTimes. Of course, the whole screen isn't even shown because, as Bowman wrote in a comment, "Working on what may end up a significant redesign. Not final yet. What we can show without giving away the farm."
It looks like quite a bit is going to change, and as usual, even the smallest of updates could carry a significant revenue implication for Twitter. Here are four implications of a screen redesign for Twitter (and, more important, its investors):
Continue reading Four Implications of the Leaked Twitter Redesign
Last year, Twitter said it had two goals for 2010: generate revenue and make acquisitions. At the time, the company was still sitting on a significant portion of its last round of capital, and given the $20 million annual burn rate revealed late last year -- plus the revenue it's generating -- it's unlikely that Twitter has had to deplete its coffers. So, Twitter has cash to put to work, and now we're seeing what that means.
On its blog, Twitter announced Friday that it has entered into an agreement with Atebits (aka Loren Brichter) to acquire Tweetie, which is one of the top Twitter clients for the Apple (AAPL) iPhone. In addition to acquiring the application, Twitter is also picking up talent. Brichter's efforts were good for a 2009 Apple Design Award, and he'll be part of future efforts to get Twitter for the iPad off the ground.
Continue reading Twitter Acquires Tweetie, Loren Brichter
Have sword, will travel.
The number of ninjas on LinkedIn
is on the rise. According to the latest post on the company's blog, new job titles are popping up on the popular business social networking
site. From 2002 to 2007, the percentage of job titles including the word "ninja" spiked, according to LinkedIn. The company is quick to explain that these people aren't the assassins of old. "They are more likely to throw Java exceptions rather than steel stars," writes Monica Rogati.
Continue reading LinkedIn Says Ninjas Are on the Loose in the Jobforce
More than half of Twitter's users aren't from the U.S. Matt Sanford, lead engineer or the company's international team, writes on Twitter's blog that 60% of its user base comes from outside the U.S. This reflects steady growth from June 2009, when just over 55% of Twitter's users were domestic.
Big-name advocates in foreign countries have bolstered technical developments, such as the release of the platform in Spanish, with Colombian registrations up 300%. Those in India are gaining close to 100% thanks to adoption by high-profile politicians. Further, overseas partnerships, like the one with Bharti Airtel, have made Twitter viable overseas. Early on, international growth prospects were a concern, given mobile carrier rates and texting charges.
Continue reading International Growth to Fuel Twitter Revenue
All we can do is wait for Alex.
Hurricane season start June 1, 2010
, with Alex chosen as the first name, and it's expected to be above average. The Colorado State University forecast released on Wednesday predicts 15 named storms in the Atlantic basin, due partly to record warm water. Eight of them are expected to reach hurricane status, with sustained winds of 74 mph, and four are forecasted to become Category 3, 4 or 5 storms, with sustained winds of 111 mph. Typically, there are only 10 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes (two of them major), based on data going back to 1950.
William Gray, a member of the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project, told USA Today
, "The probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline is 69%, compared with the last-century average of 52%."
Continue reading Insurers Ready for Above-Average Hurricane Season
Twitter has struggled to bring more users onto its website. Approximately 70% of end-user interaction
with the microblogging service takes place away from Twitter.com
. As the company moves toward its search-based ad model
, expected to be released later this quarter, website traffic is becoming increasingly important. Yet, it's this gap between use and on-site action that might protect the company going forward ... at least if Facebook
can be used as an indicator.
With Facebook Connect, members of the social networking
site can interact with their profiles "remotely." If you want to share this blog post on Facebook, for example, you can do it without opening a new browser, plucking www.facebook.com on the keyboard and pasting the URL into the status field. This connection, even though it costs Facebook a pageview or two, reinforces the user's relationship with the site, increasing the likelihood that he or she will remain active overall. It also provides fodder for other members, fueling more clicks, comments and likes ... and ultimately cash in the Facebook till.
Continue reading Off-Platform Key to Social Media Survival and Success
When I started my brief stint in the reinsurance
business in late 2007, the words "excess capital" were on everyone's lips. Reinsurers had record capital on hand and were pushing dividends and share buybacks because they couldn't find ways to make it productive. Two years later, we're getting close to those record levels
, according to a new report from Aon Benfield (AON
), despite everything that's happened in between – the financial crisis
, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and the earthquake
in Chile, for example.
If you look at the financials, it's almost like nothing has changed, and let's hope the lessons learned in between aren't obscured by the full pockets that reinsurers can now boast.
Continue reading Reinsurance Industry Approaches Record Levels
I already had trouble wrapping my head around a $3 billion valuation
back in February. But the latest big number
is just inconceivable. SecondShares, which is run by former private equity
analysts to determine how much private equity companies would be worth if they went public, pegs the value of this social games company at $5 billion, approximately 75% above its current trading in illiquid secondary markets for private companies.
Several factors are used to determine a private company's valuation, including prices for employee stock options. Of course, private company valuation
can be squishy under any circumstances, but fast-moving social media
companies with penchant for secrecy make the process more difficult.
Continue reading Latest Zynga Valuation Estimate: $5 billion(!)
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