More than ever Millennials, baby boomers and even members of the greatest generation are ditching their spread-out suburban lives and packing it in for the city. Columbia Professor Vishaan Chakrabarti wrote in a New York Times Op-ed last week that Lower crime, better schools and more parks are making cities increasingly appealing while the difficulties of attaining mortgages and car loans combined with a new environmental and social consciousness make suburban living seem retro and ill-fitting for today’s society.

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Mat Honan, senior writer at “Wired” magazine discusses the growing relationship between Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and marijuana growers and dispensaries.

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When U.S. first-quarter GDP numbers are reported next week, economists aren’t expecting much, with estimates ranging from 1% to 1.5%. But the consensus is for a big rebound in the rest of the year, with estimates of 3% for the second quarter and 2.7% for the full year, according to a Bloomberg survey. That’s consistent with the “central tendency” of Federal Reserve board members, who are expecting a 2.8% to 3% growth rate for all of 2014.

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Click on the chart below to get to an amazing interactive visualisation of 15 years M&A by Apple, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and Facebook.

From our perspective as ecommerce investors the most interesting thing is confirmation that Amazon is the only volume acquirer in our market, and generally not at huge valuations. That makes it crucial that ecommerce startups can get to high valuations based on fundamentals – i.e. the ability to generate profits and cash.


Click image to see the interactive version (via Simply Business).



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Last week, the Government Accountability Office issued a report on information security lapses at the Securities and Exchange Commission. The report, an elaboration on problems identified in GAO’s December 2013 audit report, warned that these problems created risks to “the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of a key financial system” at the SEC. In short, “information security weaknesses placed SEC financial data at risk” and the commission needs to work harder to fix them. That’s not a great report card for an agency that is supposed to be keeping tabs on information security in…

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Liberal and conservative economists disagree sharply over the extent to which a lower marginal tax rate motivates talented workers to take the risks and suffer the consequences necessary to earn more money. The strongly held belief that higher tax rates do not create significant disincentive for risk-taking is central to the liberal argument. Imagine the shock, then, when two pillars of liberal economics-Paul Krugman and Paris School of Economics professor Thomas Piketty-conceded that a lower U.S. marginal tax rates had a profound effect on the economy precisely through its motivational…

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Unbeknownst to most Americans, over the past quarter-century a stealth, but also brazen, campaign has been staged to weaken constitutional protections of their fundamental right to invent and enjoy the fruits of their applied imagination. The insidious effort is being conducted in the deceptive name of “patent reform.”
As summer recess approaches, the Senate Judiciary Committee deliberates over the latest iteration of patent neutering, which is what it should be called, the House of Representatives having passed its own version this past winter. This poses a grave threat to America’s…

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Apple reports earnings this Wednesday. Wall Street is not expecting particularly impressive results. The focus of most Apple investors appears to be on the new products Apple is expected to roll out in the second half of this year.

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Characters like Jordan Belfort (the DiCaprio-depiction) and Gordon Gekko fill the big screen and young minds with dreams of Wall Street grandeur and luxury. And maybe once-upon-a-time working for a big bank was full of such excess, but today, says Kevin Roose, it’s less about a spoil of riches and more about thankless work.

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“It is scandalous and barely believable…that credit rating agencies are still being hired and paid exactly as they were in the bad old days,” writes Princeton professor and former Fed vice chair Alan Blinder.

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In a report released today Zillow’s chief economist Stan Humphries announced that home values in more than 1,000 U.S. cities are expected to surpass their pre-2008 levels within the year.

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It’s well understood now that at many of the best startups the founder remains at the helm until the company is very large – Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Oracle are four great examples. It’s also pretty well understood that founders have to be incredibly adaptive to stay effective as their companies scale. This description of changing requirements from CEOs is a helpful guide to anyone involved with fast growth startups (credit Venturebeat):

  1. Innovator – at the beginning the CEO should be great at generating ideas and acting on them
  2. Entrepreneur - then the CEO must be great at marshalling resources, raising money, staying resilient, and getting stuff done at pace
  3. Builder - as revenues start to grow the CEO has to build a team and processes so sales can be repeated and the business can grow
  4. Operator - then as the business achieves scale the role of the CEO shifts to being an operator (careful not to lose the innovation though..)
  5. Enabler – finally, once the business becomes very large with stable and growing profits the focus of the CEO shifts to enabling the organisation to keep humming all around them

We invest at the very early stages and look for our founders to excel as innovators and entrepreneurs first with the potential to be great builders. We hope they will go on to become great operators and enablers but it doesn’t make sense to think too much about that when the companies are still tiny. For a long time now I’ve thought that the biggest challenge founders face in adapting is the need to ditch the stubborn-ness that served them so well in the early stages. Gail Goodman, the founder and CEO of Constant Contact, which provides online marketing services to small businesses and has grown to some $285 million in annual revenue since it was founded in 1998 put it like this:

being relentless in your perseverance can eventually become an obstacle to change … Every founder [eventually] needs to face two ugly truths. The first is that you’re doing something wrong all the time. The second is that your flaws are harming the team.

The trick is to maintain self-belief through this realisation.



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Economist Thomas Piketty, author of the new book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” explains how growing inequality can lead to more financial crises.

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Professor Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics has come to America to tell us that many of our problems could be solved with higher taxes on wealth and an increase in the minimum wage. Sunday’s New York Times called him a Rock Star. Most of the analysis of Piketty’s 671-page tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century has focused on his examination of income inequality and his recommendation to increase taxes on capital and wealth. But how about increasing the minimum wage?The political biases of Capital are nowhere more obvious than in Piketty’s errors in his account of minimum…

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For about a decade now, budget hawks have been warning that the federal budget is fundamentally out of balance. Spending on entitlements and interest payments on the federal debt will grow more rapidly than revenues, eventually producing a debt spiral that will precipitate another financial crisis. Equally ominous, growth of spending on Medicare, Social Security, and interest on the debt, which enjoy priority under federal budget rules, will squeeze spending on everything else. In 2005 and 2007, scholars at the Brookings Institution published books making this case and outlining ways to…

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