Category Archives: Business

Amazon’s invasion of Kohl’s has begun

Starting today, Kohl’s is officially getting in bed with Amazon.

The discount department store is starting to accept returns of Amazon orders at 10 of what will eventually be 82 of its Chicago and Los Angeles stores. Kohl’s has also begun unveiling mini Amazon shops in some its locations, where customers will be able to try out and purchase gadgets like the Amazon Echo and Kindle.

The tie-ups, which were first announced last month, give Amazon added distribution for its growing portfolio of consumer gadgets as well as a free return option for its customers that don’t want to deal with the hassle of packing and shipping orders they don’t want.

For Kohl’s, the moves amount to a risky bet that the additional customer traffic resulting from the deal will outweigh the downside of strengthening Amazon, which has increasingly become a threat to every mid-market and low-price department store.

In an interview with Fortune, Kohl’s soon-to-be CEO Michelle Gass defended the move. “We’re going through one of, if not the, most transformational times in retail, and we have to really think differently,” she said. “The retail market is big so there is plenty of room for Amazon and Kohl’s to co-exist.”

But as Amazon continues to get more aggressive in Kohl’s core business of apparel sales — both through the creation of its own brands and deals with others like Nike — it’s fair to wonder how long a peaceful co-existence will be a reality.

It’s also fair to wonder whether there’s any thinking on Kohl’s part that the partnerships could turn into proof points in a pitch to Amazon on buying the chain.



Chinese Traders Continue Investments in Bitcoin With a Huge Premium

Despite the Chinese government’s crackdown on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency exchanges, local traders have invested in Bitcoin with a huge premium during its recent rally.

As Cryptocoinsnews previously reported, the Bitcoin price achieved a new all-time high at $5,920 last week, moving closer to the $6,000 region. Analysts including billionaire hedge fund investor Mike Novogratz predicted the Bitcoin price to surge even further in the mid-term, as an increasing number of institutional investors engage in cryptocurrency and Bitcoin trading.

When the price of Bitcoin was rapidly approaching the $6,000 mark and broke through $5,800, local investors and traders in China rushed to invest in Bitcoin, regardless of the imposition of a nationwide ban on cryptocurrency exchanges that requires leading Bitcoin exchanges such as OKCoin and Huobi to halt their services by the end of October.

On October 13, Bitcoin trades in the Chinese market facilitated by OKCoin and Huobi were processed at over $6,013, as the demand for Bitcoin from local investors began to surge. While leading Bitcoin markets such as Japan, the US, and South Korea processed trades at around $5,800, Chinese investors were purchasing Bitcoin with premiums in the range of $200 to $300.

Reasons For the High Premium

Until late 2016, the South Korean Bitcoin market demonstrated a massive premium in contrast to major markets like the US, because of its limited liquidity. At the time, the South Korean cryptocurrency exchange market was dominated by Korbit and Coinone, and Bithumb, currently the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, were yet to evolve into a major platform in the South Korean market.

Consequently, South Korean investors traded Bitcoin at a rate that was around 5 to 10 percent higher than the global average price.

In June, South Korean fintech company BitHolla CEO Alireza Beikverdi explained:

“Unlike China, which has massive mining operations taking advantage of an accidental government subsidy in the form of overinvestment in underused infrastructure and cheap energy, there is no mining activity to speak of. Therefore, Bitcoin and Ethereum must be imported from abroad, driving up the domestic premium in Korea.”

More to that, the strict capital controls and financial regulations imposed by the South Korean government which heavily restricts the outflow of capital from within the country to overseas markets contributed as a factor to the demonstrate premiums in the South Korean Bitcoin market.

Since then, the South Korean cryptocurrency exchange market has grown significantly. The South Korean Bitcoin market is the third largest in the world by trading volume, while its Ethereum market is the largest market internationally, with over 32 percent in market share.


One reason why bitcoin may be surging: You can now buy it instantly on one major US exchange

As bitcoin surged to all-time highs Friday, a key announcement from a major U.S.-based digital currency exchange could be a driving factor.

Coinbase said Thursday it is rolling out instant bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin purchases of up to $25,000 from U.S. bank accounts. Previously, customers using their bank accounts to buy the digital currencies had to wait several days to receive them.

“One of the biggest pieces of feedback we get on Coinbase is ‘why does it take so long!'” Coinbase Co-Founder and CEO Brian Armstrong said in a Thursday tweet. “Rolling out instant buys.”

Before this rollout, bitcoin’s price could fluctuate a lot during that waiting time, making it a drawback for the regular investor.

“The Coinbase instant buy program is yet another step toward mainstream acceptance of Bitcoin,” said Brian Kelly, founder of BKCM LLC, a hedge fund managing digital assets, and a CNBC contributor. “This will make Bitcoin easier to use as a transactional currency and could have the effect of increasing liquidity. The added transaction volume should also support the price. “

The company has nearly 11 million customers, according to its website.

TechCrunch reported Thursday that the instant purchase feature rolled out Thursday to about 15,000 Coinbase users and will be available for “all eligible” U.S.-based customers by the end of the year.

Bitcoin has leaped 21 percent within the last 48 hours to a record high of $5,856.10, according to CoinDesk. With those gains, the digital currency has multiplied six times in value this year and has a market value of more than $93 billion. That’s larger than that of Goldman Sachs.


Jay-Z Reportedly Looking to Buy Harvey Weinstein’s Interest in the Weinstein Co.

As the ashes continue to fall from the gigantic brushfire that is Harvey Weinstein’s career and alleged history as a sexual predator and serial harasser in Hollywood, some news comes along that provides something of a silver lining to the bullshit: Jay-Z is apparently looking to buy Weinstein’s interest in the company that bears Weinstein’s name.


Multiple sources connected to the rapper and business mogul have told TMZ that Jigga and a group of investors that includes a famous movie producer and a billionaire are talking about buying Weinstein’s 23 percent stake in the Weinstein Co.


Jigga previously worked with both TWC and Weinstein himself on the six-part series Time: The Kalief Browder Story, which originally aired on Spike beginning in March 2017 and is now available for streaming on Netflix. He also now has a Trayvon Martin series that will begin production.

Jay-Z has a first-look film deal with the Weinstein Co., and sources tell TMZ that he’s looking to expand his relationship with the company. With Harvey out, he wants a substantial equity stake in the film studio, TMZ reports.

Imagine the black power that would come to Hollywood if this deal actually happened. This is a game changer for sure.


As our managing editor, Genetta Adams, said when I pitched this story, “He’s not a businessman, he’s a business, man.”



Amazon’s Clever Solution to Stolen Deliveries: Your Trunk

A recent study suggests that nearly eight out of 10 Americans shop online. This is a boon for companies like Amazon that specialize in home delivery, but also for more unsavory enterprises—including the crooks who specialize in swiping people’s packages.

These so-called “porch pirates” are a growing nuisance for both consumers and businesses, which is why a proposed solution by Amazon is a big deal.

As CNBC reports, the solution involves Amazon working with a maker of “smart” license plates to allow delivery people to have temporary access to customers’ car trunks.

Phrame’s product fits around a license plate and contains a secure box that holds the keys to the car. Users unlock the box with their smartphone, and can grant access to others — such as delivery drivers — remotely.

The upshot is that Amazon customers using the service wouldn’t have to worry about their package sitting unattended for porch pirates to pilfer, or about their merchandise getting damaged by rain or snow. Instead, the package would simply be waiting for them in their car.

Image result for Amazon's Clever Solution to Stolen Deliveries: Your Trunk

The report does not provide specific details of how exactly the system will work, but it likely involves a smart sensor granting access to verified delivery agents like UPS and FedEx for a short window of time. Customers would presumably receive a notification on their Amazon app when the delivery is complete.

Unnamed sources also told CNBC that Amazon is working on a similar system involving smart doorbells. If this is the case, it’s less obvious how this would work in practice: While many customers might be okay with granting access to their car trunk, fewer would be comfortable opening their front door of their home while they were away.

If Amazon pulls this off, consumers wouldn’t be the only ones who benefit. Businesses are also harmed by package theft, which creates additional costs and can create a poor shopping experience that deters customers from ordering again. Likewise, a system of car trunk drop-offs would also improve efficiency by reducing the number of times truck drivers attempt a delivery.



Mastering Bitcoin: A Beginner’s Guide To Start Making Money With Bitcoin # 1 in mining on Amazon for Audio

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a digital payment system invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It was released as open-source software in 2009.

The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, bitcoin is called the first decentralized digital currency.

Besides being created as a reward for mining, bitcoin can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services in legal or black markets.

As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment. According to research produced by Cambridge University in 2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin.

Bitcoin Price Reaching $10k by April 2018 ‘No Surprise’: Mike Novogratz

Investor turned crypto hedge fund mogul Mike Novogratz has predicted Bitcoin will balloon to $10,000 in just six months.

Speaking on CNBC Wednesday, Novogratz, who is publicly bullish on Bitcoin and is starting a dedicated $500 million hedge fund, said he could “see the herd coming.”

“I’m pretty confident to say it’s going higher,” he told host [] on the network’s Fast Money segment.

“…It would not surprise if in the next six to 10 months we’re over $10,000.”

Hedge fund legend Mike Novogratz betting it all on bitcoin from CNBC.

Asked whether he thought Bitcoin was therefore a bubble, Novogratz said the “Blockchain revolution,” like railways and the Internet, would “change the way we live.”

“Yes, it’s a bubble, it’s going to be one of the great manias of all time,” he continued.

“Bitcoin happens to be the bellwether of this entire decentralized revolution, so it’s the easiest way people get gain exposure to it… Things like Ethereum I think will be the public utility of this new space.”

Signs of stability

Bitcoin prices remained relatively stable around all-time highs Wednesday, despite news that Russia was preparing to block access to cryptocurrency exchanges for its citizens.

Showing increasing resilience to political maneuvering, Bitcoin has managed to shake off wider-reaching moves by China, which saw an exchange ban and a halt on ICO operations in the country.


Nokia pulls out of OZO VR hardware, lays off 310, steps up in health and patents

Nokia, the once-mighty phone maker that eventually retreated to a business based around networking equipment and targeted verticals like health and imaging, is rethinking its business strategy once again. Today, the company announced that it would cease building its pricey OZO virtual reality cameras after finding that the VR market was developing “slower than expected”. It will instead shift its focus more to health products and patent licensing. Nokia Technologies is laying off up to 310 people as part of the move. Nokia Networks is unaffected.

The reductions will happen mainly in the U.S., U.K. and Finland, the company said, and account for about 35 percent of the 1,090 employees in Nokia Technologies, as the unit overseeing VR efforts (along with Health and licensing of patents) is called.

Nokia Technologies is at a point where, with the right focus and investments, we can meaningfully grow our footprint in the digital health market, and we must seize that opportunity,” said Gregory Lee, president of Nokia Technologies in a statement. “While necessary, the changes will also affect our employees, and as a responsible company we are committed to providing the needed support to those affected.”

Nokia’s OZO VR cameras made their debut around 2015 at a time when Nokia looked like it had all but given up on hardware, after seeing its mobile phone business — once the biggest in the world — get decimated by the rise of Android and the iPhone and eventually sold off to Microsoft (which continued to wind it down after also failing to resuscitate it).

The company said that it will continue to support those who have already purchased devices.

Tapping into the growing interest in VR, the company doubled down on its imaging prowess — it was known to have some of the best camera technology in its smartphones, with the patents to underpin it — and went hell for leather into VR cameras.


Partly because of the tech involved, and partly because of the relative immaturity of the market, these cost a fortune, upwards of $60,000 when they finally started to ship, meaning that there was never going to be a mass market for the products, unless VR really took off.

In the end, it hasn’t — or at least not like Nokia thought that it would. With competitors making lower-priced equipment, one interesting turn has been how VR tech has made its way into more ordinary products, rather than developing on a specialist-equipment trajectory. (In the VR headset space, for example, that has meant headsets that let you use your own smartphone as the display screen.)


Nokia pulls out of OZO VR hardware, lays off 310, steps up in health and patents

Michael Jordan Wants Amazon to Build Its Second Headquarters in Charlotte

NBA all-star Michael Jordan wants Amazon to put its much-vaunted second headquarters (HQ2) in Charlotte, N.C.

The former University of North Carolina and Chicago Bulls superstar put his pitch in a letter to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos last week, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Jordan owns the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets franchise and has deep roots in the state, having grown up in Wilmington, N.C. and attended UNC. The Observer quoted Fred Whitfield, president of the Hornets, who spoke about Jordan’s letter on Friday. The letter will be included in Charlotte’s official bid for HQ2, he said.

Charlotte has a lot going for it, including a bustling international airport and proximity to numerous interstate roads. It is also headquarters to Bank of America, among other big businesses.

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But the state has seen its share of political anxiety over the past year with the former governor signing a controversial bathroom bill, which mandated that transgender people use the restrooms matching the biological sex on their birth certificates. A new Democratic governor rescinded that bill, but the scars linger.

In September, Amazon announced plans to build a second headquarters outside Seattle and solicited proposals from cities that could meet certain criteria, including proximity to airports, major highways, and mass transit. In a statement at the time, Bezos said, “We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters.” Amazon says it has put $38 billion into Seattle’s economy between 2010 and 2016.

That sparked a frenzy with cities including Boston, Chicago, and Toronto. Much closer to home, Tacoma, Wash., which is about 30 miles from Seattle, unveiled its attempt to win the HQ2 pick a few days ago.

Some bids are more surprising than others. Last week, the city of Stonecrest, Ga., for example, moved to rename part of itself Amazon, in a bid to attract HQ2.


Airbus on track to fly its electric aerial taxi in 2018

Airbus is looking to put its flying taxi in the air next year, confirmed CityAirbus chief engineer Marius Bebesel this week. The schedule is on track after CityAirbus conducted successful ground tests of the electric power system it’s using to propel the vehicle through the air.

The CityAirbus craft is a vertical take-off and landing craft that uses a four rotor design, and that would be able to take up to four passengers on short flights in dense urban areas, with the aim of connecting major transportation hubs including train stations and airports. It’s designed to be pilot operated at launch, but to eventually transition to being a fully autonomous vehicle once the tech catches up.

CNBC reports that Airbus is aiming to operate the craft along fixed, predetermined routes, with top air speeds of around 80 mph. They’ll be able to skip over the traffic that can dramatically increase travel times entering and exiting busy city transit points, which would theoretically also help alleviate ground congestion.

Short hop flights are also an ideal application of battery electric tech, since that’s all that vehicles will be able to manage using fully electric power sources in the near-term. Plus, battery unit swapping or autonomous dock charging could help make it easier to make these vehicles fully self-flying in the future.


Airbus on track to fly its electric aerial taxi in 2018