Security token offerings aren’t looking much better in 2019

    Summary
    Pressed to explain who is using them, and why, 99 percent of cryptocurrencies let out all their air, go flying around the room making a raspberry sound, hit the wall and fall behind the couch forever. The party is over. A few, however, can present a credible use case. “Tokenized securities” could be one of them: a more open and efficient way to transact shares and notes as well as distribute cash flows. Proponents of “security token offerings” (STOs) have been telling that story now for a little more than a year. This data report canvases the market, finds few are buying it, interviews market participants for perspective and reveals gaps in the use case at the ground level that explain its failure to thrive. In October 2017, the market for “initial coin offerings,” or ICOs, reached a peak, with more than 100 capital raises closing through the sale of crypto tokens, according to market data provider Token Data. Proponents thought these tokens were an innovation on par with the joint stock corporation: not a claim on cash flows, but a vessel to participate in and directly capture the value latent in network effects. “Tokenized” networks raising money that month ranged from the prosaic, like a no-fee crypto exchange called Cobinhood ($13.2 million), to the ludicrous, like Dentacoin, “the blockchain solution for the global dental industry” ($1.1 million). At the time, it was nearly unheard-of for such a project to acknowledge its token might be a security like the mundane stock certificate. In the following months, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sent dozens of subpoenas to token issuers, indicating that they disagreed. By the following March, the number of SEC registrations for new token offerings equaled more than half the total ICO deal activity for the month. As SEC moved in and ICOs cooled, a new enthusiasm for paperwork The sudden popularity in 2018 of the so-called “security token” was undoubtedly a scramble to paper over cash grabs. However, there is a use case for “tokenized securities” that is worth considering. Bitcoin showed how ownership could be digitally secured and transferred without intermediaries. A tokenized security could do the same for investment contracts. “Smart contracts” are a value proposition that has been discussed in cryptocurrency since long before Bitcoin. There is reason to be optimistic that this form of programmable ownership can bring efficiency, transparency, liquidity and access to the $1.7 trillion annual US private placement market. The value proposition is that smart contracts will reduce the cost of compliance in primary issuance and secondary trading. Issuers benefit by reduced liquidity premiums and more buyers to compete for their offering. Investors benefit by gaining more access to opportunities for growth-stage investment. This is a compelling story in US capital markets that have, for nearly two decades, starved retail investors of exposure to growth-stage investments. Decline of the small-cap IPO reduced retail opportunities for risk & return This value proposition, and a narrative of regulatory chill in the markets, have led some to believe that tokenized securities would bring back a bull market in crypto. The Wall Street hype machine has moved on from crypto; security tokens are one of the few areas in which the avid listener can detect faint echoes of its passing. Media hype - “If it works you’re going to see tremors across Wall Street.” -CNBC commentator - “Apple and Tesla shares on the blockchain could be the next big thing” -CNBC headline - “2019: The Year Digital Securities Offerings Become the New ICOs” -CoinDesk - “Why security token offerings are replacing initial coin offerings” -Silicon Valley Business Journal From 30,000 feet up, the use case for tokenized securities looks compelling. As with many blockchain-based projects, zoom down to the user level and misaligned incentives appear for key market participants. - *Investors*: Digital tokens carry technological risk, regulatory risk and market risk. Without a liquid market ready and waiting, private placement investors have little incentive to layer risk on top of the risk-return they already understand. - *Brokers*: Effective bankers and broker-dealers charge a premium for primary issuance; the more effective they are, the less incentive they have to adopt, especially given their investors are not clamoring for this product. - *Issuers*: With markets awash in private capital, there are very few quality issuers that cannot raise funds. The better the investment opportunity, the likelier its access to funds and investment banks in the top quartile, where investment decisions have kingmaker effects in the market. Interest in innovation that disrupts these relationships is therefore inversely related to suitability for capital, a repeat of the pattern in US issuers accessing new equity crowdfunding options under the JOBS Act of 2012. If you build it, will they come? To determine whether new tokenized security issuance is finding a fit in the market, Canary Data, an open crypto research initiative, undertook an exhaustive search of news wires and the SEC’s EDGAR database, beginning in 2017 and ending mid-January, looking for public statements and filings related to security token offerings. It’s an imperfect method; our database of offerings is constantly evolving as new information becomes available. But in an emerging segment of the financial markets it reflects the level of credible, mainstream activity. We filtered out tokens that are in the mold of the ICO “utility token,” offering a financial instrument as a form of access to a valuable network effect. Many of these have registered as securities, but it is the value proposition of a tokenized tradtional security — a claim on cash flow, represented as a token — that we are interested in.

    Can you guess which face is real, and which is computer generated?

    Summary
    Computers have recently gotten much, much better at a somewhat unsettling skill: generating fake human faces. As in, creating an image of a human who has never existed before. We saw the concept go a bit viral this week with ThisPersonDoesNotExist, a website hooked to a machine that generates a new face every few seconds. Or the feline version that dreams up (sometimes nightmare-inducing) cats, ThisCatDoesNotExist. Now it has been turned into a game. Think you can tell which human is… well, human? *(Spoiler: All of the images used as examples above are, according to the game, computer generated.)* Aptly called WhichFaceIsReal, the site throws two images side-by-side: one real, and one generated by a computer. It was put together by two professors at the University of Washington, building upon the same work as the sites mentioned above: StyleGAN, an algorithm recently open-sourced by a team at Nvidia. This algorithm pits two neural networks against each other — one attempting to generate fake face images, while another network attempts to flag the fake. It’s not *impossible* to tell which is real, at this point. After you’ve been playing for a while, you might start to notice things the computer tends to get wrong. The authors of the site even outline some of the common issues here — things like weird water-splotch-like graphical artifacts, or smiling mouths featuring too many front teeth. But even if you’re getting 90 percent of them right off the bat, you’ve gotta wonder: would you notice the fake if it weren’t so deliberately contrasted with a real one? If any of the fakes were just a random photo on a profile on the internet, would you even take a second look?

    On-demand shuttle startup Via enters South American market

    Summary
    Via, the on-demand shuttle startup backed by Daimler, has expanded into South America. The company launched a service in Goiânia, Brazil with HP Transportes Coletivos, one of the country’s largest public transportation operators. Via says the service called CityBus 2.0 is the first on-demand shuttle system operated by a public transit operator to launch in Latin America. Users are able to use an app to request a ride in 11 districts around the city. Base fares are R$2.50, or $0.68. Via’s service is features a fleet of 14-seater Mercedes-Benz vans that are capable of handling up to 3,500 trips per day. The service is employs 30 drivers. So far, it appears there’s demand for this on-demand shuttle service. More than 15,000 people downloaded the CityBus 2.0 app in the first week of service, Via said. When a rider places the request, the app calculates the distance and shows the fare. Payment can be made by credit card or cash. While on-demand ride-hailing services typically only process payments through an app, Via does allow cash transactions with some transit agency partners. Cash payments are also available in cities like Orange County where we launched OC Flex. Via has 50 deployments in 15 countries. The company has consumer-facing shuttles in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York. The company also partners with cities and transportation authorities — like this latest one in Brazil — giving clients access to their platform to deploy their own shuttles. Last month, Via announced it was partnering with Los Angeles as part of a pilot program that will give people rides to three busy public transit stations. The pilot program aims to solve the first- and last-mile problem that makes it challenging for people to get to and from public transit stations.

    Trustpilot is revealing more data about how businesses flag reviews

    Summary
    Review site Trustpilot says it’s creating more transparency around how businesses respond to consumer reviews. Founder and CEO Peter Mühlmann told me that while “the vast majority of companies” are using their ability to flag questionable reviews in “exactly the right way,” there’s a small minority who are potentially “ruining it for everyone” by aggressively flagging bad reviews. So with the new Transparent Flagging feature, Trustpilot visitors can actually see how many reviews a company flagged (starting on January 1st of this year), and what the ultimate outcome was. That way, if you’re wondering if you’re only seeing positive reviews because a business challenged all the negative ones, you can find out for yourself by clicking on the “activities” button in a business profile. [image: Trustpilot screen shot] That will reveal how many reviews were taken down because they represented a real breach of Trustpilot’s policies, versus reviews where the poster simply didn’t respond to questions, versus legitimate reviews that were ultimately reinstated. Mühlmann suggested that this is part of a broader effort to make sure consumers can actually trust the reviews they see online, and to fight back against what he described (in a follow-up email) as “an arms race to five stars.” “If marketers are motivated to cheat on our platform, consumers are going to see them do it,” he said. “At that point, the benefits simply don’t outweigh the risks. I wish them good luck – they’re going to need it.”

    This custom ‘hyperfisheye’ lens can see behind itself

    Summary
    If you’re doing ordinary photography and videography, there’s rarely any need to go beyond extreme wide-angle lenses — but why be ordinary? This absurd custom fisheye lens has a 270-degree field of view, meaning it can see behind the camera it’s mounted on — or rather the camera mounted on *it* . It’s certainly a bit of fun from Lens Rentals, the outfit that put it together, but it’s definitely real and might even be useful. Their detailed documentation of how they put it together piece by piece is fascinating (at least I found it so) and gives an idea of how complex lens assemblies can be. Of course, this one’s not exactly standard, but still. The C-4 Optics 4.9mm f/3.5 Hyperfisheye Prototype, as they call it (hereafter “the lens”) first appeared as what seemed at the time to be an April Fools’ joke, at best half-serious. “The Flying Saucer,” as they called it, AKA the Light Bender, AKA the Mother of all Fisheye Lenses, included a vaguely plausible optical diagram showing the path of light traveling from the far edge of its view, from about 45 degrees rearward of the camera. Sure, why not? Because it’s ridiculous, that’s why not! But the beautiful bastards did it anyway, and the results are as ridiculous as you’d imagine. There are lenses out there that produce past-180-degree images, but 270 is really quite beyond them. Here’s what the output looks like, raw on top and corrected below: Naturally you wouldn’t want this for snapshots. It would be for very specific shots in high resolution that you would massage to get back to something resembling an ordinary field of view, or somehow incorporate into a VR or AR experience. The camera has to mount in between the legs that support the lens, which is probably a rather fiddly process to undertake. The enormous lens cap, or “lens helmet,” doubles as an upside-down stand to ease the task. It’s a fun project and adds one more weird thing (two, technically, since they built a second) to the world, so I support it wholeheartedly. Unfortunately because it’s a “passion project” it won’t be available for rent, so you’ll be stuck with something like the Nikon 6mm f/2.8, with its paltry 220-degree field of view. What’s even the point?

    Samsung Galaxy S10E vs. iPhone XR: two budget flagships compared

    Summary
    Along with the new $899 Samsung Galaxy S10 and $999 Galaxy S10 Plus, Samsung is introducing a slightly more budget-friendly phone: the Galaxy S10E. While not the most surprising thing ever, following the release of Apple’s popular iPhone XR in late 2018, it’s encouraging that Samsung isn’t entirely pushing high-end smartphones out of reach. Both the Galaxy S10E and iPhone XR start at $749, which is probably no coincidence on Samsung’s part. (That’s actually a higher starting price than the $720 Galaxy S9 last year, which had a higher-res curved screen.) But whether you’re focused on the design, or the specs inside, both of these phones have *most* of the selling points of their more expensive counterparts. Of course, there are plenty of... Continue reading…

    Samsung’s vision of tomorrow’s phones doesn’t include the headphone jack

    Summary
    The Galaxy Fold was the most exciting announcement at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event by a long shot. While the new S10 and its variants look like top-tier phones, it was the Fold that captured everyone’s imagination. As Samsung CEO DJ Koh proudly declared at the event, the Fold “sets this industry on a new path.” And apparently, it’s a path that — unlike the rest of the phones Samsung announced today — doesn’t include a 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s a sour note on what otherwise looks like a really interesting product. And if the Galaxy Fold is the future of Samsung’s smartphones, then it might be time for users to start saying goodbye to the beloved headphone jack. Whether or not to include a headphone jack is a decision that’s painted a... Continue reading…

    Samsung’s Galaxy Fold might only launch on two of the big US carriers

    Summary
    Samsung’s very fancy foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, will be available on two carriers when it launches in the US in a couple months: AT&T and T-Mobile. As for everyone else? Samsung hasn’t said, but for now, it sounds like the initial model of the Fold won’t launch on Verizon and Sprint. It’s not clear if that means the Fold outright won’t work on those two carriers, but that may be the case. Verizon and Sprint rely on a different mobile technology for their 3G networks, and it’s possible the Fold just doesn’t include support. Sometimes, unsupported phones can still access LTE on Verizon and Sprint, but it isn’t guaranteed. Perhaps Verizon gets the 5G version? This is a particularly surprising detail given that Verizon is getting an... Continue reading…

    How the Samsung Galaxy S10 measures up against the iPhone XS and the Pixel 3

    Summary
    Where the Samsung Galaxy S9 phones last year felt mostly iterative, the latest S10 devices are some of the company’s biggest changes yet, with the company’s modus operandi being to win over customers that didn’t shell out for an upgrade last year. The latest S10 flagship phones are packing a punch — they have more RAM, larger storage options, newer Snapdragon processors, better screen resolution, and Wi-Fi 6 support. That means that for almost the same weight and dimensions, these phones should be faster and better for streaming Netflix in HD while on the go. There are *three* rear cameras rather than two and the S10 Plus has dual selfie cameras as well — along with a built-in Instagram mode. While that all sounds impressive, the past... Continue reading…

    Twitter is launching a public test of its redesigned replies

    Summary
    In October, Twitter said it is redesigning conversations on the platform in an effort to encourage friendlier and more useful discussions. Now the company is ready to test the redesign with a wider group of users, and will take applications from anyone who wants to try it out. Users are invited to apply at this link. The new design is intended “to make it easier to see more of what people are saying,” the company says. A new rounded shape to replies makes a Twitter thread look more like text messages. Replies are also indented, giving them the appearance of a Reddit thread. Replies from people you follow appear in blue, and replies from the original tweeter are in gray. Twitter is also experimenting with efforts to de-emphasize... Continue reading…

    Samsung's Galaxy S10 provides a sneak peek at WiFi's future

    Summary
    Samsung's Galaxy S10 and S10+ have a lot going for them; their luscious OLED displays, the in-screen fingerprint reader, and they each have three rear-facing camera lenses. Another interesting feature on both these phones (as well as on the lower-end...

    Pinterest blocks some searches to curb anti-vaccination myths

    Summary
    Social networks have made a number of efforts to halt the spread of anti-vaccination myths, but Pinterest recently took things a step further: it's curbing all talk about vaccination. The site has revealed to the Wall Street Journal that it blocked...

    NASA's free interactive photo book shows the abstract beauty of Earth

    Summary
    NASA just released 168 pages of stunning images showing the planet's atmosphere, water, land, ice and snow from a satellite's perspective. For $53, you can buy a hardcover version of the book, simply titled Earth. Or you can accept the unavoidable tr...

    Samsung Galaxy Watch Active hands-on: Ready for the gym

    Summary
    Samsung's updated watch is a stripped-down version of what came before it. Amid all the four (four?!) new phones Samsung paraded out at its Unpacked event, the Galaxy Watch Active is Samsung's newest smartwatch, with a design that feels less aggressi...

    Samsung’s 2019 ‘Unpacked’ event by the numbers

    Summary
    Welp, that's 90 minutes we're never getting back. In a lackluster announcement event held in San Francisco on Wednesday, Samsung execs stumbled their way through repeated applause breaks to tell the world about the company's newest needless mobile de...

    Galaxy S10 5G: Everything you need to know - CNET

    Summary
    Samsung’s first 5G smartphone is coming soon.

    Why a little lander named Beresheet bound for the moon is a big deal - CNET

    Summary
    The first privately funded lunar landing is set to blast off on a SpaceX rocket this week.

    Galaxy Watch Active, Fit and Fit E are more focused on your health - CNET

    Summary
    Samsung released the new Galaxy Watch Active which now can be used to measure blood pressure.

    Galaxy S10 vs. iPhone XS, Pixel 3: All specs, compared - CNET

    Summary
    How does Samsung's latest Galaxy S10 stack up against its Apple and Android rivals spec-by-spec?

    Galaxy S10 Plus vs. iPhone XS Max, Pixel 3 XL: All specs, compared - CNET

    Summary
    See how Samsung's behemoth Galaxy S10 Plus stacks up against its Apple and Android rivals spec by spec.

    How to cancel your Twitch/YouTube/Mixer subscriptions

    Summary
    Welcome to TNW Basics, a collection of tips, tricks, guides, and advice on how to get the most out of your gadgets, apps, and other stuff. Subscribing to channels on livestreaming and video sites is a great way to support a favorite content creator, for only a few bucks per month. In an ideal world, we’d all be able to subscribe to our favorite channels indefinitely. But hey, we get it. Financial troubles, problems with payment methods, or maybe waning interest in the channel… stuff happens. So when you want to cancel your subscription, what do you do? This might not… This story continues at The Next Web Or just read more coverage about: YouTube,Twitch

    Samsung Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e, and S10 5G: All the specs you need to know

    Summary
    Samsung announced four versions of the Galaxy S10 today multiple devices today, and frankly, it might be difficult for you to keep track of all the differences. That’s what we’re here for, so here’s a handy guide as to the specs and differences. Galaxy Samsung S10e – the ‘budget’ phone The cheapest variant of the Galaxy S10 line will feature a 5.8-inch screen and dual-camera on the back. Screen: 5.8-inch, Full HD+AMOLED (522ppi). Unlike the other Galaxy devices, this one isn’t curved. Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855/Exynos 9820 Memory: 6GB/8GB Rear camera: 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, with dual-pixel AF and OIS, f/1.5 /… This story continues at The Next Web Or just read more coverage about: Samsung Galaxy,Samsung

    Angel/Devil: Should I buy Apple Airpods?

    Summary
    The last quarter of 2018 was a watershed moment for Apple’s Airpods. The wireless earbuds went from being a (sorta) niche bit of hardware, to the must-have product. They’re everywhere. And, as is the case on the internet, so are the memes. This increased attention isn’t just hearsay, check out the Google Trends spike from the end of last year: Thing is… are Airpods actually worth it? Should you buy into the hype and grab yourself a pair immediately? Or would you be better simply burning a whole load of your hard earned cash? Well, we got an angel and… This story continues at The Next Web Or just read more coverage about: Apple

    How to choose the right musical instrument for you

    Summary
    This is the second article in a series imploring STEM workers, students, and entrepreneurs to learn to create music. The first article explained why playing an instrument or producing music has many benefits beyond just those associated with listening to music. In this article, we’ll help you find the right instrument to get started. Hopefully we’ve already convinced you to pick up a musical instrument and learn to play. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry: we’ve got that covered. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3: Pick an instrument. Buy an instrument. Play it. It doesn’t matter what… This story continues at The Next Web

    There’s a documentary about Ember.js and it’s really good

    Summary
    Ember.js is a hugely popular JavaScript framework. Used across web, mobile, and desktop, it powers the likes of LinkedIn, Groupon, and even Apple Music. Behind its thousands of lines of code is a deeply human story of innovation and risk-taking, as portrayed by Ember.js: The Documentary. Hang on, I can hear you say. A documentary about a JavaScript framework? Yep, you read that right, and having watched it, I can confirm that it’s actually really good. Beautifully shot, and with impressive production values, the short film tells the story of Ember.js, starting with the JavaScript revolution that took place towards… This story continues at The Next Web

    7 Scenarios for How the Mueller Probe Might End

    Summary
    New reports say that Robert Mueller will be "wrapping up" his investigation soon. Here's what that might actually mean.

    Unpacked 2019: Every Galaxy Phone and Device Samsung Showed

    Summary
    The brand-new Galaxy S10 line, Galaxy Buds, and—wait—does that phone fold in half?!

    5G? 5 Bars? What the Signal Icons on Your Phone Actually Mean

    Summary
    Here’s what it means when your phone says it’s using 4G, LTE, or even 5GE technology, or why you can’t make a call when you have five bars.

    Samsung Galaxy Fold: Price, Specs, Release Date

    Summary
    It's finally here, and it'll cost you $1,980.

    Android Users: Check This Facebook Location Privacy Setting ASAP

    Summary
    Android users can now stop Facebook from tracking their location when they aren't using the Facebook app.

    Galaxy Fold: The internet reacts to Samsung's flexible phone

    Summary
    The handset-maker wows with its phone-tablet hybrid, but many struggle to get over its price.

    Nestle and Epic pull YouTube ads over abuse claims

    Summary
    Several big firms pull ads after they appear next to sexualised comments left on children's videos.

    Galaxy Fold: Samsung unveils 'luxury' smartphone

    Summary
    Samsung unveils its smartphone with a folding screen, but the price will likely put most people off.

    Facebook 'failed to protect’ health data in private groups

    Summary
    A complaint says Facebook should have told users of their data being downloaded from private groups.

    First look at Samsung S10 and Fold phones

    Summary
    The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones goes hands-on with the new phones in Samsung's Galaxy range.

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