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Tag Archives: small-business

LendingTree is the secret success story of fintech

For all of the excitement centered around fintech over the past half-decade, most venture-backed fintech companies struggle to acclimate to public markets. LendingClub and OnDeck have plummeted since their late 2014 IPOs after several years of darling status in the private markets. GreenSky, which went public in May of this year, has been unable to return to its IPO price. Square is the exception to the rule. Sometimes we overlook the companies that hail from the era that precedes the current wave of fintech fascination, a vertical which has accumulated over $ 100 billion in global investment capital since 2010. One of these companies is LendingTree, which got its start height of the Internet bubble, going public in mid-February of 2000, less than a month before the Dot-com bubble peaked.   LendingTree began in 1996 in a founding story that epitomizes the early Internet era. Doug Lebda, an accountant searching for homes in Pittsburgh, had to manually compare mortgage offers from each bank. So he created a marketplace for loans in the same way OpenTable helps you find your restaurant of choice or Zillow simplifies the home buying process. In the words of Rich Barton , iconic founder of Expedia, Zillow, and Glassdoor, this business is a classic “power to the people play.” The marketplace business model has been the darling that has driven returns for many of the leading VCs like Benchmark, a16z, and Greylock.

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Funding Circle, a P2P SME lending platform, steps towards an IPO

UK founded startup Funding Circle, a p2p lending platform which focuses on the underserved small business market, has announced a “potential intention” to float on the London Stock Exchange. In a press release  today, announcing the publication of a Registration Document for a possible future IPO, Funding Circle says that should it proceed with floating on the stock market it would be looking to raise around £300 million (~$387M). According to the document the business is being valued at up to £1.65BN (~$2.1BN). Heartland A/S, the private holding company of Danish billionaire businessman, Anders Holch Povlsen, has  agreed, as part of the potential IPO Offer, to purchase 10% of the issued ordinary share capital at a range of valuations (but Funding Circle notes this  commitment falls away if the equity valuation prior to the issue of new Shares pursuant to the Offer exceeds £1.65BN). Funding Circle has raised more than $373M to date since being founded back in 2010. The founders had the idea to help small businesses obtain loans after the retrenching of traditional financing sources after the 2008 financial crash. The global lending platform now connects investors in the U.K., U.S., Germany and the Netherlands with small businesses wanting to borrow money for growth. More than 80,000 retail investors, banks, asset management companies, insurance companies, government-backed entities and funds have lent more than £5BN to over 50,000 businesses globally since the platform’s launch in 2010. In a statement on the IPO announcement, Samir Desai, CEO and co-founder, said:  “At Funding Circle our mission is to build a better financial world. Today’s announcement is the start of the next stage in our exciting and transformational journey. Over the last eight years, we have worked hard to build a platform that is number one in every market we operate in. “By combining cutting-edge technology with our own proprietary credit models and sophisticated data analytics, we deliver a better deal for small businesses and investors around the world. I am very proud of the team and culture we have created at Funding Circle, both of which have been integral to our success to date”

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Mobile car rental app officially launches in London – Bdaily

Bdaily Mobile car rental app officially launches in London Bdaily The Virtuo app was hand selected by the Apple team as App of the Day on Saturday which generated thousands of installs ahead of the launch. Users are now able to book a vehicle through the Virtuo App, with rates from £35 per day. Already a success in ...

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Mobile car rental app officially launches in London – Bdaily

Bdaily Mobile car rental app officially launches in London Bdaily The Virtuo app was hand selected by the Apple team as App of the Day on Saturday which generated thousands of installs ahead of the launch. Users are now able to book a vehicle through the Virtuo App, with rates from £35 per day. Already a success in ...

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Pro drone racing confronts its amateur roots

"The drone racing league is a sport. We are a league. We do an annual season. We have a clear rule system and scoring system," Nick Horbaczewski, founder and CEO of the Drone Racing League (DRL), enthuses in a small business suite located on the seco...

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Microsoft Surface Go: The Perfect Travel Laptop? – Forbes

Forbes Microsoft Surface Go: The Perfect Travel Laptop? Forbes Microsoft has announced a new Surface tablet computer called the Go. It's smaller, lighter, and cheaper than its ... Being able to charge your laptop via USB means you can connect a USB battery pack and have, essentially, unlimited battery life. OK ... and more »

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Disrupting the paycheck, Gusto’s Flexible Pay allows employees to pick when they get paid

People should get paid for work they have done. It’s a pretty simple principle of capitalism, but a principle that seems increasingly violated in the modern economy. With semi-monthly paychecks, the work an employee does on the first day of the month won’t be paid until the end of the third week — a delay of up to 21 days. That delay is despite the massive digitalization of bank transfers and accounting over the past few decades that should have made paychecks far more regular. Gusto , a payroll and HR benefits provider focused on small businesses, announced the launch of Flexible Pay today, a new feature that will allow its payroll users to select when they receive their income for work already completed. The feature, which must be switched on by an employer, will cost employers nothing out-of-pocket today. The launch is limited to customers in Texas, but will expand to other states in the coming year. As Gusto CEO Joshua Reeves explained it to me, a kid mowing lawns in a neighborhood has a much more visceral connection to income than the modern knowledge economy worker. Cut the grass, get cash — it’s that simple. He also pointed out, with irony, that terminated employees experience much better payroll service than regular employees: they have to be paid out on their last day of work outside of the standard paycheck schedule.

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States will be able to charge sales tax on online purchases thanks to the Supreme Court

In a five-to-four decision issued today, the Supreme Court ruled that states can make online businesses collect sales taxes — even if they don’t have a physical presence in that state. Today’s ruling overturns a decision from the Court in 1992 that paved the way for the explosion of online retail in the United States. Important Tax Cases: Quill Corp. v. North Dakota and the Physical Presence Rule for Sales Tax Collection At issue was the Quill Corp. v. North Dakota decision, which ruled that companies need to have at least some physical connection with a state for that state to require that company to pay taxes. Today’s ruling caused publicly traded e-commerce company share prices to tumble, with Shopify, Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Alibaba all recording losses in midday trading on their respective U.S. exchanges. It’s a huge win for vendors with physical storefronts, which have long argued that their online counterparts enjoyed an unfair advantage because they didn’t have to charge customers local sales tax. Local governments may also see a windfall as a result of the ruling, as the government estimates that between $9 billion and $13 billion in potential tax revenue is left on the table, thanks to earlier Supreme Court decisions on the taxation of online purchases.

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Pornography and the butterfly effect

“Whatever happens to musicians happens to everybody,” said Bruce Sterling years ago, referring to the effects of free downloadable music on their industry; and so it has come to pass for pornographers, as depicted by the great Jon Ronson in his equal parts charming and spellbinding podcast series “ The Butterfly Effect .” Pornography, however, is much weirder than music, both as concept and as industry; and so, unsurprisingly, the emergent properties of the overturning of the porn industry are much weirder too, and the full extent of their ripple effects have yet to be measured. It’s at least plausible that the latest salvos in our intensifying culture wars, the subjects of “incels” and “enforced monogamy,” stem from touchpaper lit long ago by the butterfly in Ronson’s story. That story seems simple in outline. A Belgian named Fabian starts trading in passwords to porn sites in the 1990s. Next decade, he purchases a relatively small company in Montreal which offers porn online for free; it faithfully complies with DMCA takedown requests, but they have no hope of keeping up with the firehose of uploads. He applies modern data science, A/B testing, SEO, etc., and his business grows from “substantial” to “enormous.” Based on that he gets a $362 million loan, which he uses to purchase essentially all of his competitors. Ultimately, this cornucopia of free porn makes Fabian very, very rich, while impoverishing the American porn industry, headquartered in the San Fernando Valley just north of Los Angeles. It is the tale of a transfer of colossal amount of money, and viewers, from the Valley to Montreal; from porn directors and performers to buttoned-down data scientists and infrastructure engineers. It is also, more interestingly, a tale of the emergent properties of free content. For instance: there is so much free porn that it had to be taxonomized; this, in turn, trained users to focus on and search for particular categories and keywords; this, in turn, forced the industry to adapt to those keywords. Ronson finds a director (Mike Quasar, the find of the show) working on a movie called Stepdaughter Cheerleader Orgy 2. “I guess the first one left a lot of unanswered questions,” Quasar cracks, but in fact it’s called that because titles have become strings of keywords

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