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Facebook’s David Fischer Talks about the ‘Fundamental Shift’ Toward Purpose-Driven Marketing

Facebook's David Fischer Talks
about the 'Fundamental Shift' Toward
Purpose-Driven Marketing

 

The Ad Council's Lisa Sherman discusses pro-social initiatives

with Facebook's David Fischer in this first interview in a new series,
"The Purpose of Purpose."

Lisa Sherman:

There is a growing public expectation for private sector businesses to do their part in addressing social issues. How do you see this expectation playing out at Facebook?

David Fischer:

One very positive trend I see is a growing recognition that doing good in the world is good for companies. The question is no longer whether the private sector should be participating in social initiatives, but rather how best they should do so. It's incredibly heartening to see so many people stepping up not just to answer that question but to drive meaningful change in the world.

One example is the Unstereotype Alliance, which is a group of companies, including Facebook, who have committed to addressing outdated and harmful stereotypes in the industry. We want to ensure creativity–whether in the advertising or content we create–shows people as progressive and modern, authentic and multi-dimensional. There is also so much terrific work happening around the globe on the critical issue of sustainability, led by Coca-Cola, Unilever, Pepsico, Nestle, and many more. These are just a few examples, and we take great pride at Facebook in the opportunity to work with so many partners on social initiatives.

And we're doing our part at Facebook as well. We've invested for many years now in what we call our Social Good initiatives. These include tools such as charitable giving so that people can set up fundraisers for their favorite causes, and the elimination of nonprofit fees so that 100% of donations made through Facebook payments to nonprofits go directly to those organizations. On Giving Tuesday last year, the Facebook community raised more than $45 million dollars in a single day to support causes that they care about.

Another great example is a powerful tool called Safety Check. It's an online notification tool that lets you alert friends and family that you're safe after a disaster. We built it after the Fukushima earthquake in Japan, when we noticed that people were using Facebook to let their friends know they were okay. And now we've given people the ability to activate Safety Check themselves. In the last three years, it's been used more than 1,000 times and has notified people that their families and friends are safe more than three billion times.

Lisa:

Facebook was a big supporter and partner of the Ad Council's new 'Seize the Awkward' Suicide Prevention campaign. Talk to us about how that partnership fits into all that you're doing in the mental health space?

David:

Suicide prevention is an imperative for all of us, and Seize the Awkward is an important campaign to address this issue. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young adults. And for every youth suicide, there are 100 to 200 attempts. It's so important that the friends and family of people going through a tough time feel empowered to broach the subject. As the name of this campaign suggests, it can be uncomfortable to do so—there's so much fear of getting it wrong or offending someone you care about. By educating people that it can actually save a life to reach out to someone when you think they're struggling with their mental health, Seize the Awkward is giving voice to an issue that too many people are afraid to give voice to.

At Facebook, we're in a rather unique position to help facilitate those interactions. Sometimes, people in distress will post on Facebook giving others a chance to help. We are proud of our partnership with the Ad Council on this campaign, highlighting signs of mental health concerns and offering tips and tutorials on just how to reach out to support friends in need in those critical moments when they need a hand. Visit the new Instagram presence that we created for the campaign here. This initiative fits in well with our overall effort to build Safe Communities on Facebook. In 2017, we announced suicide prevention tools to help people in real time on Facebook Live. We also rolled out live chat support from crisis support organizations through Messenger. Over the last month we've worked with first responders based on reports we received via our proactive detection efforts.

Lisa:

The velocity of change in our industry doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon—offering new opportunities for marketers. What trend do you think has the greatest possibility to change the game in social impact marketing in 2018?

David:

What I'm most excited about it is the fundamental shift we're seeing towards purpose-driven marketing. This goes beyond tech across all industries. We're seeing a generational change taking place that's driven by a search for meaning. It's becoming a necessity to do more than just focus on the bottom line. I look at the positions that some of the most significant marketers in the world are taking on important issues like racial equality, gender equality, sustainability. Brands realize that when they do good, they also do well. And this understanding of just how important social issues are in the work of the private sector is exploding. For instance, we're seeing major investment firms make it clear that their portfolio companies need to do more than just deliver profits. They need to make real contributions to the world.

The beauty is that there are so many different ways of contributing. One of the biggest ways Facebook impacts the world is supporting entrepreneurs launching and growing their businesses. This in turn creates jobs and supports communities. There is nothing more rewarding in my job than helping fulfill a dream and create economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and their communities. And so often, this has a meaningful social effect as well.

One great example of a small business that's also doing remarkable good is Two Blind Brothers. It is an apparel company in Dallas, run by two brothers who have an eye disease that destroys central vision over time, and they wanted to dedicate their business to finding a cure. The company employs a team of blind workers and donate 100% of their profits to research. Late last year, it ran a Black Friday sale on Facebook, centered around a unique video shopping experience that replicates being visually impaired. The company raised $100,000 for research to help cure blindness. Stories like these are happening every day around the globe.

Lisa:

What do you think is the biggest barrier that media/tech companies are facing when it comes to doing more in the social good space and how can they overcome it?

David:

Many of the changes that technology has driven in society these past few decades are the result of empowering people. The democratization of access to so many tools has enabled more entrepreneurs to grow businesses, and more smaller companies to act like larger ones. For us, empowering people to do good is a key part of so much of what we do. This is because it's engrained in our mission: whether it's been to help others in times of crisis or to raise awareness for a cause they support, people on Facebook have demonstrated the good they can do when they're empowered. For example, in just the last few weeks, I've heard two separate stories where individuals have used Facebook to find a kidney donor for a loved one. There are many, many examples of amazing things like that happening every day.

The barrier is that it's sometimes hard to surface to people how they can have the biggest possible impact. It's difficult at times to activate groups of people around causes they might care about. Our job is to ensure that we build the tools that enable people to do good, and to do it more easily.

We spend a great deal of time designing the tools we build to ensure they can help businesses of all sizes, and non-profits. A good example of what happens when we get this right came in response to the terrible effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria last year. We saw many groups and individuals activating on our platform to support the victims of these disasters. After Hurricane Maria, Mercy Corp was able to raise over $124,000 on Facebook to expand relief efforts in Puerto Rico, 50% of which was from first-time supporters. And, in late August the community rallied to support Harvey relief by raising more than $20 million, which was the biggest fundraising effort for a single crisis in 2017 on Facebook.

Lisa:

What's next for Facebook in the social good space?

David:

Facebook is very good at connecting you with family and friends, of course, but when it comes to getting support or learning a new skill, it can be just as important to connect with someone outside your social circle. One recent initiative is around blood donation. India, like many countries, has a shortage of safe blood. Every week there are thousands of posts from people seeking blood donations. So, we worked with non-profit organizations, blood banks, and donors in India to build a tool to make it easier to give blood. Donors can register on Facebook and get a notification if a person or an organization nearby needs blood, and then they connect through Facebook. Over six million people in India have signed up to be donors and this tool is already being actively used to get and give blood.

We also recently announced Mentorship and Support, a new product that combines the expertise of nonprofit organizations with the reach of the Facebook community to help connect people who have shared experiences and goals but may not already know each other. We started the pilot with nonprofits focused on education and crisis recovery: iMentor and International Rescue Committee. But we know that people on Facebook have all kinds of different needs. Our goal is to expand these tools to help connect people around a variety of causes like addiction recovery, career advancement, and other areas where having someone you can count on for support can make all the difference. We're just getting started.

Lisa:

Before we close, I have to ask: what's your favorite PSA ever, and why?

David:

Love Has No Labels has been so meaningful in promoting acceptance, and in fighting discrimination. This is a campaign with the message that, deep down, we're all the same, that love is love, and that we should examine and challenge our implicit and unconscious biases about each other. The Ad Council does so much work of deep significance and effectiveness, and it is truly special to see the way our entire industry comes together to address important social issues. It's a real privilege to be a part of it.

What stands out about Love Has No Labels is how effectively this campaign has addressed a critical issue for our country, and broken down barriers. Since it launched in 2015, survey results have shown that the campaign has seen significant shifts in key attitudes and behaviors with more adults reporting that they believe they can create a more inclusive and accepting environment.

And there have been so many participants in this campaign – both individuals and companies. So many have stepped up to get involved, including corporate partners who have joined hands with their rivals to extend the message— Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, Google, PepsiCo, P&G, Johnson & Johnson, State Farm and Wells Fargo. We've been particularly focused on partnering with the Ad Council on the video creative, since this type of powerful content can really sway hearts and minds on our platform. In a world that can often feel divided, it's felt really good to come together and work on a project that was bigger than any one company. That's a big reason why we take so much pride to participate in the vitally important work of the Ad Council.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Be thankful for bitcoin, even if you think it’s a scam

Be thankful for bitcoin, even if you think it’s a scam

You don’t have to believe bitcoin will herald a new era of nationless, inflationless finance to appreciate that it’s already achieved something previously unthinkable


Don Quixote put a barber's basin on his head
and said it was the golden helmet of Mambrino. This is how bitcoin — and all money — is made.You should be thankful for bitcoin even if you didn’t get rich, even if you think it’s a scam, and even if the Winklevoss twins don’t feature in your fantasies of financial utopia. You should be thankful for bitcoin even if it was invented by a comic-book supervillain, and even if the code he futzed with in his basement a decade ago multiplied into a power-hungry Napoleon testing the limits of our electrical and electoral grids — as well as our sanity. You should be thankful for bitcoin even if it means every financial transaction in history will be written onto one of those endlessly long drugstore receipts.

You should be thankful for bitcoin even if the most profitable use of all the world’s computing power today is solving Sudoku puzzles (in order to generate that endlessly long drugstore receipt). You should be thankful for bitcoin even if the insufferable tech bros and their Sudoku-solving supercomputers both spend their days running an infinite loop of the same word: “mine, mine, mine, mine, mine … ” We should all be thankful for bitcoin, in fact, because bitcoin made us all think. I know. I know. “Think?” Hasn’t bitcoin mania caused people to do the opposite of thinking? Yes. If all the bubbles in history from Dutch tulips to Disney superhero movies teach us anything, it’s that greed doesn’t heed.

And yet, bitcoin BTCUSD, +6.33% has made us think. It’s made us think about the very nature of money, the sheer weirdness of money, which most of the time we’re too busy spending, saving or worrying about to actually think about. In the past month alone I heard kids on the subway debating fiat currency, Uber drivers ranting about central bankers — hell, even my mom has had some choice words about the best store of value. You don’t have to believe bitcoin will herald a new era of nationless, inflationless finance to appreciate that it’s already achieved something unthinkable.

Bitcoin is a philosopher’s stone. It’s also a pet rock. It’s worthless, and it’s worth millions. It’s magic, and it’s marketing — and it reminds us that these same contradictions are true of all money. What is money? Dictionaries and economics textbooks prove inadequate to answer, as Dickens’s flustered Mr. Dombey demonstrates when his son poses the question. Money is “coined liberty,” says Dostoyevsky. It is “frozen desire,” the writer James Buchan puts it in his superb book by the same title. “Money takes wishes, however vague or trivial or atrocious, and broadcasts them to the world, like the

Mayday of a ship in difficulties.”

Is it really so absurd that some dude from MIT can point a finger and declare, ‘Let there be Litecoin,’ and suddenly he has enough cash to buy his own Caribbean island?

Money is a “social technology,” the economist Felix Martin says — one of the twin pillars on which civilization was built. Writing was the other. Of course, writing was originally money, too. When prehistoric Steve Jobs unveiled the invention of writing in his Mesopotamian keynote five thousand years ago, writing’s killer app wasn’t poetry, philosophy or presidential tweets — it was keeping track of debts. The early adopters were the proto-CPAs, and they probably drove all their friends bananas gushing about the stone slab’s cuneiform factor.

All of this is to say the most important thing to remember about money is that we made it all up. Money is an act of imagination. It’s a fiction. The great American novel isn’t “Huck”; it’s the buck. With that in mind, is it really so absurd that some dude from MIT can point a finger and declare, “Let there be Litecoin,” and suddenly he has enough cash to buy his own Caribbean island? OK. That is still pretty absurd. It’s as absurd as Don Quixote putting a barber’s basin on his head and insisting it’s the gold helmet of Mambrino. But if enough people believed Don Quixote or the dude from MIT, would it not be so?

Why do you think money is stamped with the words “In God we trust”? Money is a leap of faith. Even when we had the gold standard, we really only had the god standard. It’s not a god we are trusting in, however, but each other. The word credit literally means belief, my colleague Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal points out.

Money is ultimately backed by faith in our institutions, our government and our Facebook FB, +0.36% friends. The dollar is the value and values of America rendered into an abstraction, allowing us to trade and transact with strangers we might otherwise not trust. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are more atheistic. They run on an almost paranoiac guiding principle to trust nothing and encrypt everything — which, admittedly, isn’t as catchy a slogan. Bitcoin would be better off adopting the motto Benjamin Franklin advocated for America’s coins: “Mind your business.”

In our galaxy, money is the Force: It surrounds us, penetrates us, binds us together. Money is also the Matrix: an illusion, a simulation, a game we are all playing. Bitcoin is the red pill Laurence Fishburne gives Keanu Reeves to show him the “real world.” It’s given us a glimpse of the wires and duct work underpinning our moneyed world. Bitcoin is “forcing people to reckon with the fact that all money is virtual,” Felix Martin told me. “And this reckoning is and always has been discombobulating for people.”

No matter what you think of capitalism and free markets, money and the symphony of financial instruments performing its music have made possible much of our scientific, artistic and social achievements. As Niall Ferguson relates in “The Ascent of Money,” the advent of banking, insurance, double-entry bookkeeping, mortgages, bonds, stocks, derivatives and the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.91% all stoked innovation and the betterment of the human enterprise. Has the financial system also inflicted pain, suffering and alienation? Without a doubt. Could it be better and fairer? Yes.

This brings us to the second most important thing bitcoin reminds us about money: We can change it. Consider gold. One of the ironies of gold GCG8, +0.93% is that what was originally prized as the most malleable of all metals is now prized for being the least malleable of all assets. Though many have described it as “digital gold,” bitcoin demonstrates that money itself is flexible. It is continuously evolving. We created it, and we can re-create it. Money is a medium of world change. It can be a force for good in the world, and when it isn’t we can upgrade its operating system to be fairer, faster and more efficient.

So no matter what Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, Paul Krugman and all the other naysaying titans of finance and economics say about bitcoin, we are all indebted to the comic-book villain who invented it. Don’t put your whole 401(k) into cryptos, don’t jump on the bandwagon, but do give it some thought. Do try it out. Play some Sudoku. Write yourself onto that endless drugstore receipt. Bitcoin, after all, is the new Oprah: Everyone gets a Lamborghini — and then we get to complain about the taxes. Well, at least we get to complain about the taxes.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

This Big Cryptocurrency Acquisition Could Create a Wall Street-Style Financial Giant

This Big Cryptocurrency Acquisition Could Create a Wall Street-Style Financial Giant

Cryptocurrency Exchanges Explained
Exchanges are one way to invest in cryptocurrencies.

Circle Trade is the primary reason behind Circle’s profitability.

Circle, a cryptocurrency-focused financial-services firm, will announce today that it is buying crypto exchange Poloniex—a move that immediately makes Circle one of the largest and most influential companies in the industry. Fortune’s Robert Hackett profiles a company that hopes to leverage the technology behind Bitcoin to become the bank of the next century.

On a crisp mid-January morning, I arrive at the Boston headquarters of Circle, a cryptocurrency startup, just as the markets tank. As the day unfolds, virtual coins hemorrhage billions of dollars in value. The price of Bitcoin—along with those of the majority of the top 50 cryptocurrencies—plummets more than 20%. It’s one of the market’s worst one-day routs in a winter full of them. Panicked investors dub the drubbing “Red Tuesday.”

But Circle’s office is unusually tranquil. No managers are throwing a hissy fit. No one is shouting “Sell! Sell!”—or “Buy! Buy!” for that matter—from behind a bank of blinking computer monitors. No subordinates are whimpering. And CEO Jeremy Allaire is the calmest of all. “In this market you have to assume regular 20% swings,” Allaire says with a shrug. The boss, who resembles a softer Steve Ballmer, saunters past a klatch of employees chowing down on Aussie-style meat pies. As we walk past a shuffleboard tabletop to chat in a conference room, he seems … pleased?

After all, whether the markets sink or soar, Circle is set to make a killing. The business operates Circle Trade, one of the world’s biggest “over the counter” trading desks for cryptocurrencies. When big price movements push investors to buy and sell, Circle acts as an intermediary between whales and shoppers. Within Circle’s circle, volatility is a moneymaker. “When things start to get really out of whack really fast, that tends to be good for us,” says Dan, Circle’s fast-talking, South Shore of Boston chief trader, who asks Fortune not to print his last name because he “prefers to keep a low profile” for security reasons.

The desk handles more than $2 billion a month in cryptocurrency transactions with a minimum deal size of $250,000. (The biggest deals run as high as $200 million.) Customers tend to fall into a few categories: early investors whose coins have soared in value; coin “mining” operations; and cryptocurrency business ventures, including other exchanges, hedge funds, and projects that have hosted “initial coin offerings.” From November through January, Circle Trade brought in more than $60 million in revenue (including several million just on the day of my visit), according to a source familiar with the company’s financials.

With wild fluctuations in cryptocurrency prices, finding clients hasn’t been hard. Dan Morehead, founder and CEO of Pantera Capital, a hedge fund that specializes in cryptocurrencies, says his firm trades on all the major online exchanges, but will turn to a trading outfit, like Circle’s, when the desk posts prices “at a discount to the market.” “That’s when we’re interested in using them,” he says. Other rivals—and trading partners—of Circle’s desk include Cumberland Mining, a subsidiary of the high-speed trading firm DRW in Chicago; Genesis Trading, a New York–based spinout of SecondMarket, the private-company stock exchange; and Octagon Strategy, in Hong Kong.

Garrett See, CEO of DV Chain, a boutique Chicago firm whose biggest cryptocurrency deals reach $5 million, says early adopters are typically the sources of the largest blocks for trading. As he puts it: “Once a quarter, someone wants to buy a jet.” But the trading desk is only part of Circle’s vision. The company has a bevy of other products, too. There’s its Venmo-like Circle Pay app, which lets users send money with the ease of a text message. There’s its soon-to-launch Circle Invest app, which aims to encourage small, steady investments in cryptocurrencies the way Robinhood does for stocks. And there’s its Centre protocol, an open-source project designed to make disparate digital wallets—like those from Alipay, PayPal, or, yes, Circle—interoperable with one another.

That’s just the start. Now Circle is preparing to take another major leap forward by tacking on an entirely new business as part of its underlying market infrastructure. On Monday Circle will announce, as Fortune can confirm for the first time, that it has bought Poloniex, one of the world’s most active cryptocurrency exchanges. A person familiar with the terms of the deal who was not authorized to speak about it tells Fortune that the price tag comes in around $400 million.

The acquisition will instantly make Circle a rising threat to Coinbase, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S., as well as Bittrex and Kraken, the runner-ups. Counting contributions from Poloniex, Circle’s revenues over the past three months, excluding February, exceeded $250 million, placing the company on an annual run rate greater than $1 billion. Not bad for a 5-year-old upstart.

With the expansion, Circle is laying the groundwork for a day when cryptocurrencies become pervasive, prices grow less volatile, and the utility of digital tokens goes undisputed. If most of the dozens of exchanges competing today are just places to buy and sell coins, Circle has loftier ambitions: It wants to eventually help consumers turn their trading profits into a Tesla, a mortgage, or a portfolio of blue chips. Circle has ample funds, mainstream investors, sophisticated tech, a new network of customers annexed from Poloniex—and, with some luck, a legitimate chance at building the bank of the next century around crypto-finance.When Jeremy Allaire cofounded Circle in 2013, dark-web markets and criminal activities dominated the discussion about cryptocurrency—and he cut against the grain by resolving to work closely with regulators.

At an early Bitcoin conference in London, Allaire and his cofounder, Sean Neville, Circle’s president, laid out their vision before a rowdy throng of crypto-anarchists and libertarians. One audience member asked whether they, if presented with a subpoena requesting customer information, would hand over data. Allaire didn’t hesitate in his response—Hell yeah, of course! The confab nearly broke out into a brawl, Neville recalls, with one rabble-rouser rushing the stage, pumping his fist, and shouting to the others, “I will go to jail for you!

Despite the early tumult, Allaire and Neville found support. The duo’s broader, pragmatic vision attracted big investors—including Goldman Sachs, Chinese Internet giant Baidu, and venture capitalist Jim Breyer, one of the earliest backers of Facebook. In its last round of funding, in June 2016, Circle was valued at $480 million. (It’s no doubt worth a lot more now.)

“We’re very stubborn about the overall vision, but really flexible about how to get there,” Neville says. It’s this seemingly contradictory quality that Raj Date, a Circle investor and erstwhile architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, dubs “paradoxical conservatism”—as demonstrated by Circle’s tightness with regulators. The company was the first startup to be awarded a BitLicense, a certification for virtual currency businesses issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services. It was the first Bitcoin outfit to earn an electronic money license from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. And Allaire, since last year, has advised the International Monetary Fund on fintech policy.

Breyer compares Allaire to Mark Zuckerberg in terms of long-term strategic thinking: Just as the Facebook founder “instinctively understood” the need for an overarching, sticky social platform, not just a network for colleges, Allaire has designs on an entirely new financial operating system—not just another bank. “Our vision was always how to fuse the existing financial system with cryptocurrency as a hybrid, digital model,” Allaire says.

The approach has had hiccups though. After Circle debuted its Bitcoin product in May 2014, fraudsters used stolen credit card numbers to make purchases with the speculative cryptocurrency, thus saddling the startup with high fraud-mitigation costs. Circle eventually pulled the plug on the Bitcoin capability within the Circle Pay app, earning the ire of early proponents. “circle stopping what they did best is a travesty and the ceo should be fired,” one user ranted on Reddit at the time. “they just screwed thousands of people, a LOT who were with them from the very beginning (yours included…), and they just decided to hang themselves from the rafters…. good riddance…”

Even so, Circle outlasted the shutdowns, bankruptcies, and arrests that bedeviled the first round of Bitcoin entrepreneurs—thanks to its deep pockets and discretion. Behind the scenes, the company supported Circle Pay with its trading desk, which provided users with liquidity in all sorts of currencies, virtual or otherwise. Beginning in 2016, that desk focused on becoming a cryptocurrency market maker, and it flourished.

“This thing went hockey stick in the last eight months but, like, it’s been around for four years,” says Dan of Circle Trade. While cryptocurrency prices have been spectacularly mercurial over the past few months, a boon for the business, he says he’s not worried about the market settling down. “As this thing becomes a 10x bigger asset class and has volatility on par with gold, we’ll be dealing with larger tickets and smaller movements. That’s how this thing scales.”

Counterintuitively, Circle has hit its stride just as onlookers might have assumed the company had all but abandoned cryptocurrency. Through its trading desk, Circle created a growth engine—one responsible for spinning up the next phase of its expansion. The desk struck a relationship with Poloniex, its Boston neighbor, after Poloniex became one of the earliest exchanges to list Ether, the native coin of Ethereum, the biggest cryptocurrency network next to Bitcoin. Poloniex, which for now trades only digital tokens (about 70 types), needed a way to translate its cryptocurrency exchange fees into fiat money like U.S. dollars—“to buy cookies and milk and pay rent,” as Allaire likes to say. Often Poloniex did so through Circle’s trading desk. And so began a relationship that would culminate in Monday’s acquisition.

Like many of the big cryptocurrency exchanges, Poloniex has struggled to service an influx of customers over the past year, as has been well documented in complaints on online forums. Users have griped about missing deposits, trouble withdrawing funds, locked accounts, and months-long silences on support issues. In a blog post set to go out Monday, a draft of which Fortune reviewed, Circle promised, “First and immediately…to address Poloniex customer support and scale risk, compliance, and technical operations.”

In interviews, Circle’s executives were reluctant to divulge anything at all about the inner workings of Poloniex, including who runs it, and they declined multiple requests for interviews with the exchange’s principals, saying that Poloniex’s leadership wished to remain out of the spotlight. It’s hard to imagine that kind of caginess flying at a public company, but it works in the privately funded world—and especially the enshrouded Wild West of the cryptocurrency industry, where the risk of crime and legal gray areas lead many players to fiercely guard their anonymity.

In past posts on Poloniex’s Twitter account and website, and on a LinkedIn profile page, a man named Tristan D’Agosta has identified himself as Poloniex’s founder and CEO. The LinkedIn page says D’Agosta is a composer who studied music at Rutgers University. Records show that in 2010 he founded another company, Polonius Sheet Music, based in Highland Park, New Jersey, that sold classical sheet music fastened with spiral bindings. (D’Agosta did not respond to a note from Fortune seeking to confirm the details of his biography.)

“Ever have sheet music misbehave while you’re trying to play from it?” says an early version of Polonius’s “about us” page, available as a cached page on the Internet Archive. The publisher’s website now redirects to real estate listings.If exchanges like Poloniex have helped build the infrastructure for today’s cryptocurrency mania, their relative secrecy and lack of accountability to customers and regulators have helped fuel the backlash to that mania, especially outside the U.S.

Governments have been struggling to bring down the fever for cryptocurrencies overseas. In the fall, the Chinese government clamped down on the frenzy by banning initial coin offerings, or ICOs, and by tightening controls on cryptocurrency exchanges. South Korea put the kibosh on ICOs, too, and has threatened to levy major taxes on exchanges. Earlier this year, when a popular cryptocurrency tracker, CoinMarketCap.com, delisted Korean exchanges from its pricing calculations, the move triggered a massive selloff and market crash.

Circle, eyeing an opening, aims to get in on the action abroad. In the long term, its Centre protocol aspires to string together the world’s digital wallets, no matter their provenance. In the short term, Circle Pay has been gaining steam in Europe, where rival Venmo has no operations. Circle’s Asia Pacific team plans to grow to 100 employees this year. And Asia remains one of Poloniex’s biggest market opportunities: The exchange’s token-to-token business model already fits with Chinese regulations, which prohibits fiat currency, like the renminbi, in cryptocurrency swaps.

While many Western companies have gotten crushed in their attempts to cross the Pacific, Circle’s executives have navigated the waters successfully so far. The company has taken money from strategic Chinese investors, including Fenbushi Capital, China Everbright Investment Management, China International Capital Corporation, and Baidu Ventures. In 2016, Jim Breyer launched a $1 billion China-focused fund in partnership with IDG Capital Ventures, another Circle investor, and he has toured China with Allaire to meet entrepreneurs and government officials on several occasions. “Much of the innovation today in fintech is occurring outside the U.S.,” says Breyer, who has a long history with Allaire’s earlier ventures, including Macromedia, which acquired the eponymous Allaire Corp. for $360 million in 2001, as well as the video service Brightcove, which held a successful IPO in 2012. Few stateside companies “have their pulse on global blockchain innovation in the way that the leaders of Circle do,” Breyer says.

Unlike the U.S., where cryptocurrency believers are eagerly awaiting Wall Street’s entrée, in China, consumers seem ready to embrace new regimes. They’re already accustomed to digital first payment platforms, like Alipay and WeChat. “In Asia people are daring to imagine an entirely new world,” says Jack Liu, Circle Trade’s Asia chief. Allaire knows this. In the fall of 2016, during one of our first in-person meetings, he invited me to a WeChat channel where Bitcoin miners across the world—many of whom live in China—jabber all day long. Allaire told me that he believes the strange mishmash of Mandarin and English concocted there is likely to become the lingua franca of the future, a prediction that reminded me of what sci-fi enthusiasts might have said about a Japanese-English hybrid in the ‘80s, when the cyberpunk aesthetic of Neuromancer and Blade Runner held sway.

Many of Circle’s top executives have a worldly bent too. Marieke Flament, Circle’s lead in Europe, speaks English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin. Rachel Mayer, head of Circle Invest and an alum of Lehman Brothers and J.P. Morgan, is Venezuelan. And Circle Trade’s Jack Liu, born in China, has lived in Japan, Canada, and the U.S. (He’s now building out the trading desk in Hong Kong.) Circle’s 175-person team expects to roughly double its headcount this year—and its composition reflects the border-smashing promise of the digital currencies it holds dear.

“Incorporating these assets into your wider portfolio is going to become the standard sooner rather than later,” says Mayer in an interview at the company’s WeWork outpost in Manhattan. Formerly the cofounder and CEO of Trigger, a retail investing app, Mayer envisions millennials will become the main market for Circle Invest, while more sophisticated investors will prefer Circle Poloniex—likely to be renamed Circle X in time to come. In any case, crypto assets are here to stay, she says.

The future is already here, as Neuromancer author William Gibson is said to have so eloquently put it. It’s just not very evenly distributed.To Allaire and Neville, the cryptocurrency boom represents an inevitable transition: money evolving from cloth to code.

Over the next five to 10 years, they say, all sorts of traditional securities will become “tokenized”—divvied up into virtual stakes recorded on blockchains, the shared ledgers that power cryptocurrencies. People will own and trade small digital slices of everything from real estate, to cars, to houses, to patents, to stocks, to artwork—many of which may programmatically pay out dividends via software-defined “smart” contracts. Advocates say this tokenized future will make new asset classes accessible to smaller investors and lower the costs of transacting and investing, across borders as well as within them.

“Often the question we get is, ‘Is this all a speculative bubble? Is there going to be a big shakeout? Or will there be real institutional money from established players coming into this?’” Neville says. His view: It’s not an “either, or,” proposition. Both premises can be true. “We’re on the cusp of the tokenization of everything,” Allaire says from his seat in Circle’s “Cheddar” conference room in Boston on the day of the market rout. (All of the meeting areas are named after slang for money, like “Benjamins,” Dough,” etc.) In view outside the window, across the street, the white tower of the Boston Fed looms. It looks like a gargantuan

cheese grater.

“I don’t know who the CEO of Sears was back in the mid-’90s… Maybe in 20 years no one will know who Jamie Dimon is.”

– Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire, on mainstream banks’ aversion to cryptocurrency

While the cryptocurrency markets ride out their growing pains, Circle’s trading infrastructure is providing the company with a runway for its longer-term goals. Bobby Cho, the head trader at Circle rival Cumberland, predicts that 2018 will be the inflection point when more Wall Street institutions get involved—lured by client enthusiasm and potential upside. For months, rumors have swirled that Goldman Sachs will fire up a cryptocurrency trading desk of its own. “In response to client interest in digital currencies, we are exploring how best to serve them,” a spokesperson tells Fortune. But for now, Goldman’s sole exposure to the industry is through its investment in Circle.

Time will tell whether Wall Street jumps into the fray, as so many cryptocurrency bulls hope and anticipate. I ask Allaire whether he believes the incumbents, atop their loaded coffers, should take the idea of a tokenized market more seriously. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest retail bank in America, has made no secret of his lack of interest in Bitcoin and its brethren, after all. “I don’t know who the CEO of Sears was back in the mid-’90s, but I bet that CEO was making remarks about Internet shopping that were pretty dismissive,” Allaire says. “Maybe in 20 years no one will know who Jamie Dimon is.”

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Ways Machine Learning Is Revolutionizing Marketing

Ways Machine Learning Is Revolutionizing Marketing


84% of marketing organizations are implementing or expanding
 
AI and machine learning in 2018. 75% of enterprises using AI and machine learning enhance customer satisfaction by more than 10%. 3 in 4 organizations implementing AI and machine learning increase sales of new products and services by more than 10% according to Capgemini.Measuring marketing’s many contributions to revenue growth is becoming more accurate and real-time thanks to analytics and machine learning. Knowing what’s driving more Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), how best to optimize marketing campaigns, and improving the precision and profitability of pricing are just a few of the many areas machine learning is revolutionizing marketing.

The best marketers are using machine learning to understand, anticipate and act on the problems their sales prospects are trying to solve faster and with more clarity than any competitor. Having the insight to tailor content while qualifying leads for sales to close quickly is being fueled by machine learning-based apps capable of learning what’s most effective for each prospect and customer. Machine learning is taking contextual content,  marketing automation including cross-channel marketing campaigns and lead scoring, personalization, and sales forecasting to a new level of accuracy and speed.

The strongest marketing departments rely on a robust set of analytics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure their progress towards revenue and customer growth goals. With machine learning, marketing departments will be able to deliver even more significant contributions to revenue growth, strengthening customer relationships in the process.

The following are many ways machine learning is revolutionizing marketing today and in the future:

57% of enterprise executives believe the most significant growth benefit of AI and machine learning will be improving customer experiences and support.

44% believe that AI and machine learning will provide the ability to improve on existing products and services. Marketing departments and the Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) running them are the leaders devising and launching new strategies to deliver excellent customer experiences and are one of the earliest adopters of machine learning. Orchestrating every aspect of attracting, selling and serving customers is being improved by marketers using machine learning apps to more accurately predict outcomes.

58% of enterprises are tackling the most challenging marketing problems with AI and machine learning first, prioritizing personalized customer care, new product development.

These “need to do” marketing areas have the highest complexity and highest benefit. Marketers haven’t been putting as much emphasis on the “must do” areas of high benefit and low complexity according to Capgemini’s analysis. These application areas include Chatbots and virtual assistants, reducing revenue churn, facial recognition and product and services recommendations. Source:  Turning AI into concrete value: the successful implementers’ toolkit, Capgemini Consulting. 2017. (PDF, 28 pp., no opt-in).

By 2020, real-time personalized advertising across digital platforms and optimized message targeting accuracy, context and precision will accelerate.

The combined effect of these marketing technology improvements will increase sales effectiveness in retail and B2C-based channels. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) lead generation will also increase, potentially reducing sales cycles and increasing win rates. Source: Can Machines be Creative? How Technology is Transforming Marketing Personalization and Relevance, IDC White Paper Sponsored by Gerry Brown, July 2017.

Analyze and significantly reduce customer churn using machine learning to streamline risk prediction and intervention models.

Instead of relying on expensive and time-consuming approaches to minimize customer churn, telecommunications companies and those in high-churn industries are turning to machine learning. The following graphic illustrates how defining risk models help determine how actions aimed at averting churn affect churn impact probability and risk. An intervention model allows marketers to consider how the level of intervention could affect the probability of churn and the amount of customer lifetime value (CLV). Source: Analyzing Customer Churn by using Azure Machine Learning.

Price optimization and price elasticity are growing beyond industries with limited inventories including airlines and hotels, proliferating into manufacturing and services. All marketers are increasingly relying on machine learning to define more competitive, contextually relevant pricing. Machine learning apps are scaling price optimization beyond airlines, hotels, and events to encompass product and services pricing scenarios. Machine learning is being used today to determine pricing elasticity by each product, factoring in channel segment, customer segment, sales period and the product’s position in an overall product line pricing strategy. The following example is from Microsoft Azure’s Interactive Pricing Analytics Pre-Configured Solution (PCS).

Improving demand forecasting, assortment efficiency and pricing in retail marketing have the potential to deliver a 2% improvement in Earnings Before Interest & Taxes (EBIT), 20% stock reduction and 2 million fewer product returns a year.

In Consumer Packaged Goods (CPQ) and retail marketing organizations, there’s significant potential for AI and machine learning to improve the entire value chain’s performance. McKinsey found that using a concerted approach to applying AI and machine learning across a retailer’s value chains has the potential to deliver a 50% improvement of assortment efficiency and a 30% online sales increase using dynamic pricing. Source:  Artificial Intelligence: The Next Frontier? McKinsey Global Institute (PDF, 80 pp., no opt-in)

Creating and fine-tuning propensity models that guide cross-sell and up-sell strategies by product line, customer segment,

and It’s common to find data-driven marketers building and using propensity models to define the products and services with the highest probability of being purchased. Too often propensity models are based on imported data, built in Microsoft Excel, making their ongoing use time-consuming. Machine learning is streamlining creation, fine-tuning and revenue contributions of up-sell and cross-sell strategies by automating the entire progress. The screen below is an example of a propensity model.

Lead scoring accuracy is improving, leading to increased sales that are traceable back to initial marketing campaigns and sales strategies.

By using machine learning to qualify the further customer and prospect lists using relevant data from the web, predictive models including machine learning can better predict ideal customer profiles. Each sales lead’s predictive score becomes a better predictor of potential new sales, helping sales prioritize time, sales efforts and selling strategies. The following two slides are from an excellent webinar Mintigo hosted with Sirius Decisions and Sales Hacker. It’s a fascinating look at how machine learning is improving sales effectiveness. Source: Give Your SDRs An Unfair Advantage with Predictive (webinar slides on Slideshare).

Identifying and defining the sales projections of specific customer segments and microsegments using RFM (recency, frequency and monetary) modeling within machine learning apps is becoming pervasive.

Using RFM analysis as part of a machine learning initiative can provide accurate definitions of the best customers, most loyal, biggest spenders, almost lost, lost customers and lost cheap customers.

Optimizing the marketing mix by determining which sales offers, incentive and programs are presented to which prospects through which channels is another way machine learning is revolutionizing marketing.

Specific sales offers are created supported by contextual content, offers, and incentives. These items are made available to an optimization engine which uses machine learning logic to continually try to predict the best combination of marketing mix elements that will lead to a new sale, up-sell or cross-sell. Amazon’s product recommendation feature is an example of how their e-commerce site is using machine learning to increase up-sell, cross-sell and recommended products revenue.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Without Mentioning Blockchain, Putin Says That Russia Must Stay Ahead In Technology

Without Mentioning Blockchain,
Putin Says That Russia Must Stay Ahead In Technology

During a meeting with Herman Gref,

the president of Russia’s largest bank Sberbank, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the importance of not falling behind in Blockchain development. Sberbank already introduced Blockchain in their document transfer and storage systems by partnering with Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) in December of last year. The bank is also reportedly soon opening a cryptocurrency exchange in Switzerland. Gref addressed Putin directly, speaking about what he sees as the need for programs for training professionals in Blockchain due to the sheer size of the industry worldwide. Gref also spoke of a need for “very careful regulation,” not “prohibitions,” in order to promote innovation.

In response, Putin, without specifically mentioning Blockchain, brings up the question of why Russia needs this industry, when “we have everything […] oil, gas, coal, metals of all kinds […] gold, platinum, diamonds, everything!” He then says that the industry is developing well in Russia and has a “good intellectual base.” Putin then adds that Russia needs its own “burst,” and quotes an analogy given by a former minister of oil of an

unnamed Arab country:

“The Stone Age did not end due to the lack of stones, but because new technologies appeared.”

In Putin’s opinion, countries that are late to adopting this new technology, which he never mentions by name, “will very quickly fall under the dependence of the leaders of this development,” which is something that

“Russia cannot allow this in any case:”

“We need to take the maximum advantage of these factors […] to guarantee this progress into the future.”

Putin has brought up the idea in the past of Russia launching its own “CryptoRuble,” but its legality and launch is a continuous grey area. More recently, in January of this year, after consulting with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, Putin suggested launching a new multinational cryptocurrency to be adopted by BRICS and EEU countries to take advantage of Blockchain and smart contracts.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

 

Original Pizza Day Purchaser Does It Again With Bitcoin Lightning Network

Original Pizza Day Purchaser Does It Again With Bitcoin Lightning Network

The man that completed the world’s first documented Bitcoin (BTC) transaction

Laszlo Hanyecz, the man that completed the world’s first documented Bitcoin (BTC) transaction for a physical item in 2010 — 10,000 BTC for two pizzas — has now bought two more pizzas using the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Hanyecz posted on the Lightning-dev mailing list today, Feb. 25, that he had to get his friend in London to “sub contract” out the pizza delivery to a local pizza place in order to pay on the Lightning Network, because “pizza/bitcoin atomic swap software” is yet unavailable.

However, according to Hanyecz, the transaction still “demonstrates the basic premise of how this works for everyday transactions. It could just as well be the pizza shop accepting the payment directly with their own lightning node.” The original BTC-pizza transaction took place on May 22, 2010 and has been celebrated as Bitcoin Pizza Day ever since. There is a Twitter feed dedicated to a daily posting of what 10,000 BTC equals according to that day’s market value — today’s value is tweeted as $97,560,750.

This time around Hanyecz paid 649000 satoshis, or 0.00649 bitcoins, which equals around $62 for both pizzas. In order to receive the pizza, Hanyecz decided that the best way to prove he had paid for it was to show the driver the first and last four characters of the hex string of his Lightning payment hash preimage, and if it matched with what the driver had, he would get his pizza. Hanyecz posits the pizzas as prizes to be received only if the lightning transaction can be done successfully, writing that if he couldn’t show the driver the pre-image, “the pizza would not be handed over and it would be destroyed.”

The trial was a success, Hanyecz got his pizzas, but he added that “it's probably not a good practice to share the preimage.” Hanyecz included a link in his post to several photos of him and his family enjoying the pizzas, one kid wearing an “I love pizza” shirt, the other in an “I love Bitcoin” one, and the notepad with the partial preimage displayed in front of the pizza box:

The first ever documented physical purchase on the Lightning Network, a “second layer” payment protocol considered the next step in BTC’s evolution by increasing the capacity of the network for a global audience, reportedly took place on Jan. 20 of this year. Reddit user posted that he bought a VPN Router through a payment channel provided by TorGuard, a purchase comparable in significance to the original Pizza day. Hanyecz ends the post about his successful lightning BTC-pizza transaction by asking his readers, “So is there any point to doing this instead of an on chain transaction?  

For what I described here, probably not:”  

“The goal was just to play around with c-lightning and do something more than shuffling a few satoshi back and forth.  Maybe eventually pizza shops will have their own lightning nodes and I can open channels to them directly.”

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Ways to revitalize your digital marketing program

 Ways to revitalize your digital
marketing program

Ever hit a performance plateau?
Contributor Elizabeth Laird looks at three ways to jumpstart your marketing efforts when you’re stuck and spinning your wheels.

One of the joys of digital marketing

is the ability to quickly see the results of an implemented strategy.  With a lot of real-time data and the ability to accurately attribute success back to effort, it is instant gratification at its finest. But often after continued success, marketers face the dreaded performance plateau.  Here are three go-to strategies to try when you find you are stuck with wheels spinning in neutral.

Never underestimate the importance of UX testing

Even a small boost in conversion rate can make an enormous difference in results for a program. Not only does it have potential to boost top line revenue, but it can have a significant impact on bottom line results. Most marketing leaders find making the business case for user experience (UX) improvement work a slam dunk as minimal gains result in significantly increased revenue. However, it is often easier to preach the importance of testing and focusing on the user than to actually practice this belief.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to make the most of your UX optimization efforts.

  • Get a fresh set of eyes.
    Whether it be an agency, a consultant, or a new team member, often a new perspective is needed to identify opportunities and create impactful tests. Internal stakeholders can be blinded by personal attachment to work they have done.  They can be biased by past results or be too close to the business to be able to view things through the lens of a prospect.  Getting an impartial voice in the mix can help limit these pitfalls and ensure you are testing the right things to move toward success.
  • Ensure you have the right resource managing your UX strategy.
    UX requires a unique skill set.  Not only does someone need to be analytically minded, they must be a creative problem solver.  Additionally, this person needs to be highly scientific when it comes to testing and not let their own personal bias and opinions color their thinking.  That’s one tall order! While admittedly not an easy combination of skills to find in one person or agency, it is essential for your UX strategy to work.  Taking the time to ensure the right resource is in place is critical.
  • Ensure the right and left hand are talking.
    In the digital marketing world, it seems everything is automated. It makes life easier and ensures seamless processes. When it comes to UX, it is important to remember that the experience your potential customer has does not begin the moment they hit your site. It begins pre-click.  The ads your prospects see, the sites on which your ads are served, your social presence, etc. – all of these touchpoints are part of the experience potential customers have with your brand and influence their likelihood of converting once on your site.  Cross-channel learnings are often quantifiable and automated reporting helps to ensure all parties have access to the data and are optimizing accordingly.  However, many of the insights needed are qualitative which means all parties need to be talking. For true UX success, ensure there is an environment that fosters collaboration, the sharing of insights, and avoids a siloed channel approach.

Rethink past approaches

With a constantly changing marketplace, evolving online behavior, and ever improving digital marketing technology, a tactic tested in the past may perform very differently today.  Here are some suggested plans of attack:

  • Revisit failed search campaigns.
    With improved audience targeting available for search campaigns, general campaigns that were not fruitful in the past can achieve profitability.  Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and Customer Match  are fantastic ways to accomplish this.  Additionally, improvements are continually being made to bid strategies and ad rotation settings that can make a significant impact on a search campaign to hit and exceed goals.
  • Rethink attribution.
    The majority of digital marketers still operate on a last-click basis.  This approach is easy to understand and measure, but often over-emphasizes channels (while understating others), which could leave potential revenue on the table. Using Google Analytics reporting and AdWords Attribution, I suggest marketers re-assess the data. Evaluate the impact of Assisted Conversions, the flow of user paths, and compare performance when toggling between attribution modeling types (first click, last click, time decay, etc.).  Often, there are gems to be found that can help you to refocus your efforts and jumpstart growth.
  • Consider offline conversions.
    Not all conversions happen online. Even if most of yours do, if you are not bringing offline conversions into AdWords, you are missing out on the full picture of your program efficacy.  Bringing in offline conversions allows you to utilize automated bidding and ad optimization features to the fullest.  Further, you can create Similar Audience lists based on the characteristics of all your converters, not just online converters.

Keep marketing after the sale

Focusing on customer Lifetime Value (LTV) and retention, rather than limiting your view to just the initial sale, opens up substantial profitability for your existing acquisition efforts. This extends across multiple marketing channels.

  • Utilize social.
    Social media channels can be a great vehicle for customer service, communication, and brand reinforcement. It gives your brand a personality and a digital connection with your existing customer base.
  • Change the messaging.
    Social and display advertising is a fantastic way to stay in front of current customers. Now that these individuals have been acquired, your ad messaging will need to change. Ensure messaging speaks to new offerings, awards/industry recognition, and how your company can address additional problems or needs they may have. This is a great opportunity to not just keep your customers engaged with your brand, but to cross-sell them on additional offerings.
  • Create relevant content.
    Often the focus of site content is to attract and convert a new audience. Ensure your site also speaks to your existing customer base. Utilize your customer service team to understand the needs, concerns, and questions voiced by your customers. Use these insights to create compelling and relevant content that speaks to both prospective and current customers.

In Summary

Performance plateaus happen to the best of marketers, but they don’t need to stick around for long. Get creative and think outside of the box. Double-down on conversion optimization, rethink and refine previous marketing tactics, and market for maximum LTV. These suggestions should help you move beyond current results and take your digital marketing performance to the next level, allowing you to increase revenue, expand your reach, and improve your profitability.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614


China Mining Co. Bitmain Shows Higher 2017 Profits Than US GPU Giant Nvidia, Report Finds

China Mining Co. Bitmain Shows Higher 2017 Profits Than US GPU Giant Nvidia, Report Finds

Chinese mining hardware giant Bitmain has reportedly

made higher profits in 2017 than long time American graphics processing unit (GPU) manufacturer Nvidia, CNBC reported Feb. 23. CNBC writes that according to a report published Feb. 21 from investment research company Bernstein, the four-year-old Bitmain reportedly made between $3 and $4 billion in operating profit in 2017, whereas Nvidia, founded 24 years ago, made about $3 billion during the same period.  

Bitmain, founded in 2013 by Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan, uses Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) cards to mine Bitcoin (BTC), sells ASIC-powered AntMiner BTC mining rigs, and also operates “mining pools”, a system in which cryptocurrency miners share resources and split rewards. Nvidia-manufactured graphics cards reportedly tend to appeal more to “hobby miners”, who may choose to buy a conventional GPU, rather than investing in a more powerful and expensive ASIC-powered rig, like Bitmain’s AntMiner.

The Bernstein analysis reports that Bitmain holds 70 to 80 percent of the market for Bitcoin miners and ASIC cards, with most of the revenue made from selling the mining rigs, “and, to a much lesser extent, by collecting management fees from the mining pools it operates and renting out the mining power of its mining farms through cloud services." The rising price of BTC in 2017 especially has also contributed to Bitmain’s profits, for the Bernstein report writes that, "Bitmain shrewdly adjusts the prices of miners according to bitcoin prices."

When the price of BTC rose to $20,000 in December 2017, Bernstein reported that the price of Bitmain’s Antminer S9 hit almost $5000. The Taiwanese manufacturer TSMC that supplies ASIC chips to Bitmain had signed a deal with Samsung in late January of this year. The Bernstein analysts say that Bitmain’s dealings with TSMS “contributed 2 to 3 percent of the chipmaker's total revenue last year.” After China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency industry within the country, including banning both Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and foreign exchanges, Bitmain has attempted to circumvent regulations by opening mining farms in Canada and Switzerland, a mining pool subsidiary in Israel, and regional headquarter in Singapore, the Bernstein report notes. Bitmain’s "massive cash position" and the fact that it sells chips to miners, as opposed to mining itself, protects the company from slumps like those earlier this month, when BTC’s price dropped below $7000.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

German Research Institute To Use Blockchain For Radio-Frequency ID Sensor Systems

The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS),

based in Dresden, Germany, intends to use Blockchain concepts for the development of wireless radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensor systems in the logistics sector, according to a Feb. 22 press release. The use of Blockchain solutions for the decentralized storage of data generated by RFID sensors could be made possible in this context through unique approaches to each client. Fraunhofer IPMS develops individual hardware and software solutions for its customers and analyzes their individual requirements using simulations.

Although Fraunhofer IPMS does not yet offer a finished product with Blockchain integration, they will present software solutions for wireless RFID sensor systems that can be extended with Blockchain technology at the Trade Fair for Intralogistics Solutions and Process Management (LogiMat). The event, which will take place between March 13-15, 2018 in Stuttgart, Germany, is the largest European trade fair for the logistics sector.

According to the institute’s press release, Fraunhofer IPMS sees great potential in using Blockchain technology for data management of supply chains in automation and logistics processes and says it could “speed up deliveries, avoid fraud and errors, and reduce scrap and costs.” Dr. Andreas Weder, team leader at Fraunhofer IPMS, said that storing the data generated by RFID sensor transponders on a Blockchain makes them reliably traceable for all participants in

the supply chain:

“Our passive RFID sensor transponders measure physical parameters such as humidity, vibration or temperature and transmit them wirelessly to a reader that also provides the energy.”

The German lobby group Blockchain Bundesverband had said earlier this month that the German government will create a legal framework for regulating Blockchain technologies in a move to “welcom[e] the Blockchain industry” to the country.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Bank Of America: Our ‘Inability To Adapt’ Could See A Failure To Compete With Crypto

Bank Of America:
Our ‘Inability To Adapt’ Could See A Failure To Compete With Crypto

Bank of America (BoA) has admitted to US regulators

it may be “unable” to compete with the growing use of cryptocurrency. In its annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week, filed Feb. 22, the major US bank for the first time highlights cryptocurrency as an area that may cause it “substantial expenditure” as it tries to remain competitive. “Our inability to adapt our products and services to evolving industry standards and consumer preferences could harm our business,” BoA states in the filing.

As banks worldwide eye the cryptocurrency phenomenon, direct interaction remains low. The lack of uptake formed a central reason why the European Central Bank confirmed it had opted for a hands-off approach to legislating the area earlier this month. While BoA has sought to innovate in the sphere, receiving a patent for its proposed cryptocurrency exchange system in December 2017, it has come in for criticism more recently after blocking its clients from credit card purchases of cryptocurrency.

As the report to the SEC continues, the institution’s keen awareness of the threat posed to its core business offering by competitors becomes clear. “…The competitive landscape may be impacted by the growth of non-depository institutions that offer products that were traditionally banking products as well as new innovative products,” BoA forecasts.

The report continues:

“This can reduce our net interest margin and revenues from our fee-based products and services. In addition, the widespread adoption of new technologies, including internet services, cryptocurrencies and payment systems, could require substantial expenditures to modify or adapt our existing products and services[.]”

The bank also pointed to staff retention failures and “increasing competition” in the financial services industry as being detrimental to its prospects.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Coinbase’s GDAX Exchange Introduces Full SegWit Support

Coinbase’s professional trading platform Global Digital Asset Exchange GDAX

announced it has implemented Segregated Witness (SegWit) support for Bitcoin transactions in a blog post published Friday, Feb. 23. The platform characterizes SegWit technology as “a critical step forward in the development of Bitcoin” and promises support for SegWit transactions will be made available to 100% of their customers “over the coming days”. Coinbase announced Feb. 20 that SegWit testing on the platform was complete and that they’d begun a “phased launch”, of which Friday’s GDAX announcement is evidently a part, with the target of providing 100% support for all customers by this coming week.

SegWit technology is designed to reduce transactions times and fees on the Bitcoin network.  Many popular Bitcoin exchanges and services have been plagued network congestion from inefficient use of block space, a problem SegWit seeks to solve, resulting in widespread frustration among customers. The past week has seen several major SegWit adoption milestones. The latest version of Bitcoin Core, which was released for public editing Feb. 15, introduced full SegWit support for the first time. Just a few days later, on Feb. 20, the same day Coinbase said it had finished SegWit testing, major crypto exchange platform Bitfinex also announced full SegWit support for all customers.

This week was also marked by record low transaction fees on the Bitcoin network, down significantly from all-time highs in December, 2017 and January, 2018. When GDAX announced that Bitcoin Cash (BCH) would be available to trade on their platform in mid January 2018, the news fell flat for many traders, who would have rather seen the implementation of SegWit on the platform prioritized. Moving forward, GDAX also noted in their blog post that they’re committed to implementing additional scaling solutions for the Bitcoin network, including so-called ‘Layer 2’ solution, the Lightning Network.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Simple Tricks To Master Content Marketing

Simple Tricks To Master
Content Marketing

For business owners, established content marketers

and new-to-marketing marketers, it is always important to update, improve and beef up your content marketing plan. After all, content is one of the most effective tools in a marketer’s bag. Content is a great way to educate the marketplace and identify those who are most interested in your product. By speaking to those who have shown interest, you convert them into customers and sustain that brand-to-customer relationship, creating loyalty and encouraging user-generated content. Outlined below are four key steps to produce content that feeds your marketing machine, speaks to your audience and, in turn, adds value to your bottom line.

Inform your content.

We’re all familiar with how the sales funnel works: the process of learning about a company, gaining understanding, purchasing and becoming a repeat customer. Within the sales funnel, different audiences require different content at each step, whether it is focused on building interest, solving problems or creating relationships. To focus your efforts, this funnel can be organized into three general categories.

• Awareness:

Those at the top of the funnel need basic information about a problem, solution and industry. They should be encouraged to share information like their name, email and phone number so you can continue the conversation with them. This content should create curiosity that encourages the customer to engage with your brand.

• Conversion:

As customers enter this stage, they have shown interest in your product and shared information or hit certain benchmarks for engagement: clicks, website visits and form submissions. Now it is time to introduce them to the unique benefits of your product and get them to a point of decision making. “Should I buy brand X or brand Y?” is the question customers in this stage ask and your digital and print content should address it.

• Creating relationships:

Customers who reach the bottom of the funnel are proof that you are doing content marketing right. Now it’s time to take those customers and inspire them to become advocates for your brand or product by submitting a quote or review, participating in a case study, being a customer reference and more. There is so much you can do to take the business of one happy customer and use it to create more customers.

Choose the best content types.

Not all types of content are equal. Some, like video, can be suited to virtually any stage of the sales funnel, but others lend themselves to specific levels of engagement. Evaluating the best type of content for a message is the next step in producing something that will reach the right customer at the right time. Building awareness at the top of the funnel? I focus my efforts on blog posts, infographics and two trendy 2018 content types: helpful and informative videos and long-form content. Engaging long-form pieces can provide a significant lift to your SEO marketing efforts and informational depth to benefit potential customers.

Lower in the funnel, demonstrate how your specific product can help potential customers. Content like e-books, product videos, white papers, webinars and side-by-side comparisons are great ways to get the customer to make a favorable decision when asking “should I buy brand X or brand Y?” Customer advocacy content stems from continuing the conversation with the customer after their point of purchase. Most often, we turn to email marketing with calls to action for reviews, check in via email and phone to gauge their willingness to be an advocate and, overall, aim to let them know how much we appreciate their business and genuinely take into mind their thoughts about the product.

Find the right distribution channels.

Effective content comes in all shapes and sizes — quite literally. From a 280-character tweet to a massive freeway billboard, there are many ways to reach customers. Utilizing the best distribution opportunity is key to finding the most customers with informed content.

Billboards and digital ads, for example, may be good for building awareness, but they do virtually nothing for creating relationships. Your blog and social media channels are ideal locations for top-of-funnel content. Partner with other websites and blogs for top- and mid-funnel content and include links that draw customers to your blog or website. Your own website is a great place for mid- and lower-funnel content, which boosts SEO and is conveniently located for customers who are taking a look at your products. Email marketing is also perfect for focusing on the mid- and lower-funnel by creating messages and segmenting campaigns to speak to specific topics and needs. The theme I always share is that as a marketer you not only need to create great content but you also need to be sure it gets in front of the right eyes. Selecting the best possible channels will help your content shine.

Check your metrics.

The final piece of the puzzle is to keep close tabs on how your content pieces are performing. This information provides a clear understanding of leads generated, engagement and conversion, which not only benefits the bottom line but also helps internally promote the value of your marketing efforts. Applied properly, metrics provide a solid roadmap for creating more effective content. By utilizing readership and customer feedback, marketing teams can optimize their content to perform better for the brand. In closing, here’s one bonus suggestion: If you’re not doing it, jump right in and start. Developing informed content, finding the right type and channel for distribution and keeping a close eye on metrics will result in great content that can be repurposed into a limitless number of new content pieces. The best way to have a strong 2018 is by starting early, and now is a great time to get going.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

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