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Mobile Encryption Firm Silent Circle Raises $50 Million

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Geneva-based Silent Circle, an encrypted communications company specializing in privacy-focused services and software has raised $50 million in a round of funding.

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Silent Circle, a firm that has notably endeavored to secure mobile communications has revealed that it has raised $50 million in a Series C funding round.

Founded in 2012 out of Geneva, Switzerland, the company specializes in privacy-focused services and software, including phone applications that provide secure file sharing, messaging and calling. In 2014, a partnership with hardware manufacturer Geeksphone, resulted in the release of Silent Circle’s much-publicized Blackphone. The phone and technology were lauded for its pro-privacy approach by advocates .Last year, Geeksphone was acquired entirely by Silent Circle and launched the $800 Blackphone 2.

However, the products found muted success, primarily due to free and popular applications launched by the likes of Facebook through Whatsapp and Apple, with end-to-end encryption technology. Furthermore, TechCrunch cites court documents that reveal that the first iteration of the Blackphone failed to reach sales expectations, leaving Silent Circle no choice but to scale down its software operations and operational costs. Co-founder Jon Callas, who joined Apple recently, departed the company and so too did a number of other employees to staff cuts during cost-cutting.

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Still, Silent Circle had raised nearly $80 million in funding, before the new influx of the recent $50 million. The latest round of funding was led by Santander Bank, with the new capital used to “expand product development, customer service, business development and marketing activities while eliminating its debt.”

Silent Circle Co-founder and Chairman Mike Janke stated:

[The] announcement is a key milestone as we continue to set the bar for what’s required in secure mobile communications.

Our growth in new customers, coupled with expanding engagements with our existing enterprise and governmental clients, underscores the pressing need for our Enterprise Privacy Platform and the business-critical value proposition it embodies.

Featured image from Silent Circle.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.




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  1. Real Anti-Racist Action

    July 19, 2016 at 6:43 am

    So they could be a multi billion dollar a year company. But their future does not lay in getting government contracts, or only CEO’s of billion dollar business.
    But in regular people. People will spend the money if they know about it. Just like the silly $800 Apple phones right?
    If they will explain to me how a monthly plan will cost me about the same, or a little more then my regular phone plan, then i would make the switch, plus pay for the phone up front.
    So when they are ready, they can better explain on their site how this is competitive for the average person on the street like me. And how it will not be an outrageous price to maintain the same amount of texting and calling as I already normally do.

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Netflix Shares Surge After Hours amid Record Growth in Subscriptions

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Netlix Inc. (NFLX) has proved it can raise prices and still attract a record number of new users. The Los Gatos, California-based streaming service added 7.41 million customers in the first quarter, smashing analysts’ forecasts by about 1.7 million.

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Netflix Earnings

In addition to adding a record number of subscribers, Netflix posted per-share earnings of 64 cents on revenue of $3.7 billion. Analysts in a consensus estimate called for earnings of 64 cents per share on sales of $3.69 billion.

International streaming dominated subscription growth with a net gain of 5.46 million new users. Europe and Latin America were largely responsible for the better than expected growth. U.S. additions totaled 1.96 million.

Netflix succeeded in adding new subscribers even as it hiked the price of its streaming service, a sign the company was delivering desirable content. In addition tot he 700 titles planned for release this year, the company is investing billions into original content. Moving to in-house production will allow Netflix to save money by avoiding hefty markups charged by rival studios.

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After falling 1.2% on Monday, share prices spiked 5.2% in after-hours trading. At $323.70 per share, the company should surpass $140 billion in market cap at the start of trading on Tuesday. That’s a 600% increase since 2014.

Share prices are recovering after a difficult stretch for so-called FAANG stocks, an abbreviation that represents Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet. FAANG investments lost more than $320 billion over a three-week stretch ending Apr. 2.

At the close:

Dominance of Over-the-Top Content

Netfix has established a dominant position in the market for over-the-top content, or OTT, which generally refers to internet-based streaming services. Cord cutters in the U.S. market alone topped 22 million between 2016 and 2017, bringing the total number of consumers without pay TV to about 57 million.

High-speed internet is not only disrupting traditional media, it is destroying it. This extends far beyond the entertainment segment to also include broadcast news and other mainstream media outlets.

OTT content could be worth $62 billion by 2020, putting companies like Netflix at the top of the heap for investors looking for promising plays during the tail end of the bull market.

The success of Netflix has spawned several paid and free alternatives, including emerging juggernauts like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Sling TV. Traditional media companies like HBO have also adopted the subscription streaming model.

As cord-cutting continues, price elasticity of demand could grow for streaming services. In other words, companies can charge more for their service without fear of lost revenue. That was certainly the case with Netflix during the past quarter.

 

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 343 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Revolut: Apps For Cryptocurrencies

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For the last few months, it seems like we have been transfixed in the collapse of crypto prices, trying to figure out what is going to cause the next move up.  The answer is not easy to find. So I thought it might be an interesting change of pace to look at a fintech company that is participating in the crypto movement but has a few other cool things going as well.

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This may not fatten your investment account immediately but it should take your mind off bitcoin for a few minutes.  After that, who knows.

Big Valuation

Revolut is a UK based payments company in business since July 2015.  Last summer Revolut founders Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko raised over $66 million in VC funding and another $23 million from crowdfunding.  Yes, the Crypto buzz had something to do with their success. But there is quite a bit more.

Storonsky must be pretty good with a pitch deck considering the implied $200-$400 million valuation of the company.  He and his partner have deep experience in the global payments business. Nikolay spent years as a currency trader with Credit Suisse so he understands the absurd level of fees charged by the current system.

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The technical wizardry, however, rests with his partner Yatsenko. Vlad spent over ten years building financial systems for major Wall Street investment banks.  He serves as the company’s CTO.

Crypto Link: An Interesting Approach

According to company literature, the Revolut app allows customers to open a current account in under a minute, and includes a prepaid contactless MasterCard debit card.  So far there is nothing unusual about Revolut. But wait, there’s more.

The firm launched personal international bank account numbers (IBANs) across Europe just recently, and plans to integrate virtual currencies like bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin in the future.  This includes plans to add a wealth of new services in the coming months from the integration of cryptocurrency to pay-as-you-go travel insurance at the tap of a button.

Even before this gets accomplished, Revolut offers a currency exchange with 25 different currencies and a peer-to-peer payments service.  As Storonsky tells his story, “ . . . what we are demonstrating goes beyond banking.”

The one question investors are raising is how all these wonderful free services will be monetized.  An announcement this week should provide at least some answers.

CNP Fraud Prevention

Revolut has a new product aimed at tackling online card fraud. The mobile-only bank unveiled a virtual card that wipes a user’s card details and introduces new details each time they make a payment.

When people make an online payment, they enter card details and most often online retailers hold onto the data. This is where fraudsters have a field day.

In the trade it is known as Card Not Present (CNP) fraud.  As online shopping has increased steadily, CNP fraud has risen exponentially – something like 50% annually.

What happens is, every time you make a transaction, Revolut software deletes the card details so it’s impossible to make any transaction after that.  Just in case you were wondering, all the data remains in the browser of the customer. So the quality of customer service is not sacrificed.

Full Disclosure  

Revolut is not your typical ICO (i.e., all whitepaper and no product).  It is not fueled by any cryptocurrency or token. I first came across Revolut following their VC round last year and was impressed with the valuation, background of the founders and the business model.  I have no vested interest in the company. Someday the VC will want to cash out most likely through an IPO. So Revolut is a name you will want to keep track of.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.3 stars on average, based on 61 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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ICOs Raise $3.2 Billion During First Quarter Even as Signs of Slowdown Emerge

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The market for initial coin offerings (ICOs) reached a new peak in the first quarter, although signs of a slowdown have begun to emerge amid fears of upcoming regulation and a general outflow of capital from the cryptocurrency space.

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ICOs Generate Billions

Crowdfunding campaigns raised more than $3.2 billion during the first quarter, according to the latest figures compiled by ICOData.io. The average project raised nearly $6.6 million, which is broadly consistent with the 2017 average.

While the total amount raised was down slightly from the fourth quarter, the months of January and February saw inflows of more than $1.2 billion each. That’s the first time inflows crossed the $1 billion mark in back-to-back months.

According to CCN, the majority of funds raised this year come from U.S.-based projects. Other major ICO project centers include China, Lithuania and Switzerland. If recent developments are any indication, Malta is also poised to become a front-runner in the ICO market.

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Signs of Slowdown Emerge

While solid overall, the first-quarter results may have signaled the start of a broad cool down in the ICO market. ICOs generated $601 million in March, less than half of February’s tally and the weakest intake since last August.

If last year’s slowdown was any indication, ICOs could be poised to heat up again very soon. However, last month’s sharp decline was accompanied by increased regulatory risk and signs of fatigue in the market. With 500 capital-generating projects released through the first quarter, the market is on track to exceed the 2017 total in just a few months.

 

In the heyday of ICOs, a whitepaper and decent concept were all that were needed to generate millions of dollars in funding. That’s when the market was flooded with flippers – speculators who bought tokens at a discount and sold them for profit one month later.

The market has evolved significantly over the past year, with many projects now requiring a lock-in period for token holders. This is especially the case for projects that offer steep discounts during the pre-sale.

But investors themselves are also holding ICOs more accountable these days. This includes demands for a minimum viable product (MVP) at the time the ICO is launched.

The sheer quantity of projects flooding the market has made investors more weary of fraudulent campaigns, cash grabs and generally weak concepts. It was reported earlier this year that nearly half of last year’s ICOs either failed at the funding stage or have gone out of business since the token raise was issued. An additional 13% are considered “semi-failed” despite still being operational.

That said, there’s little reason to believe startups will be ditching the ICO concept anytime soon. Many young businesses are looking to circumnavigate the venture capitalist-controlled market in an effort to retain greater control of their business and equity over the long haul. The main question investors need to ask is whether these companies have a viable use case for their token. Based on the success/failure rate of ICOs, the answer appears to be a resounding no.

 

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 343 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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