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The Daily Ten – Billionaire investor Bill Ackman is betting on Covid surge, Air Taxi launch in Florida, The “Mooch” makes a fortune from NY Mets sale…

November 12, 2020by Steve NsonNews

The Daily Ten – Billionaire investor Bill Ackman is betting on Covid surge, Air Taxi launch in Florida, The “Mooch” makes a fortune from NY Mets sale…

November 12, 2020 by Steve Nson
Thursday, November 12th, 2020

The Daily Ten

1. Billionaire investor Bill Ackman is hedging the pandemic again after raking in $2.6 billion from a similar bet in the spring | Business Insider

The billionaire investor Bill Ackman turned $27 million into $2.6 billion earlier this year by insuring his hedge fund against a wave of corporate defaults. The Pershing Square chief placed a similar bet — almost 30% of the original’s size — on Monday after news about an effective COVID-19 vaccine broke, he said at the Financial Times’ Dealmakers Conference on Tuesday.

“I hope we lose money on this next hedge,” Ackman said, according to the Financial Times.

“What’s fascinating is the same bet we put on eight months ago is available on the same terms as if there had never been a fire and on the probability that the world is going to be fine,” he added.

Ackman described the vaccine news as “bearish” during his keynote speech, the Financial Times said. He cautioned that people could become nonchalant about wearing masks and might worry less about catching or spreading the virus with mass inoculation on the horizon.

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2. Escooter startup Voi uses AI to detect pedestrians and sidewalks | Venture Beat

European electric scooter startup Voi is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to enable its vehicles to detect pedestrians and sidewalks, a move designed to ingratiate itself to municipalities worried about chaotic micromobility schemes.

Escooter (and ebike) sales have surged throughout 2020 as travelers sought alternatives to crowded public transport, but this proliferation serves to stoke existing safety concerns around how they’re used and deployed in busy cities. Voi is now looking to become the “first in the world” to deploy computer vision and on-device AI on scooters, to help avert collisions and issue alerts if scooters are being used contrary to local legal requirements. It’s ultimately about using real-time knowledge rather than guesswork to help scooters understand their environment.

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3. Lilium To Launch Air Taxi Network In Florida Centered On Orlando | Forbes

The German electric aircraft developer Lilium is partnering with the real estate developer Tavistock to build a hub in Orlando for an inter-city transportation network in the tourist mecca of Florida that it intends to launch in 2025, the first concrete plans yet announced by any of the scores of companies aiming to establish air taxi services as to where their vehicles will get off the ground in the United States.

Tavistock, owned by British billionaire Joe Lewis, will build a 56,000-square-foot “vertiport” with eight landing bays at its Lake Nona development next to the Orlando airport, Florida’s busiest.

Lilium aims to be an option for the 50 million travelers who pass through the Orlando airport every year in normal times to travel onward to Tampa, St. Petersburg, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and between them. Remo Gerber, Lilium’s chief commercial officer, says its aircraft, which the startup says will be able to carry four passengers and a pilot 186 miles (300 km) at a speed of 186 miles per hour, will cut travel time from Orlando to Tampa to 30 minutes compared to 1.5 to 2 hours by car.

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4. Knotel may slash its global portfolio by 60% | The Real Deal

Flex-office provider has been beset by layoffs and lawsuits this year

Knotel once hoped to be the next WeWork. And as the pandemic rages on, it’s facing similar headwinds as its co-working rival.

The flex office provider is looking to trim 60 percent of its 4.8 million-square-foot global portfolio, and slash its leases in the U.S. and Canada from 3.4 million square feet to just 500,000 square feet, Business Insider reported.

Knotel’s goal is to lower its rent obligations $15 million per month to $2 million and bring its North American revenue up to $10 million annually.

The company is also reassessing its business model, according to BI. Instead of paying rent to its landlords, it may shift to management agreements wherein it operates the space on the landlord’s behalf, thus sharing in the profits.

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5. Millions Face Loss of Jobless Aid: ‘Without It, I’m Dead in the Water’ | The New York Times

Emergency federal programs to assist the unemployed in the pandemic will expire at year’s end if there is no congressional action.

Two critical unemployment programs are set to expire at the end of the year, potentially leaving millions of Americans vulnerable to eviction and hunger and threatening to short-circuit an economic recovery that has already lost momentum.

As many as 13 million people are receiving payments under the programs, which Congress created last spring to expand and extend the regular unemployment system during the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders of both major parties have expressed support for renewing the programs in some form, but Congress has been unable to reach a deal to do so. It remains unclear how the results of last week’s election will affect prospects for an agreement.

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6. Pandemic Boosts Upper End of Housing Market Coast to Coast | WSJ

Nearly one in four buyers who purchased homes between April and June paid $500,000 or more

The pandemic is revving up the market for expensive homes where many people are spending far more time, luring richer buyers and nudging more sales over the half-million dollar mark from northern California to the New York City suburbs.

Nearly one in four home buyers between April and June bought houses priced at $500,000 or more, up from 14% of buyers during the preceding nine months, according to a Wednesday report from the National Association of Realtors.


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7. Proptech Startup Spruce Raises $8M to Scale Its Apartment Services Marketplace | Built in Austin

Four years ago, Ben Johnson’s dream of becoming the dog walker kingmaker of his apartment complex died — he couldn’t get the building’s residents to agree on a single service. Out of the ashes of that aim sprouted Spruce, an on-demand apartment cleaning and homecare darling. On Wednesday, the Austin company announced it cleaned up a fresh funding round of its own.

Spruce raked in $8 million, which it plans to invest in growing its headcount and developing its tech. Ultimately, Johnson said he believes the proptech startup could be used to create efficiencies of scale in all sorts of residential microeconomies.

“We’re changing how people live in their homes,” Johnson told Built In. “What starts in apartments eventually will be used to service all dense groups of residential areas.

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8. Niche data center real estate market boomed during pandemic and could keep growing after | CNBC

The technology giants that run consumers’ world — Apple, Facebook, Google — make texting, swiping, posting and snapping easy, typically with a single tap. But behind the effortless façade of social media and the internet is a niche part of the real estate sector: data centers.

The physical buildings that hold and store internet data have grown in necessity alongside the rise of technology and software giants. And like their so-called FAANG clients, the group has seen an acceleration during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If there’s one real estate sector that is immune from the Covid headwinds its tech real estate,” Hoya Capital Real Estate’s founder and president Alex Pettee told CNBC.

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9. Manhattan Landlords Lure Apartment-Seekers With Record Freebies | Bloomberg

Manhattan apartment leasing rose for the first time in more than a year as an avalanche of discounts and freebies became too attractive for renters to ignore.

The number of newly signed agreements jumped 33% in October from a year earlier, the first annual increase since July 2019, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Apartment-hunters in New York’s costliest borough committed to leases even with offices remaining largely empty, schools partially online and cultural attractions still mostly off limits. They were motivated by the biggest and most widespread giveaways on record, with landlords doing whatever they could to fill units.

About 60% of all new leases — a record in a decade of data-keeping — came with some kind of sweetener, such as free months or payment of broker’s fees, the firms said. The value of those concessions averaged 2.1 months of rent, also a record.

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10. Bill Maher, Anthony Scaramucci stand to cash in big on Mets sale | New York Post

Investors who bailed out the Mets in the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal are about to make a killing now that billionaire Steve Cohen has taken over, The Post has learned.

Cohen’s $2.4 billion deal to buy the Amazin’s closed on Nov. 6, putting minority investors including comedian Bill Maher, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and venture capitalist Ken Lerer on track to be paid roughly three times what they forked over in 2012 to provide the Wilpon family with a much-needed cash infusion, sources said.

“Investing in the Wilpons got scary for a while there, so they’re thrilled to get paid out like this by one of their own,” a source familiar with the team’s financials said. “The guys who bought in for $20 million are going to walk away very happy.”

Scaramucci declined to comment. Maher and Lerer didn’t return requests for comment. But all three men are members of groups of investors that agreed to pay $20 million in 2012 for 4 percent stakes at a time when the Wilpons were facing a towering debt load of more than $500 million, including the $162 million they agreed to pay to put the Madoff nightmare behind them.

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