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The Daily Ten – Richard Branson seeks $1 Billion for Virgin Orbit, Microsoft adopts hybrid workplace, Silicon Valley Pay Cut…

October 12, 2020by Steve NsonNews

The Daily Ten – Richard Branson seeks $1 Billion for Virgin Orbit, Microsoft adopts hybrid workplace, Silicon Valley Pay Cut…

October 12, 2020 by Steve Nson
Monday, September 12th, 2020

The Daily Ten

1. Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit Seeks $1 Billion Valuation in Fundraising| WSJ

British billionaire’s satellite-launch business looking to raise money to support future launches

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is looking to raise up to $200 million in a funding round that could value the satellite-launch business at around $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The fundraising comes as the British billionaire’s sprawling travel-to-finance empire and the wider commercial space industry have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.


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2. Deutsche Bank, Goldman and JP Morgan top commercial real estate finance, despite COVID-19 cracks | Market Watch

Several Wall Street banks have come to dominate a corner of U.S. commercial real estate finance over the past seven months, even as the coronavirus pandemic has cast a long shadow over the market.

Deutsche Bank DB, -0.85%, Goldman Sachs GS, -0.21% and JP Morgan Chase JPM, -0.57% each significantly grew their share of the roughly $550 billion commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market during the pandemic, according to a new report by Deutsche’s research arm.

The CMBS market is a type of property finance where Wall Street banks make loans on hotels, skyscrapers, and other types of commercial buildings to package into bond deals that investors buy.

This chart shows which Wall Street banks won — and lost — market share since the pandemic took hold in the U.S.

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3. Death of the HQ? Pandemic hits commercial real estate, but long-term trends still open to debate | GeekWire

“HQ’s are finished.”

That was the hot take this week from Chris Herd, founder and CEO of remote work setup startup Firstbase. After speaking with about 1,000 companies over the past six months, he estimates that many will be cutting their office space by as much as 40% to 60%. About 90% of workforces indicated that they “never want to be in an office again full-time,” he wrote.

The latest example of the trend is the news this morning that working from home will be a permanent part of the mix at Microsoft. Boosting access to talent, reducing costs, and quality of life were among the benefits of remote work cited by companies in Herd’s informal survey.

“Good thread on the future of work. I agree with him,” former Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff chimed in.

Of course, Herd has a vested interest in the future of remote work, and his sample looks to be more anecdotal than scientific. And others aren’t convinced that physical offices are dead. Commercial real estate firms, which have their own inherent biases on the topic, remain bullish about employees eventually returning to the office despite increasing vacancy rates over the past quarter.

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4. Microsoft adopts ‘hybrid workplace’ that will let more employees work from home permanently | USA Today

Microsoft plans to let more workers work from home post-pandemic.

The Redmond, Washington-based conglomerate unveiled plans to adopt a “hybrid workplace” environment as it copes with the raging coronavirus crisis. The company said part of its strategy is to permanently offer employees greater flexibility once the outbreak subsides.

“Flexibility can mean different things to each of us, and we recognize there is no one-size-fits-all solution given the variety of roles, work requirements and business needs we have at Microsoft,”

Microsoft Executive Vice President Kathleen Hogan wrote in a blog post Friday. “To address this, we have provided guidance to employees to make informed decisions around scenarios that could include changes to their worksite, work location, and/or work hours once offices are open without any COVID-19 restrictions.”

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5. Thailand’s logistics startup Flash Express raises $200 million | TechCrunch

Flash Express, a two-year-old logistics startup that works with e-commerce firms in Thailand, said on Monday it has raised $200 million in a new financing round as it looks to double down on a rapidly growing market spurred by demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding, a Series D, was led by PTT Oil and Retail Business Public Company Limited, the marquee oil and retail businesses of Thai conglomerate PTT. Durbell and Krungsri Finnovate, two other top conglomerates in the Southeast Asian country, also participated in the round, which brings Flash Express’ to-date raise to about $400 million.

Flash Express, which operates door-to-door pickup and delivery service, claims to be the second largest private player to operate in this space. The startup, which also counts Alibaba as an investor, entered the market with delivery fees as low as 60 cents per parcel, a move that allowed it to quickly win a significant market share.

The startup has also expanded aggressively in the past year. Flash Express had about 1,100 delivery points during this time last year. Now it has over 5,000, exceeding those of 138-year-old Thailand Post.

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6. Florida Sees Signals of a Climate-Driven Housing Crisis | The New York Times

Home sales in areas most vulnerable to sea-level rise began falling around 2013, researchers found. Now, prices are following a similar downward path.

If rising seas cause America’s coastal housing market to dive — or, as many economists warn, when — the beginning might look a little like what’s happening in the tiny town of Bal Harbour, a glittering community on the northernmost tip of Miami Beach.

With single-family homes selling for an average of $3.6 million, Bal Harbour epitomizes high-end Florida waterfront property. But around 2013, something started to change: The annual number of homes sales began to drop — tumbling by half by 2018 — a sign that fewer people wanted to buy.

Prices eventually followed, falling 7.6 percent from 2016 to 2020, according to data from Zillow, the real estate data company.

All across Florida’s low-lying areas, it’s a similar story, according to research published Monday. The authors argue that not only is climate change eroding one of the most vibrant real estate markets in the country, it has quietly been doing so for nearly a decade.

“The downturn started in 2013, and no one noticed,” said Benjamin Keys, the paper’s lead author and a professor of real estate and finance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “It means that coastal housing is in more distress than we thought.”

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7. Silicon Valley Pay Cuts Ignite Tech-Industry Covid-19 Tensions | WSJ

Bay Area staffers move to less-costly locales to work remotely in pandemic, triggering cost-of-living salary reductions and stoking debate

Tech workers fleeing the San Francisco Bay Area to work remotely amid the pandemic are facing a new reality: pay cuts.

Over the past several months, Covid-19 has shaken traditional notions of where employees can work. In Silicon Valley, which has a relatively high cost of living and an employee base with access to state-of-the-art remote-work tools, companies are devising plans for a future with decentralized staffs. In some cases, changes can include cutting salaries by 15% or more depending on where someone moves.

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8. Coronavirus mortgage bailouts fall below 3 million for the first time since April | CNBC

The number of mortgages whose payment requirements have been suspended because of the coronavirus plunged in the past week, as the first group of loans hit the end of their six-month term.

It was the largest decline since the crisis began.

Over the past week, active forbearances dropped by 649,000, or 18%, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and data analytics firm. That brings the total number of plans, both government and private sector, below 3 million for the first time since April. In addition, the decline was noticeably larger than the drop of 435,000 when the first wave of forbearances hit the three-month mark in early July.

As of Oct. 6, 2.97 million homeowners remain in pandemic-related forbearance plans, or 5.6% of all active mortgages, down from 6.8% the previous week. The loans represent collectively $614 billion in unpaid principal.

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9. Singapore Air’s A380 Restaurant Tickets Sell Out in 30 Minutes | Bloomberg

Singapore Airlines Ltd. said all seats on its Airbus A380 pop-up restaurants were reserved within 30 minutes of bookings opening Monday.

With flights largely grounded by the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore Airlines is trying novel ways to raise money, including using two A380 superjumbos parked at Changi Airport as temporary restaurants on Oct. 24 and 25.

A meal in a suite costs S$642 ($474), while seats in business class are going for S$321 and then dropping to S$96.30 for premium economy and S$53.50 for economy. Customers can also pay with frequent-flyer miles.

About half the seats in each aircraft will be available for dining, in line with restaurant guidelines on group limits and distancing, Singapore Airlines said in a statement. It plans to open a wait list from 6 p.m. local time Monday due to strong demand. In normal flying service, the carrier’s A380s can seat as many as 471 people, according to its website.

The company will study the wait list and see how it can “potentially accommodate some of those who are still interested in this unique dining experience,” Vice President of Commercial Operations Lee Lik Hsin said.

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10. Proptech company Agora raises NIS 3 million | CTECH by Calcalist

The Israeli startup is developing a platform for real estate investment management

Agora has recently closed a NIS 3 million ($883,000) round to help it continue its development of a platform for managing and automating real estate investments. Among the investors were Datora founders Ran Sarig and Efi Cohen, Team8 CEO Sarit Firon, Storedo’s CEO Doron Myerdorf, and others.

The company has developed a platform that helps manage private real estate investments. It streamlines data collection and automates some of the manual processes that often take up valuable time, as well as calculates appropriate costs and returns.

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