The Daily Ten – The rise & fall of Bitcoin Billionaire Arthur Hayes, Amazon arrives in rural America, Barcelona Bans Airbnb?
The Daily Ten
1. THE RISE AND FALL OF BITCOIN BILLIONAIRE ARTHUR HAYES | Vanity Fair
The BitMEX cofounder created a cryptocurrency exchange that has traded trillions. Now he’s wanted by U.S. authorities, and insiders wonder whether he and his partners are villains—or victims of a two-tiered justice system that favors big banks over brash outsiders.
Arthur Hayes lives large. Like Bobby Axelrod-in-Billions large. Just replace New York with Hong Kong and infuse it with a dose of Silicon Valley—where unicorns spring from the minds of irrepressible company founders—and, well, you get the picture. One minute Hayes is hitting the powder in Hokkaido, the next he’s crushing it on a subterranean squash court in Central—Hong Kong’s Wall Street. And all the while he keeps one eye trained on an obscure-sounding currency exchange that he built out of thin air and through which more than $3 trillion has flowed.
Screen-star handsome and fabulously wealthy, the African American banker turned maverick personifies the contemporary fintech pioneer. But the feds describe Arthur Hayes differently: a wanted man who “flouted” the law by operating in the “shadows of the financial markets.” Hayes’s indictment was unsealed in October, and he remains at large in Asia as prosecutors in New York hope to arrest him and try him on two felony counts, which carry a possible penalty of 10 years in prison.
2. Barcelona Wants to Ban Renting Private Rooms to Tourists | Bloomberg
The new proposal escalates the city’s aggressive efforts to protect long-term housing and curb tourism by regulating vacation rentals.
Landlords in Barcelona would be permanently banned from renting out private rooms for short-term stays if the city approves a new plan.
As part of a package of measures designed to protect potential long-term housing from being cannibalized by tourist rentals, the office of Mayor Ada Colau proposed a new rule that would allow people to rent rooms in their own home only for stays of 30 days or more.
The plan adds to other measures by the city to limit tourist housing, typically through platforms like Airbnb. If adopted, the city would have some of the strictest controls on vacation rentals of any city in the world.
3. Want to own an apartment building? Buy a distressed hotel for pennies on the dollar | CNBC
Communities are desperate for more affordable housing, but the cost for developers is just too high. Land, labor and materials were pricey before the coronavirus pandemic, and they are even more so now.
That is why some creative developers are now turning to hotels – and it appears to be a match made in real estate heaven.
The stay-at-home culture of the pandemic has hit the hotel sector hard. The share of hotels behind on their mortgages rose to just over 18% in December, up from less than 2% a year ago, according to Fitch Ratings. Hotels are suffering even more than retail real estate.
But that creates an opportunity for investors, like David Peters in Minneapolis, who is buying distressed hotels at bargain basement prices, and converting them to affordable apartments.
4. Amsterdam moving infamous red-light district away from tourists, city center | New York Post
The world’s oldest profession just got some new rules in Amsterdam.
The liberal Dutch city’s notorious red-light district will be moved to the outskirts of town in an effort to help legal sex workers avoid ridicule from tourists, lawmakers said in a report Thursday.
Brothel windows will be shuttered in the bustling De Wallen neighborhood and an “erotic centre” will be set up in a yet-to-be-determined area, according to the UK Guardian.
Amsterdam’s city council voted last week to relocate the district after Mayor Femke Halsema last year said workers in brothels often face abuse and mockery from lookie-loos and out-of-towners, according to the outlet.
Other elected officials said the relocation would help clean up the city’s image on a global stage.
5. YC-backed Djamo is building a financial super app for consumers in Francophone Africa | TechCrunch
Djamo, a financial super app for consumers in Francophone Africa, is the first startup from Ivory Coast to get backing from Y Combinator.
While there has been a huge profusion of financial services that have emerged in recent years in Africa, Djamo’s mission is to try to plug one specific and a very underserved gap in Francophone Africa.
In the region, less than 25% of adults have bank accounts as the focus for banks remains the top 10-20% wealthiest customers. The rest, which is a huge segment of the market of about 120 million people, is not perceived as profitable. But as banks slacked, mobile money from the region’s telcos filled in the gap. In the last 10 years, their wallets have reached more than 60% of the population — proof of how many millions of French-speaking natives were hungry for financial services. Today, this mobile money infrastructure and reach allows startups to build upon their existing payment infrastructure to democratize access through different applications.
6. Amazon arrives in rural America: Tech giant delivers hope and concern to California town | Geekwire
“They are a company I’m sure you’re all familiar with. A large, national, international operator at the cutting edge of their particular field.”
That clue, offered by a real estate investor during a September 2020 meeting of the Glenn County Board of Supervisors, was the first sign that something big was budding amid the almond, walnut and olive orchards just beyond the city limits of Orland, Calif., about 100 miles north of Sacramento.
This mysterious company — its name officially unknown even to the county at that point — planned to open a new package delivery facility in an existing industrial building next to the rural Haigh Field airport southeast of town, covering the “last mile” to its customer’s doorsteps.
Using a non-disclosure agreement with the building’s owner, this company was able to keep its identity a secret even as Glenn County, which owns the underlying land, agreed to reduce the building owner’s payments on the ground lease, offsetting a portion of the cost of renovating the property, in the interest of economic development and jobs.
7. Forget Bitcoin: Inside the insane world of altcoin cryptocurrency trading | C|net
Many altcoins don’t do anything, and some are scams. But average people are getting rich off them.
It was a Saturday morning and Adam was feeling bold.
He’d made thousands of dollars on a single trade the night before, and was feeling lucky. But Adam wasn’t trading on the NASDAQ, pumping GameStop stocks or investing in a startup. He was about to sink $2,500 into a cryptocurrency called DeTrade.
It seemed safe. Adam had investigated the coin’s development team on LinkedIn, and watched a video of its CEO laying out a roadmap for the coin’s future. A newswire piece published on Yahoo touted DeTrade’s technology as advanced enough to disrupt cryptocurrency.
Thanks to Bitcoin hitting an all-time high valuation of $40,000, almost tripling its value in two months, cryptocurrency is very much back in the zeitgeist. But while for many people Bitcoin is synonymous with cryptocurrency, it’s not what crypto traders like Adam are interested in. Beneath Bitcoin and Ethereum, the second-best-known currency, is a strange underworld of different cryptocurrencies.
8. Kia Seeks Partners to Build Apple Car in Georgia | WSJ
South Korean auto maker’s proposal would involve a multibillion-dollar investment
Kia Corp. 000270 3.47%has approached potential partners about a plan to assemble Apple Inc.’s long-awaited electric car in Georgia, according to people familiar with the matter.
The proposal would involve a multibillion-dollar investment, according to people familiar with the matter, who stress that a deal hasn’t been completed. If successful, it would thrust the iPhone maker into the car business after several years of secretive work in which its engineers plotted to upend the 100-plus-year-old automotive industry.
The likelihood of a final agreement was thrown into question when Kia’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, said last month, then sought to play down, that it was in negotiations with Apple to cooperate on an electric driverless car. Apple has never confirmed those talks, and its dalliances with other auto makers in the past have fizzled.
9. PropTech-focused SPAC BOA Acquisition files for a $175 million IPO | Nasdaq
BOA Acquisition, a blank check company targeting real estate technology, filed on Thursday with the SEC to raise up to $175 million in an initial public offering.
The Washington, DC-based company plans to raise $175 million by offering 17.5 million units at $10. Each unit will consist of one share of common stock and one-half of a warrant, exercisable at $11.50. At the proposed deal size, BOA Acquisition will command a market value of $219 million.
The company is led by Chairman Scott Seligman, who also serves as Chairman of The Seligman Group; CEO and CIO Brian Friedman, who currently serves as the Managing Partner of Foxhall Partners, as well as Founder and Partner at Friedman Capital; and CFO Benjamin Friedman, a former Director and Senior Trader at Citigroup Global Markets. BOA Acquisition intends to focus on businesses that provide technological solutions and innovation to the broader real estate industry, which management also refers to as “PropTech.”
10. Harvard: The Gronk School of Tight Ends | WSJ
Harvard has become an unlikely factory for NFL tight ends. That’s because of the Ivy League school’s offense—and playing in the shadow of Rob Gronkowski.
A Harvard student named Cameron Brate had an extremely fortunate stroke of luck when he was in college. The best role model ever in his dream job was mastering his craft just a short distance away. To see someone he says he “personally looked up to,” he simply had to turn on his television.
Brate wanted to be an NFL tight end. There was nobody better to study than New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Now Gronkowski plays for Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So does Brate. In these NFL playoffs, Brate has been the Buccaneers unheralded weapon. He has 11 catches for 149 yards and added a touchdown in the NFC Championship. It has put him in a surprising position: He has been even more effective than Gronkowski.