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Elon Musk takes over  Twitter

Elon Musk takes over Twitter

Can you believe it? It worked. But what does it mean for the media? What does it mean for “free speech” and the market of opinions? Elon Musk has finally bought Twitter — and tanked his own stock doing it. What does that mean for digital disruption?

A Hostile Takeover

Earlier in the month, Elon Musk started a hostile takeover of Twitter by purchasing an immense number of shares. Twitter reacted by enacting a poison pill measure; a poison pill is something a company does specifically to avoid a hostile takeover, making it effectively impossible for a company to be taken over through stock purchases alone.

But despite the board initially saying that Musk would have no control over the company, they quickly introduced him to the board. And when he offered $44 billion for Twitter itself, they rather quickly folded. Musk is known for his capricious but often visionary purchases; he did not build Tesla but rather purchased it.

Interestingly, until the very end, Reddit posts were saying Musk could never take over. But Redditors have a long history of skepticism, going back to the Robinhood App.

Why Does Musk Want Twitter?

Musk has a weird relationship with Twitter. He doesn’t like being censored. So much so that he’s been fined repeatedly by the SEC for saying things that manipulated Tesla’s stock prices. Musk says that he wants transparency on the platform but it’s also likely he wants the freedom to do what he wants.

Whether he’s the proper steward for a channel that has become a leading resource for news and even political change remains to be seen. Musk cut his teeth in digital disruption with PayPal and his forays into Tesla and SpaceX have both been markedly successful. But they are very different technologies.

The Consequences for Tesla

Tesla stock, meanwhile, has been absolutely slaughtered. In part, this is due to the perception that Musk is acting irrationally or emotionally, which he has historically been prone to do. If he’s purchasing Twitter as a means of radically decentralized discourse, that’s one thing. If he’s purchasing it because he wants people to stop saying mean things about him on the internet, that’s a vastly different situation. Regardless, Tesla stockholders got to see the stock plummet.

The Consequences for Twitter

While many users have abandoned Twitter, the reality is that people are mostly meh. As one user stated, “if you’re upset over a billionaire buying Twitter, wait until you find out who owns everything else.” So, a billionaire bought an online platform/mobile app. What else is new?

For many, the reality of the situation is that Twitter is just a social media venue that they can take or leave, and most appear to be waiting to see what happens.

Entrepreneurs, though, will face broader implications. One thing Musk does have a stance on is algorithm transparency.

Algorithm Transparency and Business

No one knows what special sauce Google uses to make sure that results surface. That’s the point. Billions are spent every year trying to figure it out in the form of search engine optimization.

Musk wants to make visible the mechanisms that promote posts on Twitter. And that could be both a problem and an opportunity. It will either radically change the way people are using Twitter or (more likely) destroy it as spam becomes even more aggressive and prevalent.

Companies that lean firmly on Twitter for their advertising campaigns are currently right to be wary.

Note that the Musk deal with Twitter could still fall through. It’s not finalized. He may discover that he didn’t want to buy Twitter after all. He may get butthurt that Bill Gates’ short position against Tesla paid off big. And Twitter itself may decide not to capitulate.  

Still, this gives rise to many thoughts as to how the wealthy can control discourse, how vulnerable the entrepreneurial disruption community is to its tools, and how the internet is evolving today. The Twitter purchase will undoubtedly disrupt business on the platform and mobile app; the question is how much?

Reddit vs the Market: A David and Goliath Tail

Reddit vs the Market: A David and Goliath Tail

By now, most people know about the meme stock debacle. But it’s more than meets the eye. When Redditors blew up GameStop and AMC stock, what they were really doing was revealing tremendous inequality within the current stock market — and a stock market inherently divorced from real economic values. 

Redditors and GameStop: The Big Short

Let’s go over what happened. On Reddit, retail traders (independent home investors) frequently post something called “DD.” Due Diligence. That’s information about stocks and investments; the research they’ve done into determining whether something is a “good buy.”

Okay, so, a Redditor posts that they’ve noticed that GameStop is being shorted into the ground. Someone is betting on GameStop to fail, way beyond what seems to be legitimate. And they decide it’s a good idea to be on the other side of that trade; they think GameStop is way undervalued.

What happens next is the chaos. Everyone agrees, so everyone buys. GameStop stock starts to soar. This launches a massive squeeze. A squeeze occurs when someone has shorted a stock (hoping it will go down in value), because that means they still need to purchase that stock to sell it at the lower value. So the value keeps going up and up because the short sellers don’t want to take a loss and buy, but they eventually have to make that purchase to cover their sales. 

But in this pandemonium, it’s large companies like Citadel losing money. And that’s where the disruption occurs.

Robinhood’s Fall from Grace

A few years ago, Robinhood made waves by making trading easy. It was able to disrupt the day trading market by letting anyone trade at any time. Retail traders were able to start trading stocks and making money with technology that could keep up with the giants.

But there were still some caveats. The Robinhood App was the only way a lot of investors could access their trades and money and many of them weren’t interested in holding traditional investment accounts.

When GameStop started ballooning, Robinhood started disabling the ability to buy and sell GME stock. It moved similarly on AMC. The idea was that Robinhood was trying to reduce volatility. But it all led to an inherent flaw in the system.

Everyone’s Jim Cramer

When someone on television says a stock is a “buy,” it can be enough to influence the stock to go up. But that’s legal. Offering an opinion on a stock is legal. Colluding to boost a stock price is not legal. But you can see where the lines can be gray.

Online, everyone can give their opinion about a stock. The GME and AMC squeezes had people making millions overnight. They increased their value not by thousands but by tens of thousands. This led to dozens of copycat pump and dump schemes focused on stocks like WISH.

The question is simple: what happens when internet trends can so vastly influence the stock market? 

But retail traders aren’t doing anything that hedge funds weren’t already doing. The reason the DD on GameStop first appeared was because a specific hedge fund, Citadel, had been shorting companies into nonexistence. This creates an unbalanced effect in which hedge funds can manipulate the market but the retail trader cannot.

The Fallout

Most GME and AMC investors are still waiting for their big payoff. While both stocks rose tremendously, they believed they should rise even higher because the shorts still haven’t been covered. However, a variety of financial systems (such as borrowing shares to cover shorted shares) have largely mitigated what they call MOASS (the Mother of all Short Squeezes).

Robinhood and Citadel are being accused of manipulating the market. The mobile app is accused of engaging and disengaging trades to manipulate price. Citadel is accused of relentlessly shorting stocks to drive companies out of the market and of not covering shorts that it should have covered. But whether anything will come of this is largely unclear. 

What is evident is that retail traders now have a very significant hand in the market and that they aren’t going away. If the market does not become more transparent or at least more accessible, it’s difficult to see how it can remain stable. 

As for the retail traders themselves, many are chasing the next squeeze. While some continue to invest in AMC and GME, the subreddits like WallStreetBets are full of other DDs. Many aren’t investing for long term strategies but rather short term gambles, which further complicates implications for the market — and makes it a lot more interesting.

Design your baby from a mobile app…

Design your baby from a mobile app…

Are you serious designer babies? What is CRISPR and can it disrupt the healthcare industry? Design a baby or fix your chronic illness right from a mobile app, well maybe not just yet but the technology to execute this is already on its way.

The world we live in might not look like The Jetsons, but we are living in the future in many ways. We’ve already got smartphones, and smart homes quickly followed. Augmented reality has expanded the horizons of video games, and virtual reality is poised to change the lives of people living with disabilities. What’s next? Smart genes? You might be shocked to learn that a technology called CRISPR promises exactly that!

While “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats” might be a mouthful, CRISPR is a little easier to say. CRISPR are a naturally occurring sequence of repeats in simple living creatures such as some bacteria. While bacteria use CRISPR as an immune defense against other organisms, humans discovered that CRISPR could be used to target genes of pretty much any living creature, including us!

Through a method known as CAS-9, CRISPR can essentially be used to edit genes from DNA, similar to how you can cut text from Word documents. Researchers have since been able to use CRISPR to cut genes out entirely and cut out faulty genes to replace them with functional ones. That’s right, CRISPR lets us copy and paste our DNA.

CRISPY isn’t just a novel new technology. It represents some pretty important possibilities. For example, CRISPR can be used to disrupt the faulty DNA that leads to diseases such as Huntington’s, which is caused by a mutation in a gene and has been difficult to treat up until now. Not only does Huntington’s decrease the quality and length of life, but parents can pass the disease to their children. If CRISPR can remove faulty genes, people who would otherwise develop Huntington’s disease and avoid having children who might do the same can live happily and healthily with a brood of their own.

That’s just one example of the power of CRISPR. Researchers are hard at work determining the different ways that CRISPR (and CAS-9) can work for us. Many are hopeful that CRISPR can be used with CAR-T, a method used alongside genetic therapy to boost the patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer. Jens-Ole Bock of COBO Technologies Aps, which focuses on DNA technology, expressed hope over this combination:

Focus now is on different types of blood diseases and cancer treatment using CAR-T. We have now more than 70 trials ongoing in the clinical phase and initial safety data from these trials are looking promising. 

Kevin Doxzen, Ph.D., expressed similar sentiments about the potential that the “development of CRISPR and other genome engineering technologies is moving modern medicine towards personalized therapeutics and away from a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare. The ability to precisely locate and alter a specific genetic sequence is opening the door to treating a range of previously untreatable diseases, especially rare genetic diseases.” Who’s to say what uses we’ll find for CRISPR in the future?

In fact, some researchers are already investigating whether CRISPR can be used to created so-called “designer babies.” Considering that researchers in China have already tested CRISPR on embryos to produce babies resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera, is it a leap to wonder if they could identify other traits that some people might find undesirable to edit them right out of embryos before implanting them. Given that the 23&Me app can already tell us what genes we might pass on to our children, the idea doesn’t sound that farfetched at all! Who could have predicted this? The writers of Gattaca, for one.

However, while it might be possible for CRISPR to create “designer babies” in the future, many medical experts are skeptical. For example, Bock expressed disbelief that CRISPR technology would move in this direction based on current research efforts.

 All trials today are in somatic cells and focus is to treat well-characterised genetic diseases that will have a significant impact for the patient and the patient group. Because we learn more and more about the genes involved in different diseases, it will make sense to do more pre-screening of germ cells and thereby we could exclude many potential genetic diseases to move to the next generation. However some genetic disease we can not predict and “capture” on in pre-screening and therefore we need tools like CRISPR to be able to cure future genetic diseases in this group of patients

Of course, there’s always someone who wants to capitalize on new tech, which means that we’re pretty much guaranteed that someone will step in to fulfill the role of designing babies with CRISPR in the future. But most researchers understand the significance of treating or even preventing cancer and other diseases that severely impact–and shorten–a patient’s life. With such important work already underway, there’s no use fretting over the potential misuses of CRISPR when the technology will have such long-reaching benefits.

The success of our agency is built upon our clients’ growth. If you want to discuss your next project or be interviewed and featured in our next series of “Project Venus,” contact Colure’s Mobile App Development Team.