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What The Cowboys Aren't Doing Speaks Loudly
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Want to know about the Cowboys offseason? They are showing a lot by not showing their hand. by Jim Scott@realdirkg Mar 4, 2017, 6:00pm CST. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. The Dallas Cowboys are often the epicenter of buzz for …
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A leading GP and senior NHS manager funnelled 153,600 meant for patients over winter into the bank account of a company they controlled.
Dr Ian Walton and Lisa Hill admitted defrauding the NHS by raising a false invoice from a charity, on whose board they both sat.
The judge at Birmingham Crown Court heard that although they dishonestly sourced the cash, they spent 57,000 of it training 69 GPs.
They will be sentenced next week.
A further 62,000 found in the charity’s account was said to have been “ring-fenced” for future GP training, leaving about 34,000 in “profit”.
Walton, a GP for more than 30 years, has a national reputation for mental health excellence and his own practice in Tipton, West Midlands, the court heard.
Hill was a senior commissioning manager with Sandwell & West Birmingham clinical commissioning group (CCG).
In December 2012 Hill, from Hagley, near Stourbridge, West Midlands, had submitted a business case to the CCG for GP mental health training.
However, bosses had already decided to divert their cash into the “winter pressures” budget, tackling the seasonal increase in NHS patients in the area.
Health chiefs “never approved the funding” for GP training, but despite that, an invoice for 153,600 from the charity to the CCG was raised in March 2013.
Judge Paul Farrer QC said it was an “unusual” case because Walton, of Stourbridge Road, Wombourne, near Wolverhampton, and Hill had not set out to make money.
Hill lost her CCG job, but has since been employed as a freelance training consultant by NHS trusts.
James Horne, barrister for father-of-four Walton, said the “unusual legacy of the fraud” was “the money was not squandered on luxury items or frittered away on fancy holidays, but has gone on training and the delivery of care in the NHS”.
TechBullion (press release) (registration) (blog)
How To Get Paid Blogging About What You Love | TechBullion
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Whatever business you're currently in, what if you could get paid blogging about it, what if you could turn one tiny piece of it into a full time stream of income?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
A Simple, Mutually Beneficial Solution To The Cowboys' Tony Romo Dilemma
Blogging The Boys (blog)
How the Cowboys and Tony Romo can part ways in a manner that is fair to all involved. by Joseph.Hatz@JosephHatzBTB Mar 3, 2017, 6:00pm CST. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. There are three perspectives that must be taken …
The revelation that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel bankrolledHulk Hogans sex tape lawsuit against Gawker sent shockwaves through the media industry. Commentators had barely recovered from the $140 million in damages awarded to Hogan. Now they were grappling with a bigger question: Is this kind of financial arrangement even legal? Could it happen to them?
The short answer to both is yespicking up the tab on someone elses lawsuit is now perfectly legal (it wasnt always), and people who do it arent required to reveal that theyre doing it or why. The practice is reviled by the business community, and yet Thiel, a staunch pro-business libertarian, has shown billionaires everywhere that its possible to not only sue a media company indirectly for revenge but to make money doing it. Now that the message is out, theres nothing to stop other billionaires from following his lead.
‘This case could really change the landscape. Everyone who has gripes about the media is going to start thinking about dollars and cents, and running to their lawyers.’Thomas Julin, lawyer specializing in the First Amendment
This [case] could really change the landscape, because everyone who has gripes about what the media has done is going to start thinking about dollars and cents and running to their lawyers, says Thomas Julin, a partner at Miami-based law firm Hunton and Williams who focuses on First Amendment litigation.
And its going to get lawyers thinking, Maybe I should be more willing to represent other individuals against the media.’”
Regardless of how you feel about Gawker, Hogan, or Thiel, this financial arrangement sets a dangerous precedent for anyone running a businessespecially a media business. Litigation finance is a booming industry, and Thiel’s success likely makes the entire media industry vulnerable to professional litigation financiers willing to fund other vendettas.
Litigation financing is really dangerous, says Bryan Quigley from the Institute for Legal Reform, the civil justice arm of theUS. Chamber of Commerce, an advocate for American businesses. Theres no doubt its going to create more litigation in general.
In 2013, Gerchen Keller, a Chicago-based investment firm that deals exclusively with litigation finance, pegged the size of the US litigation market at more than $200 billionand its growing exponentially each year. Gerchen Keller itself has grown from $100 million in capital commitments to more than $1.4 billion in assets under management since 2013. When their clients win their lawsuits, Keller gets a cut of the winnings. Burford Capital, a British litigation investment firm, saw its operating profit grow more than 385 percent since 2011 to the tune of $77.2 million. The company gets a 70 percent net return on its investments, according to its annual report.
Both companies work almost exclusively with businesses, dealing with legal issues around patents, trade secrets, and copyrights. These types of firms have such a high return on their investment because they only invest in cases theyre almost certain they can win or settle. Until now, that ruled out most cases involving the media, because privacy and libel lawsuits are harder to win than other cases, where odds are easier to predict. Now, thanks to Thiel, that could change.
Litigation finance actually goes all the way back to Roman society, though Emperor Anastasius banned it by the sixth century. The reasoning even back then sounds spookily applicable today: a controversy could only properly concern the people involved in the transaction, historian Max Radin wrote, not other meddlers. In other parts of the world, the concept of champertyassisting in a lawsuit in exchange for a cut of the proceedspersisted, notably in medieval England, when members of the nobility would put money into fraudulent land grabs in return for a share of the property recovered.
‘This sector is about purely rational actors trying to make money investing in litigation because they believe the introduction of additional capital can add value.’Anthony Sebok, Cardoza Law professor
With the rise of capitalismand the explosion of litigation in the 1950sthe prohibitions around these old common laws fell out of fashion. This sector is about purely rational actors trying to make money investing in litigation because they believe the introduction of additional capital can add value, says Anthony Sebok, a professor at Cardoza Law and a consultant for Burford.
The first big US investment outfit specifically focused on funding lawsuits, Juridica, was founded in 2007, just before the US economy collapsed. By around 2008, Sebok says, general anxiety among investors made a relatively sure thing like litigation financing attractive. This is partially because big investors can tip the scales in their favor simply by pouring money into a case. When a firm like Burford backs a plaintiff, it can keep throwing money into the lawsuit to keep it in the courts for as long as it wants, which can intimidate a defendant into settling to avoid a drawn-out legal nightmare. In this scenario, it doesnt matter whether the case is valid or not because the focus isnt on winning or losing but on getting a payout.
Common law recognizes a related concept known as “maintenance,” which simply means any kind of support by a stranger for a lawsuit that is not his or her own. In recent decades, “maintenance” has evolved into the public interest litigation model. In the late 1950s, lawmakers used prohibitions on litigation finance to target civil rights groups in order to cut them off from donations to challenge racist laws. The state of Virginia passed statutes barring litigation finance in hopes of crippling the NAACP in 1956, but the US Supreme Court overturned the statutes seven years later, saying they violated the First Amendment.
Litigation finance took off in the 1960s as a way to fund legal battles defending the rights of minorities and women who were completely powerless politically and financially. In most of those cases, outside funds came primarily from donations, meaning no one was looking for a financial return on their money. Litigation finance helped codify laws that protect our civil rights today, so theres a reason why the practice is legal. But using it for personal revenge or profit is relatively newand so far, that version of litigation finance has managed to slip through the regulatory cracks.
“I would call this the Wild West right now,” says Quigley. “You might have some legitimate funders but youre also going to have some bad actors. Either way, litigation finance distorts the process of justice by injecting billions of dollars in the [courts].”
While the practice of litigation finance has grown in recent decades, the bulk of these cases have involved personal injury or business-to-business lawsuits. The Thiel-Hogan-Gawker case is essentially unprecedented, litigation finance and media law experts say, because it involves a media company and because Thiel sidestepped the burgeoning litigation finance firms altogether, placing his own bet against Gawker with the sole intent of bankrupting the company.
“I think cases involving media companies may be too hard for an intelligent observer to model for purposes of investment,” says Sebok.
Now that Thiel has done this successfully, however, the dynamic could change. Sure, Gawker has published items that walk the line of ethical journalism. But there’s little to stop any other billionaire with a score to settle against a free press performing its most basic function: holding the powerful accountable.
This is potentially a powerful weapon to get even with the press, says Walter Olson, a senior fellow of the Cato Institute and a writer for the website Overlawyered. If you want a nightmare scenario, it could happen not just with billionaires, but with some clearinghouse organization who cant stand the press, or some sector of the press.
This isn’t just a hypothetical scenario. When billionaire Frank Vandersloot sued Mother Jones for defamation over a 2012 article, he lost. But he went on to say hed create a $1 million fund for others looking to sue the media.
As insidious as that sounds, consider that under today’s lax rules, such a fund could bankroll a lawsuit in which no one knows where the money is coming from. When the ACLU brings a case to the courts, the judge and jury both know that the organization is paying for that lawsuit with outside funds. When Hogan sued Gawker, nobody knew that his case was being funded by a disgruntled billionaire. Not the judge nor the jury, because no one was legally obligated to disclose that information. If the law required Thiel, Hogan, or his attorney to disclose Thiel’s involvement from the beginning, would the outcome have changed?
The Hogan case may be an isolated feud between Thiel and Gawker, but its consequences could be far-reaching. Thiel may or may not go up against other media companies, but hes created a blueprintfor other billionaires to do so. Don’t like a story about you? Find a proxy to sue for you, and tie up a financially strapped news organization in court until they run dry. Instead of fighting speech with more speech, fight it with money.
It’s an approach we’re all likely to see more of in the future, and Peter Thiel is its patron saint.
Monzo, one of a number of so-called challenger banks in the U.K. aiming to re-invent the current account, has disclosed a new funding round.
Confirming most of the details from our report earlier this week, the startup has raised 19.5 million from U.S.-based Thrive Capital, Londons Passion Capital, and Orange Digital Ventures, the venture arm of telco Orange. They are investing 13 million, 5 million, and 1.5 million, respectively.
The London-based company is also planning to raise an additional 2.5 million through another equity crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. The combined round pegs Monzo at a pre-money valuation of 65 million.
Given how quickly Monzo reached its earlier 1 million crowdfunding raise which spectacularly closed in 96 seconds it shouldnt have any problem placing this new offering. In fact, the startup is making specific plans to handle the anticipated demand:
Monzo will host a pre-registration period from February 28 March 14 when any of its customers can express their interest in investing. The total amount pledged will be displayed in real-time on Monzos website, followed by a ballot to randomly select the people wholl be able to authorise their investments from March 14.
The new combined funding, which will bring total raised to 35 million, will be used by Monzo as it readies for a full bank launch later this year. As it exists today, Monzos more than 100,000 users get access to a pre-paid MasterCard and accompanying iOS and Android apps. It offers the ability to do things like track your spending in real time, view geolocation-marked transactions on a map, view spending by category and get a graphical timeline of your overall expenditure.
Once it has launched a fully-fledged current account, Monzo says it will initially make money by offering transparent overdrafts without hidden fees or charges, but plans to diversify away from traditional banking business models in the longer term. The company will aim to give its customers one-click access to a broad range of financial products from third parties as part of a move towards banking as a marketplace, it says.
Meanwhile, as we noted when TechCrunch broke this story on Monday, Monzo isnt the first European fintech to receive backing from New York-headquartered Thrive Capital. The VC firm, founded by Josh Kushner, recently led a 30 million Series C round in German fintech Raisin, which offers pan-European savings accounts.
However, it does leave the door open for Monzo to launch in the U.S. sometime in the future. And although this isnt a concrete plan or likely to happen any time soon, co-founder and CEO Tom Blomfield has made no secret of his ambition to bring Monzo across the pond at some point, something he re-iterated in a very brief call last night. He has previously spent some time living in New York, which is actually how he first came into contact with the folk at Thrive Capital.
Listen to TechCrunchs recent interview with Monzo co-founder Tom Blomfield
Blogging The Boys (blog)
The Problems With Tony Romo Going To The Broncos
Blogging The Boys (blog)
But letting that control their decision would just extend the bad decision-making. The $25 million in guarantees they are still on the hook for are sunk costs. Nothing they do can recoup that money. If the team wants to win, they have to look at what …
Business 2 Community (blog)
How to Turbocharge Your Blog Post Production: What You Need to Know
Business 2 Community (blog)
Every startup has heard that they need to update their website in order to stay relevant to Google and the little bots that crawl around on the interwebs. But how many of them actually start blogging? Very few, unless forced! Don't ask me how I knowâI …
How would you go about hosting a two-week-long dinner party for 50,000 people, in which each guest is expected to earn their meal?
This is not a rhetorical question. It’s similar to the struggle Olympic officials are facing in Rio de Janeiro, where upwards of 50,000 volunteers need to be coordinated and fed from time to time, in exchange for what can be a thankless, otherwise-unpaid job.
Lately, they’ve been coming up short, and in return, many volunteers have stopped volunteering. At some venues, Rio spokesman Mario Andrada acknowledged, only 20 percent of the expected volunteers have actually shown up.
(Overall, however, Rio officials told the Associated Press the volunteer attendance rate is just over 70 percent).
Luis Moreira is one such volunteer who decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Last week, he helped direct spectators at the Copacabana volleyball venue. This week, he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he quit.
“Many volunteers had to quit because they had to work two weeks in a row, schedules were messed up, lots of people quit because of the food: they were told to work eight, nine hours and were only provided with a little snack,” he said.
“I don’t think the organizing committee had enough consideration for people’s lives and welfare,” he added. “It was as though the organizing committee was doing us a favor. The committee uses the volunteers to make money, uses us for free labor.”
The International Olympic Committee acknowledges the games would be all but impossible were it not for the significant unpaid volunteer effort. Yet the standards for volunteerism are far from evenly applied.
While tens of thousands of volunteers hustle at the ground level, IOC executives technically also considered “volunteers” aren’t exactly roughing it. The IOC’s “unpaid” president, Thomas Bach, is unsalaried, but still manages a $250,000 yearly allowance, according to the AP.
Each of the 14 members of the IOC board, also technically “unpaid,” will be allotted upwards of $20,000 for their contributions for three weeks over the games, in addition to the free lodging, food and prime seats at events the board members already have access to.
When we look back through the annals of time, there, etched in the history books will be 2016: The year of VR. And what a year its been. Weve already seen the Samsung VR launch to great applause, but with the imminent release of the PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift devices, the VR sector is about to shift into overdrive.
But VR is not exactly new. The concept of VR has been talked about for decades, but according to Moores Law, which predicts that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years, it means that the technology is just reaching a level where it can fulfill the VR vision.
However, the VR bandwagon first started rolling in 2014, when Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion. More recently, Microsoft and Sony touted new VR-enabled hardware and there was suddenly the heady mixture of visionary financial success, a global distribution framework and a market thats been waiting all of its life for this to happen. The perfect storm?
Well, Facebook, Microsoft and Sony certainly think so, and will undoubtedly have plans for how to make money out of VR. The analysts also agree, with Deloitte Global predicting that VR will have its first billion-dollar year in 2016, with about $700 million in hardware sales and the remainder from content. The majority of this is expected to come from video games, but while the hardware guys can clearly see a future, will the games themselves actually be a leap back to the past when it comes to the player experience?
To answer that, lets travel back to the good old days, when, to make money from video games you just had to get two things right marketing and distribution. No one knew how much value was derived by the player, because they offered a closed environment, so any notion of player retention or behavioral analysis was strictly for the birds, angry or otherwise.
Although this wasnt always great for the players, it was a model with which investors and industry execs became comfortable. That was until the mobile games revolution, driven by the free-to-play (F2P) model, completely turned the industry on its head and democratized the entire player/publisher/developer relationship.
With supply vastly outstripping demand, players suddenly found themselves with the power of choice, able to ditch a game the second they became bored or frustrated. This forced publishers and developers to take player engagement and retention seriously for the first time; something which didnt come naturally.
The winners are likely to be those who prioritize measurement and adaptation of the player experience.
They soon found that making money in F2P was a granite-tough business. In F2P, its common for 50 percent of players to leave a game after their first session, and less than 1 percent ever spend money, while the cost of paid new user acquisition has reached $4. However, while the revenue figures in the games industry continue to grow, according to Newzoo, at CAGR 6.6 percent over 2015-19 and the share of mobile will rise in that time from 33 percent to 44 percent, which monetization models will prevail and drive the long-term growth of VR, remains to be seen.
The F2P sector was created by smartphones and the instant anywhere capability to play games. This instant accessibility drives the session volumes that enable F2P to work on the wafer-thin margins that characterize the model.
Google Daydream has explicitly stated they will have global payments and distribution infrastructure in place to support in-app purchases within the VR environment from launch, but most industry commentators see the initial driving force for developers achieving ROI coming from a premium model that requires payment upfront.
Then there are ads which on mobile are all about volume and interaction, which is why native ads are dying on the vine in F2P. Interstitials and rewarded video ads work well, as they fill the screen real estate to fully engage the attention and, in the case of rewarded ads, can be welcomed by players as an enhancement to the gameplay. In VR, this is likely to be different, with concerns over the number of sessions and session lengths that can be played on VR because of motion sickness. This brings product placement-styled native ads back into the picture.
So, unless an unknown means of monetization springs up, VR is going to have to mainly monetize on the same basis as premium games, starting the cycle over again premium to democratization when the technology adapts to everyday life.
For investors, its probably going to be the transformation of proven titles that have already made the console-to-mobile jump which are likely to provide the safe way forward. But even these are going to find the jump from a 2D screen to an explorable 360environment heavy on development resource and a giant leap in terms of playability.
Static experiences, puzzle games, driving simulators and space/flight combat games, where the player is situated in some sort of cockpit as a form of natural grounding, are by far the best experiences Ive seen so far. But I think the flow of proven titles to VR will be slow, which will leave a gap for the industrys innovators to fill. As a result, we may see an indie renaissance and some much-needed innovation and dynamism in the sector, as we saw when PC and video games came to life in the 1980s and 1990s, possibly with more lightweight games that can monetize effectively by combining VR volumes on F2P margins, but without the user acquisition competition thats around on mobile.
The premium model will undoubtedly be the way forward for most, but the lessons learned from F2P about player retention will pervade. This means that in the short term, the winners are likely to be those who prioritize measurement and adaptation of the player experience, while the world gets used to having this technology in their everyday lives.