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Cryptocurrency is a tool for speculation – not an investment – The Globe and Mail

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Dan Hallett is vice-president and principal of Highview Financial Group

I have often criticized the investment industry for pumping out products designed to sell rather than build wealth for investors. I have also worked to raise investor awareness of how gimmicky products destroy wealth. The battle against such products took a step backward recently with an Ontario Securities Commission panel’s decision to allow the launch of a bitcoin investment fund.

The OSC’s Investment Funds Branch was initially opposed to the fund; citing several concerns pertaining to public interests. The panel’s decision document clearly lays out the OSC’s legal limits when it comes to approving products that are considered risky and speculative. Ultimately, the panel concluded that the fund will be able to reliably value the fund’s assets, secure the holdings (from hacks/theft) and complete a full financial audit.

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Many look to bitcoin – and other assets such as gold and other commodities – to provide diversification from traditional financial assets. An investment must meet two basic conditions for it to effectively diversify a portfolio. First, it must be weakly correlated with other investments. Second, it must produce a positive return. Bitcoin passes the first test with flying colours. But the second – a positive return – is quite a leap of faith, and violates the warning attached to virtually all investment products.

Regulators have long required every investment fund prospectus to be stamped with a statement reminding investors that past performance is no indication of the future. And yet, it seems that any assumption that bitcoin offers portfolio diversification is implicitly based on bitcoin’s performance during its one decade in existence. This is a drop in the bucket of financial market history. But there are two problems with this assumption.

First, we have no idea – even using history – how bitcoin will behave in a recession, financial crisis or bear market. History can be useful to gauge behavioural patterns and worst-case scenarios. But bitcoin hasn’t existed through any such environment.

Second, by claiming that bitcoin can diversify portfolios, I wonder what basis is used for assuming positive future returns. As I stated for a Globe and Mail article on the panel’s decision:

“We design client portfolios to achieve a specific goal – a specific long-term return target. I can take each component of the portfolio and give you a very good ballpark estimate of how each piece will contribute to achieving that long-term goal. I have no idea how anyone can do this with bitcoin or any cryptocurrency. It can’t be done.”

We have designed an algorithm to forecast long-term asset-class returns. (The method is summarized in a 2012 blog post and has been pretty accurate.) But bitcoin doesn’t fit into this or any other sensible model that facilitates a confident return forecast. I’m certainly not comfortable blindly relying on 10 years of data to form any type of future return expectation; particularly since that decade overlapped a very long economic recovery and bull market.

Bitcoin and other crypto or digital currencies are likely to have a future. And blockchain technology seems destined to change some industries – e.g., the way we handle legal documents. But investment assets require fundamental characteristics upon which to base some value assessment and, in turn, return expectations. In the absence of such characteristics, buying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies either for attractive returns or portfolio diversification is speculating – not investing.

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Event Store Secures Series A Investment English English – PRNewswire

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BATH, England, Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Event Store today announces it has secured Series A financing from strategic investor Qualasept Holdings (‘QH’). 

Event Store is the company behind EventStoreDB, the popular open source event stream database. EventStoreDB was open sourced in 2012 and has relatively quietly built a strong commercial business. In late 2018, Event Store Limited was formed and an expanded leadership, engineering, and support team were introduced. The Series A investment represents Event Store’s next stage of growth towards EventStoreDB’s adoption in the broader database market.

EventStoreDB is an operational “source of record” database technology.  It has similarities to event-oriented integration technologies, such as Apache Kafka, from a stream and API perspective. However, it was built for database workloads from the start. Dave Remy, Event Store CEO, explains, “Most mainstream database technologies, whether relational, graph, or document-oriented, keep the latest state of the data, throwing away the old data when it changes. In contrast, EventStoreDB, the leader in the emerging class of databases, called Event Stores, is specifically designed to keep the changes along with the business context of those changes, in the form of events. Current state can then be derived from replaying the event stream. This pattern enables a myriad of benefits, including powerful audit, debugging, caching, occasionally connected scenarios, and much more.” 

Event Stores are foundational to the increasingly popular Event Sourcing design pattern.

EventStoreDB is applicable across industries and is particularly valuable for those with challenging audit requirements, such as financial services and healthcare. Innovative companies like Walmart, Xero, Insureon, Linedata, Made.com, UK National Health Service, Swiss Air Traffic Control and many more use EventStoreDB in mission-critical production environments. 

Building on its momentum, the company is launching Event Store Cloud, a multi-cloud database as a service (DBaaS). The subscription service, currently in Preview, will provide cloud convenience and make EventStoreDB more accessible to developers and companies of all sizes.

“As applications increasingly move toward event-driven architectures, foundational platforms like EventStoreDB will be a critical first source of truth in capturing and enabling analysis of event data. This technology will generate meaningful and measurable value across multiple industries,” said Ben Kolada, Director, Head of DataTech at ICON Corporate Finance.

“From the time Greg Young and his team released EventStoreDB in 2012, it has been the go-to database for CQRS and Event Sourcing projects. This Series A investment represents a new stage for Event Store and EventStoreDB. We will accelerate the development of Event Store Cloud, improve the developer experience, increase scalability, and build new products and services to help developers build systems within an event-driven architecture,” Dave Remy said.

Tech investment bank ICON Corporate Finance advised Event Store on the transaction and corporate structuring, while QH was advised by BDO, Roxburgh Milkins Limited, and Alantra. 

Media Contact:
Dan Crosby
Email: [email protected]

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View Marketing as an Investment—Not an Expense – Advanced Manufacturing

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Trends and Ideas in Strategic Marketing

Peter Drucker, known as the father of modern management, was quoted in a 2006 article in Forbes as saying, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.” Although today’s business owners are often inclined to see marketing as an expense, Drucker’s view is more accurate. Marketing is a needed investment. Marketing drives results by finding new customers.

Marketing investments can include updating your message and website, producing customer video testimonials, and developing webinars.

Time to Build a Moat

When organizations treat marketing as a cost, they often focus on short-term sales and ignore the long term. However, if you want your company to continue growing, your goal should be to build as much of a moat around your business as you can. This is achieved by expanding your investment of marketing dollars into your company’s owned assets. Such investments may include; updating your message and website every year, producing customer video testimonials for use as sales tools, developing a series of educational webinars, and developing content that can be used both for thought leadership and for search engine optimization (SEO). Although these efforts may not produce short-term returns, they will aid in strengthening your manufacturing business over time.

The problem is that if you only look for marketing initiatives that guarantee an immediate ROI—consistent with a view of marketing as an expense—you will never plant any of these long-term marketing seeds needed to build the moat that is necessary to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

Examining my own life as a business owner, I have “walked the walk” while growing TribalVision. The reason TribalVision has achieved success is that, from day one, I’ve understood the importance of marketing to unlock dramatic growth. Before even opening the doors for business, and with little money to spare, I wrote a book, spent months crafting TribalVision’s message, built a website that made TribalVision look like an established company, developed an animated video to explain the “why” behind TribalVision, wrote multiple white papers, developed numerous marketing presentations, and crafted a 30-page marketing plan to identify and capture new business.

If I had viewed marketing as an expense rather than an investment, I never would have done any of these activities. I simply would have started TribalVision with a business card, an average 10-page website and not much else, which is what most startups with little money do. Looking back 10 years later, although I cannot attribute a specific ROI to each of those assets, I know those investments as a whole provided a much larger payoff than I would have earned by focusing only on short-term ROI initiatives.

Take a Leap of Faith

If we are to build something great, we must take a leap of faith—a calculated leap of faith but a leap of faith nonetheless.

If Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, or Elon Musk invested only in efforts backed by guaranteed results, they never would have built their empires.

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Bank-backed growth fund makes first Quebec investment in bus booking website – Financial Post

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Article content continued

“We’re really, really confident that we will be able to weather the storm,” Maurice said.

The Series C for Busbud also comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to put financial pressure on firms and make for an uncertain global investing environment. That environment is making it harder than normal for small and medium-sized companies to grow into bigger firms, which was a pre-existing issue in Canada.

The CBGF was launched in 2018, following work done by the federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which found many Canadian companies weren’t growing after they reached a certain point. And Rossolatos says that, at the moment, some investors have had to focus on their existing portfolio or hold off on additional deals.

“However, the growth capital gap in Canada has become much larger as a result of the pandemic,” he said. “At CBGF, we have chosen to ‘lean in’ to support entrepreneurs where we could.”

The Toronto-based CBGF, which is backed by 13 of Canada’s biggest financial institutions, started out with capital commitments of $545 million from shareholders such as Royal Bank of Canada and Manulife Financial Corp. The fund typically shoots for investments of between $3 million to $20 million in established Canadian companies, taking minority ownership stakes in them in return.

CBGF has now invested $137.8 million in 15 companies, including seven investments made during the pandemic, Rossolatos said.

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