His take on Comcast is that it’s a mafia that has no equal. He helps other Brazilian immigrants when they get screwed by Comcast by calling Comcast customer support and predicting to them how they are going to screw the customer next.
With Uber, he agrees it’s generally a great consumer service and as a driver he’s sure he can stay busy. However, he explains that he recently bought a 3 year old Lincoln Town Car and he got a message from Uber indicating that he needs to get a car that is two years old or newer. If he’s not in compliance he can’t be part of the Black Car Service.
Our driver thinks that’s fair to have car age requirements but complains of Uber’s arrogance because he got so little notice. He would have bought a newer car if they cared to give advance notice. He said he tried to get in touch with Uber to discuss but he couldn’t find anyone to talk with.
Given this, our driver’s hope is that Uber will see stronger competition from Lift or even newer entrance. But our driver says he drives one of the investors in Uber who tells him that Uber founder Travis Kalanick is not exactly a nice guy, so our driver is convinced he will get his monopoly.
If Uber indeed continues to squeeze the driver pool to make a great customer service than a better comparison might be to Walmart which squeezes suppliers because they can.
Scanning the trending startups on AngelList, Narvar stands out. Their idea is that post eCommerce purchase, most vendors send their uses to Fedex or UPS to track. Narvar wants to brand and customize that experience for the user, while also building tools to help the stores to track shipments. Narvar indicates that most eCommerce focus has not been on the post sale and yet much of the cost for eCommerce companies is in shipping and generally costs here are much more vs. what Amazon.com pays.
Narvar says it has 22 live clients, 8 in pilot, 25 in pipeline and is cash flow positive. Moreover, they have some nice, fast growing brands like Bonobos and One Kings Lane.
One ding that might keep some investors on the side-lines is that the co-founders don’t have successful startup backgrounds. CEO Amit Sharma rose to Director level at Walmart.com and then worked in supply chain at Apple stores. No doubt it’s good background for this operation but many people want to know you can handle the startup life.
It seems that the Narvar team has done a lot thus far with a small team and unless there are some personnel issues here we’d be surprised if they can’t close the seed round of $500K that they are looking at.
View – site
Watching CNBC yesterday I was embarrassed for Bats’ CEO William O’Brien. He came across as paranoid, rude, a bully, and not very smart. Few people outside his building know who he is and yet he felt he had the credibility to call Flash Boys author Michael Lewis a liar and throwing down a ‘shame on you’ for scaring investors. Lewis was holding all the cards He was on 60 Minutes, NPR Fresh Air, his book will surely be a best seller, and the FBI had that day announced that it was investigating high speed trading. Moreover, unlike the complex mortgage fiasco that Lewis previously covered, high speed trading is a fairly simple cheat that Main Street will be able to easily understand. In his opening chapter, Lewis describes the secretive laying of fiber optic cable between Chicago and New York so that high speed traders could have faster access to future’s data than anyone else. He goes on the describe the disruptions from flash crashes connecting profits that some high speed traders make while providing little to no value to economies with the risks that they introduce.
Lewis later commented that Wall Street is scared of press coverage. Under pressure from technology the middle-men of Wall Street have less value so turn to solutions like high speed trading that cheat the system and don’t provide much value. O’Brien gave Lewis a huge gift by demonstrating with his big mouth that Wall Street doesn’t tolerate critics.
View – CNBC coverage
With the share price up over 360 percent in the last year, the Board of Directors at JinkSolar (JKS :NYSE) is considering spinning off its downstream project business or offering an IPO for this business.
With JinkoSolar expecting to have over 500 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity installed by the end of 2014, the move could give investors the opportunity to profit from the project development’s growth potential without having to worry about the uncertainty of potentially unfavorable polysilicon contracts that have hurt the solar industry in the past.
The Board of Directors also alluded to the merger, or acquisition, of the downstream solar PV project business. But with JinkoSolar hardly strapped for cash, an acquisition doesn’t seem like a realistic option, especially with the Chinese government committed to improving its solar energy generation.
Selling off, or spinning off, a potentially high-growth division of the company didn’t sit well with investors today. Shares of JinkoSolar were down 5.65 percent in afternoon trading.
Jerry Neumann did a nice job looking at investments in adtech startups in a post called the Immediate Future for Adtech startups. TL:DR he found rapidly declining investments in adtech startups in Crunchbase while he sees an impressive number of adtech startups in Angelist. His takeaway seems to be that venture investors are less interested in adtech while founders remain hopeful.
At first blush that sounds plausible but given that I am contacted by many adtech startups, my feeling is that there is rapidly declining innovation and ambition in adtech. The last startup that I thought was ambitious and well run was MoPub. Taking on DFP and building an ad server is ambitious.
Neumann listed 100+ adtech companies in Angellist that were founded in 2013. That sounds like a lot but looking at some of them I feel like their listing has more to do with Angelist’s growth than adtech’s growth. For example:
Advertrates is “a website where you can get advert rates of newspapers, magazines, tv stations, radio stations and so on in Nigeria.”
Citeads is a one person company with one follower on Angellist. He plans free classified ads for cities.
Adladl say they “Turn low value online display ads into high value search ads.” There are a bunch of other companies doing this.
Vorcu is an affiliate network for Latin America.
ZeeRabbit says it is “like AdWords for mobile user in-app activity that delivers instant targeted brand rewards.” It has raised seed funding.
Adsolut calls itself Admeld for Africa.
I haven’t looked at the entire list but I can’t find anything on here that is exciting. I understand why founders like this space. These types of adtech companies are easy to start and you can get some cash flow quickly, but it would be great to find a startup here that could be a game changer.
Q3 2013 has been a good quarter for the likes of First Solar (FSLR :NASDAQ) and SunPower (SPWR :NASDAQ) and now Trina Solar (TSL :NYSE) is trying to join the party by offering updated guidance.
Investors will be happy to hear that module shipments will be between 750 megawatts (MW) to 780 MW, a healthy increase from the previous guidance of 650 MW to 680 MW.
Gross margins are also better than expected as Trina Solar is now offering a range of 14.5 percent to 15.5 percent, a marked improvement from the low double digits previously offered.
But these improvements will not automatically lead to higher profits as Trina Solar stated that net earnings will be impacted by an incremental accounts receivable provision of between $9.5 million and $10.5 million and a foreign currency exchange gain of $7.5 million to $8.5 million, net of change in fair value of derivative instruments.
Unsurprisingly, Trina Solar also stated that they would be revising its full-year shipment guidance of 2.3 gigwatts (GW) to 2.4 GW during their Q3 2013 conference call later this month.
Shares of Trina Solar were down 2.09 percent in afternoon trading while shares of First Solar were up 0.44 percent and SunPower shares were down 0.88 percent.
The term “full-service solar company” seems applicable as San Jose-based SunPower (SPWR :NASDAQ) announced today they have purchased Greenbotics, a manufacturer of robots that efficiently clean solar panels.
While terms of the deal were not disclosed, the all cash transaction becomes the seventh acquisition for SunPower.
The acquisition of the Davis, CA-based company makes a lot of sense for SunPower as the efficiency of solar panels lessens when they are dirty. Greenbotics’ robots use less than a half a cup of water to clean panels – making them more efficient than the traditional manned power washer method.
Cleaning solar panels via robots is not a unique business model as Richmond, CA-based Alion Energy while Menlo Park-based QBotix has developed robots to adjust the angle of solar panels to track the sun, ensuring the best angle for maximum efficiency.
SunPower believes that if its customers employ Greenbotics’ Clean Feet robots, they can improve the efficiency of their panels by up to 15 percent. For a 100 megawatt solar utility farm, that’s a lot of energy.
Shares of SunPower were up 11.11 percent in afternoon trading.