Regulating Social Media – Yeah or Nay

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How safe do you feel on social media? On the one side, we have huge proponents of social media saying that it should remain unregulated so people can practice their freedom of speech, engage in meaningful conversations, and share opinions. On the other side, there are people who support its regulation claiming that it has become a public menace.

And from a user’s standpoint, it does seem important to be able to share and express yourself freely. However, the recent social media scandals, such as the Cambridge Analytica, banning Alex Jones from social media, spreading fake news, hate speech, and the fact that terrorists use it for recruitment shows us the other side of the coin.

Is social media coarsening public discourse and lowering the quality of journalism? It definitely does.

Social Media Censorship

Is social media censoring us and how? For example, this analysis shows how Google systematically stifled the content by the author Doug Wead from being available in Google search results and on YouTube. Last year, Media Matters issued a memo explaining how social media platforms can collude to eradicate what they feel to be “fake news” or “right-wing propaganda.”

Social media platforms are increasingly accused that the Silicon Valley elite is excluding other people’s views, and these recent scandals show how vulnerable our democratic society can be to the power of social media. Many of us treat them as a part of our daily lives, where we connect, communicate, and share our values and opinions.

Do Tech Companies Consort to Evil for Profit?

In March 2018, Washington Post published an article to remind the public about the relationship between the IBM and Nazi regime. Namely, Thomas J. Watson (IBM president) returned the medal he received from Adolf Hitler himself because the Fuhrer started a war, which was “contrary to the cause which he has been working and for which he received the decoration.” However, he didn’t say that he will terminate the relationship, and actually continued to do business with the Nazi regime.

Mark Zuckerberg resorted to the same type of “ignorance.” Leaving Facebook and Twitter to self-regulate their platforms is dangerous, but should we cede power over private companies to the government? In the digital space, we may sacrifice our liberty by doing that.

Two Dark Sides of Social Media

With no regulatory supervision, companies such as Google and Facebook use techniques common in casino gambling and propaganda (such as rewards and constant notification) to foster psychological addiction. The other side is geopolitical, where social platforms are used to inflict harm on the powerless in commerce, foreign policy, and politics. They can be exploited to undermine democracy.

Saying that the government should regulate social media as alcohol or tobacco may be too harsh, but the fact that private individuals and companies control the flow of information and saturate their platforms with the information they want can be considered as another form of media manipulation and manipulation of an enormous part of the human population. Yes, it is a valuable tool for spreading the right information and the truth, but the truth can easily be lost in a sea of irrelevant news.

We need more than just self-regulation, but content disclaimers and verification systems. We need social media to give liberty to the people and not be used as a weapon that is not held accountable to legal standards. However, we are left to see what will be the rules, and the proponents and opponents need to find common ground.

The Financial Policy Council is there to inform the public about all current fiscal and economic matters. Whatever social media regulations might be introduced in the future, we are here to inform, educate, empower with our accurate research on key policy issues.

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What Does It Take to Be a BIG Disruptor?

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Today, almost every new technology is being called “disruptive,” and it’s mostly because that specific word has been overused for so long. It became a cliché, but there are situations where it fits perfectly. Some revolutionary companies, like Aereo (the television streaming company) and Uber (the ride-sharing app,) have entered the market and used their potential to disrupt the way their industry operates.

These innovations are known as the “big bang disruptors” and were evident in hypercompetitive markets, such as computing, gaming, and electronics. However, they have moved into other industries as well, and now there isn’t an industry that hasn’t experienced an enormous transformation due to these big bang disruptors.

Have you asked yourself what does it take to be a significant disruptor? Here is what you should know about it.

  1. Listen to Visionaries

Who should we consider a visionary? Anyone from your employees who have decided to move from one to another successful startup because they see a more promising future, to industry thought leaders like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, who are persistent in chasing the dream of the future. They are the truth-tellers because their lives depend on it, and they can show us things that are not so obvious. And besides the truth-telling people, future market demand can be indicated by crowdfunding campaigns and today’s enormous data sets.

  1. Experiment

The most innovative products used to be developed by the companies with the most robust R&D (Research and Development) departments. Today, small tests can be conducted without enormous budgets. Experiments with the potential to grow into disruptive ideas. The risk and cost of experimenting are getting low.

  1. It’s Also about Timing

No, it’s not a matter of luck because luck plays such a small role. Take Amazon’s Kindle for example. Jeff Bezos has decided to avoid all the problems that other e-readers were encountering with the technology, waiting for it to mature. When it hit the market, it wasn’t the first e-reader out there, but it was the best. That’s how the timing was crucial to the success of a big bang disruptor.

  1. Handling the Quick Scaling

Once a disruptive product enters the market, it creates an enormous demand. However, such quick success comes as a challenge because you need to be prepared (logistically) for fast business growth. Consider finding partners or outsource ahead of time to get help when needed.

  1. Stay Competitive

Once you make a disruption, new iancumbents will start flowing into the market, trying to get their piece of the cake. Every product has a saturation point – when the user base peaks and then continue to fall. Give your best to anticipate your product’s saturation point.

  1. Think What You Can Do Next

At one point, things will start slowing down, but you will be prepared. Plan your next move before the fire starts dying down and sell your assets before they turn into liabilities. Use your money to develop the next product or start reducing your expenses early on. Don’t use all your resources to that one breakthrough product.

In the beginning, you were a disruptor. Later, you will also become susceptible to disruption. Anticipate threats to stay alive, and realize that you’re being slowed down by your product that was once a disruptive innovation. Quit while you’re ahead and avoid ending up spending vast chunks of your profits trying to save an industry in decline.

For a peek into the future and getting a clue about emerging industries and markets where you may enter as a disruptive entrepreneur, there is the Financial Policy Council. To us, America is the land of opportunity, and we want to inform, educate, and empower entrepreneurs by helping them understand, support, and recognize the issues and opportunities of their concern.

Come join us and be part of decisions that will shape the country’s future and the world.

August 4, 2018

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The Case for a Free World: Central Banks vs Cryptocurrencies

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Most anyone with some access to media of any description, has now heard of Bitcoin. Many are also excited about the possibilities and opportunity in this now booming market. And then there are those who are involved in this ‘cryptocurrency revolution’ in a more intimate manner; and we often evaluate the blockchain world of tomorrow.

How will blockchain technology be utilized in different market sectors? What are its immediate and long-term potentials? What are the legal and societal impacts? And sometimes; How can I get rich from this? This article is not going to address these somewhat weighty topics.

Instead, this post will shed light on a dark situation, that affects every single one of us, yet very few address: The Federal Reserve’s ownership of this country (and others), and how cryptocurrencies can set us free.

In this post I will argue that a move away from debt-based fiat currency, to a decentralized community owned peer to peer smart contract currency, will unhinge the central banking system that we are all forced to endure.

What is this Federal Reserve and what is this central banking system you may ask; and why do we have to endure it? It may alarm most to hear of this public record fact: the largest banks in the world – including The Federal Reserve, The Bank of England, European Central Bank, up to the International Bank of Settlements (the pinnacle of the system) – are all privately owned. That’s right. Our country’s banks are owned by private citizens.

Our banks are not owned by governments or the populace, nor controlled by the people or governments. This is not speculation, nor theory, it is what it is. The sovereign right of the peoples of nations to mint and control their accepted currency, has been taken away by a few families. Who now own the very right to this fiction of money – that we must work, profit, borrow, spend, cheat, lie, fight over, etc. Yet these families can make it up, literally, from thin air with but a few keyboard strokes.

Want a trillion dollars United States? Sure: at interest, at debt. If you need some more monies tapped into an account to pay back these awesome monies we just invented for you, do come back and we will make you some more. Again, at debt. So where do these monies to pay back this initial interest and debt come from? From the same entity. When all money comes from the same entity, and at interest, there is no way to ever pay it back; the only option is to accumulate debt. Thus, bankruptcy and never-ending debt is built into the system: $21 Trillion of debt and growing, that is.

How did this happen? Shouldn’t the peoples of all nations have the right to mint their own ‘coin of the realm’ and not have a few families punch numbers into a computer at interest? Quite simply, it came about via a multi-generational effort of bribes, corruption, funding both sides in wars, and instilling this central banking system by default upon humanity.

Here is an example: War Machine to the somewhat mildly discontent populace of Erghmanistan:

“Congratulations! We’re bringing you ‘democracy’ by force – oh wait, we mean the wonders of central banking – hey they’ll lend you enough, newly installed government of Erghmanistan – enough to re-start after we invaded/liberated, until you go broke to the interest on this newly invented ‘money’ we provide- then we own the whole show- and in the meantime some of you can stuff your pockets while your country goes to the banksters.”

People were writing about this 100 years ago and more – about the same family owners of the fiction of money that dominate us now. Why has this continued? Well, the Golden Rule helps (i.e he who has the gold makes the rules), combined with social engineering better discussed by Noam Chomsky than myself. But the truth is out there, always has been; it is not discussed as it should be. And if the media, many outlets owned/partiality owned by these same families, continues to chase Kim Kardashian’s new handbag and LeBron James’s sprained ankle, we are never going to hear this ‘inconvenient truth’.

Solution: cryptocurrencies and decentralized systems

We need to be clear about these inconvenient facts:

Fact 1: Fiat money is only ever created at interest/debt, by the private central banks, and by private credit institutions through the wonder of fractional reserve banking: the so-called culprit in the latest GFC.

Fact 2: Fiat money is only worth anything more than paper or binary 1’s and 0’s because we agree upon it, as a society.

Fact 3: There can never be enough fiat money to pay back this debt, as it is only ever created at interest.

Fact 4: In this equation fiat money equals debt, and debt equals slavery.

So how does decentralized cryptocurrency factor into this equation? It does not. Until the banksters wrestle control of large quantities of cryptocurrency, and manipulate the markets, the most they can do is fear-monger and regulate, using the Golden Rule. They use their puppet governments to ratify legislation designed to curb the public uptake of cryptocurrencies, and utilize the media, which they largely control, to push markets up and down, to create the perceived need of strong regulation on this decentralized agreement.

We are supposedly free individuals who are happy to give their all to succeed; yet are working within a fiscal system not of our devise nor control: a system where a large portion of our earnings goes to pay an ongoing odious debt. So what options do we have as a populace?

Cryptocurrencies are a form of rebellion. It is challenging the power of these families and the very fiction of money that they own. Cryptocurrencies are rebutting the system of centralized control of all trade, and providing a decentralized means of trade, outside these banksters’ control.

Also, I have long been a fan of time-banking: a means by which individuals, even corporations can trade goods and services, without fiat currency. They can bank the time/credits they accumulate and use them to purchase goods and services from any other provider involved in the network. Now, with the advent of cryptocurrency we will see time-banking and crypto evolve into one. We will no longer have the need to borrow money at debt, from these families who can make it up out of thin air.

My family and company (Wide Awake Media) are proud to be at the forefront of this revolution; for with media lies the power to alter the discourse of humanity. Fake News is done. It’s time for Truth Media, and it’s time for rebellion.

The world is waking up in droves, and we aren’t happy being slaves.

Sources:

  • “Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics,” Abdelnour 2012, Wiley & Sons
  • ‘The Money Masters’
  • ‘The Secret of Oz’ -William Still
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Family office growth and governance

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Family offices are powerful, a financial force to contend with. Even many in the financial world have yet to understand the family office’s sheer influence, especially when retail investing, private equity and venture capitalism have the limelight. The family office has deliberately preferred to remain relatively incognito when it comes to announcing investment and wealth management strategies.

The family office serves as wealth and trust management of high net worth families. Families can be defined as multi-generation family businesses, as well as high net worth individuals who may have come into inheritance or independent net worth. The family office can comprise an individual, department or separate firm whose sole objective is wealth management and legacy planning for the family. The single family offices (SFO) serves the investment needs of one family while the multifamily office (MFO) is structured much like an asset management firm, providing customized wealth management and planning to a larger number of families and high net worth individuals. This explanation may sound simple; rest assured, the family office structure is one of the most complex in the entire investing sphere.

Family offices are on the rise, and institutional investors are feeling the effects. U.S. Bank’s Ascent Private Capital Management has coined the term “insti-viduals” to describe the marked increase in family office dealflow usually presented to traditional institutionals such as pension funds. And why should the finance industry be surprised? We have had constant challenges with U.S. public pension funds and alternative investors such as hedge funds metting out disappointing returns. While traditional institutionals and hedge funds are very regulated, family offices do not have to register with regulators once investment advice is kept within ten generations of ancestry.

According to Campden Research’s most recent family office report, family offices hold more than US$4 trillion of assets, and the global average for assets under management (AUM) comprises US$921 million. Family offices are fast approaching the alternative investment cumulative AUM of US$5.7 trillion, albeit with much less sensastionalism. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reports that since 2011 three dozen hedge funds have converted into family offices. The symbiosis between family offices and private equity is also strong and growing, where family offices are taking higher stakes in private equity deals.

Such astounding growth demands a inherent need for continuity. We are confident that the family office is stepping in to fill investment gaps left by failing institutionals and alternative investors. Upon exclusive study of the Family Office Exchange’s FOX Guide to the Family Office, The Family Office Club’s Family Office Report and Trusts & Estates’ expert panel discussion of The Famiy Advancement Sustainability Trust (FAST), we suggest beneficial processes for family offices. In this regard, measures of internal policy ensure family office longevity and legacy.

The Family Office Exchange (FOX) stipulates critical management issues faced by family offices:

  • Goals for the Family and Roles for the Family Office: Ultimately, family investment, philanthropic and legacy objectives dictate the family office’s focus. Issues are further subdivided by:
    • Ownership and Governance;
    • Scope of Services and Delivery Process;
    • Cost of Offices and Allocation of Fees;
    • Operating Structure and Management Talent;
    • Network of Internal and External Advisors;
    • Communications and Client Reporting;
    • Back Office Systems and Procedures.

FOX Family Office Benchmarking™ provided surveyed data from its family office membership concerning family office risk perception. Most families are initially worried about financial and operational challenges. Business risks such as talent acquisition, operating structure, and investment advisory comprise a hefty 37% of the families’ risk perception. Economic and financial risks comprise 26% of risk concern. However, when it came to actual family challenges such as legacy continuity, the family risk perception measured a mere 7%. Via Trusts & Estates’ Family Advancement Sustainability Trust (FAST) analysis, the risk reality shows quite the opposite.

On examining the quantitative and qualitative data of family business challenges affecting the family office, roughly 60% of disruptions and failure stemmed from family communications and generational problems, while only 3% of issues arose from financial and investment advisory challenges. Talent and advisory acquisition in the financial industry does not pose a threat to the family office in our current workforce environment. The Institutional Investor reports a marked increase in hedge fund managers either leaving lagging funds to manage family offices, or converting hedge funds into family offices for streamlined clientele. Private banking divisions at Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan have dedicated top senior bankers to be primarily responsible for multifamily office dictates. Family offices have a wealth of investment and estate talent to choose from. Given the flexible regulatory nature of a family office, top talent once constrained in the institutional arena may find room to expand expertise for the family office. In short, it is truly the “Ownership and Governance” issue that needs prioritized attention.

FAMILY OFFICE GOVERNANCE

As with any enterprise, family office governance policies need to be formulated long before execution of any financial and operational implementation. Family offices are in need of much more qualitative guidelines for business and wealth continuity. The Family Office Club based out of Key Biscayne, Florida gives specific insight into structuring family office ownership and governance guidelines via The Family Office Report. Remember, unlike standardized business or investment firms, each family office would have highly tailored objectives, so customization of certain objectives and criteria would be necessary. However, this framework helps with organizational structure across the board. Key components are as follows:

  1. Mission, Vision, & Goals:

    The mission is the starting point for what The Family Office Club coins “The Family Compass.” Family businesses may already have commercial mission and vision statements. However, the family office is responsible for management of the actual family’s qualitative mission, vision and goals. These are high level objectives for wealth creation, succession, philanthropy and legacy.

  2. Ethics & Values Policy:

    The ethics and values policy defines what is acceptable to the family’s core values when it comes to external talent, vendor transactions, business acquisitions, paths of philanthropy, and internal code of conduct. The ethics and values policy covers all issues of compliance such as money laundering, insider trading and bribery concerns. This policy should be reviewed consistently in strategy sessions with both family and external professionals within the family office.

  3. Investment Mandate:

    As expected, this mandate delineates family office investment governance. The investment mandate sets the investment criteria and asset class composition of investments for the family office. All taxation, income growth, wealth creation strategies, liquidity concerns and payout requirements must be detailed in this mandate. According to the Family Office Club, the Chief Investment Officer is responsible for the creation of this mandate, along with input from the CEO and vested family members. The mandate can be revised on a monthly basis. Quantitative social capital investments and philanthropic endowment strategies should be included in this mandate, if applicable. This mandate also aids the family office in shareholder activist campaigns when the need arises.

  4. Key Performance Indicators:

    Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are highly detailed and action specific dictates per each member of the family office. Measurable outcomes are expected for involved family members and external hires. We would suggest broad KPIs be set for all external vendors, businesses and asset managers who deal with the family office. The Family Office Club suggests creation of at least three KPIs per member, as well as three “smart numbers” comprised of various KPIs for the entire family office.

  5. Systems & Processes:

    Systems & Processes here covers the details needed for organizational continuity within the family office. Where the ethics and values policy or strategic plan may deal with broad succession planning, systems and processes deal with the documenting of detailed processes carried out per member, so that in the case of natural causes or termination, talent or legacy replacement can occur without severe disruption to actual procedures. According to the Family Office Club, each member may add to a mini-process book, which then should be reviewed by selected family office executives.

In addition to the governance policies stated above, the family office will greatly benefit from the creation of a Family Advancement Sustainability Trust (FAST). The FAST is a brainchild of Marvin E. Blum, JD, Thomas C. Rogerson, Gary V. Post, JD of the Blum Firm. The FAST has the structure of a directed trust, but encompasses more than the typical mandate for disbursement of funds to heirs or philanthropic beneficiaries. In the authors’ own words, the FAST is “A pool of funds to invest in the family members—in the family relations, development, and advancement—rather than just distribute to the family members.” The FAST comprises four committees: the Trust Protector Committee, the Investment Committee, the Distribution Committee and the overall Administrative Trustee. Both family members and outside professionals within the family office comprise these bodies. The FAST is primarily for continued family education, family cohesiveness and legacy in both qualitative and quantitative concerns.

The family office has existed across geographies and dynasties, quietly providing funding and making investments long before our global banking system came into play. Modern day family offices are now formalized, and are stepping in to fill investment gaps that are fast being created by lagging institutional and alternative investors. Thus, it is of utmost importance that existing and newly created family offices implement solid governance practices to ensure financial, operational and legacy continuity.

REFERENCES

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Future of the VC Industry

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dont-follow-trends

FROM DISNEYLAND TO VC MANOR

Imagine gallivanting across Disneyland on a sunny March afternoon as the delightfully consuming scent of a fresh batch of popcorn kernels pop to perfection. The popcorn maker sits adjacent to the churros chariot that you’ve been evading all afternoon. Yet, this isn’t any ordinary trip to The Happiest Place on Earth. You’ve arrived early, the crowds are minimal and all the rides are operational. As you approach the renowned and recently renovated Indiana Jones ride, you are astonished to find a zero-minute wait and no line. Believe it or not, your timing was impeccable – Gather the troops, the 2 ½ minute Harrison Ford-themed adventure awaits.

HOW DOES THIS TRIP RESEMBLE THE CURRENT STATE OF THINGS FOR VCS?

Venture capital markets survived 2016 slumps, continuing on an onward and upward trajectory through 2017. The disruptors and catalysts with the emerging technologies come out on top. Although some disparity appears among volume and funds, the game play implications are massive. While a crowd-less Disneyland is unlikely, venture capital is thanks in large part to the current landscape.

As evident of Disney purchasing rival studio 20th Century Fox (the most significant cataclysm for the film industry in the 21st Century), VCs too aren’t short on cash. Lines are blurred and technology is changing the game for the industry – GET IT EARLY.

HOW CAN QUALIFIED COMPANIES GAIN A COMPETITIVE EDGE, AVOID DREADED WAIT TIMES AND TAKE A PIECE OF THE PIE? (theme park visit is optional)

Top 8 hand-picked Predictions for the Venture Capital Industry in the next decade:

  1. Technology/Big data/Automation etc. will continue driving M&A deals
  2. Full-stack professional services a trend evident by investor acclimate
  3. Venture funds will revive their passion for early-stage investments
  4. “Truly Great” companies will sidestep the venture funding circus altogether
  5. Investors receive larger stakes & are integral to the start-up team
  6. Increased liquidity, accountability and transparency is vital
  7. It’s a performance game folks. Personal + Professional Brand Synergy is instrumental
  8. Innovation, experimentation and crowdfunding lead to different types of VCs

For detailed predications and insights click here.

ON THE HORIZON

In the midst of the capital market’s landscape, regulatory overhauls, and record-breaking technology M&As with no sign of reprisal, 2020 will look very different than it does today.

Then, too, there is the surging stock market and, by extension, the rebound in technology IPOs. This has been fueled not only by a strengthening economy but by President-elect Donald Trump’s push to bolster the economy further by reducing taxes, streamlining regulations and sparking major infrastructure development.

Furthermore, the implications of evolving social organizations are worth noting. The New York based think-tank, Financial Policy Council (FPC) captures this trend in a June 2017 article titled, “Financial Power of Impact Investing.” It states:

“For many years the divide between instruments of philanthropy and investing has been clear cut. Investing strategies typically did not involve social organizations focused on non-governmental organization (NGO) concerns. However, the advent of millennial investing power, the rise of social enterprises, and the need for further asset diversification have blurred the line between both industries.”

Lastly, venture is still fairly segmented by geography. As localized hubs become more sophisticated and efficient, venture will truly be a global play.

What’s your power play?

CONNECT + CREATE:

Feature your brand and/or business:

  • Submit your thought-provoking, insightful, and note-worthy content or insights to contact@brandzainc.com or by simply including the hashtag – #VentureImpact in your comment below.
  • Diverse viewpoints and co-publications welcome. No industry, individual or inspiration is off limits.
  • Be featured in future publications.

Zana Nesheiwat is Founder of Brand ZA Inc., an integrated business solutions and impact-branding firm specializing in financial services, public policy, and technology. With global operations from Los Angeles to Dubai, the firm equips clients with intelligence and resources to effectively bridge business goals with turnkey brand strategy – driving growth across all touch points.

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