Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Uber Limits Loss to $708 Million in First Quarter"

The NYT had the cheeriest headline that we saw cross.
From the New York Times:
Uber has spent billions to upend the transportation industry. Now, at least for the moment, it is burning slightly less cash in that effort.

The company said Wednesday that it lost $708 million over the first three months of the year on revenue of $3.4 billion, not counting expenses like employee stock compensation. That is a narrowing of the previous quarter’s loss of $991 million, on revenue of $2.9 billion.

Uber said it was still sitting on $7.2 billion in cash, roughly the same amount it held at the end of 2016.

“These results demonstrate that our business remains healthy and resilient as we focus on improving our culture, management and relationship with drivers,” an Uber spokesman said in a statement. “The narrowing of our losses in the first quarter puts us on a good trajectory towards profitability.”...MUCH MORE
Uber's Executive Flight

As Uber has been scrutinized over its workplace culture and the behavior of its top executives, several high-ranking managers have left the ride-hailing company this year. 

Amit Singhal
Joined: January 2017
Left: February 2017
A 15-year Google veteran who was dismissed for failing to disclose a sexual harassment claim that occurred during his Google tenure.

Raffi Krikorian
Joined: March 2015
Left: February 2017
A former Twitter executive who left six months after Uber brought in new leadership to its self-driving cars effort.

Jeff Jones
Joined: August 2016
Left: March 2017
A former Target executive brought in to improve the company’s relationships with drivers. He left after Uber began a search for a chief operating officer.

Brian McClendon
Joined: June 2015
Left: March 2017
A former Google engineer brought in to work on mapping and self-driving technology. He left amicably to move to his home state of Kansas to explore politics.

Gary Marcus
Joined: December 2016
Left: March 2017
Joined through an acquisition of his artificial intelligence company, Geometric Intelligence, and left three months after Uber created another A.I. research division.

Ed Baker
Joined: September 2013
Left: March 2017
A former Facebook executive who resigned after Uber began its internal investigation into workplace culture.

Rachel Whetstone
Joined: May 2015
Left: April 2017
A Google veteran who was in charge of policy communications. She departed after tensions with Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive.

Anthony Levandowski
Joined: August 2016
Left: May 2017
A star engineer who was the subject of a lawsuit brought by his former employer, Google’s parent company, over claims that he stole intellectual property.

Josh Mohrer
Joined: January 2012
Left: May 2017
A controversial figure inside the company who was chastised in 2014 for tracking a reporter’s whereabouts using Uber’s technology.

Gautam Gupta
Joined: April 2013
Left: May 2017
A former Goldman Sachs executive who oversaw finances for the past two years after the chief financial officer departed.

Uber's lucky they are private.
Operating without a CFO would be worth a haircut of $5-10 billion at the open tomorrow, off  whatever the valuation is these days.

How the Trendiest Grilled Cheese Venture Got Burnt

I had forgotten this one.
From Backchannel:

The Melt had cash, technology, and some of Silicon Valley’s finest minds — yet it failed to disrupt the humble sandwich.*UKDn8S3GAHESKEdPm_kGZA.jpeg
 (Illustration by Tom Humberstone)
In the spring of 2011, more than 500 tech luminaries, kingmakers, entrepreneurs, and journalists convened in southern California for the D: All Things Digital Conference. The sold-out event promised “digital disruption out the wazoo,” and a crowd had shelled out $4,795 a head for a lineup of heavyweights the likes of Eric Schmidt, Reed Hastings, and Marc Andreessen.

Waiting in the wings was a smaller, but still recognizable name: Jonathan Kaplan, one of Silicon Valley’s prodigal sons with a moonshot of a second act. The founder of Pure Digital Technologies, a maker of cameras and video recorders, Kaplan had first walked onto the All Things D stage six years earlier to debut his Flip video camera. The Flip quickly became a consumer favorite; four years post-debut, Kaplan sold his company to Cisco for $590 million. But true to the entrepreneur trajectory, Kaplan found the stability of a large company stultifying. He wanted to change the world one more time.

His new project, Kaplan teased, was “founded on the exact same fundamentals” as the Flip. After a few warm-up questions from his interviewers, tech journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, Kaplan revealed the cutting-edge creation he was poised to unleash: grilled cheese sandwiches. Five different kinds of them, in fact. Featuring not only cheddar, but also fontina, gruyere, and jalapeño jack.

The new company was called The Melt. Its motto seemed cribbed from the clumsy English slogans sometimes featured on Asian T-shirts: “Grilled Cheese Happiness.” The sandwiches formed a minimalist menu, accompanied only by soup. “It turns out when you put soup and grilled cheese together, it’s really wonderful,” Kaplan informed his audience, as if divulging a trade secret.

Forget Mars colonies and AI. Kaplan declared he had “developed a set of technology that allows us to make the perfect grilled cheese.” The innovation was as meaningful as it was miraculous: the sandwich had “that nostalgic thing,” Kaplan explained. Grilled cheese sandwiches were the fast food equivalent of Proust’s madeleines, priming them for disruption.

Swisher and Mossberg openly smirked. “I feel like this is post-traumatic stress from Cisco,” said Swisher. “I think he went home and looked at his money,” Mossberg deadpanned.

Kaplan was unfazed. Armed with a tech founder’s unflappable confidence and ambitious growth targets, he announced plans to open 500 fast-casual outlets within five years — all of them company-owned, not franchised. Never mind that it had taken Chipotle three times as long to hit that milestone using the same model. Kaplan felt confident in his melted-cheese rocket ship.

The Melt boasted an elite group of investors — including Sequoia Capital, better known for its bets on Instagram and YouTube — and enough cash to launch twenty restaurants, at a cost of $500,000 to $1 million apiece. Kaplan had recruited some of the Bay Area’s top names, including Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina and former Apple executive Ron Johnson, the genius behind the tech giant’s retail stores.

With the home appliance company Electrolux, he’d created a device that delivered a restaurant-quality sandwich in 45 seconds flat—a “huge breakthrough” in sandwich technology. (“Sandwich presses have been around forever,” protested a skeptical Mossberg. “Not a sandwich press!” Kaplan retorted. “This is two induction burners! Microwaves! Silpats!”)

Next month marks the six-year anniversary of The Melt’s onstage debut. Far from 500 stores, it now runs a grand total of 18 outlets. In the years since it first opened shop, The Melt has grown in fits and starts — launching, then dismantling, a fleet of food trucks, for example. Last September, Kaplan was replaced as CEO by Ralph Bower, a restaurant industry executive with more than 25 years of experience at companies like Domino’s Pizza and KFC.

Falling short of its 500 restaurant goal hardly qualifies The Melt as a flop. Shake Shack, the burger chain founded by longtime restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, took 13 years to reach one hundred outlets and is now worth over $1 billion. But former employees at The Melt, ranging from the top echelons of the company to in-store crew members, tell a complicated story of a company that had to roll out sweeping changes to its initial model after overestimating the competitive advantage of its technology — which proved to be both a source of strength and, at times, a liability.

The Melt’s blundering trajectory is instructive, as Silicon Valley wunderkinds seek to recast everyday objects with help from algorithms and apps. Entrepreneurs frequently embark on these missions with vast sums of money and a deep belief in technology’s power to solve all problems — which is not always a formula for success in the brick-and-mortar business of ordinary life: delivering groceries, selling luggage, or making sandwiches.

“Don’t let the fact that it’s just grilled cheese fool you,” said a former senior leader at The Melt, speaking on condition of anonymity.....MUCH MORE

Competition Uber Style: Burning Millions On Their Carpool Service

I had to check that BuzzFeed and Uber didn't have any investors in common.
They don't.
And BuzzFeed's Chairman was an investor in an Uber competitor, Sidecar, which failed and whose assets were bought by GM.
And whose co-founder went to Uber.

From BuzzFeed:

Leaked Internal Documents Show UberPool Was A Cash-Burning Machine 
In late 2015, UberPool was losing its home market of San Francisco to Lyft Line. Here's what Uber did to win it back, according to internal company documents.
In summer 2015, about a year after Uber launched its Pool ride-sharing service, the company was betting big on it. In order to beat out Lyft and cement its ride-hail supremacy, Uber needed to get droves of riders and drivers into Pool — and fast.

To do that, a trove of internal documents shows, Uber burned vast sums of money to subsidize Pool’s growth — sometimes well over $1 million a week in San Francisco alone.

“We were bleeding cash subsidizing rides and we didn’t have a plan for tomorrow,” a former Uber employee told BuzzFeed News. “Everybody was just trying to put a Band-Aid on this problem.”
But when Uber cut the heavy discounts, ridership tanked. Sixty-three percent of riders moved on to cheaper alternatives, according to internal Uber data, and 26% migrated to archrival Lyft’s Line. Uber was, as a November 2015 internal presentation somberly concluded, “Losing SF.”

Uber — which at that point had expanded to more than 50 countries and had a rumored valuation of $50 billion — was ascendant. But it was struggling to attract riders to Pool, a service it considered crucial to the company’s future. Uber’s struggle to make Pool viable in San Francisco offers a case study of the ride-hail juggernaut’s burn-now-and-figure-it-out-later corporate ethos at a moment when it is still struggling to pinpoint a sustainable business model. Uber reportedly lost $2.8 billion in 2016, and at least $2 billion in 2015.

Uber declined comment on Pool figures obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Uber introduced Pool in San Francisco on Aug. 5, 2014 — a day ahead of the launch of Lyft Line, a similar ride-sharing service from its pink-mustached rival. An internal Uber policy memo from the time celebrated Pool as “an engineering marvel."

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick would later describe Pool as a key evolution of Uber's strategy. “Two people taking a similar route are now taking one car instead of two. And when you chain enough of these rides together, you can imagine a perpetual trip — the driver picks up one customer, then picks up another, then drops one of them off, then picks up another,” Kalanick told employees in June 2015....MUCH MORE

"How to Find the Next Tech-Stock Superstars"

Mr. Ray presents a sound screen for publicly traded portfolio investments.
The trick with public stocks, as opposed to venture capital, is to follow Buffet's first two rules of investing:
Rule No. 1: Never Lose Money.
Rule No. 2: Never Forget Rule No. 1.
This minimum revenue screen gives a small margin of safety which aids in following rule #1.
To that, adding a profitability requirement is probably prudent for most portfolios. Just to lower the odds of total wipeouts.
You'll miss some moonshots but there can still be plenty of upside, witness NVDA $20 to $120 in 18 months 2015-16.
(and $25 higher since)

From Barron's Technology Trader, May 29:
Firms often reach critical mass when revenues approach $1 billion, clearing the path for more growth.

Selling technology is more complicated than selling burgers and fries, so with that in mind, I propose a simple measure for tech investors. Call it the Dave & Buster’s rule. Once a tech company achieves the same annual revenue as the casual dining outfit, momentum is most likely on its side.

Dave & Buster’s Entertainment (ticker: PLAY) last fiscal year passed a billion dollars in annual sales, and it’s always intriguing when small- and mid-cap tech companies approach that same mark. In fact, Microsoft (MSFT) founder Bill Gates is said to have been preoccupied early on with how to reach the first billion dollars. His firm had only $198 million in revenue at the time of its 1986 initial public offering.

Indeed, the billion-dollar mark—the D&B line, if you will—looms as an important milestone for smaller companies, and one worth paying attention to. Unlike Dave & Buster’s fare, selling computer chips, selling software contracts, and selling networking equipment is an extremely complex business that few people really understand. These are sales that can run to tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes into eight-figure prices for each contract. They take time and effort for a sales team to put together. They don’t happen by volume of sales, like selling beer at D&B.

So any company that reaches that level may have a certain momentum that points to it being a future winner, even though that doesn’t mean the company is assured of long-term success.

Some young companies have already crossed that threshold and stand out. Arista Networks (ANET), which competes with networking bellwether Cisco Systems (CSCO), is one such firm. It reached $1.13 billion in sales last year, which is a lot less than the $49 billion Cisco booked, but still a near-doubling of Arista’s revenue in three years.

A CASUAL GLANCE at the companies listed on the Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange reveals roughly 3,000 with revenue of a billion or less, across all industries. Within that collection are some promising tech names that suddenly seem to be at a meaningful point in their revenue growth, where the billion-dollar mark is conceivable if not yet within reach.

In the field designated broadly as “electronic technology,” a grab bag of software and hardware, Pure Storage (PSTG) is noteworthy. It handily beat expectations for quarterly results last week. Its sales, which were $728 million last year, may rise to $999 million this fiscal year, which ends in January. With its pattern of beating expectations, you’re basically looking at a company that could pass the billion mark by January.

Pure sells equipment that combines flash-memory chips and software into systems that can replace hard-disk-drive storage for corporations. It faces competition from a raft of companies, including privately held Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), which just bought Pure’s closest competitor, Nimble Storage. With sales up from $175 million just three years ago, this company is certainly finding demand. But it will have to continue to innovate to keep ahead of the pack, and it’s done a good job of that thus far.

IN CLOUD COMPUTING, selling software as an annual subscription can be an even tougher route to the billion mark. Unlike in the old days, when Microsoft and other traditional firms could sell a multiyear software license that was paid for in advance, selling software subscriptions means there’s less revenue initially. Wall Street actually likes the subscription route, because it implies a certain consistency to revenue, assuming customers do, in fact, come back each period and renew.... MORE
AGAIN, NOTHING ABOUT A BILLION in sales is magical. Such companies can still flounder, and their shares are often pricey. But history has shown that cruising toward a billion dollars tends to change the discussion in the stock market about a company because it’s an achievement that both industry and investors take note of.

The success of these companies thus far does mark them as something even a casual observer can recognize: The dollars are going their way because the trends in tech are going their way.

Mexican Biker Gang Hacked Hundreds Of Jeeps In Multimillion Dollar Theft Ring

As Grandmother might have said "Well what did you think was going to happen?"
She was a sharp-tongued, no-nonsense woman who probably wouldn't appreciate the complexity of these thefts.

From The Register:
Sons of IoT: Bikers hack Jeeps in auto theft spree
Gang used lifted codes, stolen logins to bypass onboard security
A Tijuana-based biker gang is accused of hacking hundreds of trucks over two and a half years as part of a multi-million-dollar auto theft ring.

The San Diego offices of the US Department of Justice and the FBI said that nine members of the Hooligans Motorcycle Club used stolen dealer credentials and handheld diagnostic machines to cut and program duplicate keys for a targeted set of Jeep Wrangler trucks, which they later stole and stripped down for parts.

According to the DoJ's indictment, the group worked in small teams to identify specific models of Jeep Wranglers throughout the San Diego area. Once a target vehicle was identified, a member obtained the truck's vehicle identification number (VIN), which is usually printed on the dashboard.

The VIN was then passed to another member, who used database login credentials taken from a Jeep dealer in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The database, used by dealerships to perform repairs on the cars, contained the information needed to cut and program duplicate keys.

The DoJ believes that, armed with the duplicate key, a thief popped the hood of the car to disable most of the alarm system and open the door. Then they used a handheld diagnostic tool and a code from the database to pair the duplicate key with the truck and turn off any remaining security features.

A transporter then allegedly drove the stolen trucks, now paired with a valid key, across the US border to Mexico, where they were stripped down for parts to be resold....MORE

Early Humans in Peru More Advanced Than We Thought, Had Reached Sony Walkman/Friendster Stage of Development

I am so sorry about the headline. I blame FT Alphaville's David Keohane.

Today's Further Reading post included the link "‘Washington Post’ reporter frustrated every space in parking garage taken up by anonymous source." and I think I internalized the style while choking on a pastry.

Here's the straight read, from Sputnik: 

Ancient Knowledge: Early Humans in Peru More Advanced Than We Thought 
Much to everyone's surprise, archaeologists found traces of a prehistoric civilization in coastal Peru that inhabited those territories much earlier than previously thought. Moreover, those humans were advanced enough to use clever techniques and have complex social networks.
A groundbreaking discovery of an early sophisticated society was made by American scientists at Huaca Prieta, a site of a prehistoric settlement beside the Pacific Ocean in the Chicama Valley, Peru. The site is home to one of the earliest and largest pyramids in South America, and archaeologists often find traces of camping grounds of Indian ancestors who inhabited that part of the country about 5,000-8,000 years ago.

Conducting excavations at one of these mounds, archaeologists have excavated hundreds of thousands of artifacts, most of which are at least 8,000 years old, while some findings were created as early as 15,000 years ago.

For decades, scientists have been arguing about the origins of human society in Peru. According to a classic theory, people could have migrated to the Americas from Siberia to Alaska using the Beringian land bridge, which was located on the site of the modern Bering Strait during the last ice age. That means people could have crossed the land bridge not later than 12,000 years ago and could have eventually reach the southernmost point of South America about 11,000 years ago.

The newest findings, published in Science Advances magazine, indicate that coastal territories of modern Peru were inhabited 15,000 years ago, and prehistoric Peruvians had a much higher level of development that was believed. They were skillful enough to make intricate hand-woven baskets and fabrics, catch fish with hooks and harpoons and cultivate avocados, peas, pepper, pumpkins and even some medicinal plants....MORE

Hedge Funds: SALT Conference Losing Luster

I don't think we even covered it this year although I did look at Chanos on Tesla.
He was early.

From Institutional Investor, May 29:

The SALT Conference, long the premier gathering of the hedge fund industry, lost a little of its luster this year
As he took the stage to deliver the opening remarks at last month’s glitzy SkyBridge Alternatives Conference in Las Vegas, Anthony Scaramucci seemed subdued.

That’s not an attitude typically associated with the voluble hedge fund impresario, who’s known as a consummate networker, industry cheerleader, and pitchman extraordinaire. Scaramucci, founder of the funds-of-hedge-funds firm SkyBridge Capital, has always served as ringmaster of the annual event, known as SALT.

But his heart didn’t seem to be in it this year. He had hoped to be ensconced in the White House by now, having been offered a position as special adviser to the president back in January. The offer prompted him to sell a majority stake in SkyBridge to a consortium led by Chinese conglomerate HNA Capital and RON Transatlantic, with the SALT Conference to be spun out as a separate business. But a few weeks later, the offer was rescinded and Scaramucci was out of a job and back on the SALT itinerary, to his admitted disappointment.

“I didn’t expect to be here,” he told attendees at the start of the conference, noting that things hadn’t worked out quite the way he’d planned but that he intended to bounce back professionally. It was a surprisingly personal address, and Scaramucci seemed to recognize the awkwardness. “You guys are a lot cheaper than my therapist,” he joked — the first of many self-deprecating cracks he made throughout the conference.

Scaramucci’s downbeat mood pervaded the gathering of approximately 1,800 hedge fund managers, investors, bankers, lawyers, and accountants, in stark contrast with earlier years, when SALT hummed with electricity. Even in a conference circuit known for high-end events at Ritz-­Carltons and on tropical islands, SALT always stood out. It burst onto the scene — and into Las Vegas’s swank Bellagio hotel and casino — in 2009, within months of the nadir of the financial crisis. SALT launched at least partly as a gilded middle finger to politicians who trashed hedge funds after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The conference embraced the hedge fund industry stereotype and cranked it up to 11: The most brilliant minds in finance, the most powerful people in politics, and the most in-demand celebrities convened for three days of exclusive dinners, high-stakes gambling (both financial and literal), nightclub after-parties, and high-octane political fundraising. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush spoke there, and pop sensations like OneRepublic and Maroon 5 played private concerts for attendees. SALT was where the most exclusive managers came to mingle with the big money, politicians came to grovel before potentially election-changing donors, and all came to be entertained by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Both sponsors and attendees paid steep entry fees so as not to miss out on the action.

That may be changing.
At this year’s confab, held in mid-May, former vice president Joe Biden delivered a keynote address, as did ex–CIA director John Brennan, while DC strategists Karl Rove and Donna Brazile duked it out on a panel. Game-show host Steve Harvey regaled guests with showbiz yarns over lunch; ’80s hit machine Duran Duran played for an adoring middle-aged crowd; comedian and Saturday Night Live legend Dana Carvey performed during an afternoon session; singer Jewel delivered an inspiring motivational talk.

And of course, many of the usual hedge fund legends were on hand. Third Point founder Dan Loeb and Pershing Square Capital founder Bill Ackman delivered keynote addresses, while the infamous Steve Cohen (of SAC Capital Advisors and now Point72 Asset Management) was spotted at a private dinner and at the Bellagio craps tables. Former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke prognosticated on markets in an early session. Guests dined on miso-glazed sea bass and grilled filet of beef while a SWAT team of stylists delivered salon-style blowouts to anyone who might need grooming after taking the free flywheel or extreme boot camp classes....MUCH MORE

Hey, Google Will Now Add Your Gmail Into Search Results

They hasten to add that the Gmail results will only be visible to you.
See important update.
From Search Engine Roundtable, May 26:

Google Adds Personal Tab To Search Filters
Google now lets searchers filter their search results by "personal" results. By that, it mostly means emails, flights, anything related to that Gmail account they are logged into. You should be able to see it if you are logged into a normal Gmail account and do a normal Google search. If you are logged out or logged into a Google Apps (GSuite) account, you won't see it.

Here is a screen shot of the option...MORE

Update: This option has been removed as of Tuesday, May 30th.

Ya think?

Is This Saudi Arabia's Newest Strategy To Boost Oil Prices?

We have a contradiction here.
First up, ZeroHedge:
OPEC’s new strategy to balance the oil market is to cut oil exports to the U.S., a move intended to drain near-record-high crude oil inventories.

OPEC originally thought that six months of combined production cuts would be sufficient to balance the oil market, but the market still looks oversupplied. Not everyone agrees on this. The IEA has argued that we probably have already reached “balance,” which is to say, demand has caught up with supply. The energy agency says that the market is moving into a supply deficit situation in the second half of this year, if it hasn’t already.

But the problem is that the one metric that OPEC officials themselves have held up as the key barometer to watch is the level of global crude oil inventories, rather than the immediate supply/demand balance. And on that front, they sort of shot themselves in the foot by ramping up exports just ahead of the implementation of the cuts late last year....MORE
The contradiction arises because of the largest petroleum refinery in the U.S.
Motiva's 603,000-barrel-per-day Port Arthur, Texas refinery is engineered for Saudi crude, not Bakken light or the goop that is going to be coming down the Keystone XL,
And Motiva is owned by Saudi Aramco. We've mentioned it a few times over the years:

April 2012 
Saudis Sending Seven Tankers to Begin Stockpiling Feedstock for Soon to Be Largest Refinery in the U.S., Motiva (RDS)
When the Motiva Port Arthur expansion is complete later this year its 600,000 Bbl/day capacity will surpass XOM's Baytown refinery's 572,500 and make it the fifth largest in the world.... 
June 2012
Big Problem at Aramco/Shell Motiva Refinery So Saudi's Stop Sending Crude
July 2013
“North American Crude and Condensate Outlook”: What Will U.S. Refineries Use as Feedstocks?
October 2014
Price War: "Texas Refinery Props up US Saudi Imports"
April 2015
Oil and Conspiracies: Saudi Exports to the U.S.
And here's the contradiction:
From the Houston Chronicle's FuelFix, May 26:
Saudi Arabia’s Motiva plans for billions in Texas growth
Saudi Arabia’s Motiva Enterprises said it plans to spend billions of dollars more to expand its Port Arthur Refinery — already North America’s largest — and grow more in the petrochemical and refining sectors.

Motiva, which finalized its divorce from Royal Dutch Shell in the beginning of May, said it plans to spend close to $18 billion in the U.S., largely along the Gulf Coast, within the next five years.
Although scant on details, this comes after Motiva already expanded the Port Arthur Refinery in recent years. Motiva emphasized it will continue to expand its crown jewel asset in Texas near the Louisiana border.

Motiva, which operated as a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Shell for nearly 20 years, is now purely a Saudi venture with a growing headquarters in downtown Houston. The Motiva growth is intended as part of an overall Saudi strategy to diversify its global footprint, including substantial growth in Texas....MORE
We'll be back with more tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"Side effects of CRISPR lead to hundreds of unintended mutations"

From SiliconRepublic (Eire):
Few technologies are as revolutionary as the CRISPR genome editing method, but a new study finds that it could be creating hundreds of unintended mutations.

Mention the acronym CRISPR to anyone who follows the latest developments in sci-tech and you will likely hear many opinions, ranging from prophecy to downright condemnation.

Unlike anything before it, CRISPR is a technology that has proven effective in slicing out harmful genomic sequences in DNA, with the purpose of one day being able to remove harmful diseases from a human’s make-up.

Its testing remains highly controversial, as China alone has confirmed its first trials using the method on human embryos, with limited trialling elsewhere soon to begin.

Now, however, research conducted by Columbia University Medical Center has revealed startling evidence that CRISPR creates hundreds of unintended mutations in the genome.

Published in Nature Methods, the research looked at sequencing the entire genome of mice that had previously undergone CRISPR gene editing, and analysed any mutations down to a single nucleotide.
While the team identified that CRISPR had corrected the gene that leads to blindness in mice, PhD student Kellie Schaefer found that hundreds of genes had been altered.

Within the genomes of two independent gene therapy subjects, Schaefer found more than 1,500 single-nucleotide mutations and more than 100 larger deletions and insertions, none of which had been predicted during computer simulations....MORE
In other news...
Is 3D-printed, shape-shifting pasta the future of food?

Well there goes the magic mushroom market, what with the shape-shifting food and all.

"Asteroid worth $10,000 quadrillion ‘could transform global economy’"

Yes, yes it could.
Have I ever mentioned the alchemist's fallacy?
First up, Astronomy Magazine, May 24:

NASA’s mission to a planetary core has been moved up 
The craft to Psyche will launch a year earlier and get to its target four years early.

NASA’s Discovery mission to a smashed protoplanet core will reach its target four years early after a new launch date. Instead of launching in 2023, the craft will now in launch in 2022 and will reach its target, the asteroid Psyche, by 2026.

Psyche orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter and thanks to its component of nickel-iron metal, studying it will give scientists a closer look at the space collisions that create planets. Psyche was the 16th asteroid discovered, but it will be the first world scientists explore made of metal instead of rock or ice. Psyche’s metal core means at one point in time the asteroid was likely a protoplanet, or a large body of matter that turns into a planet, that had repeated collisions that resulted in leaving just the metal core.

After some consideration, NASA reached out to the Psyche team to see if it would be possible to rework the spacecraft to get an earlier launch date. A 2022 launch will perch the Psyche craft well for a Mars assist in 2023. That assist will help get the craft to Psyche four years ahead of schedule.

“The biggest advantage is the excellent trajectory, which gets us there about twice as fast and is more cost effective,” Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University in Tempe said in a press release. “We are all extremely excited that NASA was able to accommodate this earlier launch date. The world will see this amazing metal world so much sooner.”...MORE
It is a big rock, one of the top ten in the asteroid belt:
Artist's concept of 16 Psyche. Image: NASA

Here's the headline story from RT:
NASA scientists are outdoing themselves yet again: by reworking the planned route for a robotic mission to a giant asteroid worth $10,000 quadrillion, they’ve managed to cut costs, launch sooner and arrive four years earlier than planned. Not bad. 
The Psyche planetoid, measuring 240km (149 miles) in diameter, is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and is made almost entirely of iron and nickel.

At current market prices, such an asteroid, a truly unique object in our solar system, is estimated to be worth $10,000 quadrillion ($10,000,000,000,000,000,000). That is, if you could successfully tow it into orbit and then mine it (and find someone to buy all of it, of course). For scale, the entire global economy is worth over $74 trillion.

“We challenged the mission design team to explore if an earlier launch date could provide a more efficient trajectory to the asteroid Psyche, and they came through in a big way,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, as cited in a NASA press release.

“This will enable us to fulfill our science objectives sooner and at a reduced cost,” he added.
The original launch date for the mission was in 2023 with a scheduled arrival sometime in 2030. With the new trajectory, however, it will launch in the summer of 2022 and arrive at the asteroid belt in 2026.

The key to the galactic shortcut is mindblowing in and of itself: By scrapping a planned gravity boost around the Earth, the team of scientists figured out how to avoid any pit stops or paying the gravity toll in passing too close to the sun.

"The biggest advantage is the excellent trajectory, which gets us there about twice as fast and is more cost effective," said Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University in Tempe.

Speculation is rife among the NASA team that the asteroid could indeed be the solidified core of a planet.

"It's such a strange object," Elkins-Tanton previously told Global News Canada in January.

"Even if we could grab a big metal piece and drag it back here ... what would you do? Could you kind of sit on it and hide it and control the global resource – kind of like diamonds are controlled corporately – and protect your market? What if you decided you were going to bring it back and you were just going to solve the metal resource problems of humankind for all time? This is wild speculation, obviously."...

And about that Alchemist's fallacy:
2015's  "It is Now Legal to Own an Asteroid in the U.S."
You know the first things they want to mine are those things with the highest price per ounce back on earth which ex-truffles and saffron probably means the so-called precious metals.
However, with all that gold and platinum coming back, you might want to bone up on Another Post On Glass, This Time With "The Alchemist's Fallacy" (And Professor Nordhaus).

The miners will probably also keep an eye peeled for Californium-252 at $27 million per gram, but finding any is a bit of a long shot, 8 grams known to date....
Platinum Extends 6 1/2-Year Lows as Asteroid With $5.4 Trillion Worth of the Stuff Whizzes Past Earth
See also:
"The Price of Gold in the Year 2160"
And "We Are About to Start Mining Hydrothermal Vents on the Ocean Floor" (now with added alchemist's fallacy"

I guess I have.

The thing is, such an enormous increase in supply would crash the market, something the ancient alchemists didn't mention when they were pitching their lead-into-gold private placements to their version of accredited investors, the princely class, back in the day.

It is for this reason that the astro-miners have changed their approach and are now talking about looking for oxygen, water, nitrogen and other elements that can be used to take us farther into the universe.
Presumably to sell to Elon Musk to speed him on his way. 

I first heard the concept from Yale's Professor Nordhaus in 2005's "Schumpeterian Profits and the Alchemist Fallacy"
Here's some exposition from FT Magazine in 2015: "Another Post On Glass, This Time With "The Alchemist's Fallacy" (And Professor Nordhaus)".

We have dozens of posts on the asteroid rush including:

Jan. 22, 2013
May 14, 2014
And the series: 
A compilation image of mining equipment in space
Artist's depiction, not actual asteroid mining

Signposts: "Investors Go All-In on Tech Giants"

From Bloomberg:
  • Funds are most overweight in tech stocks on record: BofA
  • Google and Amazon shares close in on $1000 as valuations climb
Investment managers are doubling down on the hottest stocks of 2017 -- and it’s paying off.

Funds tracked by Bank of America Corp. own the highest percentage of technology stocks on record compared to their benchmark. It’s a sector that’s carried U.S. stocks to new highs, leading the S&P 500 Index with a nearly 20 percent gain in 2017. And it’s giving active managers a boost they haven’t seen in more than two years.

Of course, not all technology stocks are created equal. The returns in tech are top-heavy, dominated by Facebook Inc., Inc., Netflix Inc. and Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., also known as the FANG stocks, as well as Apple Inc. Those five companies alone account for more than a quarter of the S&P 500’s advance this year.

Rarely ones to shun the herd, active funds are now 71 percent overweight in the FANG companies after making the biggest move from value to growth since 2008, according to Bank of America.

“The tech stocks obviously continue to be the key group to keep an eye on,” Matt Maley, a strategist at Miller Tabak & Co., wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “They are over-bought on a near-term and intermediate-term (and even long-term) basis, but that has been true every day for the past few weeks.” ...MORE

Farming Revolution to Place Data Center Stage, Says Data Monger, Bayer

Although the Bayer-Monsanto marriage has not yet been consummated, it looks like it will go through.
(famous last words of the old-timey "risk-arbitrageurs")

So, although Bayer has a lot of data generating and data manipulating stuff going on right now, with the merger they also get their hands on Monsanto's 2013/14 acquiree The Climate Corporation, see links after the Bayer story.
From Agrimoney:

Farming revolution to place data centre stage, says Bayer

Radical change in arable farming means that by 2025 growers are likely to be using digital advice tools, companies will sell complete crop packages, and data will be driving the sector, Bayer said.
But this will mean embracing totally different technology than that in use today, and big business will need to partner with people to make it happen.
Speaking at Rabobank's F&A Next event at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, Bayer's global head of digital farming Tobias Menne said that the agrichemicals giant, which is acquiring Monsanto, was always looking for new sources of data, as well as working with start-ups generating such statistics.
The data would be a critical part of developing a "command centre", he said.
'Not the answer'
This strategy was part of working towards a more sophisticated approach to crop production.
"Pouring crop protection products on is not the answer - anyone pushing volume is not the answer, we need something better," Mr Menne said
He said Brazilian farmers were already using satellite technology to help identify and treat resistant weeds, and at the other end of the scale, a Bayer app for identifying pests and diseases, mainly in developing countries, had become very popular even in countries such as France.
"By 2025 growers will be using a digital advice tool. Selling advice at €5-10 a hectare is not going to be the next big thing."
He believes companies will be able to offer products which "take the complexity out".
This would mean offering growers a package of weed and pest-free crops for a lump sum per hectare, he said.
'A lot of buzzwords'
Separately, Bruno Melcher, a largest-scale Brazilian farmer, told the event that while producers were continually being offered tools billed as an aid to performance, these products were often not useful...

On The Climate Corp:
October 2013
Ha! Monsanto Buys Crop Insurer/Data Co. for $930 Mil. (MON)
Oh this takes ya back. We first posted on The Climate Corporation under its original name, WeatherBill and then in 2011's "Google Ventures' next big bet: Weather insurance (GOOG)" noted:
"We had a few mentions of  WeatherBill early in this blog's life but I couldn't figure out how to make money off their output, it looks like a product made for selling, not for buying. Links below."
I purloined the "product made for selling, not for buying" bit from an insurance man who evaluated every insurance product on the basis of whether he would use it to insure his own business or if he would underwrite it for his agents to sell. A very handy mental map....

The funniest thing about the acquisition and announcement is that while the purchase is being couched in Big Data terms it is the weather insurance where the company makes its money. Ha!

Coming into the close the biotech giant and evil agribusiness overlord is trading down $1.27 at $103.78.

From Bloomberg:
Monsanto's Billion-Dollar Bet Brings Big Data to the Farm...
...See also:
Google Ventures' next big bet: Weather insurance (GOOG)
Weather Investing (Hedging, Insuring)
"Geek Farmers Gamble on Global Warming" (GOOG)
Knowledge@Wharton: Weather Inc.

TechCrunch also took note of the acquisition, emphasizing "Big Data":
Monsanto Buys Weather Big Data Company Climate Corporation For Around $1.1B

Finally, insurance is all about asymmetric information. If the insurer knows the probabilities for losses and that the extent of losses will be less than their customer's estimations, the insurer can be very, very profitable. 
June 2014 
Digital Disruption on the Farm or Where's the Risk In Giving All Your Data to Monsanto?
June 2016 
McKinsey: Monetizing Freely Available Data Worth $3.2-$5.4Trillion per Year

 As usual, apologies to the Grant Wood Estate and the Art Institute of Chicago for the image.

UPDATED--North Korea Has Won the Coin Toss...

Update below:
Original post:
From the Guardian March 25, 2016:

North Korea releases propaganda film showing Washington under nuclear attack 

The video, menacingly titled ‘Last Chance’, contains a visual history of relations between the US and Pyongyang and ends with the US flag in flames
North Korea released a new propaganda video menacingly titled “Last Chance”, showing a submarine-launched nuclear missile laying waste to Washington and concluding with the US flag in flames.

The four-minute video, set to jaunty music, romps through the history of US-Korean relations and ends with a digitally manipulated sequence showing a missile surging through clouds, swerving back to the earth and slamming into the road in front of Washington’s Lincoln Memorial....MORE
The music isn't that jaunty.

See also:
The National Interest, May 30, 2017:
North Korea Claims to Have a New "Ultra-Precision" Missile

and WLS Chicago May 30, 2017:
Warhead intercept test to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base Tuesday

UPDATE: "The U.S. Military Says It Successfully Shot Down An ICBM For The Very First Time"

Some Background On Why Ford and Google Didn't Hook Up On Autonomous Vehicles

From Automotive News, May 29:

Failed Google deal left Fields in the lurch

At the end of 2015, it looked like Ford's then-CEO Mark Fields was going to score a big win: a partnership with Google to develop autonomous vehicles.
The deal would have been a huge boon to Ford. At the time, none of the major automakers had spelled out a serious plan for getting fully self-driving cars on the road. And despite posting solid profits, Ford's shares were falling because investors didn't see anything coming down the line that they felt excited about. An announcement of a Ford-Google pairing could have significantly moved the needle on Ford's share prices.

A look back at the timeline of the Ford-Google talks reveals a moment that became a turning point in Fields' career at Ford. His failure to pull off the deal indirectly left Ford struggling to voice an autonomous vehicle strategy that resonated with stakeholders and led to the emergence of Jim Hackett as his replacement as CEO.

Sources with knowledge of the talks said the deal came undone because Fields' enthusiasm for Wall Street's reaction didn't mesh with Google's desire to lay the groundwork for a quiet, technical partnership in which each side learned from the other before deciding how to move forward.
A spokeswoman for Ford said the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.

Google was comfortable with the Silicon Valley approach of "frenemies" — sometimes partnering with competitors so each side can learn something. That concept seemed anathema to Ford, sources said.

Within weeks of the deal falling apart, Executive Chairman Bill Ford identified Hackett, a member of Ford's board, as someone who had a good relationship with Silicon Valley. Hackett was named head of the new Ford Smart Mobility unit just a few weeks after that and was named CEO a little more than a year later. Here's how it went down.

Early 2015
Google's autonomous program was emerging as a leader in the self-driving realm, but the tech giant didn't have a viable car platform to build on. Google wanted its first partnership to be with a carmaker that had a solid lineup of hybrid electric vehicles and was interested in learning how to integrate autonomous technology into production-car platforms. Google was drawn to Ford because of its reputation and scale, sources said. Google had been retrofitting Lexus RX 450h crossovers with self-driving tech, then it developed a cute car platform that looked like a koala. Those koala cars topped out at 25 mph and were designed primarily for testing, not selling to consumers.

Details on who reached out to whom first or how the talks began are unclear. But in 2015, executives in the Google autonomous car project, then run by Chief Technology Officer and technical lead Chris Urmson, began discussing a partnership with Ford executives.

The deal would not be exclusive: Google was free to collaborate with other automakers. But Ford argued that the partnership had to be big enough to make sense for the automaker and said it needed a large-scale commitment to justify the costs. Only a strategic partnership with long-term commitments would convince Wall Street this deal was beneficial to both sides, Ford said.

By the fall, both companies were getting close to signing an agreement....MUCH MORE

Small World: Uber's Head of New York Operations Leaves...For Tusk Ventures

In addition to working as Communications Director for Senator Chuck Schumer and Campaign Manager for Michael Bloomberg in his 2009 race, Mr. Tusk was one of Uber's earliest advisors.
More after the jump.
From TechCrunch:
Tusk Ventures has hailed the former general manager of Uber’s New York operations, Josh Mohrer, as its new managing director.

Mohrer’s departure comes at a tough time for Uber. The company is still recovering from a series of very public missteps involving payments to drivers, sexual harassment, potential intellectual property theft, bad executive behavior, and the deployment of software that allowed it to elude law enforcement.

Mohrer, the manager of the company’s operations in the New York tri-state area who has been with Uber for the past five years, said that he had no involvement in any of Uber’s recent troubles.
“Things have been going on at Uber always,” Mohrer said. “Whatever mistakes were made, Uber is well on the way to fixing them.”

Delving back into Uber’s history shows that Mohrer himself was involved in some of the company’s previous issues.

Back in 2014, Slate reported that Uber was taking unspecified disciplinary actions against Mohrer for his role in violations of Uber’s privacy policy. At the time, Buzzfeed reported that Mohrer had used the company’s “God mode” to track one of its reporters.

“We had a tool that could view rides in progress,” said Mohrer, “Really for market-making purposes. That was locked down heavily after this.”

Putting it in context, he said that the reporter in question was running late to a meeting. He tracked the reporter to see when they would arrive and met them… disclosing instantly that he’d used the ride tracking tool. “I see in retrospect that that was wrong,” Mohrer said of the incident....MORE
A day after the November 2016 U.S election someone from the FT interviewed Mr. Tusk for his thoughts on Trump's win, from the perspective of a tech lobbyist. I had embedded the video with the note:
Firstly, the algos got fooled and were pretty much worthless in handicapping the election.
Secondly, for folks who profess to live and breathe disruption they sure react poorly to real disruption.
Both of these points I learned from the video, four minutes well spent.
but it seems to have disappeared, both from Climateer Investing and from the linked source. Here's the YouTube version:
We also visited Mr. Tusk in February 2017's "A Silicon Valley Political Fixer Is Reinventing Himself As A Trump Whisperer".

"Cryptocurrencies are booming beyond belief"

From TechCrunch:

Blockchains are the new Linux, not the new Internet
Cryptocurrencies are booming beyond belief. Bitcoin is up sevenfold, to $2,500, in the last year. Three weeks ago the redoubtable Vinay Gupta, who led Ethereum’s initial release, published an essay entitled “What Does Ether At $100 Mean?” Since then it has doubled. Too many altcoins to name have skyrocketed in value along with the Big Two. ICOs are raking in money hand over fist over bicep. What the hell is going on?
(eta: in the whopping 48 hours since I first wrote that, those prices have tumbled considerably, but are still way, way up for the year.)

A certain seductive narrative has taken hold, is what is going on. This narrative, in its most extreme version, says that cryptocurrencies today are like the Internet in 1996: not just new technology but a radical new kind of technology, belittled or ignored by by most, which has slowly and subtly grown in power and influence over the last several years, and is about to explode into worldwide relevance and importance with shocking speed and massive repercussions.

(Lest you think I’m overstating this, I got a PR pitch the other day which literally began: “Blockchain’s 1996 Internet moment is here,” as a preface to touting a $33 million ICO. Hey, what’s $33 million between friends? It’s now pretty much taken as given that we’re in a cryptocoin bubble.)
I understand the appeal of this narrative. I’m no blockchain skeptic. I’ve been writing about cryptocurrencies with fascination for six years now. I’ve been touting and lauding the power of blockchains, how they have the potential to make the Internet decentralized and permissionless again, and to give us all power over our own data, for years. I’m a true believer in permissionless money like Bitcoin. I called the initial launch of Ethereum “a historic day.”

But I can’t help but look at the state of cryptocurrencies today and wonder where the actual value is. I don’t mean financial value to speculators; I mean utility value to users. Because if nobody wants to actually use blockchain protocols and projects, those tokens which are supposed to reflect their value are ultimately … well … worthless.

Bitcoin, despite its ongoing internal strife, is very useful as permissionless global money, and has a legitimate shot at becoming a global reserve and settlement currency. Its anonymized descendants such as ZCash have added value to the initial Bitcoin proposition. (Similarly, Litecoin is now technically ahead of Bitcoin, thanks to the aforementioned ongoing strife.) Ethereum is very successful as a platform for developers.

But still, eight years after Bitcoin launched, Satoshi Nakamoto remains the only creator to have built a blockchain that an appreciable number of ordinary people actually want to use. (Ethereum is awesome, and Vitalik Buterin, like Gupta, is an honest-to-God visionary, but it remains a tool / solution / platform for developers.) No other blockchain-based software initiative seems to be at any real risk of hockey-sticking into general recognition, much less general usage.

With all due respect to Fred Wilson, another true believer — and, to be clear, an enormous amount of respect is due — it says a lot that, in the midst of this massive boom, he’s citing “Rare Pepe Cards,” of all things, as a prime example of an interesting modern blockchain app. I mean, if that’s the state of the art…

Maybe I’m wrong; maybe Rare Pepe will be the next Pokémon Go. But on the other hand, maybe the ratio of speculation to actual value in the blockchain space has never been higher, which is saying a lot.

Some people argue that the technology is so amazing, so revolutionary, that if enough money is invested, the killer apps and protocols will come. That could hardly be more backwards. I’m not opposed to token sales, but they should follow “If you build something good enough, investors will flock to you,” not “If enough investors flock to us, we will build something good enough.”

A solid team working on an interesting project which hasn’t hit product-market fit should be able to raise a few million dollars — or, if you prefer, a couple of thousand bitcoin — and then, once their success is proven, they might sell another tranche of now-more-valuable tokens. But projects with hardly any users, and barely any tech, raising tens of millions? That smacks of a bubble made of snake oil … one all too likely to attract the heavy and unforgiving hand of the SEC....MUCH MORE
See (and more especially hear) also this weekend's "So, A Florida Man, An FT Journalist and an A16Z Venture Capitalist Walk Into A ...."

Berlin's Delivery Hero set to Come Public

From Reuters, May 23:

Delivery Hero set to list before summer break: sources
Online food takeaway firm Delivery Hero is set to float before the summer break in a deal valuing one of Europe's biggest start-ups at up to 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion), people close to the matter said on Tuesday.
Delivery Hero, the start-up in the portfolio of e-commerce investor Rocket Internet (RKET.DE) seen as most likely to go public next, plans to announce its intention to list in Frankfurt by mid-June with an IPO four weeks later, they said.
Rocket Internet shares, which have been under pressure over concerns about heavy losses and falling valuations at its start-ups, were 4 percent higher at 1335 GMT (9:35 a.m. ET), making them one of the top gainers on the German small-cap index .SDAXI.

Rocket, which reports first-quarter results on May 31, had early success with online fashion firm Zalando (ZALG.DE), which listed in 2014 and has performed well since. But the e-commerce investor pulled the flotation of meal box start-up HelloFresh in 2015 and has not brought any other companies to market yet.

Earlier on Tuesday, Delivery Hero Chief Executive Niklas Ostberg said the company was ready for a possible initial public offering but declined to comment further on timing or valuation.
"We can go at any point in time if we feel it is the right time," Ostberg told reporters on a conference call.

One of the sources said about a quarter of the company's shares would be sold in the deal, which could value the company at 3.5 billion euros to 4 billion euros.
Another source said shares worth up to 1 billion euros would be sold, with about half that amount coming from new shares.

Delivery Hero said Tuesday its first-quarter revenue rose 68 percent on a like-for-like basis to 121 million euros. The loss-making firm did not publish earnings figures but Ostberg said it was on track to improve profitability as it grows bigger.

"With size comes profitability and our focus is on building size and service levels," he said, adding that he did not rule out further acquisitions....MORE
As noted last August:
Hey, One of Rocket Internet's 'Proven Winners' May be Coming Public (RKET.GR)

Truth be told it's not really "Rocket's" deal.
Unlike many of the names at the incubator/copyshop, RKET was late to the Delivery Hero party:

Funding Rounds (12) - $1.39B

DateAmount / RoundValuationLead InvestorInvestors
Jun, 2015$110M / Private Equity0
Mar, 2015€52M / Secondary Market 1
Feb, 2015€496M / Series H 1
Sep, 2014$350M / Series G 3
Apr, 2014$85M / Series F 1
Jan, 2014$88M / Series E 8
Jul, 2013$30M / Series D 8
Aug, 2012$50M / Series D 2
Mar, 2012€25M / Series C 2
Oct, 2011€11M / Series B3
Mar, 2011€4M / Series A4
Dec, 2010undisclosed amount / Seed2

The 'proven winners' line is from Rocket's public offering document:

"Our proven winners generated aggregated net losses of €442 million" ($568 million)
-Rocket Internet prospectus via "How Do You Say 'Dot-Com Crash' in German?"

Spy Stuff and Media: Buzzfeed Gets Hit with a Second Christopher Steele "Dossier" Lawsuit

Here's the introduction to January's "The ultimate conspiracy: a conspiracy against Reddit’s conspiracy community?" concerning the CIA's chief of Counterintelligence 1954 to 1975:

Over the years I've mentioned the CIA's James Jesus Angleton a few times, here's a 2009 example:
As a practitioner of The Grassy Knoll Theory of Investing (there is a 'They' and 'They know') I am dubious of most EVERYTHING.
Of course this can lead you into the "Wilderness of Mirrors" which term the CIA's counter-intelligence czar James Jesus Angleton coined* and which trap he fell into:
...Angleton came to suspect Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who commented wryly that even the most brilliant and loyal officers should not spend their entire career in such pressurized and paranoid fields. Angleton also privately accused numerous members of Congress and President Gerald Ford of treason. Angleton's notorious pursuit of the "5th Man," who he believed had penetrated a secret agency in Washington, was solved, he believed, when DCI William Colby fired him. No one was above suspicion, and even Angleton himself was accused by others of working for the Soviets. (Wikipedia)
Oh well, by the end of his time as a spy Angleton was pretty far gone, probably certifiable....

I put it there as more than just a cautionary tale, see after the jump, if interested.

From Courthouse News Service: 
Owners of Russian Bank Sue Buzzfeed Over Trump Dossier
MANHATTAN (CN) – Unhappy with BuzzFeed over its reporting of the infamous “Pissgate” dossier, the owners of a Russian bank that is being investigated by the FBI for ties to President Donald Trump brought a defamation complaint Friday.

Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan, who together own Russia’s largest private bank Alfa, filed the 12-page complaint this afternoon in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The lawsuit comes over four months after BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier linking the president and Russia. Former British spy Christopher Steele had originally prepared the dossier for a “Never Trump” firm that wanted opposition research to prevent Trump’s seizing of the Republican nomination in last year’s presidential election.

A Democratic research company picked up the tab for Steele to keep working during the general election, but its stream of cash was set to run dry before Election Day.

Though many in Washington knew about the dossier, it remained out of the public eye because many of its allegations cannot be independently verified. Shortly after CNN broke the news about the dossier, reporting on Jan. 10 that Trump and then-President Barack Obama had been briefed on its details, BuzzFeed published the full salacious document shortly after. 

The dossier disclosed in the article, “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties to Russia,” consists of 17 “Company Intelligence Reports 2016” prepared by Steele.

Alfa, which is Russia’s biggest private bank, is mentioned on page 25, buts its name is misspelled as “Alpha Bank.”...MUCH MORE
...Bloomberg reports that Fridman, 53, Khan, 55, and Aven, 62, are worth $12.7 billion, $8.8 billion, and $5.4 billion, respectively.
I think Mr. Christopher Steele, the guy touted as the second coming of James Bond, got played by the Russians.
Consider this, from William Smullen, Colin Powell's Chief of Staff and formerly an aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs during the cold war:
...“Typically, the Russian clandestine subversion specialists, being the best in the world in this demonical art form, operate in double, triple and sometimes multiple tactical plot lines,” said the former State Department official. “For example, in the media report … that the U.S. has intercepted a message from Kislyak to the Kremlin saying that Kushner had proposed a back-channel connection during the transition period, it has to be understood that Kislyak knows perfectly well that all his communications are being intercepted by the U.S.
They don't say anything they don't want the British and Americans to know.
That is the very last paragraph in Politico's May 27 story "Kushner’s alleged Russia back-channel attempt would be serious break from protocol"

Or, as noted in the introduction to January's "Eugene Volokh on Libel Law: 'When ‘there is serious reason to doubt’ rumors and allegations, is it libelous to publish them?'": 
More Just as importantly, after reading the schlocky, amateur, borderline retarded "35 pages" thing, how could anyone ever again justify paying Orbis Business Intelligence actual money for anything they produce?
Played. Made to look the fool. By his own hand.
Back to James Jesus Angleton:

*In 2012 we noted Angleton only coined the use of the term in relation to intelligence:

The term was developed into a theory by the CIA's James Jesus Angleton to describe a situation where nothing is as it seems. He lifted it from T.S. Elliot's 1920 poem Gerontion:
...These with a thousand small deliberations
Protract the profit of their chilled delirium,
Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,
With pungent sauces, multiply variety
In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do,
Suspend its operations,

Typical spy. Stole his best line, without attribution.