WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because the buck pauses at plenty of places, but it actually stops here.
It’s been a booming first quarter for 2014. Sixty-four companies went from privately held to issuing their first public shares in the first three months of the year, according to Renaissance Capital. The stocks collectively raised $10.6 billion. But this stuff ain’t just the get-rich-quick offerings of legend. There aren’t 64 new Googles, Twitters and Facebooks wandering around out there. Biotech companies — which play in pharmaceutical drug markets and the health-care space — accounted for half of the 64. Seeing twice the number of IPOs in the first quarter of 2014 as in the first quarter of 2013 might not be quite synonymous with success. A company hitting the market with an IPO could be in transition, or it could need the influx of funds that selling stock provides.
The digital currency Bitcoin might be a great solution to the problems of 326 million Africans who lack access to basic banking services. Especially if you’re a member of the large and expanding African diaspora, and you want to send money home to grandma or the hubby left behind. The problem: You couldn’t count on mobile payments for that money sent home, known as foreign remittances. The most common vehicle for such payments, Western Union, tends to charge onerous fees. Which makes bitcoin very appealing, if you can get past the expensive exchange rate — of $500 per Bitcoin.
Big changes are forecast for the American side of the cloud-computing industry. Most people picture cloud computing in terms of email, using Gmail (cloud-based), say, rather than Outlook (desktop software). But that’s just the retail, and arguably less important, side of the business. The cloud also has a gigantic wholesale side that provides backroom operations for just about every major company you interact with on myriad everyday tasks at home and work — from file sharing and banking to filling out health claims and storing photos online. Cloud services offer an outsourcing haven that has rendered many basic in-house computer jobs obsolete. American companies — IBM, Google, Microsoft, EMC, Rackspace and Amazon — were the world’s dominant players when it comes to cloud services. But then Edward Snowden stormed onto the field, casting a long shadow over the industry. Could the power center of the cloud be shifting away from Silicon Valley and toward Europe?