Posts tagged with "CNN Business"

‘There’s never been a time like this’: Wall Street is piling into trading cards as prices soar

Febraury 15, 2021

Ken Goldin has sold sports trading cards for four decades. However, what happened earlier this month still shocked him, CNN Business reports.

In early February, a Michael Jordan rookie basketball card in pristine condition sold for a record $738,000 at an auction run by Goldin Auctions of Runnemede, New Jersey. The kicker? The exact sameitem went for nearly $215,000 just weeks before.

There’s never been a time like this in the history of the business,” Goldin told CNN Business. “I would bet that for every person who wanted a Michael Jordan rookie card in 2019, there’s 100 [now].”

The shock sale is part of a much bigger trend in sports collectibles that’s grabbed the attention of sophisticated investors as well as small traders—transforming card collecting from a fusty hobby into a major investment market.

But the timing and scale of the price surge also have sparked worries that it may be fueled by the same speculative forces that recently sent bitcoin and meme stocks like GameStop through the roof, CNN notes.

Industry insiders acknowledge that their business may be benefiting from broader market euphoria. But they push back on the idea that the boom in demand is generating a price bubble.

“This is now part of our culture,” Goldin said. “I wouldn’t go anywhere near the word bubble.”

Looking at the bigger picture, the trading card renaissance seems to have taken root during the pandemic. Stuck at home without live sports games, people began raiding their attics and basements and digging up old cards. They also sat down to watch “The Last Dance,” the documentary series about Jordan, the legendary former NBA star, which aired on ESPN.

Suddenly, trading cards were everywhere, boosted by celebrity endorsers ranging from actor Mark Wahlberg, whose kids launched a collecting business, to DJ Steve Aoki and Resy Network co-founder Gary Vaynerchuk. Videos of fans opening packs of cards on YouTube and TikTok started racking up tens of thousands of views.

“This is a market that’s growing in demand, but doesn’t have more supply,” Vaynerchuk, a longtime advocate of card investing, wrote on his website last March. “That’s a recipe for opportunity.”

Prices for top-quality cards featuring all-time greats jumped dramatically. Those featuring newer talent rose, too, as enthusiasts tried to scout the next big stars.

“Instead of betting on a game, people look at this, and they can bet on a career,” Goldin said.

The spike in prices has caught the attention of a wider class of investment professionals, flush with cash following unprecedented stimulus measures from governments and central banks. Rock-bottom interest rates also have made it harder to find lucrative investments, bolstering interest in creative alternatives.

“Funds are being created. They’re getting investors involved and pooling five, 10, 15 million dollars,” said Jesse Craig, director of business development at PWCC Marketplace, a top seller of premium cards.

Josh Luber, the co-founder of sneaker resale startup StockX, left the company last year to form Six Forks Kids Club, an alternative asset management company focused on cards. The moment, he said, was simply too big to pass up.

“It’s hard to find someone [in] my generation whose first business wasn’t buying baseball cards when they were 10,” Luber, who is 42, told CNN Business. “We’re all of the age where we have a little bit more money, but we’re also in positions of decision-making for investment funds.”

The arrival of institutional money has quickly transformed the market. Goldin said for the first time in his career, he’s fielding calls from hedge funds interested in gaining exposure.

Takeover interest also has emerged, given the limited number of prominent companies in the sector. Last month, angel investor Nat Turner and Steve Cohen, the billionaire hedge fund titan and owner of the New York Mets, announced they were buying authentication service Collectors Universe in a $853 million deal, after sweetening a bid first made in November.

“I think trading cards are one of the most undervalued asset classes out there,” Luber told CNN Business. He added that while the 1986 Jordan card appreciated faster than he might have expected, he doesn’t think the value is out of line with where demand is headed.

Everyone in the industry thinks it’s “a $1 million card,” Luber said. “But we all thought it was a year away instead of a month away.”

Goldin acknowledges that prices will inevitably fluctuate. But he believes supply will remain in check, particularly on the upper end of the market. “The difference between cards and stock [is] nobody loves a stock,” he said. “Some people who buy these cards, to get them to sell it is like getting them to take off an arm.”

Research contact: @CNNBusiness

Gray area: Getting a message to grandma during the COVID-19 lockdown

April 20, 2020

Families who are separated during the novel coronavirus pandemic are being forced to find  new ways to communicate—especially with the elderly members of the clan,  who may not even know have heard of Facetime, Skype, or Zoom.

CNN tells the story of 94-four-year old Jane Feld, who used to spend her time playing tennis, attending concerts with friends, and having family members over for dinner at her house in Syracuse, New York. Now she is alone, sheltering in place.

For Feld, who is hard of hearing, video chatting with her grandchildren or other family members poses a challenge. She has a caption-call phone, but the live captions don’t always work well. Therefore, to keep in touch during this time, she mostly uses email.

“I’m not too comfortable with tech stuff,” Feld told CNN Business in an email interview. “Email has definitely helped me keep track of offspring and grands. Hours on the phone wear me out, but it’s easy to roll with email. Just let me know you’re OK and we’ll get together as soon as possible. With a virtual hug and kiss.”

She is not alone. Only 26% of Internet users 65 years and older feel “very confident” when using computers, smartphones or other electronics to do what they need to do online, according to a 2015 study from Pew Research. More than that, it’s no perfect substitute for the real-life interactions they’ve long been accustomed to.

“Of course, it’s not the same as in person,” Meredith Doubleday, Feld’s granddaughter, told the cable news outlet. “It definitely doesn’t replace that, but it sure helps. I’m very grateful that we can still email. She keeps reminding me that in high school she was an excellent typist.”

Abby Godard has regular virtual dance parties over Apple’s FaceTime video calling feature with her 83-year-old grandmother Yvonne Simon Perotti, who lives about 15 minutes away from her in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. Godard and her extended family also get together weekly on Zoom, including with her grandmother and 78-year-old grandfather Charlie Perotti.

The Perottis consider themselves quite tech adept for their ages and have figured out how to use services like Zoom on their own. “In our neighborhood, we have a book club. So, we have a virtual book club meeting with Zoom, which is kind of cool,” said Charlie Perotti.

Other families are turning to gadgets such as smart picture frames to communicate. Ann Fraser bought a ViewClix picture frame in 2018 for her 92-year-old mother Lorraine Tangney so they could keep in touch when Fraser and her husband moved to Florida. The smart picture frame, which is designed for seniors and doesn’t require them to learn new technology, lets multiple family members share photos, conduct live video calls, and post virtual sticky notes with messages to their loved one.

In normal times, her family members upload pictures of themselves and their travels to the frame. But during the pandemic, her relatives are relying on the video chatting function to keep in contact with Tangney, who is in an assisted living facility in Massachusetts. Her family set up the picture frame in front of her favorite chair. When a ViewClix video call comes in, it’s set to automatically connect so Tangney doesn’t have to get up to answer it.

“I called her the other day on it, and the nurse was in her room, so she was able to be like ‘Oh look someone’s calling you on it.’ We had a whole conversation on it, she was so excited,” Leah Briscoe, her granddaughter, told CNN. “We tried to do the tablet thing with her, and it wasn’t successful. She can’t really talk on the phone anymore, so we needed to get a little bit more creative with how we were going to keep in touch with her.” Fraser called the frame a “priceless” way of communicating with her. The 10.1-inch frame costs $199,; the 15.6-inch version sells for $299.

ViewClix said it’s seen a 201% jump in video calls from February to March. Over a five-day period in mid-March, the company said it sold out of several months of stock of both its frame options. Skylight ($159), another digital frame aimed at seniors, said it has seen a similar increase in usage: the number of video messages sent to frames has tripled compared to last month, and early April sales are three times higher than a month ago.

But for other seniors, new devices are just too difficult to figure out. Alexandra DeLessio and her family bought her 88-year-old grandmother Rosemary Adams a Facebook Portal smart speaker, which start at $129, and walked her through how to operate it, even practicing it with her. But Adams has never used it on her own because she can’t remember how.

Adams now lives in an assisted living facility, and no visitors are allowed to come inside due to the pandemic. So her family has come up with a safe, in-person way to interact: Adams comes out onto her balcony, and DeLessio, her parents and sister shout to her from outside.

Her grandmother shouts back.

Research contact: @CNN

Party pooper: Helium shortage forces Party City to close 45 stores

May 13, 2019

The party’s over. Party City is struggling to find enough helium gas to fill balloons—among the company’s most profitable services—and will, therefore, close 45 of its 900 locations in North America this year to make up for lost earnings, CNN Business reports.

Helium is the second-most abundant element in the galaxy, yet supplies have been running short on Earth. Over the past few years, some drillers have claimed to find troves of helium buried underground, but those haven’t always panned out. Party City said it really started feeling the pinch in August 2018.

The company’s mylar balloon sales fell 8% last quarter, dragging overall sales down 1.4% at Party City stores open at least a year. Sales would have risen if not for the Party City’s balloon problems, the company said on May 9.

Filling balloons with helium is among the company’s most profitable services, Barclays’ Matt McClintock told the cable news network. Helium brings people into the store, and those customers usually buy other items instead of purchasing on Amazon or at another store

The good news for Party City is that the company has signed an agreement with a new helium supplier. Party City believes the new supplier can help it return its balloon business back to normal starting in the summer, and it hopes the supplies will last for the next two-and-a-half years.

“We believe this new source should substantially eliminate the shortfall we are experiencing,” said Party City CEO James Harrison in a statement.

The bad news is Party City said its helium shortage will continue through the spring. That’s bad timing: May is a big month for balloons.

“Obviously graduation is a big season for balloons, no doubt about that,” said Harrison on a conference call with Wall Street analysts on May 9.

And once Party City gets its helium back, its new supplier will charge more than its last provider. So it will have to raise balloon-filling prices, CNN said.

Helium still remains cheap, and Party City doesn’t expect the higher prices to hurt sales in the long-run. It may also be able to eat some of that cost over time, Harrison predicted. But he said higher helium prices may be here to stay.

“Over time, will helium come back down in price? Nobody knows. We’ll see,” Harrison said.

Research contact: @PartyCity

Theranos whistleblowers launch advisory group on ethical practices for tech startups

April 4, 2019

March seemed to be “Theranos month” on U.S. television, as network, premium cable, and streaming channels ran stories on the stunning rise and fall of the Silicon Valley company helmed by Elizabeth Holmes—who claimed she had found a way to test for a full range of diseases with a small blood sample and a “magic box.”

Now, Erika Cheung and Tyler Shultz—two former employees who blew the whistle on Theranos—have launched a new organization called Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which seeks to help other entrepreneurs from suffering the same fate as Holmes, CNN reports.

Cheung, who lives in Hong Kong, is the former Theranos lab worker who tipped off the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to look into the blood testing startup.

Shultz, who is the grandson of Theranos board member and former Secretary of State George Shultz, was an ex-research engineer instrumental in helping Wall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou expose the company, according to the news outlet..

Theranos had a reported $9 billion valuation and employed hundreds of workers who bought into its mission to create a cheaper and more efficient alternative to traditional blood testing methods. After Carreyrou’s initial investigation into the company in 2015, its technology and testing methods started to unravel.

In March 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled charges against Theranos and Holmes, over “massive fraud “involving more than $700 million raised from investors. In September, Theranos announced plans to dissolve itself. The company remains the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.

Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which is seeking non-profit status in the United States and Hong Kong, according to CNN, wants to make talking about ethical practices the norm in the startup world. The founders plan to help connect early stage entrepreneurs to ethicists, seasoned entrepreneurs, and other relevant industry experts who can guide them on how to make ethical decisions when building a company. It also plans to make available tools and frameworks for ethical decisions that benefit businesses, employees and consumers.

There were so many instances, even for someone like Elizabeth Holmes, to turn back and say, ‘I’m taking things a little too far here,'” Cheung told CNN Business. “She had many opportunities to — even at the very end, she could have said, ‘OK, I’m sorry. I messed up. I’ll stop processing patient samples and I’m going to get my team together, we’re going to work on this and we’re going to make a good product.’ I don’t think she’s ever said that, until she had to go to court and say those things.'”

The organization is accepting donations on its website to help support the development of resources guides and workshops.

“I do think entrepreneurship can empower people and empower society but we also have to not let things escalate to this degree,” Cheung said.

Research contact: @saraashleyo

A brush with greatness? 1 million people have joined this ‘no-frills’ electric toothbrush startup

January 11, 2019

Step away from the sink. It turns out that most of us stubbornly persist in brushing our teeth the wrong way—without the optimal instruments.

In fact, according to Simon Enever, an industrial engineer who designed the new Quip system along with his friend Bill May, “Years of toothbrush ‘innovation’ [have] barely improved the humble toothbrush and, instead, [have] only served to overshadow the far more damaging, habitual problems that still persist.

“Brushing too hard, not brushing long enough, not brushing twice a day, not replacing your brush, and not going to the dentist are issues that are ignored–yet have far greater impact on oral health than a ‘Bluetooth Ultra Sonic’ toothbrush alone could ever have,” he says, “We set out to address that.”

The two designers spent a year gathering insights from dentists. Enever says he was shocked to learn that the average person brushes his or her teeth for only one minute instead of the recommended two; and that most people wait around nine months to change their worn out electric toothbrush heads, rather than the dentist recommended three months.

Now, CNN Business reports, Quip has 1 million customers to whom it delivers dental education, a streamlined routine, automated upkeep, and $5 rewards for dental visits.

And the price is right. The starter kit costs $25 for a plastic model and $40 for a metal version. For a $5 fee, subscribers are sent a new brush head every three months

For $65 a year, a customer can purchase a prepaid plan that covers a starter set—electric toothbrush, multi-use cover/mount, and a larger toothpaste—and then continue to receive a fresh brush head, an AAA battery, and a large toothpaste every three months.

According to CNN, the battery-operated Quip uses sonic vibrations (where the motor vibrates the bristles back and forth) instead of rotations, providing “a higher level of cleaning.”

Each brushing is automatically programmed to last two-minutes and consists of 30-second intervals so that users can cover each zone in the mouth. Quip is meant to be portable and has a holder that can be attached to the wall with a suction cup.

The first shipment went out in November 2015 and the rest is history.

Research contact: @quip

Open for business: The all-news cable network launches CNN Business out of a San Francisco bureau

October 5, 2018

CNN launched a new website on October 4, dubbed CNN Business, which the cable network says will offer a new look and a new editorial focus—and will be produced out of a brand-new San Francisco bureau.

The goal of the site, CNN said in a formal release, is “to chronicle the digital transformation of business and how it is disrupting every corner of the global economy.” The all-news network says it will do just that “through exclusive interviews and breaking news, new franchises and verticals; and digital video, including an expanded suite of live streaming content.”

Jason Farkas, who has been named the VP and general manager of the business news platform, explained how the idea originated: “To understand business in 2018, we have to recognize that every company is now a technology company,” he said, adding, “At CNN Business, we’re living the story we’re reporting – and transforming how we will cover the future.”

Previously, Farkas oversaw digital video and TV for CNNMoney, CNN Tech, and CNN Media, including serving as executive producer of the Sunday show, Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter. (Note: With the launch of CNN business, the network will sunset CNNMoney.)

 Adding to a suite of bureaus in New York, Washington, Hong Kong, London, UAE, and India with deep expertise in global business—including companies, markets, tech, and media—the new San Francisco office is now open; with reporters covering big tech, startups, venture capital, and cryptocurrency.

Two new verticals within CNN Business will tackle the companies, personalities, and innovations that are driving business forward:

  • Perspectives: Thought leaders in global business, like Melinda Gates, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer, and Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman share their insights on the future and opinions on the present; and
  • Success: Heralding achievement in careers, leadership, and strategy, the CNN Business team says it “is digging in on how we can all explore entrepreneurship, chart our career path, and translate wealth into happiness.”

In addition, “a new stream of franchises” will explore the ways in which innovation is impacting the U.S. economy—highlighting features such as:

  • Center Piece: A weekly deep dive feature, ranging from profiles of emerging business leaders and industry trends, to investigative looks at the most consequential companies around the world;
  • Leading Indicator: Through premium video and detailed infographics and articles, this series will provide context to the market’s pertinent data points and trends, arming investors with what they need to know;
  • Risk Takers: A definitive list of leaders making the boldest bets in business— risk takers who took a gamble and changed their company, industry, and the future of business; and
  • ‘United States of Amazon’: A multi-part reporting initiative on Amazon that will provide 10 angles and exclusives over a week about how America’s most ambitious company is changing every aspect of our lives and economy.

In addition to the new franchises and verticals, CNN Business will continue to produce live-stream programming including the freshly debuted “Markets Now,” the network’s weekly live show from the floor of the NYSE, which streams Wednesdays at 12:45 p.m. (ET).

CNN Business will be fully integrated across CNN and CNN International on-air programming, with branded segments fronted by Anchor Julia Chatterley; Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans; Anchor and Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter; and Correspondent and CNN Business Editor-at-Large Richard Quest.

Research contact: Emily.Kuhn@cnn.com