Thruppence: Can Snapchat unmask dodgy borrowers?

By Breakingviews Columnists
May 11, 2015

Alternative lender Affirm has raised $275 mln for a model that rates creditworthiness using social media data alongside other old-school indicators. Breakingviews columnists debate whether info gleaned from Facebook and its ilk could supplant traditional credit-scoring methods.

Facebook is near-universal buyer in virtual world

June 6, 2014

The $160 bln website’s users are worth nearly $130 each. WhatsApp, at $19 bln or $42 per user, was a relative steal. Users of Twitter and Japan’s Line look cheap, too. Clamp on an Oculus Rift and there’s a case for Mark Zuckerberg to buy most of the planet’s social and chat apps.

AOL pinned down by girly startup on a shoestring

January 26, 2012

The fading online firm hopes to regain its shine by focusing on the female demographic - an audience often ignored in male-dominated Silicon Valley. The plan has yet to pan out. Yet startup Pinterest is using the same strategy to grow rapidly - and at a fraction of the cost.

Facebook IPO will put public markets to shame

January 30, 2012

Unlike Google’s 2004 stock sale, everyone who’s anyone has already made a killing on the social network, from sharp VCs to Chinese and Russian billionaires to Goldman’s top clients. Hell, even Microsoft is up big. At $100 bln, it’s hard to imagine much is left for the hoi polloi.

Twitter revolt could march next on proxy season

February 23, 2012

Social media enabled uprisings in the Middle East, Occupy protests and even blowback against banking fees. A logical next step would be to give a stronger voice to shareholders. And lighting a fire under complacent institutional investors would be a real coup.

Crowdfunding for the masses may spoil its promise

March 21, 2012

Allowing firms to raise capital online or using social media is a good idea. But bringing in novice investors demands stronger rules for startups, which U.S. lawmakers don’t seem to appreciate. Without safeguards like audited financials, wider crowdfunding will be a disaster.

Review: Censors are still China’s newsmakers

February 1, 2013

Journalists fight for the right to break news - but China’s propaganda machine is far from broken. A recent book shows how and why the news is made. It’s still mostly by the state - and for the state.

Maybe Twitter should Google its IPO

August 15, 2013

In anticipation of the $10 bln social network going public, the search engine’s 2004 example is worth considering. Google catered to individual investors with an auction-style sale. Though flawed, the approach would be a solid one for Twitter, especially after Facebook’s debacle.

Twitter prospectus edits will be worth following

September 18, 2013

New U.S. rules mean there’s scarcely 140 characters so far about the micro-messaging service’s IPO. When changes are made public, it will repay investors to comb SEC modifications for red flags. On the checklist will be funny financial metrics and multiple share classes.

Mark Zuckerberg’s new IPO religion wins disciples

October 18, 2013

The Facebook founder’s early contempt for going public was supposed to influence a generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The stock’s calamitous debut only reinforced the disdain. Zuckerberg and Facebook have come around, though – and many other tech firms are set to follow.