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NBC investigates public company that changed its name to Riot Blockchain

NBC investigates public company that changed its name to Riot Blockchain

and saw its shares rocketNBC investigates public company that changed its name to Riot Blockchain and saw its shares rocket

CNBC investigates a public company that changed its name to Riot Blockchain
and saw its shares rocket  

As bitcoin hit record highs in late December, a hot new stock was making news on a daily basis. Riot Blockchain's stock shot from $8 a share to more than $40, as investors wanted to cash in on the craze of all things crypto. But Riot had not been in the cryptobusiness for long. Until October, its name was Bioptix, and it was known for having a veterinary products patent and developing new ways to test for disease. That might sound somewhat like the type of newly minted blockchain company that has gained SEC attention.

"Nobody should think it is OK to change your name to something that involves blockchain when you have no real underlying blockchain business plan and try to sell securities based on the hype around blockchain," SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said, speaking in generalities in recent testimony to Congress. The SEC declined to comment to CNBC about Riot Blockchain. The company did make an investment in a cryptocurrency exchange in September and two months later did purchase a company that has cryptocurrency mining equipment, but paying more than $11 million for equipment worth only $2 million, according to SEC filings.

That purchase and the company's name change aren't Riot's only questionable moves. A number of red flags in the company's SEC filings also might make investors leery: annual meetings that are postponed at the last minute, insider selling soon after the name change, dilutive issuances on favorable terms to large investors, SEC filings that are often Byzantine and, just this week, evidence that a major shareholder was getting out while everyone else was getting in.

Despite Riot Blockchain's latest quarterly report showing a company in the red, its annual meeting was twice set to take place at the swanky Boca Raton Resort and Club in Florida. The resort is known as the "pink palace" and has luxury yachts lined up on its dock.But with less than one day's notice, Riot twice "adjourned" its annual meeting, first scheduled for Dec. 28 and then for Feb. 1. It's not clear the company ever planned to have the meeting. Numerous employees at the hotel told CNBC it had no reservations for either date under the name of Riot Blockchain or any affiliated entity.

Riot's filings reveal that Barry Honig may be the man behind the Riot Blockchain curtain. That would explain why a company formerly headquartered in Colorado might suddenly host its annual meeting in Boca Raton. That sunny location would certainly be convenient for Honig, once the company's largest shareholder, whose office is a short drive from the hotel. He once owned more than 11 percent of the outstanding common stock, according to SEC filings.

"My history of investing's pretty good. I invest in public companies," Honig told CNBC by phone. "It was an investment where I had a return. And I sold some shares. There's nothing wrong with doing that." Barry Honig, a venture capitalist and micro-cap investor, was once one of the largest investors in Riot Blockchain.Honig became active in Riot in April 2016 when it was a veterinary testing company with a different name. He led an activist campaign to replace the board in September 2016 and won the fight in January 2017.

After his victory, attorneys say, red flags began to appear.

Until January, Honig had an extensive website filled with fawning descriptions of his investment acumen and what he does for companies when he gets involved. "Barry Honig's investment portfolio includes a variety of exciting technology and biotech companies focused on innovation and progress," barryhonig.com stated before it was taken down.

"Typically, Barry Honig invests his hard-earned money into a company, and he also provides strategic guidance to the company pertaining [sic] a variety of aspects, including who should lead the company (he helps put the right people in the right places in most of his investments), what goals and timelines that company should work towards, and a plan for the best way to achieve those goals," the website said.

A visit to the site now only reveals the text: "Under construction."

From the outside, Honig's office is nondescript. There does not appear to be any evidence of his company's existence on the building's directory or on the door of his office.When CNBC crew members walked into the office, they didn't find Honig, they found the CEO of Riot Blockchain, John O'Rourke. That's the same O'Rourke who made headlines when — less than three months after the company changed names and business plans — he sold about $869,000 worth of shares, according to an SEC filing. He told the crew he was there for a meeting with Honig and that we had just missed him.

O'Rourke initially agreed to a formal interview with CNBC and emailed later to say the interview was "confirmed," adding "I think you'll be impressed." Then, late the night before, he backed out via email and said he needed to go to the Midwest to close an acquisition. He agreed to answer questions via email instead. One of CNBC's first questions was whether he worked in the same office as Honig, which could raise eyebrows."I have my own office in a separate location," O'Rourke said in an email sent by his lawyer, Nick Morgan, a partner with Paul Hastings. "I do have a good relationship with Mr. Honig and we speak often."

"John O'Rourke does not work out of my office," Honig said. "John O'Rourke has his own office … at one time John O'Rourke had space in my office … we speak often." Securities attorneys told CNBC that if a CEO were using the office of a major investor, it might raise concerns about the exchange of information. "You just can't imagine that the CEO and the investor are going to have an appropriate wall between them where they're not engaging in discussions or dialogue about what's appropriate for the company on a day to day basis or in the future," said Richard Birns, a corporate partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

John O’Rourke, CEO of Riot Blockchain, shown here with CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, in the office of investor Barry Honig.Despite Honig's website saying he gives advice on who should lead a company, Honig said he had nothing to do with O'Rourke becoming CEO."The board and Michael Beeghley [the CEO before O'Rourke] are the ones that made the decision in regards to John O'Rourke becoming the CEO, okay? John O'Rourke doesn't work for me, okay?" he said.

Birns analyzed Riot Blockchain's SEC filings for CNBC and found additional concerns.

"I see a company that has had a change of control of the board. I see a company that has had a change in business. I see a company that has had several dilutive issuances immediately following the change of the board and change of the business. And I see a stock that has gone zoom," he said. "And what I understand a significant amount of insider selling. So yes, these are red flags." Jacob Zamansky, founder of Zamansky LLC, which specializes in securities fraud, also expressed caution. "With the absence of revenue on the company's current financial statements, I would think investors need to be very cautious of a highly speculative stock with a lot of red flags," he said.

Since Honig's board shake-up,

the company has increased its common stock share count from 4.5 million to more than 11.6 million. On Oct. 2, 2017, two days before announcing the name change to Riot Blockchain, the board approved a dividend payout of more than $9.5 million, according to SEC filings. Investors who own more than 5 percent of a company's outstanding common stock are required to file a form known as a 13D, which outlines their holdings. Subsequent changes in holdings require a "timely" filing of any changes.

SEC records spanning 14 months show that Honig filed two 13Ds, including one in January 2017 that shows he owned 11.19 percent. After Riot's name change sent the company's shares soaring, Honig cashed out and filed the second 13D in February showing he owned less than 2 percent of outstanding common stock along with a small number of warrants. His purchase price ranged from $2.77 to $5.32 per share, according to the list of trades he provided to the SEC in 2017. Honig's investment dropped below 5 percent, the threshold for SEC filing, on Nov. 28. At that point, the stock had already climbed above $20.

Honig did not disclose his dramatically reduced position in the stock until this week. But that may not be the true extent of Honig's selling. Buried deep in the footnotes of Riot filings, it's clear Honig also accumulated more than 700,000 new warrants that he could convert to stock at $3.56 per share and more than 700,000 promissory notes that he could convert to stock at $2.50 a share.

What about those warrants and promissory notes? It's not clear, as he never mentioned them in either 13D. But in another footnote from a recent Riot filing, there is no longer a mention of them. He declined to further clarify what happened to them. "It's all disclosed in the public filings. And those are all the obligations I have," he said. "I'm very comfortable with what I had to do and what I was obligated to do. … I'm not going to talk about my personal trading history or my bank account."

Birns questioned how Honig made his filings. "It's clear that Mr. Honig, through himself and through the entities that he controls, owns at least a significant amount of stock. Or has the potential to own significant amount of stock in excess of what is reported on the 13D," he said.This is not the first time Honig has faced questions over his actions. In 2000, he was alleged to have committed stock manipulation. Honig was fined $25,000 and suspended for 10 days, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. In 2003, he let his broker's license lapse. "The answer's no," Honig said when asked if he still manipulates stocks.

SEC filings suggest that when Honig began his charge to take over the board, he was represented by lawyer Harvey Kesner of Sichenzia Ross Ference Kesner LLP. A few months later, Kesner's law firm appears on Riot Blockchain's SEC filings.
Kesner's company, Paradox Capital Partners LLC, owns Riot stock, according to SEC filings. When reached by phone, Kesner said he didn't know anything about Rito Blockchain and Barry Honig and hung up. Honig said Kesner was Riot's attorney, but "his law firm has represented me in other issues in the past."
Since its name change, Riot has been a very active company, issuing 23 press releases about acquisitions and new divisions.

One of those acquisitions was Kairos Global Technology Inc., which had been founded less than two weeks before the purchase. Kairos' main asset was $2 million of mining equipment. Riot purchased Kairos for $11.9 million worth of preferred convertible stock, according to SEC filings. O'Rourke told CNBC the company paid a premium for the equipment due to a shortage of mining equipment and difficulties getting it directly from the manufacturer. Kairos appears to have many links to Riot. The company was incorporated by Joe Laxague of Laxague Law Inc., the same lawyer who, SEC filings suggest, represented another major investor in Riot who has owned more than 7.49 percent of the company.

Laxague told CNBC he could not comment when reached by phone and hung up.

Kairos' president was Michael Ho, Nevada records show, a poker player who played at a tournament with two other professional poker players, both of whom are on Riot's advisory board, according to records reviewed by CNBC.

O'Rourke said Riot is using the equipment to mine and that the company is currently mining in Norway and Canada. Despite the many press releases, there has been no formal mining announcement. "We have launched our own Bitcoin mining operation and it will be a focal point for Riot's expansion plans moving forward," is all Riot says on its webpage dedicated to mining. SEC filings are silent on mining activity. As for professional poker players advising Riot? O'Rourke told CNBC the players are investors in the cryptocurrency space with more than 50,000 social media followers. He called them "thought leaders."

Riot is not O'Rourke and Honig's first cryptocurrency investment.

In 2013, they were owners in BTX Trader, a cryptocurrency company, which was acquired by WPCS, a publicly traded company in which Honig had invested, according to court records. WPCS bought BTX on Dec. 17, 2013, just 13 days after it was incorporated in Delaware, according to SEC filings. At the time, WPCS was a communications, infrastructure and contracting company. The stock went up to $435.60 on a split-adjusted basis. It's now trading around $2 after selling off BTX Trader in 2015, according to SEC filings. Just last month, the company changed its name to DropCar after a merger and is now a cloud-services-for-cars company.

O'Rourke, through his lawyer, told CNBC in an email that he made several investments with Honig as co-investor. "BTX Trader was one of our first investments together in the blockchain sector in 2013," he said. "I have a good relationship with Mr. Honig, and he has been a supportive shareholder of Riot." Honig acknowledges the investment. The questions continue for Riot Blockchain. On Tuesday, Riot filed to withdraw prior SEC filings. "It is not the result of any government inquiry," O'Rourke said in an email. "It was just corporate clean up from our securities counsel."

CNBC

Yachts lined the dock behind the Boca Raton Resort & Club, where Riot Blockchain’s annual shareholder meeting was supposed to take place.As for the annual shareholders' meeting, "We did not have a quorum of shareholders required for a vote," O'Rourke said in the email from his lawyer. "We are also working on other corporate action items that would require shareholder approval and a shareholder meeting as well. We did not want to waste the time and expense of potentially having two shareholder meetings within a short period of time. Thus we adjourned the meetings, which is not an uncommon practice."

There is no new date for the shareholders' meeting.

"You see companies adjourn meetings in a context of a contested election and the like," Birns said. "I just don't think in this instance, there's any reason to adjourn their annual meeting."

And as to O'Rourke selling stock in December?

He told CNBC in the email: "I sold less than 10 percent of my overall position to assist with covering tax obligations as a result of so-called phantom income tax from the vesting of restricted stock awards. It is common for Executives to sell stock to cover such tax obligations. I could have sold more stock in that window but chose to sell just 30,383 shares."

O'Rourke welcomes increased regulation and transparency for the cryptocurrency industry. "Unfortunately, as with many new hot sectors, it [blockchain] has attracted some bad actors trying to capitalize on the hype," he said. "Riot is all for increased transparency and properly imposed regulation." Honig would not disclose how much he made on his investment in Riot, "I wasn't fortunate enough to do as well as you might think and people might speculate. … I don't regret anything."

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Thomas Prendergast

Banks Replaced With Blockchain at International Food Program

Banks Replaced With Blockchain at International Food Program

 

 
  • UN organization tests digital wallets built on Ethereum
  • Technology that underlies bitcoin cuts bank transfer costs

International officials are discovering they can sometimes avoid bank fees by replacing currency transfers with the technology at the heart of Bitcoin. The World Food Programme is expanding its blockchain-payments system, said Robert Opp, a director of the United Nations effort that feeds as many as 100 million people across 80 countries. The agency expects to cut millions of dollars in bank transfer fees by switching to distributed ledgers based on Ethereum’s digital-currency network, he said.

“We felt we could replace the services offered by banks with blockchain,” said Opp, who manages innovations that help WFP better spend its annual $6 billion budget. “Blockchain helps promote collaboration by providing enormous amounts of data.” The adoption of the distributed-ledger technology shows how companies that need to make money transfers, register sales or even tally votes are picking and choosing among innovations of the Bitcoin revolution, many times choosing not to use the digital coins associated with them.

Digital registries hosted on a worldwide network of computers

are being tested in many settings for potential to reduce bank wire-transfer costs. Ethereum allows users to issue so-called ether tokens that can be tailored to specific needs. The Ether coin has jumped in value in the last three months.

WFP began developing its blockchain in 2016 and currently is testing the system with 100,000 Syrian refugees who receive food assistance in Jordan. The program in Jordan alone could save $150,000 a month and eliminate 98 percent of bank fees related to transfers, according to Bernhard Kowatsch, the head of a WFP innovation lab in Munich. “We’re putting in place a financial infrastructure,” Opp said. The UN program distributes about $1.4 billion annually of food vouchers and digital entitlements, he said.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

The Key To Your B2B Marketing Strategy: Own It..!!

The Key To Your B2B Marketing Strategy: Own It..!!

The fragmentation of media has led to the rise of owned media.

Marketing plans once revolved around paid and earned media, but their influence has waned over the years, offering diminishing returns at higher price points. That’s not to say that earned and paid media can no longer be effective, but it does mean that to get the most out of them, you must have a robust owned strategy.

What does that mean? In short, for B2B companies, nothing is more important than your website, email, videos, webinars, proprietary research reports, expert commentary and other assets that your marketing department fully controls. You can count social media platforms on that list provided that you understand that to have an effective social media campaign there needs to be a supporting paid strategy. Third-party validation remains instrumental in establishing credibility in the marketplace and among prospects, but earned media reaches its potential when owned media is utilized to provide the context necessary to make an impact with your constituency.

It used to be that earned media was wholly effective on its own. If a national publication that reaches your core prospects wrote a feature on your company, for example, it meant that your prospects were likely reading the story. But with the advent of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, individual stories were less likely to single-handedly drive prospects to your business. Today, stories are archived quickly, which means your prospect either needs to be searching for your business specifically, or they need to be on the website in that small window of time during which your story remains “above the fold.”

That doesn’t mean that a feature article in a national publication no longer has value. It just lacks the direct impact it might’ve had even five years ago. It still boasts cachet, especially if utilized properly — that is, if the article is repurposed as part of your owned media strategy. For example, that article can be featured in your newsletter that is distributed to your email database, which has the potential to have a big impact on a vetted, captive audience. It can be featured on your website, on a company blog or your social media profiles. But for any of that to work properly, you must have a quality email database cultivating prospects and delivering content they respond to. You may need to have an active company blog that you’ve developed into a known quantity in your industry and active social channels with engaged followings.

Owned is potent, but it works best when supported by paid. For instance, having a Facebook presence is important (yes, even for B2B marketers), but Facebook advertising, given what the algorithm gives preference to, is necessary to maximize your owned channel. A Facebook page’s organic reach is about 10% of what it was five years ago, so if you’re not utilizing Facebook advertising, you’re not getting nearly as much value as you should be. You shouldn’t simply throw money at it, but you need to know how to optimize your ads, how to effectively target your ads, and you must understand the value of different types of Facebook ads, such as a carousel ad versus a sponsored post.

Additionally, your website should be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy, but it, too, can and should be bolstered by a paid media strategy. Sure, it needs to have a strategic information architecture that captures the information you need from site visitors, and it needs to be well-designed to snatch your visitors’ attention, but it still needs the support of search engine marketing to optimize your website’s discoverability with the right audience of prospects. Our research, which targeted decision-makers at large and mid-size companies, shows that website and search are the two most influential channels for marketing sales or marketing that takes place when your prospects are at the moment of need. This gives you an idea of how potent these two channels are, particularly when working in concert.

In a world of information and content fractals, investing in your owned channels is chiefly important because that is where you have most control over your message. But the incontrovertible reality of media today is that no single arm — owned, paid or earned — can operate optimally alone. To get the most out of owned media, you’d do well to understand that it does not operate in a vacuum but rather in a media ecosystem that is more intertwined than ever.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

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Thomas Prendergast

Cliff High: “Bitcoin can reach $100.000 in 2018”

Cliff High: “Bitcoin can reach
$100.000 in 2018”

Cliff High’s web bots are predicting bitcoin to reach $64.000

in the first half of 2018 and probably going higher than that to even $100.000. At this point this prediction might sound a little crazy to you… if you think about his last prediction, it isn’t that weird at all! Last year when Bitcoin was around $800 he predicted Bitcoin would hit $13.880 in February 2018 according to the data sets. He still believes that this is going to be true. He said that this would be the price by February 2018, even when he knew it would go higher than that. And it did. It almost hit $20.000.

The $13.800 price is a new base to steady take off again and rise! The $64.000 is the new base to take off to a new ATH in 2018. Before we go past 64, we will get a pull back into the mid 40’s. So the future does look bright for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general. Other big coins like Litecoin, Dash, Monero, Ethereum, and so on will keep going up along with Bitcoin.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Ripple Signs Major Deal with Saudia Arabia’s Central Bank

Ripple Signs Major Deal with Saudia Arabia’s Central Bank

Ripple, the third largest cryptocurrency by market cap, has been on a tear lately, and it has now signed a significant deal with Saudi Arabia’s central bank.

Ripple Rapidly Gaining Traction

Ripple continues to make inroads into the traditional financial sector. It has recently announced a massive deal with the UAE Exchange and a major partnership with Lianlian International. Additionally, Banco Santander is set to roll out Ripple payments in Q1, and just today came the news that Western Union will begin testing XRP transfers.

According to reports, Saudi Arabia’s central bank

has penned a deal with the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency company, which aims to help banks in the oil-rich kingdom settle instantaneous cross-border payments using blockchain software. Specifically, Saudi Arabia will utilize xCurrent, Ripple’s enterprise software solution facilitating such payments with end-to-end tracking. Saudi Arabia’s deal with the cryptocurrency company is the first such blockchain-utilizing pilot program launched by a central bank. Dilip Rao, Ripple’s global head of infrastructure innovation,

says:

Central banks around the world are leaning into blockchain technology in recognition of how it can transform cross-border payments, resulting in lower barriers to trade and commerce for both corporates and consumers.

Saudi Arabia’s partnership with the virtual currency company comes after Gulf regulators have expressed concerns over Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market’s lack of regulation. Thus, Ripple has, unsurprisingly, proven itself to be an attractive offer.

Unlike Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

that are largely founded on the premises of deregulation and decentralization, Ripple has openly marketed itself as a blockchain solution for traditional financial institutions. In turn, the cryptocurrency has long come under criticism for undermining what some consider to be the very foundations of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

Drawing further skepticism from investors is the fact that the vast majority of XRP tokens are owned by Ripple’s parent company, thus making it technically capable of regulating the price of said tokens. XRP saw highs around $3.84 on January 4th but has since fallen as low as $0.59. It is currently trading at $1.12. In December, UAE central bank governor Mubarak Rashed al-Mansouri also told Reuters that the central banks of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are working together in hopes of issuing a digital currency that would help facilitate cross-border transactions between the two countries.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

 

Thomas Prendergast

Cryptocurrency malware will pop up in ‘most unexpected places’ in 2018, researchers say

Cryptocurrency malware will pop up in ‘most unexpected places’ in 2018, researchers say

One of the more unfortunate trends that shaped up as a result

of the massive blockchain boom last year was the sudden proliferation of crypto-jacking scripts – malware designed to steal your CPU power to surreptitiously mine cryptocurrency. And new research suggests the trend is here to stay in 2018. A study conducted by ad-blocking service AdGuard indicates that so-called crypto-jacking threats will likely continue “to be found in the most unexpected places” over the course of this year. Previous AdGuard research had discovered that there are over 33,000 infected websites on the internet, accumulating a total of one billion visits and over $150,000 in mining rewards.

The study further notes this new epidemic partially has to do with the dwindling effectiveness of ad monetization. “The code of mining scripts was being found on websites, in apps, games, browser extensions, and of course in advertising banners and other elements,” the researchers write. “Ads often get infected with malware or mining scripts by hackers that break into ad networks, so even ads of well-known and reliable advertisers can be dangerous.”

While cryptocurrency mining scripts have often been leveraged with unethical intentions in mind, some legitimate websites appear to be also considering adapting their business models to capitalize on this new trend. Indeed, popular publisher Salon is currently experimenting with this approach.

Unlike Salon though, some other websites – like The Pirate Bay and CBS’s Showtime – were caught secretly running scripts to lend visitors’ computing cycles to mine crypto. It is disappointing to know that crypto-jacking will only spread more over 2018, but the good thing is that there are measures you can take to thwart such attempts before they’ve happened – you can find more about that here. Alternatively, you can just download the latest version of Opera, which comes with built-in protection against crypto-jacking.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Are you ready for AI-powered marketing?

Are you ready for AI-powered marketing?

High-touch, multichannel engagement is within every brand’s reach,

but it requires putting AI in the driver’s seat. Want to learn what’s truth, what’s fiction — and most importantly, how to even start applying AI powered marketing for notable returns? Don’t miss this VB Live event featuring Rusty Warner, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Every day consumers engage with brands digitally, which means customer data has gone from megabytes and gigabytes to terabytes and petabytes. Every click, every like, every search updates a user’s personal information, and with AI, all this knowledge can actually be put to work for you, and used to powerful effect on the customer experience. And that’s more essential than ever.

“We really have begun to be very discerning consumers, because we know that the world is our market,” says Rusty Warner, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. “And when brands don’t deliver, it’s very easy for us to look for alternatives.” Consumers get greater buying power, but brands need to step up their game to win in those customer moments of need, offering contextually relevant information that solves a problem or meets a desire.

“The ability to do that goes beyond the traditional marketing capabilities,” Warner says. “We’ve all invested a great deal in digital technologies, but they’re really not able to scale to the level of sophistication required to manage personalized offers and communications in this cross-channel world where we are reacting to a customer-initiated interactions more than relying on marketing on a schedule.”

But it’s too easy

for organizations to leap without looking. “Even though I’m a technologist, I recommend that organizations start with a strategy for what they’re trying to accomplish, and how it will deliver business results,” Warner says. “Look at the organization and determine how ready the organization is to get value from the technology investment. And then look for technology that can solve the problem at hand instead of making a technology investment — and then going to look for a problem to solve.”

Above all,

that means going beyond being customer-obsessed, and becoming customer-led instead. “I know all brands will say that they are customer-aware and that they are doing things to serve their customers, but we need to kick that up a notch so that we’re making decisions based on customer behavior — and so our investments are being driven by that customer behavior,” he says. “We have to leverage all of the data that our customers and their interactions are generating, and become insights-driven when we are led by our customers.”

When you get it right, he adds, it will make you more efficient, it will make the organization smarter, it will make you quicker. And as you mature in using the technology, you will begin to optimize the organization and improve your performance. More importantly, you’ll be able to meet those rising customer expectations when it comes to what those customers are looking for.

“So the question for you is, are you ready?” Warner says. “If you’re thinking about AI, are you looking at your strategy? Are you looking at the problem that you are trying to solve and how AI might help? Have you looked at the organization to see if the culture and the processes are ready, and if you’ve got the right blend of skill sets so that the people on your teams can collaborate to get value from AI?”

To find out just how ready you really are, and what it takes to get there, join Forrester, VentureBeat, and Blueshift in this frank discussion on AI, customer data, and cross-channel marketing. You’ll walk away with a solid understanding of what it takes to develop the right processes, people, and game plan.Don’t miss out!

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Bitcoin Posts Biggest Surge in Weeks

Bitcoin Posts Biggest Surge in Weeks

The Bitcoin Bubble Is Not Going to Pop
There are bright days ahead.
 

Cryptocurrencies are recording their biggest gains in weeks

after the president of the European Central Bank shrugged off talk of a ban. Bitcoin was up more than 7% in early trading Wednesday, gaining over $400 and adding $7.7 billion in market capitalization. In the past week, Bitcoin’s value has bounced back from recent turbulence, adding over $1,100 in value and over $19 billion in market cap.

While European banking officials warned consumers about the highly volatile nature of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and other cryptocurrencies, Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, said in a video response to user submitted questions that no ban or regulation was forthcoming. ‘Many of you posted questions about whether the ECB is going to ban Bitcoins or it’s going to regulate Bitcoins,” he said. ‘I have to say it’s not the ECB’s responsibility to do that.’ Traders had worried that officials would impose regulations on the currency after the head of the head of the World Bank compared cryptocurrencies to “Ponzi schemes” last week.

Bitcoin and other digital currencies aren’t out of the woods yet, though. While the ECB isn’t planning any new rules, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in December he will ask his counterparts in the Group of 20 nations to consider joint regulation of bitcoin. That group is scheduled to meet in March. Bitcoin recorded the biggest gains on the news, but all major cryptocurrencies saw their value increase. Ethereum was up 5.8% just before 9am ET, Ripple eked out a 4% gain. The biggest winner of the morning, though, was Litecoin, which soared 38%. As of 9:00am ET, Bitcoin was trading for $9,288

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Bitcoin Sees Bull Reversal Ahead of Chinese New Year

Bitcoin Sees Bull Reversal Ahead of Chinese New Year

Bitcoin looks set to test the $10,000 mark soon,

as per technical analysis, although some investors fear the Lunar New Year may play spoilsport. Ahead of New Year holidays (starting Feb. 15), Chinese and South Koreans often exchange bitcoin for fiat currencies (to fund increased spending), and bitcoin (BTC) tends to drop in the run-up to the event. Boosting such fears this year is bitcoin's (BTC) recent inability to move above $9,000 in a convincing manner. Since Feb. 10, the cryptocurrency has been restricted to a narrow range of $8,000 to $9,000, shows CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index (BPI). Still, historical data indicates the probability of bitcoin reporting gains this month is high.

  • January was a good month for bitcoin during the three year period of 2012–2014, while the performance was mixed in February.
  • However, since 2015 a clear pattern has been established: BTC drops in January and gains value in February.
  • The 26 percent decline seen in January this year is the second biggest monthly drop since 2015. Going by the pattern seen in the last three years, the cryptocurrency could see gains this month.

Looking at the technical charts, bitcoin has seen a major bullish reversal pattern today. As of writing, the BPI is seen at around $8,800, and has appreciated by 3.76 percent in the last 24 hours, according to data source CoinMarketCap.

4-hour chart

The above chart (prices as per Bitstamp) shows:

  • Inverse head and shoulders breakout – a bullish reversal pattern, indicating a bearish-to-bullish trend change.
  • The previous 4-hour candle closed above the neckline, confirming an upside breakout. As per the measured height method, the breakout has opened the doors for a rally to at least $11,000.

View

  • Historical data show February has been a good month for bitcoin.
  • The short-term technical outlook is bullish, with BTC having potential to rise to $11,000.
  • However, as discussed earlier this week, gains above the $10,000 mark could be transient.
  • Bearish scenario: Failure to capitalize on the inverse head and shoulders breakout followed by a daily close (as per UTC) below $7,625 (Feb. 2 low) could yield a deeper sell-off to $6,000–$5,900.

Chuck Reynolds

Marketing Dept
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Thomas Prendergast

Doctors In Maine Say Halt In OxyContin Marketing Comes ’20 Years Late’

Doctors In Maine Say Halt In OxyContin Marketing Comes '20 Years Late'

Bottles of Purdue Pharma L.P. OxyContin medication

sit on a pharmacy shelf in Provo, Utah, in 2016.George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images.The maker of OxyContin, one of the most prescribed and aggressively marketed opioid painkillers, will no longer tout the drug or any other opioids to doctors.The announcement, made Saturday, came as drugmaker Purdue Pharma faces lawsuits for deceptive marketing brought by cities and counties across the U.S., including several in Maine. The company said it's cutting its U.S. sales force by more than half.

Just how important are these steps against the backdrop of a raging opioid epidemic that took the lives of more than 300 Maine residents in 2016, and accounted for more than 42,000 deaths nationwide?

"They're 20 years late to the game," says Dr. Noah Nesin, a family physician and vice president of medical affairs at Penobscot Community Health Care. Nesin says even after Purdue Pharma paid $600 million in fines about a decade ago for misleading doctors and regulators about the risks opioids posed for addiction and abuse, it continued marketing them. "I think it's similar to the tobacco industry learning they could sell tobacco without spending a lot of money on advertising. My guess is this decision is in their self-interest," he says.

A nationwide lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for deceptive marketing continues to grow. Seven cities in Maine have joined, including Portland, Lewiston and Bangor, along with five counties, to recoup some of the costs of addressing the addiction crisis. A spokesman for Purdue Pharma said in an email that the decision to stop marketing to prescribers is voluntary and independent of any litigation. Nesin says that at the very least, the company's decision to refrain from promoting opioids to doctors reinforces the need for caution when prescribing the drugs.

Maine Medical Association President Dr. Robert Schlager agrees that Purdue Phama's move is a good, if small, step to fight the opioid epidemic. "I wouldn't expect it to have a very large role in limiting opioids further," he says. "Because most of us, as prescribers, do limit our information exchange with the drug representatives who have been marketing opioids."

Thomas Prendergast