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Friday Financial Five – April 25th, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

 

High frequency traders face lawsuit

It was just a matter of time before the practice of high frequency trading, recently exposed on a national stage by Michael Lewis, faced a legal challenge. Front running typically pertains to one party buying or selling based on another parties’ non-public trading information. With that in mind, the initial class action lawsuit (filed by the city of Providence) may have merit, based on the accusation that high frequency traders front run electronically. It will also be interesting to see how any projected damages would be calculated. There are plenty of well known names on the list of defendants and the number of plaintiffs is expected to grow.

IRS audits small percentage of large partnerships

It stands to reason that the Internal Revenue Service would utilize resources to most cost effectively review tax returns. This usually means a focus on the bigger fish, so the government is bringing in more tax revenue than it spends to perform audits. But as Reuters points out, according to the Government Accountability Office, less than one percent of large financial partnerships with over $100 million in assets were audited in 2013. This is a tax advantaged group and includes hedge funds. The IRS responded to the GAO report "budget reductions over the past few years have severely limited our work in this area."

No signs of the “wealth effect”

According to the chief economist at JP Morgan Chase, the abundance of wealth created in the last five years has yet to materialize in a commensurate increase in consumer spending. The “wealth effect” in economics surmises that increased wealth will lead to increased spending, increasing economic activity. Many dispute that attaining wealth will cause individuals to spend, especially if those with increased wealth were already rich. Plenty of evidence suggests spending doesn’t increase or decrease with the stock market. Also, the country is de-leveraging, focusing on individual responsibility for retirement, and facing an increased tax environment. It makes sense that increases in wealth would be saved or used to pay off consumer debt.

Setback in March home sales

Home purchases in much of the country hit a snag in March, a sign housing momentum is slowing. Despite the downturn in sales, prices of both new homes and existing homes continue upward. The median new home price hit $298,000 and the median existing home price hit $198,000. The combination of higher prices and increased mortgage requirements may be putting the strain on buyers, but sellers apparently are continuing to hold firm on price.

The settlement that apparently wasn’t a settlement

The recent news that Bank of America had settled for $9.5 billion may not be the end of that issue. The Justice Department is interested in making sure BOA becomes the leader of the pack in mortgage related restitution, requesting payback totaling more than JP Morgan’s $13 billion settlement. According to Bloomberg, BOA has already spent over $50 billion since 2008 resolving this mortgage issue.

Dan Forbes is a regular contributor on financial issues. He is a CFP Board Ambassador. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in Providence, RI and can be reached at [email protected] .

 

Related Slideshow: Worcester’s Tech Startups


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BuzzLanes

Buzz Lanes started out as a small idea for a Business Model Competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Success there led to the semifinalist round at Harvard, and a new business that aims to accelerate the careers of talented musicians that don’t have big marketing campaign resources.

“As graduates of WPI’s School of Business, and with several years of experience in the entertainment world, we decided to push forward and make Buzz Lanes a reality,” said Gonazlo Cruz Blanco, the man behind Buzz Lanes.

A native of Spain, Blanco's passion for music and business led to the creation of this monthly subscription music platform. One of the bands he’s promoting right now is Heffay, a Worcester Hip Hop band.

“It’s a win-win situation: musicians grow their fan base and connect with new fans, and the fans will always have the opportunity to find new music they haven’t heard before.”

The company's online Beta version launches April 4, 2014

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Salespod (Repsly)

Salespod makes mobile/cloud software for organizations to manage field teams and the data that they collect.

“We currently have 2200 users in 31 countries, and are growing 10 to 15 percent per month. We are getting ready to launch a major marketing initiative and expect to grow to over 10,000 users this year,” said Mat Brogie, Salespod, Inc. COO.

“The software runs on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, and there is a web based management console that managers use to see where and when field reps perform their activities, and to analyze the data these field reps generate.”

Salespod has a research and development office in Zagreb, Croatia, and has established the Worcester office to launch its US presence. The company started in Worcester last year with only 800 users.

“There is a growing culture entrepreneurism in the city, and the physical changes in town add to the energy that is building … not to mention the economics are extremely friendly for a start-up trying to maximize the use of cash.”

Salespod announced in March that they would be making a name/logo change to Repsly.

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Incite Advisors, Inc

Incite Advisors, Inc. provides Web application development services for applications in the healthcare and life sciences.

“We are focused on data driven applications and visualizing big data. Our largest client has hired us to develop a web/mobile application that allows doctors to capture patient diagnostic information in the natural course of their work,” said Incite founder and President Ronald Ranauro.

“The application will allow for rapid updates as medical knowledge advances. The idea is that by using the computer care teams can more easily coordinate services. We are also developing a web application for visualizing and searching big picture trends in clinical trials. In support of our work, we have developed an open source software toolkit called BoxspringJS.”

Ranauro grew up in Central Massachusetts and graduated from WPI. He said his company is reaching out to the student population to offer training and real world experience on paid customer projects.

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Technocopia

Technocopia is a non-profit (tax-exempt status pending) geared towards creating open-source technologies that will benefit the whole world. As part of this mission they are opening a “hackerspace” in Worcester, which will serve as a home-base for their research and development of these technologies, as well as a common collaborative space for anyone in Central Massachusetts to make their own projects into reality.

Their hackerspaces feature a lounge, kitchen, conference space and computer stations. Technocopia intends to support the development of open-source technology that will allow any individual, family, or community to sustainably and independently satisfy their own humanitarian needs. These needs are defined loosely as things such as nutritious food, clean water, shelter, electricity, medicine, and free access to knowledge (the internet).

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Mass Biomedical

Self-described as “World class incubators for world class science,” Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI) is dedicated to job creation and innovative healthcare throughout Massachusetts by promoting the growth of start-up biomedical companies. MBI is committed to collaborating with the academic, business and government communities to promote Massachusetts as the world leader in the health sciences industry.

Kevin O’Sullivan is the President & CEO of MBI, located on Prescott Street. O’Sullivan describes the company as a private, independent economic development organization that serves as a catalyst for life science and healthcare innovation.

“We help start biomedical companies and create jobs within the Biotechnology, Medical Device, Informatics, and Biomanufacturing industry by providing secure, clean bench and sink surface, staff trained and fully licensed laboratory space for usage by ‘seed stage’ companies. Building and maintaining collaborative affiliations and partnerships are essential to our success.”

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MassDiGI

What would a tech company list be without a little fun? While neighboring Rhode Island smarts over Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios disaster, MassDiGI is pushing academic cooperation, entrepreneurship and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem.

MassDiGI is a US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center. Since starting up, MassDiGI has launched several initiatives that support entrepreneurship and strengthen the talent pipeline between higher education and the game industry.

Timothy Loew, Executive Director of MassDiGI, formerly held senior positions in business, development and academic planning at Becker College.

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Compex Software

Jonathan Vo, Principal and Founder of Compex Software, is another Worcester Polytechnic Institute grad succeeding in the WPI neighborhood.

Vo’s software company has successfully deployed many of its software applications at hundreds of specialized operations throughout the US. Like others on this list, Compex Software came about as result of a student project. Vo did so well that he was recommended to an independent company and he’s never looked back.

Compex Software designs, develops and implements integrated business management software solutions to help small- and medium- sized businesses manage their operations. This includes manufacturing, inventory tracking, job costing, quality control, and accounting.

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CellMosaic

Yumei Huang is the Founder, President & CEO, CellMosaic, Inc. The company recently signed a collaboration research agreement (CRADA) with the National Cancer Institute to co-develop two AqT based conjugate drugs. One is an antibody-drug conjugate for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma and another is a protein-drug conjugate targeting CA125 for the treatment of ovarian cancer.

Under the agreement, NCI will provide its proprietary antibody and CellMosaic will design and synthesize an antibody-drug conjugate and protein-drug conjugate using its proprietary AqT linker and advanced conjugation processes. The CRADA grants CellMosaic an exclusive license option from NCI for any new products developed under this CRADA.

 
 

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