Bay Area School Gets Rich Quick On Snapchat Investment

Saint Francis High School just taught us all a lesson in finance.

The Mountain View, California, private school parlayed a $15,000 Snapchat investment it made years ago into more than $20 million after the social-sharing company went public in a big way on Thursday, CBS in San Francisco reported.

“I’m not so sure that I call it divine intervention, but I’ll tell you what: If you can turn $15,000 into the vast amount of money that this return will bring, then you have to say God’s looking out for us,” former school president Kevin Makley told the station.

IPO shares of Snap Inc. jumped on the New York Stock Exchange from $17 to $24.48 in the company’s debut on Thursday.

Current school president Simon Chiu estimated the profit to be in the “neighborhood of $23 million.”

Saint Francis High School got in on the action in 2012 when school parent Barry Eggers persuaded the school’s investment fund to back Snapchat after watching his daughter and her friends tinkering with the app, according to the Mountain View Voice.

“We didn’t have real high expectations,” former president Makley told CNN. “We collectively decided that this was going to be a … small investment. So we’ll take a shot at it.”

According to the CBS segment, numerous stock splits before the IPO meant the school was holding millions of shares. It sold two-thirds of those shares at the IPO price.

Chiu told the Voice he hopes to beef up the school’s endowment fund to help families in need ― but said it will be up to the school board to decide how to allocate the money.

“We want to make this education accessible to as many students and families as possible,” he said.

NBCUniversal Invested $500 Million In Snap Inc As Part Of IPO

Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) NBCUniversal said on Friday it had invested $500 million in Snap Inc (SNAP.N) as it continues to spend heavily on digital media companies.

Snap’s shares jumped 8.6 percent to $26.59 in early trading. The company finished its first day of trading with a 44 percent gain compared to its IPO price of $17.00.

The investment was made as a part of the Snapchat owner’s initial public offering, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke said in a memo to employees.

Earlier, CNBC reported that Snap’s stock allocation to NBCUniversal seems to be the only one made to a new strategic investor, making NBCUniversal the lone U.S. media company with a stake.

Comcast has invested heavily in digital-native companies such as BuzzFeed and Vox Media, partly in an effort to better service existing advertisers.

“With the Snap investment, we have invested over $1.5 billion in promising digital businesses in the last eighteen months,” Burke said in the memo.

NBCUniversal has already launched entertainment programs such as The Voice, SNL and E! News’ The Rundown on Snapchat. The media company said it expects to launch more Snapchat shows in the coming weeks.

NBCUniversal has agreed to hold Snap’s shares for at least a year, according to the CNBC report.

Snap disclosed last month that it expected investors buying up to a quarter of its shares in the company’s $3.4 billion initial public offering to agree not to sell them for a year.

Lock-up periods help companies moderate stock volatility by preventing company insiders from selling their shares within an allotted time.

NBCUniversal courted Snap co-founder Evan Spiegel for the past year, CNBC said, and both companies have been working on deepening their relationship.

Snap declined to comment beyond details noted in its prospectus and other U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Comcast’s shares were marginally lower.

(Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Anya George Tharakan; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Where To Invest Your Money In The Trump Era

Donald Trump is president, like it or not. And with a new administration comes changes in policy that will affect your portfolio. Some Trump policy changes and key Cabinet appointments came quickly, and their impact on financial markets has already started taking hold. In other areas, we have little more than general comments from the administration to indicate policy direction.

Whatever you may think about the changes, it’s a good time to assess the investment risks and opportunities — which sectors are likely to surge, and which might flounder — under the Trump administration. Here are eight worth examining:

1. Infrastructure opportunities brewing

Possibly one of the most obvious bets is in construction companies. Pipelines and giant walls are just two of the sorts of projects Trump has advocated during his first weeks in office. As a candidate, he also promised a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild many of the nation’s roads and bridges.

If he can convince Congress to pay for it all, there could be lots of money flowing to construction companies over the next few years. Industrial equipment maker Caterpillar could see some of this cash come their way to purchase the backhoes and bulldozers required for big projects. Cemex, a Mexican company that makes concrete and cement, could also do well.

The possibilities go beyond bridges and roads; there may also be major improvements and expansions to the nation’s communication networks and power infrastructure — a potential boon for companies that make and install things like power lines and fiber optic cables.

2. Energy industry shifts

Companies that mine uranium and run nuclear power plants are excited by the prospects under the Trump administration, owing to comments that suggest he’s pro-nuclear. Professionals urge care in investing in the industry, since it is quite volatile.

Oil and gas companies have also rallied, since Trump seems to be a friend to companies that pull carbon out of the ground. One strong indication was his appointment of Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, to be his secretary of state.

Trump often talks about revitalizing coal — in part by removing environmental regulations to rev up the industry — but problems with coal go beyond those regulations and are unlikely to be solved by the president. For one thing, plentiful natural gas has supplanted coal as the fuel of choice for utilities and other big users.

Trump’s comments also signal renewable energy may become a loser. If his policies lower gas and oil prices, people won’t be as quick to switch to environmentally friendly energy sources like solar. Additionally, federal subsidies for these industries may dry up.

While you can always buy shares in large companies like ExxonMobil or BP, it might be safer to look for a fund you like that trades in the sector. Check out, “Think Oil Will Rebound? Here’s How to Pump Some Profits,” for ideas

Uber Has A Secret Program Called ‘Greyball’ It Uses To Evade Police

For years, Uber used a secretive software tool known internally as “Greyball” to identify and steer its drivers clear of potential threats ― including law enforcement officers hoping to catch Uber operating in their cities illegally.

UPDATE: March 9 ― Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan announced late Wednesday that the company is reviewing its use of “greyballing” technology and “expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward.”


According to The New York Times, which first reported the story, the company deployed the software in cities that deemed the ride-hailing service illegal or otherwise tried to slow the company’s rapid expansion.

The Times reports that Uber’s software clues into a number of signs from prospective riders to determine whether they might pose a threat to the company or its drivers, notably in the form of enforcement officers trying to catch Uber operating illegally.

This includes the rider’s behavior using the app itself, such as the phone type, and patterns in the frequency of its use. Another clear tell: interacting with the app in close proximity to police stations and other government buildings.

In 2014, for instance, officials in Portland, Oregon, sued Uber for operating in the city illegally, and promised to hit every driver caught working for the service with a fine of up to $3,750.

The threat accomplished little, as Uber continued operating anyway. Portland officers pushed forward with sting operations in an attempt to catch the unlicensed operators, yet were stymied as drivers repeatedly canceled their rides, as this 2014 video by The Oregonian demonstrates:

“There were two drivers that were available at one point in time, and they both canceled on me,” Portland Code Enforcement Officer Erich England comments in the video, giving a perplexed shrug. “Now there are no drivers available.”

Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman acknowledged the city’s relationship with Uber was “pretty tumultuous” in 2014, but he told The Huffington Post that doesn’t excuse the company’s behavior.

“I’m appalled that Uber would direct its employees to work on developing software to deliberately thwart the efforts of Portland, and no doubt other cities,” Saltzman told HuffPost. He characterized the city’s regulatory efforts as dedicated to “the safety and wellbeing of our citizens and our tourists.”

Portland and Uber smoothed over their relationship in 2015, but Saltzman said the city would consider levying fines or banning the company (again), should it run afoul of regulations.

GM Sells Opel To French Company For $2.3 Billion, Exits Europe

PARIS/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – PSA Group has agreed to buy Opel from General Motors in a deal valuing the business at 2.2 billion euros ($2.3 billion), the companies said on Monday, creating a new regional car giant to challenge market leader Volkswagen.

The maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars vowed to return Opel and its British Vauxhall brand to profit, targeting an operating margin of 2 percent within three years and 6 percent by 2026 underpinned by 1.7 billion euros in joint cost savings.

PSA shares jumped 4 percent after Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said GM’s European arm could be turned around using some of the lessons from the French group’s own recovery.

“We’re confident that the Opel-Vauxhall turnaround will significantly accelerate with our support,” he said.

By acquiring Opel, PSA leapfrogs French rival Renault to become Europe’s second-ranked carmaker by sales, with a 16 percent market share to VW’s 24 percent.

Last year, PSA and GM Europe recorded a combined 72 billion euros in revenue and 4.3 million vehicle deliveries.

GM will receive 1.32 billion euros for the Opel manufacturing business – 650 million euros in cash and 670 million in PSA share warrants.

An additional 900 million euros will be paid by the Paris-based carmaker and BNP Paribas for Opel’s financing arm, to be operated jointly and consolidated by the French bank.

The sale of Opel seals GM’s exit from Europe. Eight years after coming close to a sale to Canada’s Magna International, the Detroit auto giant has faced renewed investor pressure to offload the business and focus on raising profitability rather than chase the global sales crown currently held by VW.

After fending off 2015 merger overtures by Fiat Chrysler with support from her board, GM boss Mary Barra agreed to target a 20 percent minimum return on invested capital and pay out more cash to shareholders.