The Virtual Border Wall Business Is Booming For Palmer Luckey

Sources told CNBC that Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital giant whose portfolio has included Twitter, Groupon, and Facebook, is among the …

As the story goes, Palmer Luckey was forced out of Facebook over his support for Donald Trump. (Facebook begs to differ.) Now, the Oculus founder is set to cash in big on his MAGA politics. On Wednesday, CNBC reported that Luckey’s defense start-up was valued at over $1 billion in its latest round of fundraising, with blue chip investors looking to get in on the venture.

Per the report, Anduril—the surveillance start-up that’s been providing border control technology to the United States government—saw a boom in its latest fundraising cycle, which isn’t exactly a surprise; the start-up has been cashing in on the Trump administration’s border crackdown, taking on controversial work that many other big tech firms have been unwilling to touch. What’s most notable is the big-name money now backing the venture. Sources told CNBC that Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital giant whose portfolio has included Twitter, Groupon, and Facebook, is among the latest investors to buy into Luckey’s virtual border wall. (Andreessen Horowitz did not provide a comment to CNBC.)

It’s a significant sign of growth for the two-year-old firm, a mainstreaming of sorts for a company with a controversial mandate: using tech to help Trump carry out his draconian anti-immigrant agenda. Luckey, the boyish self-professed libertarian billionaire, has been outspoken in his support of the president. He left Facebook—which he joined in 2014 after selling his virtual reality start-up to Zuck and Co.—in 2017 following reports that he’d donated to pro-Trump groups. From there, he founded Anduril, which he described at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit last year as a “next-generation defense company” applying artificial intelligence and autonomous systems to the defense industry. “I think that the United States does a really good job, especially the military, of making better decisions when they have more information,” he told Axios co-founder Mike Allen. “So we’re trying to give them more information so they can make better decisions.”

While he has distanced himself from certain Trump policies, including country-based restrictions on immigration and family separations at the border, which he’s blamed on existing laws preceding the current administration, Luckey has said he’d vote for the president again in 2020 and supports his border crackdown. “I’m a fan of immigration,” he said at the New Establishment Summit in 2018. “But I also am a believer in strong borders and not having people come across through places that we have no idea what’s happening.”

With Anduril, he’s helping Trump enforce those hardline policies, partnering with the government at a time when other tech companies are facing increasing pressure to keep their distance. Big Tech has drawn heavy criticism for selling their technology to the government and law enforcement; Amazon, for instance, has been the subject of protests both within and outside the company for pitching its Rekognition facial analysis software to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with critics arguing that it could “supercharge” the agency’s enforcement power. “You’re being complicit,” a protester shouted at Amazon Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels at an event in New York over the summer. Luckey, by contrast, is wearing complicity as a badge of honor—and making bank in the process.

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‘Fast Money’ Traders Advise Their Viewers On Mastercard, Caterpillar And More

Jon Najarian would hold Crowdstrike Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: CRWD). He said it’s under pressure by Zscaler Inc (NASDAQ: ZS), but it performs better.

Joe Terranova said on CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report” he has a long position in Mastercard Inc (NYSE: MA) and he would stay with it. He sees it as a global payments leader, a great story and a great capital allocation strategy.

Stephen Weiss believes fundamentals in Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) are still not good. He would not own the stock.

See Also: Najarian Brothers See Unusual Activity In VF Corp, Vistra Energy And Viavi Solutions

Jon Najarian would hold Crowdstrike Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: CRWD). He said it’s under pressure by Zscaler Inc (NASDAQ: ZS), but it performs better. He added that between $64 and $70 is a great area to own Crowdstrike.

Pete Najarian said he has sold around 70% of his long position in gold and silver, but he would still hold VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX) because he sees it as a hedge.

Karen Firestone thinks salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE: CRM) is still a leader and it’s taking market share from the competition. She concluded that the stock looks good.

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Square’s stock is hurting, but it’s not a broken company, says Jim Cramer

In addition, Square operates a peer-to-peer payment app called the Cash App and recently sold its food-delivery service, Caviar, to DoorDash for …

There is a difference between a broken stock and a broken company, and Square falls into the first category, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.

The fintech company’s stock, which had for years been one of the performers in the market, has been struggling mightily as of late. It’s fallen more than 20% since Aug. 1, when it was trading at $83 per share. It dropped below $60 on Wednesday.

Still, the “Mad Money” host thinks Square isn’t a company to shy away from.

“Square’s fundamentals are sound, so it’s a broken stock, not a broken company, which means you can absolutely buy this one into weakness,” Cramer said. “Worst case? It goes down some more and the stock gets even cheaper.”

Square has fallen out of favor with investors after consecutive quarters of beating earnings and sales expectations, yet issuing conservative guidance for the upcoming quarter and leaving its full-year forecast unchanged, Cramer said.

“Money managers were sick and tired of good quarters and then conservative guidance, which is why the stock dropped 14% the next day, and just kept falling,” Cramer said.

Wall Street also has viewed Square more skeptically since its CFO Sarah Friar left to become CEO of Nextdoor, Cramer said. Friar made the announcement Oct. 10, and in January, Amrita Ahuja left Activision-Blizzard to replace her.

“The stock did get eviscerated when Sarah left. Wall Street trusted her and that’s what mattered,” Cramer said. “I don’t want to put any disrespect to her successor … but analysts and institutional investors have become a lot more skeptical since Friar left.”

While Cramer noted that many other fintech companies have gone out of style recently as quieter recession fears lead investors to return to established financials, Square’s troubles began before that, he said.

“I think this is a management issue, but it’s really a cosmetic management issue so don’t get scared,” he said. Square’s CEO is Jack Dorsey, who also is the CEO of Twitter.

Cramer said he used to call him a “part-time chief executive,” but that didn’t matter as long as Friar was there “keeping her eyes on the prize.”

But Square’s core business is one that Cramer views as promising long-term. Square built a large payment network by offering small credit card readers that can turn smartphones into a point of sale terminal, Cramer noted.

And it has used that network and the data it has gathered from it to build a rapidly growing money-lending operation called Square Capital, Cramer said.

“No bank has that kind of insight into their borrowers,” Cramer said. “And since Square controls the payment system, if you borrow from them, they can just take the interest payments right out of your receipts.”

In addition, Square operates a peer-to-peer payment app called the Cash App and recently sold its food-delivery service, Caviar, to DoorDash for $410 million, a move that Cramer complimented.

“I think they got a fabulous price, kind of unbelievable,” Cramer said. “Believe me, you don’t want to be in the online delivery business. The margins are cut throat ,” he added.

This is why, despite its recent struggles, Square is a stock worth owning, Cramer said.

“Square used to be extremely expensive, but now it sells for 8.5 times next year’s sales and 53 times next year’s earnings estimates,” he said. “Given that the company has a 46% long-term growth rate, I’m calling it reasonable relative to its growth rate.”

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McDonald’s buys Silicon Valley based AI company

In March, McDonald’s announced the acquisition of Dynamic Yield, which specialises in personalisation and decision logic technology. The deal was …

McDonald’s has reportedly agreed to acquire an artificial intelligence (AI) company, hoping to automate its drive-thru process, according to CNBC.

Silicon Valley based Apprente, a company founded in 2017, uses artificial intelligence to understand drive-thru orders, therefore cutting down on service times.

McDonald’s has also said the technology could eventually be used in its self-order kiosks and mobile app.

Apprente’s employees will be the founding members of a group called McD Tech Labs, which will be housed within McDonald’s global technology team.

The fast-food chain wants to grow its presence in Silicon Valley by hiring more technology experts, including engineers and data scientists, CNBC stated.

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The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. This marks McDonald’s third tech-focused deal of the year.

In March, McDonald’s announced the acquisition of Dynamic Yield, which specialises in personalisation and decision logic technology.

The deal was said to be worth more than $300 million, making it McDonald’s largest deal in two decades.

McDonald’s stock, which has a market value of $167 billion, is up 22% this year.

Photo: 8th.creator

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Glossier Poaches Amazon Executive for COO Role

Glossier reached unicorn status earlier this year when it secured $100 million in a series D funding round led by Sequoia Capital at a $1.2 billion …

Glossier reached unicorn status earlier this year when it secured $100 million in a series D funding round led by Sequoia Capital at a $1.2 billion valuation. Following this capital raise and the opening of a new corporate headquarters, the brand has been focused on building a formidable leadership team with a series of strategic executive hires.

CNBC reported that Glossier poached Melissa Eamer for its new chief operating officer. Eamer joined Amazon three years after the IPO and spent 19 years at the e-commerce giant in various roles, most recently as Vice President of sales and marketing for Amazon Devices.

Eamer said to CNBC, “When I connected with Emily, I was immediately struck … by the [Glossier] customer obsession. That’s something that has been really consistent with Amazon when I was there.”

She continued, “Going back to being a company at this stage, at this size … that’s something I am most excited about. For me, this is an opportunity to try what I think is the second wave of e-commerce.”

Meet the Glossier bench:

  • Chief Operating Officer: Mellisa Eamer from Amazon
  • Chief Financial Officer: Vanessa Wittman from Dropbox
  • Chief People Officer: Diane Vavrasek from Jet.com and Walmart
  • Vice President of Supply Chain Operations: Edith Chen from beauty industry supplier LF Beauty.
  • Vice President of Operations: Nick DeAngelo from Walmart’s Jet.com
  • Head of Content: Leah Chernikoff from Elle.com

Emily Weiss said of the strategic hires, “We’re entering into this new stage of growth at Glossier. We have the resources and the team and the business in place to build this future beauty company.”

Read the full story on CNBC.

Photo: via Glossier

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