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Education technology is a global opportunity – TechCrunch

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Education technology is a global opportunity – TechCrunch

$8.15 billion. That’s the amount global investors staked in edtech companies in the first 10 months of 2017.

Education used to be simple: there was a blackboard, a teacher and desks in a classroom. Today, a student can practice English online, upload homework through a portal and learn chemistry through 3D immersion — such is the rise of educational technologies. And nowhere is the advent of edtech climbing more quickly than in Asia.

In 2016, global investments in Chinese edtech companies rose to $1.2 billion, according to Goldman Sachs — to put that into perspective, that’s more than triple the amount raised in 2014 and comparable to Lyft’s most recent funding round. Going forward, the edtech industry in China is expected to grow 20 percent annually, while a joint report released by Google and KPMG estimates that India’s online education market will rise more than 6x to $1.96 billion over the next four years. The entire Asia-Pacific region is projected to represent 54 percent of the global edtech market by 2020.

Of course, you can’t always believe future valuations. But the underlying fundamentals are compelling — and they’re playing a major role in driving the acceleration of edtech in Asia.

Appetite for the product

It could come down to a numbers game. The Asian education system is the biggest in the world: more than 600 million students are enrolled in K-12 schools in Asia, a figure that positively eclipses that of the U.S. by a magnitude of 10. There are more young people in Asia than anywhere else in the world. Indonesia’s 67 million youths (ages 10-24) is third-biggest in the world — incidentally, standing behind only China’s 269 million and India’s (drum roll, please) population of 356 million young people.

This sheer potential is compounded by the way Asia’s population places a premium on education. services. As Charles McIntyre, co-­founder of EdTechXEurope 2016, notes, the desire to invest in children’s futures and pressure to get into prestigious universities in Asia is resulting in a willingness to spend on educational services. IBIS Capital projects that after-school tutoring in China will grow from $50 billion to $90 billion by 2020. Then there’s Singapore, where parents spend $70,939 a year on their children’s education, almost double the global average.

In this education-fixated atmosphere, Asian massive open online courses (MOOCs) in particular have enjoyed immense success. Asia also is becoming more global-thinking, and nowhere is this more apparent than in China. English language-learning education platforms are on the rise: there are 300 million English language learners in China. Taiwan-based Tutor Group, the biggest English-learning education platform in the world, boasts a total enrollment that could place it alongside UC Berkeley and the University of Georgia. Meanwhile, VIPKID provides video English tutoring sessions for students between the age of five and 12, concentrating on the early-childhood education market (which, thanks to the implementation of China’s new two-child policy, is also poised to break out).

Strong government support

The Chinese government has a goal: Its 13th Five-Year Plan aims to modernize China’s education system entirely. One of the primary emphases is on the growth of online education, which means that policies have been favorable, to say the least. The Chinese government invested a record $1.07 billion in edtech startups in 2015 alone. It has announced that it will invest an overall $30 billion in edtech by 2020 (though not specifically in startups) and is working to provide all K-12 schools with resources and create an overall student to computer ratio of 6:1 in the next three years.

In India, the future education policy is heavily emphasizing digital, as the government has implemented programs such as Digital India and Skill India to spread digital access. Malaysia also announced in 2016 that primary schools will start teaching coding, while a report co-authored by Ernst & Young notes that Southeast Asia’s government regulations in the private sector are particularly friendly and geared toward boosting foreign investment.

Technological innovation meets a tech-enabled population

Sure, Asia might have the advantage when it comes to the sheer size of its population, but it means precious little if many of them can’t access one of tech’s catalysts: the internet. But that’s fast transforming.

China recently crossed the 50 percent threshold; more precisely, 53.1 percent of its population is now online, which equates to 731 million Chinese internet users. As Jon Russell notes, that’s almost on par with the entire population of Europe. And it’s set to jump further in the coming years. Then a big shout-out is due to Southeast Asia: a report co-authored by Google projects 480 million people in Southeast Asia to have internet access by 2020.

This is welcome news as Asian edtech innovates and crosses roads with hot tech industries such as gaming, VR and AR in the future. NetDragon, a huge Chinese mobile and game developer, is one of the companies making a move into the Asian edtech market to “gamify” education, acquiring global edtech company Promethean World and JumpStart, a provider of K-12 educational products. This promise of education and technology’s successful intersection is ripe with possibility. For instance, Room to Read, the charity organization with which Reedsy partnered for our #IWriteBecause campaign, is now working with Google.org to launch a platform that promotes literacy in Indonesia by increasing access to Bahasa children’s stories through digital platforms.

“Over the next five years, more and more teachers will be able to access valuable online resources through their mobile devices to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom, as well as their own professional development,” says Joel Bacha, Room to Read’s director of strategic expansion. “In addition, more will be learned about how to further break down the digital divide and by introducing ways to utilize technology in offline environments, which will still be very much a reality in many parts of the world.”

Capital influx

It should come as no surprise that major investors are paying close attention to the developments in Asian edtech — and taking action.

Key foreign players are coming into the market and funneling capital into the region to support edtech, from Goldman Sachs to Times Internet. Mark Zuckerberg’s investment fund, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), for instance, is making edtech one of its priorities. CZI wants to help digitalize education worldwide — and one of the first startups that it backed in Asia was Byju’s, an Indian MOOC that seeks to “Disney-fy” education, in its founder’s own words.

Chinese tech giants from Xiami to Baidu also have sought to get involved in the changing edtech landscape. Tencent invested heavily in China’s first billion-dollar edtech unicorn, Yuanfudao, while Alibaba Group was one of TutorGroup’s backers in a $200 million round in 2015. Now that the edtech industry in China in particular has shown capable of minting unicorns, we can expect to see investor interest grow. According to Metaari, 16 companies that raised more than $100 million in the first 10 months of 2017, seven were in China.

Conclusion

It isn’t exactly going to be smooth sailing from here. Long sale cycles set edtech apart; it could take years to test, sell and improve a product that changes students’ education for the better. Localization also presents a challenge to Asian startups expanding into multiple markets, as a product that helps education in a certain country might not necessarily be useful beyond the border. But with continued capital inflows and a population that increasingly embraces edtech, it’s hard not to see the trend ticking up for Asian edtech.

Featured Image: nonchai/Getty Images

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Hormel Foods Has Growth – Cramer's Lightning Round (1/18/18)

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Hormel Foods Has Growth – Cramer's Lightning Round (1/18/18)

Stocks discussed on the Lightning Round segment of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Program, Thursday, January 18.

Bullish Calls

Hormel Foods (NYSE:HRL): It’s one of the few food stocks with good growth.

Greenbrier Companies (NYSE:GBX): It’s an interesting stock, but Cramer prefers Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP).

Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU): It’s the only Chinese stock other than Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) that Cramer is recommending.

Bearish Calls

Acuity Brands (NYSE:AYI): No. The company has had many missed quarters.

Vale (NYSE:VALE): “Look, it’s $13. You can wait until it comes back up, but it really is pure commodity and I’m not going to recommend it, because my charitable trust lost too much money in the stock. Bad feelings.”

Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE:HHC): Bill Ackman is a big shareholder and he has been selling. Don’t buy this one.

Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC): There are other good companies in that group. Buy Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW) instead.

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Market Is Rising On The Fear Of Missing Out – Cramer's Mad Money (1/18/18)

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Market Is Rising On The Fear Of Missing Out – Cramer's Mad Money (1/18/18)

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV Program, Thursday, January 18.

Despite a down day in the market, there was a positive actions in individual stocks. This happens due to the fear of missing out – FOMO. “I’m talking about these multi-day-up extravaganzas, where investors can’t buy enough shares in one session after a positive event so they keep coming back, day after day after day, to get their full positions on, no matter how much the stock runs in the interim. Honestly, I have never seen anything like it, so I’ve got to point this out and explain it to you,” said Cramer.

The stock UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) is going up on good earnings even when the market is down. Cramer found it astonishing the buyers kept buying the stock on same news every day. However, he realized that individual investors are not the only one buying stock, professional block traders are too.

“I can tell you that we’re seeing something truly amazing happening here. UNH, a $235B company with nearly a billion shares outstanding, doesn’t have enough liquidity to sate all the buyers out there at lower levels. It’s kind of like a bunch of Godzillas, unleashed all at once, trying to beat each other over the head to get some stock in, as much as possible,” said Cramer. When a block trader gets order for 100,000 shares from a client, he buys it in 2 tranches of 50,000 to get a lower price as he knows sellers are all around. But in the current market, there aren’t enough short sellers to short the market for block traders getting a lower price.

As hedge funds and money managers race to get their orders complete, it’s enough to move the needle. “It’s a crazy case of FOMO — fear of missing out — on the next big move, even as these buyers are creating that move with their own massive footprint,” said Cramer.

The same pattern could be seen in ASML (NASDAQ:ASML) which has been moving up as buyers race to buy it at any price. Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) also saw similar patters and the companies have been buying their own stock and reducing share count.

“It’s really indicative of a shortage of stock. So many shares of so many companies have been retired, bought back and crunched. So many existing shareholders are owning, no longer renting, their stocks, that portfolio managers have no choice but to drive up prices dramatically with their own buying,” concluded Cramer.

SVP interview – IBM (NYSE:IBM)

IBM posted first revenue growth in six years and yet its stock went down. Cramer interviewed SVP of global markets Martin Schroeter to know his views on blockchain and what lies ahead.

Schroeter said they finished the quarter where they wanted to in terms of EPS and revenue although there were some headwinds to EPS. Their systems business performance was good and they see strong secular trends in cloud, security, mobile and analytics business going in 2018. They have growing revenue and stable margins. He also commented on mainframes business by saying it’s not dead but are in fact alive and getting faster and more secure. It’s still the most robust platform used by major airlines and 9 out of the 10 big banks. 75% of the world’s enterprise data transfers on main frames.

Schroeter said that they are leader in blockchain technology. It’s a digital record-keeping method that exploded due to craze of bitcoins. Blockchain will change the way the world makes transactions. “If you bought IBM stock today, you would have to wait three days for that to clear because it has to go through its process. In a blockchain, you can see every transaction instantly, so your trade could clear and go from their account to your account instantly,” he added.

Blockchain is not all about trading and cryptocurrencies. IBM has recently partnered with Maersk on a joint venture to apply blockchain software and IBM wants to establish a global trade network of manufacturers, shippers, freight forwarders and others. It’s a $2T global market and blockchain will streamline with logistical undertakings making it faster and easier. “There’s no more paperwork and you know that it’s going to be cleared at a specific time. Everyone has perfect visibility to where everything is. You’ve just shortened that cycle dramatically. That creates a lot of value, a lot of value for manufacturers and retailers,” said Schroeter.

Commenting on the rising tax rate despite the reform, Schroeter added, “The cause of our tax rate to go up is tax reform. But we have been supporters and we remain big supporters of tax reform because over the long term — and IBM always manages over the long term — over the long term, it’s going to free up our capital and it gives us a territorial system so we can invest on par with our competitors.”

CEO interview – PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG)

The stock of PPG Industries remained flat in 2017. PPG reported good earnings and the stock went up by 4%. Cramer interviewed CEO Michael McGarry to know more about the quarter.

McGarry said that PPG has new products for industrial, packaging and aerospace coatings and technology is driving their business. They are also a global company with 57% of the sales coming from 140 countries and 43% from the US.

PPG is not just about paint coating anymore, and they have big exposure to autonomous driving vehicles also. As automakers rush to develop self-driving cars, PPG becomes a big beneficiary. “If you think about the LIDAR and radar that enables autonomous driving, they need to have the costs driven down so this can become a ubiquitous technology,” said McGarry. PPG has seized the opportunity by helping the automakers drive down costs with their paint coatings.

“Coatings will help them enable that technology to work with fewer radar and LIDAR units because it’ll make the car more visible. We can put the LIDAR and radar in the bumpers so they cannot be so ugly on the car. So if you think about why the Tesla 3 has such great visibility is because it has the ability to hide a lot of things, and we can enable that. We’re certainly pleased to be a leading partner with Tesla,” said McGarry.

Market discrepancies

Cramer said that there are four major discrepancies in the market and they need to be sorted out.

  1. For months, there was chatter that flat yield curve could be a problem for banks. As the long-term rates have started to rise, there is chatter about rising rates being a problem. Cramer said that in reality, banks make money when short and long-term interest rates are on the move.
  2. Despite Trump being unpopular, his agenda of tax reform and deregulation are working for the economy.
  3. As the excitement about crypto-currencies fizzle out, the speculative money has to come to the stock market. The ignored market is bound to go even higher then.
  4. There is shortage of things to buy in the market as IPOs have slumped. This means that money has to go in existing stocks and send prices up.

“Gradually, the bears will be forced to acknowledge reality, and when they do, that’s how you get another leg of upside,” concluded Cramer.

Viewer calls taken by Cramer

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)-Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO) merger: Cramer said both stocks are winners.

J. C. Penney (NYSE:JCP): Cramer is not crazy about shopping at JC Penney and hence he cannot recommend the stock.

Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR): It’s a speculative buy.

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Apple's Plan Will Have A Multiplier Effect – Cramer's Mad Money (1/17/18)

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Apple's Plan Will Have A Multiplier Effect – Cramer's Mad Money (1/17/18)

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV Program, Wednesday, January 17.

Cramer said that a part of Trump’s agenda is working. Lower tax rates, deregulation, and an already booming global economy will boost the US economy further. While the skeptics would believe that tax cuts are for the shareholders and will flow to the rich as dividends, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) plan proves otherwise.

“Apple, using some of the gigantic $252B cash hoard that it has overseas, announced Wednesday what I think is a modern-day Marshall Plan for the U.S. economy. Apple committed to directly investing $350B into the United States over the next five years, including $38B in repatriation taxes,” said Cramer. Apart from that, other companies have been paying bonuses to employees.

Cramer conversed with Apple CEO Tim Cook over the phone where Cook emphasized being a leading corporate citizen and creating jobs. “He said that ‘While some of these efforts were indeed in the works, Washington enabled most of this job-creating plan to occur by changing the tax code to allow companies to return capital to all stakeholders,’ a series of reforms that Tim has championed for quite a long time,” said Cramer. Of $350B, $55B will be injected into the economy in 2018.

Apple also plans to create 20,000 jobs by hiring at its existing campus and the new campus that it plans to build. “Frankly, I think Apple’s view of how to generate jobs, how to create wealth away from the shareholder base, is probably a heck of a lot better than anything the government could ever do,” said Cramer.

He thinks there will be a multiplier effect of this. “Whatever you think of the president, part of his agenda is working. If Apple turns out to be the tip of the iceberg, then this already strong economy could get even stronger. And frankly, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have Tim Cook deciding what to do with this cash than anyone in the capital,” he concluded

Bank stocks

The major banks have reported earnings and Cramer reviewed each one to find out which one is a buy. The banks took a one-time hefty charge due to changes in tax laws. “I know it was pure accounting gimmickry, but I worried that it might freak out investors. Turns out there was no need to worry,” said Cramer.

JP Morgan’s (NYSE:JPM) earnings were better than analyst expectations. Despite flattening yield curve, the bank’s net interest margin increased by 5 bps. They got a big windfall from tax relief and it trades at 2.1 times tangible book value.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is most levered to interest rates and saw its net interest margin increase by 3 bps. The stock trades at 1.85 times its book value.

Citigroup’s (NYSE:C) earnings were not as strong as others. Their net interest margin fell by 9 bps but their total loans were up 5%. It trades at 1.28 times its book value. Cramer called it the best value bank.

Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) is still trying to recover from the scandal and its net interest margin dropped by 2 bps. It still trades at 2 times its book value.

Lastly, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) saw their investment banking business go up while trading business go down. It is not a big beneficiary of tax cuts and hence it is not Cramer’s favorite stocks.

“Now, J.P. Morgan and Citi, and Bank of America all said that their approach to dividends and buybacks won’t change because of the tax bill. But all four of these companies have been voracious buyers of their own stock, especially Bank of America and Wells Fargo, and if the Fed gives them permission to even increase their repurchase programs, I think they’ll do just that,” concluded Cramer.

Chairman interview – Tellurian (NASDAQ:TELL)

Cramer interviewed Charif Souki, the co-founder and chairman of Tellurian. They are aiming to build a low-cost natural gas business.

Souki said that natural gas industry needs a big infusion to keep drilling. “We have so much natural gas in this country. Just the amount of gas that is already behind pipe, or that is going to be found because of oil production at $60 a barrel, is going to require over $150B of infrastructure investment over the next five years.” he added.

Tellurian is taking advantage of the industry’s need for low-cost liquefied natural gas. They are making export terminals for LNG, investing in pipelines and funding natural gas production. The construction of their first US based terminal will begin in 2019.

“We had very low prices for three years and therefore all the producers are now not very financially stable so they cannot invest. And the U.S. is a savior. However, we don’t have the infrastructure to take it to the water. We’ve been geared to take it from the water to the rest of the country, and now we have to be able to get it from where it’s produced to the water, and that infrastructure doesn’t exist,” said Souki.

Tellurian has the cheapest natural gas in the world. “We want to have the flexibility to choose the cheapest all the time, whether we have to drill for it or simply source it from the Apache likes,” he added.

Despite the rising oil prices, Washington’s view of their business has not changed. “The Trump administration is prouder of us than the Obama administration was, so one brags about us and the other one used to hide us, but they were both very supportive,” he concluded.

CEO interview – Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK)

The stock of data analytics provider Splunk gained 62% in 2017. Cramer interviewed CEO Doug Merritt to know what lies ahead.

Merritt said that data continues to grow and is powering businesses today. Machine data is one of the biggest segments in big data and Splunk is leading the space in both security and analytics.

“I meet with hundreds of customers every single year and they’re all wrestling with that challenge of big data’s growing like crazy and how, ultimately, to get insights. But that starts, in the very beginning, with what data do we even look for? How do I find big data? What are sources of big data? Then, how do I correlate these colliding streams that are hard to make sense from so I can get those insights and take action,” said Merritt.

The machine data segment is growing 50 times faster than traditional business data. Merritt adds that Splunk has the scale to handle petabytes of machine data every day and the ease of use to allow multiple departments to mine that data. Big companies like Mercedes and Carnival Cruise line use Splunk’s services to manage data.

Viewer calls taken by Cramer

AT&T (NYSE:T): It’s good to buy as it yields 5.4%.

Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR): Cramer prefers Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) as one not only get the service provider but also great software.

Entercom Communications (NYSE:ETM): They have a good yield and scale to grow.

CME Group (NASDAQ:CME): It’s a well-managed company and Cramer called it a winner. It’s a buy.

PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL): Cramer said the stock can hit $100.

Walker & Dunlop (NYSE:WD): Cramer thinks CBRE Group (NYSE:CBG) is the stock to buy when it comes to commercial real estate.

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Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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Buy Disney – Cramer's Lightning Round (1/17/18)

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Buy Disney – Cramer's Lightning Round (1/17/18)

Stocks discussed on the Lightning Round segment of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Program, Wednesday, January 17.

Bullish Calls

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC): “That stuff about faulty chips is nonsense. There was some degradation. It will not even matter. You will not look back. You will not be able to see why that stock went down. I trust CEO Brian Krzanich. He’s a good man. If he tells me the problem is solved, the problem is solved.”

Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA): It’s going to be worth a lot more. Cramer prefers Disney (NYSE:DIS).

Bearish Calls

Chimera Investment Corporation (NYSE:CIM): It’s difficult to figure what they own.

Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC): No. Cramer prefers Dominion Energy (NYSE:D), American Electric Power Company (NYSE:AEP) or Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED).

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How Technology Is (and Isn't) Changing Our Reading Habits – New York Times

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How Technology Is (and Isn't) Changing Our Reading Habits – New York Times

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How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Alexandra Alter, who covers the books industry for The Times, discussed the tech she’s using.

Given that you write about the books industry, how do you prefer to read books? On a Kindle or iPad or some other device, or printed books?

I came a little late to e-books, but I became a convert in 2010 when my older daughter was born. I needed a way to read books with one hand (and in a dark room), so I got a Kindle. The Kindle and ice cream sandwiches — also easily managed with one hand — are what got me through the brutal early weeks with a newborn, when you basically can’t put them down. Now I’m on my fifth Kindle.

I still love print books and find it to be a much more relaxing and immersive experience, but when I’m reading books for work — honestly, the bulk of my reading — the Kindle is incredibly convenient. I have all my books on a single device that I always have with me. I read advance copies of books that way: Publishers send me digital copies through NetGalley or Edelweiss, sites where book industry professionals and critics can get digital copies of books before they’re published.

I like that e-books are searchable, which is helpful for fact-checking, and the device stores all my notes and highlights, so I can quickly look stuff up when I’m writing. And I can read with one hand on a crowded train. One of my mild phobias is being trapped somewhere, on a plane or a stalled train or in a line, with nothing to read, and I also have the Kindle reader app on my iPhone, so I always have my entire library with me.

How is technology affecting the publishing industry?

About a decade ago, when Amazon introduced its first e-reader, publishers panicked that digital books would take over the industry, the way digital transformed the music industry. And for a while, that fear seemed totally justified. At one point, the growth trajectory for e-books was more than 1,200 percent. Bookstores suffered, and print sales lagged. E-books also made self-publishing easier, which threatened traditional publishers.

But in just the last couple of years, there has been a surprising reversal. Print is holding steady — even increasing — and e-book sales have slipped.

One possible reason is that e-book prices have gone up, so in some cases they’re more expensive than a paperback edition. Another possibility is digital fatigue. People spend so much time in front of screens that when they read they want to be offline. Another theory is that some e-book readers have switched to audiobooks, which are easy to play on your smartphone while you’re multitasking. And audiobooks have become the fastest-growing format in the industry.

Ms. Alter likes that e-books are searchable and that the the Kindle stores her notes and highlights for easy retrieval.CreditJeenah Moon for The New York Times

Social media has also had an enormous impact on publishing, as it has on all corners of the media industry. It has definitely become a new way for readers to connect with authors and discover books, but it has probably also cut into the time that people spend reading. (A depressing article in Quartz estimated that if people spent the same amount of time reading that they did on social media, they could read 200 books a year easily.)

Many new authors are skipping traditional publishers and use tech tools to go straight to self-publishing their own e-books or print books.What will be the fate of traditional publishers in the next few years?

Self-publishing has always been one of the most fascinating corners of the industry to me. There have been a handful of massively successful self-published authors who have started their own publishing companies, and they’ve started to publish other “self-published” authors. But publishers have survived so far through consolidation, and we’ll probably see more of that.

What will be the fate of physical bookstores? And what do you think about Amazon’s bookstores?

Indie bookstores have made a surprising comeback in recent years (a trend that might be connected to the resurgence of print books). A lot of independent stores have been so successful that they’ve expanded into mini-chains.

The future of Barnes & Noble looks uncertain, and the company has suffered a series of setbacks after a few disastrous strategies. It made a huge and, in retrospect, unwise investment in digital hardware and its Nook device, and then tried to become more of a general-interest gift and toy and books store, which probably alienated some of its core customers. Lately, it has tried smaller concept stores, with cafes with food and wine and beer. There was some snickering online recently after its new chief executive announced that its latest strategy was to focus on selling … books. Snickering aside, I think it’s the smartest thing the company can do. In many parts of the country, Barnes & Noble is the only place people can buy books, and it’s still a beloved brand.

Amazon’s entry into the physical retail space has been fascinating. I’m not sure how successful the experiment has been. When I visited the Amazon bookstore at New York’s Columbus Circle, it definitely felt like a device store that also sold books. The store even looks like a 3-D version of the website, with book covers facing out and curated sections that reflect what’s popular with Amazon’s customers. But they’re expanding rapidly across the country, so something must be working.

I’ll be curious to see how Indigo Books, the Canadian chain, will do here next year when it expands into the United States. Maybe it will shake up the model.

Outside your job, what tech product are you currently obsessed with?

I am, my family would confirm, not great with gadgets. It would be fair to say that I’m actively bad with them. I’m wary of some of the new home assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home, not necessarily because I’m paranoid about my conversations being recorded — Amazon and Google already know everything about me — but because my kids would likely be yelling at the devices all the time, and the Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande songs would play in an endless loop.

I have become, like so many others, a podcast junkie. I found The Daily to be habit forming. My other go-tos are Planet Money (disclosure: my husband is a reporter there), The New York Times Book Review podcast (where I sometimes appear), Longform, the New Yorker Radio Hour and some of the shows from Gimlet Media, like StartUp and Reply All. (Heavyweight, Jonathan Goldstein’s show, is hilarious and engrossing.)

What tech is popular with your family?

The one app that’s popular with the whole family is this Japanese game Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector. You buy virtual presents for these cartoon cats, which come and go as they please, and the cats leave you fish. You can’t really control the cats or win in any way. Just like with real cats, I suppose.

Follow Alexandra Alter on Twitter: @xanalter.

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Technology may treat fluid overload in congestive HF – Healio

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Technology may treat fluid overload in congestive HF – Healio

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Technology may treat fluid overload in congestive HF
Healio
A technology designed to prevent contrast-induced acute kidney injury demonstrated an ability to manage fluids during diuretic therapy in patients with congestive HF, according to findings presented at the Device Therapies for Heart Failure congress

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Game Plan For The Week – Cramer's Mad Money (1/12/18)

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Game Plan For The Week – Cramer's Mad Money (1/12/18)

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV Program, Friday, January 12.

The market is roaring and all the 401(k) money is coming in. Even Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) decline was not enough to derail the market. On the other hand, good earnings from JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) set a positive tone. “JPMorgan’s a terrific place to actually start the discussion for next week’s game plan because it did set a benchmark that other banks, which all report next week, I think are going to find hard to beat,” said Cramer. With that, he discussed the game plan for the week.

Tuesday

Citigroup (NYSE:C), UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) and CSX (NYSE:CSX) will report earnings.

Citi will be taking a $20B charge and it might still end up with positive numbers thanks to its aggressive buyback.

Cramer expects good numbers from UnitedHealth with growth from its data-driven business. The stock of CSX has recovered since its December low. “If the rails have a weak link, it will be CSX because it has run so much,” said Cramer.

Wednesday

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and ASML Holdings (NASDAQ:ASML) will report earnings on Wednesday.

Bank of America has the largest deposit base in the US and it will be a beneficiary of rising rates. Goldman Sachs, on the other hand, should find a way to boost its trading income. “It’s a much more trading-oriented investment bank, and lately, the markets have lacked the kind of volatility that translates into terrific profits,” said Cramer.

ASML’s earnings report will give insight if there is too much new capacity in the semiconductor market.

Thursday

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) will report earnings.

Cramer thinks Morgan Stanley’s earnings will be good. “But by this point, will anybody really care? Aren’t we more likely to see a wave of profit-taking once all the big banks have reported? You know what, that’s actually a reasonable bet. Let’s keep our eyes open,” he said.

PPG will report good earnings and Cramer thinks the company is on the brink of a value-enhancing merger. “If I owned it, I would certainly stay long. If it gets weak earlier this week, I would buy it,” he added.

Cramer will be watching IBM to see if their transformation is leading to profits. The good news is that Buffett has stopped selling the shares.

Friday

Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) will report on Friday. This is one of Cramer’s favorites and he expects to hear good things since oil is going up.

CEO interview- Alder Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALDR)

The stock of Alder Biopharmaceuticals shot up on the news of positive clinical trial data. Cramer interviewed CEO Randall Schatzman to hear more about the drug Eptinezumab.

Schatzman said that with just one dose of Eptinezumab, the episodes of chronic migrane decreased by 50% for patients that suffered 16 episodes a month and and 15% of patients reported no episodes for 12 weeks. “So we think it’s an opportunity to really transform how migraine is treated today.”

While there is treatment available in pill form from competitors compared to intravenous from Alder, Schatzman believes that patients don’t care how they get the treatment as long as it works. “For them, whether it comes as a subcutaneous injection or whether it comes as an IV infusion that they take four times per year, that’s very appealing for them,” he added.

Their next step is to work with the FDA for approval which is expected by next year.

Casino stocks

As the global economy gets stronger, gambling will increase. More gambling in Macau means better earnings for companies like Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS).

When the Chinese government started cracking down on gambling and corruption, Macau gambling revenue took a hit by 34% in 2015. But, as high rollers keep returning and both companies having new casinos ready, their stocks have been rising.

While both Las Vegas Sands and Wynn are good stocks, Cramer prefers Wynn due to Macau being a Chinese gambling haven. Wynn is a better-run company but trades at 20 times earnings versus Las Vegas Sands, that trades at 22 times earnings.

Cramer suggested MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) for investors who are looking for a domestic play as it trades at only 19 times earnings.

Off the tape

Cramer went off the tape to review the privately held clothing retailer chain Faherty Brand that has 6 locations across the country. Cramer interviewed the boutique apparel maker’s co-founder and CEO Alex Faherty to find out what lies ahead.

The company was founded by Faherty, who is a finance guy and his brother, who is a good designer. They believed that clothes should last for a lifetime and thus they give a guarantee on their clothes and replace them if they wear out.

To achieve this goal, they have a tight control on manufacturing and design. They have also opened up stores in high end locations. “Right now, with all the stores that are closing, it creates opportunity for new brands,” added Faherty.

40% of their sales come from e-commerce and they are popular among 21 to 45 year olds. He also added that Shopify has changed the game for retailers. “Our technology can do whatever the largest of brands can do now. The barriers to entry have completely changed. Basically, what used to cost $10M, to build a back-end of a website for a customer, I, for $1,000 a month can basically have the world’s greatest mousetrap when it comes to creating a website,” concluded Faherty.

Viewer calls taken by Cramer

Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP): Cramer is a fan. Hold it.

Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI): This stock is still cheap trading at 17 times earnings and has growth.

DST Systems (NYSE:DST): It’s a poorly managed company that had to be taken over.

Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM): There are currency issues but their dividend yield is good. However, Cramer doesn’t like to recommend tobacco stocks.

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Buy Mastercard – Cramer's Lightning Round (1/12/18)

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Buy Mastercard – Cramer's Lightning Round (1/12/18)

Stocks discussed on the Lightning Round segment of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Program, Friday, January 12.

Bullish Calls

Mastercard (NYSE:MA): Will have great earnings. Buy it.

Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL): CEO Fabrizio Freda is doing a great job. Buy it.

Waste Management (NYSE:WM): Announced a good buyback. Buy it.

Bearish Calls

Boston Omaha (OTCQX:BOMN): Cramer doesn’t like the billboard business. Sell it.

Citizens Financial (NYSE:CFG): It has moved up a lot. Swap that for JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM).

Orbital ATK (NYSE:OA): It’s done. Buy Raytheon (NYSE:RTN) or General Dynamics (NYSE:GD).

Gulfport Energy (NASDAQ:GPOR): No. Go for high quality stocks like Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB).

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Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS: Check out Cramer’s multi-million dollar charitable trust portfolio and uncover the stocks he thinks could be HUGE winners. Start your FREE 14-day trial now!

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Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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Western Innovator: Technology puts bacteria to work – Capital Press

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Western Innovator: Technology puts bacteria to work – Capital Press

This year the company will expand to the development of microbes that will increase access to other nutrients, such as phosphorus and potassium, in wheat, sorghum and rice.

Karsten Temme, CEO of Pivot Bio, illustrates how microbes live in symbiosis with a corn plant’s root system. This innovative technology is effective in fertilizing crops and increasing yields.

Pivot Bio

Karsten Temme, CEO of Pivot Bio, illustrates how microbes live in symbiosis with a corn plant’s root system. This innovative technology is effective in fertilizing crops and increasing yields.

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OAKLAND, Calif. — During the time Karsten Temme was studying biomedical engineering in Iowa he saw a need for farmers to have internet access to support their operations.

“I started a company to provide a wireless link to the internet, especially for markets that didn’t have cable or DSL,” he said. “Through this experience I gained an appreciation for the challenges growers face, including the prohibitive cost of fertilizer.”

After a chance meeting with a fellow Ph.D. student at the University of California-Berkeley, the two created a shared hypothesis: What if microbes could be re-programmed, like computer programs, to meet a specific need?

“We married our skillsets of microbiology, genetics, engineering and computer programming and founded Pivot Bio in 2011 to identify, characterize and fine-tune microbes to produce nitrogen on demand within plant roots,” he said.

The company uses what it calls ON (Optimized for Nutrients) Technology.

“Our patented process uses the crop’s own microbiome to produce nitrogen for the plant,” he said. “Decades of fertilizer use have caused this natural process to go dormant in the field. We’ve been able to reawaken and amplify the ability of these microbes to fix nitrogen into forms the plant can use.”

After years of research, study, testing and tweaking, he said the company has moved past the introductory phases and now has data to show that ON Technology is not only viable, but also effective in fertilizing crops, increasing yields and positively impacting the environment.

“Our ON Technology will initially be available for corn planting in spring 2018,” Temme said.

In the future, he plans to expand the technology to other crops.

ON Technology is applied through seed coatings or in-furrow at planting. The microbes work in synergy with the crop’s root system to deliver nitrogen during the growing season. This is ideal, he said, because it provides nitrogen when the crop needs it most — as the plant matures and grain develops.

“We’re aiming to produce over 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre,” Temme said. “This will allow farmers to use less fertilizer and avoid the time and expense of in-season side-dress applications.”

In approximately two years, the product will be offered to growers nationwide.

This year the company will expand to the development of microbes that will increase access to other nutrients, such as phosphorus and potassium, in wheat, sorghum and rice.

“Excess use of fossil-fuel derived nitrogen fertilizers is a world-wide problem that impacts both the sustainability of agricultural practices but also associated environments that are negatively impacted,” said Gary Stacey, a professor of plant science at the University of Missouri.

“However, any solutions to this problem must themselves be sustainable and, perhaps more importantly, protect crop yields, which ultimately control profitability,” he said. “Karsten Temme with Pivot Bio is seeking this type of solution by focusing on bacteria that promote plant growth while providing the nitrogen so essential for maintaining yield.

“Pivot Bio is at the vanguard of a worldwide phenomenon in which biologicals (e.g., bacteria) are being sought that can take the place of environmentally detrimental chemicals to support sustainable agriculture, including cropping practices widely practiced in California,” Stacey said.

Karsten Temme

Age: 38

Residence: Oakland, Calif.

Occupation: CEO, Pivot Bio

Education: BS and MS in biomedical engineering from the University of Iowa, Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of California-Berkeley and the University of California-San Francisco.

Quote: “I have a passion for improving the productivity and sustainability of global agriculture by expanding access to innovative technologies.”


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