Self-driving truck startup Plus to go public through $3.3 billion SPAC deal

(Reuters) -Plus said on Monday it would go public through a merger with blank-check company Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V in a deal that values the self-driving truck technology startup at $3.3 billion.

The combined company will get proceeds of $500 million from the deal, including a private investment of $150 million. Investors in the deal include BlackRock and D.E. Shaw group, among others.

In February, Plus raised $200 million in a funding round, co-led by brokerage Guotai Junan International and private equity firm CPE, according to data from Pitchbook.

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The Pandemic Plutocrats : How Covid is creating new fintech billionaires

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In 2015, Nick Molnar was living with his parents in Sydney, Australia, and selling jewelry from a desktop computer in his childhood bedroom. Hocking everything from $250 Seiko watches to $10,000 engagement rings, the 25-year-old had gotten so good at online marketing that he had become Australia’s top seller of jewelry on eBay, shipping thousands of packages a day.

That same year, he teamed up with Anthony Eisen, a former investment banker who was 19 years his senior and lived across the street. They cofounded Afterpay, an online service that allows shoppers from the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada to pay for small-ticket items like shoes and shirts in four interest-free payments over six weeks. “I was a Millennial who grew up in the 2008 crisis, and I saw this big shift away from credit to debit,” the now 30-year-old Molnar says today. Either lacking credit cards or fearful of racking up high-interest-rate debt on their credit cards, Molnar’s generation was quick to embrace this new way to buy and get merchandise now, while paying a little later.

Five years later, Molnar and Eisen, who each own roughly 7% of the company, have become billionaires—during a pandemic. After initially tanking at the start of lockdowns, shares of Afterpay—which went public in 2016—are up nearly tenfold, thanks to a surge in business tied to e-commerce sales. In the second quarter, it handled $3.8 billion of transactions, an increase of 127% versus the same period a year earlier.

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Germany is beginning a universal-basic-income trial with people getting $1,400 a month for 3 years

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Starting this week, 120 Germans will receive a form of universal basic income every month for three years.

The volunteers will get monthly payments of €1,200, or about $1,400, as part of a study testing a universal basic income.

The study will compare the experiences of the 120 volunteers with 1,380 people who do not receive the payments. About 140,000 people have helped fund the study through donations. The concept of universal basic income has gained traction in recent years, and Finland tested a form of it in 2017.

Supporters say it would reduce inequality and improve well-being, while opponents argue it would be too expensive and discourage work.

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Coronavirus has turned America into a nation of savers. But how long will it last?

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With a busy life in Los Angeles, Anna McKitrick has trouble saving. The 25-year-old waitress and aspiring actress estimates she spends $200 a month on coffee, snacks, on-the-go meals, and other purchases she could live without.

Now thanks to the coronavirus, McKitrick is stuck in her childhood home in New Jersey, living rent-free for the foreseeable future — and using the opportunity to permanently kick her impulse spending habit.

Without bills to pay and thanks to a surprisingly large tax refund, she’s already saved several thousand dollars. She says she’s also reevaluated what is actually important to her. “I just realized how much money I was wasting instead of putting it towards my priorities, like building a bigger emergency fund and paying for experiences I want to have,” says McKitrick.

It’s no secret that Americans struggle to save for the future. A study from JPMorgan Chase found that about two-thirds of us do not have the recommended six weeks of take home pay set aside for an emergency. And a recent Money/Synchrony Bank study revealed that 36% of people earning between $75,000 and $100,000 still worry about unexpected expenses. But now the coronavirus is forcing millions of people to cut down on unnecessary spending in a way that they’ve never been able to before.

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Chime is piloting instant stimulus check disbursals

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US neobank Chime is running a pilot in which it gives customers their $1,200 federal stimulus checks before the government begins disbursing the payments, CNBC reports.

The neobank selected 1,000 customers who received their payments instantly on Thursday through Chime’s SpotMe feature, which usually acts as an overdraft protection feature, allowing customers to go negative in their accounts without having to pay an overdraft fee.

Chime is using its own capital to front the money to customers until the government pays out the checks, and CEO Chris Britt told CNBC that he is waiting for reassurance from the government that Chime users can’t redirect stimulus payments to other bank accounts before expanding the pilot to other users. Eligible users will largely be those who direct deposit paychecks into their Chime accounts and have previously had their tax refunds deposited into their Chime accounts as well.

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Financial hits pile up for colleges as some fight to survive

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Colleges across the nation are scrambling to close deep budget holes and some have been pushed to the brink of collapse after the coronavirus outbreak triggered financial losses that could total more than $100 million at some institutions.

Scores of colleges say they’re taking heavy hits as they refund money to students for housing, dining and parking after campuses closed last month. Many schools are losing millions more in ticket sales after athletic seasons were cut short, and some say huge shares of their reserves have been wiped out amid wild swings in the stock market.

Yet college leaders say that’s only the start of their troubles: Even if campuses reopen this fall, many worry large numbers of students won’t return. There’s widespread fear that an economic downturn will leave many Americans unable to afford tuition, and universities are forecasting steep drop-offs among international students who may think twice about studying abroad so soon after a pandemic.

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How An Unlimited Supply Of Borrowed Cash Is Destroying Higher Education

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Both of us grew up poor. College was our way out of poverty. Now, we see too many young people locked into poverty by a college education.

“You have to go to college” was an article of faith when we were growing up in poor families. Now we wonder if our ticket out of poverty still has the same value. Far too many of this generation are leaving college with substantial debt and few meaningful job opportunities.

Put a little differently, what is the value of a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies or sociology or any other fields that are not science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or business? Ask some of the young people working at your local coffee shop or favorite restaurant. They will probably tell you, “not much.”

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A sobering 62% of U.S. financial-services entities have been breached, Thales says

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Despite 96% of U.S. financial-services organizations considering their technology security as adequate, 62% of those responding to a Thales survey said they experienced a breach. That’s according to the recently released 2019 Thales Data Threat Report.

Commissioned by Thales, the survey of 1,200 information technology and data security professionals and the ensuing report was conducted by research firm International Data Corp. Many U.S. financial services organization have strict data-security and similar requirements to contend with, but their breach rate outpaces other industries. Retail, at 42%, was the next highest among those ever experiencing a breach.

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Why no one wants to be an MBA anymore

 

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 A recent Wall Street Journal article focused on the steep decline in elite MBA program applications. In an era of an increasing divide between the economic haves and have nots, you’d think that the vaunted Masters in Business Administration degree would be valued more than ever. After all, with the recent boom in the stock market coinciding with a steep reduction in corporate taxes, big corporations are awash in profits to reward their highest achievers. Though there has been only slight progress in wage increases for rank and file employees, the top brass is enjoying greater compensation than ever. And a quick look at the CEOs of the companies with highest market caps reveal at least one thing in common: both leaders obtained MBAs from prestigious institutions. Apple’s Tim Cook graduated from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, while Satya Nadella of Microsoft received his MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

Yet MBA applications are down sharply, even at the most celebrated institutions. The Journal article has highlighted declines between 5-20% in applications to the top U.S. MBA programs. What gives?

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How to start a business with no money

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Startup advice can be seductive. From motivational quotes to magazine profiles, there’s a persistent narrative that if you follow your passion, log 80 hours a week, and “hustle hard,” you’ll create the next Amazon or Airbnb.

It is possible.

We all know that hard work can produce incredible results. But the prevailing rise-and-grind mythology often pushes founders into business before they’re ready.

Many smart, ambitious people feel pressured to quit their jobs and go all-in. They work around the clock, sacrificing their health and happiness to chase a startup dream.

For every founder who’s battling exhaustion and surviving on protein bars, I’d like to suggest a different path.

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This map shows Americans’ average credit score in every state

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An aerial view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline and Loring Park.

Minnesota residents can brag about more than their 10,000 lakes — they typically have the country’s best credit scores too. As in previous years, the midwestern state has America’s highest average credit score, according to Experian.

Those living in Minnesota have an average score of 713, which falls into the “good” range of scores between 670 to 739, according to Experian. The company’s annual State of Credit report and state ranking is based on Vantage Scores, which range from 300 to 850. South Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts round out the top five states with the highest average credit scores for 2018.

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How Incubators are Shaping the Indian landscape

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According to the NASSCOM India Startup Ecosystem report, India has retained its position as the third largest Startup Ecosystem in the world. More than 1,200 startups came up in 2018, including eight unicorns, taking the total number to 7,200 startups, NASSCOM reported. Considering the scale of the Indian market, even average startups can find a viable market even with average ideas and poor quality. However, on the flip side, India with its diversity and wide-ranging issues also offers a fantastic test base to develop a robust and innovative product.

In this dynamic and complex landscape, while an increasing number of entrepreneurs are emerging, a report by IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics found that 90 per cent Indian startups fail within the first five years. The emerging incubator ecosystem in the Indian landscape is a welcome shot in the arm for the starry-eyed startups.

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