18 Year Old Develops App to Recognize Clean Water

Business is not only for adults, as more and more teens are entering the workforce with innovative ideas and solutions to a wide range of problems. 18-year-old Sharon Linn is one such example. An MIT freshman, Lin just won the #BuiltByGirls startup challenge thanks to an app she is working on that aims to help people recognize clean water in underdeveloped countries. CEO of her own company and Youth Poet Laureate in NYC this year, Lin is in a position to significantly impact the tech industry.

Her app, which relies on her company White Water, for support, will analyze photos of water samples and recognize the different strains of bacteria in them- especially those which may be harmful. The app is currently being developed, and is creating a database with the help of water sample photos from China.

“It’s given me the confidence of knowing that there are people who care about issues such as water analysis, and that there is genuine interest in developing enterprise software for developing nations.”

Lin’s interest in clean water solutions is personal; she has family in rural China and has been exposed first-hand to the importance of recognizing and accessing clean water. Through her studies at MIT, she hopes to continue to work on these issues and promote awareness throughout the tech world so that new ideas move forward.

From Soldier to Asset Manager: Reade Griffith

In a recent entry for Institutional Investor’s new series War Stories Over Board Games, Polygon founder Reade Griffth discussed how his experiences as a soldier in the First Gulf War have contributed to his leadership skills and ability to perform within the often volatile global market.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Becomes Bank of America’s Largest Shareholder

Warren Buffett has bought 700 million shares of Bank of America at a significantly reduced price, gaining more than $11 billion. The move comes after his $5 billion investment in 2011 when the bank was floundering, which left him with the option to purchase discounted shares by 2021.

“I am impressed with the profit-generating abilities of the franchise and that they are acting aggressively to put their challenges behind them,” Buffett said at the time.

In a press release last week, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan stated:

“In 2011, we welcomed Berkshire Hathaway as a shareholder, and we appreciate their continued support now as our largest shareholder.”

The press release revealed that Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway had claimed its right to purchase the shares at $7.14 per share- a dramatically reduced price from the $23.58 closing price. This investment has made Buffett the Bank’s largest shareholder.

Buffett had indicated his intentions earlier this year by stating that he would act on his right to buy the shares if Bank of America successfully increased its annual dividend 44 cents or more by 2021. Since his initial investment in 2011, Bank of America’s stock has climbed 209%.

Amazon to Move Into Health Sector

Amazon recently decided to enter the health industry, despite some misgivings.

CEO of Walgreens Stefano Pessina believes the health sector is too complicated to be a good market for Amazon.

Amazon has “opportunities around the world and in other categories, which are much, much simpler than health care, which is a very regulated business,” he said.

However, other industry leaders disagree. Former Amazon director Curtis Kopf now works at Premera Blue Cross as senior vice president, and thinks the move is plausible. Having been involved in some of Amazon’s previous projects, such as digitizing every book every printed, have demonstrated to Kopf that seemingly impossible tasks often bear fruit.

“At this point, I don’t think there’s anything they would be afraid to do,” Kopf said in an interview, referring to Amazon’s latest move. “”Every industry has thought that Amazon wouldn’t disrupt them,” he pointed out.

Aaron Martin, also a former Amazonian, has also shifted into health at Providence St. Joseph Health. He still has ties with Amazon, and has confirmed that a large portion of his current team used to work for the company. Martin thinks Amazon’s expansion into health is quite strategic.

“At Amazon, we learned to pick our battles and didn’t look at anything that was less than $500 million,” said Martin. “Meanwhile, health care is a fifth of the economy,” he said. “Amazon could build the compliant infrastructure but let entrepreneurs come in and do the heavy lift.”

Connecticut and the Changes for Corporate Taxpayers

Changes are being implemented in rules for Connecticut’s corporate taxpayers.  Earlier this year, on April 18, a Special Notice 2017(1) was issued by the Connecticut Department of Revenue Service (DRS).  This is applicable to both individual and corporate taxpayers.

These changes are not so simple to understand.  It is thus advisable for taxpayers to employ a local Connecticut financial advisor company such as BCI Financial Corporation, Connecticut Financial or Essex Financial Services to get the complete lowdown on how to proceed.  Making an error with new laws will ultimately cost an individual/corporation a lot more than initially using a company such as Connecticut’s Essex Financial.

People at these local firms make it their business to fully comprehend the implications of such changes and are therefore able to accurately counsel taxpayers conducting their business transactions.  These new amendments to the law impacts those working in multiple jurisdictions as well as Connecticut’s recent apportionment modifications.

Essex Connecticut is one firm that can advise on the new rules within the Special Notice 2017(1) which came into effect for taxpayers for tax years on or after January of this year.  Corporate taxpayers are now required to be restricted in the use of a single sales factor appointment formula simultaneous to the apportionment rules for tax years that begin on or after January 1, 2016.

Disney to Remove Movies from Netflix, Launch Separate Streaming Service

Disney has recently announced that it will be removing its movies from online streaming platform Netflix, and launching its own direct streaming service instead. The new branded direct-streaming service is expected to launch in 2019, beginning in the US and later branching out to international viewers as well.

According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, Disney had a good relationship with Netflix. The company’s movies, which include all films made by both Disney and Pixar, will remain on the platform until the end of 2018, at which point they will be moved to the private service alongside expected films such as Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4, as well as a wide array of other exclusive movies and TV shows. Disney also plans to launch its own ESPN video streaming platform early next year, offering MLB, NHL, MLS and more. Marvel TV shows will remain in the Netflix library.

Disney has invested in BAM Tech, acquiring the majority of the company for $1.58 billion, in order to support its new service.

“This represents a big strategic shift for the company,” said Iger during an interview with CNBC. “We felt that having control of a platform we’ve been very impressed with after buying 33 percent of it a year ago would give us control of our destiny.”


Finding the Right Solution: West Lake Landfill

When looking at the issues that surround a landfill and whether or not to move it, there are many considerations at hand. There is the economic issue about moving a landfill like the West Lake Landfill and then there are social issues, health issues and more. Certainly, many people from firefighters and doctors to teachers and politicians have explained why it makes the most sense to simply leave the West Lake Landfill where it is. Moving it will not make the problem go away and it won’t fix it. Learn more with this video and the article below.

For more information about the issues involved in the West Lake Landfill and many others, see this article: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/misplaced-fears-radiation-risks-from-west-lake-coldwater-creek-low/article_22b09b56-e8d4-5473-8caf-d417561c9bf1.html

Threat of Tariff Clouding Hopes for Solar Industry

A view of solar panels being installed at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The solar energy industry has been growing steadily for the past several years. Both consumers and US businesses are embracing in a big way solar energy. The installation of solar panels reached a new record last year. The domestic solar industry now employs more than a quarter million people, and growing, according to The Solar Foundation.

Much of this growth has been spurred on by inexpensive photovoltaic cells and panels made in China and other countries in Asia and the Far East. These low-cost panels have helped bring down the costs of using solar by approximately 70 percent since 2010, creating the affordability that has made solar increasingly attractive over the past few years.

This growth is threatened however, by the prospect that President Trump may impose a tax on imported solar photovoltaic cells. If Trump indeed imposes a trade tax on China and other Asian manufacturers of solar cells, it would be in response to a complaint made by Suniva, a Georgia-based company that manufactures solar panels. The company would like to see Trump place a tariff which would effectively double the price of imported panels, insuring that Suniva and other US producers can compete in the marketplace. About 95 percent of all cells and panels sold in the US last year were imported, mostly from China, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The Trump administration has not announced its intentions in this matter. However, it is well-known that the president has complained many times about the “unfair” importing of steel from abroad, vowing to help protect domestic steelmakers and other US manufacturers by implementing tariffs on imports.

Without a clear view of the future, several US energy customers are putting some solar projects on hold for now, while manufacturers are waiting to see what other markets might develop. Some investors are getting out of the industry altogether. The second quarter saw deals drop to $1.4 billion this year, down from $3.2 billion in 2017’s Q1 and from $1.7 billion in Q1 of 2016.

Ed Fenster, chairman of the San Francisco-based Sunrun said Trump’s implementation of a tariff to punish foreign manufacturers and boost US competitiveness will backfire, harming most the American blue-color workers he campaigned to help.

“A solar-panel tax imperils what our country needs most: well-paying jobs that can’t be exported or automated,” Fenster said.

Microsoft’s Cloud Business Boosts Fourth Quarter Earnings

Microsoft has reported a significant increase in profits last quarter a s a result of its expanding cloud business. In fact, Microsoft shares have doubled, reaching 19% this year alone with a 1% increase in after-hours trading last week as well.

Microsoft’s profits reached $6.5 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $3.1 billion last year, according to Forbes. Some items listed earnings of up to 98 cents per share, and revenue increased to $23.31 billion, or 13%.

CEO Satya Nadella said: “Innovation across our cloud platforms drove strong results this quarter. Customers are looking to Microsoft and our thriving partner ecosystem to accelerate their own digital transformations and to unlock new opportunity in this era of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.”

Microsoft’s new cloud platform Azure revealed a 97% revenue increase, leading the company’s overall cloud business to $7.4 billion in revenue during the fourth quarter. Other cloud products and services increased in revenue as well, reaching as much as 15% higher than last year.

Insurers Grapple with Economic Costs of Cyber Attacks

Lloyd’s of London partnered with risk-modeling firm Cyence to publish a report examining the potential economic losses which would be incurred from a major hack of a cloud service provider or a cyber-attack on computer operating systems which are used by business across the planet.

The report estimated that a major, global cyber-attack could result in an average of $53 billion in economic damage. That figure is on par with the cost of mega-disasters of the recent past, like Superstorm Sandy of 2012 and other unprecedented natural disasters.

“Because cyber is virtual, it is such a difficult task to understand how it will accumulate in a big event,” Lloyd’s of London chief executive Inga Beale stated.

The economic costs of an attack on a cloud provider could make the $8 billion in damages of the “WannaCry” ransom attack look like peanuts. That attack, which occurred this past May, spread to 100 countries.

The economic costs typically include interruptions in business plus the cost of fixing computers damaged in the attacks.

The report from Lloyds comes on the heels of a US government warning to industrial companies to be aware of a hacking campaign which could target the nuclear and other energy sectors.

In June a virus labeled “NotPetya” spread from infected computers in Ukraine to businesses all over the world. It worked by encrypting data on infected computers, thus causing them to be unusable. The attack interfered with activity at ports, factories and law firms. “NotPetya cost the world $850 million in economic losses.