Investment Banking Role In Merger and Acqusition

At its simplest, investment banks arrange for additional capital from investors so corporations can grow and expand. An investment bank can put together additional securities offerings (i.e., stocks) and arrange loans or bonds. One of the most prestigious aspects of investment banking is merger and acquisition work.

An investment banker may act as an advisor to one or both of the parties involved, or as someone who looks for companies that may be good targets for buying or selling. M&A analysis is a specialized field and can involve many different components like business valuation (how much a company is worth), to performing due diligence (making sure the company is as they represent themselves), and arranging for the financing of the merger.

Typically in a merger or acquisition, an investment bank will identify likely targets and will discreetly approach those companies to determine the level of interest. If there is interest, then more work is done to make sure that the transaction if it happens, makes good sense to both the buy and sell side. Once this is completed, the parties will start to negotiate the purchase or merger. This part of the process is more than just the dollars and cents side of the transaction. It also includes discussions of what the new company will look like in term of its board, management, and employee makeup.

When all of the negotiations are finalized, the boards of each company meet to approve the deal. Assuming that the okay is given, then the M&A team begin working on the various regulatory issues that must be settled. Sometimes, anti-trust issues must be dealt with in addition to the filings with Securities and Exchange Commission for new stocks, bonds, etc.

To finally reach closing on a merger or acquisition significant time and resources have been spent by all parties. Usually, the process can take as little as six months but sometimes can take a couple of years for complex relationships.

An excellent example of an investment banker is James Dondero, the co-founder and CEO of Highland Capital Management (HCM). Mr. Dondero started his career after graduating from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce with degrees in accounting and finance. He started with Morgan Guaranty and went on to be the Portfolio Manger with American Express before opening HCM in 1993. HCM currently manages in excess of $20 billion in assets.

Dondero has led the market as a pioneer in Collateralized Loan Obligations. CLO’s are securities that are backed by a pool of corporate debts (i.e., bonds).

Marketing For Visual Searches

Images have always been a great online marketing tool, but now images are becoming are turning into your most powerful e-commerce resource. Visual searches are increasing in popularity because users are able to easily find what they want without having to write out a description. The technology is here and visual search engines are popping up left and right making images an essential part of your marketing platform.

Product Images

Image recognition is done by finding the closest image matches possible. Within a few short years this is going to become a vital part of selling products online. Searchers can easily screenshot a product they like and place it into the search engine. From there, a visual search will be performed that will show the user exactly where they can buy the product.

As an online business, you want your images to show a clear and colorful projection of your products. High resolution photos cause an increased chance of your image being placed as a top pick in search engine results. The color contrast helps image search engines separate similar products. You’ll want to have multiple images of the same product that shows it from different views as well as the various colors that the product comes in. This ensures that any angle or color the searcher uses will bring up your product as a result.

Infographic Marketing

Infographics have become a popular trend in recent years because they display information to readers in an easy to understand format. Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media websites have slingshotted the effectiveness of infographics. With visual searches, users can take these infographics and find the source relatively easily. In turn, this can result in an increase in web traffic and sales.

Testing Your Images

Once you have images and infographics created for your site you can always test them out. Slyce is a leading visual search engine that works well for testing your site’s image search results. Slyce has helped companies gain as much as an 18 percent increase in sales as a result of image search marketing. It’s a Smartphone app that potential customers can use to take pictures of items they like and find them online in a visual search.

The Rapid Rise of FreedomPop’s Free Cellular Phone Service and Data Plans

Since its inception in 2012, FreedomPop has steadily grown as a viable competitor in the cellular industry. The free service has gained the trust of the consumer market and it has single-handedly kicked the telecommunications door wide open. FreedomPop has made it possible for consumers to swap out their high-price contracts for a free, no obligation, cellular plan.

Competitors dislike FreedomPop because they let subscribers use their own cellular device, or subscribers can purchase a smartphone or tablet directly from FreedomPop. FreedomPop’s free cellular plan and affordable premium services are attributed to a few factors, such as FreedomPop being a “mobile virtual network operator,” which means they do not own any wireless infrastructure; rather, FreedomPop purchases data blocks from Sprint at wholesale prices and allocates them to FreedomPop subscribers.

FreedomPop is shaking up the cellular industry by offering plans that are hard to compete with. They offer free talk, free text and free data with the FreedomPop basic subscription plan. The basic plan has limitations of course – 200 talk minutes, 500 texts and 500MB of data per month, but these limitations are not really limitations at all, for customers can pay extra to go over their minutes, or they can upgrade their service plan to an unlimited $20 per month talk, text and data plan.

FreedomPop is growing on a global scale and expanding their services into the United Kingdom as a SIM-only provider. SIM-only subscribers provide their own cellular device, but they still get access to all of the standard and premium features that FreedomPop offers. In addition, UK customers can make calls to over 60 countries without incurring international rates.

Actually, FreedomPop has raised over $30 million dollars within the past year from investors in the U.S. and Europe, and they plan to raise an additional $50 to $100 million dollars in 2016. The company plans to use the investment funds to expand into Latin America and Europe in addition to strengthening its customer service and marketing departments. FreedomPop’s CEO, Stephen Stokols, claims that the current goal of the company is to stay independent and generate over a billion dollars in revenue.

Even with low-rate add-ons and below-market costs for a FreedomPop unlimited plan, the company is still generating tremendous revenue that is close to $50 million per year with almost 1 million active subscribers.

The Growth of the FreedomPop Franchise

In recent news, the mobile carrier, FreedomPop has announced that they have recently raised $30 million to grow their free mobile service. This 4-year old company is now taking on national companies that have been around for years. FreedomPop, offering a free package that includes free texting, free data, as well as free calls, has as of recently, been beating out other competing mobile carriers.

What makes FreedomPop so popular is the fact that the mobile plan is free to subscribe to. This LA-based company has been surpassing its competitors because of this offering. Skype founder, Niklas Zennstom has been one of the lead investors in this company and is now being followed by several other investors. Within the last few years, all investors included have raised close to $50 million for the FreedomPop company.

By the third quarter, FreedomPop has a set goal of hitting over 1 million subscribers. What makes this company so different is that it is a mobile virtual network, meaning the network does not own any wireless infrastructure. This new company is attracting many customers through the fact that the user receives 500 MB, 200 voice minutes as well as 500 text messages. If the user has used all their data and minutes for the month, they can either pay for more or wait for the plan to be replenished. FreedomPop is making their money not from the data plans but from offering quality services on top of the free data.

In addition to getting free data and minutes, if there are any left over minutes or data by the end of the month, they are then added onto the next month. Not only does this carrier offer free minutes and data but offers them globally.

The Role of Image Recognition in E-commerce Industry

Recognition task comes easy to humans, not so easy for computers with a basic system. A slight glance of someone or something, and a person with proper vision is able to recognize the subject. But when it comes to computers, in order for them to be able to recognize, specific types of information need to be fed into the system. This means building a software, tool or a piece of code with variables and constraints and making the computer figure out the item in question. That is exactly what image recognition is all about.

Today’s computers are getting smarter day by day. Apart from text and signs, they can now detect any thing that is displayed. What is interesting in this mechanism is the involvement of artificial intelligence ,and computers are better at processing images when the right system is in place. In other words, with a reliable image recognition software or tool, the computer can perform improved search in identifying the image in question. This means relying on text captions and meta data and storing billions of images in the database.

So how do computers achieve the task of recognizing an image? The approach is simple. The computer looks for sequences and patterns in numerical data while analyzing the pixels. These pixels are interpreted into a series of numbers. The number is then compared with the already stored data in the database.

Beyond cataloging simple images and information pertaining to them, these software have other potential applications as well. Some software are designed and used to recognize images of buildings. Just a quick photo of the building and the software will be able to retrieve the information of that building in a second. Image recognition system is also helpful in cryptography. For example, this software is used in steganography where messages are hidden for certain applications or purpose. To be precise, messages are hidden in images which are then processed to establish the authenticity of the data.

Image recognition technique is used in robotics as well, as seen by companies like Slyce. With the development of more and more algorithms that are both flexible and sophisticated, robots are able to analyze and recognize various elements in their environments.

FreedomPop’s Wireless Plan Is A Game Changer

FreedomPop is a relatively new player on the wireless scene, but as you can see from reviews, they are making a big splash with the way they bring voice, SMS and Wi-Fi data plans to the masses. In 2014 they began selling a Wi-Fi only phone that operated exclusively over Wi-Fi signals. And then in January of 2015 they launched a $5 per month plan with unlimited voice and data that took advantage of more than 10 million FreedomPop Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots range from national chain locations like Starbucks, McDonalds, Walmart and Home Depot to smaller local businesses, and they are spread throughout the country. That number is expected to grow to 25 million hotspots later this year.

This is all done through an app that will automatically log you into the hotspots when you are within range, allowing you to do make calls, text and surf the internet just like on other phones. When the service launched it was available only on Android devices. “iOS is far more closed, whereas Google has committed to make Wi-Fi as seamless as possible,” FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols said. But the iOS app is now available for consumers as well.

The $5 plan offers an alternative to the escalating data prices that other carriers charge. Studies show that as much as 90% of the data used by most cell phone consumers takes place over Wi-Fi, between home, work and other public locations. This means they are paying a premium each month for what amounts to only 10% of their total data use. Switching to a $5 plan would save hundreds of dollars each year.

According to Cnet, the company goal is to have more than 90% Wi-Fi coverage across the top 200 metropolitan markets by the end of 2015. To find out how the coverage looks in your area, go to the FreedomPop “Check Availability” page and enter your zip code and email address.