Friday, May 14, 2021

In Jack Ma vs. the Chinese government, China wins

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Ant Financial was slated to be the biggest IPO in history last year, before founder Jack Ma’s criticism of the Chinese government in October angered the administration and derailed the offer.

Since then, Ma has been gathering its olive branches in the hope of regaining the good graces of the regulators.

And Wednesday, the wall street journal reported that Ant Financial is preparing for a new nationalization, planning to transform “into a financial holding company supervised by the Chinese central bank”. The details have yet to be cemented. While it’s no surprise that the Chinese government is winning in all of this, there is a lot of irony in the situation.

In that fateful October speech, Ma spoke out against regulations he said stifled innovation, comparing the banking system in place for pawn shops. Now Ant Financial faces more stringent regulations that could hurt its results.

What I can’t help but think about: What could this mean for other entrepreneurs in the internet space who have grown overwhelmingly powerful in recent years?

CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA FOR THE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA? SPAC Evangelist and debut Facebook employee Chamath Palihapitiya wants to be the Warren Buffett of technology investing. He also appears to have cast his name in the ring for the Governor of California, tweeting Tuesday: “Here we go. #RecallGavinNewsom, “and link to a website called”Chamath for the Governor of California.

On his campaign website (?), The Investor called for cutting state taxes to zero and ending student loans. This question mark, by the way, is not an editing error. In a subsequent tweet, Palihapitiya cast a hint of uncertainty at the idea, writing: “Today was busy … I announced that I was running for Governor of California?” I have researched what this all means, but I don’t have a clue yet.

Either way, a government job will undoubtedly create a cascade of conflict of interest issues and mountains of paperwork for the very active investor.

Palihapitiya also jumped into Gamestop, the stock currently at the center of a bitter war between retail investors and hedge funds. My colleague, Bernhard Warner, has an excellent explanation on Why Reddit punters – and their ability to cooperate via social media – aren’t going away anytime soon (teaser alert: hedge funds hold around 3% of US stocks while retail traders hold around 36%).

CALENDAR: About two months ago, I reported that Calendly, a planning platform based in Atlanta, Georgia, had been in talks to get a valuation of around $ 3 billion. On Tuesday, the company announced that it had indeed struck a deal. The company raised $ 350 million of OpenView Venture Partners with the participation of Iconiq Capital. The deal is a mix of cash for the company itself and for the original shareholders and employees. What’s also notable: The deal makes it one of the US-based single-digit unicorn startups with a black founder at the helm. Read more.

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