Alibaba Deal Values Snapchat at $15 Billion (WSJ)
The Chinese e-commerce giant has invested $200 million in Snapchat, according to two people familiar with the transaction. The deal values Snapchat at $15 billion, one of those people said.
Exclusive: Former risk chief warned Deutsche Bank on stress test, emails show (Reuters)
In the weeks leading up to the U.S. Federal Reserve's annual stress test of major banks, a former risk executive of Deutsche Bank AG repeatedly warned senior managers of the German bank's U.S. unit that they were painting a far too rosy picture of the bank's health. The warnings weren't about this year's stress test. They were written by William Broeksmit in December 2013 and January 2014 as the bank was preparing its Fed-mandated, internally run stress test. At the time, Broeksmit was serving as a director of the U.S. unit. The bank needed to "stress harder," Broeksmit wrote in one email to senior managers. The bank's forecasts were "way too optimistic," he wrote in another. In others, he said that forecast losses were "way too small compared to history," and that the full board had to be briefed on the discrepancies, which were "way too important" to be glossed over. Deutsche Bank's senior U.S. managers rebuffed Broeksmit's warnings, according to the emails, copies of which were reviewed by Reuters.
Wedding Costs of $31,213 Show U.S. Consumers Reengaging (Bloomberg)
Spending on nuptials reached an average $31,213 in 2014, up 3 percent from the year before and the most expensive since 2009 adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis of data released Thursday by XO Group Inc., which owns wedding website TheKnot.com. Spending per head was at its highest level since the company began surveying brides in 2007, as the size of the average guest list shrank to 136 people, the lowest on record. The return of big-budget weddings may be one sign that the U.S. consumer is finding her economic footing again following the biggest recession in the post-World War II era.
250-year-old pretzel unearthed in Germany (UPI)
Archaeologists in southern Germany announced the discovery of a 250-year-old pretzel dubbed "the oldest ever found." Silvia Codreanau-Windauer of the Bavarian State Bavarian Bureau for the Conservation of Historic Monuments said the pretzel was found alongside other baked goods including rolls and a croissant dough during an archaeological dig last summer in Regensburg. "It is an archaeological sensation," Codreanau-Windauer told NBC News. "In my 30 years in the business I have never found an organic object." She said carbon dating indicates the baked goods date back to between 1700 and 1800. "The baked goods, which were typical for the religious fasting period, are very well preserved because they were originally burnt in the baking process," Codreanau-Windauer said.
Utah Passes White-Collar Felon Registry (Dealbook)
With just a point and a click, you can browse a face book of felons, a new government website that will warn of the danger these criminals pose to society. Only these are not the faces of sex offenders and serial killers. These criminals are mortgage schemers and inside traders, most likely armed with nothing more than an M.B.A. or a law degree. Their faces will soon appear online courtesy of the Utah Legislature, which on Wednesday approved a measure to build the nation’s first white-collar offender registry, appending a scarlet letter of sorts on the state’s financial felons. The registry — quirky even by the standards of a legislature that this week reinstated firing squads as a method of execution — will be replete with a “a recent photograph” of Utah’s white-collar offenders and, in case they try to run or hide, their “date of birth, height, weight, and eye and hair color.”
SEC Chairman White Insists Banks Not ‘Too Big to Bar’ (WSJ)
Ms. White, speaking at Georgetown University, waded into a long-simmering debate among the SEC’s five commissioners over so-called waivers, which allow financial firms and other businesses to continue certain activities—like selling stakes in hedge funds—despite being automatically barred from such activities when they settle enforcement cases with U.S. authorities. The agency has granted waivers for a number of firms in recent months, including Citigroup Inc., and Oppenheimer & Co., which requested reprieves from restrictions that would have crimped their activities following settlements with the SEC and other regulators.
Lumber Liquidators offers free home tests to assuage fears (Reuters)
Lumber Liquidators Holdings, facing government probes over claims of dangerous levels of a cancer-causing substance in its laminate flooring, defended the safety of its products and gave a blow-by-blow account of its testing process in an effort to assuage investors’ concerns. The hardwood flooring retailer said it would offer free home tests for its customers and promised additional tests if results were above accepted levels. It, however, did not say anything about a possible recall. The company’s shares rose as much as 9 percent to $35.60 in early morning trading Thursday after the retailer also said it had sufficient liquidity to fund its operations “for the foreseeable future.”
NCAA pool is worth $15,000—if you can write code (CNBC)
Ryan Boesch enters a March Madness pool with family members every year. But after developing a knack for algorithms at Stanford University, he stumbled upon "the nerd way" to compete. "I'm the type of person who loves playing cards but would have more fun writing the model for code to compete against someone else's code," said Boesch, a graduate student in electrical engineering. Boesch and other tech-savvy sports fans have jumped into alternative March Madness pools where participants pit their best data-driven computer models against each other. A contest held by data science site Kaggle—which will award $15,000 in prize money—has already drawn entries from 273 teams. Their algorithms will attempt to predict this year's college basketball championship, which starts next week.
'Suspicious' Avocado Shipment Turned Out To Contain A Literal Ton Of Weed (HP)
On March 4, staff alerted the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to what seemed like a “suspicious shipment” of more than one thousand boxes that had arrived with instructions for an “urgent pick-up,” according to a Cook County Sheriff’s Office press release issued Wednesday. While some of the boxes contained only frozen avocado pulp, others contained bricks of weed. Altogether, officials confiscated around 2,100 pounds of marijuana, at a total estimated street value of $10 million. The investigation into the origins and destination of the drugs is ongoing.