China Enters “a State of War”
- SoftBank Leads $161 Million Investment in Lab-Grown Meat
- FICO Changes May Tank Your Credit Score
- Coronavirus Ground Zero Quarantined
- How to Buy an Established Business, Zero Money Down
SoftBank Leads $161 Million Investment in Lab-Grown Meat
Frankenmeat producer Memphis Meats says it raised $161 million in a round of funding led by Japan’s SoftBank group. (And just in time too. The price of neck bolts is ridiculous in this day and age.)
The lab-grown meat company, who counts notoriously wealthy ding dongs like Bill Gates and Richard Branson among its investors, says this round of investment takes total funding to $180 million.
Now, just so we’re clear, Memphis Meats isn’t one of those “plant-based” meat alternatives like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods. These Memphis boys are growing legitimate, spit-in-the-face-of-god lab meat.
I don’t want to get too deep in the weeds with the science here (the last time I did, my proofreader got caught on a bramble and never came out).
But at the most basic level, the process involves harvesting cells from animals and growing them into full-sized pieces of meat, in a process similar to brewing beer. (But instead of a delicious foamy beverage, the end result is a bloody hunk of an animal that never was.)
“People thought this was all science fiction” when the company was founded back in 2015, Uma Valeti, the co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, told NPR. “Everything that we’ve done at Memphis Meats [has] started to show that this can be done. This is real.”
File footage of the Memphis Meats labs.
The eventual goal of companies like Memphis Meats and Beyond Meat is to develop and commercialize sustainable meat substitutes that can replace modern farming and bring about an age of “superabundance.” (And if they just so happen to make boatloads of cash in the process, that’s cool too.)
Beyond Meat shares have risen five-fold since its May 2019 IPO, proving investors have an appetite for these guys’ sustainable shtick (for now at least). But as legitimate mad scientists growing soulless meat hunks, Memphis Meat faces some unique challenges the plant-based substitute folks do not.
How to label, regulate, and classify lab-grown meat is a total headache that no one wants to deal with. And the cost of growing a single piece of Frankenmeat in a lab can be prohibitively expensive.
Back in 2018, Wired reported that a pound of Memphis Meats costs $2,400 to produce. (And folks, I like the planet fine and even Greta Thunberg ain’t dropping $2k on a steak.)
We don’t know exactly how much a pound of this horror show costs to make in 2020. But according to Valeti, the price has come down “significantly.”
“Our costs have continued to come down significantly over the last three years,” Valeti told NPR yesterday. “We have a clear path to bringing a cost competitive product to market as we scale our production and that’s part of what our latest funding round will help us to unlock.”
It’s unlikely you’ll see slabs of frankenmeat hitting grocery stores in 2020. But an investment of this size is a vote of confidence in the industry as a whole and will likely accelerate the path to a commercially viable product (or a full-blown Frankenstein, whichever comes first).
Now, I know how you folks feel about plant-based meat. So I’d like to get your take on this lab-grown stuff.
It’s a little science fiction. But it is real, actual meat.
Would you try it? Is it preferable to this plant-based stuff?
FICO Changes May Tank Your Credit Score
Changes to the FICO credit-scoring system could tank your credit score and make borrowing a lot harder for legions of Americans. (Not me. My credit score still sucks after I invested in that professional dog wrestling league.)
The Fair Isaac Corp. (the company behind my UNFAIR credit score) will be implementing harsher scoring penalties for Americans who fall behind on their repayments and have rising levels of debt.
The decision is designed to widen the gap between those with bad and good credit. (Just so the folks with bad credit know their place.)
Folks with good credit (above 680) will likely see their credit score rise as a result of the changes. While anyone under 600 is at risk of seeing their score drop faster than a baby at a grease festival.
These changes are designed to help lenders identify more “creditworthy” consumers and make it easier for them to be approved for loans. But the upshot is that it’s about to become a lot harder for many Americans to get approved for a loan.
“There are some lenders that see there are problems on the horizon in terms of consumer performance or uncertainty [about] how long this [recovery] is going to go,” David Shellenberger, vice president of scores and predictive analytics at FICO, told the Wall Street Journal.
“We definitely are finding pockets of greater risk,” said David, pulling a handkerchief from a pocket full of scorpions to blow his nose.
Coronavirus Ground Zero Quarantined
The Chinese city of Wuhan has been quarantined in an attempt to halt the spread of the deadly and contagious coronavirus sweeping across the globe. But health officials are worried this move might be too little too late.
(Well, health officials outside of China are worried. Chinese officials are doing that thing where they pretend everything is fine and China has never made a mistake in 3,000 years of history.)
Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, has been pegged as the ground zero of the deadly outbreak; specifically, one of Wuhan’s wet markets where meat is sold alongside live animals like dogs, chickens, and koalas. (If anyone knows why they’re selling live koalas in China, please, please email me. I need to know.)
The vast majority of the more than 630 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and all 17 deaths from the illness, have occurred in Wuhan.
And as luck or kismet or whatever mystical force governs your life would have it, Wuhan just so happens to be a travel hub for the entire region, linking mega-cities Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai by rail.
Officials predict that as many as 700,000 travelers will pass through the city’s railway system during the upcoming Lunar New Year celebration. Or at least they would have.
The government has stopped all travel in and out of Wuhan, as well as halting all public transport inside the city in order to slow the spread of the disease. After the quarantine was announced yesterday, folks scrambled to evacuate the city and were able to leave by car on some routes as late as 10 am this morning.
“Strictly implement emergency response requirements, enter into a state of war and implement wartime measures to resolutely curb the spread of this epidemic,” said one of Wuhan’s most dramatic officials. “Homes must be segregated, neighbors must be watched.”
By the time you read this, Wuhan will be in full 90s-disaster movie lockdown. But many thousands of people will have already fled the city by then. (Which is kinda like shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted and also you gave the horse $2,000 and helped it move into a loft in the city with six other horses.)
The rapid jump in confirmed cases has health officials worried that China may be suppressing the actual numbers of the sick. Some mathematical models predict there should be as many as 4,000 cases of the illness, based on past outbreaks of similar viral diseases.
One reporter for NPR noted many of Wuhan’s citizens had posted on Facebook that they were worried they were suffering from the illness. But when she went back later that day to check for updates, all the posts had been deleted. (Cue spooky music sting.)
Chinese officials say they’ve got everything under control and everyone should just chill the F out. So yeah, it’s probably time to start worrying or obsessively washing your hands or whatever.
ONE LAST THING
How to Buy an Established Business, Zero Money Down
This week, we’re continuing the One Last Thing Exceptional Investors series with Carl Allen and his tried-and-tested strategy for buying an established business using none of your own money.
Yesterday, Carl told us how he used to be a drunken, strung out mess before he discovered this strategy. Which is fun and all, but it doesn’t tell you much about using Carl’s strategy for yourself.
Today, Carl is going to reveal the types of business you can buy with this system and who to buy them from.
Read on to discover how Carl buys businesses without putting any of his own money down or click here to get his full, in-depth guide right now.
Zero-Down Business Buying
By Carl Alan
The majority of deals I have completed have been in the USA (where I lived for a while), the UK, Australia, and Western Europe. I could also tell you some really interesting stories about my dealings in Russia, China, India, and North Africa.
In fact, there are not many business sectors where I haven’t done a deal. And although things like law and taxes are different country-to-country (I will show you how to nail that wherever you are), the process is identical wherever you may be.
Essentially, I have a targeted system.
I get into the psychology and typical deal sizes in my book; however, here are the three types of sellers I typically buy from:
(1) Owner managers
Here I’m targeting tired, frustrated owner managers of established businesses – businesses with strong traditions in which the owner has no succession plan, has made his or her money over the years, and wants to sell up.
The seller cares more about the longevity of the business, protecting employees, brand, culture, heritage, and their customers than cash. He or she wants to turn the business over to someone who takes these things into account.
I call it a “trusted pair of hands” because that’s what you will become to these people.
(2) Large companies
Another fantastic way to get free businesses is to target small carveouts from very large companies. For example, a multi-billion-dollar company that owns one or more small subsidiary companies (under $10 million in revenue).
These make great deals because when the parent company undergoes large corporate issues such as financial slowdown, share price slump, profit warnings, etc., or when it changes its board members, CEO, or other key managers, or changes strategic direction, it often focuses on its few large core businesses and lets go of the smaller subsidiaries that are no longer a core part of the strategy.
These are the businesses we target. It’s similar in nature to giving away an old coat to the local charity store in that what is surplus to your requirements will make a fantastic item for someone else, who will not believe their luck.
Trust and the “safe pair of hands” mantra are also very important in acquiring a corporate spin-off. A business I picked up several years ago had several staff members who had worked in the business since before I was born (1970).
A larger company buying it would have eliminated some of these people, but because I wasn’t going to do that, as I was seen as a safe pair of hands and therefore was chosen above a larger company to be the new owner.
(3) Private Equity or other investment firms or individuals
Another great way to pick up a free business is to take it from an investment portfolio. Investors work in the game of overall returns, either to themselves or to the people that pledge them the money. In a typical investment portfolio of private businesses (not talking about the stock market here), you only need one or two businesses out of every ten invested in to drive big financial returns for your fund and its investors.
For example, look at Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Venture capital and private equity invested in these companies for a few million dollars and these generated hundreds, if not thousands, of times the money back.
If you have just made an absolute killing on a deal like that and then want to make many more investments, how much do you care about the eight or nine other businesses you invested in that are not making you a high return?
Because there isn’t the same energy, pace, and dedication in these businesses, the investor-owner may not want to spend time on them, so the owner gives them up to have time for new investments. That is when you pick them up for yourself, for free, and I will show you how to do it.
As inspiration, I would like to share with you a recent deal of mine, and my future plans for it.
This is a business I took over in 2018. The owner’s husband started the business from scratch in the 1980s, and it did well until his death a few years ago. Once he passed, his wife became responsible for the business.
Unfortunately, sales started declining without the husband there to help. That’s when I stepped in. I offered the widow a deal in which I would take over the business without using any of my personal cash.
I made a down payment to her, which came from the business’ assets, and we agreed the rest of the purchase price would be paid out of the future profits of the business. (I explain how this works in more detail in my book.)
She was overjoyed to give me the business because under my ownership it will flourish, and because without me taking it over, sales would likely have continued to decline until the business failed. And considering the emotional attachment she has to the business and its employees, it’s very important to her to see them continue to grow and prosper.
Since I took over the business, it has been growing quickly. I put a new CEO in place and gave him some of the equity to manage the team and run the business day-to-day. The former owner even stayed on as well in a part-time role, helping with some of the sales relationships.
Since I didn’t pay anything for the business personally, I was happy to give away some of the equity in exchange for only having to check in on the business once a week while the management team grows the business for me. You don’t have to do the same, of course, but I would recommend it if you don’t plan on being there a lot. Let the team drive your equity value and wealth creation.
Moving forward, I’m 100% confident that the team and I, based on the growth plan we created, will be able to double the revenue and quadruple the profit of this business in less than two years, then sell it for a multi-million-dollar payday.
[Editor’s note: Carl will be hanging around the OLT offices this week to tell us more about his signature money-making strategy. But if you want to know more right now, I recommend you check out his book Zero-Down Business Buying Secrets: How to Buy an Established Profitable Business Using None of Your Own Money.]
Closing Data for 1/22/20
|S&P Index 500||$3,328.56||↑ 0.23%|
- The U.S. Dept. of Transportation proposed a new rule that would ban all service animals from flights except dogs.
- WeWork continues to sell its non-core business units, the latest being its stake in the female-focused co-working startup The Wing.
- Apple pushed back against the EU’s plan for a common charger, saying the move would hamper innovation and add to electronic waste.
Editor, One Last Thing
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