“Fake test scores, fake credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said — oh, and a whole lotta dumb parents.
At least 33 parents — from Hollywood celebrity Felicity Huffman to TPG co-founder and Silicon Valley social responsibility crusader Bill McGlashan — were charged for bribing their children into top universities.
At the center of it all sits William Rick Singer, the founder of a college preparatory business called “the Edge College & Career Network” — AKA “The Key.” And boy did he create a business model.
The feds call it “Operation Varsity Blues”
Authorities said Mr. Singer, who is fully cooperating, used The Key, and its nonprofit arm, as a front for parents to funnel money into an admittance assurance fund.
Through this account Singer composed scenarios where students took tests with test administrators that Singer paid as much as $10k to oversee.
To ensure higher scores, Singer would arrange for a 3rd person “to take the exams in place of the students,” the Justice Department said.
And he wasn’t just the chief bribing exec…
The dude was also a real photoshop whiz.
In one example, the parents of a student applying to Yale paid Mr. Singer $1.2m to market the student, who did not play soccer, as the co-captain of a prominent club soccer team in Southern California. He did so, along with many others, by using photoshop to provide visual proof.
Parents paid Mr. Singer about $25m from 2011 until February 2019, to bribe coaches and university administrators into backdooring students into the school through athletics.
The collegiate conundrum
The charges highlight how competitive the college admissions process can be — so cutthroat, in fact, that some feel the need to break rules.
Of course, this cheats other hardworking students out of a chance at a college education.
As global investment in Latin America soars, MercadoLibre raises a quick $850m
The Argentinian e-commerce company MercadoLibre raised $750m from PayPal and $100m from Dragoneer as part of a $1.8B equity round.
Investors across the globe are lining up to toss their cash into red-hot Latin American e-commerce markets — and MercadoLibre is in a perfect position to take their money.
Everyone and their CPA wants to invest in Latin America
Last week, SoftBank announced plans to launch a $5B innovation fund in Latin America. It’s a lot of cash, even for SoftBank. But ol’ Softy’s not alone: Funding across Latin America increased from $2.3B in 2016 to $4.3B in just a single year.
Now, global investors like PayPal and SoftBank are finally prioritizing Latin America — a region that has more internet users than the US and a GDP 2x larger than India’s.
Yeah, MercadoLibre will take your money — but it’s already huge
For global investors, MercadoLibre is a safe bet: The e-commerce giant already has a market cap of $21.7B, and last year MercadoPago (the company’s payment division) increased its payment volume by 70% to $18B.
Since secondary equity offerings dilute existing stockholders’ ownership, they aren’t always a good thing. But in this case, a round of rocket-fuel could help ’Libre prevent Amazon from encroaching on its turf.
Plus, MercadoLibre has plenty of room to grow: There are still more than 400m consumers across Latin America who don’t have bank accounts or credit histories. As they rapidly enter the market, e-commerce will only grow more quickly.
Plane crashes have grounded Boeing’s business — and the Dow Jones
Last week’s tragic, fatal Boeing airplane crash in Ethiopia is the 2nd time in 6 months that a Boeing 737 MAX 8 has crashed — an unheard-of failure rate for a new aircraft.
Since the crash, 34 countries (not including the US and Canada) and dozens of airlines have banned the 737s from takeoff. As the investigation into the crash’s cause continues, the grounded planes will cause pains for Boeing — and the Dow Jones Industrial Average it props up on its wings.
Boeing could lose a competitive edge
Boeing had hoped that the 737 MAX 8 — a new, lighter, more efficient version of its most popular aircraft — could help the company win back market share from Airbus in the single-aisle jet market.
If the MAX 8 remains on the ground for long, Boeing will lose one of its major sources of revenue: The company currently has 4.7k orders for the $121m MAX 8, representing ⅔ of Boeing’s future deliveries and 40% of its expected profits.
One crash causes another… and another
The grounding is bad for Boeing’s business — and the rest of the economy. Since the Dow Jones is a price-weighted index that averages 30 important companies based on their share price, companies with high shares have the biggest impacts on the average.
Boeing’s share price is the highest of the entire bunch, meaning that Boeing’s stock could cause the whole index to decline.
Yesterday, Boeing’s stock closed down more than 6%, enough to pull the Dow into the red even though both other indexes posted gains.
Swiftmile is pitching cities its solution for cleaning up the scooter-filled streets
Since e-scoots were dumped on the streets at the end of 2017, they’ve been a driving example of exactly why humans can’t have nice things.
Riders continue to scatter them all across sidewalks, parks, and lake beds, making what could be a convenient form of transportation, into potential pedestrian death zones.
Now, the Washington Post reports that the California startup Swiftmile is working on a possible solution to curb the chaos by electric scooters around the country, and it’s a fairly obvious one.
The new age of scooter-corralling
The company, has unveiled unattended, solar-powered charging stations for e-scooters, designed to serve as a locale for riders to dock between rides.
“We bring order to the chaos,” Explained the company’s founder, Colin Roche. The company is reportedly in talks with 3 major metropolitan markets with large fleets of scooters on their streets.
Roche insists these docking stations will not only increase safety, they’ll also save e-scooter companies money.
The proof is in the pudding
With charging stations, they won’t have to pay gig economy workers to take scooters home at night. “Scooter companies spend 50% of their operating costs on charging these things,” Roche said.
Roche and his team believe that 2019 is a crucial year for the future of e-scooters. “If the safety and other problems aren’t addressed, I think cities will restrict them even more, Pat Burt, a former Palo Alto mayor and current Swiftmile advisor, said.