from the world's big
Why Facebook Stock is Undervalued: Facebook Credits
First of all, I am not an analyst nor do I own any stock in any public company. The last time I did invest in a promising Internet company ended in a disaster, thanks to Deutsche Telekom.
Nonetheless, I believe the Facebook stock is undervalued. Everyone who believes in the company will tell you that there is huge potential in its 900 million users, but most of them will talk about new forms of advertising or tailored experiences through the social graph. I think that’s all small change and not the true money maker. Advertising revenue is far too unstable to build a lasting company, even Google has been spreading out into other verticals for a while now which I believe is pretty telling. No, the true value of Facebook lies in its own currency: Facebook Credits.
No one is talking about it as at the moment Facebook Credits are just a convenient way to get access to games on the social network, but I don’t believe that this is the real plan behind having your own currency. As I had a pretty successful online teaching career, I noticed early on how difficult it still is to send and receive online payments in the global market today. There are huge parts of the world’s population who have access to the Internet but cannot pay for goods and services, even if they want to. One could say, there is a large group of Internet window shoppers out there.
I have been actively teaching between late 2008 and early 2010 but astonishingly not much seems to have changed in the meanwhile when I checked the different options lately. Some startups in the education space put in some really heavy work to offer as many payment methods as possible, for example italki was famous for adding one more payment provider every couple of months. Yet, it did not help them to reach a really big market.
The reason for this is probably convenience and a lack choice. Most of these payment methods involve several steps, it’s not comparable with simply recharging your PayPal account. If you take cashU as an example, a quite popular payment method in the Middle East and North Africa, you need to find a shop that sells the cashU cards which can be a first hurdle to clear. And the percentage the provider takes for the amount you charge on the card is also pretty hefty. Last but not least, you have to calculate what amount you charge to use the card efficiently as you don’t want to have money left on the card that you cannot use. All in all, many steps to take that are contrary to the usual impulsive behavior of buying on the Internet.
I also don’t think that people will go through all this in order to get access to one particular service. You would really, really want to learn something with a particular provider in order to invest all that time and hustle. If you don’t have at least ten different options to spend your money on you might as well do just fine without even this one option.
Facebook Credits on the other hand are the perfect solution to all of this. Firstly, most of these potential clients are on Facebook and very familiar (probably more than I am) with the different games and services the social network is offering. If (as soon as) Facebook offered its prepaid cards in shops in the Middle East, India, China, Africa, South America etc advertising revenue would look like peanuts.
Sure, there have been many storefronts closed on Facebook lately but then Facebook did not really push for its currency yet. Most payments were done by other providers what added an extra and unnecessary layer to the process. Facebook payments need to work like Amazon, e.g. one-click-payment and that would be the case with Credits.
Facebook already did tests with those cards in the US and the results seemed to be promising. And as soon as you add Facebook’s mobile strategy to the picture, you’ll get another potential revenue stream: mobile banking & p2p payments. Facebook Credits on mobile phones could become a huge competitor for M-PESA as Facebook would be able to offer far more additional services like online shopping for instance. As recent as February, Facebook made a partnership with Orange to bring the social network via Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) to Africa.
Of course, Facebook Credits would also spread into the real world. There is no reason why you should not be able to pay for your espresso with Facebook Credits. And that ties in check-ins, reward programs, personalized coupons & ads - you name it.
All in all, Facebook Credits have the potential to become a kind of unofficial world currency and Facebook would earn on each single transaction. That’s the true power of 900 million users, forget the ads.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>