• Coinbase is taking a page out of Amazon’s playbook
  • Lighting up the Vegas Strip with solar power…
  • Nearly all of us fell victim to the latest data breach

Dear Reader,

“One of my concerns is that the government is not being transparent with us about what those risks are.”

“And so, I’m of the opinion that people have the right to decide whether to accept a vaccine or not, especially since these are experimental vaccines.”

The speaker went further to add:

This is a fundamental right having to do with clinical research ethics… And so, my concern is that I know that there are risks. But we don’t have access to the data, and the data haven’t been captured rigorously enough so that we can accurately assess those risks. And therefore, we don’t really have the information that we need to make a reasonable decision.

For the above comments, unsurprisingly, the speaker was banned from YouTube (Google) and LinkedIn (Microsoft) as well.

As we know well, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the mainstream media have been actively censoring and banning those with whom they disagree. No longer is an open discourse of ideas and information allowed… Only discourse that fits their narrative.

What did surprise me was that LinkedIn, a social media platform for professionals, jumped into the censorship fray.

Perhaps Microsoft, given its latest efforts to become even more dominant by boxing out the competition, was sitting on the sidelines waiting to see if the others got into trouble for crossing the line. They didn’t.

What is shocking about this is who the speaker is. He isn’t someone with an angle. This man is not anti-vaccine at all or someone with a political bent.

The speaker of those words is Dr. Robert Malone, the inventor of the mRNA vaccine. These are the same kind of vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

And for fairly obvious reasons, Dr. Malone is a widely known and respected expert in the field. He is precisely the kind of person that I would like to hear from concerning the subject matter.

Yet LinkedIn shut down his account. In a letter from LinkedIn, the company justified the closure “due to multiple violations of LinkedIn’s User Agreement and Professional Community Policies against sharing content that contains misleading or inaccurate information.”

Misleading or inaccurate information? Really? How is it that the inventor of mRNA vaccines can be censored for spreading misleading or inaccurate information regarding a technology that he created? It is a stark reminder of the incredible absence of consensus amongst the medical community.

Even the balanced, rational comments that Dr. Malone made have been censored.

Dr. Malone also claimed, “Vaccines save lives. These vaccines have saved lives.” He further elaborated concerning the risk/benefit profile, stating, “I can say that the risk-benefit ratio for those 18 and below doesn’t justify vaccines, and there’s a pretty good chance that it doesn’t justify vaccination in these very young adults.”

If we want to understand the extent to which a small number of large companies are filtering our access to information and trying to influence the way we think, this is a perfect example.

Dr. Malone’s comments were thoughtful and factual. They were based on scientific research and the desire to provide us all with the kind of transparency and information that we need to make decisions about our own health and the health of our children.

And the thing is, Malone’s comments are not unusual. They aren’t even in the minority. They are widely shared – and widely censored.

The removal of his account caused quite a stir and resulted in an apology from LinkedIn. His account has since been reinstated.

But after posting on the account that LinkedIn is “not powered for actual scientific discussion,” he was warned that he would be deleted again if he transgresses.

And that’s the world that we’re living in right now. One of thought police and thought crimes judged by a very small number of people. It appears that many have forgotten George Orwell’s 1984 was not an instruction manual.

And for those who haven’t yet read the book, now would be the time to do so.

What Coinbase’s new strategic direction tells me…

Coinbase is making some interesting moves. And I’m seeing some parallels with Amazon and Apple in its new strategic direction.

For the sake of new readers, Coinbase is the largest digital asset exchange in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. It allows both institutions and retail investors to buy cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ether (Ethereum), and numerous others.

Coinbase was an early standout in the industry even when it felt like the wild west. It has always been focused on regulatory compliance – even back in the very early days of the industry. The company has always strived to be buttoned up in all 50 U.S. states and the other countries it serves.

Prior to going public in April, Coinbase was very slow to add newer and smaller cryptocurrencies to its platform. This was a deliberate approach. The goal was to avoid regulatory scrutiny.

But since it has gone public, we can really see a shift in Coinbase’s stance. Coinbase has become far more aggressive. The company is ultimately going to onboard thousands of new cryptocurrencies to its platform.

This is a page right out of the Amazon playbook.

By making a massive universe of cryptocurrencies available to retail investors, Coinbase’s strategy is to establish itself as the primary marketplace in the digital asset industry.

Just like consumers can find any item they could possibly want in Amazon’s marketplace, investors will likely be able to find just about any digital asset they could want on Coinbase.

What’s more, Coinbase is now aggressively building out its own app store. This will be a one-stop shop where consumers can download decentralized applications powered by blockchain technology.

Of course, Coinbase is following in Apple’s footsteps here.

We’ve talked before about how lucrative Apple’s App Store is. Apple typically receives a 30% commission when a consumer buys an app. But that’s just the first layer. Apple also gets a 30% cut of every in-app purchase consumers make going forward. It adds up very fast.

So Coinbase’s crypto app store will add another revenue stream for the company. It’s not clear yet what the business model will look like, but I know two things. It will generate a material source of additional revenue, and it will create even more stickiness on Coinbase’s platform.

The app store will largely focus on decentralized finance (DeFi) applications. DeFi seeks to move traditional financial services like saving, borrowing, and lending to a blockchain-based environment.

This will enable peer-to-peer services, effectively cutting out the banks and other middlemen – reducing costs in the process.

I can’t wait to watch this play out. Coinbase is coming out swinging here. It wants to be the dominant global player in the digital assets industry.

And it’s worth noting that Coinbase can only get aggressive like this because it is now a public company. For the first time, it is filing quarterly reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and that makes the company’s financials completely transparent. This in turn reduces regulatory scrutiny and adds to the company’s legitimacy.

Full disclosure – I am a shareholder in Coinbase. I was an early investor in the company years ago when it was small and still very much in the developmental stages. And I don’t plan on selling anytime soon. For that reason, I’m not permitted to officially recommend Coinbase (COIN) in my research services.

Coinbase’s strategy and success at execution will directly impact the competitive dynamics of the industry. That’s why I’m keeping a close eye on the progress that it’s making.

MGM Resorts is powering its hotels with solar panels in the desert…

We wouldn’t usually talk about MGM Resorts here in The Bleeding Edge. This is a company that owns 13 resorts/casinos in Las Vegas, as well as a handful of international properties.

But MGM recently caught my eye with its launch of an interesting solar energy project. The company set up a massive solar array covering 640 acres of desert north of Las Vegas. Combined, the panels produce up to 100 megawatts of energy in peak sunlight.

MGM’s Solar Array

Source: MGM

This massive array directly feeds MGM’s 13 properties on the Vegas Strip. And it’s hard to argue with the results at first glance. MGM can now produce 90% of the power its resorts need during the day.

That’s an incredible contribution, and it’s exciting to see a development like this. But there is a nuance here…

At night, the Vegas strip is lit up with many brightly colored lights. And this is also when the casinos are at their peak in terms of energy consumption.

So the fact is, 640 acres of solar panels are not nearly enough for MGM to run its properties entirely from solar power – let alone a tiny fraction of Las Vegas’ energy requirements.

While it’s a great project that I’m happy to see built, we can clearly understand why solar power is insufficient for large-scale, baseload power production on its own.

If 640 acres in the desert can’t power 13 resorts around the clock, imagine how solar energy production would fall short in less ideal climates (i.e., anywhere that has less sunshine and more rain and clouds).

That said, MGM’s goal is to produce 100% of its power in Las Vegas from solar energy by 2030. This will require building an even more massive solar farm in the desert.

And notably, MGM is working in partnership with private energy company Invenergy. Invenergy specializes in these kinds of clean energy projects and industrial energy storage.

Invenergy just raised $1 billion in private equity back in December to help grow the business. Partnerships like the one with MGM require a lot of up-front capital, and the payback happens over time.  

$1 billion is a major raise. And it will clearly accelerate growth. It also suggests that the private equity investors behind Invenergy are likely looking to take the company public in the next 12–24 months. That would occur after the effects of the investment show up in the company’s revenue and free cash flow.

I like Invenergy’s approach. And if it continues to ink big deals like this one with MGM, it could make an attractive investment target at the right valuation.

Yet another breach at Microsoft…

We’ll wrap up today with a bit of warning. Microsoft’s LinkedIn platform just suffered a massive data breach.

This hack compromised 700 million user accounts, which is roughly 92% of all LinkedIn users. So it’s safe to say that if we have a LinkedIn account, our data has likely been exposed.

And this hack comes on the back of another incident in April that “leaked” data on 500 million LinkedIn users. LinkedIn claimed that was simply the result of data scraping, which is when a program is written to extract data from public platforms.

The company is saying the same thing about this latest breach, but it’s an absurd claim…

Hackers have posted users’ physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, geolocation info, and even inferred salaries – data that LinkedIn keeps private. Much of this information is not available in the public domain.

So all LinkedIn users should be very careful right now. Those of us caught up in this hack could be prime targets for phishing and identity theft.

After all, cybercriminals now know our phone numbers, our email addresses, where we live, and our career histories.

I have already received several phishing text messages since this breach. The texts prompt me to click a link and come from an unknown phone number. We should never do this.

Even if the text is contextual and related to something about us, please avoid the temptation. These links will install malware on our devices, which will report sensitive data back to the hackers.

This is my public service announcement for the week… Never click on links in emails or text messages unless you know for certain who they are from and what their purpose is.

Many times, these messages may look suspicious. But phishers can be sophisticated. For example, if we haven’t ordered any packages, we shouldn’t click on a text telling us our order is delayed.

I also highly advise readers to never answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize. Think about it – hackers also know who our friends and colleagues are based on our social media profiles. This could enable them to forge an elaborate deception.

Plus, sophisticated hackers even have ways of getting us to install malware over the phone.

Looking at the bigger picture, this hack hits at an interesting time for Microsoft.

We have already talked about the massive breach in Microsoft Exchange Servers, which was the result of incredible mismanagement by Microsoft.

And on Tuesday, we talked about how Microsoft was blocking out the competition by installing its own team chat and videoconferencing software in the latest version of the Windows operating system.

At this point, it’s clear that Microsoft is a very poor steward of our data, and the company has a long history of anticompetitive behavior. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft find itself in regulators’ crosshairs very soon.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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