- I’m disappointed by this early stage incubator’s move…
- GameStop has a new plan for survival…
- This tech could erase the organ transplant waitlist…
The first domino has fallen…
Boris Johnson had the courage – or more like the desire for self-preservation – to announce yesterday that all COVID-19 restrictions in the U.K. will end on January 26.
That means everything.
Masks will no longer be required anywhere. Not in shops, not on public transport, not in schools, not outside. Better yet, the removal of masks in schools is effective today.
Even better, Johnson went so far as to make it clear that “we will trust the judgement of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one.”
Working remotely will no longer be advised and people are encouraged to return to work in person.
And COVID passports or passes to prove vaccination status will no longer be required anywhere.
What happened? Why the sudden reversal of policy in one of the countries that supported some of the most draconian pandemic policies?
On December 30, prestigious medical journal The Lancet published the results of a study that demonstrated that 89% of new U.K. COVID cases were among those fully vaccinated. 89%!
It went one step further to highlight the vaccinated population as a source of transmission of COVID-19.
The research went even further, and I quote:
“The COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 was higher among the subgroup of the vaccinated compared to the subgroup of the unvaccinated.”
“Fourteen fully vaccinated patients became severely ill or died, the two unvaccinated patients developed mild disease.”
“It appears to be grossly negligent to ignore the vaccinated population as a possible and relevant source of transmission when deciding about public health control measures.”
And that is what happened.
The data was irrefutable. No matter what the U.K. tried over the last two years, absolutely nothing stopped the spread. Remote work didn’t work, sanitizing our hands didn’t work, masking didn’t work, vaccine passports didn’t work, and most certainly the COVID-19 “vaccines” didn’t stop the spread.
Sadly, we knew this already. I’ve been sharing the scientific research with my readers for the last two years. I haven’t been sharing my opinions on these matters, only the research, the data, and the facts.
It might be uncomfortable for some to hear, but it’s the kind of information that I’d like to have to make decisions about my own health if our roles were reversed.
I’m sure that Boris Johnson and his cabinet will claim victory. It’s all for show, of course; to continue down the path of more restrictions and criminalization would have been political suicide.
It’s a smart move for self-preservation. But he really had no choice. In light of all the research and evidence, so many across the country realized the game was up. The truth is, for a highly transmissible airborne virus, we can run… but we can’t hide.
And almost as if in coordination, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. released new research that demonstrated that people who had previously been infected with COVID-19 and recovered were better protected against the Delta variant than those who are vaccinated alone.
This was a big deal, as this is an explicit acknowledgement of the power and durability of natural immunity acquired from prior exposure to COVID-19.
But it gets better.
In a shocking admission from the epicenter of COVID fearmongering, The New York Times stated yesterday, “Unvaccinated people with a history of COVID also had lower rates of infection and hospitalization than those protected by vaccines alone.” It went further, saying, “The data are consistent with trends observed in international studies.”
The facts are not surprising. The fact that The New York Times printed them is…
The most ironic part is that we’ve always known these things. We’ve known that the COVID-19 vaccines don’t “immunize” or provide immunity. They are not at all a vaccine in the traditional sense. I think of them more like experimental drugs for which we are still waiting on two-year safety data.
We’ve known that those vaccinated still catch and transmit COVID-19 to others. It’s the spread of Omicron that has made this fact so obvious. We’ve experienced it in our own lives and networks of friends, family, and colleagues.
This is the reason that vaccine passports make no sense at all. What’s the point? They provide a false sense of security and do absolutely nothing to keep anyone “safe.” Those who are vaccinated transmit COVID-19 like anyone else.
So there we have it… the beginning of the end.
The U.K. now joins Sweden, which was the stalwart of logic in successfully employing evidence-based policy decisions based on scientific research, not political narratives. Sweden has proven to be an incredible model throughout the pandemic. Thankfully, at least one country got it right. I hope other countries will learn from it.
Who will throw the towel in next? I suspect several European countries will do the same. I have to believe that there has been some coordination amongst E.U. member countries on this new policy position.
There have been so many massive and peaceful demonstrations against the COVID restrictions across Europe over the last six months, most of which went grossly underreported by the media. The groundswell was unmistakable and deeply encouraging.
And the U.S. is about to fall as well. For the same reasons as Johnson in the U.K. We’re all exhausted with this nonsense, and we can all see that the interventions haven’t stopped the spread.
And we look to states like Florida and Texas that have been living a normal life for more than a year. None of the dire predictions levied by The New York Times or The Atlantic came true. And we all know it.
It’s time to get back to life… to breathe freely… to let our children and grandchildren see each other’s faces and smile. It’s time to treat each other with kindness and respect.
It’s time to be free.
What we are up against in the world of early stage investing…
Prominent Silicon Valley-based incubator Y Combinator just made a drastic change… and it’s going to have a material impact on the early stage investing industry.
I’ve written many times about the unfair dynamics that keep many people from being able to invest in the most promising early stage private investments. And this latest news is a step in the wrong direction.
Yet this is also why I’m so passionate about the work we are doing with Day One Investor. I’ll explain with some background…
Y Combinator – YC, for short – is the world’s largest and most successful early stage incubator.
YC’s incubator program helps promising start-ups get off the ground with initial funding and connections. The venture capital (VC) world knows companies that graduate from YC’s program are some of the most promising startups around.
Historically, YC wrote a check for $125,000 to each company it accepted into its program. In return, YC received a 7% equity stake in the business. This was a standard “take it or leave it” deal.
And, of course, nearly every company took it. YC’s investment was the very first check these companies received. And they knew if they graduated from the incubator, they could attract more funding from angel investors and VC firms. And typically that funding came at higher valuations because of the status of YC.
This was a good deal for early stage companies. They got the start-up funding and connections they needed to get going. And they kept 93% of their business. It was a win-win.
But YC just announced that it’s making a material change to its standard terms.
It announced that it will now invest $500,000 into the companies entering its incubator program. Yet instead of receiving 7% equity, YC’s stake will be determined based on the company’s valuation at its next funding round.
The result will be that YC will end up owning more of these early stage companies than it did before. And YC retains the right to invest in that next round as well. And while the startups end up with more capital to work with at their earliest stage, they have to “give up” more of their own equity.
What I really don’t like is that these new terms will effectively crowd out angel investors and smaller VC firms that specialize in pre-seed or first-check funding. After all, if YC is cutting pre-seed round checks for half a million, these companies won’t need to take $50,000–100,000 checks from smaller investors.
As a result, small players will be locked out of these investments. Rather than becoming more inclusive and enabling a larger number of diverse investors, Silicon Valley is doing the opposite. It continues to hoard the investments for itself.
This is a big deal because of the scale of YC. It is now ferrying 800 to 900 companies through its incubator every year. That’s a lot of deals taken off the market for angel investors and smaller VCs.
This is the exact dynamic we are trying to fix with Day One Investor. I believe that having a large group of diverse investors is an asset to small companies. Investors can be evangelists, partners, and of course, customers of the company that they invested in.
And they have a vested interest in helping to make that company successful. And my goal is to make this asset class available to normal investors so that they can begin the process of building generational wealth.
It’s disappointing to see a move like this, but I understand the reasons why. The last couple of years have been incredible for YC, as some of its early investments in companies like DoorDash, Airbnb, and Coinbase all went public. YC made billions.
And like most companies, they don’t want to give the money back to investors. They want to use it to grow the business. With massive cash reserves, it can afford to increase the first check from $125,000 to $500,000 now.
It’s not all bad, though. YC companies will still need a seed round, and smart founders that recognize the value of a diverse investor base can benefit from the latest crowdfunding regulations. Under the latest Reg CF regulations, private companies can raise $5 million from both accredited and nonaccredited investors alike.
That means early stage companies are in the best position to raise money that will truly have a material impact on their business… and attract more investments in the process.
GameStop’s survival hinges on NFTs…
Video game retailer GameStop just announced plans to build a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace. The company hired a team of 20 people to take on this project, and its goal is to launch by the end of the year.
Make no mistake about it… this is all about survival. GameStop doesn’t want to become the next Blockbuster Video – the movie rental company that went bankrupt in 2010.
Longtime readers may remember that GameStop was caught up in the “meme stock” mania during the COVID-19 pandemic early last year.
As a reminder, Wall Street heavily shorted shares of GameStop (GME). This involves “borrowing” shares and then selling them into the market. If the stock fell, hedge funds could then buy back shares at a discount and return them to the lender – while pocketing the difference in price.
But day traders in a Reddit forum called WallStreetBets got together to buy GME en masse. The idea was to push the stock price up and force the hedge funds to buy back their shares at a higher price. This hedge fund buying would have the added effect of pushing the share price up even further.
And sure enough, it worked.
The day traders caused a massive run-up in GameStop’s share price. GME soared from $17.25 per share on January 4, 2021, to a peak of $347.51 per share by January 27, 2021. That’s a 1,915% surge in less than a month.
However, what was lost in this excitement was the fact that GameStop’s retail business is dying. There’s just way too much competition from mobile games, digital downloads, and other gaming platforms for a brick-and-mortar game retailer to be successful in its traditional business selling video games.
That’s what GameStop’s pivot to NFTs is all about. The company is swinging for the fences here to avoid bankruptcy.
And as crazy as it may sound, I think there’s a chance it could work.
We have talked about NFTs as they relate to play-to-earn gaming a lot recently. The concept is that players can own in-game items in the form of NFTs, which can then be sold on a marketplace for real money to generate an income – just from playing the game. This is one of the hottest trends out there right now.
And here’s the thing – it’s still very early days. The technology around NFT marketplaces has not been built out that much.
In fact, the companies working in the space right now are building out platforms specifically for people who are comfortable with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
As a result, the process of buying and storing NFTs securely is rather difficult right now… at least for those who aren’t familiar with the technologies involved.
GameStop’s big opportunity is to build an NFT marketplace for people who aren’t immersed in the crypto space. That will require a focus on the user interface. GameStop needs to make the platform simple, easy to use, and fun. If it can do that, I think GameStop has a decent chance of saving its business.
There is a large opportunity here to serve the gaming market that doesn’t really care about the decentralization of self-custody. They are perfectly fine if a centralized organization, like GameStop, takes care of that for them. They just want to have fun, enjoy their game, and play to earn.
Now this is by no means a recommendation for GameStop (GME). But this will be a fun story to watch this year.
A lot of things would have to go right for this to work for GameStop, but it has great retail brand recognition, large distribution, and strong relationships with the console manufacturers and the game publishers. For that reason, this is something for us to keep an eye on.
And it’s one more reason why NFTs are one of the biggest trends we’ll be following this year. We’re going to see incredible opportunities as companies like GME move in to develop this space. In fact, I believe we’re on the verge of mass adoption of this technology.
And right now is the time for early investors to place their stake in these digital assets.
As a result, I’m preparing a whole night to address this very topic. It’s coming up just next week on Wednesday, January 26, at 8 p.m. ET.
There, I’ll explain more about why NFTs are turning into such a critical trend for investors… and share about three NFT coins share about three NFT coins that could hand investors decades of tech gains in a matter of months.
And that’s not all… Attendees – on January 26 only – have the chance to take part in the biggest giveaway in Brownstone Research’s history and receive a free NFT sent straight to your wallet receive a free NFT sent straight to your wallet. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope you can join me.
This won’t be a night to miss. To sign up, simply go right here to RSVP go right here to RSVP.
Transplanting pig hearts into humans…
It just happened.
A medical team at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore has successfully transplanted a pig heart into a human.
The patient’s name is David Bennett. He’s 57 years old, and he was suffering from terminal heart disease. The pig heart saved his life.
The official term for this is xenotransplantation. And the process starts long before the surgery is performed.
Creating a pig heart for transplantation requires genetic engineering at the embryotic level. Scientists must remove certain genes in the pig cells that cause the human body to reject the foreign tissue. And they also add genes that help the human body accept the organ.
Once the genetic engineering is complete, these embryos are implanted into pigs. Then, after the pigs are born, they are raised in a controlled, bio-sealed environment. This shields them from contracting any porcine diseases. And once the pig has grown into an adult, the heart can be harvested for human transplantation.
The idea behind xenotransplantation is not new. We discussed the concept in The Bleeding Edge as far back as November 2019. And, of course, the vision was well-developed by then. It was promising in theory, but it hadn’t yet been proven in practice.
Now we know.
Last year, we saw the first pig liver successfully transplanted into a human. Now we’ve seen the heart work as well.
Patients need to take immunosuppressant drugs after the operation to ensure that the pig organs are not rejected, but other than that, they should be able to live normal lives.
And as strange as this may seem, xenotransplantation addresses a critical need.
There are over 100,000 people on an organ donor waiting list in the U.S. right now. And 17 of them die every day without receiving the organ they need.
Xenotransplantation is the solution. In time, we may even eliminate the organ donor waitlist entirely.
So this is a trend we need to keep on our radar this year. And investment implications are coming.
We talked about my favorite company in this space, eGenesis, last year. It is backed by famed Harvard geneticist and entrepreneur George Church.
eGenesis is making tremendous progress with its kidney transplant program, and the company is also marching towards a public offering potentially in the next 12–18 months.
That means it could make a fantastic investment target in the future.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
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