Credit Suisse May Need Up to $1 Billion After Huge Losses

Credit Suisse may soon raise over $1 billion in new capital after a string of huge losses last year. From a Reuters report this morning:

Credit Suisse is in the early stages of weighing options to bolster its capital after a string of losses has eroded its financial buffers, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The size of the increase would be likely to exceed 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.04 billion), but this has not yet been determined, said one of the people, who declined to be named because the deliberations are still internal.

The cash injection would help Switzerland’s second-biggest bank to recover from billions of losses in 2021 and a series of costly legal headaches.


Credit Suisse lost $5.5 billion last year just in trades with failed hedge fund Archegos Capital Management. It has since closed the prime services business that serviced Archegos and other funds.


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Risk controls have been almost nonexistent at the Zurich-based bank. Big dealmakers have routinely overruled compliance staff, with predictable results.

In my view, Credit Suisse would not be seeking to raise capital in this bear market unless it badly needed it. Stocks are crashing, the IPO market is closed, and bond markets are volatile.

If the Reuters report is accurate, I suspect Credit Suisse is getting desperate.

If Credit Suisse is in a bind, investors are apt to drive a hard bargain. The terms of a financing may be punitive, if it happens at all.

Any new equity financing would also dilute existing shareholders, making their shares worth less. Those shareholders are already reeling from a 37% loss in the last year.

The best way for Credit Suisse to avoid scandals and massive losses in the future is to change its employees incentives. When a banker that brings in a big deal gets a huge bonus and a promotion regardless of how risky the deal is, other bankers take note.

Rather than compensating employees for individual success, Credit Suisse should take a page out of Silicon Valley’s playbook.

Tech companies incentivize employees to work together for the long term success of the business by granting equity. This equity often comes in the form of Restricted Stock Units (RSU’s) that vest over 4 years.

Employees only win if the business as a whole wins. And there’s no incentive to make a reckless deal for a short-term pay-off.

I’ll be closely following any Credit Suisse fundraise. But even billions more in fresh capital won’t change the bank’s dysfunctional culture.

Do you think Credit Suisse is in trouble? And what other financial institutions could be next?

Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

This Is Why Credit Suisse Keeps Getting Punched in the Face

$6B Hedge Fund Cut Off from Trading As Investigation Looms

Citadel Adds Millions to AMC Options Bet

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Hedge Fund Ponzi Scheme Steals $39 Million from Investors

Another day, another hedge fund scandal. The SEC announced charges this week against a Detroit hedge fund for bilking investors of tens of millions of dollars.

From Financial Advisor magazine:

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against Detroit-based EIA All Weather Alpha Fund Partners I LLC (EIA) and its sole owner, RIA Andrew M. Middlebrooks, for an alleged multiyear Ponzi scheme that the agency said included the misappropriation and loss of nearly $39 million in investor funds.


The commission said in its complaint that from at least mid-2017 to April 2022, EIA and Middlebrooks deceived investors in their hedge fund, the EIA All Weather Alpha Fund I LP, by making false and misleading statements that “wildly” misstated the fund’s performance and total assets. The SEC also said in the complaint that the fund and Middlebrooks provided falsified investor account statements, misrepresented that the fund had an auditor and created and disseminated a fake audit opinion to investors.


In addition to being a rotten trader, Middlebrooks had a taste for the finer things in life. He paid for them with investor money:

Middlebrooks also misappropriated investor funds for personal use, allegedly transferring at least $470,000 to his wife’s business, making more than $750,000 in transfers to his personal bank account and using $64,000 in investor money to pay for jewelry, the agency said.

It seems likely that his victims will lose their entire investment:

“Middlebrook’s losing trading strategy coupled with his misappropriation has resulted in near total loss of investor funds,” the SEC said.


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The hedge fund describes itself rather differently on its website:

We are active investors, not closet indexers, and we have structured an investment process and environment that enables us to be disciplined, to be patient and to exercise good judgment.

It turns out investors would have been far better off with that boring index fund. Indeed, they form the core of my portfolio.

The fund’s LinkedIn profile comes closer to telling the truth:

This intellectual framework allows the Portfolio Manager to manage the Fund unencumbered by emotions or inherent bias.

Emotions definitely didn’t stop Middlebrooks and his cronies from bilking unsuspecting investors.

I was able to find what appears to be the actual slide deck that Middlebrooks used to pitch investors. The scariest part about it is that the pitch seems fairly plausible, proposing a long/short strategy that combines value and momentum.

In addition to their thieving, it appears that EIA partners were paid well. Glassdoor records total compensation of $254,000.

I guess that wasn’t quite enough to cover their expensive tastes.

We see one case of shady behavior after another in the hedge fund world. The SEC and DOJ need to step up and start seriously scrutinizing these funds.

I’m as pro-free enterprise as anyone you’re likely to meet. But fraud doesn’t qualify.

As Memorial Day approaches for those of us in the United States, one of the more patriotic things we can do is to safeguard that free-enterprise system by purging its bad actors.

What do you think will be the next hedge fund to fall? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

There will be no blog on Monday for the holiday. Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone! 🥳🇺🇸

More on markets:

$6B Hedge Fund Cut Off from Trading As Investigation Looms

Hedge Fund Giant Tiger Global Losing $28 Million an Hour

Citadel Adds Millions to AMC Options Bet

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Photo: EIA Alpha Partners CEO Andrew Middlebrooks

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Talking About Today’s Startup Market on The Accelerator Podcast

I had the pleasure of chatting with angel investor Michael Conniff on his The Accelerator podcast recently! We talk about how to find a great startup to invest in, some of my recent investments, and the robot pizza future.

I’ve provided some links to key parts below. Enjoy!

3:28: What I look for in a startup

4:50: The technique for judging startups quickly that I learned from Jason Calacanis

6:31: Why I like SaaS

7:00: Problems with D2C companies

9:00: Why I invested in VADE, which is changing parking forever

13:29: My recent investment in Fathom, which is letting us search podcasts the way we do text

15:52: Why I invested in Capbase, the best way to start your start-up

19:17: Will robots make our pizza in the future? 🍕

22:35: Why I started this blog

25:06: What sectors I invest in

What did you like about the podcast? What did we miss?

And would you like to see more podcast content like this? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on tech:

Talking Startups and Today’s Fundraising Pullback

Why Investors BS You

Robot Pizzas and the Future of Fast Food

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$6B Hedge Fund Cut Off from Trading As Investigation Looms

Hedge fund giant Segantii Capital Management has been cut off from trading by two major banks. From a Financial Times report that broke this morning:

Bank of America and Citigroup have suspended all equity trading with Segantii Capital Management, due to the banks’ concerns about the hedge fund’s bets on the sale of large blocks of shares, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

BoA and Citi may be acting to save themselves from legal liability. Segantii is caught up in a federal probe of short sellers:

Media reports earlier this year said US authorities had sought communications between Morgan Stanley, which is at the centre of the block trading probe, and a former employee of Segantii.

The federal investigation centers on block trades. Wall Street traders may have sold short stocks when a large block of shares was about to come onto the market, pushing the price down.


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These short sellers should not even know about the block trades. But it seems they’re getting the information, likely from someone inside the bank doing the big trade.

From the Financial Times:

The SEC probe is looking at whether other traders are getting advance word of these large sales — either directly from the banks or in some other way — and improperly profiting by shorting the shares in expectation that prices will fall.

So what will happen to Segantii?

It still has a few banks that will trade with it, including Goldman Sachs. But the federal probe is gathering information on Goldman as well, according to the same Bloomberg report that named Segantii as a subject of the probe.

Two major banks cutting off Segantii entirely is likely to make the fund toxic, in my view. How will you explain to your boss, or the government, that you kept trading with a fund subject to a federal probe even after other big banks cut them off?

Segantii may struggle to keep doing business. And bad press spooks investors, which may lead them to pull their money from the fund.

This could result in a spiral reminiscent of the recent demise of Melvin Capital Management.

One thing Segantii seems to have in its favor is that it has not notched any huge reported losses. Yet.

Do you think Segantii is another Melvin? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

Hedge Fund Giant Tiger Global Losing $28 Million an Hour

FBI Raids Short Sellers

The Real Reasons Melvin Is Shutting Down: No Fat Fees and a Federal Investigation

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Photo: Segantii chief Simon Sadler

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The Autonomous Weapons of the Future…and Present


A man walks in a remote field. From a place he cannot even see, a quiet drone takes off.

It’s headed his way.

This drone was made by Anduril Industries and this time, it just watched. But it can do a lot more.

These powerful craft can fly at 80 to 100 mph. By comparison, a typical DJI drone can reach about 40 miles per hour.

The Anduril drone is so fast and durable it can knock other drones out of the sky. The five year old defense startup bills itself as different from the big boys like General Dynamics or Northrop Grumman:

“Unlike most defence companies, we don’t wait for our customers to tell us what they need. We identify problems, privately fund R&D and sell finished products off the shelf.

David Goodrich, CEO Anduril Australia & Asia Pacific

Anduril is taking robot warfare beyond aerial drones. It recently bought a company called Dive Technologies, which makes autonomous submarines.

What if you had hundreds of even thousands of these autonomous subs patrolling your coast…or even attacking your enemy’s navy right in its own harbors? These relatively cheap and quick to produce vessels could change naval warfare forever.

Anduril’s drones rely on computer vision and AI to spot threats.

I’ve actually seen similar technology used by startups that sell security cameras to individuals. In those cases, the system flags a potential intruder for a human to review in real time.

This type of tech isn’t just being used abroad. It’s in our neighborhoods and also on our southern border, where it’s used to track immigration.

We’ve had numerous issues with policing of poor communities in America. It concerns me how a new generation of AI and robotics could be trained on those who already have the least.

As explosive as certain policing incidents have been, what will happen when the unarmed man is confronting a robot?

But like any new technology, Anduril’s capabilities can also be used for good. The startup is working with NATO forces in Poland, perhaps to prepare them for a Russian threat to Poland stemming from the Ukraine conflict.

I doubt we can put this genie back in the bottle. But I hope governments and citizens will work together to ensure these powerful technologies are used for good.

What do you think of Anduril’s tech and how it may be used? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

More on tech:

Growing Veggies on Mars

How Tech Could Stop Wildfires

The Startup Pitch Checklist

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Misfits Market

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Talking Startups and Today’s Fundraising Pullback

Hey everyone! 👋 Hope your Monday is going great.

I gave a talk at the Starta Accelerator in NYC last week. It was a lot of fun!

I talk about how the venture capital market works, my investing approach, and today’s pullback in fundraising. And a lot more!

Here are some interesting parts:

9:06: When I invest without traction, and David Sack’s latest startup, Callin.

20:01: How long I take to make a decision to invest

23:11: Why Jason Calacanis’s syndicate is the best one out there

29:07: Fundraising in a tougher environment for startups

34:09: Conspiracy theories on Peloton and Sex and the City’s Mr. Big. 🙂

41:02: Why investors BS you

45:21: How I help the startups I invest in

52:37: Jason’s book Angel and other great books on venture capital and startups

59:00: Why single founders are sometimes ruled out by investors, and why they shouldn’t be.

What information here was most useful to you? What did I miss?

Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

Have a great week!

More on tech:

Why Investors BS You

Inside Today’s Early Stage Venture Market

The Burn Multiple: What Is It, and What Can It Do for You?

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Why Investors BS You

Ever had a conversation like this?

Investor: This is an incredible concept! You guys are going to change the world!

You: Thank you so much! So, how much do you want to invest?

Investor: Well, actually, I couldn’t get my partners there. But you guys are going to do great! Keep me posted and let me know how I can be helpful.

You: *Scratches head*

We investors ply startup founders with big smiles and happy talk. Star fruit, anyone?

Many founders hear nothing but compliments but come away without a check. Why do investors do this?

As someone who nodded and smiled at founders for a good long while, allow me to pull back the curtain…

Preserving Optionality

Or in plain English, “keeping your options open.”

Maybe an investor thinks that a startup they meet with is not going to make it. But they could always be wrong.

Really wrong.

If the company takes off in a major way, the VC may find himself begging to get into the Series A when he missed the seed round. And if that happens, he doesn’t want the founder angry at him because he was too candid at a meeting 2 years ago.

Reputation

As an angel investor or VC, your reputation is everything.

If I tell a founder the hard truth that his company is burning too much money and may go out of business, he might accept that as constructive criticism. But he might also get very upset with me.

Founders talk to each other. If that entrepreneur tells two dozen others that I’m a jerk, there goes my deal flow.

It is in the interests of the founder for the investor to be honest. It can help the founder improve her pitch or fix issues in her business.

But it’s not in the investor’s interest! He’s more interested in avoiding a hit to his reputation than in helping a struggling founder.

Tell Them Why Their Baby’s Ugly

After hearing complaints about happy-talking investors from some of the best founders I know, I’ve changed my approach. When I’m not interested in their company at this time, I’ve started trying to tell founders in a direct but polite way.

I also try to explain why they don’t meet my criteria for investment and how they might meet it in the future. As noted angel investor Zach Coelius said, “You have to tell them why their baby’s ugly.”

The Time for Honesty Is Now

Being honest with founders is especially important right now. The fundraising environment has gotten a lot worse for startups in the last few months.

Many startups will not survive this. If giving a founder some constructive criticism prevents a business from dying and a bunch of people from losing their jobs, that’s a risk we investors need to take.

We have to remember why we’re really here: to build the ecosystem and help new companies grow and thrive.

Please remember this when an investor gives you constructive criticism: she’s actually taking a risk she doesn’t really have to take. Whatever decision you make, at least consider the investor’s ideas.

What frustrates you about dealing with investors? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

Have a great weekend everyone! 👋

More on tech:

The Burn Multiple: What Is It, and What Can It Do for You?

Inside Today’s Early Stage Venture Market

What the Best Founders I Know Have in Common

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The Real Reasons Melvin Is Shutting Down: No Fat Fees and a Federal Investigation

Melvin Capital Management LP is shutting down, according to a report from Bloomberg that broke last night.

The once highflying hedge fund was badly burned by short positions in meme stocks like AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. and GameStop Corp in 2021. This year, it lost a further 20% of its capital in bad bets.

Founder Gabe Plotkin sounded positively high-minded in a final note to his investors. From the New York Times:

Mr. Plotkin wrote to his investors that he had decided that the “appropriate next step” was to liquidate the fund’s assets and return cash to all investors.

Mr. Plotkin, who founded Melvin in 2014, also wrote that he recognized he needed to “step away from managing external capital.”

But let’s ignore the sound bites and dig into why Melvin is really shutting down.

Just last month, Melvin tried to remove a crucial provision in its agreement with investors: the “high-water mark.” This provision only lets the fund earn performance fees if it makes back prior losses.


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Hedge funds like Melvin usually charge a 2% management fee and 20% of all gains. The management fee pays for offices and staff, but the 20% performance fee is the real prize for hedge fund managers.

Melvin had lost most of its capital, so it would have to more than double in order to get back to its high-water mark. This would be quite difficult, especially with losses mounting by the day.

So Melvin made a bold request to investors: remove the high-water mark so we can charge you even more fees to make back the money we lost. Such a move is highly unusual and, predictably, investors balked.

Facing many years without that juicy performance fee, Plotkin decided to shut down Melvin rather than try honorably to win back the investor money he’d lost. I find this conduct deranged and disgraceful.

On top of its huge losses, Melvin faces another problem: a federal investigation. The Justice Department is currently scrutinizing its short sales.

No fat fees and a federal investigation. No wonder Melvin is shutting down.

But Plotkin could have at least been honest about the real reasons behind his firm’s ignominious end.

On April 26 on this blog, I predicted that Melvin would shut down. It took just 23 days.

With major losses stinging funds from Melvin to Tiger and beyond, I suspect Melvin will be just the first of many.

Who do you think is the next fund to fall? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

Melvin Capital Faces Investor Revolt

Citadel Adds Millions to AMC Options Bet

Melvin Capital Under Federal Investigation

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The Burn Multiple: What Is It, and What Can It Do for You?

Today, I want to talk to you about a startup metric you don’t hear much about: the burn multiple. The burn multiple measures how efficiently you’re using your cash to drive growth.

This number is more important now than it’s been in many years. We are in a more difficult fundraising environment and investors are heavily scrutinizing how companies use cash.

In the boom times we’ve had for the last couple years, high growth startups could get funded no matter how inefficiently they spent. Shoot, even startups with no revenue or product often raised big rounds!

Those days are over.

The NASDAQ is in a bear market, late stage funding is down, and investors are asking themselves not just “Who will thrive?” but “Who will survive?”

The startups that make it will be those who know how to use money to efficiently drive growth.

So now that you know why the burn multiple matters, how do you actually calculate it?

It’s pretty simple. For any period (usually a quarter or a year), divide burn (losses) by new revenue added in that period.

Burn Multiple:

Net Burn / Net New Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)

Your burn multiple calculation should account for the length of your sales cycle.

If it takes you around 2-3 months to close a new customer, it’s appropriate to compare burn in Q4 2021 to new ARR in Q1 2022, for example. If your sales cycle is 6 months, compare Q3 2021 to Q1 2022.


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Now you know what your burn multiple is. But how can you tell if it’s good or bad?

Use these benchmarks from a superb post by David Sacks, one of the leading SaaS entrepreneurs and investors:

Burn multiple is especially relevant for SaaS companies with their sticky revenue. Burning cash to get lots of revenue that sticks around makes sense.

But the burn multiple is still quite relevant for all startups. It helps you understand if the cash you’re burning is actually building your business.

I recently saw a deal memo for a company that had burned about $1.1 million in a quarter to add just $80,000 of new ARR. That’s a burn multiple of 14.

A burn multiple like that is an emergency!

So let’s say you’re that company. What should you do?

Get that burn down right away! If you can’t show cash efficient growth, it’s going to be hard to raise money right now.

You’ll want to extend your runway (time before you run out of money) as much as possible. This gives you time to figure out the issues in your business before the cash runs out.

Another advantage of knowing your burn multiple is that you can share it proactively with prospective investors. Especially if you’re a seed stage company, your awareness of this important metric alone will impress investors.

Of course, you’ll impress them even more if you can show a good burn multiple!

I’m writing this because I want to see your company survive and even flourish! But we won’t get there with happy talk alone.

Calculate your burn multiple regularly and act when it gets out of line.

What issues are you seeing in today’s fundraising environment? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on tech:

Inside Today’s Early Stage Venture Market

What the Best Founders I Know Have in Common

The Startup Pitch Checklist

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Citadel Adds Millions to AMC Options Bet

Citadel LLC added tens of millions of dollars to its option bet on AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. in the most recent quarter.

Its net bullish position increased from $90 million to $125 million, according to an SEC report released yesterday. It also built a bullish position in GameStop Corp. options during the period.

The hedge fund giant held $245 million in call options and $120 million in puts, versus $191 million and $101 million respectively in February.


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This bullish position is ironic given that Citadel was a major backer of Melvin Capital Management LP. Melvin lost billions shorting AMC, Gamestop Corp., and other meme stocks last year, and may have imploded had Citadel not rescued them.

Perhaps Citadel’s patience with Melvin’s investing style has run out. Citadel has pulled out most of its $2 billion investment in the failing firm, and began adding to its AMC options position around the same time.

The SEC report doesn’t specify the strike prices or duration of the options, so we don’t know exactly what Citadel’s strategy is. It could be expecting lower prices in the short term and higher ones in the long term, or vice versa.

But I find it fascinating that this archvillain of the meme stock saga has capitulated and placed bullish bets on the same companies. It seems Citadel’s losses in Melvin’s hedge fund taught it a lesson.

What do you think Citadel’s strategy is? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

Hedge Fund Giant Tiger Global Losing $28 Million an Hour

Melvin Capital Faces Investor Revolt

Hedge Funds Could Lose Nearly Half of Assets Under Proposed SEC Rule

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Photo: Citadel LLC CEO Kenneth Griffin

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