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Bitcoin, Dogecoin plummet as cryptocurrency rally falters

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Major cryptocurrencies plunged early Tuesday as investors took some steam out of a rally that’s driven the digital assets to staggering prices.

The price of bitcoin tumbled 8.5 percent to $47,373.99 after falling as low as $44,964.49 overnight, CoinDesk data show, marking its largest daily decline in a month.

Dogecoin, the meme-inspired cryptocurrency that’s become an online cult favorite, recently plummeted nearly 12 percent to roughly 4.6 cents. And Ether, second only to bitcoin in terms of market value, sank 9.8 percent to $1,532.67 as of 9:40 a.m.

The selloff sent the cryptocurrency market’s total value down about 4 percent to nearly $1.5 trillion just days after it soared to all-time records, according to Coinmarketcap.com.

“Bitcoin’s price increases had started looking exponential recently, driven by speculative mania,” OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley told The Post. “As is the nature of such moves, an exponential move higher is often accompanied by an equally ugly correction lower as the herd simultaneously runs for the exit door at once.”

Representation of the virtual currency Bitcoin is seen on a motherboard in this picture illustration
The sell-off sent the cryptocurrency market’s total value down about 16 percent.
Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Tesla CEO Elon Musk — one of crypto’s most prominent backers — appeared to kickstart the plunge over the weekend with a tweet declaring that the prices of bitcoin and Ether “seem high” even though his electric-car maker has invested $1.5 billion in the former coin.

The markets were also spooked by skeptical comments on Monday from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who called bitcoin “extremely inefficient” and “highly speculative.”

“People should beware it can be extremely volatile and I do worry about potential losses that investors could suffer,” Yellen reportedly said at a conference.

More signs of turbulence emerged Tuesday. New York Attorney General Letitia James forced Tether — a so-called stablecoin that was reportedly tied to the US dollar — to stop trading with state residents after alleging that the companies behind it hid about $850 million in losses.

And Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, had to halt withdrawals of Ether for more than an hour because of “high network congestion.”

Tuesday’s tumble underscored the volatility in cryptocurrencies just a week after bitcoin surged above $50,000 for the first time.

Crypto prices have surged in recent months as a growing number of institutional investors and major companies such as Tesla and Mastercard started treating the digital coins like more mainstream investment assets.

But skeptics have argued that these kinds of wild price swings could be an obstacle to cryptocurrency’s popularity among investors.

“While high volatility is far from unusual in cryptocurrencies, it could slow Bitcoin from becoming mainstream,” Axi market analyst Milan Cukovic said.

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Glasses retailer Warby Parker eyeing IPO as soon as this year

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Hipster glasses retailer Warby Parker is eyeing an initial public offering.

The 11-year-old business, which started out as an e-tailer before rolling out some 130 stores across the US, is considering an IPO as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The New York-based company has amassed a huge customer following by offering less expensive prescription glasses. Warby Parker raised $120 million in its most recent funding round giving it a $3 billion valuation, according to the report.

“We’ve always explored various financing opportunities in both the debt and equity markets,” the company said in a statement. “To date, we have successfully and deliberately raised money within the private market on favorable terms and have plenty of cash on our balance sheet. We’ll continue to make strategic decisions in line with our commitment to sustainable growth.”

Founded by college buddies Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Warby Parker has attracted some large investors including the mutual fund company, T. Rowe Price.

It turned it first profit in 2018, Gilboa told The New York Times at the time.

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Brian Ach/Getty Images

Customers can get prescriptions through their apps on their smartphones and use cameras to pick out frames. The company also has an optical lab in Sloatsburg, NY where it produces lenses.

While Warby Parker is not the least expensive option, it beats Costco in a recent comparison with Costco charging as little a $126 for a pair of prescription glasses compared with Warby Parker’s least expensive pair at $95.

“As consumer walk into a LensCrafters or Sunglass Hut, they see 50 different brands of glasses but don’t realize that all those brands are owned by the same company that owns the store that they’re standing in, that probably owns the vision insurance plan they’r using to pay for those glasses,” Gilboa said in a recent CNBC interview.

“And so, it’s no surprise that a lot of those glasses are marked up 10 to 20 times what they cost to manufacture,” he said.

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Dogecoin hits new high boosted by DogeDay hashtags

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Dogecoin prices hit an all-time high on Tuesday, with a market capitalization above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.

An 8,000 percent price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013′s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.

While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the center of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.

“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record 42 cents, according to CoinMarketCap.

“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.

Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.

“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.

Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.

The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fueled the social-media driven rally in GameStop stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.

“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60 percent.

“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr. Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.



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Amazon is opening a beauty salon in London

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Amazon is opening a hair salon in London — its latest odd lurch into new businesses as the pandemic continues to fuel the e-commerce giant’s torrid growth.

The Amazon Salon, unveiled in a Tuesday blog post, will occupy a two-story, 1,500-square-foot space in Spitalfields, a trendy neighborhood in East London that is also home to Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.

Indeed, the new salon, which will be open seven days a week, initially will only cater to Amazon workers. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon, the company says.

“This will be an experiential venue where we showcase new products and technology,” Amazon said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that there are no plans to open other salons.

That will include making Amazon’s Fire tablets available at each station, allowing customers to use augmented reality technology to see what they look like as a platinum blonde, brunette or with highlights, the company said.

The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
Amazon

The salon will also test new “point-and-learn” technology, where customers can point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen.

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