Retard Bot Update 2: What is there to show for six months of work?
What is there to show? Not shit, that's why I made this pretty 4K desktop background instead: 4K On the real: I've been developing this project like 6 months now, what's up? Where's that video update I promised, showing off the Bot Builder? Is an end in sight? Yes sort of. I back-tested 6 months of data at over 21% on a net SPY-neutral, six month span of time (with similar results on a 16 year span) including 2 bear, 2 bull, 2 crab months. But that's not good enough to be sure / reliable. I had gotten so focused on keeping the project pretty and making a video update that I was putting off major, breaking changes that I needed to make. The best quant fund ever made, the Medallion fund, was once capable of roughly 60% per year consistently, but in Retard Bot's case 1.5% compounded weekly. "But I make 60% on one yolo" sure whatever, can you do it again every year, with 100% of your capital, where failure means losing everything? If you could, you'd be loading your Lambo onto your Yacht right now instead of reading this autistic shit.
The End Goal
1.5% compounded weekly average is $25K -> $57M in 10 years, securing a fairly comfortable retirement for your wife's boyfriend. It's a stupidly ambitious goal. My strategy to pull it off is actually pretty simple. If you look at charts for the best performing stocks over the past 10 years, you'll find that good companies move in the same general trajectory more often than they don't. This means the stock market moves with momentum. I developed a simple equation to conservatively predict good companies movements one week into the future by hand, and made 100%+ returns 3 weeks in a row. Doing the math took time, and I realized a computer could do much more complex math, on every stock, much more efficiently, so I developed a bot and it did 100% for 3 consecutive weeks, buying calls in a bull-market. See the problem there? The returns were good but they were based on a biased model. The model would pick the most efficient plays on the market if it didn't take a severe downturn. But if it did, the strategy would stop working. I needed to extrapolate my strategy into a multi-model approach that could profit on momentum during all different types of market movement. And so I bought 16 years of option chain data and started studying the concept of momentum based quantitative analysis. As I spent more and more weeks thinking about it, I identified more aspects of the problem and more ways to solve it. But no matter how I might think to design algorithms to fundamentally achieve a quantitative approach, I knew that my arbitrary weights and variables and values and decisions could not possibly be the best ones.
Why Retard Bot Might Work
So I approached the problem from all angles, every conceivable way to glean reliably useful quantitative information about a stock's movement and combine it all into a single outcome of trade decisions, and every variable, every decision, every model was a fluid variable that machine learning, via the process of Evolution could randomly mutate until perfection. And in doing so, I had to fundamentally avoid any method of testing my results that could be based on a bias. For example, just because a strategy back-tests at 40% consistent yearly returns on the past 16 years of market movement doesn't mean it would do so for the next 16 years, since the market could completely end its bull-run and spend the next 16 years falling. Improbable, but for a strategy outcome that can be trusted to perform consistently, we have to assume nothing. So that's how Retard Bot works. It assumes absolutely nothing about anything that can't be proven as a fundamental, statistical truth. It uses rigorous machine learning to develop fundamental concepts into reliable, fine tuned decision layers that make models which are controlled by a market-environment-aware Genius layer that allocates resources accordingly, and ultimately through a very complex 18 step process of iterative ML produces a top contender through the process of Evolution, avoiding all possible bias. And then it starts over and does it again, and again, continuing for eternity, recording improved models when it discovers them.
The Current Development Phase
Or... That's how it would work, in theory, if my program wasn't severely limited by the inadequate infrastructure I built it with. When I bought 16 years of data, 2TB compressed to its most efficient binary representation, I thought I could use a traditional database like MongoDB to store and load the option chains. It's way too slow. So here's where I've ended up this past week: It was time to rip off the bandaid and rebuild some performance infrastructure (the database and decision stack) that was seriously holding me back from testing the project properly. Using MongoDB, which has to pack and unpack data up and down the 7 layer OSI model, it took an hour to test one model for one year. I need to test millions of models for 16 years, thousands of times over. I knew how to do that, so instead of focusing on keeping things stable so I could show you guys some pretty graphs n shit, I broke down the beast and started rebuilding with a pure memory caching approach that will load the options chains thousands of times faster than MongoDB queries. And instead of running one model, one decision layer at a time on the CPU, the new GPU accelerated decision stack design will let me run hundreds of decision layers on millions of models in a handful of milliseconds. Many, many orders of magnitude better performance, and I can finally make the project as powerful as it was supposed to be. I'm confident that with these upgrades, I'll be able to hit the goal of 60% consistent returns per year. I'll work this goddamn problem for a year if I have to. I have, in the process of trying to become an entrepreneur, planned project after project and given up half way through when it got too hard, or a partner quit, or someone else launched something better. I will not give up on this one, if it takes the rest of the year or five more. But I don't think it'll come to that. Even with the 20% I've already achieved, if I can demonstrate that in live trading, that's already really good, so there's not really any risk of real failure at this point. But I will, regardless, finish developing the vision I have for Retard Bot and Bidrate Renaissance before I'm satisfied.
Binary Options Recovery: Scammed Traders, Fake Brokers, and Funds Recovery
Following the “permanent temporary” measures against binary options and CFDs (contract for difference), the body in charge implements its own set of limitations that simply forbids regulated houses to offer such product in the UK, hence increasing the risk of pushing retails traders towards illegal brokers and outright scams. Fortunately, a new solution is now available to UK traders via a new United Kingdom Financial regulatory ruling. More scrutiny from UK banks about financial transactions, even to binary optionsIn short, banks will have to take more responsibility about the financial transactions they facilitate. This new ruling should lead to the creation of a new code of conduct that will help defrauded people to have their funds recovered by their bank, unless it is proven they acted recklessly. As a popular Financial blog puts, it, “It is likely that should a bank or credit card company be either impersonated by a fraudster in order to gain money, or trick a client into depositing, and the bank allows the transfer, a client will be able to take recourse. The broad protection should kick for many online scheme and scams, whether it is fake investment companies, fraudulent binary options brokers or those scammers who promise to help you recover your stolen funds…only to steal from you once again. On the other hands, it means the banks will be more likely to forbid transactions to legit businesses, such as reputable cryptocurrency exchanges or honest smart options platforms. The regulating bodies and financial institutions are taking a number of measures to prevent financial fraud. Binary options trading, in particular, is being controlled with a greater degree of robustness to protect the unwary general public being drawn into a situation where they suffer financial losses. Many hundreds of people around the world are targeted each day. ![img](prwn4ha2ecf51 " ") Frequently they are novice investors who are unfamiliar with the markets and do not recognize that the so-called trading platform and its way of working are actually bogus. The individual only realizes the extent of the fraud when eventually when the fraudsters finally decide that there is no more money to be had and shut down the account and promptly vanish without trace. Spotting Fraudulent Binary Options Broker Some lawyers in the financial fraud division are very familiar with the pattern of behaviour demonstrated by the fraudulent brokers and the distress caused by their dealings with inexperienced investors. There is a track of record of recovery in relation to financial fraud and has a number of strategies and tactics to compel the fraudulent broker or associated financial service providers to restore funds to those who have been deceived. Needless to say, the fraudsters are accomplished at hiding their tracks and frequently there are myriad inter-connected limited liability companies, often some are registered in different countries, with some dormant and some active. It is hardly surprising if the complexity of the situation results in a failure to discover a single person who can be challenged and held accountable. However, there are various channels financial fraud lawyers use when attempting to retrieve money for clients and each avenue is investigated. Whilst an individual may be alarmed and confused at the prospect of navigating through the complex structures that have been deliberately set up to confuse, Financial fraud lawyers are usually quite familiar with strategies fraudsters use, and frequently can steer a course to the recovery of some or all of the lost money. https://preview.redd.it/daa505b3ecf51.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=b27aa7697b0bf1afbd238964166ce40c693db2e3 The step of last resort, legal action, is understandably daunting for a person who often has lost significant amounts of money to the fraudulent brokers. It is fully understandable that such a situation will leave the victim decidedly risk-averse. There have been experiences with class actions against the fraudulent brokers and has developed links with litigation funding organizations in order to offset the risk in respect of class actions. The lessons that can be drawn from the experiences of those individuals who have had the misfortune of losing their investments to fraudsters are to be extremely cautious. Always consider every offer or investment for at least 48 hours before making a decision, a genuine broker will understand the caution that a new investor will view a proposition. All investments carry a risk and anything that promises a return on your initial investment seems to be significantly higher than normal it is almost certainly not to be trusted. Do not allow yourself to be hurried into a decision, it is highly unlikely that an authentic broker would try to rush you into an investment, especially if you demonstrated reluctance; their reputation would suffer by such behaviour. You can now recover all money lost to bitcoin, binary options, cryptocurrency, investment, scam by hiring any one of these Verified Wealth Recovery Experts. To recover money lost to binary options, forex, bitcoins, cryptocurrency, and investment, get all the information you need here; https://bitcoinbinaryoptionsreview.com/binary-options-uk-scammed-traders-fake-brokers-and-funds-recovery/
Just a theory. (WARNING: Incoming wall of death...text*) The game requires people to accept and behave in a way that is at odds with the average FPS gaming experience. Let me explain. First of all let's point out it's an FPS. First person shooters are notorious for being competitive and cut throat. Not saying FPS is generally the most toxic (MOBA games I'm looking at you) but they definately are not the least toxic by any means. At a basic level people arent going to be as nice or cooperative as other genres. You're basically playing a "who's a better killer" simulator without the parts that make conflict suck in reality. There is a whole different discussion we could have about how this kind of gameplay influences and reinforces aggressive behavior that neurology has proven, but, I AM STEERING, THE FUCK CLEAR, OF THAT. In most games the player just respawns and has another go until the time or points reach an end, which is mindless and fun. Even hyper competitive games like CSGO allow servers to create custom conditions that are great for blowing off steam and playing casually (modding/orange rooms/etc). Siege doesnt have a place for players to go in this regard, its either competitive game modes or unsupported 3 year old game modes. But it's important to remember Siege has Casual and Ranked game modes, and they are nearly identical and played almost identically. The only alternative is Terrorist hunt and situations which are lackluster to say the least. That leads to another couple of points and the rest of this death by text document rant. Most games you play are solo experiences that dont punish you for making mistakes or hold you accountable to your teammates. In a game that doesnt offer alternatives to this situation you already have fertile ground for toxic behavior. Most online shooters are made to make players feel like 80s action heroes that can badass their way through most challenges. Your character has the ability to adapt to all of the games situations without the help of anyone. You fill any role and can absorb damage without slowing down (even recharging health or living through headshots in some cases). Everything is intuitive from the start (similar to other FPS games), and doesnt distract from the core gameplay loop of: out frag/kill your opponet. Games like COD, Battlefield, Halo, even (arguably) CSGO do this by prioritizing the individual experience and making team play a secondary/less crucial priority. Even at their highest levels of play, the dominate teams are the ones with the best individual fraggers. Siege is designed with opposite principles, and doesnt let you have a alternative familar game mode to enjoy. Just a quick note. Fraggers are generally players who play for kills exclusively. Their gameplay style relies and is predacated on being a consistant better shot, having better reflexes for ADS, and normally are the goto clutch player in most games. They also tend to use their k/d as a metric for judging their overall proficiency when comparing themselves to their peers. This encourages k/d focused players to build a superiority complex that inevitably leads to toxic encounters So Siege emphasizes the opposite. While fragging still has its place, 1v1 gunfights dont dictate who will win nearly as much. In rainbow the victory is decided to the side that takes more care to prepare. This is expressed in factors such as positioning, improvisation, map knowledge, cooperation, communication, and many other abstract aspects that need to be developed over time... often through trial and error. None of which are recorded or accounted for by the game, and unfortunately arent factored in to who you play with or against when queuing. Instead of this, you are solely ranked by points you accumulate through a binary system of wins and loses. There are plenty of well written posts on this subreddit that detail the misunderstood MMR system and its negative influence on the game and community. That being said, this perpetuates the misperception that K/D is the most important factor. Many people still believe that the team with more fraggers decides the outcome of the match, and ones own ability to solely frag is the measure of an overall good player. Although accuracy and reflexes play a part in ones ability to execute plays, they dont superseed a players ability to thoughtfully prepare, understand, and make mindful tactical decisions that set up these opportunities. This is why not all diamond players dominate teams single handly. A group of 5 average players that consistently play together can achieve a higher rank because as a unit their win/loss reflects their unit's effectiveness. Of course there are exceptions, people have solo'd to diamond. It's important to point out though that diamond is 1% of that regions playerbase, and these players ability to spend more time on the game than others makes all the difference. This leads to the next point. Rainbow also revolves around no respawning, and leaves everyone with only one opportunity to impact a round. Its important to note that this isnt common practice in the FPS genre. So the average player will have been playing respawn centered games for most of their gaming lifetime, and now are forced to take a time out whenever they make a unsuccessful choice and die. This is punishing all the more since they no longer effect the match directly. Instead they are forced to watch their teammates, and most folks cant help but watch with a critical eye. In some ways the game is designed to make them critical, this is a learning from the mistakes of others approach. The issue with learning from the mistakes of others has two points in Siege:
The game's skill ceiling is always getting higher, and there is an overwhelming amount of information and variables to learn and consider on a individual let alone team level. Many people have more important responsibilities outside a video game to devote this kind of time and energy to learning. Expecting them to learn is too much to ask of people, most are just casually playing to blow off steam after a day of school or work. So random players of random commitment are placed together. With only two games modes that dont adequately do the job of dividing the casually committed and the competitive playerbases, this leads to the second point.
The match making algorithm that places players against one another is terrible. Outside of the issue of smurf accounts, players often get pitted against players/teams that are drastically higher or lower rank than their own. Diamonds and silver players can and often do meet in ranked play, this usually results in blowouts that arent fun for anyone, breeding even more resentment and toxicity. Add to that they are playing with strangers whom they do not owe anything to and you get the even more griefing and toxic messaging. Some of this is understandable, at least during the first years of Siege's life span. A person with hundreds of hours of playtime being forced to watch someone with even half the time would grow impatient and intolerant. Siege's long learning curve is almost exclusively counterintuitive and a matter of trial and error. Having to sit through a game situation that you've already seen before isnt useful. But after 3 years of letting the culture of the community cement into toxicity more people are so embedded that toxicity is the accepted ediqqute.
It's important to point out that most players have the Fragger mindset as well. They hold other players to this standard of thinking and evaluate them in accordance to it. In other games this would be warrented, but in Siege this is an invalid approach to growth and ignores all the finer details that make the game good and unique. But that doesnt mean people realize it, or own up to it, and if they did, they dont care enough to act differently. Instead of learning from player mistakes, or doing the alternative by assisting teammates while dead with information they default to cynical, pessimistic, and above all toxic behavior. This does a wonderful job of exasperating the toxic community problem. As stated before the community culture has had to accept the toxicity since Ubisoft has failed to handle the issue as a priority early on. Why does Ubisoft put the toxicity issue on the back burner and only implament band-aid solutions? Hopefully my next point can shed some light on this. Siege is going into year 4, and is clearly developing with the intention of a game that wants to compete with CSGO for the #1 FPS esport. The unfortunate problem is that Ubisoft doesnt have the money, experience, and ability to support the game the same as Valve has shown with CSGO. Everyone aware of this also has the standards and expectations CSGO has set after decades of being the example of esports, but fail in thecomparison to see that Siege and Ubisoft are still struggling to get there. Ubisoft admitted at the before the Grand finals in Rio yesterday, that they are still understanding their own game. They made something entirely new with this game and are ignorantly feeling it out. That means how they balance it, introduce new content, and how to balance their goals and consumer demands. This is tricky because Siege is unique in terms of video game design and there isnt a clear model to copy the success of. They are basically learning how to support their game by trial and error just like we as players are learning how to play it, by trial and error. Note that Ubisoft as a company doesnt generally make competitive multiplayer games, they are known for Assassins Creed primarily. Ubisoft does have more money than most competitors from its franchises, but they dont have anything like STEAM (ironically where are we buying rainbow on PC?). Valve is a private company as well, and Ubisoft is publically traded...this is why you get company priorities that have consquences like the Chinese censorship situation for example. Maybe (wishful thinking) when their global market goals are achieved then maybe...maybe we will see the quality of life improvements and other bugs ironed out as they will have reached their goal of dethroning CSGO. I dont believe Counter strike will be dethroned of course, but the "fps esport" market share may be more divided in the future between the games. This also is assuming Overwarch or another game doesnt change anything going forward. The reason I wrote those last three paragraphs was to point out an underlying factor that perpetuates the toxicity. You have a situation where this game, that is striving to be a global esport like CSGO, is making decisions and putting resources solely to realizing that goal over building a casual player base. This comes at the expense of terrorist hunt, casual mode, and new game modes so they can instead devote all their resources to the global esport goal. Meanwhile the majority of the 35 million person player base is casually playing the game, with their own short term interest in mind. Ubisoft on one hand is playing for the long game, with the aim of a strong competitive scene. This dynamic creates tension with players as they perceive this as a game that refuses to address issues like hit registration, glitches and bugs, and releasing/ fixing imbalanced content. Players respond by having a bad attitude before even logging on since they view the game with a stigma. Sort of like if they had a car that is a lemon, the dealership keeps fixing it just enough to keep it on the road, at the same time not enough to keep it out of the garage. Since the alternative FPS games to choose from are battle royal, annual titles like CoD and Battlefield, and older games they stick around since there isnt much choice. This "got nothing better to play/ what's the point" attitude is a toxic casual mindset in of itself. You can add the China situation, or the vow of silence the developers have taken recently towards reddit. But hopefully you see now that toxicity isnt a year 3 problem exclusively. There are many variables and these ones I've pointed out just get added to the pile. This all is pointing to some obvious solutions Ubisoft has as options. Why they haven't taken them as we near the eve of the Siege's fourth year? We only can assume. But nonetheless these are steps that would act as a antidote and being people back in.
Elaborate and expand the casual game mode/s to give players a way to divide themselves from players with more competitive values.
-First and foremost, allow spawn and site selection in casual. This feature being ignored has single handedly trivialized how ranked is played. What I mean is, folks look at ranked as a joke. Since the MMR system is jacked up and you cant pick sites casually...so you might as well play ranked casually. This misstep is so obvious, that having to write it out and explain this for the 100th time is killing my own and everyone else's brain cells...leading to more stupidity and more toxicity. -Halo 3 is a great example of how a casual playlist can satisfy these players who wanted a place to blow off steam and not take the game seriously. YouTube channels like PriesT showcase custom games like shotgun roulette, strategy roulette, knife only, and border patrol that could be made official by Ubisoft to just name a few. Counter Strike has just as many examples as well (gun game). This would be just like what Bungie did with grifball, mongoose racing, and other fan made games that use assets that already exist in the game to create casual playlists and content. There are people out there that want to be Diamond shotgun roulette players. -As much of a disaster as the outbreak event was, I stand by my belief that it should have stayed in the game as an alternative game mode. I realize a different Ubisoft studio made the mode, and it wasnt/isn't going to get more support, but keeping it would of added more value to the game (in a year that didnt add much). The potential options of how to tweak this formula to work is pretty versatile and I think Ubisoft gave up an opportunity here. A opportunity that would have lessened the criticism they are facing right now at the end of year 3. Besides, not keeping it in the build just wasted all the man hours and work of those developers. To what end that project was useful to Ubisfot besides selling outbreak alpha packs is beyond me. -I know that Ubisoft has claimed that data file size or something or another was a limiting factor to adding content to the game. This is confusing though as they add a new map and operators every 3 to 4 months to the existing model. If this really is the case then I'm just curious how they intend to achieve their 100 operator goal and the maps that will come along with them. I'm not an expert on coding or working in gaming, but this seems fishy and hard to believe. Please reply if you can shed light on this topic as ignorance about it causes more community backlash and toxicity.
Take Ranked out of Beta/ changes to draw a line between Ranked from Casual
-Just as casual playlists ought to be developed to give its players a place for what they want, so should Ranked playlists. I'm not going to make a case that ranked needs a significant overhaul, just things the community has already been calling for (for years). Taking the pick and ban system to ranked for one. If players that "play ranked causally" take issue with this the solution is simple, add choosing spawn/site locations to a casual playlist to facilitate this demand. You've got to keep em separated, those competitive and casual people are oil and water. Not doing so is striking a match and fanning that toxic flame. -Increase the MMR values of ranks or add a multiple diamond level (1,2,3) and a master level. The thinking behind this is that the MMR system wont be altered anytime soon and more ranks will separate the players better than right now. But in a perfect world they would just scrap this model and make a better MMR system from the ground up. The issue of matching with players all over the board and not consistently with those of your own rank causes toxicity. -Change Gold to Silver as the default rank upon completing 10 placement matches. -At the very least if any of these points are unreasonable or unrealistic then at least settle for this. Take a season to dedicate development toward getting Ranked out of beta. Pause the map rework/buff, maybe even pause the operators. Just operation health the Ranked playlist into something that isn't a consistent negative talking point about the game.
Griefing toxic behavior system.
-As mentioned before Ubisoft hasnt prioritized a solution to the toxicity in the game in a significant way. They've had report suspicious behavior, report toxic behavior, voice and chat mute buttons, and various ban policies. Lets not even get into the most recent text chat ban situation. Over the last 3 years none of these have reversed the growing toxicity trend. Meanwhile the the game they idolize to become, counter strike, has provided ample examples of how they counteract their team killing and communication problems. -Counter strike server owners have had the ability to literally set damage observing code to detect consistant team damage to counteract griefers for example. They also handle team killing with forgive/punish systems that are developed to such a excessive degree that you can punish the perpetrator in multiple creative ways (bleed out, head explode, light on fire, insta death, to name a few.) To think that Ubisoft cannot implament a simple forgive feature with a yes/no prompt is unforgivable. -I realize the server situation is anything but ideal or near to what counter strike has. My point is that clear and effective examples have existed since 1996, and its 2019 nearly. This ridiculous state of mishandling a simple problem in favor or pursuing their Esport agenda has grown the stigma attitude I mentioned and allowed the cancer of toxicity to spread to the vital organs of the community, like here on reddit. Reddit has become so fed up pointing out the obvious that they have basically given up, and when attempts to talk about these problems are brought up, the community ignores them or downvotes them. If you read this whole wall of words then all I have to say is thanks. I appreciate you taking the time to. Hopefully this explains my point of view that Siege is a unique game that exist and is supported in a way that hasnt been done before. The growing pains are tough, but I believe this game will improve. I wouldn't have given it 3 years if it didnt, believe that, and I assume you wouldn't read all this if you didnt relate to that sentiment. But a case has to be made about the neglecting nature of Ubisoft's behavior toward these persistent problems. Problems that arent taken care of only becoming bigger ones, and eventually people will move on..they already are. This neglect also is the reason the community is so toxic, you cant blame them for becoming jaded. If these changes were made sooner the fact is that there would be less immersion breaking moments, and more time enjoying the game, from there that positivity only snowballs. Ubisoft shouldn't be waiting until player populations drop to an unacceptable point to be spurred into action (operation health). Also thanks for tolerating typos and whatever weak points I've made. This was originally a response to a different post that ended up becoming a full blown essay that I just needed to get out apparently. Thanks for reading, and I hope this can begin a discussion towards a constructive direction since lately it's been anything other than that.
Overview: This post seeks to articulate an investment thesis for Unity Biotechnology (UBX). I welcome any perspectives that challenge this thesis. In light of Unity’s strong team, promising science, risk mitigation strategy, large market potential, loosely defined category, and recent pullback in valuation I believe this is an opportune time to begin building exposure to the company. Unity is a clinical stage biotechnology company developing drugs to extend human health span (defined as how long we live free of chronic diseases of ageing). Unity works across the spectrum of mechanisms that drive aging with a near term priority to remove senescence cells for patients with osteoarthritis (the main reason it hurts to be old). Senescence cells (SC) are cells that no longer divide and tend to poison around nearby tissue (cause inflammation). Beyond osteoarthritis, Unity will also work to rollout similar therapies for eye, pulmonary, and cognitive diseases which affects millions of aging individuals. Unity’s current market cap is 360MM, the company went public in May 2018 at a valuation of 700MM valuation. What difficult problem is the company solving (better than others)? Key questions include: Why do people get sicker as we age? Are there drugs to halt, slow, or potentially reverse the mechanisms of aging? What is the most impactful disease to demonstrate the drug’s efficacy and safety? As context, quality of life decreases as we age due to a number of factors including stem cells (loss of mitochondrial function), nutrient sensing (caloric restriction as we age), circulating youth factors (loss of protein production) and cellular senescence (cells that no longer split and cause multiple issues in nearby micro tissue). Unity focuses on cellular senescence, not because it is the only or even most important aging mechanism, but because of all the mechanisms identified to date, it is the most “druggable” approach (i.e. easiest to make drugs and molecules to combat against). During the last 7 years, Unity has proven their thesis in mice allocating several rounds of venture capital to mitigate the main scientific questions and company killer risks. The scientific breakthrough leading to company’s creation occurred in 2008, when Judy Campisy (one of Unity’s co-founders) effectively showed that accumulation of SC poisons local tissue and contributes to diseases of aging, based on this and subsequent scientific research, the team at Unity proved that removing SC in mice (genetically engineered to age faster), not only increased lifespan by ~35% but improved bone density, mobility, hair growth, and decreased cognitive decline, materially improving overall health span. Unity recently completed Phase 1 clinical trials to prove safety and tolerability in humans with osteoarthritis of the knee. Over the next few quarters the company will work to replicate the technical success seen from removing SC in mice on humans and will continue to expand its pipeline. Next areas of focus will include ophthalmology, pulmonary, and cognitive diseases of age affecting millions of aging Americans. Is this the right/best team to solve this problem? Unity features a solid team (presumably the best) to succeed in this nascent but promising field. Nathaniel (Ned) David (President and co-Founder) co-founding four biotech companies (two exits large exists, one for $270mm another for $2.1bn) and gotten two drugs approved. Ned is also a tenured partner at ARCH Ventures (credible biotech VC firm with strong realizations). Sapphire Energy (genetically engineered algae to produce liquid transportation fuels) was a well documented failure executed proved leading bio-engineering and built production at scale, the company was backed with Bill Gates. Technical co-founders include two pioneers in the field of aging research: Judith Campisi (Buck Institute) and Jan Van Deursen (Mayo Clinic). Keith Leonard (former CEO at Kythera) acts as Unity’s CEO and has worked with Ned for 15 years and was a former senior executive at Amgen. The board features prominent VCs and scientists (Bob Nelsen and Kristine Burow from ARCH Ventures, Camille Samuels from Venrock, Margo Roberts former CSO of Kite Pharma). Financial backers include top-tier VCs and Family Offices featuring Jeff Bezos, Peter Theil, and Paul Allen among other prominent financial and strategic institutions that further legitimize the investment opportunity and caliber of the team. How will Unity capture, distribute, and realize value? Is their position sustainable and defensible? Unity is a clinical stage/pre-revenue company focused on R&D. There is little visibility as to timeline of commercializing any of its drugs yet, let alone go-to-market strategy. This is common of early stage biotechnology companies. Guidance on pricing, go-to-market, and distribution will likely be provided as closer to Phase 3 and commercial viability. As customary, we expect the company’s position to be defensible though the use of patents, intellectual property rights, as well as exclusive licensing and/or royalty structure with leading larger pharma partners. What is the market opportunity and state of competition? The market for health span drugs is large given the tens of millions of aging baby boomers in America and other developed markets suffering from arthritis, pulmonary, eye and cognitive diseases related to aging with estimates of potential royalty payments between 2-5 billion. There are multiple smaller players in the field pursuing multiple other mechanisms but generally lack both credible talent and financial backing. Competition from large pharmaceutical companies is not evident at this stage but expected to increase as technical and commercial feasibility becomes more evident. A potential acquisition is a probable scenario but Unity also has the potential to become a durable and standalone commercial aging platform (releasing new drugs with little incremental cost) to generate large future cash flows streams. Why is now the right time to invest? Biotech is a risky endeavor, it takes time and capital with significant binary risk. Due to the slow nature of clinical trials it could be 2-3 years before their thesis fully plays out -- by such time it may be too late to fully participate in the upside. Given this uncertainty, young and smaller capitalization companies fluctuate widely in value, making an investment highly speculative and prone to failure. As of July 2019, Unity has lost nearly 50% of its IPO valuation and trades at a small premium to all capital raised to date (market value to total paid-in capital of ~15%). Due to high R&D and overhead, a dilutive follow-on transaction is likely within the next 12-18 months. This investment represents an opportunity to gain exposure to VC like risk/reward through a public vehicle. Unity looks like an option to get exposure to an emerging and large vertical of healthcare. Although highly speculative this seems like an opportune time to build a position in the company. Consider building exposure a 4-5% exposure at ~$8.5/share leaving reserves to accumulate more with more evidence of technical success. I welcome your views on this thesis*!* This is post is not investment advise.
Alright, I've played the shit out of this game for the last two days. I have almost 1337 kills. Here's my take. First, let me give the layout: Part 1Game Types Part 2Ships Part 3Ingame issues______________________________________________ Part 1Game Types All game types are working great, and working as intended. However- extraction is currently a joke competitively. Maps like necropolis give clear advantages to schism teams. This advantage stems from the fact that the current meta in extraction is using top speed yurei's to capture the relic. On the first flight out of the carrier (match start) it's a race to get there- and normally the team who's yurei get's their first will have the first point. Necropolis, and Forge both create situations where one team has to travel around in-game objects- while the other can take a straight line. Obviously, the straight line speed yurei get's to the point faster. Assuming that both teams are competent, it's rather annoying to know you will just give up a point when placed on the wrong team. Extraction also relies on blind luck. If a relic spawns near a carrier as a full capped yurei is launched- it confers a significant advantage to that team. A yuri that is already traveling at top speed, with a full cap is nigh impossible to kill save for a lucky Mjolnir missile. My suggestion is to make the gates be permanent structures. Near each carrier, and one for each team. Have the relic always spawn in one central location. Having the gametype changed in this fashion will allow for more viable ship types and more sustainable play styles than the current yurei cluster fuck we have currently. Other than that- both new maps are great (outpost is my new favorite by far) ______________________________________________ Part 2Ships Assault: Wraith I flew the wraith almost singularly in old valkyrie. I liked the ship but always wished that it could be faster- more nimble, and agile. Unfortunately, warzone wraith feels more like a fat dominator. The wraith is a good benchmark. In the right hands, it still is deadly. However, it no longer is the king it once was. As of now, the wraith is no longer the top tier "best at everything" ship. It is a jack of all trades, and still incredible at carrier assault. I enjoy the wraith because it now needs to use its advantages and flying style differently when coming up against other ships. Compared to most of the assault tree, the wraith has some high EHP. When fighting ships like the strix, yurei, shadow, supports- the wraith wants to push for a head-on, slower fight. Use it's EHP to its advantage and kill opponents with brute force. Against the jackal or heavies, the wraith needs to rely on its superior mobility to push a turn fight- and fight in the corners. Overall, I like the place of the wraith (EHP and DPS wise). I do think that it is far too slow and sluggish though. When compared to just about any other assault (and shadow) the wriath has less 'burst/alpha, ' but over a length of time, the slow heating gattling guns do a better sustained DPS. If this is the case, the wraith needs to have the tools to drag fights out- so that way its nice EHP and higher DPS can start coming into play. Currently, the wraith struggles in the turn fight against yurei / jackals when piloted by experienced pilots, and that's a shame- as the wraith should be one of the quintessential dogfighters. My last piece to say about the wraith is its ultimate. The missile, which gives no warning before blowing you to smithereens. Instakill weapons with no warnings are not fun. I have been against teams where I have spawned, been instakilled by a missile- only to spawn twice more and meet the same fate. It's infuriating gameplay where I have no action to take, and no warnings. The missile is cancer, and the wraith could do with a better ultimate. Lastly, the Mjolnir missile wrecks carriers. Two of them almost instakill the core- and that's just no fun. ---------------------------------------------------------------------Upgrades Attack: Accelerated Reciever +20% ROF, -15% damage per shot. Again, you ideally want the highest 'burst/alpha' DPS possible. The wraith has lowish 'burst/alpha' and high sustained DPS. This upgrade makes no sense, in fact in snapshot situations when fighting in the corners, it significantly lowers your burst DPS. Again, no logical reason why anyone would want to get this upgrade Cooling Bonds: -10% Primary Weapon Overheat I have no idea what this does. Do you get to shoot 10% longer before your gun overheats? Or when you overheat are you allowed to continue regular shooting while waiting for 10% less time? Either way- it doesn't matter. This upgrade is useless in 99% of situations. It's only possible use could be on carrier assault, or shooting a tanky heavy. However, as someone who has flown many hours in the wraith- proper trigger control will go a longer way than this ever could. Upgraded Ballistics: +15% Primary Weapon Damage per shot, -20% Rate of fire. As the only attack upgrade that is going to help cover the wraiths abysmal 'bust/alpha' DPS- this is the only attack upgrade to use. The only other choice would be not to choose an attack upgrade. How binary, how boring. Overall the attack upgrades on the wraith are very disappointing. No room for 'personalized' gameplay. The upgrades have horrible choices that do nothing to change the fighting style of the ship. Defense: I think this is some of the most ill-fated designs I have seen. The wraith has: Armor: 226 Shield: 110 Two of the defense upgrades worry about shields. One offers shield EHP (+15%) or shield recharge (10%). The last upgrade, (enhanced plating) gives 10% to armor EHP which is 248.6 total armor. Enhanced plating provides you with the highest raw EHP, with no drawbacks. There is no logical choice to choose any other defensive option. Shield recharge is an entirely useless upgrade to get on any ship, but certainly for the wraith- as it's an armored fighter. Valkyrie is about burst. If your ship can survive the burst/alpha of an attack- you live for another day. At no point can you utilize any point of shield regen upgrades efficiently in any regular fighting. And the shield EHP upgrade gives less overall EHP than the armor EHP upgrade, while also lowering shield regen time. You would have to be touched to use it. How blase. I thought upgrades were not supposed to be so quickly figured out using simple maths and logic. It would be so sweet if the upgrade tree had more elements of unique style, instead of this rubbish. Tech: With so many missiles flying around in warzone- it's important to have countermeasures up as often as possible. Again with simple math: Extended Flare (-15% ECM cooldown, -10% duration) Cooldown: 25.5 seconds Duration: 2.7 seconds Rapid Flare (+10% duration, +15% Cooldown) Cooldown: 34.5 Duration: 3.3 Seconds Burst Flare (10% ECM range) If this was true ECM (all missiles explode once coming into range of your ship, regardless if they are targeted at you or a nearby ally)- this might have some use. However, the flares the yurei and wraith shoot do not have this effect. Even if it was the case that they destroyed other missiles, it's not worth choosing this upgrade instead of Extended Flare (-15% cooldown, -10% duration.) If piloting skills are on point, you can time your ECM to where the shorter length doesn't matter. Again, there is a clear winner here- proven with simple logic and maths. I was hoping for some more variability in this tree. Mobility: Again, an obvious choice here. Good players fly around using boost or break (never regular 'slow boat speed'). By consistently using either boost or brake while flying- upgrades that give 10% increase to cap recharge are rendered pointless. From what I can tell- there is no difference in cap refill speed when you are holding the brake. Upgrades giving the largest pool of cap (called secondary tank) are the only choice in this case- no discussion. I am disappointed with the upgrade tree on the wraith. There is no room for debate or an upgrade that could be preferred depending on flying style. There are simply four choices that are the absolute best from a logical/mathematical viewpoint; anything else would be stupid. ---------------------------------------------------------------------______________________________________________ Assault:Jackal I enjoy this ship for many reasons. One of the biggest is that it appears to be the old spur body, with extra armor added onto the wings. I like the idea of the jackal- however, I feel it's implementation has been done poorly. The playstyle I enjoy about the jackal is the idea of a riot police officer with a shotgun. The Jackal has a stupid amount of EHP for an assault (even before taking into account the over shield.) However, it's gun leave so much to be desired. We already have three flack ships- why do we need more? I was hoping that the jackal would have a shotgun like effect, with a scatter like weapon. Higher close range burst DPS. Instead what I'm given is a slow firing tank- and that just feels wrong. All of that being said, I still enjoy the jackal. Particularly on outpost near the B point. The jackal likes to be in close spaces, going in tight circles at slower speed. The jackal lives for outposts corridors- and that's what I like about this ship. Out in the open, it's a rather poor choice. But in and around structures, the jackal shines. Other than the poorly implemented weapon system, the jackal also suffers for a poorly thought out ability (overshield), and ultimate- along with poor upgrade choices. As for the ship, the jackal has the majority of it's EHP in armor. The overshield is a useless shield addition that feels wrong on the ship- especially when you take into account it's upgrade paths. In the dogfight, the jackal wrecks smaller ships. WIth the proper upgrades, and the secondary fire ready- you can nearly one shot shadows, yurei's, and weaker supports. Against the wraith, if you can get it slow and into an enclosed space, you can melt it with ease. The jackal is always pushing for a merge- and want to go head on. Poor pilots or pilots forced into literal corners thanks to an enclosed space will find it difficult to stay away from this strategy. However, in the open, the jackal will have a hard time trying to push its advantage- and will be outmaneuvered. In closing- let's talk about the jackal ultimate. It is so out of place on this ship- I don't even know where to begin. Unlimited cap and boost is something the yurei or wraith would want- not the jackal. The jackals fighting style is not high speed, and at no point is it ever going to be crying for cap or unlimited boost. It's slow and doesn't even have impressive top-end speed. The yurei ult has something the jackal could use to better effect. Give the jackal a sustained shotgun fire with increasing DPS- and get rid of this awkward boost ult. Or find a way to give the jackal an ability that will help it dominate in it's preferred element. ---------------------------------------------------------------------Upgrades Attack: The jackal has an overheat problem and excels at close quarters quick burst types of damage. A ship could be made to shine in a CQB (Close quarters battle) situation- and that is what I would expect from jackal upgrades. Sadly, this is not the case. Its attack tree has first the Precision Barrel upgrade which gives -15% damage for 20% more range. Precision barrel is the complete antithesis to the entire idea of the ship. At no pint in valkyrie are you ever going to want to take an upgrade that is lowering your DPS? The jackal doesn't want more range, and if it's trying to fight at range, it's going to lose. This upgrade is worthless. The next upgrade just gives a flat 7% increase in damage. When you compare this option to the first upgrade (precision barrel -15% damage 20% more range or the last upgrade Strengthened Mag housing +15% ROF, -20% range), there is no logical choice not to use the enhanced coils (+7% damage) every time. The jackal doesn't need to have higher ROF- as if you tap both of the triggers down with secondary fire, you deliver damage almost instantly as it is. The jackal has an overheating problem, and a higher ROF amplifies that problem. Logically it doesn't make sense. Instead, the only choice is Enhanced coils (7% damage). This tree is again disappointing, as it's straightforward to spot the clear winner here. Defense: I think this tree is the most disappointing for the jackal. Currently, the jackal EHP numbers look like this: Armor: 210 Shield: 168 Overshield cooldown: 60 seconds As you can see- this ship is an armored ship. It has the majority of its EHP located there- yet a shield ability. The jackal has no way to defeat missile DPS- so using the overshield to buffer missile damage is an ideal situation. That, along with hugging close to walls, and staying inside structures (like a crab) are this ships best defense against missile fire. The first defense upgrade (Robust Plating) gives +20% to armor and -10% to shield. After using this, the jackal now has: Armor: 252 Shield: 151.2 That defense upgrade gives the most raw EHP. As I have stated earlier, having the most raw EHP on a ship is the most useful stat to have without question. The other two defense upgrades are as follows: Rejuvenate. Which gives 7% shield recharge rate- along with Superior shields which are +10% shield, -20% armor. Superior shields is once again a fool's errand, as it would give the jackal the following: Armor: 168 Shield: 184.8 Superior shield is a joke. Just look at this huge EHP discrepancy, why on early would anyone want to choose this upgrade? As for rejuvenating (+7% increase shield regen time)- again why is an armored ship wanting a bit more shield regen? All of these upgrade paths fail horribly at what the jackal wants- which is the ability to be an armored ship. Again, it's a straightforward matter of determining the 'best' option here- and that's dull. Tech: One of the jackals most glaring weaknesses is that it doesn't have any way to counter the ever-present missile threat in valkyrie. Personally, I like this idea, as it pushes this ship into structures. Lack of missile defense fits into the playstyle of the ship- and discourages flying out into the open with it. As I have shown earlier, the jackal is an armor tanked ship at heart- it wants nothing to do with shields. The defense upgrades push the ship even further away from shields. The jackal's ability is shield based which flies in the face of armored ship design. There is a mismatch here. The jackals overshield does not come up fast enough for it to be used as an EHP buffer regularly. 60-second cooldown is an eternity. Not to mention, that at base shield- an overshield will only give 72 shields worth of EHP. Therefore- the only other option is to use it as a way to reduce incoming missile volley damage. In light of this- the first upgrade, (Enhanced shell +15 overshield, +10% cooldown) is useless as it increases your already long cooldown period. Enduring shell isn't wrong (-5% cooldown time), however when you look at the numbers- Rapid shell (-10% cooldown, -15% overshield) is without question the best. A jackal with rapid shell gets 61.2 shield EHP every 54 seconds. Either way, the overshield adds a paltry amount of EHP to an armor tanked ship. The jackal has a poorly designed active, and even worse upgrade paths- leaving this entire area of the ship ripe for better ideas/gameplay elements. Mobility: Mobility is an easy section to reason through. The mobility upgrades offered to the jackal are quickly figured out. As a slow, small radius turn fighter- the only viable upgrade here is augmented ignition (+20% Acceleration, -10% max speed). The faster acceleration helps the jackal in the corners and contributes to lowering turning radius- helping this ship push for merges. The jackal's max speed matches that of the wraith- but as I have said earlier this ship doesn't like to be out in the open, Therefore, engine power is useless. The jackal doesn't have the cap to utilize the high-end speed, and the lower acceleration is going to hurt it significantly in the corners when dogfighting. The last upgrade (engine expertise +5% cruising speed) is a complete waste. When flying in valkyrie, players are going to be on the brakes- or using boost. Never slow boating. It's a waste of an upgrade on any ship, and an unfortunate addition to the upgrade tree. One of, if not the most poorly designed upgrades (next to shield recharge) is cruising speed upgrades- can we please get something of more consequence? In closing, like the wraith- the jackal has no room for argument or playstyle modifications. There is an 'objective best' upgrade path for this ship, and that's disappointing. I was hoping that there would be a multitude of upgrades that would fit styles of play- but It seems this is rarely the case. ---------------------------------------------------------------------______________________________________________ Assault:Strix I was apprehensive about this ship. Thankfully, all of my fears were put to rest when I had the chance to fly it. The Strix is a well-designed sniper ship, and everything about it fits the bill. I enjoyed the playstyle, and love glassing people with the ultimate from so far away. Everything on this ship fits a great theme. It's no dogfighter, but the dash drive, nice EHP, and high cap allow it to evade everything except a determined yurei. This ship does have some pitfalls though. These shortcomings mostly concern its upgrade path, and the in game UI. The current UI makes it difficult to determine hits with the primary gun. Is there any way you can make this more visible? Telling exact range is also another UI shortcoming. I would like to know how far the strix can shoot (especially once you have utilized the 20% range increase or decrease upgrades.) If you could lock a target, and the triangle around the target could be red (out of range), or green (in range) it would help pilots determine the range to target quickly, without wasting precious shots. With the current UI, it's impossible to tell how far one can shoot. It's frustrating, and the only way that I can reliably 'know' that a target is at 2.2K is by using a missile lock- which then tells me the exact moment they move into my max range... Unless it's longer than 2.2K? Field control with the strix is paramount to the success of this ship. The inability for a pilot to know how close they have to get ruins it for me. ---------------------------------------------------------------------Upgrades Attack: With the current UI- it's hard to justify trying to use increase range (precision barrel +20% range, -15% ROF, or Strengthened Mag Housing -20% range, +15% rof). I like these two upgrades. If the UI could more clearly show ranges- there are some great gameplay choices given to the player here, that can be argued- and certainly different upgrades used on various maps and game types. I like where these are going, but the UI would need to be fixed before I ever thought about flying with them. That being said, 15% slower firing time is an eternity. While it would make you a bit safer, I'm not sure an extra .5K is worth the range upgrade. The shorter range version I do feel is competitive. You will be closer, but also outputting so much more damage. I like the tradeoff. That leaves us with enhanced coils (+7% damage), and currently, that is the only upgrade worth choosing. It gives you the most breathing room (in range) and gives the player a higher grace period to re-align their aim after a shot. It's far safer than strengthened mag housing, and I would think that in actual combat- gives the most DPS. You have to make fewer shots with enhanced coils to see a benefit- while if you choose an ROF option, you always need to be on track. Either way, good work here CCP. If the UI could be fixed, I see the strix as having a plethora of options with no clear winner to identify. Defense: Unfortunately, the good work of the attack upgrades dies with the defense tree. The Strix EHP looks like this: Armor: 112 Shields: 224 The defense upgrades are laughable- just like the jackal and wraith before it. Option one is Shield capacitor (which gives +15% shield EHP, -10% recharge rate). When you choose this option- the strix shield gets 257.6 shield EHP. This option provides the strix the highest EHP possible. As I have said on occasions before, shield regen time is a useless stat. Increasing or decreasing it by a small amount is useless in combat. EHP and raw buffer are what matters. Especially to a sniper- who needs to have the EHP hold out long enough to pull range. The next option is enhanced plating (+10% armor), and you would have to be daft to use this. After this upgrade, the Strix armor sits at 123.2. A paltry amount. The Strix is a shield ship. Upgrading its armor is a complete waste, making this upgrade worthless. Lastly, we have Shield regeneration (+10% recharge, -15% shield EHP). As I have stated earlier, this upgrade takes away everything you would want in the strix. It's a complete waste, and useless. There is only one choice on this upgrade tree- and that's sad. Surely we can do better? Tech: Dashdrive is the lifeblood of this ship- with dash and a full cap of boost; the strix can outrun just about anything. Running in this manner keeps the ship safe, and with a healthy shield EHP buffer- it's challenging to take down. Dashdrive is the only way the strix can shield itself from missiles. At base, the dash cooldown is 30 seconds. So ideally- we want to reduce that as much as possible. Dash 1 (+10% dash duration, +15% cooldown) is a waste. As dashdrive lasts for two seconds, you are paying an additional 5 seconds of cooldown for .2 more seconds in the dash. Dash 2 (-7% cooldown) is slightly better. Cooldown is now 28 seconds. Both of these pale in comparison to the last upgrade, Dash 3. Dash 3 (-15% cooldown, -10% dash duration) If the strix wants to have dash up as much as possible to increase survivability- this is the only choice. Cooldown time is now 25.5 seconds, and your dash time is only reduced by .2 seconds. Again in the tech tree, simple math makes for an obvious choice, with no room for any other. Mobility: As I have shown in the Wraith and jackal, the strix suffers from the same problem upgrades in the mobility tree. The strix has a lower top end speed (500) than other assualt ships. Because of this, it needs to have the largest cap possible to dashdrive- then depend on having higher cap after the dash to outpace opponents. Like the other ships, it appears that holding break recharges cap at the same rate. In the case of the strix- you will be holding break almost continuously while setting up shots. This will lead you to having plenty of time to recharge your capacitor. Regeneration manifold (+10% recharge rate, -15% cap size) is useless, as explained above. Secondary tank (=15% cap size, -10% recharge rate) like the wraith- it's the only choice here. It gives you everyting you could want on the strix, no exeptions. Enhanced distributer (+10% cap size) Just a worse version of the secondary tank upgrade. It should never be picked. Again, the upgrade pathing on the strix leaves so much to be desired. There is no counterplay here- simple maths will clearly show which upgrade is superior. ---------------------------------------------------------------------______________________________________________ Assault:Yurei Ahh, the golden child of the assault tree. It's fast, nimble, and maneuverable. It feels like how the wraith should be. Can you make the Yurei even swifter? This ship is by far my favorite and simply a blast to fly. It has a cultivated mobility upgrade tree as well and choosing some of those upgrades completely altered the ship gameplay. It's entertaining to play around with, and talk with other pilots about their preferences. I honestly think this ship is near perfect. Except for four things.
The auto-aim on the primary weapon and ultimate needs to go. I can't compensate for lag with this ship. And I can't hit supports. These problems are amplified when I am not on my native server. After spending so much time in the wraith- I have honed my aiming skills to a razor's edge. It's so frustrating to watch the computer trying to correct (while missing) a target that I should be hitting. Turn the auto aim off; it's destroying this ship.
The ultimate makes no sense. While mayhem is fun- to get the most out of it, the yurei has to be going slow and pointed in a straight line (all the things it never wants to do). Give the yurei the jackals ultimate, or some hypermobility/hypervelocity type of upgrade. The yurei lives on cap, and speed. It's ultimate should amplify it. Mayhem doesn't suit it at all.
The upgrade tree (bar two of the mobility upgrades) is a joke, just like the other assault trees. There is no depth- it's very binary, simple math leads to the best upgrades, and that's disappointing.
The yurei is a blast to fly. I wish that there would be more 'high speed' 'agile' ships to choose from instead of just one. It's a shame.
--------------------------------------------------------------------- Upgrades Attack: Again, as I have explained before- it's ideal in valkyrie to have high 'alpha/burst' DPS. The attack tree on the yurei is geared towards missiles. Ideally, finding an upgrade that gives the highest burst damage is head and shoulders above the other choices. Fast reload (+20% missile reload speed, -15% damage). This upgrade is the antithesis of what would be competitive in valkyrie so that we can ignore this. Destructive warhead (+7% missile damage) This wouldn't be a bad upgrade. However, there is a third- which completely blows it out of the water. Enhanced warhead (15% damage increase per missile, -20% reload speed). The clear winner. When fighting other yurei, quick merges with a head flicked 3X missile, and a full overheat burst kills a target. It will also easily knockout many other medium / low health targets as well. It's unfortunate that again, we have a clear winner and no room for counterplay with any of the other upgrades. Defense: For reference, the yurei has: Armor: 110 Shields 112 Of the three defense upgrades available: Superior shields (+10% shields, -20% armor) Total EHP: 222.4 Bear in mind that the base yurei has 222 EHP. so this upgrade gives .4 more EHP. Rejuvenate: 7% increase shield regen. As I have spoken at length about this before- this upgrade is useless on all ships, and most certainly for the yurei. The yurei has a wet paper bag of a tank. It needs all the help it can get, and this gives it nothing it could ever want. Useless. Robust Plating: (+20% armor, -10% shields) total EHP: 232.8 Ding, Ding Ding. Again using simple math, we have a clear winning here. Robust plating gives nearly 5% more raw EHP, making it the clear winner. Tech: Lowering cooldown and having counters up as often as possible gives you the best chance of survival in valkyrie. Base stats are 15 second ECM cooldown with 3-second duration. Again with simple math: Extended Flare (-15% ECM cooldown, -10% duration) Cooldown: 25.5 seconds Duration: 2.7 seconds Rapid Flare (+10% duration, +15% Cooldown) Cooldown: 34.5 Duration: 3.3 Seconds Burst Flare (10% ECM range) If this was true ECM (all missiles explode once coming into range of your ship, regardless if they are targeted at you or a nearby ally)- this might have some use. However, the flares the yurei and wraith shoot do not have this effect. Even if it was the case that they destroyed other missiles, it's not worth choosing this upgrade instead of Extended Flare (-15% cooldown, -10% duration.) If piloting skills are on point, you can time your ECM to where the shorter length doesn't matter. Again, there is a clear winner here- proven with simple logic and maths. I was hoping for some more variability in this tree. Mobility This upgrade tree (of all the assault ships) has two options that wowed me. They offered an entirely new ship, and flying style. Augmented ignition (+20% acceleration, -10% max speed) This option turns the yurei into a knife fighter. Scary fast in the corners, and able to react at lightning speeds. This upgrade allows the yurei to shine in smaller areas and slower fights. The 20% acceleration is absurdly fast when dogfighting other ships, and when coming up upon another opponent, you can fly circles around them, The big tradeoff here is that the yurei's top-end speed is much lower. Augmented ignition is not ideal for extraction games, and in some cases can lower survivability. That being said, between the two viable options- I think that this choice is best for new players and pilots. It would still have its place inside clinical 1v1 dogfights- and on many maps. Otherwise, I think that true veteran pilots will choose the second option. The second option is engine power (+10% max speed, -20% acceleration). This upgrade is hands down the single reason why I have put so much time into this ship. It has completely changed the flying dynamic and added a new meta to dogfighting, and ship control. This upgrade has an incredibly high skill ceiling, and it's just a blast to fly. Careful management of cap, turning rate, and speed are needed to make this upgrade shine. No longer can you just throw the ship into continuous corners, or ideally let your speed drop off. If kept at high speed, the yurei can attain speeds that make it untouchable. It takes a ton of practice to keep speed, while still being productive on the field and delivering DPS. It's an intense gameplay element. More upgrades should provide this kind of wow factor. I feel like I am flying an entirely different ship. Excellent work here. The last mobility upgrade is Engine expertise (+10% cruising speed). And as I have mentioned earlier- cruising speed is a worthless stat- as most / all ships are going to be braking or accelerating at all times. Engine expertise is a waste of an upgrade slot. ---------------------------------------------------------------------______________________________________________ Shadow The shadow is the ship that I had dreaded the most when I learned of its development. After playing against, and with this ship- I can say without a doubt that it is a blight upon the game. The shadow offers a very dull, and binary gameplay element. It completely steps in on the toes of the strix. Currently, I would argue that it does the job of sniper more efficiently than the strix. The shadow has limited use in the game and on teams. It is designed to hunt one player, or steal kills. The shadow is a natural choice for many players- as it allows your stats to look 'good.' The ship is a vulture- nothing more. Taking kills, and sniping very low health targets, it can't provide useful DPS or control nodes. It's useless on carrier assault (save for its ultimate, which I will discuss later.) and has limited use in extraction. The shadows head tracked sniper weapon is absurdly easy to aim, and difficult to dodge. Frequently when playing against a shadow- one of two things will happen. Shadow flies in with a group of friendlies or cloaked. Takes shot at a target, and if it has weak tank/low EHP instant kills it. If the shadow misses (which is difficult) the targeted ship turns around and slaughters the shadow. It's very annoying. Instantly killed by something you can't see, or instantly killing a defenseless ship is not healthy gameplay. It provides no useful element to a team, other than collecting its points and kill stealing. I don't want to do an entire analysis of this ship. Frankly, I'm disgusted with it. The cloak timers are absurdly long, the damage far too high- and the ease at which that damage applied ridiculously easy. On the flip side, this ship is not interesting to chase, or dogfight- as it instantly dies, or cloaks for eternity. There is not intense gameplay here. Only waiting to see if the shadow pilot is uncoordinated enough to miss easily lined up shots. Thankfully you at least tell ships that one is nearby when cloaked. However, this is not enough defense. Worst of all, intelligent shadow pilots will approach their targets without cloak- insta kill them, then cloak for escape. If you are involved in a dogfight- you have no warning then. I'm thankful that you can still see cloaked ships on radar, but there needs to be another element. Consider adding a proximity decloak range to the shadow. If it flies too close to anything, have the cloak turn off, or be visible during the duration the ship is too close to the target. Or, you could show the shadow as a different triangle on the radar. Lastly, let's talk about the ultimate. Violent whisper and all insta kill ultimates for that matter need to go. They are not fun, engaging- and the fact that this can be used for carrier cores is a joke. At the VERY LEAST make it very easy to notice when the violent whisper is used (see D.VA from Overwatch). This ultimate is the cream on top of the cancer cake. This ship is a complete failure CCP. I am desperately hoping that you rework the entire tree. I'm not going to do a module review, as I don't want to give this ship any hope. ---------------------------------------------------------------------______________________________________________ Ingame issues A quick list:
Decals are staying on my ships when I have attempted to change, or take them off
I have seen the relic spawn inside of buildings when playing extraction on outpost
The capacitor bar, and speed bar do not always appear in full. They are both shortened after launch. Graphics errors happen intermittently, and most frequently in the Yurei using the engine power upgrade.
It would be nice to see the HUD/gameplay elements while respawning in the vat
It 'd be good to see the game type being played while first loading into the vat
______________________________________________ All in all, my hat is off to you CCP. You guys hit it out of the park with this one. With some fine-tuning and a bit of balance work- this game is going to be incredible. It's already miles better than old Valkyrie. I'm impressed that such a small team could create something like this. Gameplay is fresh, and on many ships- very deep. Looking forward to spending more time in the cockpit :) In closing, I'm planning to look at the rest of the ships in depth. I have been flying the supports quite a bit and will do a write-up when I can. To quickly summarize- the medusa is a better wraith, than the wraith (just please turn off auto aim). Kirin is completely useless at all levels, Nagi is working as intended- and the banshee phaser is baked aids. Why are phasers still in the game?
The Bucks Trade for MCW isn't as Bad as it Appears
Since the Bucks traded Brandon Knight for MCW they have gone 4-11. It’s obvious that the trade hasn’t worked out so far. The most tangible thing to point to for Milwaukee’s downfall is shooting, or a lack thereof. They have a shooting guard in Khris Middleton who is a sniper from downtown, shooting 43% from 3 on the season. Other than that, especially in their starting lineup, the cupboard is bare. Michael Carter Williams is such an atrocious shooter that he makes Ricky Rubio look competent. He’s only managing to shoot 24% from deep. As bad as that is, it gets worse. The Greek Freak, for all of his worth euro stepping from the 3-point line and blocking jumpers, is a poorer shooter than MCW. His percentage from 3 for this season is 18%. Their power forward, Ersan Ilyasova, makes only one 3-pointer a game at a league average clip. But the whole point of having shooters is to create space, and Ilyasova doesn’t strike enough fear into opponents to open up room in the lane. Their center Zaza Pachulia doesn’t shoot threes. So the Brandon Knight trade hasn’t worked out so far, but that was predictable. They swapped a 40% 3-point shooter for someone who can’t shoot on a team devoid of perimeter scoring; the drop off was predictable. That’s what happens when you start 4 people that can’t shoot in the NBA, your offense fails. But the question that still remains is whether or not the Bucks made a bad trade. Despite their drop off in the past 15 games, that is still up in the air. Before we get into that, there’s an important caveat to be made; even though we don’t know when and where that Laker pick will end up, the Bucks probably would have been better off taking the pick and Tyler Ennis. But that’s done, so I’m not really concerned about what they should have gotten in return for Knight. The question I want to answer is whether or not the Brandon Knight for MCW trade was a good move for the Bucks. The answer seems obvious at first glance, the Bucks were good and now they’re not, therefore the trade was a mistake. But the Bucks were never going to win the East this season, and so viewing the outcome of the trade in terms of a binary relationship isn’t appropriate. It’s apparent what the Bucks are doing; they want to start a bunch of long athletes on the perimeter and create a long disruptive switching machine. They have a roster built to do that now. They’re second in defensive rating in the league despite not having an elite rim protector. That’s an impressive feat, and because they have such perimeter defense this allows them to do some interesting things at the center position. Most teams need either a center that can play both ways, or at the very least defend. The center spot is not diminished in importance, but it is certainly diminished in offensive participation. This leads to a market inefficiency that Milwaukee now has the flexibility to take advantage of. Offensive minded centers that suffer defensively are undervalued because their skill set doesn’t fit into what the modern NBA asks of big men. But the Bucks have proven that they don’t need a defensive center to have an elite defense, and so either through a trade or free agency they can acquire a skilled big man to anchor their offense while having their perimeter swarm cover for him on the other side of the ball. They could go after Al Jefferson, Greg Monroe, or even Enes Kanter in free agency. All are offensively talented but with deficiencies in their game. All could be valuable pieces for the Bucks next year. There are also trades that they could pursue, maybe one for Nikola Pekovic. He might be available because the Wolves do have a younger defensive option in the wings in Gorgui Dieng. Another interesting trade possibility this offseason for the Bucks is Spencer Hawes. He has not been performing well for the Clippers, but having a shooter at the 5 will open up more space for drives, especially once Jabari comes back. Kidd has already proven that he is willing to do interesting things on offense, and having a shooting center could really open up possibilities for out of the box strategies. Regardless of which direction Milwaukee’s front office decides to go, their defensive pieces on the perimeter at least affords them more flexibility at the 5 than other teams. Also, because Carter Williams is so much cheaper than Knight, they not only will have the on-court ability to pursue some of these defensively deficient centers, but they will also have the cap space to afford them to do so. The MCW trade will benefit their future in ways that go beyond the player for player swap. You can read the rest of what I wrote on this here.
Since its inception, binary option trading has gained only popularity among investors with some criticism from who associate this form of trading with scams. No matter what the criticism is all about, with binary options it is very much possible to make profits as some investors have proven over the years, anyhow if you are looking for answers on whether you should indulge in binary options trading or not, we have an answer for you. As an informed investor you are always at better chances of making profits. As binary options are really volatile investment instruments, you cannot rely on any kind of guide or hack to make profits. The best way to make profits is to analyze the market and find out certain opportunities to make investments. This is exactly what signals do for you. What are Binary Options Signals? This may seem like a fancy terminology, but binary options signals simply refer to trading binary options according to suggestions (signals) made by the binary option experts and automated robots that are provided with AI specifically designed for trading options. These signals are provided by expert analysts who, after assessing the markets and short listing certain opportunities share it with the investors. Mostly the binary options signals are shared by experienced binary traders who over the years master the art of market assessment. This is why using signals for binary options trading can offer you profits and give higher returns with lower risks. However to fully reap the benefits of a signal you need to be proactive. As mentioned before binary option trading is extremely fast where trends change within minutes and hours. This is why you need to place the trade at the right time as soon as you receive the signals. Time is an important factor in binary options signal trading. It is a lot easier to make use of signals in the binary options market as compared to Forex simply because of the simplified structure of the market. This makes it easier for analysts to assess the market and investors can easily follow these signals and increase their chances of making profits. Are Binary Options Trading Signals a Scam? The question that lingers among investors is whether the binary options trading signals are a genuine opportunity to make profits or are they just some kind of a scam. There is no scam about the signals, the only factor you need to keep into account is that you make use of signals provided by experts with real knowledge of the market. A good signal can open great opportunities for you to make money as a new trader or as an experienced investor. Indeed there are crooks out there who just want to make money off your back, you need to put in hard work to find the legitimate traders. Still I won’t recommend you that you entirely depend on the signals for trading, learn the game and practice various strategies to become an expert on your own.
I like to think of myself as one. I truly believe that collective ownership of the means of production is the only step forward for humanity, especially due to climate change. Capitalism has proven incapable of solving this impending catastrophe which is the greatest threat to civilization to have ever existed. I detest neoliberalism, believing it to be self interested, wasteful, inefficient, and only serves to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. I wish for a planned economy, when everyone's needs are fulfilled and everyone gets the same opportunities as one another. In the beginning of the construction of socialism people will be rewarded according to their work, but eventually over many generations, human consciousness will evolve to make work the prime want of all: 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.' I look up to great revolutionary movements of the past, such as the October revolution of 1917, and to great individuals such as Lenin, Trotsky, and Che Guevara. I believe that change can only come from a revolution from below and the smashing of the state apparatus. Attempting to abolish capitalism through it's state machinery either ends in failure and sabotage (Chile 1971 - 1973/Venezuela 1997- present) or authoritarianism (eastern bloc countries.) I wish for the eventual minimizing of the state and instead for the collective ownership of property, when the distinction between people and state is non existent. I wish for the peoples of the world to unite. Race is only a social construct, and all lands have been settled and colonized at some point in history, and all of us are human beings. There should be no made up divisions between peoples. But in another sense I'm a reactionary. I look gleefully at the post war past, and included in that rigid gender roles and social conservatism. I hate SJW's, and believe that neoliberalism is a cultural, as well as economic movement which is grinding our civilization to impending collapse. The true workers movement in America during the 1930's and 40's was crushed by capitalist reaction in the form of McCarthyism. By the time of the Vietnam war the only force strong enough to pose a threat to the capitalist state was the primarily young middle class (students.) But because the working class was relatively weak at this point, they did not gain socialist consciousness, and instead the left turned to identity politics. Identity politics was useful to the emerging neoliberal offensive because it divided the working class and turned the left from a workers movement to a middle class movement filled with illogical ideas about sex and gender. To back up their absurd claims, such as there are more than two genders, they employed post modernist philosophy, a doctrine which goes against the enlightenment values of science and reason, and instead employs a capitalist agenda to manipulate people. Nowadays the postmodern establishment is establishing a cultural hegemony over western society, trying to emasculate women and demonize their natural roles as carers and mothers, due to the decline of the capitalist system and needing to mobilize more labour. Policies: As I'm from Britain, these will be most relevant to that country.
Create a planned economy. Re-nationalize all privatized infrastructure, utilities, and services without compensation. Nationalize the 110 financial institutions which dominate our economy as well as banks, and run them on a democratic basis. For widespread currency reform, including heavy exchange controls. For the rich to have their wealth confiscated and to be distributed among the masses.
For the repeal of all anti trade union laws. For trade unions to represent workers on boards and in the National Workers Congress.
Radically increase spending in healthcare, education, and industry. Education will be radically transformed. Faith schools and private schools will be banned, and we will transform our schools from dry, exam based, soul crushing machines which destroy potential, into an environment where people can truly flourish, and develop their skills, knowledge, and character to become good workers. This would include sex education, which will be compulsory for all regardless of parents religious affiliation.
For Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR's) to be set up across the country to detect counter revolutionary activity and to serve as pillars of communities.
Any government spying on it's citizens is gravely immoral, and will lead to an Orwellian society. As we become more technologically advanced throughout the 21st century, we must use it with grave caution, and decide whether a particular invention will be beneficial or harmful to humanity.
Create a 5 year plan to make the country completely zero carbon. This would first involve taking control of all car companies and immediately halt production of fossil fuel powered vehicles. There would be huge investment in renewable energy, and the general public will participate in planning as well as there being massive employment in green engineering. Regenerate forests and wildlife, and look into geo-engineering.
Establish autarky and prioritize local goods. De-industrialization has laid waste to our country, making both British and foreign workers poorer as the capitalists look to employ cheap labor. A self sufficient country would also make Britain less vulnerable to trade embargoes from hostile capitalist neighbors.
Immediately leave the EU, NATO, the IMF, the World Bank, and the OECD. All of the said institutions exist to keep rich capitalist countries sucking the wealth out of the developing world and pursue imperialist aims. Cancel all third world debt, and all of our debt shall be declared null and void. It was not us, the workers, which borrowed the money, we shall not pay the price.
Establish a fifth international by combining major Trotskyist internationals, with the goal of creating international socialist revolution to emancipate the workers from their chains and save the planet. For a World Socialist Federation to replace the United Nations for socialist countries, with it abolishing the appalling veto that great powers have and establishing another directly elected chamber. Development goals will be enforceable, with those countries who refuse to meet them having sanctions. However we will also give mass support to the third world, and not undermine development with neoliberal economics, but promote an efficient planned economy which prioritizes the well being of the masses. Esperanto to be it's official language, and compulsory to learn in Britain and other workers states.
For a new constitution to be drafted. For the country to be named the Socialist Commonwealth of Britain. It shall be a secular, socialist, republic, with the monarchy and House of Lords abolished. Ex capitalists shall be denied from voting or running for office in the Legislative government; the National Workers Congress. For an upper house: the Council of Regions, to contain equal amounts of deputies from England, Scotland, and Wales. Britain shall become a federation. For all local councils to become direct participatory democracies, like in Porto Alegre in Brazil. For all elected officials to be on an average workers wage, and re callable at any time. For referendums on major issues, and citizens initiatives. The main vanguard party will be predominant in terms of party politics, however this party will have many factions, and candidates are freely chosen by their electors.
For a cultural revolution. All traces of Cultural Neo-liberalism, SJWism, and postmodernism will be purged from our society. All government funding for radical feminist initiatives will be cut, this will include the immediate closing down of all studies of 'gender theory.' All recent moves to ban traditional gender roles to be reversed, as well as adding misandry to hate speech laws. Create a law saying denying their are only two genders punishable as 'pseudoscience.' Establish Revolutionary Guards, and Committees to pursue the revolution, which would include the sacking of public officials who espouse 'postmodernist propaganda.'
I support the death penalty. I believe that all major states use it against enemies, it's just when it's officially abolished they execute people without trial rather than with trial (Russia, Turkey). It's simple logic to want to execute mass murders or enemies of the working class. During the revolution the death penalty will be used against capitalists conspirators and counter revolutionaries. I am for extra judicial killings in the case of a war or if there is no other alternative, but generally must be avoided as often as possible.
I am pro conscription in the case of a war, I believe it is a duty for all male workers to defend the socialist revolution. Even when there is no war, I believe the principles of fitness, strength, teamwork, sacrifice, and discipline to be important values which should be instilled in every man.
I am pro gun, but in favor of common sense. I don't believe that mentally ill people should possess firearms, however to me there is no evidence anti gun laws prevent crime. Britain currently has tight gun control laws and has a much higher crime rate than Switzerland and Finland, which have relatively relaxed legislation on the issue. I also consider it a right for workers to possess guns so they can protect themselves and others against counter revolution.
I'm pro gay marriage simply because ending it would unleash a wave of homophobia and victimization of the LGBT community as it becomes legitimized by the government. I believe LGBT persons should be treated with tolerance and respect. However, transgender people are mentally ill. This does not mean they shouldn't transition, as it's been one of the few strategies proven to work, however I support heavy medical and physiological examination before they undertake such an action. Legally changing gender shouldn't be easy, and only possible after counselling and experts agreeing this is the best option. Non binary people don't exist, what they are advocating is a pseudo scientific cult that there are more than two genders. If necessary they should be checked for medical examination for mental insecurity.
I don't think drugs are a good thing. This is why I'm against total legalization as I fear it would seem as if it is promotion. However, drug use should be decriminalized, and more emphasis put on dissuading using them and helping addicts.
Pornography is part of sexual freedom, and I believe sexual freedom to be a human right. I oppose all restrictions on it and believe in the right to freely enjoy sex and talk about it openly.
I'm pro abortion to a point, but I have my reservations. Firstly, I reject the view that a woman has an unconditional right to an abortion. It may be your body, but the rights of the child also need to be taken into consideration, and the decision should be based on the individual case but it needs to be guaranteed it is the right decision. Lets just say I'm in favor of it for the first three months, when there is still a relatively high chance of a miscarriage. Later abortions could be allowed in the case of serious deformities. However, I don't have a particularly strong opinion on the issue.
Perpetual Option: Och-Ziff Capital Management Group (OZM)
In his book, You Can Be a Stock Market Genius, Greenblatt talks about using LEAPs to make leveraged bets. The book included his trade in Wells Fargo (WFC, another topic for a future post, I suppose). But sometimes, stocks get down so cheap that they become priced like options. In the Genius book, the WFC LEAPs were priced at $14 while the stock was at around $77. Here, we have a hedge fund manager trading less than $3.00/share, which is a typical price for regular options, not even LEAPs. Of course, all stocks are options on the residual value of businesses. But sometimes things are priced for either a large gain or zero, just like an option. I call this a perpetual option, but that reminds me of those lifetime warranties. Like, who's lifetime? The manufacturer's? The store's? Yours? Nothing is forever, so I guess there really is no such thing as a perpetual option. But anyway... Och-Ziff IPO'ed in 2007 at $32/share and traded in the mid $20's right before the crisis, then down to below $5.00 during the crisis and back up to the mid-teens. I've been watching this since the IPO and looked at it again when it was trading around $10/share. It's down quite a bit since then. I didn't own it back then but I did take a small bite down at $5.00/share. I have mentioned other private equity and hedge fund managers here in the past but haven't owned most of them because of the amount of money that seemed to be going into alternatives. I was just worried that the AUM's of all of these alternative managers were going up so quickly that I couldn't imagine them earning the high returns that made everyone rush to them in the first place. Look at the presentation of any of these alternative managers and their AUM growth is just staggering. Extremely Contrarian We investors walk around and think about all sorts of things; look at store traffic, taste new foods/restaurant concepts, count how many Apple watches people are wearing (I recently biked around the city with my kid (Brooklyn to Central Park, around the park (around the big loop) and all the way downtown back to Brooklyn (30+ miles) and I think I counted two Apple watches that I saw compared to countless iPhones. And this was in the summer so no coats or long sleeves to hide wrists). And a couple of the things that we tend to think about are, What does everybody absolutely love, and what are they 100% sure of (other than that Hillary will win the election and that the market will crash if Trump wins), and What do people absolutely, 100% hate and don't even want to talk about? In the investing world right now, it seems like the one thing that everybody seems to agree with is that active investing is dead (OK, not completely true because we active investors never really lose faith in it). The data points to it (active managers underperforming for many years, legendary stock pickers too not performing all too well, star hedge funds not doing well etc...). The money flows point to it (cash flowing out of active managers and into passive funds, boom in index funds / ETFs; this reminds me of the 1990's when there were more mutual funds than listed companies. There are probably more ETFs now than listed companies). Sentiment points to it (stars and heroes now are ETF managers, quants etc.). By the Way Oh, and by the way, in case people say that it is no longer possible due to this or that reason for humans to outperform indices or robots, I would just say that we have seen this before. Things in finance are cyclical and we've seen this movie before. From the 1985 Berkshire Hathaway Letter, Most institutional investors in the early 1970s, on the other hand, regarded business value as of only minor relevance when they were deciding the prices at which they would buy or sell. This now seems hard to believe. However, these institutions were then under the spell of academics at prestigious business schools who were preaching newly-fashioned theory: the stock market was totally efficient, and therefore calculations of business value -- and even thought, itself -- were of no importance in investment activities. (We are enormously indebted to those academics: what could be more advantageous in an intellectual contest -- whether it be bridge, chess or stock selection than to have opponents who have been taught that thinking is a waste of energy?) What Do People Hate? So, back to what people absolutely hate. People hate active managers. It's not even stocks that they are not interested in. They hate active managers. Nobody outperforms and their fees are not worth it. What else do they hate? They hate hedge funds. I don't need to write a list here, but you just keep reading one institution after another reducing their exposure to hedge funds. There is a massive shakeout going on now with money leaving hedge funds. Others like Blackstone argues that this is not true; assets are just moving out of mediocre hedge funds and moving into theirs. This is a theme I will be going back to in later posts, but for now I am just going to look at OZM. OZM OZM is a well-known hedge fund firm so I won't go into much detail here. To me, it's sort of a conventional equity-oriented hedge fund that runs strategies very typical of pre-Volcker rule Wall Street investment banks; equity long/short, merger arb, convertible arb etc. They have been expanding into credit and real estate with decent results. But a lot of their AUM is still in the conventional equity strategies. What makes OZM interesting now is that chart from the Pzena Investment report (see here). These charts make it obvious why active managers have had such a hard time. The value spread has just continued to widen since 2004/2005 through now. Cheap stocks get cheaper and expensive stocks get more so. You can see how this sort of environment could be the worst for long/short strategies (and value-oriented long strategies, and even naked short strategies for that matter). Things have just been going the wrong way with no mean reversion. But if you look at where those charts are now, you can see that it is probably exactly the wrong time to give up on value strategies or value-based long/short strategies; in fact it looks like the best time ever to be looking at these strategies. Seeing that, does it surprise me that many pension funds are running the other way? Not at all. Many large institutions chase performance and not future potential. Conceptually speaking, they would rather buy a stock at 80x P/E that has gone up 30%/year in the past five years that is about to tank rather than buy an 8x P/E stock that has gone nowhere in the past five years but is about to take off; they are driven by historic (or recent historic) performance. OZM Performance Anyway, let's look at the long term performance of OZM. This excludes their credit and real estate funds which are doing much better and are growing AUM. This is their performance since 1994 through the end of 2015: OZM fund S&P500 1994 28.50% 5.30% 1995 23.50% 27.40% 1996 27.40% 23.00% 1997 26.70% 33.40% 1998 11.10% 28.60% 1999 18.80% 21.00% 2000 20.60% -9.10% 2001 6.30% -11.90% 2002 -1.60% -22.10% 2003 24.00% 28.70% 2004 11.10% 10.90% 2005 8.80% 4.90% 2006 14.80% 15.80% 2007 11.50% 5.50% 2008 -15.90% -37.00% 2009 23.10% 26.50% 2010 8.50% 15.10% 2011 -0.50% 2.10% 2012 11.60% 16.00% 2013 13.90% 32.40% 2014 5.50% 13.70% 2015 -0.40% 1.40% 5 year avg 5.85% 12.57% 10 year avg 6.69% 7.32% Since 1994 12.05% 8.87% Since 2000 7.59% 5.01% Since 2007 5.14% 6.53% So they have not been doing too well, but it's really only the last couple of years that don't look too good. Their ten-year return through 2013 was +8.2%/year versus +7.4%/year for the S&P 500 index. It's pretty obvious that their alpha has been declining over time. For those who want more up-to-date figures, I redid the above table to include figures through September-end 2016. And instead of 5 year and 10 year returns, I use 4.75-year and 9.75-year returns; I thought that would be more comparable than saying 5.75-year and 10.75-year, and I didn't want to dig into quarterly figures to get actual 5 and 10s. OZM fund S&P500 1994 28.50% 5.30% 1995 23.50% 27.40% 1996 27.40% 23.00% 1997 26.70% 33.40% 1998 11.10% 28.60% 1999 18.80% 21.00% 2000 20.60% -9.10% 2001 6.30% -11.90% 2002 -1.60% -22.10% 2003 24.00% 28.70% 2004 11.10% 10.90% 2005 8.80% 4.90% 2006 14.80% 15.80% 2007 11.50% 5.50% 2008 -15.90% -37.00% 2009 23.10% 26.50% 2010 8.50% 15.10% 2011 -0.50% 2.10% 2012 11.60% 16.00% 2013 13.90% 32.40% 2014 5.50% 13.70% 2015 -0.40% 1.40% 2016* 1.10% 7.80% 4.75 year 6.53% 14.58% 9.75 year 5.48% 6.72% Since 1994 11.68% 8.92% Since 2000 7.29% 5.27% Since 2007 4.82% 6.86% So over time, they have good outperformance, but much of that is from the early years. As they get bigger, it's not hard to see why their spread would shrink. They are seriously underperforming in the 4.75 year, but that's because the S&P 500 index was coming off of a big bear market low and OZM didn't lose that much money, so I think that is irrelevant, especially for a long/short fund. More relevant would be figures from recent market peaks which sort of shows a through-the-cycle performance. Since the market peak in 2000, OZM has outperformed with a gain of +7.3%/year versus +5.3%/year for the S&P, but they have underperformed since the 2007 peak. A lot of this probably has to do with the previous charts about how value spreads have widened throughout this period. I would actually want to be increasing exposure to this area that hasn't worked well since 2007. Some of this, of course, is due to lower interest rates. Merger arb, for example, is highly dependent on interest rates as are other arbitrage type trades. (The less risk there is, the closer to the short term interest rate the return is going to be.) One thing that makes me scratch my head, though, in the 3Q 2016 10-Q is the following: OZ Master Fund’s merger arbitrage, convertible and derivative arbitrage, corporate credit and structured credit strategies have each generated strong year-to-date gains through September 30, 2016. In merger arbitrage, certain transactions in which OZ Master Fund participated closed during the third quarter, contributing to the strategy’s year-to-date gross return of +1.3%. Convertible and derivative arbitrage generated a gross return of +0.5% during the third quarter, driven by gains in convertible arbitrage positions, commodity-related volatility, commodity spreads and index volatility spread trades. Year-to-date, convertible and derivative arbitrage has generated a gross return of +1.3%. In OZ Master Fund’s credit-related strategies, widening credit spreads and certain event-driven situations added +0.4% to the gross return within corporate credit during the third quarter, while in structured credit, a +0.9% gross return during the quarter was attributable to the realization of recoveries in certain of our idiosyncratic situations. Year-to-date, the corporate credit and structured credit strategies are each up +1.2% on a gross basis. Gross returns of less than 2% are described as "strong". Hmm... I may be missing something here. Maybe it is 'strong' versus comparable strategies. I don't know. Anyway, moving on... Greenblatt Genius Strategies Oh yeah, and by the way, OZM is one of the funds that are heavily into the yellow book strategies. Here's a description of their equity long/short strategy: Long/short equity special situations, which consists of fundamental long/short and event-driven investing. Fundamental long/short investing involves analyzing companies and assets to profit where we believe mispricing or undervaluation exists. Event-driven investing attempts to realize gain from corporate events such as spin-offs, recapitalizations and other corporate restructurings, whether company specific or due to industry or economic conditions. This is still a large part of their book, which is a good thing if you believe that the valuation spreads will mean revert and that Greenblatt's yellow book strategies are still valid. One thing that may temper returns over time, though, is the AUM level. What you can do with $1 billion in AUM is not the same as when you have $10 billion or $30 billion. I don't think Greenblatt would have had such high returns if he let AUM grow too much. This seems to be an issue with a lot of hedge funds. Many of the old stars who were able to make insane returns with AUM under $1 billion seem to have much lower returns above that level. Here is OZM's AUM trend in the past ten years. Some of the lower return may correlate to the higher AUM, not to mention higher AUM at other hedge funds too reducing spreads (and potential profits). Just to refresh my memory, I grabbed the AUM chart from the OZM prospectus in 2007. Their AUM was under $6 billion until the end of 2003 and then really grew to over $30 billion by 2007. Their 10-year return through 2003 was 18%/year vs. 10.6%/year for the S&P 500 index. From the end of 2003 through the end of 2015, OZM's funds returned +7.2%/year versus +7.4%/year for the S&P 500 index. So their alpha basically went from 7.4%/year outperformance to flat. This is actually not so bad as these types of funds often offered 'equity-like' returns with lower volatility and drawdowns. The long/short nature of OZM funds means that investors achieved the same returns as the S&P 500 index without the full downside exposure. This is exactly what many institutions want, actually. But still, did their growth in AUM dampen returns? I think there is no doubt about that. These charts showing tremendous AUM growth is the reason why I never owned much of these alternative managers in the past few years I've been watching them. The question is how much of the lower returns are due to the higher AUM. Of course, some of this AUM growth is in other strategies so not all new AUM is squeezed into the same strategies. Will OZM ever go back to the returns of the 1990's? I doubt that. First of all, that was a tremendous bull market. Plus, OZM's AUM was much smaller so they had more opportunities to take advantage of yellow book ideas and other strategies. Boom/Bubble Doesn't Mean It's a Bad Idea By the way, another sort of tangent. Just because there is a big boom or bubble in something doesn't necessarily make that 'something' a bad idea. We had a stock market bubble in the late 1920's that ended badly, but owning parts of businesses never suddenly became a bad idea or anything. It's just that you didn't want to overpay, or buy stocks for the wrong reasons. We had a boom in the late 1990's in stocks that focused on picking stocks and owning them for the long term as exemplified by the Beardstown Ladies. Of course, the Beardstown Ladies didn't end well (basically a fraud), but owning good stocks for the long haul, I don't think, ever became a bad idea necessarily. We had a tremendous housing bubble and various real estate bubbles in recent years. But again, owning good, solid assets at reasonable prices for the long haul never became a bad idea despite the occasional bubbles and collapses. Similarly, hedge funds and alternative assets go through cycles too. I know many value investors are not with me here and will always hate hedge funds (like Buffett), but that's OK. We've had alternative cycles in the past. Usually the pattern is that there is a bull market in stocks and people rush into stocks. The bull market inevitably ends and people lose money. Institutions not wanting to lose money rush into 'alternative' assets. Eventually, the market turns and they rush back into equities. I think something similar is happening now, but the cycle seems a bit elongated and, and the low interest rates is having an effect as alternatives are now attracting capital formerly allocated to fixed income. In the past, alternatives seemed more like an equity substitution, risk asset. Valuation OK, so what is OZM worth? Well, a simple way of looking at it is that OZM has paid an average of $1.10/year in dividends in the last five years. During the past five years, the funds returned around 6%/year, so it's not an upside outlier in terms of fund performance. Put a 10x multiple on it and the stock is worth $11/share. Another way to look at it is that the market is telling you that it is unlikely that OZM will enjoy the success even of the past five years over the next few years. Assuming a scenario of failure (stock price = 0) or back to sort of past five years performance ($11), a $3.00 stock price reflects the odds of failure at 73% and only a 27% chance that OZM gets back to it's past five year average-like performance. Of course, OZM can just sort of keep doing what it's doing and stay at $3.00 for a long time too. There is a problem with this, though, as the dividends don't reflect equity-based compensation expense; OZM gives out a bunch of RSU's every year. To adjust for this, let's look at the economic earnings of the past five years including the costs of equity-based compensation. Equity-based compensation expense not included in economic income is listed below ($000): 2008 102,025 2009 122,461 2010 128,737 2011 128,916 2012 86,006 2013 120,125 2014 104,344 2015 106,565 It's odd that this doesn't seem to correlate to revenues, income or AUM; it's just basically flat all the way through. If we include this, economic income at OZM averaged around $520 million/year. With fully diluted 520 million shares outstanding, that's around $1.00/share in economic earnings per share that OZM earned on average over the past five years. So that's not too far off from the $1.10/share dividends we used above. One of the interesting things about investing is when you find alternative ways to value something instead of just the usual price-to-book values, P/E ratios etc. So how would you value this? What about adjusting the implied odds from the above. What if we said there's a 50/50 chance of recovery or failure. Let's say recovery is getting back to what it has done over the past five years on average, and failure is a zero on the stock. 50% x $0.00 + 50% x $10.00 = $5.00/share In that case, OZM is worth $5.00/share, or 70% higher than the current price. You are looking at a 60 cent dollar in that case. Let's say there is a 70% chance of recovery. 70% x $10.00 + 30% x $0.00 = $7.00/share. That's 130% higher, or a 40 cent dollar. By the way, the AUM averaged around $37 billion over the past five years, and remember, their return was around 5.9%/year so these figures aren't based on huge, abnormal returns or anything. As of the end of September 2016, AUM was $39.3 billion, and this went down to $37 billion as of November 1, 2016. OZM expects continued redemptions towards year-end both due to their Justice Department/SEC settlement and overall industry redemption trends. The above ignored balance sheet items, but you can deduct $0.60/share, maybe, of negative equity, or more if you think they need more cash on the balance sheet to run their business. Preferred Shares As for the $400 million settlement amount and preferred shares, the settlement amount is already on the balance sheet as a liability (which was paid out after the September quarter-end). The preferred shares were sold after the quarter ended. They have zero interest for three years so I don't think it impacts the above analysis. You would just add cash on the balance sheet and the preferreds on the liability side. If you want to deduct the full amount of the settlement of $400 million, you can knock off $0.77/share off the above valuation instead of the $0.60/share. Earnings Model The problem with these companies is that it's impossible, really, to predict what their AUM is going to be in the future or their performance. Of course, we can guess that if they do well, AUM will increase and vice-versa. But still, as a sanity check, we should see how things look with various assumptions in terms of valuation. First of all, let's look at 2015. In the full year to 2015, a year that the OZM funds were down (master fund), they paid a dividend of $0.87. Adjusted economic income was $240 million (economic income reported by OZM less equity-based comp expense) and using the current fully diluted shares outstanding of 520 million, that comes to $0.46/share. OK, it's funny to use current shares outstanding against last year's economic income, but I am trying to use last years' earnings as sort of a 'normalized' figure. Using these figures from a bad year, OZM is current trading at a 29% dividend yield (using $3.00/share price) and 6.5x adjusted economic income. This would be 8.3x if you added the $0.77/share from the settlement above. OK, so average AUM was $44 billion in 2015, so even in a bad year, they made tons in management fees. Fine. We'll get to that in a second. AUM is $37 billion as of November 2016, and is probably headed down towards year-end. 2016 Year-to-Date So let's look at how they are doing this year so far. Fund performance-wise, it hasn't been too good, but they do remain profitable. These fund businesses are designed so that their fixed expenses are covered by their management fees. Big bonuses are paid out only when the funds make money. Anyway, let's look at 2016 so far in terms of economic income. In the 3Q of 2016, economic income was $57.4 million. Equity-based compensation expense was $18.3 million so adjusted economic income was $39.1 million. Annualize that and you get $156 million. Using 520 million fully diluted shares (share amount used to calculate distributable earnings in the earnings press release), that comes to $0.30/share adjusted economic income. So at $3.00/share, OZM is trading at 10x arguably depressed earnings. (This excludes the FCPA settlement amount). If you include $400 million of the FCPA preferreds (total to be offered eventually), then the P/E would actually be closer to 12.6x. For the year to date, economic income was $195 million, and equity-based comp expense was $56 million so adjusted economic income was $139 million. Again using 520 million shares, that comes to $0.25/share in adjusted economic earnings per share. Annualize that and you get $0.33/share. So at $3.00/share, OZM is trading at 9x depressed earnings, or 11x including the FCPA preferred. OK, so maybe this is not really 'depressed'. With still a lot of AUM, it is possible that AUM keeps going down. AUM was $37 billion in November, but let's say it goes down to $30 billion. That's actually a big dip. But let's say AUM goes down there. And then let's assume 1% management fees, 20% incentive fees, and economic income margin of 50% (averaged 56% in past five years) and the OZM master fund return of 5%. In this case, economic income would be $300 million. Equity-based comp costs seems steady at around $100 million, so we deduct that to get adjusted economic income. This comes to $200 million. That comes to around $0.40/share. At $3.00/share, that's 7.5x adjusted economic earnings, or a 13% yield, or 9.4x and 10.6% yield including the FCPA preferreds. So that's not bad. We are assuming AUM dips to $30 billion and OZM funds only earn 5%/year, and with that assumption the stock is trading at this cheap level. Things, of course, can get much worse. If performance doesn't improve, AUM will keep going down. You can't really stress test these things as you can just say their returns will never recover and that's that. On the other hand, any improvement can get you considerable upside. If assets return to $40 billion and returns average 6% over time, economic income margin goes to 56% (average of past five years), adjust economic income per share is $0.76/share and the stock could be worth $7.60/share for more than a double. Here's a matrix of possibilities. Skeptics will say, where are the returns below 5% and AUM below $30 billion?! Well, OK. If returns persist at lower than 5%, it's safe to assume that AUM will go down and this may well end up a zero. That is certainly a possibility. It wouldn't shock many for another hedge fund to shut down. On the other hand, if things do stabilize, normalize and OZM recovers and does well, there is a lot of upside here. What is interesting to me is that the market is discounting a lot of bad and not pricing in much good. This is when opportunities occur, right? 5% 6% 7% 8% 9% 10% 30,000 $0.45 $0.52 $0.58 $0.65 $0.71 $0.78 35,000 $0.56 $0.64 $0.71 $0.79 $0.86 $0.94 40,000 $0.67 $0.76 $0.84 $0.93 $1.01 $1.10 45,000 $0.78 $0.87 $0.97 $1.07 $1.16 $1.26 50,000 $0.88 $0.99 $1.10 $1.21 $1.32 $1.42 55,000 $0.99 $1.11 $1.23 $1.35 $1.47 $1.58 60,000 $1.10 $1.23 $1.36 $1.49 $1.62 $1.75 The row above is the assumed return of the OZM funds. The left column is the AUM. Assumptions are 1% management fee, 20% incentive fee, 56% economic income margin (excluding equity-based comp expense) and $100 million/year in equity-based comp expense. It shows you that it doesn't take much for adjusted economic income per share to get back up to closer to $1.00, and can maintain $0.45/share even in a $30 billion AUM and 5% return scenario making the current stock price cheap even under that scenario. Conclusion Having said all that, there is still a lot of risk here. Low returns and low bonuses can easily make it hard for OZM to keep their best people. But if their best people perform, I assume they do get paid directly for their performance so that shouldn't be too much of an issue. A lot of the lower returns in recent years is no doubt due to their higher AUM. But it is also probably due to crowding of the hedge fund world and low interest rates leading to an overall lower return environment for all. If you think these things are highly cyclical, then you can expect interest rates to normalize at some point. Money flowing out of hedge funds should also be good for future returns in these strategies. The part of lower returns at OZM due to higher AUM may not reverse itself, though, if OZM succeeds in maintaining and increasing AUM over time. But even without the blowout, high returns of the 1990's, OZM can make decent returns over time as seen in the above table. In any case, unlike a few years ago, the stock prices of many alternative managers are cheap (and I demonstrated how cheap OZM might be here) and institutional money seems to be flowing out of these strategies. So: OZM is cheap and is in a seemingly universally hated industry Money is flowing out of these strategies, particularly performance chasing institutions (that you would often want to fade) there is a bear market in active managers and bubble in indexing (which may actually increase opportunities for active managers) value spreads are wide and has been widening for years making mean reversion overdue etc. These things make OZM a compelling play on these various themes. I would treat this more like an option, though. Buy it like you would buy an option, not like you would invest in, say, a Berkshire Hathaway. There are a lot of paths here to make good money, but there are also plenty of ways to lose. If you look at this like a binary option, it can be pretty interesting! Posted by kk at 8:11 PM No comments: Links to this post Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels: OZM Saturday, October 29, 2016 Gotham's New Fund Joel Greenblatt was in Barron's recently. He is one of my favorite investors so maybe it's a good time for another post. Anyway, this new fund is kind of interesting as I am sort of a tinkerer; this is like the product of some financial tinkering. I don't know if it's the right product for many, but we'll take a look. But first, let's see what he has to say about the stock market in general. The Market Greenblatt says that the market is "expensive". The market is in the 21st percentile of expensive in the past 25 years. Either a typo or he misspoke, he is quoted as saying that the market has been more expensive 79% of the time in the past 25 years. Of course, he means the market has been cheaper 79% of the time. The year forward expected return from this price level is between 2% to 7%, so he figures it averages out to 4% to 6% per year. In the past 25 years, the market has returned 9% to 10%/year so he figures the market is 12% to 13% more expensive than it used to be. He says: Well, one scenario could be that it drops 12% to 13% tomorrow and future returns would go back to 9% to 10%. Or you could underearn for three years at 4% to 6%. We're still expecting positive returns, just more muted. The intelligent strategy is to buy the cheapest things you can find and short the most expensive. But... Immediately, bears will say that this 25 year history is based during a period when interest rates went down. The 10 year bond rate was around 8% back in 1991, and is now 1.8%. In terms of valuation, this would have pushed up asset values by 6.2%/year ($1.00 discounted at 8%/year then and $1.00 discounted by 1.8% now). Declining rates were certainly a factor in stock returns over the past 25 years. Of course, the stock market didn't keep going up as rates kept going down. The P/E ratio of the S&P 500 index at the end of 1990 was around 15x, and now it's 25x according to Shiller's database (raw P/E, not CAPE). So the valuation gain over the 25 years accounted for around 2%/year of the 9-10% return Greenblatt states. Here are the EPS estimates for the S&P 500 index according to Goldman Sachs:
2016 $105 20.4x 2017 $116 18.5x 2018 $122 17.6x Earnings estimates are not all that reliable (estimates have been coming down consistently in the past year or so). But since most of 2016 is done, I suppose the $105 figure should be OK to use. I don't know if it's apples to apples (reported versus operating etc.), but if we assume the 'current' P/E of the market is 20x, then the valuation tailwind accounted for 1.2%/year of the 9-10%. But then of course, even if this was a fair comparison, there is still the aspect of lower interest rates boosting the economy by borrowing future demand (and therefore overstating historical earnings). In any case, one of the main bearish arguments is that this interest rate tailwind in the past will become a headwind going forward. Just about everyone agrees with that. But as I have mentioned before, calling turns in interest rates is very hard, Japan being a great example. If you look at interest rates over the past 100 years or more, you see that major turns in trend don't happen all that often; it's been a single trend of declining rates since the 1980/81 peak, basically. What are the chances that you are going to call the next big turn correctly? I would bet against anyone trying. OK, that didn't come out right. I wouldn't necessarily be long the bond market either. Gotham Index Plus So, back to the topic of Gotham's new fund. It is a fascinating idea. The fund will go long the S&P 500 index, 100% long, and then overlay a 90%/90% long/short portfolio of the S&P 500 stocks based on their valuations. The built-in leverage alone makes this sort of interesting. Many institutions may have an allocation to the S&P 500 index, and then some allocation to long/short equity hedge funds. The return of the Gotham Index plus would be much higher (when things go well). I think this sort of thing was popular at some point in the pension world; index plus alpha etc. Except I think a lot of those were institutions replacing their S&P 500 index portfolios with futures positions, and then using the cash raised to buy mortgage securities. Of course, when things turned bad, oops; they took big hits in S&P 500 futures, tried to post cash for the margin call and realized that their mortgage funds weren't liquid (and was worth a lot less than they thought). Or something like that. There is risk here too, of course. You are overlaying two risk positions on top of each other. When things turn bad, things can certainly get ugly. I think Greenblatt's calculation is that when things turn bad, the long/short usually does well. I haven't seen any backtests or anything, so I don't know what the odds of a blowup are. Expensive stocks tend to be high-beta stocks and cheaper stocks may be lower beta, so in a market correction, the high-beta, expensive names may go down a lot harder. To some extent, lower valuations may reflect more cyclicality, lower credit risk / lower balance sheet quality too so you have to be a little careful. In a financial crisis-like situation, lower valuation (lower credit quality) can tank and some higher valuation names may hold up (like the FANG-like stocks). But Greenblatt's screen is not just raw P/E or P/B, but is tied to return on capital, so maybe this is not as much of an issue compared to a pure P/B model. The argument for this structure is that people can't stay with a strategy if it can't keep up with the market. Here, the market return is built in from the beginning and you just hope for the "Plus" part to kick in. In a long/short portfolio, the beta is netted out to a large extent so can lower potential returns. This fixes that. But there is a cost to that. In any case, I do think it's a really interesting product, but keep in mind that it is a little riskier than Gotham's other offerings. Oh, and go read the article on why this new fund is a good idea. Greenblatt is always a great read. Chipotle (CMG) Well, Chipotle earnings came out and it was predictably horrible. The stock is not cheap so it hasn't been recommendable in a while, but I really like the company. There was a really long article on them recently which was a great read. It didn't really change my view of them all that much. I think they will get a lot of business back, eventually. The earnings call was OK, but what was depressing about it was that they decided to ditch Shophouse. I don't think any analysts asked about it so it was a given, I guess. I had it a couple of times in DC and liked it and was looking forward to it in NY, but I guess that's not going to happen. As an investor, that was not baked into the cake, I don't think, even though there was probably some hope that the CMG brand can be extended into other categories. This puts a lot of doubt into that idea. Someone said that brand extensions in restaurants/retail never work, and that has proven to be the case here. I wouldn't get too excited about pizza and burgers either. Burgers are really crowded now and will only get more so. If CMG has to look to Europe for growth, that is not so great either as the record of U.S. companies expanding into Europe is not good. I would not count on Europe growth. Anyway, this doesn't mean it's all over for CMG. I think they will come back, but there are some serious headwinds now other than their food poisoning problem; more competition etc. They were the only game in town for a while, but now everyone seemingly wants to become the next Chipotle, so there are a lot of options out there now. As for Ackman's interest in CMG, I have no idea what his plan is. There is no real estate here as CMG rents all their restaurants, and their restaurants had high 20's operating margins at their peak. I don't know if they will ever get back up there, but it's not like these guys don't know how to run an efficient operation. Maybe Ackman sees SGA opportunities, but pre-crisis, SGA was less than 7%, so there wouldn't be that much of a boost from cutting SGA. Or maybe he thinks it's time for CMG to do what everyone else is doing and go for the franchise model. Who knows? I look forward to seeing what his thoughts are; hopefully some 500 page presentation pops up somewhere... McDonalds I don't want to turn this into a food blog, but I can't resist mentioning this. I have been a lifelong MCD customer; I have no problem with it. OK, it may not be my first choice of a meal in most cases, but it's fine. And when you have a kid, you tend to go more often that you'd like. But still, it's OK. It is what it is, right? I like the remodelling that they are doing, and the fact that they have free wifi is great too. But here's a big clustermuck they had with their recent custom burger and kiosk idea. I walked into a MCD without knowing anything about any of this recently. A lady said I can order at the kiosk and I said, no, I'll just go to the counter, thank you. And I waited 10 minutes or so in line, looking up at the tasty looking special hamburgers on the HD, LCD menu board. It was finally my turn at the cash register and I said I want that tasty looking hamburger up there on the screen. And the lady said, oh, you can only order that at the kiosk. I was like, huh? That was really annoying. So I wait all this time and I can't get what I want; I have to walk all the way back and get in another line again? Come on! At that point, I didn't want any other burger so I just ordered a salad (and the usual for my kid). OK, so it's my fault, probably. User error. But as a service company, as far as I'm concerned, that was a massive fail on the part of MCD. OK, Now That I started... And by the way, since I got myself started, let me get these two out too. Yes, I spend too much time at fast food joints. Guilty. But still, here are my two peeves related to two of my favorite fast casual places: Shake Shack: Being dragged there all the time, I have learned to love the Shack-cago hot dog. Chicken Shack is awesome too, in case you don't want to eat hamburgers all the time. But I can't tell you how often they get take-out and stay wrong. I had a long run where they didn't get it right at all and had to ask for things to be packed to go. It is really annoying and wastes everyone's time. Chipotle: This hasn't happened to me the last couple of times, but this is the usual conversation that happens to me just about every time I go to Chipotle. CMG: "Hi, what can we get you today?" (or some such) Me: "Um, I'll have a burrito..." CMG: putting the tortilla in the tortilla warmecooker, "and would you like white rice or brown rice? Me: "White rice is fine" CMG: with tortilla still in the cooker, "and black beans or pinto beans?" Me: "black beans". CMG: laying a sheet of aluminum foil on the counter and placing the tortilla on it, moving over to the rice area, "Was that white rice or brown rice?" Me: "white rice" CMG: sliding over to the beans, "and black beans or pinto beans?". Me: "black". I can't tell you how many times this exact thing happened to me. If you can't remember what I say, don't ask beforehand! Just ask when we get to whatever you are going to ask me about! This is not rocket science, lol... Incredibly annoying. Anyway, I still love CMG and will keep eating there. Oh, and to make things interesting, I decided to post a contact email address in the "about" section of the blog. I will try to respond to every email, but keep in mind I may not look in that email box all the time. I will try to post more, though. http://brooklyninvestor.blogspot.com/2016/11/perpetual-option-och-ziff-capital.html (read original with tables)
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