Goldman Sachs World Cup Winner Is...

Goldman Sachs World Cup Winner Is...
  • Goldman Sachs ran 1 million simulations to predict a winner

  • Nigeria and Senegal came in at numbers 30 and 31 on the list

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One of the greatest global competitions is underway and Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs (GS -0.23%) has surveyed the field of 32 countries competing in the 2018 World Cup for a winner. GS economists applied their statistical techniques to the world's most popular sport and determined Brazil has the best chance to take the Cup, with an 18.5% probability. Since soccer is quite an unpredictable game, where do your favorite teams land on this list?

Why This Matters: The world's most popular sport meets its biggest competitor machine learning. Goldman Sachs ran one million simulations to find the most likely outcome for the tournament. To come up with a winner they used a mix of data on team characteristics, individual players and recent team performance split into four different machine learning models. The economists were then able to analyze the number of goals scored in each match to understand the relationship between these characteristics and goals scored.

Nigeria and Senegal came in at numbers 30 and 31 respectively on the list. The research on Nigeria lead the company to note it’s a dynamic team and like the country, its soccer team has huge potential in its raw material to help make it out of the group stage. Also, GS economists note after several challenging years, economic recovery will gain pace in 2018 with growth for the year likely to come in at 2.5%.

As for Senegal they may have a better chance at continued high growth and relatively low inflation than winning the World Cup. According to IMF estimates, Senegal is expected to grow at at 6%-7% year over year.

For Goldman Sachs predicted winner Brazil the firm points out inflation and the policy rate are tracking at historically low levels. They also state growth has been uninspiring and the unemployment rate remains in double digits.

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Tidal Ramps Up Exclusives With New Arsenal Deal

Tidal Ramps Up Exclusives With New Arsenal Deal
  • Tidal & Arsenal FC inked a $1.16M partnership

  • Arsenal raked in more than $500 million dollars in 2016/17 season

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Tidal just inked a $1.16 million deal with Arsenal Football Club to create exclusive content that merges the worlds of soccer and music. The effort aims to propel their commitment to emerging talent. Will the game plan help usher Tidal out of hot water amid fierce streaming competition?

Why This Matters: Tidal continuously catapults itself into the spotlight with exclusive content that for loyal subscribers it’s all the rave. While on the other hand for disgruntled consumers it means rushing to renew a cancelled subscription. Arsenal fans with a platinum or gold Arsenal membership for the 2018-19 season will receive a free six-month subscription to Tidal's Hi-Fi service.

Take this past weekend, the streaming service released Beyoncé and Jay Z’s joint project “Everything Is Love” exclusively on Tidal. The roll out included a video for the single “Apeshit,” the album, and the release of “Salud!,” a song that doesn’t appear on the power couple’s record.

“Everything Is Love” was not immediately available on other streaming services, causing a horde of fans to flock to Tidal. Hit Monday and  “Everything is Love” became available on both competing platforms Apple (AAPL -0.05%) Music and Spotify (SPOT -0.38%), reigniting discussions surrounding the effectiveness of Tidal’s exclusive model.

Despite high-profile releases like the Carter’s highly-anticipated joint album, Tidal has been accused of resorting to exaggerate subscriber and streaming numbers, the latter resulting in overpaid royalties to artist-owners Beyoncé and Kanye West. Still, Spotify and Apple Music dominate the streaming space.

Grammy-award winner Queen Bey challenged those allegations on “Everything Is Love,” rapping that if she so cared about streaming numbers, she’d put Lemonade on Spotify. The 2016 visual album isn’t available on the competing platform, and is only accessible to download on Apple.

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Twitter Scores Possible World Cup Win

Twitter Scores Possible World Cup Win
  • 2014 World Cup boosted Twitter’s Q2 revenue by $24M

  • Twitter has 267 million international users

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A lot has changed for Twitter (TWTR +0.44%) since the last World Cup. Primarily the addition of video, along with a users ability to discover content that’s relevant to their interests. Will Twitter be the actual World Cup winner?

Why This Matters: The 2014 World Cup boosted Twitter’s second-quarter revenue by $24 million, according to MKM Partners. Some analysts predict this year’s event will be worth more and can affect results for the second and third quarters. At this point the company has a more refined platform and strategy, which means the event could deliver an even larger boost this time around. Black U.S. adults use Twitter more than any other ethnic group at 26%, according to Pew Research.

Twitter has exhibited its ability to shape global events and its head of content Kay Madati is helping make video profitable for the company. Madati recently announced 30 new video content partnerships. Video ad spending at Twitter is set to total $18 billion in 2018, according to eMarketer.

Through the social media giant’s deal with Fox Sports, the network will provide next to real-time highlights of every goal scored throughout the competition. “Video is a major area of strength for Twitter, already driving more than half of the company’s total ad revenue,” wrote JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth.

The company now has 69 million monthly users in the U.S. and 267 million abroad. It’s important to be aware that advertisers typically spend more to reach users in the U.S., compared with international markets particularly in developing areas.

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Amazon Evades Taxes Meant to Help the Homeless

Amazon Evades Taxes Meant to Help the Homeless
  • Black people represent 29.2% of King County’s homeless population

  • The “Amazon Tax” called for a legislative tax of $275 per employee

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In the blink of an eye councilmembers have done an about face and reversed their decision due to what they claim is “bullying by Amazon.” Seattle’s City Council had voted unanimously last month to tax the city’s largest employers including Amazon (AMZN +0.46%) to help address homelessness. Is the e-commerce company undermining efforts to help get people off the street?

Why This Matters: The “Head Tax”, also commonly referred to as the Amazon Tax called for a legislative expense of $275 per employee. This tax levy would be assessed per year on for-profit companies that gross at least $20 million per year in Seattle. With more than 45,000 employees in the city, Amazon could have paid more than $10 million per year.

Seattle has the third largest homeless population in the U.S., after New York and Los Angeles. A point-in-time count last year tallied more than 11,600 homeless people in King County which is the area of Seattle where Amazon is located. Black people represent 6.2% of King County’s population and have the highest homeless rate at 29.2%. These figures are a 23% over representation for African Americans in Seattle’s homeless sector, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s American Community Survey.

Last month the company abruptly stopped construction on a new campus in downtown Seattle primarily due to the tax passing. Now that the Head Tax has been repealed Amazon said it was the right decision and they’ve also re-stated their commitment to helping with the homeless crisis.

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U.S. Men’s Soccer Looks for a Turnaround After Failed World Cup Bid

U.S. Men’s Soccer Looks for a Turnaround After Failed World Cup Bid
  • 1986 was the last year the U.S. Men’s National Team didn’t make the World Cup

  • The U.S. Soccer Federation has a $149M surplus in its budget

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You won’t be hearing “U.S.A” chants at your local bar during this year’s World Cup. The U.S. Men’s National team is not participating for the first time since 1986. As part of efforts to prevent this from happening again the U.S. Soccer Federation appointed Earnie Stewart as general manager of the men’s team. What’s at stake for the team’s contribution to the business of soccer in the U.S.?

Why This Matters: The U.S. Soccer Federation has grown into a sizable business over the past decade. The U.S. has a $149 million surplus according to its fiscal year 2017 financial statements. There have been multiple conversations about where the Federation should invest that cash. These areas have included capital investments in infrastructure like a dedicated national training center, youth development and new uses of technology to identify talent.

The U.S. will be under a magnifying glass in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and especially the 2026 World Cup which the U.S. is hosting. Another failure to qualify could dampen growth prospects for the $50 million in sponsorship that U.S. Soccer currently generates.

All eyes will be on Earnie Stewart to get the team on track. “We have a tremendous amount of young talent and passion in the U.S., and I’m ready to jump in, hire a new head coach and build a culture of success, with the ultimate goal of the U.S. Men’s National Team becoming a world champion," said Stewart, the former national team member during the announcement of his appointment.

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The Rock Cooks Up an Under Armour Shoe Sell Out

The Rock Cooks Up an Under Armour Shoe Sell Out
  • Project Rock 1 Sneakers cost $120

  • Under Armour stock up nearly 15% since its last earnings report

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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and sports apparel company Under Armor’s (UA +0.42%) “Project Rock 1” $120 sneakers sold out in 30 minutes. But is UA strolling behind competitors in leveraging celebrity clout into higher sneaker sales?


Why This Matters: The Under Armour athlete roster boasts of NBA champion Stephen Curry, the NFL’s Cam Newton, and American ballet dancer Misty Copeland. Whereas competitors Adidas (ADDYY -2.82%) and Puma expand beyond sports icons, enlisting celebrities such as Kanye West and Rihanna. Most recently, Puma named rapper and business mogul Jay Z as its president of basketball operations.

Yet UA is notably not at the top of the sneaker game: Nike remains the number one U.S. sports footwear company. Adidas snagged the second spot from under Jordan’s feet last September. The question remains whether dotting lines for influencers outside of sports can boost the company’s hype with non enthusiasts.

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Nike’s Off-White World Cup Style

Nike’s Off-White World Cup Style
  • Virgil Abloh launched Nike x Off-White “Football, Mon Amour” collection

  • Abloh’s combined social media reach is about 3 million people

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While adorning several teams in this year’s World Cup, Nike (NKE -0.30%) is mixing lifestyle and sport branding with its latest Virgil Abloh collaboration. Will this latest project score big with fans like its previous projects with the famed designer?

Why This Matters: Abloh is partnering with so many major brands right now from luxury to furniture. Let’s start with his day jobs as creative director of menswear at Louis Vuitton along with his own aspirational brand Off-White. Then we move to Abloh’s new new capsule collection at Ikea and also designing luggage for Rimowa, all showcasing his depth and versatility.

According to Nike’s news page Abloh designed this collection with his childhood memories in mind. He wanted to blend memories of his youth like playing hip-hop tracks on the way to high school soccer matches. “The great thing about the vocabulary and history of football is that aesthetically it has its own look,” Abloh said. The first item he created was a special version of the Flyknit Zoom Fly running shoes. This is interesting because Nike’s footwear sales in North America remained weak after its fiscal Q1 period.

With World Cup fever in full swing Nike hopes this major release has broad international appeal just like Abloh’s strong social media presence. Harnessing the immense value in his combined social media reach of about 3 million people should make this latest project a huge hit.

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Things You Can Do With Bitcoin During the World Cup

Things You Can Do With Bitcoin During the World Cup
  • Budget travel agencies are allowing payments using bitcoin

  • Russian bar chain Killfish will let customers pay for drinks with cryptocurrencies

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The World Cup typically brings a lot of revenue to the country hosting it. This is also true for related businesses as well. As a result, several service providers are starting to include bitcoin, as well as other digital currencies for payment methods in order to reach a new customer base and stay on top of technological innovations.

Why This Matters: First up we have travel and lodging. If you’re looking to fly to the host country Russia in order to watch the games in person, you can pay for your flight using bitcoin. There are several companies that have started to accept the digital currency and in some cases also accommodations. Budget travel agencies like CheapAir and Destinia allow payments using bitcoin. The hospitality industry is very sensitive to such trends. A Russian hotel chain called Malina recently announced its decision to allow customers to pay the fees associated with their services in bitcoin, as well as other cryptocurrencies.

You can also put your money where your mouth is as a fan and bet on the game. Established sport betting platforms have started to integrate cryptocurrency payments. Some of the platforms that accept fiat currency as well as bitcoin include Intertops and Bodog. Just in case you become a bit parched while watching the games, it’s possible to pay for your drinks with bitcoin at a Russian bar chain called Killfish.

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African Art Sets the Market Off

African Art Sets the Market Off
  • Christie’s is auctioning 105 African pieces from the Durand-Dessert Collection  

  • The Durand-Desserts have collected African art for 30 years

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Christie’s is hosting an auction of one of the largest collections of African art. The pieces come from the collection of the Durand-Dessert family who have gathered these works for the past 30 years. Will this sale serve as a turbo boost for the valuation of future African sculptures?

Why This Matters: Little is known about African art dating beyond the 20th Century. During the colonization of African kingdoms Western occupiers muted creative practices including the development of the sculptures in this auction. Anthropologists and art historians have gained greater understanding of the art from various parts of Africa. In turn this has increased appreciation for these pieces. The items in this auction are estimated to go for between $9 million and $14 million.

Famed Nigerian sculptor Yinka Shonibare wants to see African art get more respect in the West. “I wanted to raise the fact that Western art owes a hell of a lot to African aesthetics. Where would Picasso be without the encounter with African art,” said Shonibare about a recent collection he is curating at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London.

Christie’s anticipates the auction will set off the market for African art, in large part due to the Nigerian pieces in the sale. “Never before has there been so much good Nigerian material in just one sale at Christie’s, and it’s really a market-making moment. We want to put these works on the map and give them the attention and the platform they deserve,” said Christie’s Head of African and Oceanic Art Bruno Claessens.

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Changing the Game: Stina & Mae Puts Lux and Diapers in the Bag

Changing the Game: Stina & Mae Puts Lux and Diapers in the Bag

Stina & Mae is bringing meaning and beauty to items essential to parenting. Founder and Creative Director Mishell Ekunsirinde was a busy fashion critic when it clicked that carrying a purse along with a bag for her newborn was too much work. Her designs are “transitional bags” for mothers. They have the functionality of a diaper bag with the style of a purse. Ekunsirinde has been hyper-focused on serving moms. “How can we help moms live their best life with the other items they use for parenting,” Ekunsirinde said. Stina & Mae is also doing a lot of good by donating two percent of revenue to address food insecurity among children. The company just soft-launched its next line of products and is part of a burgeoning group of ecommerce businesses which produce their items in the U.S. In addition to all of this, the company has targets of eventually eliminating waste and providing a living wage across the company’s supply chain.

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Nike’s Iconic Nigeria World Cup Play

Nike’s Iconic Nigeria World Cup Play
  • 3 million people pre-ordered Nigeria replica jerseys

  • Nike’s deal with the Nigeria Football Federation is worth $3.75M

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Nigeria isn’t one of the favorites to win the 2018 World Cup but it has certainly won the title of best kit among fans. First revealed back in February, the kit sold out in minutes with fans eager to shell out $90 for a shirt. Are kit deals lucrative for a country’s football federation?

Why This Matters: Three million people pre-ordered Nigeria replica jerseys, according to the Nigeria Football Federation. Nike (NKE -0.30%) UK said in a tweet it currently had no plans to restock the merchandise. This decision by the company has fueled the market for counterfeit jerseys. Most sales came from the Nigerian diaspora, soccer fans who’ve adopted the country as their World Cup team.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) entered into a three and half year partnership with Nike to make the kits back in 2015. The deal was worth $3.75 million and came with a $500,000 bonus if the "Super Eagles" qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, according to Goal.com. The NFF complained about how counterfeiters can potentially ruin such lucrative deals.

If you missed out on getting a kit like many folks out there, Nike plans to put out one more item. The sportswear giant is set to release the “Nigeria Stadium Tech Hip Pack,” with a similar black and green floral all-over print pattern later this month.

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