Lehman-like credit bubble next up for sharing economy?
Recent news on the CNBC Disruptor 50 companies:
Lending Club's Lehman-like deal
Peer-to-peer lending is on the rise, led by Lending Club, but what's a debt market without financial whizzes to figure out how to securitize it? Enter Eaglewood, an asset manager run by Jonathan Barlow, a 35-year-old former Lehman Brothers trader, profiled this past week in The New York Times. Eaglewood has packaged Lending Club loans and sold them in a securitization—allowing investors to buy bonds backed with a type of financial asset. Since the financial crisis showed the risks of securitizing riskier loans, investors have avoided anything too experimental, but Eaglewood raised $53 million in its deal. "We believe this transaction will be the first of many for Eaglewood," Barlow told the Times. Uh-oh?
Meanwhile, a Lending Club clone in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has its first peer-to-peer lending company, WeLab, which so far has received $6 million in loan applications, according to a TechCrunch report. In mainland China, prominent peer-to-peer lending platforms include CreditEase, SinoLending and PPDai. Despite Hong Kong's status as an international financial center, however, there were no peer-to-peer lending platforms before WeLab launched. Simon Loong, founder and CEO, told TechCrunch the start-up is currently focused on educating potential borrowers about WeLab's services.
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A patent recently granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to consumer genomics company 23andMe is for a system to let prospective parents choose the traits of their offspring. The designer baby-making system era has begun, according to Wired. The company said it's much ado about an idea the company doesn't even plan to pursue. "When we originally introduced the tool and filed the patent there was some thinking the feature could have applications for fertility clinics," said Catherine Afarian, a 23andMe spokeswoman. "But we've never pursued the idea, and have no plans to do so."
In any event, patent number 8543339 states, "Gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations." Among the traits listed in the application as examples of possible choice are: height, weight, hair color, risks of colorectal cancer and congenital heart defects, expected life span, expected lifetime health-care costs and athleticism.
Airbnb's charm offensive
Airbnb just got a big win in New York City court. Now, co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky has published a blog post describing the company's values and even saying the start-up is will work with governments to figure out how to pay taxes and also how to deal with Airbnb-ers who rent out apartments to throw massive, ear-splitting parties—or in the least, noisy renters.
Meanwhile, learn a little more about the man who could be the most important Airbnb employee when it comes to tracking noisy neighborhoods: its lone cartographer. Zach Walker has helped slice and dice more than 70 big cities into 4,500 distinct neighborhoods with their own personalities, according to a profile in The Verge.
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School supplies ... in 3-D
Makerbot announced this week the winners of its back-to-school 3-D printing contest. Among the 3-D printed innovations coming to a backpack near you: the Retro Rocket Pencil Case, a drafting kit that includes two 30-6-90 degree triangles, a four-scale ruler, a protractor that doubles as a pencil case handle and a pair of pencil toppers that can snap together to make a compass. Though maybe best of all: the Test Obliterator X800 Eraser Thief Yard Wand, which MakerBot called "a downright awesome example of engineering." It features a pencil reloading gauntlet which fits over a user's arm and pops out new pencils when twisted clockwise. The Eraser Thief tool can be used to gouge out and shape eraser material from block erasers to fit it on top of a pencil. You can learn more about these designs in PC Magazine.
Is Etsy selling out?
Etsy, the popular online marketplace for crafting entrepreneurs, is under fire for updating its policies to allow sellers to hire staff, use shipping services and apply to have their products made by manufacturers.
The company held a webcast this past Tuesday for its 1 million active sellers to convince them its wasn't "selling out," or would start to allow large corporations like Ikea to sell items on the site, according to a report from The Washington Post.
Others wonder whether the changes will turn Etsy into eBay?
(Read more: The booming business of 3-D printing)
And in this week's edition of 'Couldn't happen without Kickstarter'
Dutch duo Haas & Hahn gained fame in 2005 for painting a few houses of Rio Janeiro's favelas in a palate of bright hues. Now they're back with a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to paint the rest of the favela in the hopes of further transforming this crime-ridden community. Donated money will go to supplies and salaries for the residents. For more information, visit their Back to Rio Kickstarter page.
Painting with Purpose, a team of artists working on murals around the world, hopes to raise $7,500 to help a homeless man known as "Clean-up" write a book. After spending more than 15 years on the street in one Oakland, Calif., neighborhood, he will share his story of "hope and perseverance" as well as survival secrets for living on the street. So far, the artists have interviewed Clean-up and painted his portrait on a wall, according to a report on Mediabistro.
—By Eric Rosenbaum, CNBC.com.