Tag Archives: Rare

Rare Japanese unicorn Mercari surges as much as 100 percent in debut
June 19, 2018 6:05 am|Comments (0)

TOKYO (Reuters) – Flea market app operator Mercari Inc’s shares surged 100 percent in their Tokyo stock market debut on Tuesday, hitting their daily limit high, underscoring strong investor appetite for a rare Japanese unicorn bent on U.S. expansion.

FILE PHOTO: Novelty goods are displayed at Mercari’s Tokyo headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Shares rose as high as 6,000 yen in early afternoon trade, valuing the company at as much as $ 7.4 billion. That made it the most valuable firm on the Tokyo bourse’s Mothers market for startups, ahead of games and social network company Mixi Inc and robotics firm Cyberdyne Inc.

A popular smartphone app that allows people to trade used items online, Mercari has been downloaded 71 million times in Japan where it has 10.5 million active users. It makes money by charging sellers commission, and expects sales to jump 62 percent to 35.8 billion yen ($ 325.93 million) this financial year.

Mercari shares already look expensive, said Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan. While the app is well known in Japan and still growing, it is likely to face more competition at home, he said, with companies such as Rakuten Inc and Start Today Co Ltd offering used-goods services.

Mercari shares were trading at 5,350 yen at 13:00 local time (0400 GMT).

Its initial public offering, the biggest in Japan this year, raised $ 1.2 billion through the sale of around a third of Mercari’s shares, with the majority bought by overseas investors.

The company is profitable at home but is losing money in the United States, where its expansion plans are being headed by former Facebook Inc executive John Lagerling.

Its U.S. expansion dragged it to a net loss of 4.2 billion yen in the last financial year through June 2017, with a further loss of 3.4 billion in the nine months to March as the company committed funds to improving its brand recognition through advertising.

“We can’t be successful globally without success in the U.S.,” Chief Executive and founder Shintaro Yamada told Reuters in April.

In a country that has many successful giant corporations but lacks a vibrant startup culture, Mercari gained attention as one of Japan’s two unicorns – startups with valuations above $ 1 billion – according to data provider CB Insights. The other is information technology startup Preferred Networks Inc.

Mercari’s growing popularity as Japanese shoppers shed their inhibitions about buying and selling used goods has seen it join the ranks of companies such as Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing Co Ltd that have grown by appealing to consumers’ economizing instincts.

The app has outperformed rivals with its focus on mobile, its ease of use – with users able to trade goods with just a few taps – and by offering anonymity to its privacy conscious Japanese audience.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Christopher Cushing

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , , , ,
A Rare Bird's-Eye View of Hong Kong's Vanishing Rooftop Culture
June 16, 2018 6:06 pm|Comments (0)

The district of Kowloon, Hong Kong, is a crowded place—there are 124,000 people packed into each of its 18 square miles. Apartments can be amazingly small. The dearth of parks doesn’t help. So Kowloonians use whatever space they can find, often escaping to the tops of buildings to walk their dogs, hang laundry, or just take a catnap.

Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze is one of them—only he takes to the roof with his camera, documenting unsuspecting strangers on shorter buildings below. The images appear in his stunning new book Concrete Stories. “It’s daily life stuff, but it’s surprising to see it on the roof,” he says.

Related Stories

Jacquet-Lagrèze grew up in the suburbs of Paris, where people have yards and cars, and can even see the stars. He sacrificed it all for love, moving into a 200-square-foot apartment in Kowloon eight years ago to be with his wife. Now they have just 400 square feet to call their own, but Jacquet-Lagrèze doesn’t mind. The city is inspiring, its density enabling him to create series like The Blue Moment, photographed from rooftops.

While shooting, Jacquet-Lagrèze often glimpsed others who were also out and about atop other buildings. As development began transforming the cityscape, he worried these communal rooftops could disappear. “This part of the city is now surrounded by modern buildings, and bit by bit these old buildings are being destroyed and replaced by really big, tall buildings with locked rooftops,” he says.

This—coupled with his sheer curiosity about the neighbors—inspired him to document rooftop culture while it’s still around. Twice a week over the last four years, he rode an elevator up a highrise with his Sony DSLR and a couple zoom and telephoto lenses. He hunkered down near a ledge, munching on a snack as he waited for people to appear. In the golden afternoon light, he photographed Kowloonians as they jumped rope, watered their plants, even burnt offerings to their ancestors.

If spying on such tender moments of solitude sounds creepy, Jacquet-Lagrèze says it’s par for the course on Kowloon’s rooftops. While shooting the series, he sometimes glimpsed people higher up watching him. “Whenever you are on the rooftop in the open air, you know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of windows potentially looking at you,” he says.

Kowloon is ridiculously crowded, even up in the air.


More Great WIRED Stories

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , , , ,
Tesla's electric motor shift to spur demand for rare earth neodymium
March 12, 2018 6:04 pm|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – Tesla’s shift to a magnetic motor using neodymium in its Model 3 Long Range car adds to pressure on already strained supplies of a rare earth metal that had for years been shunned because of an export ban by top producer China.

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla Model 3 is seen in a showroom in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Efforts by governments around the world to cut noxious emissions produced by fossil fuel-powered cars is driving demand for electric vehicles and the metals used to make them, such as lithium and cobalt which are key ingredients for batteries.

Now the spotlight is on neodymium. Several auto makers already use permanent magnet motors that rely on the metal because they are generally lighter, stronger and more efficient than induction motors that are based on copper coils.

But it is the switch to neodymium by Tesla, an auto maker that has staked its future solely on the electric vehicle, that is showing the way the industry is moving and the direction of demand for the rare earth metal.

Research group imarc estimates the market for the neodymium-iron-boron magnet used in the motors is now worth more than $ 11.3 billion, with demand for the magnets rising at a compound annual growth rate of 8.5 percent between 2010 and 2017.(For a graphic of Neodymium market balance click reut.rs/2FD6bUb)

“Some electric car motors use the permanent magnet technology, probably the most famous is the Tesla Model 3 Long Range. All the other Tesla models — Model X and Model 3 standard — use induction motors,” said David Merriman, a senior analyst at metals consultancy Roskill.

Global demand of 31,700 tonnes for neodymium last year already outstripped supply by 3,300 tonnes, he said. Demand was expected to climb to 34,200 tonnes this year and 38,800 tonnes in 2018, leaving larger deficits.

“Tesla’s decision to switch to permanent magnets has completely changed the dynamics of the market,” said a source at a fund manager that specializes in metals.

The price of neodymium is now about $ 70 a kg, well below the $ 500 hit after China held back shipments to Japan in 2010 during a row over disputed islands but it is still 40 percent higher than at the start of 2017.

(For a graphic of neodymium prices click reut.rs/2DlOHtE)

China, which resumed neodymium exports in 2015, imposed strict export quotas across a range of rare earth metal in 2010, saying it wanted to curtail pollution and preserve resources.

COSTLY PROCESS

“People seem to have forgotten China’s export ban. It could happen again. China is really the main producer, no one else has invested as much in rare earths,” a rare earth trader said.

Despite their name, rare earths are found in many places around the world, but the process of extraction is difficult and expensive, as it requires separating multiple different metals from a single deposit. This is unlike the much simpler process, for example, of recovering copper from ore.(For a graphic of Rare Earth Producers click reut.rs/2Fu5HnE)

China has invested heavily in the rare earth metals process but its crackdown on mining, smelting and other polluting industries is forecast to slow supply. It already helped push the neodymium price to a two-year high of $ 96 in September.

“Rare earth production is as bad as you can get in terms of environmental damage,” the trader said. “China used its dominant position before, what’s to stop it doing so again?”

Such supply concerns are encouraging automakers to search for ways of cutting down neodymium use. Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) said last month it had found a way to cut use of the metal in electric motors by about a fifth.

The Japanese firm said it had developed a magnet which replaced some of the neodymium with more abundant and cheaper rare earths — lanthanum and cerium. Toyota aims to use the magnets in electric vehicle motors within the next 10 years.

Other manufacturers of electric vehicles that use permanent magnets include BMW BMWG, Nissan (7201.T) and Geely (0175.HK).

Several companies produce rare earth metals outside China, including London-listed Rainbow Rare Earths (RBWR.L), Canada-listed Namibia Rare Earths (NRE.V) and Australia’s Spectrum Rare Earths (SPX.AX).

But, for now, auto makers making permanent magnet motors remain heavily reliant on China, which according to Roskill accounted for 85 percent of global output of rare earth oxide estimated at 161,700 tonnes in 2017.

Morgan Stanley analysts estimate electric vehicles will total 50,000 units in 2020 or 2.3 percent of the total, rising to 400,000 in 2025 or 17.4 percent, and 975,000 in 2030 or 40.9 percent.

Reporting by Pratima Desai; Editing by Veronica Brown and Edmund Blair

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , , , , ,