January 22, 2021

Market recap

Dow Jones


-12.37 (-0.04%)

S&P 500


1.22 (0.03%)



73.67 (0.55%)



$4.08 (0.22%)



-$4.10 (-1.94%)

United Airlines


-$2.59 (-5.73%)

Amid evolving news + uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, your financial needs are our top priority. For more information on COVID-19 and your finances click here.


Top Story

Basketball and Blockchain: A Modern Partnership

Dapper Labs Partners with the NBA

A blockchain-based company called Dapper Labs has partnered with the NBA. Now fans can purchase highly sought-after sports memorabilia...with blockchain technology.

The new memorabilia platform is called NBA TopShot. The highlight videos on the platform are called “moments,” which can be bought and sold much like physical trading cards.

Background on Dapper Labs

NBA TopShot is a collaboration between the NBA and Dapper Labs, the same company that was responsible for the CryptoKitties craze in 2017. CryptoKitties was heralded as the first blockchain-based entertainment game. On the Ethereum platform, users could buy and breed “crypto-pets'' in exchange for the cryptocurrency. The game is now known for its surge in popularity, which took up a large amount of available transaction space on the Ethereum platform and slowed down business transactions.

Dapper Labs said the launch of CryptoKitties convinced the firm that blockchain transactions would be the future of the collectibles exchange. “We thought this would be the killer app that would bring people to the blockchain. We just needed to find a partner at the scale of the NBA that would let us do a first of its kind product and one that would last 100 years if we do our job right,” said Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of Dapper Labs.

TopShot Sees Traffic Increase

Highlight videos of LeBron James dunking on Nemanja Bjelica or Ja Morant dunking on Aron Baynes on NBA TopShot are currently trending at around $20,000. In the past week, the platform said it has processed transactions worth over $1.3 million. Dapper Labs said a Christmas Day game pack sold out in less than a minute. Traffic has been steadily growing, and the TopShot marketplace has seen over $10 million in transactions since its launch in May.

The early success of NBA TopShot could mean that more platforms of its kind will be created in the near future. Many analysts say they now consider crypto-based transactions to be the most modern and secure way to do business.

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Shipping Costs Hit Record Highs

Prices Driven Upward by China-Europe Squeeze

Between the last few weeks of 2020 and the first few weeks of 2021, the price of shipping a container of goods from China to Europe more than quadrupled. Companies might have paid $2,000 to send a 40-foot container from Asia to northern Europe in November, but that same container would cost $9,000 to ship now. Some businesses have even paid up to $12,000 per container.

Prices are climbing because ecommerce is on the rise and there is currently a shortage of shipping containers. In the first half of 2020 shipping containers were left empty as coronavirus slowed trade around the world. During the second half of last year demand for goods manufactured in Asia surged in the United States and Europe. That heightened demand—and the resulting competition among shippers to source empty containers—pushed freight prices through the roof. As ports grow congested with goods awaiting shipment, shipping lines have started charging higher prices to offset long wait times.

Costs Could be Passed to Consumers

In some cases, the increased cost to ship goods surpasses the profit companies expect to retain from selling the goods to consumers. That means customers in Europe and the Americas could end up paying extra for goods shipped from Asia. The goods’ producers simply do not have the capacity to absorb rising freight costs.

“The question is, do you pay the $12,000 now and pass those prices on to customers or wait and risk stocks drying up?” wondered one leisure goods importer. The importer said the shortage of shipping containers was significantly impacting business. Some orders placed back in November were still waiting to be shipped.

Signs of Supply Chain Strain

Economists worry that the shipping delays and the rising cost of shipping could have an impact on global supply chains. In fact, “signs of strain are building up,” according to Neil Shearing, Capital Economics’ Chief Economist.

Over the next year some economists suspect that trade growth could slow under the pressure. Meanwhile, shipping lines have their fingers crossed that the Lunar New Year will slow manufacturing in Asia in February and let them catch up with the backlog of orders to ship. Additionally, analysts expect that the supply of shipping containers will eventually grow to meet demand. Still, most economists agree the container shortages could continue into late 2021.

SoFi Member Stories: Ariel

Hear how joining the SoFi member community helped Ariel take on her credit card debt, negotiate a raise, and get smarter about her money.


Friday Fundings: BYD, K Health, and Multiverse

BYD Raises $3.9 Billion in Stock Sale

Electric Car Maker BYD (BYDDF) raised $3.9 billion in a stock sale as investors rush to get into the electric car space. The company, based in China, is backed by Warren Buffett and makes batteries, plug-in hybrids, and fossil-fuel-powered vehicles along with its electric cars.

BYD’s Hong Kong-listed stock has quintupled in the past year, and it now has a market capitalization of $91 billion. Its growth has been on pace with NIO (NIO), another Chinese electric-car maker. Both companies seek to compete with Tesla (TSLA), which has a $806 billion market cap. Investors have recently been scouring the EV market for the “next Tesla,” and they are betting that if China makes good on its pledge to become carbon-neutral by 2060, the Chinese market could see significant growth.

K Health Secures $132 Million for Virtual Pediatric Care

Throughout the pandemic, many people have started visiting their doctors online. K Health is betting that trend will continue even after the pandemic subsides. The startup works on data-driven digital primary care, and it is on its third round of funding in just a year. K Health raised $132 million in its last Series E funding round, bringing its total funding to $273.3 million since the company was founded in 2016.

The K Health platform uses artificial intelligence to transform anonymized health data into a predictive model that can help people compare themselves to people with similar symptoms and medical history in their gender and age bracket. The “symptom tracker” at the heart of K Health is free for patients to use. After tracking symptoms, patients can talk with a board-certified physician through the platform.

K Health launched a virtual pediatric service with this latest round of funding. K for Parents will work in a similar way to the existing platform and offers remote care for children between the ages of 3 and 17.

Tony Blair’s Son’s Apprenticeship Startup Raises $44 Million

Multiverse, a UK startup formerly known as WhiteHat, raised $44 million to expand into the United States market. The company is helmed by Euan Blair, the son of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and matches people who have not graduated from college with companies that can offer them apprenticeships and internships.

One of Multiverse’s main goals is to help companies diversify their workforces. Blair said he would like to see the best jobs available go to people who might not have grown up with wealth and connections. Multiverse will use this funding round to power its expansion into the United States. It will first open a headquarters in New York before also opening regional hubs in Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta.

Not-So-Breaking News

  • Google (GOOGL) agreed to a copyright deal with French publishers to ensure that they are paid for online content made available through the search engine. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
  • Volkswagen (VLKAF) is preparing to pay a fine of more than $100 million euros, or about $121 million to the European Union because the carmaker’s 2020 passenger car fleet did not meet carbon dioxide emissions requirements. Volkswagen said it had already set money aside to pay the fine, so this will not impact its fourth-quarter earnings.
  • Boeing (BA) landed a $2.1 billion contract from the US Air Force to build 15 KC-46 refueling tankers. The work will take place in Seattle, Washington and is expected to be finished by May of 2024.
  • United Airlines said there must be a “critical mass” of vaccinated travelers before its balance sheets can recover. The airline posted its fourth consecutive quarterly loss earlier this week—a loss of $1.9 billion.
  • Boston Scientific (BSX) will acquire Preventice Solutions, a provider of mobile cardiac health monitors and services, for $925 million in cash up front and an additional $300 million in potential commercial milestone payments.
  • Bitcoin, Litecoin, Etherium...what’s the difference, anyway? Read on to learn more about the types of cryptocurrency and how they work.

Financial Planner Tip of the Day

"Ideally, your life insurance payout should be enough to invest and yield returns that could replace your income annually. For example, if you assume that you’ll get a 5% return on the money you invest, you would need $1 million in coverage to replace a $50,000 income."

Brian Walsh, CFP® at SoFi

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