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Michael Sweeney
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Michael Sweeney is the Managing Partner of Film Annex Capital Partners, LLC, the venture division of Film Annex, and he is the Executive Producer of Hedgers, Bankers, and Thinkers, a WebTV series on Film Annex. FilmAnnex.com is ranked as one of the Top 100 web sites in America with over 25+... More
My company:
Hedgers, Bankers and Thinkers @ Film Annex
My blog:
Film Annex Capital Partners Blog
View Michael Sweeney's Instablogs on:
  • Why We Like Bitcoin Payment As An Internet Publisher At Film Annex And Women's Annex.

    Film Annex is a leading online short film distribution, Blogging and Film financing and distribution platform. Film Annex.com is a market leader in the #PayForContent business model. The site has been ranked in the Quantcast Top 100 in the United States for unique visitors per month, and Film Annex can be read in 10+ languages including English, Dari, Farsi, Pashto, Urdu, Spanish, and Russian.

    WomensAnnex.com is our sister website that empowers the women and children of Central Asia and now developing countries such as Mexico with a "#PayForContent" model where Bloggers and filmmakers get paid based on their BuzzScore. Monthly payouts on Women's Annex can range from as little as $5 per month to several thousand dollars per month.

    For example, here is a list of our Filmmakers and Bloggers from Afghanistan and USA that get paid via our BuzzScore algorithm:

    USA Solution = PayPal

    Paypal

    In the United States, we pay our independent Filmmakers and Bloggers via Paypal. They publish a film or story, it collects advertising from the Advertising Networks (see YUME and TRMR) that we work with at Film Annex, and in 75-90 days we send out the payments to our Bloggers and Filmmakers. The system works well.

    Developing Countries Solution = Bitcoin and PayPal

    In developing countries, money transfer is much more complicated and often expensive. In Afghanistan, Paypal is not allowed, so it has been very difficult for our Partner Roya Mahboob to get payments to people. We recently sent a first payment to Roya using the Bitcoin exchange Coinbase, which is based in San Francisco. To date, we have not been able to get Coinbase on the phone or even an email exchange, but the system seems to work well.

    coinbase

    Over on my Film Annex Blog, I wrote about David Woo of Bank of America Merrill Lynch and his recent report on Bitcoin. He wrote:

    "We believe Bitcoin can become a major means for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money transfer providers."

    Here is why we agree, and our hope is that users such as ourselves will create a less volatile market for Bitcoin:

    • Bitcoins are very simple to send, basically all we need to send a payment is an email address.
    • Bitcoins seems to be transferable into most local currencies. Thus, we see it as a Master Currency from our user perspective.
    • Coinbase does the identity verification of both the sender and receiver. They document the transactions and do the safekeeping of the unique Bitcoin transaction ID numbers.
    • The fees to Coinbase so far appear to be much cheaper that Western Union, Bank wires, or PayPal.
    • Simplicity - You will see all sorts of articles about Bitcoin mining, but we are simple users willing to pay a very reasonable fee to Coinbase to do all the worrying, logistics, and complexities.
    • We do not speculate on Bitcoin, US Dollars, Euro Dollars, or any other currency.
    • We utilize Bitcoins to facilitate payments especially to regions NOT served by Paypal and we get to avoid costly bank transfers and fees.
    • We believe that the familiarity of Bitcoin payments and other Electronic Payment Systems is an important part of Digital Literacy and philanthropic efforts that we have with our Women's Annex Foundation.
      Women

    At Film Annex Capital Partners, the venture arm of Film Annex, we have done a number of strategic investments, but we have no relationship with Coinbase outside of an account login. We looked at some overseas exchanges too, but Coinbase has a certain transparency on their website that fit in with our needs. We deal with many cultures and have over 10 different languages on our platforms. We have to be sensitive to women in developing countries and many of our writers have a "Nom de Plume" (Pen Name) for safety and security reasons. With Coinbase as a Bitcoin platform/exchange, they take care of the issues of sending money overseas.

    Issues

    Our hope is that the more and more end users like ourselves start to use Bitcoin as a payment system. Right now, our exposure to currency risk is small, but it is there. Same for the content providers. When we pay them in Bitcoins, it will take them a few days to clear an exchange on their side, so they have market risk.

    Reality is US Dollars or Bitcoins sent to a international Blogger and Filmmaker will always have some currency risk. As Bitcoins becomes more mainstream, the market risk will hopefully become smaller.

    Mike Sweeney

    Film Annex Capital Partners, LLC

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Dec 10 10:15 AM | Link | 1 Comment
  • Biz Stone, Co-Founder Of Twitter ($TWTR) Video Interview With Fereshteh Forough Of Women's Annex

    Jelly HQ

    This is a video interview that Fereshteh Forough did last summer with Biz Stone Co-founder of Twitter ($TWTR). It shows a different side of the now well known entrepreneur. Biz Stone is now the Co-founder and CEO of Jelly Industries, Inc.

    In this interview, he talks about the importance of entrepreneurship and digital media in developing countries. He believes that to create a social media curriculum for kids in schools in developing countries, it starts with writing and creating content, and also listening to patterns, and seeing what works and what doesn't. One of the main challenges that people face when using social and digital media in developing countries in Central Asia, is the constraints that the government but also society put on people. The idea people have of what is allowed to be shared online or not also plays a role. He believes that entrepreneurs, and especially women, have an impact on the economical growth as they create opportunities and generate jobs. It's a win-win for society.

    For those that can't see the video here with your browser click through HERE:

    Fereshteh Forough, Biz Stone, and Roya Mahboob

    Disclosure: I am long TWTR.

    Additional disclosure: My wife is long TWTR in her personal portfolio. Film Annex Capital Partners LLC and a sister company are also owners of Jelly HQ, Biz Stone's venture backed company.

    Nov 10 8:50 AM | Link | 3 Comments
  • Michael Mathews On Aspen University's Mission And Differentiated Business Model – $ASPU

    In a recent video, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Mathews discusses the unique business model of Aspen Group, Inc. (OTCBB: ASPU), a nationally accredited online post-secondary education company. Aspen University delivers the highest academic excellence at the lowest possible cost per credit. Aspen is primarily a graduate school and the administration wants their students to graduate with great opportunities for their future, not with heavy financial debt.

    Mathews begins by explaining how many of the current for-profit universities are failing to position their students for long-term economic success:

    "Over the last decade, most of the for-profit [universities] utilized internet lead generation companies to drive the majority of their student enrollments. These were virtually all undergraduate students, and many of these students were from the lower socioeconomic classes. These students then utilized Title IV Federal Financial Aid Programs to fund the majority of their education costs. So far, so good. However, what's the real reason these adults enter a for-profit university? Of course they want to become an expert in their chosen field of study, but the real reason is that they want to leverage the asset [of] a diploma to improve their long-term economic prospects and [those of] their families."

    With graduation rates for bachelor-level students at other for-profit universities in the mid-20th percentile range and an average debt load ranging between $20,000 and $30,000, these universities are clearly not setting up their students for long-term economic success.

    Aspen University is different. Mathews explains, "For example, Aspen's tactics of keeping all online marketing Aspen-branded and working directly with internet publishers keeps all student leads "exclusive in nature, which is how we currently achieve average cost per enrollment in the vicinity of $1,250, which is dramatically lower than the rest of the sector."

    He goes on to discuss Aspen's differentiated business model and touches on the advantages of long-term distance learning and the University's unique master of nursing program.

    Full Video Here @ Film Annex

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Tags: education
    Nov 15 5:06 PM | Link | Comment!
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