Ten Observations from Last Week

1. Uber and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad… Month. More than one article this week referenced how Uber is under attack. The PR disaster of a few weeks ago has been compounded by bans in India, Thailand and California. Meanwhile, Chicago and NYC taxis are playing catch up to finally create one or more apps to hail taxis, regardless of the operator. Welcome to 2010 folks.

2. Seinfeld was way ahead of its time. Even 20 years after the fact, it gets to us every time. And this time of year, we think traffic and parking hassles. There’s the entire episode in a parking garage, while another one focused on George’s fight over on-street parking (also, the side plot of the Scofflaw).

So, if you drive, this piece by Marketwatch’s Catey Hill is a must-read that focuses on the “7 Secrets to Scoring a Plum Parking Spot.” One secret, Catey notes: Downloading ParkWhiz (a Propllr client) as a way to find discounted parking near your destination.

3. The much-maligned death of the trading pit has been a common topic as more and more trading is electronic. Yet, there’s been one hold out – the Eurodollar options pit. Not only are Eurodollar options the last bastion of physical trading, but they are the largest-volume options contract on the CME – a way to anticipate the movement of short-term interest rates. This comes as no surprise to Hazem Dawani, CEO of Propllr client OptionsCity, who tells Crain’s that anticipates that electronic options trading will accelerate when a third of volume moves to the screens.

4. Finance is continuing to be disrupted. Robinhood, the app that offers zero-commission stock trading, finally launched this week with more than 500,000 folks on the wait-list. Meanwhile, Lending Club, a platform for peer-to-peer lending, went public and closed at an $8.9 billion market cap. Prediction? In 2015, the tech-finance love affair will only accelerate. And we have one in our client list – Tradovate.

5. With one episode left, momentum behind the awesome blog Serial is growing. And naturally, brands are trying to capitalize. Best Buy and Sesame Street both made some headwinds… though Best Buy’s tweet landed itself in hot water – forcing the company to replace it with an apology. Perhaps it was bad taste, but we liked the idea of Best Buy being in-the-know of this cool podcast, and we think more highly of them as a result (dumb, we know, but that’s how this marketing thing works). Sesame Street took a safer route and kept its tweet up. Propllr is fully behind the trend, though we’re going to forego being too clever (though we do hope Serial’s success goes on Adnan Adnan Adnan…

6. ‘Tis the season for 2015 lists… and the folks at ChicagoInno put together one of 15 emerging Chicago startups to watch in ‘15 (see what they did there?). Opternative – a former Catapult company – comes in as number one. We’ve gotten to know those guys a bit and they deserve all of the attention they get. Also, the Inno folks included some under-the-radar companies (at least to us). Some of them are capitalizing on macro trends – such as drones and payment for student athletes.

7. In other 2015 news, VentureBeat is expecting the learn-to-code movement to accelerate, partly due to more awareness around the lack of diversity in tech. This week, President Obama gave the movement some press – writing his first line of code as part of the “Hour of Code.”

8. Facebook is thinking about a dislike button. But, it’s not in the way that many would want it – you know, for these folks (what we would give for a filter that would remove any updates about running or school performances). It would be more of a sentiment button. Probably still not a bad idea, though.

9. Meanwhile, Facebook’s Instagram – popular with the tween crowd – announced it has 300 million active monthly users, eclipsing Twitter’s count by roughly 16 million users. Evan Williams’ reaction – that he doesn’t give a shit – was probably not the best response. Or maybe it was.

10. Oh, Santa bar crawls. NYC’s SantaCon officially lawyered up after some residents and bars were banning Santa-clad patrons. Apparently, last year there were 30,000 drunkards walking the streets. “Opponents [of the event] object to the public urination and vomiting that has characterized similar gatherings in previous holiday seasons.” When you put it like that, who can blame them?

The Propllr Team