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In defense of anonymous social networks: Alan Knott-Craig at TEDxStellenbosch

At TEDxStellenbosch 2012, Alan Knott-Craig speaks about the role anonymity plays in social networks, and how it allows people to access services and overcome social barriers where they would otherwise be too embarrassed or ashamed to do so. Alan is founder of World of Avatar and former CEO of Mxit, Africa's largest social network. In April 2008 he published Don't Panic, a best selling book aimed at persuading emigrant South Africans to return home. In 2009 he was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. AboutTEDx: In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
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TEDxCentralSaintMartins - Tom Hulme - Designing for Emergence

Tom is Design Director at IDEO in London, where he uses the innovation and design process to develop new business opportunities. A serial entrepreneur and angel investor, Tom has first-hand experience in building successful enterprises and, as a result, a very thorough understanding of business. He is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and was listed in WIRED UK's top 100 "digital power brokers". He is particularly interested in commercializing new products and services, and his IDEO clients and angel investments include technology, retail, fashion, fast-moving consumer goods, financial services, and hospitality brands. Tom founded OpenIDEO, IDEO's open innovation platform that won a 2011 Webby Award in the Community Category and presently has over 30000 users from more than 170 countries. The technology is now being applied to clients to manage their own closed communities. Prior to attending college, Tom spent a year teaching secondary school in Tanzania, contributing to his belief in the power of entrepreneurship for sustainable social good. Tom then earned a bachelor's degree in physics (with honors) from the University of Bristol and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he received the Baker Scholar Award of high distinction. In 1998, he joined British sports-car manufacturer Marcos, where he became managing director and transformed the loss-making company into a profitable enterprise by diversifying the company into race and road cars. He sold <b>...</b>
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stock market

Editor’s note: Barry Silbert is founder and CEO of SecondMarket. Follow him on Twitter @BarrySilbert.

The SEC recently concluded its investigation of the emerging market for pre-IPO shares of private companies, resulting in charges being brought against three market participants. I am proud to say that SecondMarket was not among those investigated or charged with wrongdoing.

While the press focused on the SEC “cracking down” on the private company market, the investigation actually focused on wrongdoing that has existed in the securities markets for decades: broker-dealers using improper sales practices and charging inappropriate fees, and unregistered middlemen improperly acting as broker-dealers.

Nonetheless, the investigation should result in a better private company marketplace.  Because of market structure changes and regulatory hurdles, companies are remaining private longer than ever before. The public markets work well for the largest companies, but many observers believe a company has to have a market capitalization of more than $1 billion before it receives the sales and research coverage to successfully navigate the public markets.

That is an extraordinarily high barrier to entry and supports the notion that a robust private company market is critical to the startup ecosystem. An efficient private market can help a company provide its shareholders with interim liquidity, so that a company is not prematurely forced to go public or pursue an M&A transaction. At SecondMarket, we continue to develop practices and procedures that we believe all participants should adopt as we move forward.

Regulatory oversight: Quite simply, anyone facilitating trades of private company stock should be registered as a broker-dealer. Trust is an essential element of an efficient market. The ability to conduct trades in a regulated environment confers accountability on the part of the broker-dealer and provides assurance to participants that there is regulatory oversight of a transaction. SecondMarket was fully regulated as a broker-dealer before we ever conducted a private company stock transaction.

Robust Accreditation: Private company stock is not for everyone. Investing in a private company is inherently risky, and investors must have the financial means and risk tolerance to participate in the market. While we require companies that exclusively sell secondary shares with us to provide financial disclosures, the information is less detailed than public company disclosures.

Only “accredited” investors are eligible to buy private company stock on SecondMarket, and we have established a process to ensure that only accredited investors buy stock. We conduct online accredited investor questionnaires, background checks and reviews prior to a transaction, and contact each potential buyer to understand his or her investment intent.

Company Engagement: Every private company is different. Each company has unique goals, circumstances and objectives. SecondMarket works with each company to design a customized liquidity program to meet that company’s needs. The companies control who can buy and sell, how much each shareholder can sell, frequency of transactions, and share price.  Most importantly, as noted above, we require companies that allow secondary transactions on SecondMarket to provide financial disclosures to the company-approved buyers and sellers.  Providing financial information to participants ensures transparency and information symmetry, but it is important to private companies that only the eligible buyers and sellers (and not the entire world) have access to that information.

We will not permit a transaction if the company is not willing to work with us, and we encourage other marketplaces to follow suit. It is critically important that companies support secondary trading of their shares. A managed secondary trading process can provide a company with numerous benefits, including retaining existing employees and attracting new talent.

Mitigate Conflicts of Interest:  It is important that buyers and sellers understand that a marketplace is an impartial intermediary that is not on either side of a transaction.  We actively seek to minimize conflicts of interest in a variety of ways. We do not produce or pay for research. We do not buy private company stock for our own account or make investment decisions on behalf of our platform participants. And we do not offload our regulatory responsibility to third-party broker-dealers.

As we look ahead, I firmly believe that the continued success of this overall market is predicated on honesty, integrity and reliability. By following these guidelines, we can ensure that bad actors are forced out of the market and a healthy, prosperous secondary market for private company stock can continue to flourish.

[image via Flickr/Katrina. Tuliao]

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TEDxThunderBay - Geoff Cape - Imagine your City with Nature

Geoff is a leader in the area of green cities. Geoff is an executive, and public speaker on urban issues, space planning and themes related to innovation and city building. As the founder of Evergreen Geoff has been its CEO since inception in 1990. Under Geoff's leadership, Evergreen, has grown to include over 100 staff and offices in Toronto, and Vancouver. Evergreen is focused on the idea of green cities and the more specific agenda of integrating nature in urban design. Evergreen has led is the redevelopment of the historic Evergreen Brick Works property as an international centre for green cities with 16 buildings and 41 acres in the heart of the city. The project has won several international awards for design and programming is helping other imagine possibilities for brownfield sites around the world. Over the past 20 years Evergreen has enabled others with educational resources, training sessions, design support and grants to over 2100 schools and community projects. Evergreen has raised over $100 million to support the greening of cities, including $55 million to establish Evergreen Brick Works, leveraging sponsorship dollars with foundation, government and corporate grants, individual donations with earned revenues. Geoff attended Trinity College School, Queen's University (Bachelor of Arts) and McGill University (Masters of Management). Geoff is a founding member of the World Entrepreneurship Forum , and a participant at the World Economic Forum, Davos, founding <b>...</b>
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TEDxTalks
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SNOWY IN SWITZERLAND
SNOWY IN SWITZERLAND: Snow covered a church, pictured from an aerial view, in Davos, Switzerland, Monday. The World Economic Forum opens Wednesday in the resort area. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

SOCCER SILHOUETTES
SOCCER SILHOUETTES: Youths played soccer on a beach in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday. Equatorial Guinea will co-host the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament with Gabon. (Ariel Schalit/Associated Press)

SMILING NEAR A SHIPWRECK
SMILING NEAR A SHIPWRECK: People smiled as they took a picture on a rock in front of the Costa Concordia Monday. The cruise ship rammed into a reef off Giglio, Italy, Jan. 13. Salvage experts plan to pump fuel from the shipwreck. At least 15 people died in the accident. (Tony Gentile/Reuters)

TRUCKS IN TURIN
TRUCKS IN TURIN: A German truck driver shrugged as trucks were parked on a highway in Turin, Italy, Monday. Truckers blocked roads throughout Italy to protest an increase in gas prices, introduced as part of austerity measures. (Giorgio Perottino/Reuters)

IN SESSION
IN SESSION: Salafi parliamentary members attended the opening of Egyptian Parliament—the first session held since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak—in Cairo Monday. (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

LUNAR NEW YEAR
LUNAR NEW YEAR: A worshiper burned incense at the Lama Temple, one of China’s most renowned monasteries, on the first day of the Year of the Dragon in Beijing Monday. (Diego Azubel/European Pressphoto Agency)

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