Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read more

This credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.

There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.

The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.

“This next package is really about investing in our future and making the kind of smart investments that we know will increase growth,” Ms. Rouse said at a White House news briefing. “And we want that growth to be widely shared.”

“These aren’t simply women’s issues,” she said. “They affect all families, the ability of our economy to recover and our nation’s competitiveness.”

Inside the administration, aides disagree on the likelihood that both halves of the plan — the physical piece and the human piece — could pass Congress this year. Some see hope that Republicans, spurred by the business community, could join an effort with Democrats to muster 60 votes to pass a bill that spends heavily on roads, bridges, water systems and other traditional infrastructure. Some Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a key swing vote, have insisted that Republicans be involved in the effort.

But most Democrats in and outside the White House see little chance, if any, of a large bipartisan bill taking shape. They point to early opposition from Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, who has called the proposals a likely “Trojan horse” for tax increases, and whose aides have begun labeling them a “Green New Deal” in disguise, even before Mr. Biden releases the details.

Lobbyists following the process closely expect Mr. Biden to allow Senate moderates to effectively test the proposition, giving them a fixed time to line up 10 Republicans behind an ambitious infrastructure bill that would almost certainly need to be financed by something other than the tax increases on the wealthy and corporations that the administration favors.

At the same time, Democratic leaders will most likely prepare to move at least one part of Mr. Biden’s plans quickly through the budget reconciliation process, which allows senators to skirt the filibuster and pass legislation with a bare majority, as they did for the coronavirus relief bill. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Finance Committee, said in an interview that he is drawing up legislative text for tax increases to fund the Biden spending: “I’m going to start rolling out specific proposals so that people can have ideas about how they might proceed,” he said.

Moving on a party-line basis could leave all or most of the “human” programs behind, some in the administration fear. But analysts in Washington suggest many of them could eventually be rolled into an epic, single bill, perhaps costing $3 trillion and offset in part by tax increases on corporations and the rich, which would pass with only Democratic votes.

The idea, said Jon Lieber, a former aide to Mr. McConnell who is now managing director, United States, for the Eurasia Group in Washington, is that by moving fast and aggressively, Mr. Biden might be able to strong-arm even reluctant Democrats, who see their political fates tied to the continuing success of the administration in the polls.

The odds of a large bill passing this year, Mr. Lieber said, are “very, very, very, very good. What would stop them?”

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Coinbase Users Say Crypto Start-Up Ignored Their Pleas for Help

“Coinbase, by going public and being subject to greater regulatory oversight, is moving more into the light where there is, or will be, greater visibility and comfort,” she said.

One of Coinbase’s most frustrating aspects, some users said, is that a real person does not appear to be reading their complaints.

“There’s nobody on the other side,” said Cheryl Hung, a marketing consultant in Los Angeles.

Ms. Hung said she and her fiancé, Paul Hwang, started investing in cryptocurrencies in 2019 and picked Coinbase because it was a “big, reputable company” with security. But in January, someone stole $26,000 of cryptocurrencies from their account. They said they did not have any idea of how that happened.

“We just lost all the money we could have been using to work on a house or move our life forward,” Mr. Hwang said.

The couple asked Coinbase for help, but they said they received perfunctory email responses. Trying Coinbase’s phone line got an automated response. After The Times inquired about their case, Ms. Hung said they got another email from the company with more information about their account.

Coinbase said real customer support agents respond to inquiries.

For most Coinbase users, legal recourse is also limited. Under the company’s terms of service, users agree to settle disputes through private arbitration or small claims court, rather than pursuing a class-action lawsuit.

That did not deter Mr. Pierre from suing. Mr. Pierre, who worked for Coinbase between 2017 and 2018, said he initially found the decentralized format of digital currencies “exciting.” But after he lost his Coinbase savings, he said he saw the value in traditional, regulated institutions like banks to fall back on “for times like this.”

“I’m less excited now,” he said.

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Investors distance themselves from the photo-sharing app Dispo after controversy.

Some investors have started distancing themselves from Dispo, a fast-growing photo-sharing app, after its co-founder, the YouTube creator David Dobrik, became embroiled in controversy.

Dispo, which launched in 2019, is a photo-based social platform similar to Instagram that mimics the experience of using a disposable camera. Photos taken through the Dispo app take 24 hours to “develop” and appear on a user’s feed.

In October, Dispo raised $4 million in a funding round led by Seven Seven Six, the firm of Alexis Ohanian, the Reddit co-founder. In February, the company garnered an additional $20 million in a financing led by Spark Capital; the funding valued Dispo at $200 million.

But in an investigation by Insider that published last week, Mr. Dobrik was accused of playing a role in a sexual assault scandal involving a former member of his “Vlog Squad.” He later told The Information that he would leave Dispo and step down from its board. And some of Dispo’s investors have also started backing away.

posted on Twitter.

On Monday, Mr. Ohanian and Seven Seven Six also issued a statement calling the accusations against Mr. Dobrik “extremely troubling” and “directly at odds with Seven Seven Six’s core values.” Mr. Ohanian posted to Instagram that he and Seven Seven Six supported Mr. Dobrik’s choice to step down from the company.

Seven Seven Six also said on Twitter that it would donate any profits from its investment “to an organization working with survivors of sexual assault.”

Maitri, which is focused on helping South Asian survivors of domestic violence.

become enamored with the influencer world. “I feel like something has palpably shifted in the past year among investors, and it seems like everyone is talking about the creator economy now and investing in creator tools,” Li Jin, founder of Atelier, a venture firm investing in the creator space told The New York Times in December.

But several popular YouTube stars have come under fire over the past year for scandals involving racism and sexual assault.

Mr. Dobrik is one of YouTube’s most popular creators, with more than 18.7 million subscribers on his primary channel. After gaining fame on Vine, the short-video app, he and a group of friends called the “Vlog Squad” began creating short, comedic content often involving stunts for sites such as YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.

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A Way to Close a Big Tax Loophole

Bruin is investing in TGI Sport, an ad tech company that’s currently owned by the Australian firm Quadrant Private Equity. (A person briefed on the matter said that Bruin was investing about $100 million.) Currently a part of QMS Media, which provides outdoor advertising like digital billboards, TGI focuses on sports advertising — with a twist. Its “parallel ads” technology allows teams to display different ads on and around the field of play for audiences in different geographies. It has been used by Major League Soccer, New Zealand Rugby and others.

“Why should a fan in New York look at Boston advertising?” asked George Pyne, the founder and C.E.O. of Bruin. As broadcast audiences are getting smaller and more fragmented, sports franchises want to build more of a direct relationship with viewers, and then persuade advertisers to pay to reach those fans.


— Mike Winkelmann, the artist known as Beeple, speaking on the “Sway” podcast about the frenzy for digital art via nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. He auctioned an NFT-linked image this month that sold for $69 million.


The Chinese social media company Renren went public in the U.S. in 2011 with great fanfare, fizzled, and soon spun off its investment platform. The spinoff included shares in the SoftBank-backed fintech company Social Finance, or SoFi, in a deal criticized by some Renren shareholders. They sued Renren, its executives and others in New York State Court for $500 million in 2018, in a case that last week survived attempts at dismissal just as they were filing an amended complaint detailing allegations against additional defendants, SoFi and SoftBank.

The plaintiffs accuse insiders of stripping Renren of its value, their lead attorney, Bill Reid, told DealBook. Executives took the company’s billion-dollar investment portfolio in a complex arrangement that “split up the spoils,” he argued. He alleged that SoFi and SoftBank helped unfairly get the best of Renren.

SoFi is going public via a SPAC, in a deal that values it at more than $8.5 billion. Renren’s founder and a defendant in the case, Joe Chen, is on the board of SoFi, which is in the process of merging with Social Capital Hedosophia, a blank-check firm run by Chamath Palihapitiya. In a statement to DealBook, SoFi’s general counsel, Rob Lavet, said, “While as a matter of policy we do not comment on ongoing litigation, we do believe the charges against us are meritless and we look forward to vigorously defending ourselves in court.”

SoftBank and Social Capital did not respond to requests for comment.


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U.S. Distillers Bitter Over 25% Tariffs Set to Double in June

Tariffs levied by the Trump administration dented U.S. sales of single-malt Scotch for more than a year, so when they were suspended this month Euan Shand and his colleagues drank to the occasion.

“We raised a glass of whisky to celebrate,” said Mr. Shand, chairman of liquor merchant Duncan Taylor in Huntly, Scotland, whose brands include the Black Bull scotch that Mr. Shand imbibed to toast the occasion.

There was little to cheer about some 4,000 miles away in Kentucky’s Bourbon Belt. U.S. whiskey makers still face 25% tariffs on spirits they export to the U.K. and the European Union. What’s more, the EU levies are set to double to 50% in June.

“We are literally frozen,” said Amir Peay, owner of James E. Pepper Distillery in Lexington, Ky., who says the tariff hit just as he had started investing heavily to take advantage of what had been rising sales in Europe.

The woes troubling American whiskey makers reflect both the complications of global trade and the penchant by warring sides to target iconic products in disputes. The U.S. placed tariffs on Scotch and French wine, and the Europeans taxed Harley-Davidson motorcycles and American whiskey, although the underlying disputes had nothing to do with those products.

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The Triple Tax Break You May Be Missing: A Health Savings Account

The federal government’s pandemic relief program expanded what H.S.A.s can pay for, including nonprescription medicine like pain relief and allergy pills, and menstrual products like tampons and pads. (The I.R.S. has a full list of eligible items.)

Some employers match contributions to H.S.A.s as they do retirement savings. But self-employed people and contractors can open them, too.

People often confuse H.S.A.s with other types of health accounts, such as flexible health spending accounts. But unlike F.S.A.s, health savings accounts are portable: If you change jobs or leave the work force, you keep the account. Contribution limits are higher for H.S.A.s, and there is no deadline to spend the cash. Unspent money can be invested for health needs in retirement.

A study published last summer in JAMA Network Open, a journal from the American Medical Association, found that many people with high-deductible insurance didn’t have a health savings account. And more than half who had one had not contributed to it in the previous year. People with health plans bought through a government exchange were more likely to not have an H.S.A., even though the average deductible in the federal marketplace is high enough.

How Has the Pandemic Changed Your Taxes?

Nope. The so-called economic impact payments are not treated as income. In fact, they’re technically an advance on a tax credit, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit. The payments could indirectly affect what you pay in state income taxes in a handful of states, where federal tax is deductible against state taxable income, as our colleague Ann Carrns wrote. Read more.

Mostly.  Unemployment insurance is generally subject to federal as well as state income tax, though there are exceptions (Nine states don’t impose their own income taxes, and another six exempt unemployment payments from taxation, according to the Tax Foundation). But you won’t owe so-called payroll taxes, which pay for Social Security and Medicare. The new relief bill will make the first $10,200 of benefits tax-free if your income is less than $150,000. This applies to 2020 only. (If you’ve already filed your taxes, watch for I.R.S. guidance.) Unlike paychecks from an employer, taxes for unemployment aren’t automatically withheld. Recipients must opt in — and even when they do, federal taxes are withheld only at a flat rate of 10 percent of benefits. While the new tax break will provide a cushion, some people could still owe the I.R.S. or certain states money. Read more.

Probably not, unless you’re self-employed, an independent contractor or a gig worker. The tax law overhaul of late 2019 eliminated the home office deduction for employees from 2018 through 2025. “Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home,” the I.R.S. said. Read more.

Self-employed people can take paid caregiving leave if their child’s school is closed or their usual child care provider is unavailable because of the outbreak. This works similarly to the smaller sick leave credit — 67 percent of average daily earnings (for either 2020 or 2019), up to $200 a day. But the caregiving leave can be taken for 50 days. Read more.

Yes. This year, you can deduct up to $300 for charitable contributions, even if you use the standard deduction. Previously, only people who itemized could claim these deductions. Donations must be made in cash (for these purposes, this includes check, credit card or debit card), and can’t include securities, household items or other property. For 2021, the deduction limit will double to $600 for joint filers. Rules for itemizers became more generous as well. The limit on charitable donations has been suspended, so individuals can contribute up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income, up from 60 percent. But these donations must be made to public charities in cash; the old rules apply to contributions made to donor-advised funds, for example. Both provisions are available through 2021. Read more.

The findings suggest that health plans, employers and financial advisers could do more to explain how H.S.A.s work, simplify their use and encourage contributions, said an author of the study, Dr. Jeffrey T. Kullgren, associate professor of internal medicine and health management and policy at the University of Michigan.

“Anything that makes it easier would be a good thing,” he said.

H.S.A. providers increasingly are cutting fees and using technology to encourage use. Fidelity Investments this month will test an app that will allow clients with employer H.S.A.s to track account balances, contributions and spending. The app will also let users scan products to check if they are H.S.A.-eligible.

Others are focusing on workers in the gig economy. Starship, a start-up, promotes its accounts through affiliations with ride-hailing and delivery companies. Its app allows workers to automatically invest contributions in low-cost index funds and exchange-traded funds. Because there is no required minimum balance, users are able to invest all of their contributions. But that would also leave no cash available to cover medical costs, unless the investments are sold. Starship sets the default minimum threshold before investing at $2,000, but users can lower it to zero, said Sean Engelking, the company’s chief executive.

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Surge in Migrants Defies Easy or Quick Solutions for Biden

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration warned on Tuesday that the United States expected to make more apprehensions along the southwestern border this year than at any time in the past two decades, underscoring the urgency for the White House to develop solutions for the chronic problems with immigration from Central America.

The grim prediction by Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security, came as President Biden was being assailed for his handling of a surge at the border involving thousands of unaccompanied children and teenagers from the region — with attacks coming from the right for not being tough enough and from the left for not being humane enough.

The president has pleaded for time and patience, blaming his predecessor for dismantling the immigration system in his zeal to keep foreigners out. But even Mr. Biden’s top advisers acknowledge that after unwinding the harsh policies of President Donald J. Trump’s, there is no easy or quick fix for a problem that has been a recurring crisis.

“We have no illusions about how hard it is, and we know it will take time,” Mr. Mayorkas said in a statement on Tuesday as the House prepared to vote this week on several immigration measures and the administration rushed to provide more housing for the young migrants arriving at the border. But, he added, “We will get it done.”

restart the Obama-era Central American Minors program, which was intended to allow some children to apply in their home region for permission to live in the United States with a parent or other relative. When Mr. Trump ended the program, about 3,000 Central American children had been approved for travel to the United States.

It will take time to ramp up the program, which has strict vetting requirements, in order to verify the relationships of the children and their relatives.

Now, the administration is eager to examine even broader efforts to consider asylum applications remotely.

The administration is already testing a system where migrants, who were told by the Trump administration to wait along the border in squalid camps in Mexico, can use an app on their cellphones to apply for asylum and track their cases. That kind of system might be expanded more broadly, officials said.

“This is the road map going forward for a system that is safe, orderly and fair,” Mr. Mayorkas said.

Many of the changes Mr. Biden wants are included in comprehensive immigration legislation he sent to Congress on his first day in office. But that bill is a long way from becoming law, especially with Mr. Trump and other Republicans again using immigration to stoke their partisan base.

Mr. Biden’s most ambitious — and difficult — goal is to use the United States’ wealth and diplomatic power to reshape the region in the hopes of diminishing the root causes of migration from Central America, starting with poverty and violence.

It is an effort that has been tried before, Mr. Obama and members of Congress from both parties agreed to invest several hundred million dollars into Central America with the hope of improving the courts, diminishing the cartels and improving economic conditions.

Mr. Trump cut that spending, arguing that it was a waste of money, before restoring some of it. But Mr. Biden’s team is betting that even more investment will produce results. In Honduras, for example, the country’s coffee production has been hurt by hurricanes and slumping prices for coffee beans, driving many people into poverty.

But helping to reverse those kinds of economic trends could take years.

“When the president talks about ‘root causes,’ some of this is immediate humanitarian aid, but a lot of it is policy and aid together, making sure that you tackle the root causes of migration,” Ms. Jacobson said. “Otherwise, what you see is continued cycles.”

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Joshua Kushner of Thrive Capital Is Still Investing

The DealBook newsletter delves into a single topic or theme every weekend, providing reporting and analysis that offers a better understanding of an important issue in the news. If you don’t already receive the daily newsletter, sign up here.

For most of its 12 years, Thrive Capital has been known as a fast-growing venture capital firm that struck some savvy deals, most famously an investment in Instagram that doubled in value within days.

But for the past four years or so, the firm and its 35-year-old founder, Joshua Kushner, has become just as well known for something unrelated to the fortunes of the fund: Mr. Kushner’s older brother, Jared, a top adviser and son-in-law to President Donald J. Trump.

Charles Kushner, was imprisoned for two years after pleading guilty to illegal campaign donations and witness tampering in 2005. The brothers have also done business together, co-investing in ventures like Cadre, a real-estate technology start-up. (The younger Mr. Kushner has never formally worked for the family’s real estate business.)

Jared Kushner divested his holdings in Thrive before joining the White House, and no member of the Trump family has invested in the firm, according to a person briefed on the matter. After leaving the White House, Jared has not invested in Thrive.

the Women’s March in 2017 and the March for Our Lives the next year. He has also mostly donated to Democrats over the years, including Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker.

His wife, the model Karlie Kloss, has been more openly critical of Mr. Trump, from elliptically referring to disagreements with her in-laws on talk shows to holding up a 2020 ballot while wearing a Biden-Harris face mask. (When a Twitter user pressed Ms. Kloss to chide her in-laws over the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and Mr. Trump’s baseless election conspiracy theories, the model responded, “I tried.”)

In private, Mr. Kushner has made his feelings clearer. Stewart Butterfield, the chief executive of Slack, recalled that shortly after the 2016 election, Mr. Kushner, whose fund invested in the workplace messaging firm earlier that year, called him.

“I don’t remember what he said exactly,” Mr. Butterfield said, “but it was a tactful way of saying, ‘These are not my positions.’”

a private event for Oscar in 2018, Mr. Kushner concluded a recap of the year’s challenges by quipping, “We survived Donald Trump.” He then added, “Don’t tweet that.”

bought a mansion in Miami last August; several months and one presidential election later, Jared and his wife bought a multimillion-dollar plot that is a short drive away.

Since founding Thrive in New York in 2009, at the age of 25, Mr. Kushner and his team built a reputation as low-key, nerdy investors who prefer sifting through balance sheets and strategy documents than pontificating on social media.

Mr. Kushner has also benefited from a high-powered network: Early backers included Princeton University and Peter Thiel, and in 2013, Thrive hired Jon Winkelried, a former president of Goldman Sachs who is now co-chief executive of the investment giant TPG, as a senior adviser. Employees include former staff members in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

raised $2 billion for two new funds last month. The firm declined to comment on its financial performance. “They have been consistently a high performer in our portfolio,” is all that Mr. Walker of the Ford Foundation would reveal.

Thrive first focused on consumer-facing businesses like the eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker and the e-commerce platform Jet. Among its first blockbuster hits was Instagram, where it invested in 2012 at a $500 million valuation as part of a financing round, only to see Facebook agree to buy the social network for $1 billion 72 hours later.

Despite all the attention that later went on Mr. Kushner’s high-profile brother, Thrive didn’t appear to alter its approach in the Trump era. One big win was the sale of the online code repository Github to Microsoft in 2018. Thrive had invested $150 million in Github for a 9 percent stake; the company was sold for $7.5 billion.

In the waning days of the Trump administration, Thrive’s bets included becoming one of the first outside investors in Vimeo, the video platform owned by IAC, when it led a fund-raising round for the company at a $2.75 billion valuation in November. In January, Vimeo raised another round, at a $6 billion valuation.

Thrive was “a bit of an underdog” when Vimeo was vetting investors, said Anjali Sud, the company’s chief executive. But she was won over by what she called “this insanely dense, nuanced analysis of Vimeo and our market.”

Since then, she said, she texts or calls someone from Thrive most days for advice or guidance as it prepares to be spun off from IAC this year.

run for president in 2024, and Jared could again serve as one of his top advisers. That would renew the tests of loyalty and related complications that the younger Mr. Kushner may have thought were behind him.

What do you think? Will Joshua Kushner’s family ties always loom over his ventures? Let us know: dealbook@nytimes.com.

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Companies That Rode Pandemic Boom Get a Reality Check

Will the online shopping and entertainment habits forged in confinement continue to accelerate the trends toward e-commerce and video streaming?

No one knows for sure, but the view of Bay Area technologists and investors, not surprisingly, leans toward a long-term Covid bump for tech companies.

Rich Wong, a general partner at Accel, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, sees “a truly credible case” that the growth of “these digital transformations have actually increased by a major step and, with that, the size of the opportunity in technology and venture investing.”

Stock market gyrations can shelve plans by start-ups to sell shares to the public. But the gaming site Roblox, which is popular among children and tweens and has thrived in the stay-at-home economy, made its stock-market debut on Wednesday. After its first day of trading, Roblox was valued at $45 billion, up from $4 billion just over a year ago.

At the end of last week Coursera, the digital learning network, filed the documents necessary to go public in the coming weeks. The company and its venture backers are convinced that adult education and skills training will increasingly be online, and that investors will agree. In its filing, Coursera reported that its revenue jumped 59 percent last year, to $294 million.

So far, there is little evidence of a retreat from online life in general.

SimilarWeb, an online data provider, compared traffic at the top 100 websites in the United States during last March and April, when web use spiked at the start of the pandemic, with the first two months of this year. Total traffic was up more than 12 percent this year. No “peak web” yet.

Mr. Readerman, portfolio manager for Endurance Capital Partners, has been a technology company analyst and investor for 30 years. He is mainly a longer-term investor in companies he views as tech innovators with strong managements.

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