#MarketResearch Posts

The Toptal Finance Blog is a hub for in-depth studies and analysis on all facets of finance, ranging from innovative strategies on raising capital to detailed coverage of new finance trends and technologies.
Francesco Castellano
The Impending Commercial Robot Revolution

The field of robotics has seen incredible strides forward in recent years. As a result of improvements in computer vision, dexterity and also overall economics, use of robots has increased in a variety of different fields. However, most of the growth in robotics so far has happened in industrial applications, and thus hidden from the view of the general public. But is this about to change?

In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Francesco Castellano focuses on the commercial robotics market. Thanks to recent breakthroughs in the fields of AI, mechatronics, sensors, and batteries, service and commercial robots are likely to see tremendous growth and adoption, likely heralding a new robotics revolution that could transform our daily lives in countless ways.

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Elizabeth J. Howell Hanano, CFA
Legal Sports Betting: A New Economy Built on Vice

In the last Super Bowl when the New England Patriots faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles, Americans bet a staggering $4.76 billion on the game. 97% of that figure was done so illegally. However, this will likely change by the time the next Super Bowl rolls around. In a hotly anticipated move on May 14, 2018, the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, paving the way for states to legalize sports betting.

This article covers the foundations of sports betting, including its $150 billion market size, implementation timeline, and revenue distribution. It will also examine the implications of its legalization, including increased sports engagement and popularity, ethical concerns, fresh opportunities, and its impact on fantasy sports and eSports.

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Melissa Lin
Waking Up a Sleeping Industry: Mattress Industry Disruption

Once crammed into stuffy showrooms with eager salespeople and a dizzying plethora of models, mattress purchases used to be notoriously complicated. However, a upstarts have recently revitalized the industry with innovations in marketing, delivery, and a direct-to-consumer model.

It’s true that the mattress industry is experiencing an upheaval, but rather than the typical narrative of newer operations completely displacing older ones, perhaps there’s room for both collaboration and innovation. There are lessons for investors, entrepreneurs, and corporate moguls alike.

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Alex Graham, CFA
ICOs, Exotics and Platforms - An Insider’s Perspective on the Future of Venture Capital

2017 saw a number of issues arise in the VC industry and it may be approaching a watershed regarding its relevance.

This article looks into the root causes of the industry’s problems and why they have come to light. VCs can go through a pivot of their own to retain a seat at the table, with big data, exotic funds and platforms offering a path forward.

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Melissa Lin
Will Spotify's Non-IPO Pave the Way for Tech Companies?

This year, Spotify will move its headquarters from Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood downtown to the Financial District. Beyond its physical presence, Spotify will also make its mark at NYSE when it goes public via direct listing, an unusual choice. What is expected to be the largest tech public debut of 2018 has set Wall Street and the music industry abuzz, with everyone eager to see how this unconventional approach will play out.

This article covers everything you need to know: a brief overview of the typical IPO process, how the direct listing will function, why Spotify chose to buck tradition, potential motivations behind the decision, and its potential implications.

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Zachary Elfman
Are Art Investments a Worthwhile Asset Class?

Did you know that, in 2016, $60 billion was invested in art, which was comparable to the exit proceeds from venture capital investing?

This article sheds light on the opaque world of art investments and whether it’s a realistic choice for inclusion in portfolios. The article covers types of art as well as how investments are valued and return performance relative to other assets.

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Raphael Rottgen
Investing in Cryptocurrencies: The Ultimate Guide

So, you’ve decided to get exposure to cryptocurrencies. In this newer space, a personal financial advisor may not be of great help. Neither will your banker, unless you are a customer of a limited number of progressive Swiss private banks, which facilitate crypto trading. What now?

This article provides practical information and resources around passive vs. active cryptocurrency investing, how to buy, sell, store, and monitor cryptocurrencies, as well as tax regulations in the space.

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Melissa Lin
Everything You Need to Know about the CVS-Aetna Merger

Candy, cosmetics… and medical care? In a vertical merger valued at a whopping $69 billion, your favorite stop-in, CVS, plans to buy Aetna. If it goes through, it will be the largest deal of 2017 and the largest healthcare deal to date.

Amidst all the buzz surrounding the merger, this article elucidates the motivations behind it, including operational cost-cutting, expanded services as a competitive advantage, and threats from both Amazon and UnitedHealth. This piece also explores potential market effects.

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Michael Yarmo
Meal Kit Industry Blues: How Can Blue Apron Lift Its Malaise?

In the past five years, Blue Apron has brought meal kits to the masses and commands a 40% market share in the USA. Yet all is not rosy; its financial losses have continually accelerated and it has ceded 17% of its market share in the past year.

Amazon buying Whole Foods on the eve of its 2017 IPO could have just been bad luck, or prescient signs of what’s to come for Blue Apron. This article looks at ways that the business can get its house in order and win back the Millennial kitchen.

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Melissa Lin
Are Corporate Responsibility Efforts Profitable?

Financial purists have long questioned whether corporate, environmental, and social initiatives benefit the bottom line and how to quantify their impact.

In this article, we put aside motive—of genuine altruism or self interest—and philosophical debates around moral obligation. Instead, we examine the results of studies around whether corporate responsibility initiatives positively impact profitability, examples of companies that have implemented such measures successfully, and recommendations for those looking to do so.

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Jonathan Sterling
Exploring the Bear Case of the Cryptocurrency Bubble

The arguments for a cryptocurrency revolution can tend to sway toward appearing more like get-rich-quick schemes than balanced debates. The regulatory risk overhang, constant scams, and technological immaturity of the movement mean that long-term success is far from certain.

In this article, Jonathan Sterling addresses the other side of the argument: the bear case for a crypto future. He shines a light on the problems blighting cryptocurrencies and some remedies for them, drawing upon comparisons with historic bubbles, some centuries old.

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Melissa Lin
Celebrity Investors Take Over Silicon Valley

Today, there are many celebrities that have become investors, and many investors that are borderline celebrities. One thing is clear: The division between Hollywood and Silicon Valley has become increasingly blurred. Though in the past it has been common for famous entertainers, musicians, or actors to grow their wealth through real estate, royalties, or restaurants, celebrities today are turning towards tech investments.

This article explores why celebrities are drawn to Silicon Valley, the types of companies they invest in, different models of their involvement, and commentary on how it impacts the tech industry.

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Mauro F. Romaldini, ACMA CGMA
How Is the International Money Transfer Market Evolving?

With the global workforce becoming increasingly mobile, international money transfers (“remittances”) have equally grown in prominence, passing the $530 billion a year mark in 2016.

Fees for transfers are at an all-time low, thanks to pressure from bodies such as the UN, which is providing consumers with more value. But how are transfer companies responding to this pressure and what steps are they taking to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack?

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Francesco Castellano
Commercial Drones Are Revolutionizing Business Operations

When most hear “drone,” they think expensive military aircrafts or small consumer toys. However, the future of drones will actually be shaped by practical commercial applications, due to their ability to drive efficiency and data analytics.

This article defines drones and their total addressable market and highlights how their capabilities can be leveraged in commercial business operations. It also includes investment trends and predictions for the future of the industry.

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Melissa Lin
Cybersecurity: What Every CEO and CFO Should Know

$7.35 million. That’s the average cost of a data breach is. Sure, cybersecurity isn’t sexy. However, in today’s digital age, it is undeniably critical for large corporations and small startups alike. This is compounded by the fact that hacks are becoming commonplace.

Read on to arm yourself with awareness to these invisible threats, and tangible steps you can take to protect yourself and your company.

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Melissa Lin
Why Investors are Irrational, According to Behavioral Finance

Though traditional economic theory posits that individuals are rational, we all know this to be an oversimplification of the truth. The cyclical investment process is rife with psychological pitfalls. Only by becoming aware of and actively avoiding innate behavioral biases can investors reach impartial decisions. Herein lies the true value of the emerging field of behavioral finance, which sheds light on true financial behavior.

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Melissa Lin
How Artificial Intelligence Is Disrupting Finance

As consumers, we’re familiar with AI: we benefit from cars that parallel park themselves, devices that respond when asked questions, and streaming platforms that suggest shows we may like. However, professionally, the larger question is how industries will harness the power of AI. In finance, AI offers opportunities for operational efficiencies in everything from risk management and trading to insurance underwriting.

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Solon Molho
The Greek Debt Crisis Explained

After several months of relative quiet, Greece is back in the spotlight as the latest repayment deadline on its bailout debt comes due in July. We take the opportunity to review the root causes of the crisis, what has been happening since it kicked off, and what needs to be done to resolve the situation.

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Melissa Lin
Is a Cashless Society the New Reality?

A cashless society is approaching, with progress particularly pronounced in certain parts of the world. This piece examines global payment trends, as well as benefits and drawbacks of a cashless economy. It also includes case studies on India and Sweden, two countries already transitioning to a cashless future.

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