Toptal Finance Blog

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. Subscribe for daily updates.
Emilio Labrador
Latin America M&A Best Practices

Latin America boasts great investment opportunities with attractive risk levels, higher returns than home markets, and access to a large population base with growing income. However, Latin American acquisitions require special attention and include a number of difficulties unique to the region.

This article provides insights gleaned from Finance Expert Emilio Labrador’s 15 years of experience in Latin American oil and gas M&A. It provides practical tips for foreign acquirers considering investments in Latin America, on topics ranging from risk premiums in valuation, accounting due diligence, and legal considerations.

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Jacob Wright
Corporate Tax Reform and the Future of Valuation

In December 2017, Congress’ tax reform bill, amongst many sweeping changes, reduced the marginal tax rate to 21% from 35% for corporations, and limited their use of interest expense as a tax shield.

This article explores the implications of these changes for traditional methods of valuation, including the discounted cash flow (DCF) method and the EBITDA multiple method for the corporate manager and finance professional.

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Patrick Gaffney
Is $4.2 Billion Reasonable? How to Evaluate Instacart's Valuation

Grocery delivery startup Instacart has recently been valued at $4.2 billion. In this article, Finance Expert Patrick Gaffney works backwards and uses some basic assumptions to determine if the valuation is reasonable.

With companies opting to stay private for longer, analyzing private companies in this way can help us better understand industries typically shrouded in secrecy and provide clarity on the efficacy of certain business models.

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Javier Enrile
Earnouts: Structures For Breaking Negotiation Deadlocks

The discipline of mergers and acquisitions is a complex and labyrinthine one, peppered with its share of false starts, thrilling chases, and heartbreaking shortfalls.

Toptal Finance Expert, Javier Enrile, explores the use and structuring of earnouts as one of the most effective tools for the M&A practitioner seeking to break negotiation deadlocks and mitigate risk.

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Patrick E. Donohue
How to Build and Utilize a High-Impact Advisory Board

Advisory boards are undoubtedly controversial. While many articles sing their praises, others condemn them as mere headshots in pitch decks. The truth is that advisory boards are usually not silver bullets. Still, they can be powerful tools and yield strong ROI—if executed properly.

This article includes an overview of advisory boards, their economics, when they can and should be used, and a step-by-step guide to building one.

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Chris Hearing
Principles of Organizational Design and Optimization: Lessons From The Great Recession

In 2006, Ford Motor Company’s losses came in at a staggering $12.7 billion; but four years later, profits had rebounded to $6.6 billion. At around the same time, Carlos Brito’s “one firm, one culture” optimization policy delivered $2.3 billion in synergies, exceeding pre-merger projections for Anheuser-Busch’s combination with InBev by 50%.

Both Ford and AB InBev’s CEOs achieved these results by adeptly applying the principles of organizational optimization—concepts explored by Toptal Finance Restructuring Expert, Christopher Hearing, in this article.

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Alex Graham
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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Orinola Gbadebo-Smith
Price Elasticity 2.0: From Theory to The Real World

Price elasticity theory was once the haunt of classical economists, with loose applications in the real world. Today, companies such as Uber, with its sheer volume of data and surge algorithms, are able to continuously triangulate price elasticities in real time to manipulate demand, moment-to-moment.

This article introduces the fundamentals of price elasticity of demand theory before taking us back into the real world, where theory will meet both big data and consumer psychology to create new possibilities.

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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, CFA
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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Jack Barker
The Looming Crisis in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

Millions of Americans depend on continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) for care as they age. In addition to living accommodations and medical services, these facilities also offer complex embedded insurance products that are improperly underwritten and insufficiently regulated.

As a result, many CCRCs are actuarially insolvent, creating a systemic risk that could leave many ageing residents financially and medically exposed at the end of their lives. Finance Expert, Jack Barker, takes us through these sector challenges and shares a proprietary capitalization model that could potentially help alleviate the issues.

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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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Orinola Gbadebo-Smith
An Investor’s Guide to Palm Oil

To the novice investor or otherwise uninitiated, the ubiquity of palm oil as a global commodity cannot be overstated. It is a super crop with EBITDA margins > 50%, is the world’s most consumed edible oil, and is one of the most versatile raw material/substrate bases known to industry.

This article explores the sparsely understood world of palm, including its cultivation, harvest, and application processes; its financial and investment profile; and ultimately the trends governing its future.

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Matt Dixon
Soul Hypercyle and the Wave of New Fitness Boutiques

The fitness industry is large, growing steadily and rapidly evolving. Since the 1980s, health club locations and memberships have more than tripled to 36,000 and 57 million, respectively. Yet, over the past decade, 35% of its customer base has shifted away from incumbent brands.

This article analyzes some of the shifts in the fitness industry that are illustrative of broader economic issues and highlights interesting implications for other consumer-facing businesses.

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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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Elizabeth J. Howell Hanano, CFA
2017 Holiday Spending Forecast: Will Be Better Than Expected

Retail investors have had a rough year. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF has underperformed the S&P 500 by nearly 30 percentage points. From eCommerce shifts to higher gas prices, there are plenty of arguments to be made against retail. Yet, there are a couple reasons to be jolly heading into the holiday season that few are talking about.

In this article, Elizabeth Hanano, CFA suggests that low expectations combined with lesser-known tailwinds indicate it may be time to dip a toe back into the retail pond.

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