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  • Jun. 4, 2015, 3:02 PM
    • Facebook Lite is a stripped-down version of the company's core Android app that consumes less than 1MB of storage space, and is aimed at emerging markets users with less powerful phones and/or data connections.
    • Facebook (FB -0.7%) states Lite "includes Facebook’s core experiences like News Feed, status updates, photos, notifications and more" (video appears to be left out). It wants the app to work on any Android phone, and to load content quickly even when relying on 2G networks. Helping preserve bandwidth: Full-res photos aren't loaded unless a user taps on a photo thumbnail.
    • Much like its Internet.org initiative (provides free access to basic mobile Web services, recently turned into an open platform), Lite aims to grow Facebook's reach in underpenetrated regions. Of the 48M MAUs added by the company in Q1, only 8M came from North America and Europe.
    • Previously: Facebook steps up efforts to monetize Instagram
    | Jun. 4, 2015, 3:02 PM | 14 Comments
  • Jun. 2, 2015, 2:33 PM
    • As part of a broader rollout of direct response ads (i.e. ads meant to drive a purchase, sign-up, or other user activity) on the mobile photo-sharing platform, Instagram (FB +0.4%) is launching app install ads, long a cash cow for Facebook's core apps.
    • Instagram also plans to offer a "Shop Now" action that directs users to merchant sites to place orders. Facebook began testing a Buy button on its core service last summer with the goal of improving e-commerce ad conversions (and with them, ad prices). Google and Twitter are also embracing the concept.
    • Along with new ad formats, Instagram plans to give advertisers better targeting tools (an area that Facebook has plenty of expertise in). "Working with Facebook, we will enable advertisers to reach people on Instagram based on demographics and interests, as well as information businesses have about their own customers. We will also improve the feedback mechanisms within Instagram to give people greater control and improve the relevance of the ads they see."
    • Last but not least, an ad API will be released to help marketers run Instagram campaigns via 3rd-party software, and Facebook's ad-buying interfaces will be updated to support Instagram buys.
    • Collectively, the moves indicate Facebook is getting much more aggressive in its efforts to monetize Instagram, which has 300M+ MAUs and high engagement, and whose photo streams lend themselves well to brand photo and video ads. Though Instagram has inked deals with major ad agencies, Facebook has been cautious about monetizing the platform thus far.
    | Jun. 2, 2015, 2:33 PM | 35 Comments
  • May 27, 2015, 2:07 AM
    • Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has revealed plans for an IPO, saying he had no desire to field any acquisitions offers - like Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) $3B bid for the company nearly two years ago.
    • Spiegel’s comments, coming at the Code Conference in California, were the first time he publicly acknowledged the possibility of an IPO. He stopped short of saying when the company, most recently valued at $15B, might try to go public.
    | May 27, 2015, 2:07 AM | 47 Comments
  • May 21, 2015, 9:17 AM
    • New additions to Goldman's hedge fund hotels - 50 stocks which most frequently appear among the largest ten holdings of hedge funds: AerCap (NYSE:AER), Assured Guaranty (NYSE:AGO), Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), Citizens Financial (NYSE:CFG), Colony Capital (NYSE:CLNY), Dresser-Rand (NYSE:DRC), Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO), Hospira (NYSE:HSP), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), NXP Semi (NASDAQ:NXPI), Pharmacyclics (NASDAQ:PCYC), Visa (NYSE:V), and Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA).
    • Since 2001, the basket has outperformed the S&P 500 in 66% of quarters by an average of 73 basis points. YTD, however, it has underperformed by nine bps. Goldman notes the current basket overweights Consumer Discretionary (22%) and underweights Consumer Staples (2%).
    • Looking at the full list, Actavis (NYSE:ACT) leads the way, with 77 funds naming the stock as a top 10 holding. Next up is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) with 69, then Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) at 42. For the entire list of 50, the average is 26 funds making a stock a top 10 holding.
    • The rest in order: Valeant (NYSE:VRX), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Time Warner (NYSE:TWC), Delta (NYSE:DAL), Cheneire (NYSEMKT:LNG), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYK), AIG, SunEdison (NYSE:SUNE), Air Products (NYSE:APD), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), GM, BofA (NYSE:BAC), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Macquarie Infrastructure (NYSE:MIC), American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Ally Financial (NYSE:ALLY), NorthStar Realty (NYSE:NRF), Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), MasterCard (NYSE:MA), Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Micron (NASDAQ:MU), Williams (NYSE:WMB), Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B), Dolar General (NYSE:DG), NorthStar Asset (NYSE:NSAM), Brookdale Senior (NYSE:BKD), DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH).
    • See also: Goldman updates list of hedge funds most-shorted stocks (May 21)
    | May 21, 2015, 9:17 AM | 19 Comments
  • May 18, 2015, 7:11 PM
    • "We think that enabling that [business-to-consumer] messaging has good business potential for us ... As we learn those things, I think there’s going to be opportunities to bring some of those things to WhatsApp, but that’s more longer-term than the near-term," said Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CFO Dave Wehner at a JPMorgan conference.
    • Facebook is less than 2 months removed from launching (as part of Messenger's app platform) Businesses on Messenger, a solution that allows online retailers and other businesses to communicate with Messenger users via live chats and alerts. Nothing similar has been announced yet for WhatsApp, which has taken a minimalist approach to its apps and has been adamant about refusing to sell ads.
    • Separately, The Information reports is talking with game developers about bringing game support (offered by many rival messaging platforms) to Messenger's app platform. The talks are said to come amid muted early adoption for 3rd-party Messenger apps, with developers complaining app discovery is difficult.
    • Facebook's options for monetizing Messenger games could be limited on iOS, where Apple acts as a gatekeeper for all app installs and gets a 30% cut on related in-app purchases; one possibility is for Facebook to get a referral fee for installs, much as it does for its app install ads. The company might have more flexibility to monetize games on Android, where 3rd-party app distribution is allowed.
    | May 18, 2015, 7:11 PM | 25 Comments
  • May 14, 2015, 1:20 PM
    • comScore's April data indicates Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) core services accounted for 24% of all U.S. smartphone activity (on a minutes basis), reports JPMorgan's Dough Anmuth (Overweight rating, $100 target). That's up from March's 22% and well above the 5% collectively recorded by all other social networking services (Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc.).
    • Anmuth, a long-time Facebook bull, also reports Facebook's combined U.S. PC/mobile minutes share rose to 19% from March's 18%, and that minutes for its various platforms rose a combined 42% Y/Y, an acceleration from March's 35%.
    • He adds anecdotal checks indicate Facebook's autoplay video ads "began to ramp more materially in late 1Q and into 2Q," and is upbeat about Facebook's efforts to boost engagement with new services such as Messenger video calling and its just-launched Instant Articles (previous).
    • The note comes amid largely positive early reactions to Instant Articles, which are initially supported by 9 publishers and (in addition to loading content much faster) support features such as autoplay video, interactive maps, audio captions, and high-res photo zooming. Facebook, looking to win over publishers nervous about losing site/app traffic, is letting partners keep 100% of the ad revenue produced by their articles, and giving them a 70% cut on unsold inventory monetized through Facebook's mobile ad network.
    | May 14, 2015, 1:20 PM | 19 Comments
  • May 12, 2015, 9:25 PM
    • The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) is set tomorrow to start publishing articles directly to Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) platform, New York magazine is reporting, kicking off one of the high-stakes partnerships that Facebook has been discussing with a variety of media firms.
    • BuzzFeed, NBC News and National Geographic are also said to be joining the launch.
    • The secrecy of the deal is causing some nerves in publishing, as well as the gravity shift it might represent -- depending on the revenue sharing splits and the amount of content that will appear on the site.
    • Talks have dragged as the NYT reportedly sought favorable terms, in particular pushing for a deal that protects its own paid digital audience, nearing a million subscribers.
    • Previously: NYT: Facebook in talks to host publisher articles, share ad revenue (updated) (Mar. 24 2015)
    | May 12, 2015, 9:25 PM | 31 Comments
  • May 12, 2015, 5:19 PM
    • Kevin Martin, the FCC's chairman from 2005-2009 and a commissioner for 4 years before that, has been hired by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) to be its head of mobile and (Internet) access policy. The well-connected Martin is seen as having pursued a relatively hands-off regulatory approach during his FCC tenure.
    • Facebook's stances on Web/telecom regulation have been complex: The company has joined Internet giants in backing tough net neutrality rules, but (through its Internet.org initiative) has also been trying to provide free mobile Web access to Facebook and other select services in emerging markets, a move that has sparked criticism from both neutrality advocates arguing the company is creating a "walled garden," and carriers who think Facebook wants a free ride. Martin will presumably assist in tackling such challenges.
    • Following the neutrality criticism, Facebook has moved to make Internet.org an open platform any developer can provide services for, as long as it adheres to a handful of rules covering bandwidth restrictions, mobile optimization, and app openness.
    | May 12, 2015, 5:19 PM
  • May 11, 2015, 1:24 PM
    • Facebook (FB -0.3%) COO Sheryl Sandberg is returning to work today following the recent death of her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, while vacationing in Mexico.
    • A Facebook spokesman tells Re/code Sandberg will operate on a modified schedule for the time being, working at the office while her two children are at school and suspending work-related travel. Facebook will hold a moment of silence at its HQ's Hacker Square to honor Goldberg.
    | May 11, 2015, 1:24 PM | 24 Comments
  • May 6, 2015, 12:34 PM
    • Less than 2 months after launching cloud-based analytics services for mining Twitter data, IBM (IBM -1.9%) is partnering with Facebook (FB +1.1%) to deliver improved marketing/targeting tools for Facebook ad clients.
    • IBM, which has made several marketing software acquisitions over the last few years, will provide analytics and cloud-based marketing apps that give clients deeper insights into users being shown ads via Facebook targeting tools such as Custom Audiences (enables targeting based on both Facebook and non-Facebook activity), and help them design and run personalized ad campaigns covering Facebook and other channels.
    • IBM: "[A] retailer launching a new line of running gear can use Facebook's Custom Audiences and targeting solutions to segment its customer groups that are interested in long-distance running. The retailer can then glean aggregated insights into the audience's preferences in running gear and, based on location, offer deals on apparel that fit the appropriate training climate."
    • Separately, Oculus has announced a commercial version of the Oculus Rift VR headset will launch in Q1 2016, with pre-orders starting later in 2015. The Facebook unit states the commercial model will improve upon Oculus' 2014 Crescent Bay prototype through "an improved tracking system that supports both seated and standing experiences, as well as a highly refined industrial design, and updated ergonomics for a more natural fit."
    • Details about hardware, software, input, and game support will be given shortly. Samsung plans to launch a consumer-focused version of its Oculus-based Gear VR headset (relies on a phone's display and camera, currently aimed at developers and early adopters) by year's end. Oculus is widely seen as having an early tech lead over VR rivals such as Sony and HTC.
    | May 6, 2015, 12:34 PM
  • May 1, 2015, 2:36 PM
    • Not surprisingly, LinkedIn (LNKD -20.5%) has received plenty of target cuts in response to the soft guidance (blamed on a variety of factors) provided with its slight Q1 beat. But no downgrades have arrived, and many on the sell-side are defending the professional social networking leader.
    • Canaccord's Michael Graham: "Most factors impacting revenue appear temporary (FX, marketing solutions product transition, Talent Solutions sales force shuffle, lynda.com), while a display [ad] revenue headwind seems more secular ... We are encouraged by rapid growth in Sales Solutions, and believe any material weakness in the stock will likely provide a good long-term entry point."
    • Wunderlich's Blake Harper: "The company saw its display ad business, especially in Europe, decline due to a shift to programmatic buying, but we remain bullish on the company’s potential to become a differentiated B2B content marketing platform ... Key metrics such as number of members, mobile visitors, and corporate talent solution customers were all in line with expectations..."
    • Morgan Stanley estimates only 25% of LinkedIn's 2015 EBITDA guidance cut is due to fundamentals. Goldman thinks management is once more being conservative with guidance.
    • Brean's Sarah Hindlian, whose decision to launch coverage at Sell in March is looking smart right now: "Premium Subscriptions/Sales Navigator missed by 3% [in Q1] while management talked down Sales Navigator ramp on the call and was mum on new customer signings ... we think the company is scrambling to buy growth and the [salesforce] re-org is due to product fatigue."
    • Eric Jackson observes an industry shift towards programmatic (automated) ad buys has hurt not only LinkedIn's ad sales, but also Yahoo and Yelp's. He thinks Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has been able to weather the storm thanks to its huge audience and targeting ability. "Facebook offers much more reach to advertisers. They're still willing to spend money elsewhere, but they won't pay up for it. If there are cheaper options available to them when they use programmatic, there's no reason for them not to use them." LinkedIn's unmatched professional data and favorable demographics could give it some room to differentiate in this landscape.
    | May 1, 2015, 2:36 PM
  • May 1, 2015, 5:02 AM
    • Just two weeks after launching its landmark competition case against Google,  the European Commission is poised to widen its front against U.S. tech companies by initiating a separate investigation into a broader range of online platforms.
    • The latest draft of the plan, seen by the FT, will encompass everything from online shopping to telecoms regulation and is set be approved by the commission next week.
    • The "digital single market" probe could also bring in stricter rules to video services companies such as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and messaging apps like WhatsApp (NASDAQ:FB) and Skype (NASDAQ:MSFT) which have become big rivals to traditional European media and telecoms companies.
    | May 1, 2015, 5:02 AM | 22 Comments
  • Apr. 28, 2015, 10:29 PM
    • On a day that it posted a Q1 sales miss (a little ahead of schedule) and cut its full-year guidance, Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) announces it's partnering with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) DoubleClick unit (a giant in the display ad space) to allow Twitter advertisers using DoubleClick to "measure when conversions result from views and other actions on Twitter."
    • Notably, Twitter/DoubleClick plan to give advertisers "a new attribution model in DoubleClick to get a fuller understanding of how Twitter Ads served on mobile or desktop drive conversions for them across the web." That could point to the (anonymous) use of Twitter profiles to track ad conversions. Also: The companies plan to make Twitter ad inventory available through DoubleClick Bid Manager, a widely-used ad-buying platform supporting many online ad exchanges.
    • The addition of Twitter as a partner is a notable win for DoubleClick as it tries to fend off Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which last fall launched a new version of its Atlas ad server/measurement platform that tracks the performance of ads seen by Facebook users both on its site/apps and others. Facebook is counting on its anonymous linking of user profiles with ad measurement to give it an edge against DoubleClick and other rivals relying on cookies.
    • Meanwhile, Twitter's Q1 CC (live blog) failed to cheer up investors. The company mentioned Q2 user growth is off to a "slow start," and that ad click rates (CTRs) declined Q/Q in Q1 due to a mix shift towards formats with lower CTRs. Ad load was flat, and app install ads (a format Facebook has seen huge success with) underperformed.
    • On the bright side, CEO Dick Costolo noted more than 1M people signed up for Twitter's Periscope live-streaming app in its first 10 days, that the company has seen "orders of magnitude" more native video on its site following the launch of a 30-second video platform in January, and that it's working with Apple on a Spotlight search integration deal. CFO Anthony Noto stated Twitter will begin counting users of its SMS follow service (there are currently ~6M) as MAUs.
    • Twitter fell 1.6% in AH trading after dropping 18.2% in regular trading on account of its results. Shares are now at $41.58.
    • Three months ago: Google, Twitter strike deal to add tweets to search results
    | Apr. 28, 2015, 10:29 PM
  • Apr. 27, 2015, 2:37 PM
    • A month after launching a platform for integrating 3rd-party apps with Messenger, Facebook (FB +0.8%) is updating its iOS/Android Messenger apps to support video calling over mobile and Wi-Fi connections. The U.S. and 17 other markets are initially covered; more will be added later.
    • Facebook's PC Messenger client (built into Facebook's site) has supported video calls since 2011, following a deal with Skype; Facebook later built its own video call infrastructure. Today's update makes the feature available to the 600M+ monthly active users of Messenger's mobile apps.
    • One current shortcoming: Messenger app users can't place video calls to PC Facebook users. An exec says Facebook will soon fix the issue, and also plans to add group chat and video stabilization support. The long list of mobile apps/platforms currently supporting video calls includes Skype, Apple's FaceTime, Google's Hangouts, Tango, imo, WeChat, Line, and Viber.
    • Both voice and video serve as natural extensions of Messenger's core chat features. Mark Zuckerberg stated in March Messenger now accounts for 10% of global VoIP phone calls. WhatsApp, which recently added VoIP call support to its mobile apps, doesn't yet support video calls.
    | Apr. 27, 2015, 2:37 PM
  • Apr. 23, 2015, 1:56 PM
    • Facebook (FB -0.8%) hasn't received any downgrades after posting its first sales miss as a public company (while beating again on EPS) thanks to a strong dollar. At least 6 firms (perhaps reacting to the stock price more than earnings) have hiked their targets.
    • Many bulls are focusing on Facebook's huge video traffic growth. FBN: "[T]he company had >4B video [views] per day in FQ1, up from >3B in FQ4 and >1B in FQ3. Moreover, mobile is a key driver here as over 75% of FB video [views] are done on mobile." FBR notes video ad prices can be 10-20x display prices on a CPM basis, and expects "ad tech investments in Atlas, LiveRail, and the FB audience network should grease the tracks to enable more video ads.”
    • Barclays thinks there "may be significant upside to revenue given tailwinds on both [video] inventory and pricing." SunTrust sees video, Dynamic Product Ads (allow advertisers to quickly promote products from their catalog to targeted users), and a Buy button all acting as 2015 growth drivers.
    • Pac Crest (Sector Perform), on the other hand, thinks Instagram and video won't be major 2015 revenue contributors. It also observes Q1 "was the first quarter since early 2013 when total [ad] impressions grew sequentially and price per ad declined sequentially," which leads it to think the impact of the mobile shift and lower right-column ad inventory are mostly finished. On a Y/Y basis, impressions fell 62% and ad prices rose 285%. On CNBC (video), Alpha One Capital's Dan Niles says he sold Facebook into earnings on account of its run-up, but still calls it his favorite company.
    • On the CC (transcript), Facebook cut its 2015 GAAP and non-GAAP spending growth guidance on the high end by 5% to 55%-65% and 50%-60%, respectively. Also: While declining to promise Oculus will do a commercial launch this year (its VR headsets are still in beta), CFO Dave Wehner stated 2015 expense guidance "reflects any volumes that we might do in 2015."
    • Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, stated Facebook now handles over 1B daily mobile searches, that the average Instagram user spends 21 minutes/day on the service, and that Facebook handles over 45B messages/day across its platforms. Sheryl Sandberg noted Facebook/Instagram account for over 1/5 of all U.S. mobile time spent.
    • Q1 results, PR, earnings slides (.pdf)
    | Apr. 23, 2015, 1:56 PM | 20 Comments
  • Apr. 22, 2015, 4:34 PM
    • Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) ad revenue rose 46% Y/Y in Q1 to $3.54B, a slight slowdown from Q4's 53% growth. However, ad growth would've been at 55% in Q1 (and  58% in Q4) if not for a strong dollar. With many already expecting heavy forex pressures, the Street hasn't reacted too harshly thus far to Facebook's Q1 sales miss.
    • Payments/other fees revenue, hurt by the shift from PC to mobile gaming, fell 5% to $226M after rising 7% in Q4. Mobile was 73% of ad revenue vs. 69% in Q4 and 66% in Q3.
    • Monthly active users (MAUs) rose 4% Q/Q and 13% Y/Y to 1.44B. Mobile MAUs rose 5% Q/Q and 24% Y/Y to 1.25B. Daily active users (936M) equaled 65% of MAUs, up slightly from Q4's 64%. Mobile-only MAUs (581M) are now 40% of total MAUs.
    • Facebook is making good on its promise to spend aggressively: Costs/expenses (non-GAAP) rose 57% Y/Y to $1.7B, eclipsing revenue growth of 42%. On a GAAP basis, R&D spend was 30% of revenue vs. 18% a year ago, thanks in part to stock compensation spend rising to 16% from 8%; sales/marketing spend was 17% vs. 13%, and G&A 8% vs. 7%. Cost of revenue was flat at 18%. $502M was spent on capex, up from $363M a year ago.
    • Nonetheless, free cash flow rose 30% to $1.2B, slightly exceeding non-GAAP net income. Facebook ended Q1 with $12.4B in cash/investments, and no debt.
    • The U.S./Canada (less than 15% of MAUs) accounted for 49% of revenue. U.S./Canada ARPU rose 42% Y/Y to $8.32, and global ARPU 25% to $2.50.
    • FB -1.8% AH to $83.15.
    • Q1 results, PR, earnings slides (.pdf)
    | Apr. 22, 2015, 4:34 PM | 37 Comments
Company Description
Facebook Inc operates a social networking website. The Company's products are Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Oculus. Its products enable people to connect and share through mobile devices and personal computers.