Wed, Mar. 4, 1:58 PM
- A day after slumping to new post-IPO lows and coming within $0.03 of $80, Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) has seen dip-buyers emerge in large numbers. Naturally, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) is along for the ride.
- The gains come as a Chinese publication reports Jack Ma once said he considered acquiring Yahoo, which plans to spin off its Alibaba stake into a publicly-traded company in Q4. Ma's alleged comments: "The acquisition of Yahoo is something I worked [on] a couple of years ago, this is a political problem, not an economic problem, Yahoo is a media [company], more sensitive."
- There has already been speculation Alibaba will try to buy Yahoo's spinoff (much less politically challenging than buying the whole of Yahoo) at some point. Bloomberg's Matt Levine has noted the spinoff will have to wait a year before a deal occurs, in order to maintain its tax-free status.
- Meanwhile, Alibaba's Aliyun cloud services unit (a giant in the Chinese cloud infrastructure market) has opened a Silicon Valley data center, its first in the U.S. For now, the data center will cater to Chinese companies with U.S. operations, but it plans to go after non-Chinese clients later this year. When it does, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and a slew of other incumbents will be waiting.
Wed, Mar. 4, 11:37 AM
- Bloomberg reports Facebook (FB +0.8%) is working on a mobile ad platform for 3rd-party apps that would compete against Twitter's (TWTR -2%) popular MoPub mobile ad server/exchange platform for publishers. Twitter is lower following the news.
- Bloomberg adds Facebook could unveil the offering at its annual f8 developer's conference (March 25-26), and might also make several other ad announcements at the time.
- Facebook used last year's f8 conference to launch its Audience Network, which allows advertisers to sell ads on 3rd-party apps while leveraging Facebook data and targeting tools. The company later launched a revamped version of its Atlas ad-serving/measurement platform that links measurement of both Facebook and non-Facebook ads to user profiles.
- Whereas Audience Network provides a set of Facebook ad units for publishers and advertisers, MoPub is a publisher-centric (i.e. supply-side) platform that gives developers a variety of tools (and access to many ad-buying platforms) for monetizing their ad inventory. Thus, creating a MoPub rival would represent an expansion of Facebook's efforts to act as an ad partner for app publishers.
- Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) AdMob is a major player in this space. Millennial Media (MM -0.9%) remains a notable independent player, in spite of its recent struggles.
Tue, Mar. 3, 3:58 PM
- As part of a growing move into digital services, mega-telecom Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) says that it plans a voice-command search engine to compete with Google Now (NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple's Siri (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft's Cortana (NASDAQ:MSFT).
- The offering, detailed by the company's Ana Segurado in an interview at Mobile World Congress, was developed by Spanish firm Sherpa working with Telefonica on an "alternative to traditional search" for smartphones. Sherpa has a search app on Google Play.
- Segurado is managing director of Telefonica's Open Future unit, working on startup support and venture capital investments.
- In a fall query test, Google Now dominated competitors in accurately answering questions.
- Previously: Report: Google talks with H-P about bringing Now to enterprise (Aug. 13 2014)
Mon, Mar. 2, 3:12 PM
- At Mobile World Congress, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) confirms its plans to offer wireless phone service "in the coming months" -- a small MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator, where it would offer branded services by piggybacking on a partner's network.
- The company says its entry will be modest and designed to showcase technological innovation, similar to what it does with its Nexus branded hardware, made by partners. But in a hotly competitive market, it could take share and have an impact on whichever competitors it doesn't align with (T, VZ, TMUS, S).
- Google hasn't named whose network it would ride on, but it has service-reseller deals with Sprint and T-Mobile.
- Besides its direct impact on the fortunes of competitors, which might be small, Google's move might spur innovation from them if it moves on a vision of better wireless connectivity.
- This afternoon: GOOG +2%.
Thu, Feb. 26, 9:20 AM
- Hungry as ever to add more project financing, SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) has created a $750M fund to finance residential solar projects in 14 states and Washington D.C. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which is no stranger to renewable investments, will be investing $300M in the fund.
- Google and SolarCity partnered on a $280M residential project fund back in 2011. SolarCity stated last week it had already lined up most of the financing it needed to hit a 2015 deployment target of 920MW-1GW.
- SolarCity has risen to $54.00 premarket.
Wed, Feb. 25, 7:21 PM
- Citing two sources, the WSJ reports YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG) had 2014 revenue of $4B, up from $3B in 2013 and good for 6% of Google's total revenue. However, thanks to revenue-sharing payments with content providers and infrastructure costs, the business was run at "roughly break-even."
- Google is a year removed from putting former ad product chief Susan Wojcicki in charge of YouTube, with an eye towards improving monetization. YouTube, which is facing growing indirect competition from Facebook and Twitter, has been aggressively courting TV/brand advertisers and hatching plans to offer an ad-free subscription service. A music subscription service (Music Key) remains in trial mode.
- Ars Technica reports Google will reveal Android Pay, an API for 3rd-party mobile developers that allows them to add both online and in-store payments support, at its May I/O conference. Android Pay is said to integrate with the consumer-facing Google Wallet, which just received the support of AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
- Consumers would be able to link Wallet accounts with apps supporting Android Pay. Ars: "[T]he advantage [to Android Pay] would be that customers don’t need to go through Google Wallet if they prefer not to, and third-party merchants will have an open platform API to drop into their apps."
- Android for Work, an enterprise platform that separates personal and work apps/data, has officially launched 8 months after being unveiled at I/O. Among other things, the platform includes data encryption, app security, device/app management, and file-collaboration tools.
- A slew of enterprise software firms, including BlackBerry (previous), Salesforce, VMware, SAP, Box, and Citrix, are backing Android for Work. Google is hoping the platform will help address lingering enterprise fears about Android's security, and by doing so put a dent into iOS' outsized share of enterprise activations.
Mon, Feb. 23, 2:33 PM
- Google (GOOG -1.4%) has struck deals with Verizon (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T), and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) to have the Google Wallet payments app pre-installed on Android phones sold by the carriers, starting later this year. The Web giant is also "acquiring some exciting technology and intellectual property" from the carriers' Softcard payments JV, which never fully got off the ground.
- TechCrunch reported of Google's interest in Softcard last month. Thus far, Wallet's adoption has been hurt by limited support from carriers - Sprint was the only major U.S. backer - and retailers, as well as consumer reluctance to embrace NFC-based payments. However, the launch of (NFC-based) Apple Pay, along with the broader rollout of NFC-capable terminals and chip-and-PIN payment systems (they make card swipes a little less convenient) is altering the landscape.
- The deal comes a few days after top Android OEM Samsung announced it's buying LoopPay, creator of a mobile payments solution that works with standard card-swipe terminals.
- Mobile payments plays include NFC reader maker On Track Innovations (OTIV -5.7%) and payment-processing/telemetry services provider USA Technologies (USAT -2.7%).
Mon, Feb. 23, 12:07 PM
- Among the additions to the index (which fuels the IBLN ETF) are EMC, Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Goodyear (NASDAQ:GT), Mohawk Industries (NYSE:MHK), PVH, Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO). There are three health care additions as well: Allergan (NYSE:AGN), Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), and HCA. The lone energy name added is Consol Energy (NYSE:CNX).
- Exiting the index are energy names Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) and National-Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV), along with healthcare companies AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), Aetna (NYSE:AET), Humana (NYSE:HUM), and Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC). Citigroup (NYSE:C), CBS, Crown Castle (NYSE:CCI), and Michael Kors (NYSE:KORS) round out those subtracted.
- IBLN tracks the highest-conviction S&P 500 picks by hot-handed billionaires who built their fortunes through hedge funds and investing. The list of billionaires tracked is updated each October, and the equity components are rebalanced each quarter after sifting through regulatory filings.
- IBillionaire Index Rebalance
Wed, Feb. 18, 12:15 PM
- Down AH yesterday due to the light sales guidance provided with its mixed Q4 results, Rackspace (RAX +1.4%) is now back above $50. Helping its cause: Pac Crest has upgraded to Outperform, and at least four firms have hiked their targets.
- Pac Crest cites enterprise and OpenStack momentum as reasons for upgrading: "In the second half of 2014, Rackspace won more large enterprise contracts worth at least $100,000 per month than it had in the prior five quarters combined ... management indicated that OpenStack now makes up more than 50% of its public cloud revenue, which implies OpenStack revenue is at least 15.6% of its total revenue."
- Cowen (target hiked to $75) now considers it likely Rackspace "will announce support for a mega cloud provider in 1H15," thereby boosting its long-term addressable market and lowering future capex needs (in exchange for sharing revenue). It adds sales guidance was in-line after adjusting for forex, and that EBITDA margin guidance was better than expected.
- Meanwhile, new CEO Taylor Rhodes argues the cloud infrastructure (IaaS) market's price war is calming down. "Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ:AMZN) in November, for the first time, didn’t make a price cut move ... AWS is feeling like they are the reference brand leader, that they are strong versus Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), so they don’t need to do it as much. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is cutting price, but who knows how much share they are actually taking."
- He also reiterates Rackspace's assertion that its OpenStack/hybrid cloud offerings are differentiated in the battle for enterprise accounts. "The mainstream market has two problems: They have legacy apps that won’t go [to multi-tenant public clouds] automatically ... the second problem they have is this skills set gap ... There is a need for software and tools development."
- Q4 results, guidance/details
Sun, Feb. 15, 9:13 AM| 62 Comments
Fri, Feb. 13, 6:17 PM
- Some more color on reports that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been hiring auto engineers, including from Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA): The company has several hundred employees working on project "Titan," toward an Apple-brand electric car that one source says resembles a minivan, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- It might not end up as a released car, the report notes -- lots of work along the way could be used to boost other Apple products -- but the size of the team is telling.
- VP Steve Zadesky was reportedly given permission to create a 1,000-person team for the project and to work off-site from Apple HQ.
- Building cars is expensive, requiring billion-dollar plants, but Apple's $178B in cash means the barrier to entry is far smaller than for others.
- A self-driving car (a la Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)) is not in Apple's plans, a source says.
- After hours, TSLA -0.9%.
- Previously: Talent showdown between Tesla Motors and Apple (Feb. 10 2015)
Tue, Feb. 10, 7:25 PM
- Jetsons fans and haters of lawn maintenance work rejoice: iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) has petitioned the FCC (.pdf) to waive a rule prohibiting the use of fixed wireless infrastructure, so that it can "obtain equipment certification for and market a robotic lawn mower."
- Product development is still in its early stages. The mower will be battery-powered, and rely on portable beacons in the yard that will "transmit to the robot to map out and stay within the designated mowing area."
- Looking to temper safety concerns, iRobot promises its robotic mower "will reduce deaths and injuries related to lawn mowing, will reduce emissions and noise pollution, and will improve quality of life."
- Investors can hope the product will also improve iRobot's top line: The Roomba maker is less than a week removed from providing soft Q1 and full-year sales guidance.
- Meanwhile, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Boston Dynamics defense robot unit (acquired in 2013) is showing off Spot, a 160-pound robotic dog that can walk, trot, climb steps, and (judging by a video clip) stay on its feet after being kicked.
Tue, Feb. 10, 9:53 AM
- WebMD (NASDAQ:WBMD) is down 2.9% as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) rolls out a blog post saying it will answer basic health questions with summary information, directly in search results.
- Google says one in 20 queries are for health info, and that its users will see typical symptoms and treatments, along with illustrations, without clicking any further.
- Google cites working with a team of doctors on the information and verifying it with the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.
- Everyday Health (NYSE:EVDY), which has its own symptom checker, is down 1.6% as well.
Thu, Feb. 5, 9:26 AM
- Beginning later in the first half of this year, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) search results will integrate Twitter's (NYSE:TWTR) content in real-time, Bloomberg reports. Twitter will receive an unspecified amount of data-licensing revenue in return.
- Twitter has similar deals in place with Bing and Yahoo. Google and Twitter had one in place from 2009-2011. Bloomberg states ex-Twitter COO Ali Rowghani (left the company last year) was opposed to renewing the prior Google deal to "keep more control over Twitter’s content." Google currently has to crawl the Web to access Twitter content (far from a real-time solution).
- A new Twitter deal eliminates a shortcoming of Google search relative to Bing/Yahoo and helps it deal with the indirect threat posed by Twitter as a real-time news search option. Twitter, meanwhile, bolsters a licensing business that produced $41M in Q3 revenue, while betting Google integration won't do much to affect its primary use case (Timeline views).
- TWTR +3.6% premarket ahead of this afternoon's Q4 report. GOOG +0.5%.
Tue, Feb. 3, 3:24 AM
- Despite investing $258M in Uber in August 2013, Bloomberg has reported that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, which will most likely be in conjunction with its driverless car project.
- However, WSJ sources say the news has "been blown out of proportion." A Google engineer has been merely "testing an internal app that helps Google employees carpool to work" which is not "associated with the company’s driverless cars program."
- Google itself announced in a cryptic tweet following the report, "We think you'll find Uber and Lyft work quite well. We use them all the time."
- Note: Uber's CEO has long had an interest in self-driving cars. Uber and Carnegie Mellon University announced a strategic partnership yesterday to develop driverless car and mapping technology, although it's not clear if the CMU deal will involve developing a full-blown car.
Fri, Jan. 30, 5:30 PM
- Though it had previously struck a deal to use TubeMogul's (NASDAQ:TUBE) video ad-buying platform, snack food giant Mondelez partly opted to use Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) rival DoubleClick Bid Manager platform to run YouTube campaigns following "contentious behind-the-scenes negotiations," TheStreetSweeper reports. Google is believed to have used YouTube's TrueView ad system as leverage.
- An analyst talking with TheStreetSweeper: "It’s clear Tube’s technology is nothing special, since Google did this. And besides Google, there’s a lot of other companies that could do the same."
- TubeMogul CEO Brett Wilson has argued the Google/Mondelez deal is a positive for the online video ad industry at-large, and stated TubeMogul still thinks it "will continue to be used as Mondelez's software for brand advertising and will be the pipes, if you will, to facilitate any of their publisher buys Google or otherwise."
- In addition to the Mondelez deal, TheStreetSweeper cites strong insider selling from CTO Adam Rose (through an automatic trading plan) and steep multiples relative to peers Rocket Fuel and YuMe as reasons to be bearish on TubeMogul. Worth noting: TubeMogul's Y/Y sales growth (112% in Q3) is much stronger than that of either of the cited peers.
- Shares fell 4.5% in regular trading. Q4 results arrive on Feb. 26.
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