Seeking Alpha

Google Inc. (GOOG)

  • Wed, Mar. 11, 4:10 AM
    • Google (GOOG, GOOGL) is in talks to buy Bangalore-based start-up InMobi, a mobile advertising network that claims to have over 1B users across 200 countries.
    • Although financial specifics are still to be discussed, InMobi had been looking for a valuation of over $2B in its discussions with investors for its next round of funding.
    | Wed, Mar. 11, 4:10 AM | Comment!
  • Tue, Mar. 10, 4:43 PM
    • Patrick Pichette, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) CFO since 2008, has "informed the company of his intent to retire." No retirement date has been set. (8-K filing)
    • Pichette plans to assist Google in its search for a successor; the company expects a transition to a new CFO to "occur within the next six months." The news comes less than a year after chief business officer Nikesh Arora left for SoftBank.
    • GOOG -0.4% AH to $552.56.
    | Tue, Mar. 10, 4:43 PM | 7 Comments
  • Tue, Mar. 10, 12:51 PM
    • ChannelAdvisor (ECOM -3.6%) clients saw their Amazon (AMZN -2.1%) same-store sales rise 22.7% Y/Y in February. That's down from January 27%, and also below the growth seen during 9 of the prior 10 months (December being the exception). Growth peaked at 45.1% in August.
    • 38% of tracked Amazon sales relied on Amazon's fulfillment services (FBA), up from 32.2% a year earlier. 2.3% of sales relying on FBA involved non-Amazon transactions. Amazon stated in its Q4 report 3rd-party sellers using FBA grew 65% in 2014, and made up over 40% of Q4 3rd-party units.
    • eBay (EBAY -2.5%) continues to lose share: Its ChannelAdvisor same-store sales grew 5.1% in February, down from January's 6.8% and below total U.S. e-commerce growth of 15% (per comScore)  - auctions -26.2%, fixed-pride +8.6%, Motors +25.2%. eBay is coming off a Q4 in which its Marketplaces GMV only rose 2% Y/Y (3% U.S. growth, 1% international).
    • Search ad-based same-store sales (largely involving Google ads) rose 10.7%, with rising clicks and orders offsetting declining ad prices. Google Shopping-related (NASDAQ:GOOG) same-store sales grew 20.7%.
    • Amazon and eBay are both underperforming on a down day for equities. Amazon's volume has been below-average, and eBay's above-average.
    | Tue, Mar. 10, 12:51 PM | 3 Comments
  • Sat, Mar. 7, 2:17 PM
    • Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has "assembled a team of engineers to build a version of the Android operating system to power virtual-reality applications," two sources tell the WSJ. "Tens of engineers" are said to be working on the project, which was launched in the wake of Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) $2B 2014 acquisition of early VR hardware/software leader Oculus.
    • The report comes as industry investments in VR platforms accelerate rapidly. In addition to Facebook/Oculus, Sony, HTC, and multiple startups have projects in various stages of development. Sony just promised its gaming-focused Morpheus VR headset would launch in 1H16; HTC showed off its Vive headset at the Mobile World Congress.
    • Last year, Google launched Cardboard, a cheap prototype kit meant to get developers to start writing VR apps for Android. Oculus, meanwhile, has partnered with Samsung to launch the Gear VR, a headset line that relies on Samsung (Android) phones to provide the device's display and camera; a full commercial launch is expected later this year. Oculus has also bought multiple startups to help maintain its tech lead.
    • "Virtual reality is bigger than gaming," Oculus CTO John Carmack proclaimed at this week's Game Developers Conference (GDC). Mark Zuckerberg at the time of the Oculus deal announcement: "Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles ... Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.'
    • GPU leaders Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) and AMD are also going after the opportunity: Nvidia used GDC to show off several VR game demos powered by its GPUs; its Maxwell GPU line has already been optimized for VR. AMD used GDC to launch LiquidVR, a VR developer SDK for its GPUs that improves head-tracking and reduces latency/stuttering, and by doing so aims to eliminate motion sickness (still a common user complaint).
    | Sat, Mar. 7, 2:17 PM | 37 Comments
  • Thu, Mar. 5, 7:49 PM
    • The WSJ reports Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) U.S. mobile phone service will initially feature just one phone - the mammoth Nexus 6 phablet, originally designed by Google and made by Lenovo's (OTCPK:LNVGY) Motorola Mobility unit. iPhone fans are out of luck, as are those who prefer more modestly-sized Android hardware.
    • The paper adds the service might launch by month's end. As previously rumored, it will rely on Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) networks, along with Wi-Fi hotspots.
    • For those curious, the Nexus 6 has a 6" quad-HD (2560x1440) OLED display, a 13MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, 4K video recording support, and a large f/2.0 aperture, and Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) high-end Snapdragon 805 processor (quad-core, 2.7GHz.). Naturally, it runs on an unmodified version of Android 5.0 (Lollipop).
    • The report suggests Google will try to avoid ruffling the feathers of its U.S. carrier partners by limiting the amount of hardware supported by its phone service ... and that it will have it act as a showcase for what it thinks mobile services should be like (as suggested by Sundar Pichai) by offering the services through its favorite devices.
    • Separately, Google has launched its long-rumored U.S. car insurance shopping site in California (more states will come later). Google asserts the site, known as Google Compare, can provide price quotes for various providers in "as little as 5 minutes."
    • A U.K. version of Google Compare has been running for two years. Like rival car insurance shopping sites, Google will get a referral fee on sales; major insurers such as MetLife and Mercury Insurance are on board.
    | Thu, Mar. 5, 7:49 PM | 28 Comments
  • 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, 1:58 PM | 20 Comments
  • 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.
    | Wed, Mar. 4, 11:37 AM | 9 Comments
  • 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)
    | Tue, Mar. 3, 3:58 PM | Comment!
  • 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%.
    | Mon, Mar. 2, 3:12 PM | 41 Comments
  • 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.
    | Thu, Feb. 26, 9:20 AM | 16 Comments
  • 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.
    | Wed, Feb. 25, 7:21 PM | 1 Comment
  • 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, 2:33 PM | 15 Comments
  • 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
    | Mon, Feb. 23, 12:07 PM | Comment!
  • 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
    | Wed, Feb. 18, 12:15 PM | 9 Comments
  • Sun, Feb. 15, 9:13 AM
    • Larry Page and Sergey Brin plan to sell shares currently worth about $4.4B over the next two years, leaving the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) founders with barely half the shares they held when they took the company public in 2004.
    • Their remaining combined stake would still be worth nearly $45B.
    • SEC Form 8-K
    | 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)
    | Fri, Feb. 13, 6:17 PM | 198 Comments
GOOG vs. ETF Alternatives
Company Description
Alphabet Inc through its subsidiary Google Inc is engaged in improving the ways people connect with information & productsincludingSearch, Android, YouTube, Apps, Maps & Ads. Italso producesinternet-connected home devices & provides internet services.