Mon, Jul. 20, 5:30 PM
Mon, Jul. 20, 4:18 AM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has reportedly decided to acquire Israeli cloud security company Adallom for $320M, marking the group's largest-ever acquisition in the country.
- Over the past year Microsoft has scooped up several other Israeli firms, including Aorato (cyber security) for $200M, Equivio (text analysis) for $200M, and N-trig (digital pen) for several tens of millions of dollars.
- Adallom has raised $49.5M to date from investors Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures as well as EMC and Hewlett-Packard.
Fri, Jul. 17, 5:41 PM
- Videogame sales grew in June, with new physical games and hardware up 18% in the U.S. Y/Y, to $869.4M, according to NPD. That's a rebound from May's 13% decline.
- The industry showed growth in all three major areas: Hardware sales were $313.1M (up 8%); accessories were $210.7M (up 34%); and game software sales were very strong at $345.5M (up 21%, though against a weaker 2014 comp) by calling on the Batman. The settling-in of next-gen consoles continues, as it was the fourth month of Y/Y software increases.
- Batman: Arkham Knight (TWX -1.4%) led the software charts and became the year's second-best seller out of the gate, behind another Warner Bros. release, Mortal Kombat X.
- June was Warner's month: Its other titles Lego Jurassic World, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Mortal Kombat X joined Batman in the top 10 at Nos. 3, 4 and 8 respectively. Warner's dollar sales are up 217% vs. the first half of 2014, making it the top corporate publisher this year, says NPD's Liam Callahan.
- In longer-term holdouts, Minecraft (NASDAQ:MSFT) came in at No. 6, Grand Theft Auto V (TTWO +4%) was No. 7, Take-Two's NBA 2K15 was No. 9 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (NASDAQ:ATVI) No. 10.
- Next-gen consoles like PS4 and Xbox One led the way in hardware growth, up 15%. The PS4 (SNE +0.5%) led console sales again, the company said, as it has for every month this year except for April.
Wed, Jul. 15, 12:09 PM
- "I'm not going to launch a phone a day. I'm going to focus on a few phones that actually grab share that, in fact, showcase our uniqueness," says Satya Nadella (MSFT +0.4%) in a ZDNet interview a week after announcing huge job cuts for what was once Nokia's phone unit. "If anything, the thing that I'm signaling most to the investors, to the employees is let's stop this thing about trying to atomically dissect any one [product line]."
- Nadella talks up Microsoft's Continuum software - it changes the UI of a Windows device based on whether a user is relying on a keyboard/mouse, fingers, or stylus - as a differentiator. But he adds Microsoft's goal is now to "be present on every mobile endpoint," regardless of platform. "It's not (just) the notion of having our application endpoints ... on every one of the two billion devices. We want to have Microsoft experiences, because to me that's a platform play."
- The HoloLens augmented reality headset is declared to be part of both Microsoft's mobile and enterprise strategies. "When the person was using Autodesk and Maya on the desktop and just moved to a 3D model and interacted, they weren't using their phone." Nadella also suggests Microsoft will allow 3rd-party OEMs to create headsets based on the Windows Holographic platform.
- Regarding Minecraft: "We bought Minecraft for many reasons: because it's the number one PC app; it's the number one console app; it's the number one paid mobile app on iOS and Android. I wanted a hit game even for the new medium of mixed reality."
- On the GigJam productivity service/collaboration workspace, which has received positive initial reactions: "Think of it as a new module of Office 365 ... It's not just a creation tool. It's not just a communications tool. It's not just a development tool ... The notion is to be able to generate applications on the fly to adjust to the work that you're doing versus sending you off to five different apps, five different devices, and five different communications sessions ... That's a very revolutionary concept."
Mon, Jul. 13, 3:03 PM
- Microsoft's (MSFT +2.2%) Cortana Analytics Suite takes aim a burgeoning market for enterprise big data/analytics software/services. It includes the Cortana virtual assistant, the Power BI business intelligence/data visualization software platform (just refreshed), face, text, speech, and vision analytics APIs, Azure machine learning and data warehousing services, and Azure recommendation and forecasting APIs.
- Microsoft exec Joseph Sirosh: "We actually found customers are stitching all of these pieces together to do a lot of these integrated scenarios that cover everything from looking at what happened in the past to predicting to driving some specific actions within an automated system ... if we brought these things together in an integrated suite that worked very well together, it makes for a lot of high-value scenarios."
- The suite will be available this fall on a subscription basis. It follows Microsoft's acquisitions of mobile BI/data visualization startup Datazen and statistical analytics software firm Revolution Analytics. BI/data visualization software firms Tableau (DATA -0.1%) and Qlik (QLIK +1.6%) are among the companies Microsoft is competing against.
- Also unveiled: GigJam, a productivity service that that uses screen-sharing and (with Cortana's help) the pulling of data from a variety of Microsoft apps to create a shared workspace. It relies on a mixture of Azure services and PC/mobile apps. Satya Nadella: “This is a glimpse of what can happen when we break down the walls between devices, applications, and people."
- With the help of a 1.4% Nasdaq gain, Microsoft has topped $45. FQ4 results arrive on July 21.
- Earlier: Microsoft strikes Azure deal with Rackspace
Mon, Jul. 13, 11:52 AM
- Rackspace (RAX +3.6%) is partnering with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to provide managed support, monitoring, and "architectural guidance" services to companies looking to deploy Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure/app (IaaS/PaaS) platform, which supports public, private, and hybrid cloud deployments.
- The companies will also offer a hybrid cloud solution that combines Azure, Rackspace's private cloud solution, and Microsoft's Cloud Platform (a collection of products for deploying private clouds).
- Rackspace, whose IaaS offerings compete with Azure and has often called its "fanatical" customer support as a differentiator, is offering both an Azure infrastructure and support bundle (effectively acts as a reseller arrangement), as well as a support-only option. The services will initially be provided to U.S. clients; international availability arrives in 2016.
- Azure is believed to be the world's second-largest IaaS/PaaS platform, trailing only Amazon Web Services.
Thu, Jul. 9, 10:02 PM
- IDC estimates global PC shipments tumbled to 66.1M in Q2, falling at a sharper Y/Y clip than Q1's 6.7% and about 1% faster than expected. Gartner is slightly less harsh, estimating shipments fell 9.5% to 68.4M.
- Factors blamed for the decline: Inventory reductions ahead of the Windows 10 launch (set for July 29), a strong dollar (has led to higher overseas prices), and tough Y/Y comps caused by the 2014 boost in business PC sales caused by the end of Windows XP support. With tablet sales under pressure as well, tablet cannibalization is less of a factor than before ... but rising smartphone/tablet usage still appears to be taking a toll on PC upgrade rates.
- Gartner sees full-year shipments falling 4.4%. IDC still expects low-to-mid single-digit declines in 2H15, before volumes stabilize in future years. It sees the Windows 10 launch going "relatively well," but cautions Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) decision to provide free upgrades to Windows 7/8 users will limit its impact on PC sales.
- Continuing a recent trend, market leaders grabbed share from smaller rivals. IDC estimates #1 Lenovo's (OTCPK:LNVGY) share rose to 20.3% from 19.4% a year ago, #2 HP's (NYSE:HPQ) to 18.5% from 18.2%, and #3 Dell's to 14.5% from 14%. Acer (OTC:ASIYF) and Asus (OTC:AKCPF) are respectively given 6.6% and 6.5% shares
- Curiously, IDC has Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) ranked #4 globally, with its share rising to 7.8% from 5.9% via 5.1M Mac shipments (could imply a 15%+ revenue share), but Gartner doesn't have the company in its top-5. IDC and Gartner respectively assign Apple 13.5% and 12.7% U.S. shares. In the past, IDC's Mac shipment estimates have been notably different from the quarterly figures Apple would later report.
- Near-term expectations for PC sales are already quite low, following Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Q1 warning, AMD's Q2 warning, Micron's (NASDAQ:MU) June 25 results/guidance, and plenty of other negative news. Intel's Q2 report arrives on July 15.
- Other PC industry names: NVDA, STX, WDC, HTCH
Wed, Jul. 8, 9:22 AM
- As suggested by an overnight NYT report, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) job cuts will primarily hit the company's phone business. A $750M-$850M restructuring charge is expected. ~12,500 of the ~18,000 job cuts announced last year also hit the phone unit. (Press Release)
- Satya Nadella, who recently talked of making "tough choices": "We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem including our first-party device family. In the near-term, we'll run a more effective and focused phone portfolio while retaining capability for long-term reinvention in mobility ... We’ll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they’ll love."
- With Microsoft having paid $7.17B for Nokia's Devices & Services unit and a related IP licensing deal ($9.4B including acquired cash), the company's write-down exceeds its acquisition price. Last week, Microsoft struck deals to sell mapping imagery assets to Uber, and to offload its display ad ops to AOL. A $6.2B charge was taken in 2012 on the $6.3B acquisition of ad agency aQuantive.
- Microsoft is down fractionally premarket. Nasdaq futures are down 0.8%.
- Last year: Ballmer reportedly pushed for Nokia deal; Gates, Nadella initially opposed
Wed, Jul. 8, 2:43 AM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) plans to announce a major new round of layoffs as early as today, as the company seeks to further cut costs amid a shifting technology landscape, NYT reports.
- The new cuts are in addition to the roughly 18,000 employees Microsoft said it planned to let go a year ago, and are expected to affect people in the company's hardware group.
- MSFT -1.5% premarket
Tue, Jul. 7, 12:41 PM
- After following markets lower earlier today, Workday (WDAY +1.1%) has turned positive in the wake of a column from The Information's Steve Nellis arguing Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) should buy the cloud HCM/financials software leader.
- Nellis: "Only Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) and Workday have enough revenue momentum to help Microsoft become a major seller of software for tracking customers, employee records and financials. But Workday is the better choice for several reasons, including the fact that Salesforce’s products feel dated."
- CNBC reported in May Microsoft held buyout talks with Salesforce, the sole enterprise cloud software pure-play larger than Workday, while adding the companies "remained far apart on a price."
- With a current market cap of $14.8B - would the company be willing to sell at $19B-$20B? - Workday would be a much less costly acquisition for Microsoft than Salesforce ($45.3B market cap). Both the company's forward sales multiples and expected growth rates are notably higher than Salesforce's.
Tue, Jul. 7, 9:29 AM
- Following checks, Chardan Capital thinks Himax (NASDAQ:HIMX) is supplying LCoS microdisplays for Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality headset, with 2x as much content as it has for Google Glass. It also states checks indicate Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will announce HoloLens' availability later this month; no formal launch date has been given yet.
- The firm has upgraded Himax to Buy from Sell - it downgraded to Sell on May 29, when Himax was at $6.30 - and hiked its target all the way to $13 from $4.
- Himax has risen to $8.15 premarket. Shares jumped in January when Microsoft originally unveiled HoloLens. The headset's display tech hasn't yet been officially announced.
- Update: More details here. Chardan's Jay Srivatsa: "If the timeline of MSFT's [HoloLens] introduction is consistent with our checks, we could expect HIMX to begin modest ramp in Q3:15 and more so in Q4:15 with full production in FY:2016." He sees a $20M-$30M 2H15 revenue opportunity, and an $80M-$120M 2016 opportunity.
Mon, Jun. 29, 11:22 PM
- KitGuru, not a site with a long track record of delivering M&A scoops, reports (citing a source) Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) "may acquire" AMD.
- It adds Microsoft approached AMD, which provides the APU for both the Xbox One and PS4, about a buyout several months ago, and that "the result of the talks is unclear."
- AMD rose 3% in AH trading to $2.41 on the rumor, after having fallen 5.3% in regular trading thanks to a broad market rout. Shares also fell sharply on Friday, following Micron's results/guidance.
- Back in 2012, BSN reported Intel is thinking of acquiring Nvidia and making Nvidia chief Jen-Hsun Huang its next CEO. That rumor didn't quite pan out.
Mon, Jun. 29, 5:24 PM
- Confirming a recent Bloomberg report, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) states AOL, just acquired by Verizon (NYSE:VZ), will "assume management and sales responsibility for all of Microsoft's display, mobile and video advertising inventory in nine key global markets -- the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan."
- AOL will handle ad inventory for MSN, Outlook Mail, Xbox, Skype, mobile apps, and other Microsoft properties. The WSJ reports "Microsoft’s roughly 1,200 advertising employees — from engineering to sales — will be getting offer letters to join AOL."
- In addition, AOL and Microsoft have signed a 10-year search/search ad pact that will make Bing AOL's search provider, starting Jan. 1, 2016. AOL has thus far been relying on Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) search. AOL's search ops had Q1 revenue of $116.4M (+19% Y/Y), and 2014 revenue of $402.6M (+4%).
Mon, Jun. 29, 4:33 PM
- Bloomberg reports Microsoft (MSFT) is shutting down its display ad business, and handing over related operations to AOL (just bought by Verizon) and private AppNexus. 1,200 jobs will be affected. Some of the employees will be laid off, and others offered positions elsewhere at Microsoft.
- The report comes a few days after Satya Nadella stated in an employee memo Microsoft has to "make some tough choices in areas where things are not working." The company had 128K employees as of June 2014, but has since carried out major layoffs.
- Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn, Zillow, and others have reported seeing display ad challenges this year. Many of the affected firms have mentioned being hurt by industry adoption of programmatic (automated) ad-buying platforms that are often displacing traditional ad sales.
- Earlier: Microsoft selling Bing image-collection assets to Uber
- Update: The Microsoft/AOL deal is official. As part of the tie-up, Bing will power AOL search.
Mon, Jun. 29, 3:10 PM
- UBER is acquiring map image-collection assets from Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing unit to strengthen its internal mapping work. About 100 Microsoft employees will be joining Uber. Terms are undisclosed.
- Uber, whose apps have been relying on Google Maps, has been rumored to be interested in Nokia's HERE mapping/navigation software unit. However, a recent Bloomberg report indicated Nokia prefers to sell the unit to a group of German automakers.
- Earlier: Top Chinese Uber rival Didi Kuaidi reportedly looking to raise ~$2B
Thu, Jun. 25, 5:58 PM
- "We will need to innovate in new areas, execute against our plans, make some tough choices in areas where things are not working and solve hard problems in ways that drive customer value," says Satya Nadella (NASDAQ:MSFT) towards the end of an employee memo providing a new mission statement.
- Nadella: "We will realize our mission and strategy by investing in three interconnected and bold ambitions.
1. Reinvent productivity and business processes
2. Build the intelligent cloud platform
3. Create more personal computing"
- Worth remembering: The last time Nadella hinted at big changes in a memo (July 2014), Microsoft announced major layoffs a week later. The latest missive comes a week after Microsoft announced a reorg that (among other things) creates a new Windows and Devices group responsible for both OS and hardware development.
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