Mathew Ingram is a senior writer at Fortune.
You could almost feel the tension crackling in the air before Facebook reported its quarterly earnings late Wednesday. Would the web giant beat Wall Street’s estimates, or would it miss them by a mile, the way Apple did? Or would it meet them, but tell analysts to expect slower growth in the future, the way Twitter did?
This wasn’t just an academic question. Apple lost $45 billion in market value after it reported lower-than-expected earnings and revenue, because its results raised questions about its future growth (the only thing that investors really care about). And while it was only a fraction of the dollar value of Apple’s loss, Twitter’s stock dropped by 16% after it said its revenue won’t grow as much as analysts expected.
So then what did Facebook do? It pretty much blew the doors off, as money managers like to say. The company’s quarterly profit came in at $1.5 billion—three times what it made in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue grew by more than 50%, which for a company with almost $20 billion in annual sales is a fairly impressive feat.
The number of daily and monthly active users of the site also continues to grow. Not that long ago, the company celebrated hitting 1 billion monthly users—it now has about 50% more than that using the site every month, and over a billion using it every day.
In case anyone had lost track, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also reminded everyone of who is in charge at Facebook by announcing that the company will be introducing a new class of shares. This will make it easy for him to follow through on his commitment to give away the bulk of his wealth to charity without losing control.
A note to shareholders about the new class of shares went to great lengths to talk about how investors could vote for or against the changes—and then in a footnote pointed out that since Zuckerberg controls a majority of the votes, the wishes of other shareholders are effectively meaningless. But hey, look at those earnings!
BITS AND BYTES
Symantec CEO steps down. The cybersecurity company will miss revenue and profit expectations for its fourth quarter. Michael Brown, who has been the chief executive for less than two years, has resigned but will continue in his post until his replacement is found. (Reuters)
Yahoo’s most outspoken critic is now on its board. The Internet company added four new independent directors, including activist investor and Starboard Value CEO Jeffrey Smith. In exchange, Starboard promised not to push its own slate. The hedge fund owns approximately 1.7% of Yahoo. Its criticism is part of what motivated Yahoo to consider selling all or part of the company through an auction that should be completed with a month. (Fortune)
Congress passes tough trade secret protection. The legislation, which is backed by the Obama Administration, would make it easier for companies to protect confidential information about things such as manufacturing processes and other intellectual property, such as software development methods. Among the big companies advocating the legislation are Apple and Microsoft. (Reuters)
Global smartphone sales slow to a crawl. Major markets such as China are maturing, which is putting pressure on Samsung and Apple and helping obscure brands. According to two separate forecasts, there were around 335 million devices shipped during the quarter. (Reuters, Fortune)
PayPal grows amid fierce competition. The digital payments company is reporting rapid adoption for its one-touch mobile payments service, which allows consumers to complete transactions more quickly. Approximately 21 million of PayPal’s 184 million account holders already use this option, which was launched last year. (Bloomberg)
Will Qlik Tech be the latest business software company to go private? The $2.7 billion company, which specializes in data analytics, is considering buyout offers by Thoma Bravo, Bain Capital, and Permira, reports Bloomberg. In March, Qlik Tech became a target of activist investor Elliott Management, the same company that put pressure on EMC to consider strategic alternatives. (Bloomberg)
Comcast triples broadband data limits. The cable giant is increasing the maximum monthly allocation to 1,000 gigabytes, in response to criticism about its previous caps in certain markets. The move comes on the heels of Comcast’s bang-up first quarter—it added 53,000 subscribers. Comcast has about 23 million Internet customers. (Wall Street Journal, Fortune)
Who’s behind the shadow group attacking Google? An outfit called the Campaign for Accountability has launched the Google Transparency Project, an initiative intended to expose the tech giant’s enormous lobbying clout. Trouble is, the organization isn’t being very transparent about who is funding the effort. That won’t go far in building trust. (Fortune)
Oracle combined marketing apps, data services. Over the past four years, the tech giant has spent at least $3 billion buying marketing software and customer data. Now it’s looking for the payoff.
On Wednesday during an annual customer conference, the software giant unleashed an array of updates for the Oracle Marketing Cloud. They were all centered on one common theme—leveraging Oracle’s rich data and business intelligence services to personalize messages. (Fortune)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Apple’s Tim Cook confronts new reality: managing decline by Geoff Colvin
Is Apple’s stock a buy? by Shawn Tully
What the analysts are saying about Apple’s tough quarter by Aaron Pressman
Samsung’s future is only as bright as the coders it can attract
by Jonathan Vanian
VMware cloud chief exits by Barb Darrow
Now wanted: New CEO for cloud financials pioneer Anaplan by Heather Clancy
Brokers who use bots to buy tickets get a legal beat down by Jeff John Roberts
Why Microsoft just bought 10 million strands of DNA by David Meyer
Google’s mobile calendar app finds scheduling shortcuts by Heather Clancy
How Twitter makes money on Periscope by Erin Griffith