In need of a smile when confronting the day’s news, I chose to think about NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke sending messages via Snapchat to his adult children as well as an executive at the newly public Snapchat parent, Snap.
I have met Steve Burke, and he is the last person on earth one would expect to “snap.” In fact, an otherwise heads-up and thorough account in The Wall Street Journal Saturday of how Burke won the right for NBCU to invest $500 million in Snap’s IPO was quite disappointing for not having said what kind of snaps Burke sent. Did he put mouse or cat ears on top of his head? Did he pucker for the camera before snapping a photo of himself? We’ll never know. The messages have disappeared forever.
Jokes aside, this very likely was a smart move on both sides. NBC got in on what for now is a great investment. More, NBCU is in a good position to integrate its varied content on Snap’s growing media platform. For Snap’s part, it got the media and entertainment conglomerate, a unit of Comcast, to invest at the IPO price of $17 a share and not at some discounted price justified by the size of its investment.
A particular Burke quote in The Journal stuck with me: “I think what you do if you are a big media company is you run your existing businesses as well as you possibly can and not divert all your attention to digital, while you need to start figuring out how to plant seeds that will turn into saplings and trees five, 10, 20 years from now.”
These are wise words that speak to a prudent balance between embracing the future without strangling the past. It also helps if your existing businesses throw off enough cash to have a spare $500 million lying around.
BITS AND BYTES
IBM takes a quantum leap. The field of quantum computing breaks with traditional designs by using properties of physics to perform far more complex operations in far less time. Since the company opened up access to its fledgling system last May, it reports that approximately 40,000 people have run more than 275,000 experiments on it to date. (Fortune)
Soon, it may take a lot longer to get an H-1B visa. The Trump administration is suspending “premium processing” of applications for specialized workers in fields such as information technology, medicine, engineering, and mathematics starting on April 3. That means it will take at least several months, rather than just 15 days, for a request to be considered. The government says the move is meant to help with a backlog of existing paperwork. (Reuters)
Why the world’s largest shipping company is testing blockchain. Maersk believes the technology, which underlies the digital currency bitcoin and is used to verify transactions, could help it keep better tabs on the provenance of cargo. (Fortune)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Apple Is Expanding its War With Qualcomm, by Don Reisinger
Apple Can’t Seem to Cut a Deal with Hollywood, by Mathew Ingram
Apple Is Losing in the Classroom to Google and Microsoft, by Don Reisinger
ONE MORE THING
Can design really drive innovation? Radical breakthroughs in technology—in everything from artificial intelligence to materials science—are having a profound effect on design. Some of the world’s most influential designers are gathering this week in Singapore to talk about the future of innovation, and Time Inc. is helping to lead the conversation.