The daily download on the business of technology.
Yesterday I wrote about my sense of déjà vu when reading about “mindless buying” of tech stocks. I’ve seen it before, you see. More than once.
I also remember how I knew things had gotten crazy during the dot-com bubble. When things were merely warm I had carved out a niche of reading the securities filings of companies that proposed to go public. In many instances, I had met with the company already and knew their bankers and investors. I was in a good position to comment on their prospects. The IPO prospectuses were chock full of truthful information that showed a company’s history and promise.
I knew the situation had gotten out of control, though, when new companies filed to go public and then listed their shares without my ever having heard of them. The volume was simply too great for me to keep up.
I thought of that when reading about the near-demise of a company called Faraday Future, whose bold claims Fortune’s Kirsten Korosec has documented over the past couple years. Faraday promised to build a new electric car and a giant factory in Nevada, creating oodles of jobs. Monday it said that due to a lack of funds it won’t do either any time soon.
Most readers won’t have heard of Faraday and never will need to. It’s a good reminder not to get too attached to outrageous claims or even pronouncements of large funding rounds by venture capitalists. Raising money, while not easy, is a relative snap compared to building a company.
A reader asked if Fortune will be livestreaming its Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen next week. The answer is yes. All mainstage sessions-read the agenda here-will be broadcast live on Fortune.com.
Missed it by that much. Darktrace, a hot cybersecurity startup that touts using artificial intelligence, this week almost became the next $1 billion “unicorn” startup, but not quite. The company, which uses machine learning technology and analyzes patterns of network traffic to track threats lurking on corporate networks, was privately valued at $825 million after raising a new round of funding worth $75 million.
Who has your back? The nonprofit digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation released its annual report with that title on Monday, which rates the privacy practices of leading consumer Internet companies. This year, Adobe, Dropbox, and Pinterest were among those getting the top 5-star rating. At the bottom? AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and T-Mobile got just one star.
Did we say buy? An analyst at Morgan Stanley, one of the underwriters of Snap’s initial public offering in back in March, stripped his “buy” rating on the stock and dropped his price target from $28 to $16. That’s 6% below Monday’s closing price of $16.99, not to mention the $17 IPO level that Morgan Stanley helped establish. New products didn’t evolve as quickly as expected and competition from Facebook’s Instagram has come on strong, the analyst Brian Nowak said.
Don’t disrupt me. A new line of microprocessor chips coming from Intel today is aimed at boosting the performance of corporate servers and the cloud data centers that store all those photos and Snap chats and tweets we’re all creating on our smartphones. Steve Lohr at the New York Times has a nice summary of the challenges facing Intel as it tries to avoid being disrupted by competitors with very different strategies. Meanwhile, Wall Street is getting worried.
Promises, promises. Microsoft is making a much-hyped announcement about bringing high-speed Internet connections to rural America by 2022. But the plan would cost over $10 billion and require changes to some federal airwave rules that the TV industry opposes. Microsoft is contributing at least some of the money and has demonstrated that the technology can work in other parts of the world.
Change at the top. Citrix is getting a new CEO—again. The business software company said Monday that former Microsoft exec Kirill Tatarinov was out by “mutual” decision after just over a year on the job. CFO David Henshall takes over for now, as the company seeks to evolve into more of a cloud services play.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Could something as simple as playing a brain teaser app on your phone stave off declining brain functions as we age? This one goes in the category of “too good to be true,” according to the latest research. A new study in the Journal of Neuroscience on Monday found no evidence that playing brain games (specifically, Lumosity brain games) translated into improvements in cognitive functioning or decision making. Lead author Dr. Caryn Lerman, also a University of Pennsylvania psychiatry professor, explains:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Amazon Prime Day Has Some Insanely Good Tech Deals by Krishna Thakker and Lisa Fu
Why Google’s Self-Driving Minivans Spent the Day With Fire Trucks by Kirsten Korosec
Snapchat IPO Investors Have Now All Lost Money on Snap Stock by Jen Wieczner
IRS Blinks in Bitcoin Probe, Exempts Coinbase Transactions Under $20,000 by Jeff John Roberts
Microsoft Is Bundling Office and Windows For Business Customers by Jonathan Vanian
How Tech Employees Really Feel About Their Bosses by Grace Donnelly
BEFORE YOU GO
Everyone knows what happens when a Walmart super store opens, with smaller, local retailers driven out of business. But in parts of economically-depressed rural America, the new question is what happens when the superstore is no more. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian investigated the impact of a Walmart closing in McDowell County, West Virginia, eliminating the largest employer and the main source of affordable groceries. As one elderly resident, Henrietta Banks, 60, puts it: