The daily download on the business of technology.
You’ve heard of Throwback Thursday, right? Well, today I invite you to a first-ever installment of We-Were-There Wednesday, a brief look back at some stellar Fortune journalism from the past that sheds light on the news of today.
First, I invite you to re-read Shawn Tully’s brutal takedown from March of the craven way Snap’s bankers handled its IPO. He called the IPO an “epic fleecing” of retail investors. Things have gotten worse for Snap—though I truly enjoyed its Ferris Wheel in Cannes last month—as investors have become increasingly jittery that Facebook will eat Snapchat’s lunch. Analysts at Morgan Stanley, one of Snap’s underwriters, lowered their targets for Snap’s shares Tuesday. They fell 9% to $15.47, below their $17 offering price and nearly half their high of $29 and change.
Next, I please look back at the devil of a time the venerable publisher and education company Pearson was having repositioning itself a couple years ago. Jennifer Reingold’s look at Pearson’s problems is a classic examination at how tough it is to turn around giant organizations. Pearson is ditching its stake in book publisher Penguin Random House, a move that will get it money but not much else, says Liam Proud of Reuters Breakingviews.
Finally, I highly recommend David Whitford’s penetrating look from 2013 at Wang Jianlin, the entrepreneur behind property developer and entertainment conglomerate Wanda Group. Wang was in the ascendance four years ago, just as Fortune was convening its Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu in Western China. Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal details how Wang and Wanda are scaling back their ambitions after bulking up on too much debt.
Looking forward, another item caught my eye Tuesday. Mobike, the Chinese bikesharing startup that along with its chief competitor Ofo has raised more than $1 billion, is looking to expand to Washington, D.C. Before that happens, Mobike plans a humbler but equally exciting test. It will have 15 bikes at the disposal of guests at the Brainstorm Tech conference next week in Aspen. I plan to be among the first to try them. I’ll post a photo.
Virtual campaign. Today is the “Day of Action” for supporters of the 2015 federal net neutrality rules that are under siege by the telecom industry and the Trump administration. Thousands of web sites, from Netflix to Spotify to Airbnb and Reddit, are displaying banners in support of the rules and urging people to contact their lawmakers to oppose the rollback. AT&T, an ardent opponent of the rules, is planning to horn in with its own banners and a separate campaign for a “free and open” Internet.
Cash campaign. Google has been funding academic research that backs its public policy positions, but not all of the authors disclosed their ties to the search giant, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Then again, Google opponents including Microsoft and Verizon funded anti-Google research, the paper said.
Getting work done. The Department of Homeland Security is lifting a ban on using laptops on flights from Egypt and reviewing requests to take the same action for flights originating in Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Airports in the countries agreed to impose the same security measures that European facilities added to avoid the in-flight ban.
Open the pod bay doors. With artificial intelligence all the rage in tech circles, snapping up AI startups will no doubt be all the rage soon. Google and Toyota both announced venture capital funds on Tuesday aimed at the sector, the better to give them an advantage when it comes time to make a few acquisitions. Google has long made VC investments in areas of interest, while Toyota said it will be “casting a wide net” and not focusing solely on car-related startups.
Ready to pop. The top investment strategist at investing goliath BlackRock is concerned that the price of digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have risen to irrational heights. “I look at the charts, and to me that looks pretty scary, and reminiscent of what we’ve seen before,” Richard Turnill, BlackRock’s global chief investment strategist, says.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
IBM recently cut back on the number of employees it allowed to work at home on a regular basis. Once considered a forward-thinking practice, working at home has come under increasing scrutiny in corporate America, Bloomberg’s Rebecca Greenfield reports. As one business owner who has also cut back on out-of-office working told her:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Salesforce Is Now Live From Amazon’s Canadian Cloud by Barb Darrow
Apple’s Siri Has Lost Millions of Users Over the Last Year by Don Reisinger
Facebook Is Testing More Ads in Messenger by Tom Huddleston, Jr.
Apple’s iPhone 8 Might Have a Fingerprint Reader Problem by Don Reisinger
IBM-Backed Hyperledger Releases New Blockchain Code ‘Fabric’ by Jeff John Roberts
Road Warriors Rejoice: Wi-Fi Is Coming to More Airplanes by Barb Darrow
Mexico Bought iPhone Spying Software to Track Human Rights Investigators by Jeff John Roberts