Data Sheet—Thursday, October 12, 2017
Aaron in Adam for today. In a year that was originally expected to see some big tech names like Uber or Airbnb go public, 2017 has been a bit of a bust—with the exception of Snap. Unfortunately, the popular messaging service has been trading below the $17 price from its March initial public offering for many months now.
But the action is picking up this fall. Plenty of small and medium size tech companies need to raise capital, given how few have gone public the past few years. And with the stock market hitting new records daily and IPOs in other sectors performing well, investors are eager to take a risk or two on a new tech stock. Now, after the solid debuts from Internet video box maker Roku and data center operator Switch, voilà, the IPO window is open again for tech.
Last night, online auto marketplace CarGurus priced 9.4 million shares at $16, above the targeted range of $13 to $15. It will start trading later on Thursday under the symbol CARG. In a much smaller deal, Restoration Robotics set 3.6 million shares at $7 to raise capital for its automated hair transplant surgery technology. It shouldn’t be hard to remember their business aim: the symbol is HAIR.
On tap next, according to the IPO gurus at Renaissance Capital, are deals for Chinese e-commerce lender Qudian, Asian online gaming platform Sea, open source software vendor MongoDB, music streaming service LiveXLive Media, and online motorcycle market RumbleOn. Maybe if enough of those small deals succeed, the truly big names will venture forth in 2018.
If you love it, set it free. The idea to separate movie ownership from being locked into the platforms of tech giants like Apple and Google is a good one. On Wednesday came news that Disney had lured four other major studios to join its Movies Anywhere service, giving consumers greater control over how and where they can watch their favorite flicks. “It’s simplicity. It’s ease of use. It’s bringing it together all in one place,” general manager Karin Gilford said.
Bubbling up. The price of bitcoin is on the rise again, hitting a new all-time record of $5,167 on Thursday morning amid rumors that China will ease its crackdown on the cryptocurrency and perhaps allow trading there to resume.
Virtually cheaper. On Wednesday at Facebook’s Oculus Connect developer conference, the company debuted several new bits of gear for virtual reality. A new Oculus Go headset coming next year will cost only $200 and won’t need to be connected to a PC. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the Go was part of a plan to get 1 billion people on VR.
Election hackers. Speaking of Facebook, the New York Times tried to get more information from the social network about Russia’s use of the platform to influence last year’s presidential race and the measures taken to thwart such activity in the future. Facebook answered five of the paper’s 12 submitted questions.
Stormy results. Hurricanes and an earthquake in Mexico took a toll on AT&T’s business. The telecom giant said its third quarter revenue would be reduced by about $90 million due to damage from the natural disasters and a loss of almost 400,000 pay TV subscribers. On a brighter note, AT&T said its DirecTV Now online service gained 300,000 subscribers in the quarter.
Rapid progress. California proposed easing rules for self-driving cars, which could allow completely driverless vehicles on the road in the Golden State as soon as next year.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Executives from Apple typically stay out of the headlines, but a couple were in the news on Wednesday sounding somewhat defensive.
CEO Tim Cook took aim at display glasses that could be used for augmented reality programs, instead of, say, an iPhone. “The technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way,” he told The Independent newspaper. “Now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”
Figuring that no one could have cracked the glasses display challenge if Apple hasn’t, Cook sounded a bit like the touchscreen doubters after Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone back in 2007.
Apple’s new vice president of diversity and inclusion, Denise Young Smith, sounded an even odder note.
“I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT,” Young Smith said on a panel at the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia. “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.”
In a company that is 68% male and where 10 of the 11 most senior executives are middle-aged white men, perhaps the focus does need to be on people of color, women, and LGBT people.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Jamie Dimon Should Do ‘Some Homework’ on Crypto, Says Blockchain Capital VC By Polina Marinova
Here’s How Boeing Plans to Take You on Vacation to Mars By Jen Wieczner
Why Commercial Use of Drones Just Hit a Major Setback By Aaron Pressman
U.S. Renews Attack on Apple and Encryption, Silicon Valley Fires Back By Jeff John Roberts
BEFORE YOU GO
Top techies from Elon Musk to Mark Zuckerberg are racing to create technology that can read thoughts, but the first brain-to-computer interface might be at the University of California, San Diego. Researchers there built a system that can track the neural activity in the brain of a zebra finch and predict the song the bird is about to sing. That’s one way of tweeting.