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I recently noted, in a piece on the entertainment industry, that the word bundle has gotten a bad rap. Just because consumers have soured on their cable, newspaper, or department store bundles doesn’t mean they don’t like the concept. They love the Amazon delivery-plus-entertainment bundle, for example. Ditto Apple’s iCloud plus music. In enterprise software, which calls these things “suites,” the Oracle and Salesforce and SAP bundle is as lucrative as ever.
WeWork, the office leasing startup that has perplexed the office leasing world with its sky-high valuation and cheerful common areas, is so serious about creating a bundle of its own that it has poached from Amazon an executive named Sebastian Gunningham, who knows a thing or two about the subject. A veteran of Oracle and Apple, Gunningham runs an important chunk of the company’s retail business, including its “seller services” operation that caters to third-party merchants on Amazon.com.
WeWork is moving so fast it hasn’t completely decided what to do with Gunningham, who will be a jack-of-all-trades vice chairman. After an 11-year stint at Amazon, Gunningham said in a statement he’s “headed to join another magical company in its mission to reinvent the places and communities where people go to work.”
Amazon has been front of mind for WeWork. It is expanding its business by targeting the market for office leasing to companies with more than 1,000 employees, a new offering called Power By We. Shiva Rajaraman, the company’s chief technology officer and a veteran of Spotify, YouTube, and, briefly, Apple, says the company can apply its design insights and economies of scales by taking over real estate operations for big companies. “The analogy is to Amazon and AWS,” he says, referring to the online services arm Amazon started after creating the offerings for its own use. The pitch, he says: “Put your stuff on our platform.”
It’s not the only element of WeWork’s fledgling bundle. The company recently bought a marketing services firm called Conductor. Rise By We is its fitness center. It offers insurance though TriNet, and it bought a coding school, Flatiron, to facilitate classes for tenants.
So that’s WeWork’s bundle. What’s yours?
Misty water-colored memories. Remember all those predictions that President Donald Trump would usher in an era of consolidation and big takeovers? Nope. After blocking AT&T from buying Time Warner, the president on Monday stopped Broadcom from pursuing Qualcomm on bizarrely vague national security grounds. “The Trump edict essentially kills any chances of this deal happening,” analyst Daniel Ives of GBH Insights said. Qualcomm shares, which had been trading in the mid-$50s before Broadcom’s pursuit, then jumped as high as $69, were down 5% to about $59 in premarket trading on Tuesday.
The smiles we left behind. Remember all those predictions that Apple’s iPad was going to save the print media business? Nope. Now Apple is buying a tiny service called Texture, which gives subscribers access to hundreds of magazines (including Fortune) for a $10 monthly fee. Cue the hyperbole. Speaking of cues, Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue announced the Texture deal at SXSW and also talked about many other topics, including downplaying the notion Apple would do a big acquisition, revealing Apple Music is up to 38 million subscribers, and defending the inclusion of NRA TV on Apple TV.
It was all so simple then. Remember when computers were going to take over investing decisions from humans on Wall Street? Nope. Funds using AI and machine learning lost 7.3% on average in February, the worst monthly performance recorded since the category was created in 2011, Bloomberg reports.
It’s the laughter we will remember. Lyft says it surpassed $1 billion in revenue last year (for comparison Uber had $7.5 billion of revenue). But the #2 player in ride hailing apps didn’t give much more financial data than that, adding only that fourth quarter revenue grew 168% from the year before.
Has time re-written every line. Verizon’s Yahoo unit failed to get a lawsuit over its massive data hack dismissed. District Judge Lucy Koh refused to drop claims for negligence and breach of contract over the theft of billions of customers’ information in 2013 and 2016.
What’s too painful to remember. Space communications startup Swarm Technologies may have illegally launched four tiny satellites in January. The Federal Communications Commission failed to approve Swarm’s application for the satellites before they were put in orbit, Geekwire reports.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The big record labels got busted for “payola,” or paying to have radio DJs play certain songs, back in the 1960s. But on the Internet, it seems, everything old is new again, even crooked music play lists. Austin Powell digs into a modern version of payola in an article for The Daily Dot. It seems some acts are paying to be included on popular Spotify playlists, triggering further promotions and plays by the algorithms that run today’s musical ecosystems. Powell explains how it all works:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
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Why Feature Phone Sales Are Suddenly Growing Faster Than Smartphones By Aaron Pressman
BEFORE YOU GO
As mentioned the other day, I still think the winner in Amazon’s HQ2 location sweepstakes will be northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. But a computer prediction system run by Wells Fargo called Aiera crunched all the variables and says…Boston is most likely, with Chicago in second place.