Your regular host Adam Lashinsky is out this week. Verne Kopytoff is a senior editor at Fortune.
Forty years ago today, an oddball trio, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, founded a little computer company that turned out to be a bigger success than anyone could have imagined at the time. But that business, Apple, could have just as easily gone under.
Surviving a near-bankruptcy in 1997 is a testament to Jobs, who led what is as rare as a mint condition Apple I computer is today: A tech turnaround. Few struggling tech companies have ever managed to pull one off.
That’s bad news for the likes of Yahoo and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, two once high-flying Silicon Valley companies that are trying to shake off years-long slumps. Yahoo, after a series of failed turnaround attempts, is now a likely acquisition target. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, along with its sister company, HP Inc., are on a go-it-alone strategy after splitting from each other last year.
Tech innovation moves so fast that if you fall behind, it’s excruciatingly difficult to ever catch up to those still sprinting.
Jobs did it by embracing the enemy—Microsoft, which gave Apple a $150 million investment lifeline—and kickstarting a successful run of desktop computers, retail stores, and laptops, followed by iTunes and the iPod. You know the rest. Jobs did it by focusing Apple on only a few things, and doing them well. His keen marketing instincts didn’t hurt.
Priceline, the travel site that initially thrived by letting customers bid on airline tickets, is among the tiny club of other tech companies that recovered from downturns. During the dot-boom, it soared along with nearly every other Internet wannabe—until the market soured and its shares tumbled so far that they were nearly delisted from Nasdaq. A turnaround strategy that included eliminating booking fees, refocusing on hotel reservations, and expanding overseas ultimately saved the company. Today, Priceline’s market value is nearly $64 billion, about the same as United Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue Airways combined.
So when you think about Apple’s accomplishments on its 40th anniversary, don’t just think about how it managed to turn iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks into a mega business. Think about how Apple, near death shortly after its 20th anniversary, was able to defy the odds and start the ultimate tech comeback.
Happy birthday Apple. Good luck Yahoo and Hewlett Packard.
BITS AND BYTES
Intel introduces chips intended for cloud computing services. The new microprocessors are faster models for the company’s Xeon line, widely used by tech giants including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft to run server hardware in mammoth data centers. (Wall Street Journal)
John Doerr steps into chairman role at Kleiner Perkins. The legendary venture capitalist is handing over many of his day-to-day duties to focus on mentoring the firm’s future leaders. It’s an unusual role for a VC firm, one suggested to Doerr by Bill Campbell, the former Intuit CEO and a well-known Silicon Valley executive coach. (Fortune)
Eager Tesla fans camp out for Model 3 launch. The electric vehicle maker opened up the reservation list for its highly anticipated mainstream model due out next year. It’s priced starting at $35,000, far less than Tesla’s high-end Model S sedan. There were more than 115,000 orders in the first 24 hours, more than many analysts expected. (Fortune, New York Times)
Marc Benioff sees anti-LGBT bills as “anti-business.” The Salesforce CEO is an outspoken crusader against legislation he views as a cover for discrimination such as North Carolina’s restrictions against transgender bathroom use and Mississippi’s new “human rights” bill. His example has inspired other tech companies to become more vocal. Benioff spoke with Time about his motivations, including an interest in recruiting “modern workers.” (Time)
Uber CEO must face price-fixing lawsuit. The complaint filed by a passenger last December accuses Travis Kalanick of scheming to use the company’s software to control prices in favor of drivers. That could violate antitrust laws. Uber itself isn’t named as a defendant, but the plaintiff is seeking class-action status for the case. (Reuters)
Fitbit ships millions of new fitness trackers. The fast-growing wearables maker sold more than 1 million units each of its new Alta and Blaze products during the first month. Skeptics are worried about whether Fitbit can maintain its momentum in the face of threats from the likes of Apple and Google. (Fortune)
SEC: Stop bragging about being unicorns. The agency’s chair Mary Jo White questioned the “eye-popping valuations” proclaimed by some private tech startups. The SEC has little regulatory authority over private entities, but White is concerned some startups are placing prestige over transparency. The “unicorn” designation is often given to companies valued at more than $1 billion. (Reuters)
Microsoft unleashes lots of goodies for software developers. One of the software giant’s biggest competitive advantages over the years is the legion of independent programmers and companies it has convinced to build applications that rely on its technology.
The thousands of software engineers that showed up this week at Microsoft’s Build conference have plenty of new things to work with. The list includes more tools for creating Internet of things systems and mobile apps (including those for Android and Apple devices); additional application programming interfaces for connecting Office 365 applications to other cloud services; and the first toolkit for its HoloLens augmented reality headset.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Snapchat’s ultimate goal isn’t just chat—it’s total media domination
by Mathew Ingram
Google Now gets better at sounding like a real person by Hilary Brueck
The Amazon Dot is more than just a smaller version of Echo
by Stacey Higginbotham
You can now buy the smaller iPhone, iPad Pro by Don Reisinger
Postmates debuts Amazon Prime-like club for unlimited orders
by Kia Kokalitcheva
Amazon expands eSports portfolio by John Gaudiosi
Intel’s cancer research cloud signs new recruits by Jonathan Vanian
How Microsoft is automating business chores using Office
by Heather Clancy
ONE MORE THING
Google April Fool’s prank backfires. It sounds harmless enough. The “joke” was an actual feature Google added to Gmail, called “Mic Drop,” which inserted an animated Minions character doing same into the body of an email. What wasn’t so funny: the feature ended the conversation, making it impossible for the sender to see subsequent replies. (Fortune)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Microsoft Envision: Where business meets possibility. (April 4-7; New Orleans)
DocuSign Momentum’16: Imagine what you can do. (April 5-7; San Francisco)
Zuora Subscribed: Turn customers into subscribers. (April 12-13; San Francisco)
Apttus Accelerate: Innovation in the sales process. (April 12-14; San Francisco)
Adaptive Live: Journey to insight for financial executives. (April 25-28; San Jose, Calif.)
Modern Marketing Experience: The Oracle Marketing Cloud ecosystem. (April 26 – 28; Las Vegas)
Qlik Qonnections: Business intelligence trends. (May 1-4; Orlando)
EMC World: What’s next for digital business. (May 2-5; Las Vegas)
The Marketing Nation Summit: Marketo’s annual conference. (May 9-12; Las Vegas)
Salesforce Connections: Cloud marketing trends. (May 10-12; Atlanta)
Coupa Inspire: Rethink the possible. (May 10-12; San Francisco)
Relate Live by Zendesk: Customer engagement strategies. (May 11-12; San Francisco)
Knowledge16: ServiceNow’s service management conference. (May 15-20; Las Vegas)
SuiteWorld: NetSuite annual customer gathering. (May 16-20; San Jose, Calif.)
Fortune Brainstorm E: The intersection of technology, energy, and sustainable business. (May 16-17; Carlsbad, Calif.)
SAPPHIRE Now: SAP’s annual conference. (May 17-19; Orlando)
Gartner Digital Marketing: How to move from vision to execution. (May 17-19; San Diego)
Gartner Supply Chain Executive: Creating a value chain. (May 17-19; Phoenix)
Google I/O: For creative software coders. (May 18-20; Mountain View, Calif.)
MuleSoft Connect: Enable your digital transformation. (May 21-25; San Francisco)
MongoDB World: For giant ideas. (June 28-29; New York)
Inforum: Infor’s annual user conference. (July 10-13; New York)
Fortune Brainstorm Tech: The world’s top tech and media thinkers, operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and influencers. (July 11-13; Aspen, Colo.)
Sage Summit: For fast-growth businesses. (July 25-28; Chicago)
Workday Rising: Talent management in the cloud. (Sept. 26-29; Chicago)
Microsoft Ignite: Product roadmaps and innovation. (Sept. 26-30; Atlanta)
Oracle OpenWorld: The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18-22; San Francisco)
Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem gathers. (Oct. 4-7; San Francisco)
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: The world’s largest gathering of women technologists. (Oct. 19-21; Houston)
Drone World Expo: Commercial apps for unmanned aircraft. (Nov. 15-16; San Jose, Calif.)
|This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.|