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Data Sheet—Tuesday, July 26, 2016

This morning Verizon, the proud new owner of Yahoo Answers, among other assets, reported its second-quarter financials. Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo has been expected for months, and we’re not done yet! (Because of Yahoo’s complicated deal structure, this thing will take six to nine months to close.)

Meanwhile, Twitter will Periscope its earnings this evening. It has been a year since Dick Costolo resigned as CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey returned. But Twitter still struggles to answer the question that’s plagued its entire existence: “What is Twitter?” Dorsey’s most recent answer, “Twitter is ‘live’ ” hasn’t really stuck. Yesterday, Twitter unveiled a new ad campaign playing up its role as a political news engine with the message, “See what’s happening.” It emphasizes Twitter’s biggest selling point: No matter how aggressively Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat try to compete, Twitter is still the go-to place for politicians, business leaders, athletes, and Kanye West to make important announcements.

During its call tonight, I’ll be listening for questions about Twitter’s recent push into sports—the last bastion of live television viewing. Its recent spate of livestreaming deals with MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL has prompted speculation that Twitter might be a takeover target for the likes of ESPN. At Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger was candid in his assessment that ESPN will eventually need to move away from traditional cable packages.

Twitter’s $13 billion market cap makes such a deal feel too expensive. But maybe all ESPN has to do is wait.

In 2007, Yahoo rejected a $44 billion takeover offer. Less than a decade later, Verizon got it for one-tenth that price, a relatively modest $4.8 billion. If Yahoo’s fate tells us anything, it’s that turning around a struggling Internet asset is nearly as impossible as knowing the right time to sell.

Erin Griffith is a senior writer at Fortune. Reach her via email.


Is there an agtech bubble? Last year investors plowed a record $2.7 billion—five times the figure in 2012, according to AgFunder—into so-called agtech startups, which are cultivating a new generation of robots, drones, soil and crop tech, sensors, and more. Nearly a dozen specialized accelerator programs have launched since 2013, and conferences now draw the likes of Verizon Wireless, Samsung, and Silicon Valley venture capitalists.

But small farmers seem flummoxed by many of the new products and services, which are often tied to complicated contracts; don’t work with existing equipment, software, or growing practices; and promise solutions to problems that growers don’t necessarily have. That concern has sparked talk of a farm-tech bubble.


Zenefits makes nice with Tennessee insurance regulators. It will pay $62,500 to settle charges that its brokers sold policies without the proper licenses, a controversy that forced the resignation of co-founder Parker Conrad early this year. Zenefits still faces investigations in California, Massachusetts, and Washington state. (Wall Street Journal)

Sprint is stabilizing. It added 173,000 monthly customers in the quarter ended June 30, its fourth straight quarter of additions. That means the bargain prices it has been using to attract new subscribers could be coming to an end. (Fortune)

Drones over Britain. Amazon is expanding its U.K. pilot. It will get to test applications—such as “out of sight” operations like package deliveries—that U.S. aviation regulators won’t permit. (New York Times)

Nike hires tech chief. Skip Potter was most recently a vice president of engineering for financial services firm Capital One. (Fortune)

Ford’s 2017 lineup will use software from Apple and Google. In addition to its own infotainment technology, the automaker is equipping all of its cars, trucks, and SUVs with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That will enable drivers to control functions with their smartphones. (Fortune)

Coming in September, a Google-backed smartwatch. Chinese artificial intelligence company Mobvoi is preparing a $200 gadget to take on the Apple Watch at a far cheaper price. (Bloomberg)

Learn how to program a self-driving car! Online learning company Udacity just introduce a one-year course in computer vision and robotics—two essential elements of autonomous vehicles—but it isn’t for beginners. (Fortune)


5 things to look for in Apple’s earnings report. Expectations are relatively slow, especially for iPhone sales (40 million shipments projected for its third fiscal quarter). One metric to mull closely will be growth in services—an area that CEO Tim Cook has positioned as critical for the company’s future. (Fortune)

Coming soon: Facebook’s latest financial results are scheduled for Wednesday (Instagram’s growth is the buzz), followed by Google and Amazon on Thursday.

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The Problem With Verizon-Yahoo, by Erin Griffith

Here’s Why It Looks Like Verizon Isn’t Way Overpaying for Yahoo,
by Shawn Tully

Meet Marni Walden, the Woman In Charge of Bringing Verizon and Yahoo Together, by Valentina Zarya


New meaning to long layovers. A Swiss-built plane powered by solar panels has completed a 25,000-mile flight around the globe. It took a year to pull off the multi-leg journey, which was delayed for nine months because of battery problems. (Bloomberg)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.