Data Sheet—Thursday, February 2, 2017
Facebook held a cocktail reception in Davos last month. It featured a speech by Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, held in a “pop-up” building on the main drag in Davos, quite near the convention center and the hotel where all the most important parties happen. Given rent in the neighborhood that week, it had to have cost a fortune.
Every journalist with an impressive-sounding job title who made their way to Switzerland was at the party. It was like a cross between an alumni reunion and an awards dinner with all of your closest competitors.
I can’t tell you a thing about what Sandberg said that night because Facebook deemed the evening off the record. That’s somehow fitting. Under attack for not doing enough to stop fake news while plying the very journalists whose revenues it is sucking dry with food and drink, Facebook prefers to let its business do the talking.
Its business speaks volumes. Despite a promised slowdown in ad-revenue growth, the advertising behemoth reported a monster quarter Wednesday. It earned more than $3.5 billion in the fourth quarter, more than double the year-earlier period. As Fortune’s Mathew Ingram notes, giant companies aren’t supposed to grow that fast. (Apple used to do this too; it partly returned to form Tuesday with its cheerful quarterly earnings report, triggering a market value gain of $40 billion Wednesday.) But Facebook keeps adding users: 1.8 billion people log in monthly.
Even more impressively, Facebook has proved itself the master of the fabled pivot. First it piled onto mobile, after initially failing to see that the desktop web was dying. Now it is going whole hog into video, striking terror into the hearts of broadcasters as surely as it already has vanquished the ink-stained wretches with whom I sipped Champagne in the Swiss Alps.
Fake news? It may have altered the course of the republic but it didn’t faze Facebook. Sandberg told investors Wednesday that political advertising doesn’t even register in the company’s top 10 categories. “No one event is that big for our business,” she said, per The Wall Street Journal.
Party on, Facebook.
BITS AND BYTES
Many Apple analysts are raising their stock targets. The company's refreshingly good quarter prompted a number of respected Apple watchers to boost their projections—the high end ranges from around $133 to $150. As already mentioned, Apple's market capitalization added $40 billion Wednesday amid the speculation. (Fortune, Fortune)
Facebook is smacked with $500 million judgment in VR lawsuit. The social media company's Oculus division was accused of using intellectual property that belonged to game software company ZeniMax without permission when developing its Rift virtual-reality headset. A jury in Texas agrees, but you can expect an appeal. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal)
You can just call it Tesla now. Elon Musk's company has dropped the "Motors" from its name to reflect its expanding focus on clean energy, including solar power technologies and batteries that can store massive amounts of electricity. (Inc.)
GoPro's drone is on sale again. The Karma, which is priced around $1,100, was grounded shortly after its launch last October because of battery issues. The digital camera company needs to diversify. (Fortune, USA Today)
Cisco wants to make buildings smarter. The networking technology giant has dabbled in products for energy management and automation for some time, with varied success. Now, it's launching a new communications switch that centrally controls everything from security badges to lighting to thermostats. (VentureBeat)
Hurray, the EU is about to kill mobile roaming charges! Lawmakers moved Wednesday to cap the wholesale rates that carriers have to pay each other to let their European customers use their phones while traveling from country to country. The change, cheered by both tourists and business travels, should take effect by June. (Reuters)
GoDaddy's new Super Bowl ad contains hidden shoutout to women in tech. It's a subtle reference to the annual Grace Hopper conference, the world's largest gathering of female technologists. (Fortune)
That chip on your credit card isn't stopping fraud after all. Although the special new security chips, which have become increasingly ubiquitous at stores across the nation, have made it harder for criminals to counterfeit credit and debit cards, fraud has actually risen over the last year, according to a new study. Thieves, it appears, have figured out new ways to pilfering cash through the plastic in your wallet. (Fortune)
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Tim Cook's life hints at Apple's vision for smart homes. Apple's CEO uses a wide array of Internet-connected things to adjust everything from mood lighting to his fireplaces. He wants his company to be a deeper part of that. (Fortune)
Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo regrets not doing more about trolls. Costolo tried to tackle the issue back in 2010, after a celebrity was viciously attacked for views in favor of gun control. But he was talked out of taking a hard-line stance to police abusers. (Fortune)
Reddit co-founder's open letter on Trump travel ban goes viral. Alexis Ohanian posted an open letter on the popular online message board, protesting the executive order by President Donald Trump banning citizens of seven countries from traveling to the U.S. He encouraged others to post their experiences. Boy did they ever. (Fortune)
Messaging app company Viber finally finds new CEO. After more than a year without a permanent leader, the company named Djamel Agaoua to the post. Viber claims about 800 million "unique" users globally (Facebook's WhatsApp has around 1 billion monthly active users). Agaoua's latest previous gig was as head of mobile advertising startup MobPartner. (Fortune, VentureBeat)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Why Shares of Chipmaker AMD Jumped Another 16%, by Aaron Pressman
More Than Half of the Internet's Sales Growth Comes from Amazon, by Mahita Gajanan
The 8 Toys Could Help Your Kids Hone Their STEM Skills, by Chris Morris/TIME
H&R Block Is Enlisting IBM's Watson to Help With Your Taxes, by Jonathan Vanian
These Are the Best Smartphones You Can Buy Right Now, by Lisa Eadicicco/TIME
ONE MORE THING
Want to post multiple photos on Instagram simultaneously? Soon, you can. (Time)