Data Sheet—Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Let’s take a break this morning to discuss love, compassion, and the transformative powers of technology, investing, and wealth.
Bill and Melinda Gates have written a Valentine’s message to their friend Warren Buffett, who a decade ago committed to give their foundation essentially all of his fortune. Buffett asked the Gateses how they were doing with his money, and they responded with a wonderfully produced multimedia love letter, published this morning.
For years after he stepped down as Microsoft CEO I speculated Bill Gates would return to the job some day. The people closest to him told me I was wrong. They were right, and this letter shows why. Bill and Melinda Gates, having achieved great wealth, are on a mission that has nothing to do with creating or selling software.
Please have a look at the entire letter here rather than relying on my meager synopsis. It tells a story in numbers. The big one is 122 million, the number of children’s lives that have been saved since 1990 by fighting infant mortality. The Gates letter says 86% of children now receive the most important vaccines they need to live healthy lives, the highest number ever.
There are sobering numbers as well. They say last year one million babies died on the first day of their lives. Their foundation is fighting this. One way is to support infant autopsies, a controversial but critical practice.
Bill and Melinda Gates know that Warren Buffett loves numbers, so they end their letter with another: zero. Every day they strive for it at their foundation: “Zero malaria. Zero TB. Zero HIV. Zero malnutrition. Zero preventable deaths. Zero difference between the health of a poor kid and every other kid.”
Hug your loved ones today and be grateful Bill Gates and Warren Buffett made boatloads at Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway respectively. They are changing the world.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
BITS AND BYTES
Ding-dong, it's Amazon calling. The cloud services giant is taking on Microsoft's Skype and Cisco's Spark with a new offering called Chime, which handles video calls, chats and sharing of presentation documents. Amazon is pitching Chime as a dead-simple way of orchestrating these sessions with minimal angst, which isn't exactly the case with many of these services. (Fortune)
Apple reaches all-time stock high. Apple's market capitalization topped $700 billion, about $120 billion above No. 2 Alphabet, buoyed by hopes for the 10th anniversary iPhone and more details about the company's forays into original TV programming. (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fortune)
South Korea prosecutors will seek Samsung exec's arrest. Investigators are requesting another warrant for the conglomerate's vice chairman Jay Y. Lee, who was questioned again on Monday as part of the bribery scandal surrounding the nation's president. A judge denied their first request last month. (Wall Street Journal)
IBM CEO defends her decision to advise President Donald Trump. In a letter sent to employees late last week, Ginni Rometty cited a tradition of IBM CEOs engaging directly with U.S. presidents that stretches back to Woodrow Wilson. Rometty suggested that dialogue, rather than protests, was the best way to achieve "good outcomes." (Wall Street Journal)
Death to ATM cards? More banks are testing mobile apps that let account holders withdraw money with just their smartphones, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan Chase—which supports more automated teller machines than anyone else. (New York Times)
Coming this fall to a Los Angeles mall: virtual reality storefronts. Legendary director Steven Spielberg is among the investors in Dreamscape Immersive, which is working on systems where shoppers can participate and interact with each other in 10-minute-long "experiences." Movie production companies might use the systems to build excitement for theatrical releases, but the technology could also be used for product demonstrations or for training. (Wall Street Journal)
John Chambers backs second drone startup. Cisco's chairman was a lead investor in a $15 million round for Dedrone, a firm writing software that detects when a drone flies into unauthorized airspace. Chambers previously backed Airware, which writes drone operating systems software. (Wall Street Journal)
Toshiba discloses $6.3 billion writedown, chairman resigns. The money that the technology conglomerate it's losing from the U.S. nuclear division will result in a full-year loss, although the final numbers haven't yet been approved by auditors. (Reuters)
Why Verizon finally caved on the unlimited data plan. For the past year, Verizon Wireless has been under all-out attack from smaller rivals Sprint and T-Mobile. The two challengers have cut prices, eliminated monthly data limits, thrown in all kinds of freebies and run some nasty ad campaigns—with Sprint even featuring Verizon's former "Can you hear me now" pitchman Paul Marcarelli.
Lately, the brunt of the attack focused on one of the most hated features of wireless plans: limited monthly data allowances. After resisting for months, Verizon on Sunday surprised subscribers with an early Valentine's gift—giving away new smartphones to sweeten the offer. As Fortune's Aaron Pressman reports, the top U.S. wireless carrier was essentially backed into a corner.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Why Oracle Is Renewing Its Fair Use Fight Against Google, by Jeff John Roberts
Apple's Latest Move Hints at Wireless Charging on the Next iPhone, by Aaron Pressman
NSA Gives Thumbs Up to Microsoft Surface Tablets, by Jonathan Vanian
Cut the Cord With These Cable-Killing Gadgets, by Chris Morris
Yahoo Grilled By Senators Over Hacking, by Jonathan Vanian
10 Things Nintendo's Creative Genius Said About Switch, by Matt Peckham/TIME
ONE MORE THING
You might want to skip that smartphone insurance plan. Verizon now offers same-day repairs on many of the smartphones it represents. But look at the fine print closely. For one thing, the firm the carrier uses isn't certified by Apple—which means getting a screen fixed could win up voiding your iPhone warranty. (Fortune)