Good tech brands are really tough to kill. (It’s true in publishing too, says the guy working for a nearly 87-year-old brand.) BlackBerry lives well past its due date. Siebel lurks within Oracle. Dell has survived falling out of favor, private-equity ownership, and a merger with EMC.
Now another great technology brand of yesteryear, McAfee, is an independent company again, having been spun out from acquirer Intel, which remains its biggest shareholder. Purchasing McAfee was a financial and strategic whiff for Intel, one of many the chip giant has made over the years. McAfee was one of the top players in what once was known as antivirus software. Intel saw an opportunity to incorporate “security” software into its chips.
The plan didn’t work out. As Michal Lev-Ram reports, McAfee’s public-market valuation of $4.2 billion is a far cry from the $7.7 billion Intel paid for it six years ago. The chip giant will share ownership with a private-equity group, including TPG, a shareholder of Uber. Intel made a habit of buying high and selling low in communications chip companies during the dot-com boom. Its record hasn’t improved much since.
Its new investors will look to pivot McAfee from antivirus to security, a crowded yet buzzy space that favors the young rather than the well-installed. And yet, its name evokes a certain nostalgia, a memory of past glories and current market weight. McAfee CEO Chris Young tells Lev-Ram the company will bulk up. The hunted will turn hunter as the tech M&A worm turns, a game certain to benefit investment bankers if no one else.
All the while, the McAfee brand endures. All that’s left to see is what becomes of it next.
BITS AND BYTES
Facebook loses big privacy case. A New York state appeals court ruled that the social network has no right to resist hundreds of search warrants seeking user information related to a disability fraud case. Facebook’s lawyers challenged the data requests as too broad, and it also objected to a gag order that prevents it from warning its members about them. Several big-name companies took Facebook’s side, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter. (Reuters, New York Times)
Qualcomm thinks the FTC’s antitrust case is flimsy. The mobile chip powerhouse filed a motion requesting that the agency’s lawsuit, filed in January, be dismissed because it doesn’t include “any factual allegations of anticompetitive harm” to its rivals. Qualcomm is under scrutiny internationally for its licensing practices. (Wall Street Journal)
It looks like Apple is overhauling its desktop computers. Word is that Apple is working on a modular design, which would let owners swap components more easily when they want to upgrade. Apple redesigned Mac Pro back in 2013, making it one of the most powerful systems on the market at the time. Now, the product line’s features are far behind those of most Windows-based alternatives. (Fortune)
Tesla shares are trading over $300. As we mentioned yesterday, the electric vehicle pioneer now has a larger market capitalization than automaker Ford, at around $49.3 billion—that puts it about $2 billion behind General Motors. Tesla’s stock is up 40% this year. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal)
Keep an eye on this storage startup. Cohesity, led by the co-founder of data center hardware company Nutanix, has raised another $90 million led by Alphabet’s GV and Sequoia Capital. The company’s focus is on organizing information so that businesses can analyze it or back it up more easily. (Bloomberg)
All that unlimited mobile data is eating into wireless profits. All of the carriers have turned to unlimited data plans to try to attract more customers as overall growth in the U.S. market slows to a crawl.
AT&T and Verizon also have been making acquisitions to diversify more into video and advertising markets, while Sprint and T-Mobile have led the charge on cutting prices to keep sales growing. But it appears now that all of the various tactics are starting to hit bottom line profitability. Fortune‘s Aaron Pressman weighs in on the potential impact.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Internet maestro Tim Berners-Lee wins prestigious tech award. The computer scientist, a fierce privacy advocate, is credited with developing the World Wide Web, which was originally a system for scientists to share information. He now works at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. (Fortune, Wired)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
How Online Privacy Protection Could Become a Campaign Issue in 2018, by Aaron Pressman
Benioff to CEOs: Pick One Thing, by Ellen McGirt
Instagram, Twitter, and Others Could Pay $5.3 Million in App Privacy Settlement, by Jeff John Roberts
Amazon Cloud Goes Nordic, by Barb Darrow
Microsoft Made a Snapchat-Like App for the iPhone, by Jonathan Vanian
Judge Says T-Mobile Must Disband Illegal Union, by Aaron Pressman
VMware Is Selling Part of Its Cloud Business, by Barb Darrow
ONE MORE THING
Next season, you can watch Thursday Night Football on Amazon. Reports suggest that the e-commerce and cloud computing giant will pay about $50 million for the right to livestream the games, which is about five times what Twitter paid last year. (Fortune, New York Times)