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Reports emerged Thursday that Softbank wants to invest $10 billion in Uber, but with a catch: It wants a 30% discount on Uber’s last valuation of about $69 billion.
As it happens, I was asked earlier in the day if I were a betting man and had the opportunity would I invest in Apple, the subject of my first book, or Uber, the subject of my second. I first set the record straight that as an acolyte of Vanguard founder Jack Bogle I don’t invest in individual stocks. And I’m not a betting man. Regarding Uber, I asked, “At what valuation?”
That said, just to play along, perennial undervalued Apple (AAPL) trades for a little less than 15 times its expected earnings. Uber has no earnings. Uber is all execution risk—and a few other kinds of risk too. Apple has a stable, long-serving management team. Uber is about to get a new management team.
I think you get the picture.
An impression backed up by no reporting yet: Three groups have the long knives out for Facebook right now. One is politicians and regulators, upset over Facebook’s complacency with stopping fakesters, especially of the Russian variety. A second is advertisers, miffed that Facebook (FB) delivers ads to inappropriate content and yet is a drug the advertisers can’t quit. Third are publishers, who buy ink and web sites by the barrel, so to speak, who are sick of Facebook hoovering up the media industry’s profits.
Nothing good can come of this for Facebook.
I was in Washington D.C. this week, giving a well-attended talk about my book about Uber at the gorgeous and legendary Kramerbooks and then giving a speech to a group of government technologists. I left Washington 25 years ago, glad to start my career in business reporting. It’s fairly obvious that the business of our nation’s capital is business. And plenty of it was going on this week. While my little talk was happening Andreessen Horowitz’s policy team was hosting a dinner and there was a book party for Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio, attended by numerous administration swells. As far as I can tell, there’s plenty of water left in that swamp.