Data Sheet—Filling In What SoftBank’s Uber Statement Didn’t Say
This is the web version of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here.
SoftBank issued a brief statement Thursday in the name of the CEO of its investment arm, Rajeev Misra. In its entirety it read:
“We are very pleased to have successfully closed the Uber investment and appreciate the support and professionalism of the Board, management team and shareholders who made this transaction possible. Uber has a very bright future under its new leadership. It is now part of a wider SoftBank network ranging from Sprint to WeWork. I look forward to SoftBank helping Uber become an even bigger global success.”
Some facts, per Bloomberg, (with some of my comments):
—The investment totaled $9.3 billion, partly directly into Uber at a valuation of about $70 billion, partly to buy out other investors at a significant discount. The blended valuation is $54 billion. (A come down but still giant.)
—Two SoftBank representatives, Misra and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, will join the board. But there are four additional vacancies to what will be a 17-member body. (Awkward, from a governance perspective.)
—The investment ends preferred voting rights held by early investors, including longtime CEO Travis Kalanick. (A sign Uber might end its soap-opera period.)
The most interesting parts of SoftBank’s statement are what it didn’t say. It praised the “professionalism” of the board, management team and investors in closing the deal—an all but explicit knock on the lack of professionalism by the board, management team, and investors (read: Benchmark Capital) during much of 2017. It also mentioned an office space and a phone company in its “SoftBank network” but not Uber competitors Didi and Grab, the strange bedfellows SoftBank has now made for Uber.
Maybe it’s premature to say Uber might be ending its soap-opera period.
I apologize for saying yesterday that Microsoft had “won” its antitrust suit with the Justice Department. True, the feds didn’t break up Microsoft, the way they did AT&T. It’s also true that Microsoft’s enemies thought the consent decree it signed was too weak. But to say Microsoft emerged victorious for having settled with Justice wasn’t altogether right. Thank you to Pallavi Guniganti for pointing this out to me on Twitter.
Finally. IBM reported quarterly revenue of $22.5 billion, slightly more than Wall Street expected and 4% more than a year earlier. That ends a streak of 22 consecutive quarters of declining revenue at Big Blue. Newer growth areas including cloud services grew 17%, but without a weaker U.S. dollar total revenue growth would have been just 1%. The news failed to impress investors and IBM shares dropped 3% in premarket trading on Friday.
Not quite finally. The Securities and Exchange Commission says it's too soon to put cryptocurrencies into the investor-friendly exchange-traded funds format, as it rejected several pending proposals. Meanwhile, digital currency prices including bitcoin and ethereum rallied on Thursday, ending a two-day plunge. Bitcoin, which had dropped below $10,000 for the first time since late November, was trading at around $12,000 on Friday morning.
Rough ride. Buses that carry Apple and Google employees from San Francisco to the companies' offices in Silicon Valley had to be rerouted after several had their windows smashed while driving on the I-280 highway. Police suspect a pellet gun was used in the attacks. No injuries have been reported.
Nobody home. Google added a two-factor authentication security feature to Gmail seven years ago, but fewer than 10% of users have opted to turn it on, software engineer Grzegorz Milka disclosed at a conference this week. Asked why Google didn't force people to use 2FA, Milka said it would be too hard to use for some. “It’s about how many people would we drive out if we force them to use additional security.”
Disappearing workforce. Messaging service Snap laid off about two dozen employees, Cheddar reported. Most were in the content division that works with major publishers to create original videos.
More talk. Heading for its public listing, music streaming giant Spotify is trying to attract more podcast-like content around news, culture and entertainment. A new format called Spotlight will combine spoken programming, playlists and some visual content for use by partner publishers including Buzzfeed and Cheddar.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg Is Leaving the Company By Kirsten Korosec
President Trump Set to Sign FISA Surveillance Law: What That Means for You By Jeff John Roberts
What Apple Could Buy With All Its Cash By Aaron Pressman
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Google already has two operating systems, Android and Chrome, but it's got another in the hopper as well. After about two years of development so far, the new OS called Fuchsia is still a long way from being ready to use by millions of ordinary people. Ars Technica writer Ron Amadeo discovered that he could install the latest test version of Fuchsia on a Google Pixelbook. The results weren't exactly ready for prime time:
The Google bar at the bottom kind of works now. By default it will show some placeholder suggestions, which will each launch a placeholder picture of an app. The Google bar doesn't actually search through Google's search engine, but it will do a local search and come up with launchable apps results, some of which are useful and some of which open a blank, white window. There are a ton of search results. You can also type in a URL like arstechnica.com and get a "Go to arstechnica.com" search result, which you can tap on to launch a Chromeless Web browser.
The browser is unfinished and can't even render Ars Technica fully; Google.com loads fine, though. The user agent for this Fuchsia browser only comes up as "Mozilla/5.0 (Fuchsia; Intel Fuchsia)." Unless someone wants to show me something that says Intel is heavily involved in Fuchsia, I'm going to assume "Intel" is just a way of denoting the platform as being an x86 PC.
FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE
A few interesting longer reads I came across that are suitable for your weekend reading pleasure.
The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought (Bloomberg Businessweek)
A year ago, before the investor lawsuits and the federal investigations, before the mass resignations, and before the connotation of the word “Uber” shifted from “world’s most valuable startup” to “world’s most dysfunctional,” Uber’s executives sat around a hotel conference room table in San Francisco, trying to convince their chief executive officer, Travis Kalanick, that the company had a major problem: him.
Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble (New York Times Magazine)
The whole exchange takes no more than a few minutes to complete. From my perspective, the experience barely differs from the usual routines of online life. But on a technical level, something miraculous is happening—something that would have been unimaginable just a decade ago. I’ve managed to complete a secure transaction without any of the traditional institutions that we rely on to establish trust. No intermediary brokered the deal; no social-media network captured the data from my transaction to better target its advertising; no credit bureau tracked the activity to build a portrait of my financial trustworthiness.
A School's Way To Fight Phones In Class: Lock 'Em Up (NPR)
At the City on a Hill Circuit Street charter school in Boston, students entering school in the morning are met by administrators fanned out at the front door with their hands out. One by one, they take students' phones, slip them into a soft pouch, and lock them closed with a snap that works like the security tags you find on clothing at department stores. Students take their pouched phones back, but can only unlock them with a special device at dismissal time, nearly eight hours later.
Seeking the Lost Art of Growing Old with Intention (Outside)
And he has returned to the Maine woods, to a 640-acre plot about 15 miles from that old farmhouse where he spent the summer of 1951. He owns a pickup truck and drives without compunction, but he does not have running water, phone service, or a refrigerator. He heats solely with wood and relies on a small solar panel to power his laptop and Wi-Fi router. He sometimes goes two months without ever leaving the property.
BEFORE YOU GO
Prepare to lose your nights, weekends, and every other spare moment, Harry Potters fans. The new mobile game Hogwarts Mystery is coming this spring and the promo trailer just went online. Accio iPhone.