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You’ve heard it and read it a million times. Apple has hundreds of billions of dollars in cash, so Apple should buy company X. The most common refrains over the past decade or so have been that Apple should buy Disney or Tesla. The first is probably out of reach even for Apple, with an enterprise value of almost $200 billion before tacking on a takeover premium, and the second is a money-losing machine, with a net loss through three quarters of 2018 that exceeded $1 billion. Netflix, another commonly cited potential target in this conversation, makes money on paper but burns even more cash, shelling out over $9 billion to pay for programming in the first three quarters of 2018 (explaining Tuesday’s price hike).
This week, two enterprising financial types proposed some new acquisition ideas for Tim Cook’s business dev team. As I excerpted on Monday, Barron’s writer Tae Kim says Apple should buy Nintendo. The game maker is highly profitable and in a fast-growing market where Apple currently has only indirect exposure (by nabbing a cut of game spending via the iTunes store). Nintendo’s proprietary hardware and stable of popular games seems like a fit with Apple’s world view.
And on Tuesday night, CNBC host and former hedge fund manager Jim Cramer urged Apple to buy Epic Systems, the private company that manages healthcare records for 200 million people through its deals with hospitals and doctors offices. Apple has already created a health record keeping feature for the iPhone and Cook says the sector is a top priority. Epic is 43% owned by 75-year-old founder and CEO Judy Faulkner, Cramer noted. “If she wants to retire with a bang, selling her company to Apple would be a good way to do it, especially because a deal like this one could potentially be revolutionary for the health care sector,” he says.
It would potentially be revolutionary for CEO Tim Cook and Apple to alter their strategy and make a big deal, too. But never say never.
Listen closely. Speaking of Apple, many of Verizon’s unlimited data plan customers will be getting unlimited, free access to Apple Music, up from the six months free they got previously. And T-Mobile customers who get free Netflix with their unlimited plans will keep getting the video streaming service gratis despite the price hike announced on Tuesday, at least “for now,” tweets CEO John Legere.
Ahead of the crash. Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged two Ukrainian men with the 2016 hacking of computers at the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing new details in the case that was first disclosed in 2017. The hackers got early peeks at financial reports and, with a group of allied investors, garnered over $4 million in illicit profits.
Landlord to the landlord. The CEO of WeWork, Adam Neumann, has made millions of dollars by leasing properties he owns for use by his company, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company said so-called related party deals are approved by its board and disclosed to investors.
Exodus. As if it didn’t have enough troubles, struggling messaging app company Snap on Tuesday disclosed that CFO Tim Stone “notified us of his intention to resign to pursue other opportunities.” Stone’s departure follows the exit of the company’s head of HR, head of strategy, and other execs. Investors who have already driven down Snap’s stock price 54% in the past year unloaded again. Snap shares were down 10% in premarket trading on Wednesday.
Cash in hand. Developers trying to build the next Snap often rely on tools from startup PagerDuty that alert them to bugs and crashes in their software. Now PagerDuty has filed plans to go public, Bloomberg reports. In other startup news, Swiss-based data management and backup company Veeam raised $500 million of private capital, saying it exceeded $1 billion in revenue last year.
When one door closes. Some ups and downs at IBM to report. The company is ending its Watson Workspace program, an A.I.-fueled collaboration platform, The Register reports. The service “hasn’t resonated with clients or obtained traction in the marketplace,” according to an internal memo. But IBM, Ford, and several other companies are launching a new blockchain-based project to track cobalt mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The goal is to ensure that the companies avoid anything mined by children or related to the civil war there.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
It’s been hard to find a good summary of the Federal Trade Commission’s ongoing trial against Qualcomm, but CNET’s Shara Tibken did it. The FTC completed presenting its case on Tuesday and before Qualcomm went on with its defense, Tibken evaluates the state of play. We’ll hear more from the defense soon. University of California, Berkeley professor Carl Shapiro explained what the charges are all about, as Tibken writes:
He testified that Qualcomm is using its market power and its monopoly power over chips to extract an “unusually high amount” for royalties for patents. That raises the cost for rivals, weakens them as competitors and fortifies Qualcomm’s monopoly power, Shapiro said.
Losing access to Qualcomm’s modems would impose costs on handset makers, including not being able to supply to consumers. “That’s a very heavy hammer that Qualcomm is bringing down, at least as a threat, in those negotiations,” Shapiro said.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
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Why Old-Fashioned, Over-the-Air TV Is Booming By Aaron Pressman
Here Are All of Apple’s Planned TV Shows and Movies in Production By Don Reisinger
Fake Porn Videos Are Terrorizing Women. Do We Need a Law to Stop Them? By Jeff John Roberts
BEFORE YOU GO
I hate tying my shoes, always have. Now Nike is trying to do away with shoelaces altogether. The new Adapt BB basketball sneakers have a powered lacing system that loosens and tightens automatically. The $350 per pair kicks go on sale February 17. Maybe we should start lining up now?