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I’m bored with IPOs. Permit me to explain.
In my Silicon Valley formative years, just before the inflation of what came to be known as the first Internet bubble, participants in capital markets understood initial public offerings for what they were, financing events. Fledgling companies raised a small amount of venture capital, investments they got mostly based on the strength of their ideas, and then went public once they’d gained a certain level of maturity and needed more capital to grow. Some companies went public not because they needed to, but because they were great publicity events: Headlines and TV interviews attracted customers. Always profitable eBay was an example of this.
Then things got nutty. In the go-go days leading up to 2000, companies went public sometimes even before they had revenue. “Retail” investors, also known as the great unwashed, wanted a shot at future rocket ships. These rubes often got burned. But good companies and bad did IPOs, sometimes when they were ready and sometimes not. Some “left money on the table,” leading a smart banker named Bill Hambrecht to propose a better way to do IPOs, an efficient reverse auction concept for selling shares. Google took him up on the idea—and almost no other company of note ever did.
This was all very exciting. But nothing much changed in the IPO biz. Journalists and their investment banker sources still love to hype the blessed event because, after all, it’s good copy. The fact is that it’s tough to learn anything from an IPO. Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and Microsoft all had weak performance in the periods after their offerings. Facebook was a disaster. Even Google’s offering was something of a flop. It didn’t matter.
Now we watch Uber, a business that doesn’t make money and whose valuation lately has been going only in one direction. (Not up.) Is it a horrible company as a result? Is Lyft? Beats me.
Once there was a peddler who sold caps. About 100 merchant accounts on Amazon last year were penetrated by hackers who siphoned off an undisclosed amount of money. Amazon asked a U.K. court to allow it to further investigate the thefts by getting information from Barclays and Prepay Technologies, which were “innocently mixed up in the wrongdoing.”
He was not like an ordinary peddler. Adam may not be focused on it, but the upcoming initial public offering of #1 ride sharing service Uber could value the company at less than $90 billion, below the $100 billion to $120 billion Wall Street had anticipated last month. And as the IPO nears, some drivers in at least 15 cities around the world–from New York City to Melbourne–staged protests and temporarily stopped taking rides. The groups were seeking higher pay and better working conditions.
But nobody wanted any caps. Elsewhere in the stock market, Roku said its revenue grew 51% to $207 million in the first quarter as its user base of active accounts increased 40% to 29 million. That pleased investors, who pushed Roku’s stock price, already up 112% this year, up another 10% in premarket trading on Thursday morning. IBM sold $20 billion worth of bonds to help fund its Red Hat acquisition. The company has said it will halt stock buybacks for the next two years as it pays down its debt. And Disney disclosed in its quarterly report that its direct-to-consumer unit that will debut the Disney+ streaming service soon lost $393 million, double the amount lost in the same quarter a year earlier. But fear not: overall, Disney’s profit hit $5.5 billion as revenue rose 3% to $14.9 billion.
He looked up into the tree. A landlord in New York City who tried to require all tenants to use the Latch smartlock system relented and will give out physical keys to settle a lawsuit the tenants had filed. The residents charged that the system was used to “surveil, track, and intimidate” them. Some lawmakers in the state want to ban the practice of requiring tenants to use a smartlock system.
You monkeys, you give me back my caps. Investment firms Digital Colony Partners and EQT Partners are taking fiber optic network provider Zayo Group private in an $8 billion deal.
He pulled off his own cap and threw it on the ground. Police have yet again turned to the GEDmatch DNA database to solve a cold case murder. The killer of Susan Galvin in 1967 was now-deceased Frank Wypych, Seattle police said this week, after matching DNA traces found on the victim to relatives of Wypych.
Each monkey pulled off his cap. One of the most manipulative techniques used to entice in-app purchases in video games could be banned under legislation proposed on Wednesday by a Missouri congressman. Sen. Josh Hawley’s bill would prohibit so-called loot boxes in all games aimed at kids.
(The Esphyr Slobodkina classic–and one of my childhood favorites–that inspired today’s headlines)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Lost track of the number of scandals swirling around Facebook? Online activist Evan Greer has helpfully tallied 25 of them and set them out in The Guardian as 25 reasons why Mark Zuckerberg should be fired. Greer’s overall argument is that the CEO must be held accountable for the sins of the company:
For the longest time we’ve accepted as scripture that Silicon Valley founders had a divine right to lead the most powerful companies ever created. We need to burst this cultish idea. Shareholders realize the problem is at the top. They’re lining up to Vote “No on Zuckerberg” at the upcoming AGM. However, Zuckerberg has structured the company so that he has more voting power than all other shareholders combined. It’s clear we need more than shareholders to make this happen. We need an internet-wide vote of no confidence. Zuckerberg’s resignation would send a message to tech workers, government regulators, advocates, and all who hold Silicon Valley accountable that leadership at these companies is a privilege, not a right.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
How Intel Is Trying to Win Back Investor Confidence By Aaron Pressman
Why Would Anyone Pay $1,300 for Bird’s New Scooter? By Don Reisinger
Will Millennial Parents Join a $450-a-Month Members-Only ‘Family Space?’ By Emma Hinchliffe
How Google’s Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL Stack Up Against Low-Cost iPhones By Don Reisinger
BEFORE YOU GO
A simple key to weight loss: eat less sugar. A psychology professor at Drexel University named Evan Forman has some research on “gamifying” the problem to help. In Forman’s study, half of participants who played a specially-designed game (called Diet DASH) for a few minutes a day for six weeks lost weight. Now they’re recruiting men for a second study. Sadly, you have to be in Philly area for in-person assessments. Oh well. Pass the jelly beans.