Riding Apple’s coattails to an IPO

July 2, 2020, 1:22 PM UTC

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Steve Jobs famously hated the “enterprise” business, the glad-handy market for selling computers to companies. Enterprise computing meant hawking wares to IT departments, who then bestowed beige boxes, and worse, on the captive multitudes who had no choice but to take what they were given. Jobs wanted to sell directly to his customers, known in commercial terms as consumers.

Thus a prejudice was born at Apple. In the glorious second reign of Steve Jobs, roughly 1997 until his death in 2011, companies that wanted to buy Apple devices mostly could go to the damn store and buy them like anyone else. This wasn’t strictly true. Apple didn’t ignore powerful customers. But the focus was on selling high-priced equipment—Macs, iPods, iPhones, and iPads—to consumers willing to pay a premium.

Tim Cook, an IBMer by upbringing, didn’t look down his nose at the enterprise and began emphasizing Apple’s interest during his tenure as CEO. A company called Jamf, in Minneapolis, sprung up in the early aughts to do something Apple wouldn’t: Make it easy for corporations to manage all the Apple devices their employees wanted them to buy.

That history lesson is relevant because Jamf, now owned by the voracious private-equity firm Vista Equity, is going public. The company has more than $200 million in annual revenues—all from managing Apple devices for corporate clients. (I had no idea what Jamf was, beyond as an annoying prompt that appears when I boot up my Mac, before it filed to go public.) The company doesn’t make money because Vista loaded it up with debt, which the IPO will lessen if it goes off as planned. Apple also recently acquired a small rival of Jamf called Fleetsmith, so things could get interesting.

In its IPO filing, Jamf estimates that Apple recorded more than $40 billion of enterprise revenue in 2019. That’s 15% of the total. Not bad for a business the company once shunned.

Adam Lashinsky



This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.


Four letter word. They're already calling it techopalooza. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear together later this month at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. The committee, which is probing possible antitrust violations by the big tech companies, hasn't decided whether the hearing will be in-person or remote. In other antitrust action, 20 consumer groups including Public Citizen and the Open Markets Institute asked regulators to block Google's $2 billion acquisition of Fitbit.

My complication had a little complication. Speaking of Facebook's problems, the company disclosed on Wednesday that some developers were collecting user data they shouldn't have. The company didn't say how many users were affected by the issue, which allowed apps on the platform to collect data even if not used for more than 90 days. Facebook is also shutting down its short video app Lasso, which was aimed at stealing some of TikTok's crowd, and Hobbi, a Pinterest-like personal project app.

No shop for you. With the pandemic raging across the United States, Apple is closing more stores it had reopened just in May. Another 30 outlets will shutter again in states ranging from California to Idaho to Alabama.

Stay off of my (virtual) lawn. In an interesting ruling about the value of Internet addresses, the Supreme Court ruled that generic words, which ordinarily cannot be trademarked, can be trademarked when attached to a dot com. In the case at hand, Booking.com won the right to trademark its name. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg points out, consumers do not use "Booking.com" as a generic term. "If ‘Booking.com’ were generic, we might expect consumers to understand Travelocity—another such service—to be a ‘Booking.com,'” she wrote.

When one door closes. Fulfilling a requirement of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, Dish Network completed its acquisition of Boost Mobile, Sprint's prepaid brand, for $1.4 billion. In other merger news, VMware announced a deal to buy data backup and recovery service Datrium for an undisclosed price.

And in the darkness bind them. VC Peter Thiel must really, really love the Lord of the Rings series. Since naming his surveillance analysis company Palantir after the seven seeing stones of Middle Earth, he's also backing Anduril, named after the sword used by Aragorn. On Wednesday, Anduril, which builds drones and other surveillance tech, said it raised $200 million in a deal valuing the startup at almost $2 billion. That would give the company unicorn status, but there are no unicorns in Middle Earth. Perhaps Thiel would call it a giant eagle?


There are many genres and subgenres of TikTok videos, from the hilarious to the sublime. Wired writer Louise Matsakis looks into one of the most surprising: prison TikTok–which features videos actually made in and about prisons. She spoke with prison historian Heather Ann Thompson of the University of Michigan.

Even the most lighthearted videos on Prison TikTok serve an important political purpose, says Thompson. Incarcerated people are frequently painted as barbaric villains, she says, but Prison TikTok focuses on their everyday humanity. “The reason that people find that so shocking but interesting to watch is because we have been sold this false bill of goods that the people behind bars are animals,” she says. “This shows that they are somebody’s mother, somebody’s father, somebody’s kid. And they do in fact sometimes laugh, despite the brutality all around them.”


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Many July 4th fireworks celebrations have been cancelled but there's another reason to check out the night sky this weekend. During the full moon, people in North and South America will be able to see a partial lunar eclipse during the night of July 4-5. There's no Data Sheet tomorrow, as we're off in honor of the holiday, so you'll have plenty of time to get ready. See you back here next week.

Aaron Pressman



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