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Will Uber Become The Next Acquisition Of Softbank

November 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

According to Reuters, Softbank will pay a small fortune to buy into the controversial “hail and ride” firm.  

Uber has been criticized across the world for its policies, which differ from state to state. Softbank could throw billions into acquiring the company. As you read here on Fudzilla, first, Uber has invested gazillions into “smartcar” technology.

There are certain logistical problems with “smart cars” which ought to give Softbank food for thought.

But as Softbank has gazillions of dollars in the bank, it probably thought, “well let’s go for it”.

Courtesy-Fud

Roku Signs Licensing Deal For Inclusion On Philips TVs

November 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Roku Inc’s shares skyrocketed by 43 percent to a record high earlier this week after the streaming device maker said it signed a licensing deal that would put its technology on Philips-branded televisions in the United States this year.

The company said the licensing partnership with Japan’s Funai Electric Co Ltd, which manufactures Philips N.V. televisions for North American, would place its operating system on Philips’ smart TVs.

 Roku also said that it would give a $20 discount on its $69.99-priced streaming stick for the Black Friday weekend, and separately said its customer would get a free one-month trial of AT&T Inc’s streaming service DirecTV Now.

The barrage of news was well received by investors, who sent Roku’s shares jumping 28.5 percent to close at $42.71 on Monday. The stock hit a high of $47.49 earlier in the session.

“The price move was solely due to long shareholders bidding up ROKU’s stock price” and not due to investors covering their short positions in the stock, financial analytics firm S3 Partners said in a note.

S3 Partners said while the short interest in Roku has risen since its initial public offering (IPO) in late September, it has stayed relatively flat in November and isn’t likely to go up further due to the limited number of shares available to borrow.

Investors who sell securities short first borrow shares and then sell them, expecting the price to fall so they can then buy the shares back at the lower price, return them to the lender and pocket the difference.

Roku, one of the first to make a device to stream content such as from Netflix Inc onto TVs, is now combating deeper-pocketed entrants such as Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com Inc among others.

Still, up to Monday’s close, Roku’s stock has now more than tripled from its IPO price of $14 on Sept. 27. The stock debuted at $15.78 on the Nasdaq on Sept. 28.

 Los Gatos, California-based Roku’s success in the stock market is in stark contrast to the fortunes of other technology companies to make their market debuts this year.

Snap Inc’s shares have fallen 26 percent since its February IPO, while Blue Apron Holdings Inc has lost about 70 percent since its IPO in June.

SoftBank Acquires $10B Stake In Uber

November 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber’s board of directors has agreed to a deal that will allow SoftBank to make a multibillion-dollar investment in the ride-hailing startup.

The agreement resolves a legal battle between Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick and Benchmark Capital, one of the startup’s early investors, Reuters reported Sunday. Benchmark Capital, which owns about 13 percent of Uber, sued Kalanick in August, alleging that Kalanick misled Uber’s stockholders to gain control of three board seats.

“We’ve entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment,” an Uber representative said in a statement. “We believe this agreement is a strong vote of confidence in Uber’s long-term potential. Upon closing, it will help fuel our investments in technology and our continued expansion at home and abroad, while strengthening our corporate governance.”

The agreement comes a month after Uber’s board voted to eliminate its super-voting structure, in which early shareholders had 10 times the voting power, to a one vote per share model, according to a source familiar with the vote. The board also voted to expand the number of board members to 17, adding six seats to dilute additions made by Kalanick in September.

At the same time, Uber’s board approved the sale of $10 billion of stock to SoftBank, a Japanese internet giant. SoftBank plans to acquire a 14 percent to 20 percent stake in the world’s most valuable privately-held tech startup, board member Arianna Huffington said in October.

The vote came amid a tumultuous year for the ride-hailing startup, which has been rocked by a slew of scandals, including sexual harassment allegations that resulted in more than 20 Uber employees being fired. The company has been caught using a secretive tool called Greyball to avoid local authorities. The company is also defending itself against a trade-secret theft lawsuit from Waymo, a self-driving car business run by Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

 

Snapchat Launches Re-design

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc is redesigning its disappearing-message app Snapchat hoping to attract a broader audience, going back to the drawing board as Wall Street clobbered it for another quarter of slowing user growth.

The Venice, California-based firm, whose March stock market debut was the hottest of any tech stock in years, reported revenue and user growth for the third quarter well below Wall Street expectations as it struggles to compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram.

Snap has disappointed investors each quarter of its brief existence as a public company.

User growth in the last three months was well below what investment analysts expected. Daily active users rose to 178 million in the third quarter from 173 million in the second quarter. Analysts had expected 181.8 million, according to research firm FactSet.

Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said the company was launching the redesign after hearing for years that Snapchat was difficult to understand or hard to use.

“We are going to make it easier to discover the vast quantity of content on our platform that goes undiscovered or unseen every day,” Spiegel told analysts on a conference call.

The 27-year-old CEO said there was a “strong likelihood” the redesign would be disruptive in the short term, but said Snap was willing to take the risk for long-term gain.

Such a radical change so soon after an IPO is unusual.

Snap is not the only social media company looking to revive growth by changing its look. Microblogging service Twitter Inc said on Tuesday it would roll out 280-character tweets to users across the world, double the length of its iconic 140-character tweets.

Asked on the analyst call what Snapchat’s redesign would look like, Spiegel said the company had been studying the evolution of mobile content feeds such as Twitter streams and the Facebook News Feed and saw room for a “personalized content service.”

Spiegel said the company next year would also build more tools for people to share with broad audiences beyond their friends, the type of public broadcasting common on Instagram and Twitter.

“It seems like a significant amount of change in a short period of time,” analyst Rich Greenfield of BTIG told Spiegel on the call. He asked what led to the shifts.

Spiegel said Snap needed to evolve rapidly. “We’re just not afraid to make changes in the long-term interest of the business,” he said.

Angry Birds Maker Rovio Looks At Acquiring Rivals

October 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Rovio, the owner of hit mobile game “Angry Birds,” will look to acquire other players in the gaming industry following its listing on Friday, its main owner Kaj Hed said.

The Finnish company’s shares got off to a flying start on their stock market debut, trading up as much as 7 percent from their initial public offering price (IPO) of 11.50 euros.

Hed, who cut his stake from 69 percent to 37 percent in the IPO, said Rovio now had more muscle to do deals in a gaming sector he believes is ripe for consolidation.

“We have a clear will to be a consolidator, and we are in a very good position to do that,” he told Reuters at Rovio’s headquarters by the Baltic Sea.

“Many good (gaming industry) players face the question of whether they should go public, or whether they should consolidate. Going public is expensive and requires hard work, so finding a partner could be easier.”

Analysts have long urged Rovio to do more to reduce its reliance on the “Angry Birds” franchise.

Hed, the uncle of Rovio’s co-founder Niklas Hed, said he remained strongly committed to the company.

“The reason that I sold shares was to give the company the liquidity, because that is very important. My intention is to remain as a long-term investor in the company.”

Rovio saw rapid growth after the 2009 launch of the original “Angry Birds” game, but it plunged to an operating loss and cut a third of its staff in 2015 due to a pick up in competition and a shift among consumers to freely available games.

But the 2016 release of 3D Hollywood movie “Angry Birds”, together with new games, have revived the brand and helped sales recover.

In the first half of this year, Rovio’s sales almost doubled from a year earlier to 153 million euros, while core profit increased to 42 million euros from 11 million.

Rovio’s market valuation of around 950 million euros ($1.12 billion), looks high based on Rovio’s historical profit, said Atte Riikola, an analyst at research firm Inderes.

Roku Gears Up For IPO, Sets Shares At $14

September 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Roku, the video streaming platform, set its initial public offering price at $14 per share, giving the company a value of $1.3 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The maker of set-top streaming boxes and software priced at the high end of its expected range, raising roughly $219 million Wednesday night ahead of its debut on the Nasdaq stock market Thursday, The Journal reported.

Roku may not be as recognizable a name as some of its streaming box competitors, which are all monolithic tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon. But Roku is the most pervasive box in US households and tends to be one of the main ways people stream long-form TV from services like Netflix and Hulu, according to research firm Nielsen.

Roku, which announced its intention to go public earlier this month, said in June it has 15 million monthly active accounts, a 61 percent increase in the previous 12 months. The company had $400 million in revenue in 2016.

Roku Prepares For Initial Public Offering

September 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Roku is gearing up to go public.

The streaming device maker is seeking $100 million in its initial public offering, according to a filing Friday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The company will be listed on NASDAQ under the ticker ROKU.

Roku, which makes popular streaming devices like the Roku PremiereRoku Express+ and Roku Streaming Stick, said it’s seizing on the cord-cutting trend. “TV streaming’s disruptive content distribution model is shifting billions of dollars of economic value. Roku is capitalizing on this large economic opportunity,” reads the filing.

Roku may not be as recognizable a name as some of its streaming box competitors, which are all monolithic tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon, but its products routinely slay in CNET reviews and in sales.

In the filing, Roku said it had more than 15 million active accounts, and that its users streamed over 6.7 billion hours of content on its platform in the first half of this year, a 62 percent increase from the first half of 2016. Earlier reports hinted that Roku planned to go public this year.

Roku declined to comment beyond the filing.

Spotify Inching Closer To A Deal With Warner Music

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Music streaming company Spotify is one step closer to reaching a new licensing pact with Warner Music Inc, the last big music royalty deal it needs before pushing ahead with a U.S. stock market listing, four sources familiar with the situation said.

The parties are positive a deal could be signed by September as major issues such as granting loss-making Spotify a more favorable revenue split in return for making some new albums accessible only to its paying subscribers for a defined period have already been agreed, the sources said.

However, the precise revenue split and the size of a potential guaranteed upfront payment to the label, home to artists including Ed Sheeran and Muse, have yet to be agreed, said two of the sources.

“The negotiations are at a crossroads,” said one of the sources, asking not to be named because the talks are private, adding discussions were taking place daily. “There are still a number of key points that remain to be agreed. If we manage to come to terms on these points, then it could lead to a very quick transaction. If not, any deal would remain at bay.”

Others saw a deal being done by late summer.

“Given the way talks are progressing, I would be surprised if we don’t have a deal in September,” said another source on the other side of the table.

NBC To Host Daily News Show On Snapchat

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Comcast Corp’s NBC News plans to offer a twice-per-day news show on Snapchat, the company said on Wednesday, part of its push to attract younger viewers who tend to watch TV on mobile devices.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snapchat owner Snap Inc  during its initial public offering as it seeks to boost its digital offering.

Broadcast news outlets like NBC News face an aging audience. The median age of NBC Nightly News, for example, is 64 years old, according to the Nielsen ratings agency. That is much older than the 18-to-34-year-old demographic that advertisers covet.

Last month, NBC News launched a digital video service, called “NBC Left Field” featuring short documentaries to appeal to social media users.

“This is a concerted effort that is crucial to our future,” said Nick Ascheim, head of digital at NBC News.

“Stay Tuned” will focus on issues of the day and will air at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT on weekdays and 1 p.m. EDT on weekends. The show will also air for specific breaking news events.

The launch of the daily news show comes amid increasing investor skepticism about Snap’s ability to grow and compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram.

Twitter Growth Slump Continues, Value Slides

February 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc reported its slowest quarterly revenue growth since debuting as a public the company continues to face intense competition from Snap Inc’s Snapchat and Facebook Inc’s  Instagram.

Twitter said its user base increased 4 percent to 319 million average monthly active users.

Analysts on average had expected 319.6 million monthly active users, according to market research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Revenue rose just 1 percent to $717.2 million, missing analysts’ average estimate of $740.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company’s adjusted profit, however, beat sharply lowered estimates.

“While revenue growth continues to lag audience growth, we are applying the same focused approach that drove audience growth to our revenue product portfolio,” Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said in a statement. “This will take time, but we’re moving fast to show results.”

Twitter’s user growth benefited from the social media frenzy that surrounded the U.S. Presidential election as well as the growing follower base of President Donald Trump.

Trump has been using Twitter to air his views, bypassing traditional media outlets.

Twitter was abuzz with takeover chatter last year involving big names such as Salesforce.com Inc and Walt Disney Co. The rumors died down due to the lack of concrete offers.

Twitter has also upgraded its offerings with several new features, including live video broadcasts from its app.

“While none of them will likely materially change Twitter’s user/usage growth, these product innovations are a positive step,” RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a pre-earnings note.

San Francisco-based Twitter was also hit by a string of executive departures in 2016, including in its product team, which has had three heads in less than a year.

Twitter’s net loss widened to $167.1 million, or 23 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $90.24 million, or 13 cents per share, a year earlier.

Messaging App Line To Set IPO Price After Delay

June 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Japanese messaging app firm Line Corp has held off on setting a tentative price range for its initial public offering (IPO) by one day, until Tuesday, the company said in a regulatory filing, citing the “market environment”.

The IPO price range was originally scheduled to be announced on Monday. Line still plans to list in New York on July 14 and in Tokyo the following day, the filing showed.

On Friday, the S&P 500 fell 3.6 percent, its biggest one-day drop in 10 months, and Japan’s broad Topix index slid 7 percent after Britain voted to exit the European Union.

The equity market in Japan recovered somewhat on Monday as the Topix closed up 1.8 percent, but the delay will allow the company to assess the market in New York and London on Monday before setting the tentative price range, a Line spokesman told Reuters.

Earlier this month, the company announced plans to sell 35 million new shares in an IPO, which would raise 98 billion yen ($963 million) at its initial reference price of 2,800 yen per share.

Line’s listing will go ahead according to its planned schedule, the company said on Friday.

Companies around the world are wrestling with the aftermath of the Brexit vote, which is likely to delay or disrupt upcoming takeovers and initial public offerings. Companies with direct exposure to the British economy are more likely to see their deals scuppered compared with those who are just caught up in global market volatility.

Line has little direct exposure to Britain or Europe. Its main markets are Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Line delayed its IPO by two years, buying time to fix weaknesses in weak financial reporting controls, bolster staffing and develop its business plan. But in doing so, it left billions of dollars on the table as its valuation shriveled.