Amazon Chief Returns to Daily Operations During Pandemic

With Amazon struggling with supply chain issues, labor unrest and intense consumer demands, founder Jeff Bezos returned his focus to the company’s day-to-day operations, with daily phone calls to solve inventory and testing issues and talks with government officials. On April 8, he visited an Amazon warehouse for the first time in years. Even as Amazon struggles with coronavirus-related issues, the company is one of few to do well financially in the midst of the pandemic. Bezos is $25 billion richer than in early March. Continue reading Amazon Chief Returns to Daily Operations During Pandemic

Kickstarter Becomes First Major Tech Company to Unionize

In a narrow vote, Kickstarter employees decided to unionize, joining the Office and Professional Employees International Union and becoming the first time a well-known technology company has done so. Although there has been a growing movement among white-collar tech workers at such companies for unionization, this organizing has also been a source of tension and conflict. In general, tech workers have also become more vocal over issues from fulfilling government contracts and climate change to sexual harassment. Continue reading Kickstarter Becomes First Major Tech Company to Unionize

Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have stepped down from their executive roles, with Google chief executive Sundar Pichai now heading up both Google and Alphabet. For the past 20 years, Page and Brin personified the company and many of their ideas on how to run an Internet company became standard for other Silicon Valley firms. The two first dialed back their involvement in 2015 when they created Alphabet as a holding company and turned their attention to “other bets,” including life-extending technologies. Continue reading Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

In June, in a letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, almost 19 groups of Amazon shareholders expressed concern about the company’s cloud-based facial recognition system Rekognition being provided to law enforcement in Orlando, Florida and the Washington County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office. They joined forces with Amazon employees, the ACLU, academics and more than 70 other groups to protest the decision. After the ACLU showed how Rekognition can err in IDing people, three Democratic lawmakers joined the chorus. Continue reading Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

The Roadmap for Walmart’s Purchase, Planned IPO of Flipkart

In the next year, Walmart may invest $3 billion in India-based, Amazon rival Flipkart by purchasing new shares at the same price as the purchase transaction, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The all-cash deal is groundbreaking as the world’s largest e-commerce transaction, in which Walmart will buy $2 billion new shares and a stake worth $14 billion from Flipkart investors. Amazon, meanwhile, has invested $2 billion in June 2014 and $3 billion in June 2016 in India. Continue reading The Roadmap for Walmart’s Purchase, Planned IPO of Flipkart

Netflix Marks Strong Q1 Subscriber Growth, Beating Forecasts

Netflix’s latest quarter showed subscriber growth exceeding its own forecast and Wall Street expectations. Wall Street analysts predicted Netflix would add 6.5 million new subscribers in Q1; in fact, it added 7.41 million subscribers in that quarter, of which 5.46 were international. In response to the news, shares rose 4.9 percent to $322.85 in after-hours trading. This follows a 1.2 percent decline during regular hours on Monday, representing shareholder concern over the imminent announcement of stalled growth. Continue reading Netflix Marks Strong Q1 Subscriber Growth, Beating Forecasts

Broadcom Raises Stakes in Takeover Bid for Rival Qualcomm

In what it calls its “best and final” offer, Broadcom raised its takeover bid yesterday for chipmaker Qualcomm from about $70 a share to $82 a share, or about $121 billion. The new offer comes a month before Qualcomm’s next shareholder meeting. A takeover would result in a company whose products would be used in most smartphones worldwide. However, “Qualcomm’s leadership fiercely opposes” the acquisition, reports The New York Times, “while analysts have said that even if shareholders approved the deal, it could be rejected on antitrust grounds.” Continue reading Broadcom Raises Stakes in Takeover Bid for Rival Qualcomm

Apple to Purchase Music Recognition App Shazam for $400M

Apple is purchasing Shazam Entertainment Ltd. for a reported $400 million. Shazam’s music recognition app, which lets users identify songs that are playing nearby, skyrocketed in popularity when it debuted in 2009, and has been downloaded more than one billion times. If the transaction is successful, Apple could integrate the Shazam feature into its iPhones, thereby helping the company gain an edge over the latest phones from Google and Samsung. Google already has a similar feature in its Pixel 2 smartphone. Continue reading Apple to Purchase Music Recognition App Shazam for $400M

Qualcomm Rejects Broadcom’s Offer, But Deal Is Still In Play

Qualcomm turned down Broadcom’s offer to acquire the company for $105 billion, with its board stating that the offer both significantly undervalues the company and could be beset by regulatory issues. Broadcom, which will seek other avenues to make the deal, says it is committed to the acquisition. Should Broadcom acquire Qualcomm, the merger of these two titans of chip manufacturing would create a single behemoth controlling chip production for everything from consumer devices to data centers. Continue reading Qualcomm Rejects Broadcom’s Offer, But Deal Is Still In Play

SoftBank Suspends Negotiations to Merge Sprint and T-Mobile

After nine months of merger talks, SoftBank has reportedly suspended its plans to combine Sprint with T-Mobile US. This marks the second time in three years that Sprint has backed out of negotiations. According to those familiar with the matter, directors of SoftBank Group Corp. (Sprint’s parent company) met in Tokyo and opted to suspend the merger plans. Insiders indicate that the news came as a surprise to T-Mobile officials. While discussions could be revisited in the future, the same insiders note that the two sides could not agree on the valuation of Sprint’s shares, and SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son had concerns about relinquishing too much control. Continue reading SoftBank Suspends Negotiations to Merge Sprint and T-Mobile

Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

Travis Kalanick stepped down from his chief exec position of ride-hailing service Uber yesterday. Kalanick helped found the company in 2009, but months of scrutiny regarding charges of harassment and discrimination, followed by a recent shareholder revolt resulted in his departure. “Five of Uber’s major investors demanded that [he] resign immediately,” according to The New York Times. “The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board.” The company will seek new leadership, although Kalanick will remain on Uber’s board of directors. Continue reading Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

Lionsgate to Purchase Premium Channel Starz for $4.4 Billion

Lionsgate announced it has agreed to acquire premium cable network Starz for $4.4 billion in cash and stock. Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht, who just signed a new contract that runs through 2020, is expected to continue running Starz. It is not clear if the deal would have any impact on Lionsgate’s stake in Epix, which the company owns with Viacom and MGM, and serves as the pay TV home to Lionsgate films. The deal will bring 17 Starz- and Encore-branded channels and Anchor Bay Entertainment video distribution to Lionsgate. Continue reading Lionsgate to Purchase Premium Channel Starz for $4.4 Billion

Starboard Suggests Replacements for Yahoo Board Members

As Yahoo’s global online ad revenue is forecast to drop by 14 percent this year, and scrutiny of the embattled Internet company’s leadership continues, Starboard Value has initiated a shareholder revolt. Yesterday, in a letter to investors, the activist hedge fund introduced nine candidates to run for the Yahoo board (including Starboard chief exec Jeffrey Smith). Starboard, which holds a 1.7 percent stake in Yahoo, has called into question the leadership of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and is looking to oust the company’s current board. Starboard hopes that such pressure will encourage the sale of Yahoo’s core businesses. Continue reading Starboard Suggests Replacements for Yahoo Board Members

Yahoo CEO Spinning Off Core Assets to Save Ailing Company

Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Mayer is on a path to revive Yahoo by spinning off core assets, possibly ending the company’s existence as an independent entity. One thing is certain: the company is going to get smaller. On Tuesday, Yahoo said it would lay off 15 percent of its 11,000-person staff, ultimately making the workforce 42 percent smaller than it was in 2012, when Mayer took over the reins as chief executive. Although she counsels shareholders to be patient, activist investors may try to elect a new board. Continue reading Yahoo CEO Spinning Off Core Assets to Save Ailing Company

Yahoo Announces it No Longer Plans Spin Off of Alibaba Stake

Yahoo has abandoned its plans to sell its $31 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, reportedly due to tax concerns. Instead, Yahoo’s board of directors has decided to sell off other company assets. According to the press release: “In the reverse spin off, Yahoo’s assets and liabilities other than the Alibaba stake would be transferred to a newly formed company, the stock of which would be distributed pro rata to Yahoo shareholders resulting in two separate publicly-traded companies.” The company notes the deal could take up to a year or more. Re/code suggests that “Yahoo’s plan to spin off Yahoo will also be a plan to sell off Yahoo.” Continue reading Yahoo Announces it No Longer Plans Spin Off of Alibaba Stake

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