Tag Archives: Facebook

It’s Over For Tech Start-ups

It’s over for tech start-ups — just look at today’s earnings reports

  • Blue Apron and Snap had disappointing earnings reports on Thursday.
  • Both companies have been targeted by one of the Big Five — Blue Apron by Amazon, Snap by Facebook.
  • Start-ups and investors should look to the margins, or prepare to face the tech giants.

Two newly public tech companies reported earnings on Thursday, and both were ugly for their investors.

Meal-kit preparer Blue Apron missed earnings expectations by a wide margin in its first earnings report since going public in late June. It reported a 47 cent per share loss instead of the expected 30 cent loss, blaming high customer acquisition costs and staffing a new distribution plant in New Jersey.

The stock dropped 17 percent and is now trading at about half its IPO price.

In its second earnings report as a public company, Snap disappointed Wall Street with its user growth numbers for the second consecutive time and fell short on earnings.

The stock dropped about 17 percent after hours. It’s now off about 33 percent from its IPO price.

Blue Apron and Snap have a lot in common. They’re consumer focused. They have devoted followers. They’re losing money hand over fist.

And both were targeted directly and aggressively by two of tech’s biggest companies.

Between the time Blue Apron filed for its intial public offering, on June 1, and when it went public, on June 28, Amazon announced that it was buying Whole Foods. The speculation that Amazon would use the purchase to improve its home delivery service sent demand for Blue Apron’s IPO down, and the company slashed its IPO range from $15-$17 down to $10-$11.

Then, reports emerged that Amazon had already launched a meal kit, which was on sale in Seattle.

In the case of Snap, it was Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and company had been fighting to blunt Snap’s growth ever since its co-founder, Evan Spiegel, rejected his buyout offer in 2013. It began to see progress with the launch of Instagram Stories in August 2016, which duplicated Snapchat’s own Stories feature. Over the next year, it gradually copied nearly every major Snapchat feature in its own products.

Less than a year after launch, Instagram Stories has 250 million daily users and is growing at a rate of around 50 million every three months. Snap has 173 million and grew only 7 million during the quarter.

The experiences of these companies are discouraging for start-up investors and founders who dream of someday creating an Amazon or Facebook of their own.

The five big tech companies — Alphabet (Google), Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft — have attained unprecedented wealth and power, with trillions of dollars in combined market value and tens of billions of dollars in free cash flow.

They also need to satisfy Wall Street’s appetite for growth, which means they have to get new customers or earn more money from existing customers, quarter after quarter, year after year. One way to do that is to expand into new markets.

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They’ll gladly outspend their smaller competitors on product development and hiring while undercutting them on price.

That doesn’t mean curtains for Blue Apron or Snap. Both companies could come up with a leapfrog innovation that catapults them (for a while). Young nimble companies overtake older and slower companies all the time — that’s how the Big Five started. Microsoft disrupted IBM. Google and Apple disrupted Microsoft. And so on.

But companies and tech investors need to be wise about the risks of betting on upstarts that are going up against these giants.

If you hope to make money through online advertising, you’ll be challenging Google and Facebook. If you’re doing anything in e-commerce, logistics or delivery, you’ll run into Amazon. In cloud computing, get ready to see Amazon, Microsoft and Google. If you’re building hardware, Apple likely stands in the way.

It might be better to focus on the niches that the Big Five don’t yet dominate. Their health-care efforts are still in early stages, and none is playing heavily in financial tech, drones or robotics. Microsoft’s power in enterprise software is blunted to some degree by other old giants like IBM, Oracle and SAP, plus newer players like Salesforce.

It’s always been hard to build a successful start-up. With the increasing dominance of the Big Five, it’s harder than ever.

By Matt Rosoff | CNBC

 

Palo Alto Says Zuckerberg Can’t Build Compound Intended For His Family’s Privacy

Social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg’s life seems to always revolve around houses in Palo Alto.

A house in Palo Alto is where he grew Facebook from a seed harvested at Harvard into one of the defining companies of 21st century Silicon Valley. A house in Palo Alto is where Zuckerberg and his family presently call home. And four houses in Palo Alto adjacent to his own are now a perhaps rare check on the authority of the sixth richest man in the world.

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The contentious parcels. City of Palo Alto

In 2013, Zuckerberg bought the houses bordering his property, eventually revealing plans to demolish them. He was worried about his privacy. (You can all insert your own ironic “Facebook data mining privacy” joke here.)

Unfortunately, the city isn’t proving keen on his idea. We can’t imagine why they’d be a tiny bit sensitive about sacrificing perfectly good housing stock for the sake of its wealthiest resident’s desire not to live next to anyone.

To be fair, Zuckerberg also planned to build new homes on the four parcels—smaller ones that wouldn’t be able to peer into his own house. But Palo Alto’s Architectural Review Board didn’t like the looks of his proposed new homes and bounced the plan at Thursday’s meeting.

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The board is an advisory committee, and Palo Alto’s director of planning Hillary Gitelman can override their decision and approve the proposals if she wants to. But architects who work in Palo Alto tell Curbed SF that this rarely happens. Railroading unpopular projects through wouldn’t be smart politics, after all.

Zuckerberg will probably have to come up with some new designs, resign himself to keeping the houses the way they are, or just start spending most of his time crashing in one of those sleep pods at the office.

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By Adam Brinklow | Curbed San Francisco


Palo Alto Mayor Wants to ‘Meter’ ‘Reckless Job Growth’

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Palo Alto mayor Patrick Burt says: “Palo Alto’s greatest problem right now is the Bay Area’s massive job growth.” And he wants to “meter” businesses to control “reckless job growth” in the Silicon Valley suburb.

Palo Alto has long been the center of Silicon Valley’s tech start-ups, and features 14 of the world’s top 25 venture capital firms within a 10-mile radius. But in an interview with the real estate blog Curbed.com, Mayor Burt talked about how “Our community will not accept deterioration in our mobility.”

As a tech CEO that sold out for big bucks, Burt seems to want to keep out the riff-raff:

“First, we’re in a region that’s had extremely high job growth at a rate that is just not sustainable if we’re going to keep [Palo Alto] similar to what it’s been historically. Of course we know that the community is going to evolve. But we don’t want it to be a radical departure. We don’t want to turn into Manhattan.”

Burt claims it is the role of local government to avoid “reckless job growth”:

“We want metered job growth and metered housing growth, in places where it will have the least impact on things like our transit infrastructure. We look at the rates and we balance things.”

To “meter” housing growth, 97 percent of the non-commercial portion of Palo Alto is zoned R1 single family residence, while only 3 percent is zoned for multi-family apartments. The least expensive “starter home” in Palo Alto is listed at $995,000.

But according to the Planning Department, 45 percent of Palo Alto workers live in multi-unit housing, which means almost half of Palo Alto workers must commute in every day.

Mark Zuckerberg is believed to be the wealthiest resident of Palo Alto. He is a well known liberal, and made his fortune as the CEO of Facebook. The company data-mines the deepest secrets of 1.7 billion users, then sells those secrets to the highest bidder. Zuckerberg contributes heavily to liberal causes, advocates for unlimited immigration, and says he hates the wall Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump wants to build along the U.S./Mexican border.

But after Mr. Zuckerberg bought the three houses bordering surrounding his own Palo Alto home, he recently built an 8-foot high privacy wall around the compound for himself, his wife and young daughter.

Zuckerberg quietly submitted architectural drawings to the Palo Alto Planning Department this summer that were expected to be favored for approval, because the plan reduced density by demolishing four houses to build a mansion and three casitas.

However, they were rejected amidst a local controversy over gentrification that erupted when Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commissioner Kate Vershov Downing announced in early September that her family is leaving Palo Alto for Santa Cruz, because they, like many other residents, can no longer afford the area.

Downing’s resignation letter bemoaned that despite splitting a house with another couple, her rent is still $6200 a month. She estimates that to buy the house and share it with children would cost $2.7 million. The monthly cost of a home mortgage, tax and insurance payment would be $12,177, or $146,127 per year. Downing laments that sum is too much for her as an attorney and her husband as a software engineer.

Downing’s resignation put unwelcome pressure on the Palo Alto’s Architectural Review Board to start being more family friendly. On September 15, the Board rejected Mr. Zuckerberg’s plans because they would seriously undermine the city’s housing stock.

The Architectural Board is only an advisory committee, and Palo Alto’s Director of Planning Hillary Gitelman can override their decision and approve the proposals. But local architects familiar with Palo Alto told the Curbed.com this rarely happens, because “railroading unpopular projects through wouldn’t be smart politics.”

It is unclear how widespread Mayor Burt’s feelings are, but there is at least some backlash.

By Chriss W. Street | Brietbart

 

The Fed Launches A Facebook Page… And The Result Is Not What It Had Expected

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While it is not exactly clear what public relations goals the privately-owned Fed (recall Bernanke’s Former Advisor: “People Would Be Stunned To Know The Extent To Which The Fed Is Privately Owned“) hoped to achieve by launching its first Facebook page last Thursday, the resultant outpouring of less than euphoric public reactions suggest this latest PR effort may have been waster at best, and at worst backfired at a magnitude that matches JPM’s infamous #AskJPM twitter gaffe.

Here are some examples of the public responses to the Fed’s original posting: they all share a certain uniformity…

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We wonder how long until the Fed pulls a “blogger Ben Bernanke”, and starts moderating, if not outright blocks, all Facebook comments.

Source: ZeroHedge

And the state where richest people live is…

A new survey lists the states with the highest number of ultra rich

               CA US Senior Senator Dianne Feinstein’s net worth estimated at over $40 million

by Quentin Fottrell

Which U.S. state has the wealthiest residents of them all? It’s the home state of Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg but not America’s richest man, Bill Gates, who lives in the state of Washington.

California is the state with the highest number of ultra wealthy individuals, according to a report from private wealth consultancy Wealth-X. There are 13,445 ultrahigh-net-worth individuals — defined as those with $30 million and above in net assets — based in the Golden State, up 6% on a year-over-year basis. They’re mostly located in San Francisco (5,460 people) and Los Angeles (5,135). In fact, California’s population of ultra wealthy individuals is larger than the ultrawealthy population in the entirety of the United Kingdom (11,510).

                       Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: Born in New York state, resides in California.

Other states are experiencing a super-rich surge. New York was No. 2 on the list, with 9,530 ultrahigh-net-worth individuals in 2014, up 6% in the last year, and — perhaps unsurprisingly — 8,655, or 91%, of them were based in New York City. The population of people with $30 million or more rose 14% on a year-over-year basis to 80 in North Dakota, which is currently experiencing an energy oil boom. Florida’s ultrahigh-net-worth population increased by more than 10%, adding almost 500 new individuals to 4,710 in 2014 due to strong growth in the state’s financial and real-estate sectors.


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