Posts by Aaron Pressman
Kelsey Doorey has been a bridesmaid six times, experiencing the excitement, the emotions — and the expense. While men in wedding parties typically rent their tuxedos, women get stuck paying for dresses they’ll probably never wear again.
“Many of my best friends aren’t engaged yet, so I have many more to come,” she says. “It’s an honor, but it’s an expensive honor.”
So the 28-year-old recent UCLA business school grad decided to do something about it.
Her new company, Vow to be Chic, rents designer dresses for bridesmaids from a website. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a new dress, customers pay $95 to $125 and, after the bride and groom head off into the sunset, the dresses go back.
The site has struck exclusive deals to carry several of the most popular styles each from five of the eight top designers of bridesmaid dresses, including Swoon and Lula Kate. Every dress is available in multiple colors and a full range of sizes.
Popcorn Time, we hardly knew ya.
Just a few days after the new app arrived on the scene with its incredibly easy to use interface giving users acces to the entire Internet storehouse of illegally uploaded movies and TV shows, it has shut down.
The authors of the Netflix-like (NFLX) software have not identified themselves but appear to have explained the shutdown in an anonymous post on Medium under an account where they had earlier touted the software's availability.
"Our experiment has put us at the doors of endless debates about piracy and copyright, legal threats and the shady machinery that makes us feel in danger for doing what we love. And that’s not a battle we want a place in," the unknown authors wrote in a March 14 post. The authenticity of the post could not be confirmed. But a check of the app did show the service was no longer operating.
In hindsight, it’s kind of funny that the big tech bubble debate this week focused on Candy Crush Saga owner King Digital Entertainment’s IPO filing. It’s funny because, on Thursday night, Wall Street priced the craziest deal since the heights of the Internet bubble and almost no one complained a bit.
That deal was for Castlight Health (CSLT), a company that offers health information via the Internet to inform medical choices and reduce insurance costs. Sounds like a pretty good idea, and Castlight says it has helped some of its corporate customers reduce their health costs by more than 10% a year.
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other lead underwriters priced Castlight’s shares at $16, above an already raised expected range of $13 to $15, giving the company a valuation of $1.4 billion. That's billion with a “b.” Last year, Castlight had $13 million of total revenue. That’s million, with an “m.”
Then the stock opened on Friday at almost $40, giving it a valuation of over $3 billion!
- The Exchange3 days ago
This piece was updated to respond to the New Yorker article “What’s Candy Crush Really Worth?” by James Surowiecki
New Yorker staff writer and business columnist par excellence James Surowiecki posted a thoughtful response to my argument over on his blog. But I’m still right. King is already demonstrating its prowess at sustaining its Candy Crush revenue stream and developing new ones. It’s not remotely a Beanie Baby situation, an analogy Surowiecki doesn’t choose to defend.
As Candy Crush play appeared to be peaking in December, King added a whole new side expansion called Dreamworld. That certainly worked on my wife, who had (only temporarily it now seems) stopped playing but got sucked right back in. And King credits the expansion with renewing growth -- 97 million people played the game daily in February up from 93 million in December.
- Aaron Pressman at Daily Ticker3 days ago
(Update: On March 14, Popcorn Time shut down)
Fifteen years ago, Napster devastated the music business by making song stealing easy. Is it Hollywood’s turn now?
The new free app Popcorn Time looks a lot like a Napster for movies, or maybe Netflix (NFLX). The open-source software runs on almost any computer -- Windows, Mac or Linux -- and acts as an easy-to-use front end to the vast stash of pirated movies and TV shows sloshing around on the Internet.
The pirated videos, often uploaded from copies given out by Hollywood studios, end up online via BitTorrent, a huge but somewhat disorganized network of people sharing files on the Internet. It wasn’t easy to find any particular title until an unknown group of programmers, who say only that they live in Buenos Aires, created Popcorn Time.
- The Exchange5 days ago
Setting aside all the crazy caterwauling about the alleged new tech bubble, the tech IPO market is suddenly getting a lot more interesting. Recall that it took two weeks into 2014 before the first tech-related initial public offering, babysitting site Care.com (CRCM), hit the market, and then almost another two months for the second. Care.com was a bit of a snoozer, too, rising just below 43% in its first day of trade. But that second IPO, a $220 million deal for data-management firm Varonis Systems (VRNS), was a doozy, as shares nearly doubled on day one. And so was the third tech IPO of the year, last Friday’s $168 million Coupons.com (COUP), also a near double by the close that day. Shares today are basically flat. There was some irony in the first-day success. Coupons.com CEO Steven Boal founded the company in 1998 in the midst of the first Internet bubble and planned to go public way before 2014. But the company only reached $100 million in revenue in 2012 and just turned profitable in the fourth quarter of 2013. Varonis was founded in 2005, in the post-bubble era, and is inching toward profitability itself as revenues grow wildly. But expenses, especially marketing spending, are also skyrocketing. And the stock has sold off about 10% on Monday on no obvious news (but amid a broader market pullback). Two hot deals do not equal a bubble But two hot deals do not a bubble make. Back in 1999 and 2000, tech companies going public were only 5 years old on average, and three-quarters had sales under $50 million, two warning signs in the academic literature on IPOs. Varonis and Coupons.com both came in above those bubble levels. And it wasn't just two IPOs doubling that signaled a bubble -- more like 163 in 1999 and early 2000. This week comes Castlight Health, a cloud services company focused on the healthcare industry. And next week should see three more-specialized cloud companies come public. Paylocity Holdings does payroll and benefits, Q2 Holdings does banking and Amber Road focuses on international trade. Admittedly, Castlight looks considerably frothier – revenue last year totaled less than $13 million, which was dwarfed by $34 million of marketing expenses and $15 million needed for R&D, leading to a net loss of $62 million. Still, the company talks big, with claims it can “dramatically” improve efficiency in the $3.1 trillion U.S. healthcare market. Aim high, I guess? It will list on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol CSLT. Paylocity, listing as PCTY, is aiming for a smaller market – providing payroll, time tracking and benefits software over the Internet to businesses with 100 employees on average. It’s above the $50 million revenue level ($77 million last year) and operating at just about breakeven with a profit of $617,000. That makes last year’s 40% revenue growth all the more impressive. Q2 is also a small-market play – aiming to give better apps and Internet services to
- The Exchange9 days ago
It seems new BlackBerry (BBRY) chief executive John Chen can give as good as he gets, adding a breath of fresh air in an era when too many corporate leaders stick to bland talking points.
Chen, who got into a tiff with famously outspoken T-Mobile (TMUS) CEO John Legere last month, was at it again at the Oasis Montgomery conference in Santa Monica, California, on Thursday.
Asked about Apple’s (AAPL) popularity, Chen belittled iPhone users whose batteries run down before the end of the end of the day, forcing them to search for power outlets. “I call you guys wall huggers,” he quipped.
He was also in a joking mood when asked why he left private equity firm Silver Lake to take the difficult turnaround job at BlackBerry. “I wanted to do something where I could wake up every day and worry,” he answered, adding “and I have fulfilled my dream,” as the room burst into laughter
- The Exchange9 days ago
As the era of cloud computing begins, Paul Maritz, CEO of Pivotal, wants to see a more open outcome than the information technology industry is used to. In fact, he’s betting on it.
Pivotal, a spinoff from EMC (EMC) and VMWare (VMW), where Maritz served as CEO for four years, is building an open cloud computing platform that can run on top of many kinds of underlying cloud servers.
“We’re coming to the end of a 30- or 40-year era in the IT industry,” Martiz said on Wednesday, speaking at the Oasis Montgomery Summit in Santa Monica, California. “This really is a very profound shift that’s happening.”
That may not be what the biggest cloud providers, Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG) and particularly Amazon (AMZN), are seeking. They’re battling for dominance comparable to Windows on the PC or IBM (IBM) in mainframes, Maritz says.
- The Exchange15 days ago
The long-anticipated 2014 tech IPO bubble is having some problems getting inflated. So far this year, there had been almost no activity – just one small deal for babysitter website Care.com (CRCM). And, on Friday, data security firm Varonis Systems (VRNS) hit.
That’s a bit surprising given the hype coming out of 2013. The super successful debuts of tech companies including Twitter (TWTR), cybersecurity firm FireEye (FEYE) and 3D printer maker ExOne (XONE) came amidst 222 companies in all sectors going public raising $55 billion in total, the best year for IPOs since 2000.
- Daily Ticker16 days ago
Separating T-Mobile's (TMUS) great CEO from a less great stock, No. 4 U.S. carrier T-Mobile has been on a tear lately, adding 4.4 million customers in 2013, more than any other U.S. carrier. And CEO John Legere’s price-cutting, pro-consumer “uncarrier” strategy has just dominated the attention and coverage of the industry. Related: T-Mobile's Blunt-Talking CEO Shakes Up the Mobile Industry But this week, the company reported fourth quarter financial results and it didn’t look so alluring to stock investors. As I discuss in the above video with Yahoo Finance Editor in Chief Aaron Task, investors are in for a bumpy ride, at least in the short term. The stock dropped 5% and is now off about 10% year-to-date after having a great 2013. T-Mobile’s fourth quarter revenue of $6.83 billion was up 10% from last year but about 2% less than Wall Street expected. On the highly adjusted earnings basis, T-Mobile's adjusted profit was $1.2 billion, slightly above what Wall Street expected due to lower spending on building its network. And on a GAAP basis, T-Mobile lost $20 million. The bigger carriers, Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T), are reacting more and more quickly to Legere’s moves to cut prices and improve the customer value equation. Related: T-Mobile Drops Long-Term Contracts and Phone Subsidies: More than Just a Gimmick? Both have cut prices for their best customers and partially copied Legere’s efforts. The brash T-Mobile CEO dismisses the reactions and belittles them on Twitter but the larger carriers are sacrificing real revenue as they attempt to stave off the uncarrier strategy. AT&T announced it was cancelling international texting fees to many countries, a once highly lucrative income stream, after T-Mobile initiated such a move for its customers. And Verizon offered to slash $20 per line off bills for some of its customers. Related: T-Mobile offers new bank-by-phone program So the question is growing whether T-Mobile can sustain its success and at what cost. Farhad Manjoo, the New York Times personal tech columnist, praised Legere on Wednesday but his words may be chilling for T-Mobile investors: “Nobody knows if T-Mobile’s aggressive pricing will lead to a permanent change in the way cellular service is sold. But I, for one, am happy to see it die trying.” Die trying? That’s not what T-Mobile’s investors want to hear. Follow The Daily Ticker on Facebook and Twitter (@DailyTicker)! More from The Daily Ticker: