Posts by Aaron Pressman
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange2 days ago
Controversial Internet television service Aereo is much like other popular high-tech entertainment products that courts have found to be legal, the company’s chief executive, Chet Kanojia, maintains.
The service, available in 11 cities so far, lets customers watch over-the-air broadcast channels via the Internet for $8 to $12 a month. Broadcasters have sued, saying Aereo is distributing their programming without paying the licensing fees required by copyright law.
But Kanojia, in an interview with Yahoo Global Anchor Katie Couric, explains that Aereo dedicates a tiny television antenna to each customer and then streams the signal over the Internet to the customer’s phone, computer or TV set.
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange2 days ago
The theory was that the big companies would weather any difficult times, perhaps brought on by the Fed, better than smaller upstarts. But as the giants have reported first quarter earnings, it’s become apparent these lumbering behemoths were out of favor for a reason. There’s not much growth, and profits, while still sizable, may be under threat.
On Wednesday IBM reported first quarter revenue of $22.5 billion, well below the $22.9 billion Wall Street expected, as hardware sales took a hit. Sales at the overall systems and technology unit declined 23%, including a 40% drop in sales of “Z” mainframes and a 22% drop in the “Power” server line. IBM said its sales related to cloud computing jumped 50% but the company didn’t actually disclose the dollar figure of those sales in its earnings reports.
- Aaron Pressman at Daily Ticker4 days ago
Tim Cook may have wanted to double down on secrecy at Apple (AAPL), as he said a few yeas ago, but give the company’s size and global scale, it’s proving impossible. As we draw closer to this year’s Apple updates, the level and detail of leaks is again on the rise. When your global supply chain has to start ramping up to make tens of millions of phones, there is seemingly no way to prevent the constant leaks.
Last week, we got a round up of rumors covering the entire product line from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, considered more reliable than most (though hardly perfect, I’m still waiting for my iPhone with 128 GB of storage. He did get the gold case option and fingerprint sensor correct, however.)
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange5 days ago
T-Mobile (TMUS) announced Monday it was ending monthly overage fees, with outspoken chief executive John Legere forcefully pounding the message that the fourth-largest U.S. carrier will continue making war on its larger rivals for the rest of 2014.
“We need to reassert our position that we will never stop,” Legere said in a phone interview. “It’s almost endless.”
On Monday T-Mobile said it would eliminate overage fees, those surprise charges that pop up on monthly bills after a customer uses more minutes, texts or data than their plan allowed. Instead, T-Mobile said it would allow unlimited voice and text on most plans and shift customers to slower downloads when they used up their data allotments. Customers can also go to T-Mobile’s website and purchase additional high-speed data at $10 per 2 gigabytes. The change takes effect in May for bills arriving in June.
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange7 days ago
On first hearing, it sounds almost insane – every year, Amazon (AMZN) offers workers in its distribution warehouses up to $5,000 to quit. Why would a company ask employees to quit and why in the world would it pay them to do so?
But like many of the unusual practices adopted under Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the pay-to-quit policy is grounded in data. The goal of the offer is to encourage unmotivated and disaffected employees to leave on their own, while making employees who reject the offer feel more dedicated to the job.
Delivered with the headline “Please Don’t Take This Offer,” the pay-to-quit offers start at $2,000 for an employee’s first year and rise by $1,000 a year up to a maximum of $5,000.
“The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want,” CEO Bezos explained in a letter to shareholders this week. “In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”
Creating a positive work culture
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange8 days ago
So much for the busiest week for IPOs since 2007 … because it looks like Thursday’s market swoon has derailed much of the new issues market.
Seven companies were scheduled to go public after the close yesterday but it looks like only three actually made it: Mediterranean restaurant chain Zoe’s Kitchen (ZOES), energy infrastructure operator Enable Midstream Partners (ENBL) and livestock drug maker Phibro Animal Health (PAHC).
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange9 days ago
Warning signs are flashing for the new-issues market, as almost one-third of deals priced in the past month have sunk below their IPO price amid a general rout of high-growth/no-profit stocks.
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But, in what could end up as the busiest week for IPOs in more than six years, most of the higher-profile deals are still holding up, leaving the opportunity to go public open for more action. These warning signs — at least so far — do not indicate a broken market but it's also hardly the gangbusters euphoria that characterizes a bubble.
One of the deal's struggling to stay above water is Ally Financial (ALLY), the former finance arm of General Motors (GM), which priced at $25 a share on Wednesday night and traded down almost 2% on Thursday. The deal raised $2.4 billion, the most of any IPO is 2014. But the company is hardly a typical debut, with the U.S. government involvement, the taint of the subprime melt down and other unique factors.
- Aaron Pressman at Daily Ticker14 days ago
Microsoft (MSFT) had a busy week at their developers conference. Announcing Office for the iPad, unveiling a new line of phones, and even a Siri like competitor for their mobile operating system. Where did they hit and where did they miss?
Incremental improvements for consumers
Windows Phone 8 and the bizarrely named “Windows 8.1 Update” (they issued Windows 8.1 last fall) offer a bevy of improvements, but most are pretty minor – like displaying three columns of tiles on small phone screens instead of just two, making the power and search buttons much quicker to find on Windows PCs, etc.
The one big new feature on the phone was Cortana, a digital assistant that’s sort of a combination of Apple’s Siri and Google Now. It’s a little less full-featured to start, but has a useful way to establish detailed privacy boundaries that the others lack. And it’s named after a cool character from the Xbox game Halo.
Yeah, but Nokia introduced three phones. Super cool, right?
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange15 days ago
Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, may be among the richest people on the planet but (at least so far) they’ve stayed away from buying mega yachts, desert islands and other trappings of the ultra rich.
According to a Facebook filing this week, Zuckerberg pulled the trigger on some 60 million shares worth of options at the end of last year, netting a profit of about $3.3 billion. He immediately turned around and sold more than 41 million shares while turning over 18 million, worth almost $1 billion at the time, to his favorite charity, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
After paying capital gains taxes, what might Zuckerberg and Chan do next? No toys
Despite the occasional wild speculation — $90 million for the penthouse of towering New York City skyscraper One57, anyone? — the Zuckerbergs haven’t gone in for much conspicuous consumption.
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange15 days ago
Satya Nadella, the new Microsoft (MSFT) CEO, wasn’t front and center at the company’s huge developer conference in San Francisco this week, preferring to let underlings unveil what’s new from Redmond in a 3-hour-plus kickoff keynote session.
“This is one of those privileges you lose when you get kicked upstairs,” Nadella joked when he finally appeared at the tail end of the keynotes, dressed down in a T-shirt, jeans and black sneakers.
What Microsoft did introduce was underwhelming, including modest tweaks to the unpopular Windows 8 operating system, easier ways for PC developers to write apps for Windows phones and a few unexciting new phones from Nokia. Nadella's only been in charge for a few months, of course, so the weakness may be a greater reflection on his predecessor, Steve Ballmer.