Posts by Aaron Pressman
- Yahoo Finance23 hrs ago
A Lamborghini dealership in Costa Mesa, California, says it just sold a Tesla Motors Model S for bitcoins and will accept the virtual currency for any future car purchases.
“Bitcoin, a fully encrypted and fully digital currency, has been used by a recent client of ours to pay for a Tesla Model S Performance we had in our inventory," the Lamborghini Newport Beach dealershipposted on its website. “That's right, an electronic currency was used to purchased a fully electric vehicle.”
The dealership didn’t identify the buyer or price tag on the electric car, likely left over from a trade in by an earlier Lambo buyer. A new Tesla Model S starts at $62,400. With bitcoins trading at $1,052 on the Mt.Gox Exchange Thursday, it would take about 59 bitcoins to grab a new electronic ride.
- Yahoo Finance1 day ago
Apple’s (AAPL) acquisitions over the past few years have provided a pretty obvious roadmap of where the company was heading. But a couple of recent deals have left pundits scratching their heads.
The company reportedly paid more than $200 million for Topsy, a firm that collects and analyzes every tweet ever posted. And it acquired Primesense, the company that helped develop Microsoft’s (MSFT) Kinect motion sensor, for approximately $350 million.
Neither of these recent deals fits an obvious need. And this lack of clarity may signal Apple is about to head off in an unexpected direction. Consider what happened in 2005, when the then computer and iPod maker acquired FingerWorks, which made multi-touch devices. There was confusion around this deal as well but, less than two years later, Steve Jobs was unveiling the iPhone and its brilliant multi-touch screen.
- Daily Ticker1 day ago
We appear to have entered the era of the smartphone auteur, where every designer with a crazy new idea can bring a product to market.
On Wednesday, a Russian company started selling a new device, the Yotaphone, with mostly pedestrian specs except for one special feature: in addition to the usual color LCD screen, the back of the phone has an e-ink display like a Kindle or Nook e-reader. From the front, the Yotaphone looks like pretty much every other phone running Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system. But the screen on the back draws very little power, extending the phone’s battery life to 50 or more hours for reading an e-book, for example. The Yotaphone isn’t going to be sold in the United States, at least initially, but will likely be available to potential U.S. buyers on websites that specialize in importing foreign phones.
- Daily Ticker2 days ago
They want you back – well some of you, at least.
Cable giants Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) have rolled out new, lower cost television packages aimed at wooing back some of the millions who aren’t subscribing, the so-called cord cutters.
Time Warner Cable is selling a small group of mostly local broadcast channels plus HBO for $30 a month. That’s a pretty good package for a viewer who loves shows like Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire that aren’t really available elsewhere. Still, the package doesn’t include charges for a cable box and other monthly add-in fees. And cord cutters who get most of their video fix online from Netflix (NFLX) or Hulu will still need Internet service.
Comcast’s package might make more sense for the kind of mostly-Netflix, occasional-HBO watching subscriber. It costs $40 to $50 a month depending on the market and includes local channels, HBO plus Internet service.
- The Exchange2 days ago
Google’s (GOOG) share price has gained a stellar 50% so far this year, adding about $120 billion to its total market cap of $354 billion, the largest increase of any U.S. tech stock, according to Factset. The $120 billion gain exceeds Facebook’s entire stock market value, two Hewlett Packards (HPQ) or five Twitters. Google's share price crossed $1,000 for the first time in October and currently trades within a few dollars of the all-time high of $1,068.
- The Exchange10 days ago
T-Mobile US (TMUS) CEO John Legere drew chuckles from competitors back in March when he rolled out his “un-carrier” strategy to cut prices, do away with two-year contracts and separate charges for new phones from regular service fees. Legere, dressed in jeans and a pink T-Mobile T-shirt, declared of the industry’s standard billing model, "This is the biggest crock of s--t I've ever heard in my entire life. Do you have any idea how much you're paying?" Bigger carriers Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T) and Sprint (S) may have been put off by Legere’s shock-jock style. But they’re not laughing anymore. A showman's touch, a bargain-shopper's eye With a showman’s touch for antics and a bargain shopper’s eye for discounts, Legere is suddenly succeeding in shaking up the wireless telecom industry. After cutting prices, he’s since offered to let customers upgrade to new phones twice a year, slashed international roaming fees and finally added Apple's (AAPL) popular iPhone to the T-Mobile lineup. Just last month he created a modest but free-for-life data plan for the iPad. Customers have noticed. T-Mobile added almost 1.4 million subscribers to its branded services so far this year after losing 1.1 million in all of last year, according to the company’s figures. In the most lucrative segment, continuous monthly subscribers, T-Mobile has attracted more customers in the past six months than all three of its larger rivals combined, analysts say. “Lo and behold, it turns out that being cheaper really does matter – who knew?” quips industry analyst Craig Moffett. Shares of T-Mobile US, which is still majority-owned by German phone giant Deutsche Telecom, have shot up 62% since May, when they first listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Closing at $26.75 Thursday, the stock could still have further gains ahead. T-Mobile could add another 2.4 million subscribers next year, helping the stock reach $36, Moffett says. Colorful antics Customers couldn't help but notice Legere's colorful antics as he rolled out the various pieces of the un-carrier plan. And not many CEOs speak with such candor -- or so much profanity -- about their views of competitors. At the March event, he promised to "stop the bulls--t." In July he took to the stage with a group of dolls intending to mock AT&T's commercials that feature cute and precocious little kids. "Hey kids, is it better for your network to be crap or is it better to have a good high-speed network in New York?" he asked. At the October global roaming event, he called other carriers' fees "completely crazy" and "insanely inflated." Legere’s arrival last September followed a tumultuous period for the company. Previous CEO Philipp Humm resigned in June 2012 after regulators blocked AT&T’s bid to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion. AT&T had to hand over billions of dollars worth of valuable airwaves to T-Mobile as part of the failed takeover’s breakup fee. With more spectrum, Legere has been able to accelerate plans to expand T-Mobile’s network to faster
- The Exchange15 days ago
After tearing up the stock market for most of the year, shares of 3-D printers are taking a major hit this week, thanks to short sellers. A brutal attack from Citron Research called into question the reported revenue of German-based Voxeljet (VJET), which makes massive, industrial-caliber 3-D printers. The company went public on October 18 at $13, doubled on day one and then raced up to $70. But, thanks mostly to the Citron report, it’s been cut in half, trading down 13%, at less than $36, on Thursday. Sure, someday we’ll probably all have amazing three-dimensional printers at home churning out cool toys and spare parts for the lawn mower. But it’s unclear which, if any, of the current crop of tiny startups that make the machines will be around for the win. Collateral damage is hitting the entire sector, which had previously been one of the hottest in the market. ExOne (XONE), which went public in February, has lost 12% since Monday. Stratasys (SSYS) lost 9%, 3D Systems (DDD) lost 10% and Proto Labs (PRLB) was off 8%. The potential uses for 3-D printing are seemingly unlimited and the devices have caught the attention of everyone from genius PhD students to old-car buffs. Like many previous technological marvels, the printers have improved dramatically, even as prices for the devices have plummeted. Amazon sells one of Stratasys's Makerbot printers for $2,200with next-day delivery. Risks of specialty sectors Each of these publicly traded "pure play" companies has its own story and they are at starkly different stages of development, of course. But the coincident stock sell-offs should serve as a warning that the storybook tales that drive any such specialty sector can come apart in a hurry. Voxeljet, which had been trading at a market cap of more than $1 billion, may be the least-developed of the bunch. It just reported third-quarter revenue of 3.5 million euros ($4.7 million) and net income of 211,000 euros ($284,000), or 0.11 euros per share (15 cents). That represented sales of just three 3-D printers. But Citron pointed to a footnote disclosing that a portion of the sales were made with loans from Voxeljet and “research services to be received.” “We’re not even sure such sales qualify as revenue — that would depend on who the parties are and the collectability of the receivables, but why ruin a good bubble,” the firm wrote. Voxeljet didn’t respond to a request for comment on the report. Other firms in the 3-D printer business are far more established, though possibly just as overvalued by the stock market. ExOne, along with making industrial printers, runs 3-D printing facilities in the U.S., Germany and Japan. It almost hit breakeven in the third quarter on revenue of $12 million, up 36% from last year. The quarter’s net loss of $224,000 was down from $6 million in 2012. Still, the stock was trading at 116 times next year’s expected profit. 3D Systems is the big daddy
- The Exchange17 days ago
People around the world complain about their jobs, but U.S. workers hate going to the office most. In a recent study sponsored by Monster.com and conducted by market research company GfK, just 53% of U.S. workers said they liked or loved their jobs, with 15% saying they disliked or hated their jobs. That was the highest level of dissatisfaction among workers surveyed in seven countries. Another 31% were merely satisfied. Canadians were the happiest at work, with 64% liking or loving their jobs and only 7% saying they were dissatisfied, according to the survey. Workers in the Netherlands and India were close behind. The results in part may reflect the longer average workweek and lesser amounts of vacation and leave time for U.S. workers. Also, shrinking health care and retirement benefits were the biggest concerns for U.S. workers in a Gallup poll in August. Frustrated dreams of upward mobility or the growing gap between rich and poor in the United States may also have been a factor. Lower-paid U.S. workers were the least satisfied with their jobs, as 21% of those who made under $50,000 reported they disliked or hated work. Only 10% of those making more than $50,000 were as dissatisfied. Workers in the Northeast and West were more satisfied than people at work in the Midwest and South, the survey found. The survey gathered answers from 8,000 people, including 1,007 in the United States, Monster said.
- The Exchange17 days ago
People with smartphones like to take pictures – lots of pictures. One estimate pegs the total number of digital photos to be snapped next year at 880 billion. And while many of the photos will never be looked at again, hardly anyone takes the trouble to delete their out-of-focus selfies and blurry pet shots. So it should come as no surprise that Dropbox, a leading photo- and file-storage service, is seeking to raise another $250 million from Silicon valley on terms that would value the company at $8 billion, as Bloomberg Businessweek reported Monday. With the seemingly ever-growing need for storage, Dropbox itself has been growing quickly. The company doubled its user base this year to 200 million and revenues are said to exceed $250 million (even closing in on $1 billion, according to one report). A working business model Unlike many of its cloud-service brethren, Dropbox has a working business model. Users can sign up for a small, free account of 2 gigabytes. As the free accounts inevitably fill up, some customers opt for additional storage starting at $10 a month. A service tailored for businesses starts at $795 a year. Dropbox, started in 2007 by a couple of MIT students, made its name as the simplest way for regular consumers to synchronize all their files between a desktop and a laptop. Every file in the Dropbox folder simply appeared on both machines. But over the past few years, Dropbox has also become a preferred way to handle moving files on and off phones and tablets, where syncing was an even more unpleasant and unreliable chore. Last year Dropbox cleverly added a feature to its mobile apps to automatically upload every photo taken on a user’s smartphone to Dropbox servers for syncing and safekeeping (with the user’s permission). Users could win additional free space for photos by convincing friends to sign up. By making uploading and syncing automatic – and invisible to the user – Dropbox helped fill its servers faster, and convinced more users to pay for additional space. Lately the company has been pushing hard to gain more business users, a group willing to pay higher rates for more-secure and reliable backup. An initial public offering can’t be too far off. Co-founder and CEO Drew Houston played coy at a conference in September. “I'm sure we'll go public at some point but fortunately it's not something we have to think about right now,” Houston said at the Disrupt SF conference. “We’re enjoying the time when we can just focus on the long term.” Investors are clamoring for true growth stocks, as Twitter’s (TWTR) recent blockbuster IPO made clear. And long before anyone offered to buy Snapchat for a few billion dollars, Houston and his team famously turned down a reported "nine-digit" acquisition bid offered personally by Steve Jobs in 2009. A reasonable valuation Valuing Dropbox at $8 billion seems completely reasonable in light of other recent Internet IPOs. Twitter had revenue of $317 million
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange21 days ago
Thousands of small- and medium sized-business owners may be getter closer to their dream IT set up: no set up. Amazon (AMZN) this week jumped into the tiny but fast-growing market to offer entirely virtual Windows computing. Starting at $35 a month, Amazon’s new WorkSpaces service runs a powerful Windows PC from a massive Amazon data center that a user can control from their phone, tablet or laptop. VMWare (VMW) last month bought its way into the hosted desktop space and Microsoft (MSFT) is rumored to have its own play, known by the code name Mohoro, coming next year. Until the recent moves, Citrix Systems (CTXS) largely had the field to itself over the past few years. Using one of these services, a mobile worker could use their iPad or Kindle Fire HDX to write macros for an Excel spreadsheet, process digital video into a new format or use other software features too powerful for a tablet. Employers could save a significant amount of money and would not have to deal with maintaining a finicky and often insecure network of Windows computers. A tiny, growing market Still, the market for this kind of virtual desktop in the cloud is tiny – about $30 million at Citrix, the leading player, according to Nomura Securities analyst Rick Sherlund. VMWare just acquired its desktop play, Desktone, last month for an undisclosed sum and said the additional revenue would be immaterial, at least for now. “This is something that’s been building for quite a while but things are really starting to heat up now,” says Brett Waldman, who tracks the market as an analyst with International Data Corporation. The market remains tiny but it’s growing fast, Waldman says. Sales of virtual desktop services will make up almost 20% of the $3.5 billion market for virtual client computing by 2016, he estimates. “[Virtual desktop services are] potentially appealing to the small businesses with 25 to 500 employees who don’t have their own data center and want out of the IT business,” says Ken Oestreich, senior director of product marketing for the business at Citrix. Customers see perhaps the greatest benefit for mobile workers who can take their desktop environment wherever they go. And there’s no risk from a lost laptop, since all the data are stored in the cloud. It also allows companies to keep control of their data and applications when they allow employees to use their own devices at work, via so-called bring your own device, or BYOD, policies.