All of Facebook’s huffing and puffing in India seems to have come to naught. Today the country’s telecommunications regulator banned “discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content”, meaning that Facebook and its local partner will no longer be able to offer the social network for free to Indian consumers as part of its Free Basics product. Read more
We previously wrote about Facebook’s battle with Indian regulators over its “Free Basics” product, which is a stripped down version of the internet designed to
ensure Facebook’s global dominance help bring the world’s poor online.
Trai, the Indian telecoms regulator, had launched a consultation in December about differential pricing for data services: effectively whether or not it’s ok to let telecoms companies charge different amounts for different parts of the internet. Readers in the US and Europe may know this debate by the term “net neutrality”. Read more
There’s an old notion that companies exist for one purpose above all else: to make money for their shareholders. It seems to be an uncool idea in Silicon Valley, where startups like to style themselves as charitably-minded enterprises that are simply trying to make everyone’s lives better and more “connected” or some other buzzword.
Which one is Facebook?
Look no further than this opinion piece Mark Zuckerberg wrote for the Times of India just after Christmas. He accuses his Indian critics of lying about “Free Basics”, the emaciated version of the internet that Zuckerberg has been pushing since 2013 to ensure that his social network is the first thing people in emerging markets see when they come online: Read more
Facebook’s “Safety Check” feature is probably the most humane way the company has leveraged its global reach and userbase. In the last 14 months it has helped the people affected by natural disasters in Afghanistan, Chile, Nepal, the Philippines and the south Pacific let their friends and family know they are safe.
This week, the company decided to activate it during the terrible attack on Paris that left at least 132 people dead and many more injured. It has also encouraged users to put the French flag on their profile pictures as an act of solidarity with France.
Both decisions have brought comfort to those directly and indirectly affected by the atrocity – they also raise questions about the people Facebook hasn’t assisted or commemorated.
We were struck by a line from Kas Thomas, who thinks Google is turning into Yahoo (and will end up buying Twitter as it tries to stay relevant).
Along the way, there will be layoffs. Google’s R&D and G&A spending are out of control.
Presumably someone in Mountain View does keep an eye on the total, but even if research and development spending is under control, it is large: $10bn last year. Read more
Along with the Facebook results on Monday, there was another SEC filing.
Virtual reality is more Mister Mxyzptlk’s department, and $2bn is not quite This is nuts territory.
But can you feel the LexCorp-style corporate governance, and ambition, here? Read more
OK, headline inflation and the god complex notwithstanding…
We’re open to the idea Whatsapp is worth almost $40 a user. Really. You know, something like:
- 450m active users, emphasis on active, many of whom are outside the US (and messaging across borders).
- Rare is the service that lets Android phones talk to iPhones easily, incidentally, or has non eye-stabby group messaging. “Network externalities” as the oleaginous VCs put it in Palo Alto.
- It’s price to users not earnings. Assume first that service will earn $5 or so over from each user, over a typical lifetime of using Whatsapp on current $1 a year pricing. Double or triple the pricing and the return looks better. Throw (oh, we dunno) mobile payments and better still. Now, quite plausibly, throw in 2bn, not 450m, users.
- So sure it’s a momentum trade. And sure, valuation is nuts, but Facebook is mostly paying in its shares, and Facebook shareholders made that valuation nuts. The basic trick here is not new: accrete earnings (users) with stock. Bluntly, Mark Zuckerberg has Lex Luthor-level ambitions — Facebook having LexCorp-level corporate governance. So come along for the ride.
Okey-dokey. But we’re still far from sure we get to more than $40 a user back.
And, all that said — who told China? (Or Korea, or Japan)
Chart via Nomura. And so to the keiretsu effect. Read more
A couple of years ago we had the privilege of attending a closed door session with a well known (former) spook/security type. We shan’t mention exactly who it was, but suffice to say the person in question seemed to know more about what’s what in the world of global security than anyone else doing the public speaking rounds these days.
It was a so-called “access event”, the sort where wealth managers pay organisers to connect them with those who know much more about what’s going on than they do.
The spook in question made clear that he could only comment in a private capacity and in very general terms, but he was nevertheless open to questions. Read more
We’re glad we kept a screenshot of this moment in stock-market history:
It (ultimately) landed Nasdaq with a $10m fine — the biggest ever for an exchange — and serious egg on its face on Wednesday, after a settlement with the SEC over securities law charges relating to Facebook’s botched IPO. From the release: Read more
If one’s relationship with Facebook required a status, it would probably be “complicated” for most. Like with Netflix and its chief executive Reed Hastings, who could face a civil action over a status update that allegedly violated disclosure rules. Oh, and also for this girl… Read more
The full Citigroup blast against Nasdaq’s handling of the Facebook IPO is well worth a read. (Big hat-tip to NYT Dealbook, click to enlarge)
Hat-tip to Sam Jones — it’s a 7.85 per cent stake (in the ordinary class A shares) by George Soros.
Google spits out about 1,690,000 search results for “facebook lock up expiry”.
It’s not exactly been a state secret that early investors in Facebook could start selling their stakes from today, when 271m shares lurch down the slipway. You could say the share price had been trying to price in this supply in recent days. Another 1.6bn shares will exit lock-up periods from now to early next year. It’s all known about, surely. Read more
Facebook’s second-quarter $1.18bn revenues arrived more or less in line with the consensus of $1.16bn. (It earned 12 cents per share, though made a loss of 8 cents in GAAP terms because of costs related to employees’ shares and the IPO.)
Whoopee. Read more
Another bad day for Facebook shareholders. It looks like the latest plunge — which took the shares below the $30 level — has something to do with the start of option trading this morning. The shares have dropped to new lows, down around 7.9 per cent at pixel time.
Successful or not, Facebook’s IPO has taught us one very important thing over the last two days.
The blogosphere/Twittersphere knows extremely little about greenshoe IPO mechanics. And yet, because who shouts loudest makes the most waves…the idea that Morgan Stanley had “lost face” on the IPO due to its commitment to take on shares at $38 “at a burden” to itself managed to linger around far too long for comfort. Read more
Update after the close: It closed green(shoe) at $38.23 according to Bloomberg data. But not until after a few moments close to $38.00, as seen below earlier…
After an open of $42.05, against the $38 IPO price, Facebook stock quickly reverted to the sale price on Friday — at which level we presume those banks with the over-allotment mandate (MOST, JPM, GS) will have been very busy indeed. Read more
Via the FT Tech liveblog. Winner possibly gets this…
Is life as we know it gonna change after 11am New York time on Friday?
Will Mark Zuckerberg be crowned emperor of the dweebs (just as Napoleon was crowned emperor of the French exactly 208 years ago today) or will he fall flat on his puli sheepdog? Read more
1) It’s a punchy IPO pricing range.
2) Ooh look at the insider seller amounts. Read more
We’re still trying to get our heads round this at pixel time (Yahoo killer?) but here’s the release:
In the initial AOL auction, Microsoft secured the ability to own or assign approximately 925 U.S. patents and patent applications plus a license to AOL’s remaining patent portfolio, which contains approximately 300 additional patents that were not for sale. Read more
Kara Swisher reports that it’ll be for $1bn in cash and shares. From a note posted to Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg:
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Calstrs, has called for Facebook to split the role of chairman and chief executive and to appoint a woman to its all-male board for the first time, the FT reports. Calstrs, one of the biggest US public pension funds, is already invested in Facebook through its private equity holdings, and will pick up shares through index-tracking after its IPO. Calstrs’ demand for shareholders to be given voting powers according to the size of their stake will be a tough request to meet, however. Facebook has revealing in filings that Mark Zuckerberg paid nominal sums to other shareholders in agreements to gain enormous voting clout, says NYT Dealbook.
Reuters reports that Google and Facebook have reacted to a court directive in India on Monday warning them of a potential crackdown by authorities if they do not take steps to protect religious sensibilities. The two companies are among 21 that have been asked to block potentially offensive material. The move, off the back of private petitions to the court, have stoked fears over censorship. Last year, a law was passed in India that made companies like Google responsible for user-generated content on their sites, giving them 36-hours to take down content deemed offensive once there has been a complaint. The WSJ reports that the content in question in this case involved images of religious figures. These have since been taken down by Google but only on its localised India domain, making the content still available elsewhere.