Category Archives: Business
Editor's note: Victor Basta is the MD of Magister Advisors, an M&A advisory firm to the technology industry. The firm has worked on 16 transactions since it was founded three years ago, including the sale of C3 to Apple for $ 250 million and LoveFILM's $ 320m exit to Amazon. Below is his view on Apple's future.
After last week’s earnings, it is even clearer that Apple is not the company you think it is. Its future value will not be as a hardware designer and innovator. It will more likely be as a great software and services business, underpinned by the everyday actions of the hundreds of millions of credit card-enabled users subscribed to the iTunes store.
The iTunes store is now ten. But read the newspapers and you’ll find nearly zero references to iTunes, despite it being core to Apple’s future.
All the talk last week was about hardware and the battle with Samsung. This is the “last war.” Even if Apple steps forward with its “best ever” device in the autumn, how many days before Samsung responds with a better product? Apple can no longer become the first $ 1 trillion company by simply making better mousetraps.
Apple executives are clearly frustrated by this constant device focus. Tim Cook, on the earnings call, audibly emphasized “SERVICES” as much as he felt he could. Apple’s next products only need to be “very good”’ to keep consumers loyal and spending money on software and content. Keep it that way and the Apple profit machine will march on, though not without strategic threat.
Amazon, rapidly building its capabilities as a device-assisted ecosystem of credit card-enabled users, is Apple’s new major competitor. A string of acquisitions leaves little question that Amazon will offer new digital devices and services. In recent years Amazon has quietly acquired SnapTell, an image matching startup; IVONA Software, a text to speech service; Yap, a voice to text startup; Touchco, a specialist in touch screen technology; and Evi, a Siri-style mobile app that turns phones into mobile assistants.
Amazon clearly has broad aspirations to be a key mobile player, which puts it on a collision course with Apple. Amazon has a huge ecosystem of credit-card-enabled users, great devices to download content, a huge trove of valuable content behind the devices, and a world-class buying experience that other retailers try to copy. Apple will face bigger challenges from Amazon than anything it is seeing from Samsung.
This is a two horse race. Neither Google, Facebook, Samsung, Nokia nor Microsoft have this combination of great consumer service and software nor a huge credit-card payment base. Amazon though, importantly, is not hamstrung by legacy or expectation.
Amazon has another emergent advantage. The Kindle, which Amazon astutely sells at a loss, is now owned by tens of millions of customers. They use their Kindles to buy from the Amazon store. This is exactly the same as Apple’s model, yet arguably the model is better.
Amazon currently gets a fraction of the attention that Apple gets. Yet there is a no doubt that it is fiercely competitive. Many great retailers have already been “Amazoned” by the online book-seller from Seattle. It leaves us wondering, if Apple and Amazon’s strategies are heading in the same direction, albeit from different starting points, is even the mighty Apple at risk from this relatively quiet achiever?
(CNN) — OurCrowd is an Israeli company trying to change the way start-ups are funded.
The company is structured as a hybrid venture capital and crowd-funding platform, allowing investors from around the world to invest directly in Israeli start-ups.
This model gives investors the structure and professionalism of a venture capital deal, chief executive Jon Medved tells CNN, but couples it with the speed and choice of angel investing. It’s essentially acting as a web-based match making service for start-ups and investors.
Medved explained to CNN that OurCrowd's first task is to seek out promising early stage Israeli companies. It then places them on the platform for it's members to look at and choose from. Investors on the platform can then invest via OurCrowd-managed partnerships. In order to invest, members must be accredited and be prepared to invest a minimum of $ 10,000 per deal.
Medved, backed by a team of deal makers, is trying to capitalize on what he calls the “Series A funding crunch.” He’s referring to the second round of investment, following seed funding, when businesses may need an extra boost to succeed.
“If you’re not going to get to Series A, you're not going to get to promised land,” Medved told CNN.
So far, OurCrowd has funded 17 companies, injecting $ 500,000 on average. It has raised more than $ 10 million in funding.
Click the links below to hear what Medved looks for in a start-up.
CNN– Silicon Valley Veteran Ivan Nikkhoo gives his take on what the decline in PC sales means for tech sector.
(CNN) – Bitcoins got a boost in popularity on the heels of the crisis in Cyprus, where people had little access to traditional banking. But as awareness of the digital money grows, so does the volatility.
CNN's Maggie Lake looks at New York bar that is trying to raise the awareness of a currency called bitcoins.
(CNN) – Julia Coronado of BNP Paribas says it's clear that bailout concerns stretch far beyond Cyprus. “The numbers out of Cyprus in and of themselves are not that large … but it’s a reminder of the ongoing issues that are yet to be resolved, and how complicated these issues are,” she tells CNN. “The road stretches long before us, and that’s a worry.”
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says China will begin to revise its future policy on North Korea.
Rudd outlines three reasons for this shift including North Korea’s nuclear weapons program aggravating regional U.S. allies; the potential for an escalating conflict should North Korea attack South Korea; and the damage to China’s foreign reputation as a supporter of the regime.
Rudd adds that China faces huge challenges in transforming its domestic economic growth model to meet the workforce demands for higher wages and living standards.
Opposition Leader Mohamed ElBaradei says the solution for Egypt's terrible shape is a political one, not a military one.
ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, tells CNN's John Defterios that Egypt must start political reconciliation to stop the social unrest and violence in the country.
The North African state needs support from the International Monetary Fund to "jump start" the economy, according to ElBaradei.
Moira Forbes talks about women in the workplace after Forbes recently named Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg the world's most powerful woman in business.
Forbes says Sandberg has received much attention around the release of her book "Lean In" focusing on women in the workforce.
Forbes added that Sandberg has grown Facebook into a multi-billion dollar company and her success if "extraordinary" with a book that is "personal and candid."
Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council, says the Iranian-Pakistan gas pipeline could be a strategy by Pakistan to align more closely with Iran.
The new pipe labeled the “peace pipeline” runs between south Iran to the Pakistan city of Multan.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met on March 11 to mark the beginning of construction on the Pakistani side.
The U.S. says the pipeline could violate sanctions on Iran over the country’s nuclear program.