Uber's big day arrives
After spurring the wider tech industry—from Lyft to Pinterest—to run toward the IPO finish line before the party is over, Uber is finally going public later today on the New York Stock Exchange. That values the company at $75 billion, a far cry from the rumored valuation in 2018 of $120 billion.
The price? $45 a share—in the low-end of its expected price range, because it seems the company had a reality check in the Lyft IPO, which opened strong and now finds itself 23 percent below its opening price. Uber, according to The New York Times, has been advised to act cautiously, and price at a level that's realistic to appease a stock market that's in turmoil.
Uber's co-founder, Garrett Camp, will find himself a multi-billionaire by the weekend, with him set to gain approximately $3.7 billion after years of waiting (even though he's already a millionaire). Travis Kalanick, the company's other co-founder and ousted CEO, will be worth $6 billion.
Bloomberg published a story today that detailed the history of Uber, and Garrett Camp's role in the company—it's easy to forget how much of a mess it went through to get here, and the story paints a picture of how Camp was a 'factory of ideas' but will make billions off of doing incredibly little. Neither Camp or Kalanick are expected to invited to the 'bell-ringing' ceremony at the stock exchange.
What will be very telling about today, and the moment Uber hits the market, is how investors react. It's been an incredibly long road to get to the IPO, and unfortunately for Uber, it's ending at an awkward moment for global markets—but like Spotify's surprise IPO last year, I suspect having such a strong brand will help it soar, rather than fizzle.
Facebook's co-founder says it's time to break it up
Breaking decades of silence, Facebook's co-founder, Chris Hughes, came out with an opinion piece in The New York Times yesterday that laid out the case for breaking up Facebook—in more than 5,000 words. It minces no words:
Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.
What's astounding, at this point, is that Hughes isn't even the first early Facebook insider to come out and say this. Roger McNamee, an early investor in the company, came out in January with a book that tells the story of waking up to the realities of the company—and ultimately calls for breaking the company up.
Facebook's response? As expected it says "Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability, but you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company."
While some have argued that breaking up Facebook wouldn't do much to fix the actual problems, but I disagree—it owns the lion's share of the top ten apps, and almost all of social media at this point. Even separating Instagram from Facebook, in a return to autonomy, would surely completely change the paradigm, forcing the company to compete, rather than use sheer brute force and audience to win a market.
"The most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power is Mark’s unilateral control over speech," Hughes wrote. "There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize, and even censor the conversations of two billion people." And he's right, it's unprecedented in every way..
An internal Amazon document says deleting Alexa queries doesn't actually delete them
It's really coming out how dodgy Amazon's practices are with Alexa, and how opaque it is about what happens to your voice data once it leaves the room.