Image: Airtel, Amazon
June 4, 2020
Good morning! This Thursday, Big Tech's India fight heats up, people want tech to put its money where its mouth is, and SoftBank doubles down on Wirecard. Want Index in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.
What Matters Today
- ZoomInfo plans to list today after raising $935 million in its IPO. It priced shares at $21, significantly higher than its initial target of $16 to $18.
- 2 p.m. PDT: Broadcom reports earnings, with analysts expecting revenue to be up 3.1% year-on-year. Rosenblatt's Hans Mosesmann thinks the company can benefit in the current quarter from cloud demand, although he cautions of "some potential weakness in the wireless end market."
- Monzo plans to lay off up to 120 people, around 8% of its workforce.
- Quibi is reportedly considering laying off around 10% of its staff. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company asked senior executives to take pay cuts.
- Almost 6 million jobs are under threat, according to Bloomberg Economics, with white-collar workers particularly vulnerable.
As of 4:31 a.m. PDT: Nasdaq Futures: -0.20% | Euro 600: -0.49% | Nikkei: 0.36% | Hang Seng: 0.17%
- Amazon leased 12 more planes, bringing its total fleet size to 82 aircraft.
- Apple's services bundle is reportedly referenced in the latest iOS code.
- Citizen and Signal have seen a spike in downloads amid the protests.
- The U.K. is reportedly in talks with NEC and Samsung to provide 5G equipment.
- Taiwan will offer $335 million to encourage chipmakers to open R&D facilities in the region, with the aim of attracting $1.3 billion in annual investment.
- Grab expanded its grocery delivery operations.
- A federal judge allowed a shareholder lawsuit against Apple, which alleges that Tim Cook misled investors over Chinese iPhone demand.
- Amazon was sued by warehouse employees, who allege that unsafe working conditions led to a worker's taking coronavirus home, infecting and killing her cousin.
- FedEx followed UPS in adding a delivery surcharge for customers sending abnormally high numbers of packages.
- Smartphone shipments are expected to fall 11.9% year-on-year in 2020, according to IDC.
- Uber rides are down 70% year-on-year.
- NetApp acquired Spot.io, a cloud services startup, for a reported $450 million.
- Unity is reportedly working with Goldman Sachs on an IPO, which could take place later this year.
- The group buying Grindr reportedly has ties to its current owner, which was forced to divest the company under U.S. national security concerns.
- Andreessen Horowitz launched the Talent x Opportunity Fund, which will invest in entrepreneurs who "lack the typical background and resources." All the fund's returns remain in the fund, which will be funded through donations. a16z partners contributed $2.2 million to seed the fund. (Check out Protocol's list of who else in tech is giving — and how much.)
Everyone's Thinking About
The price of progress
When someone asks me what Index is about, I normally say "the business of technology." I don't cover tech culture or policy, leaving that to my much more able colleagues; I simply write about the things that affect how tech companies make money. This week's Black Lives Matter protests fall into that category.
- "If the companies truly believed what they were saying, they'd cut their contracts with any police department." That's Jacinta Gonzalez, an organizer with Mijente, in a piece about tech companies' Black Lives Matter statements by Protocol's Issie Lapowsky and Emily Birnbaum.
- Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM have all issued statements of solidarity in recent days. All three also tout how their products can be used for more effective policing, and all have worked with U.S. police departments.
"Tech companies want to have it both ways," Fight for Our Future's Evan Greer told Protocol.
- "They want to be seen as progressive champions, but they want to make money by bone-grafting themselves to law enforcement, and I think frankly this is a moment to pick a side."
- Big Tech has previously faced employee unrest, protests, and boycotts for working with ICE, and it's not farfetched to think similar might happen here.
- Some startups are pushing back, too: Talkspace backed out of a partnership with Facebook over its treatment of Trump's posts.
It's not just directly-involved companies under pressure, either.
- "Companies have power and must use it to address this problem," said John Streur, CEO of asset manager Calvert. "Doing nothing adds to the problem. Companies should publicly state what they are doing to combat racism and police brutality."
- Until they do so, expect investors, employees, and consumers to push back.
- "The stability in equity markets does not reflect the job losses and the insolvencies ahead of us globally." — Dymon Asia Capital's Danny Yong thinks markets are due for a correction.
- "They're combining tech investing with value investing." — Insead professor Claudia Zeisberger said Silver Lake is looking for tech bargains like Airbnb — but some think that's risky.
- "We are hearing from many sales people/vendors in the field that are seeing cloud migrations and cloud infrastructure projects fast tracked and green lighted well ahead of expectations." — Wedbush analysts think all's well in the cloud world.
Amazon enters the India fight
The already-hot battle for India just got even hotter: Reuters reports this morning that Amazon is in talks to take a $2 billion stake in Bharti Airtel.
- To recap, the recent influx of Western interest in the region was kickstarted by Facebook's $5.7 billion investment in Jio Platforms, the country's leading telecoms company. A wave of private equity investment soon followed, along with reports that Microsoft and Twitter are considering stakes.
- Google entered the fray next, with The Financial Times reporting last week that it was considering a 5% stake in Vodafone Idea, Jio's struggling rival.
And now Amazon's here too. The investment it's discussing would get it a roughly 5% stake in Bharti, India's third-largest provider.
- The aim of the game here looks to be ecommerce. Jio has just integrated its new online shopping service, JioMart, with WhatsApp. The plan there is to bring India's 15 million kirana shops online — and to compete with Amazon.
- Amazon, already the second-largest ecommerce platform in India, could be looking to Bharti's 328 million subscribers as a way to supercharge its own kirana ambitions.
If this deal goes through, it will be notable for its symbolism.
- America's biggest tech companies seem set on an Indian proxy war, using telecoms companies to get their share of the country's 1.4 billion people.
- I said last week that the 2020s look set to be all about India. With this, that looks more true than ever.
SoftBank doubles down. Again.
SoftBank is seemingly continuing its WeWork approach of doubling down on questionable investments. Bloomberg reports that Samuel Merksamer, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, is in talks to join Wirecard's supervisory board. That's the same Wirecard that has been accused of accounting fraud, which a KPMG audit said it couldn't rule out. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.