|Bid||0.00 x 900|
|Ask||0.00 x 800|
|Day's range||27.70 - 29.70|
|52-week range||19.53 - 42.00|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||N/A|
|PE ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Earnings date||11 Mar 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||27.68|
(Bloomberg) -- Palantir Technologies Inc., a data mining company co-founded by Peter Thiel, is changing its employee compensation in a bid to cut costs, ensure all employees can own shares and prepare for an eventual public stock listing, said three people familiar with the matter.The company, which helps governments and businesses collect and analyze data, will move toward eliminating cash bonuses and instead reward staff with restricted stock units, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The change was conveyed to staff in an email Friday.“Palantir has entered a new stage where we need to not only continue focusing on growth but also to ensure that growth is long-term sustainable as we march toward a successful IPO,” Khan Tasinga, a Palantir executive, wrote in the email to employees reported earlier by Business Insider. A spokeswoman for Palantir declined to comment.The email didn’t offer a timeline for an initial public offering. Thiel, Palantir’s chairman, told staff in September that the company wouldn’t go public in the next two to three years. Alex Karp, the chief executive officer, has told employees more recently that going public remains a goal that each department is working toward, without offering a target date, people familiar with the matter said.One of the paths to the public markets Palantir is considering has not been previously reported: a direct listing, said one of the people. The process, which makes a company’s shares available to trade on a stock exchange without raising money for the business, is rare but gaining attention after the listings of Spotify Technology SA and Slack Technologies Inc. This year, Airbnb Inc. is expected to directly list its stock, which would make it the most valuable company to do so.Palantir is known as much for its multimillion-dollar contracts with the Defense Department as for Thiel, its controversial backer. The billionaire started the Palo Alto, California, company with Karp in 2004.The company has long offered employee bonuses in the form of stock options, which can be expensive to acquire and carry significant tax liabilities. About a year ago, Palantir cut the price of options and increased cash bonuses in moves designed to bolster morale and address the company’s declining share price seen in private transactions.The move away from cash bonuses and the lack of a clear plan for going public could rankle many employees. But some staff have been lobbying management for the change to restricted stock units and applauded the shift because it gives them a stake in the company’s success, the people familiar with the matter said. All bonuses will be paid entirely in stock units by next year, the people said.To contact the reporter on this story: Lizette Chapman in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at firstname.lastname@example.org, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son opened the door to making at least some of the changes championed by activist investor Paul Singer, after the Japanese company reported a second quarter of losses from its startup investing.Son called Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. an “important partner” and said he is in broad agreement with the investor about SoftBank buybacks and share value. Son said he is on the side of shareholders, especially since he is the largest stockholder at the company. The two billionaires held discussions a couple weeks ago, he said.Son is adopting a more conciliatory stance just as he’s stumbling with his signature effort -- the $100 billion Vision Fund, which made him the biggest investor in technology. The fund lost money in the three months ended in December, one quarter after the meltdown at WeWork triggered a record loss for the Japanese company. On Wednesday, Son said he is no longer targeting $108 billion for a second fund and SoftBank may finance the effort on its own.“We are thankful that such a distinguished investor has joined us as a friend,” Son said at a press conference in Tokyo to discuss earnings. “We are basically in agreement on carrying out large buybacks when the finances allow it.”Elliott disclosed a stake of almost $3 billion in SoftBank this month, arguing the company’s shares are substantially undervalued compared with its assets. It has advocated for a share buyback of as much as $20 billion, along with governance changes and more transparency about its investments.The Vision Fund lost 225.1 billion yen ($2.05 billion) for the three months ended in December. SoftBank Group reported a slim operating profit of 2.6 billion yen, compared with the 344.7 billion yen average of analyst estimates.The past 12 months have been a roller coaster for Son and SoftBank investors alike. A year ago, the company unveiled a record buyback, sparking a rally that pushed shares to the highest since its dot-com peak in 2000. Uber Technologies Inc.’s disappointing public debut and the implosion of WeWork wiped out the gains over the next few months. But SoftBank surged again in the past week after Singer disclosed his stake and Son won approval to sell his Sprint Corp. to T-Mobile US Inc.SoftBank shares are up about 21% this year. They were little changed in Tokyo trading Thursday.Son focused on the positive in the presentation to shareholders and the media in Tokyo. He said the Vision Fund is on track to return to profit in the current quarter. The eight portfolio companies that are publicly trading, including Uber, Slack Technologies Inc. and Guardant Health Inc., have added $3 billion in paper profit in the current three months, he said.“At the last earnings briefing I used the words ‘I regret’ 20 times. But after a difficult winter always comes spring,” Son said. “The tide is turning,” he added, standing in front of a slide with the same words and a crashing wave.The most dramatic change in portfolio value since the quarter closed was Uber, whose shares have climbed more than 35% this year. That, Son said, means the Vision Fund’s stake is now worth $1.5 billion more than its investment, compared with $1 billion less at the end of December.The Vision Fund’s overall performance was murkier. SoftBank said the fund’s portfolio remained unchanged from the previous quarter at 88 investments. It reported a gain in valuation for 29 companies in the December quarter, while 31 saw their worth decline. The unrealized gain on the investments, or the difference between the cost at which it acquired the stakes and their present fair value, shrunk to $5.2 billion. That’s less than a third of the paper profit SoftBank reported six months ago.Atul Goyal, an analyst at Jefferies Group, pointed out that the losses at Vision Fund essentially wiped out profits created by the rest of the company.“These results validate our concerns that most other things that SBG does outside of Alibaba have led to distractions or value destruction,” he wrote in a research note.Vision Fund 2 Is Risk to SoftBank Investors, Analyst Says (Video)SoftBank said it is introducing new governance standards for its portfolio companies, including the composition of the board of directors, founder and management rights, rights of shareholders, and mitigation of potential conflicts of interest. The new rules will “enhance value creation and liquidity” at portfolio companies, it said in a statement.Elliott wants SoftBank to set up a special committee to review the investment process at the Vision Fund, which it thinks has dragged on the share price despite making up a small portion of assets under management, people familiar with the matter have said.Son’s best bet to date is still the investment he made in Alibaba two decades ago. In the latest quarter, SoftBank said it booked a 331.9 billion yen gain from the e-commerce giant’s listing in Hong Kong.That deal turned Son’s $20 million into a stake worth over $130 billion, a spectacular return that cemented his reputation as an investor and helped him raise the original $100 billion Vision Fund. But the track record since then has been spotty. In addition to the WeWork fiasco, he suffered setbacks at portfolio companies, including Wag Labs, Zume Pizza and Brandless Inc.Son, asked repeatedly about the second Vision Fund at the conference in Tokyo, said he still wants to raise the money but acknowledged the WeWork troubles have set back those plans. Major backers of the first fund, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co., have remained on the sidelines so far. He said SoftBank may start with a smaller, bridge fund so it can keep doing deals.“A lot of our planned investors have been worried by the trouble at WeWork and Uber and we heard their feedback,” Son said. “It’s fully possible for us to carry on investing entirely with our own funds.”He wasn’t precise about what the size of the fund would be, and said that it “seems right that the scale is somewhat reduced this time.”At a Milken Institute conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, Vision Fund head Rajeev Misra said that the second fund has already made seven investments and another six are in the pipeline. About a dozen companies from the first fund are expected to list in the next 18 months, he said.“There’s no rush, they don’t need capital,” Misra said. “A lot of them won’t even raise capital through an IPO, it will be a direct listing.”SoftBank has weighed contributing $40 billion to $50 billion for the second fund, people familiar with the matter have said.“The company will struggle to fund both Vision Fund II and buybacks unless they get a large outside commitment to VF II,” Chris Lane, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein, said prior to the announcement.SoftBank’s last share re-purchase was announced about a year ago, a record 600 billion yen.The company’s own sum-of-parts calculation puts its total value at more than 12,000 yen a share. That’s more than double SoftBank’s actual share price, which values the company at about $110 billion. Elliott thinks SoftBank’s net asset value could be about $230 billion, people familiar with the discussions have said.Son urged investors to focus on SoftBank’s shareholder value, which would include its stake in Alibaba, rather than operating profit, which is swayed by share price fluctuation in investments like Uber. To illustrate, he showed a slide with a famous visual illusion that can look like a duck or a rabbit depending on perspective.“The only measure by which SoftBank, an investment company, should be evaluated by is whether shareholder value rises or falls,” he said.(Updates with shares in eighth paragraph)\--With assistance from Nicolas Parasie.To contact the reporters on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at email@example.com;Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Slack Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:WORK) today announced that it will report its financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2020 ended January 31, 2020 following the close of the U.S. markets on Thursday, March 12, 2020. Slack will host a conference call that day at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time (5:00 p.m. Eastern time) to discuss the results.
Given the context of the simmering Slack versus Teams battle, having Slack win what appeared to be a huge, new contract was big news. Slack's shares shot higher, and the news engendered all sorts of headlines that now look a bit silly. Had Google bought Slack?
Business Insider reported https://www.businessinsider.com/ibm-slack-partnership-customer-digital-transformation-2020-2?r=US&IR=T earlier in the day that IBM would deploy the app to every single one of its 350,000 employees, making it the largest single customer for Slack, which has had a partnership with IBM since at least 2016. "IBM has been Slack's largest customer for several years and has expanded its usage of Slack over that time," the company said in a regulatory filing https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1764925/000176492520000131/a8-kxitem701.htm, undercutting the idea that it had reached a major deal with IBM.
(Bloomberg) -- The number of venture capital firms with two or more female partners doubled last year to 14%, suggesting a cultural change is under way in one of finance’s most intractable all-boys’ clubs.Last year 52 women became partners or general partners at VC firms—a record, according to a soon-to-be-published study by All Raise, an advocacy group for women in venture capital and tech. The additions mark a significant shift as more firms add multiple women, helping address concerns of tokenism in an industry that is still overwhelmingly male dominated.“When firms double down, they are making an investment,” said Pam Kostka, All Raise’s chief executive officer. “People declare this a done deal and it’s not.”Since All Raise began tracking the numbers, the percentage of female decision makers in the venture industry has increased from 9% at the end of 2017, to 13% as of this month. The number of firms with zero women as partners is still a majority, however, despite some progress. At the end of 2018, 85% of firms did not have a single female partner. At the end of 2019, that number was 65%.Several of the industry’s top firms have now added two or more women to their leadership teams. Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz all have multiple female partners with the power to write checks and serve on startup boards.Index Ventures—which has invested in companies including Adyen NV, Robinhood Markets Inc. and Slack Technologies Inc.—will soon join that list. Index is expected to announce the promotion of Nina Achadjian from principal to partner on Friday.Achadjian, a former Citigroup Inc. bond trader who did a two-year stint at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, joined Index as a principal in 2017. She built an investing thesis around enterprise software targeting small- and medium-sized businesses. She’ll join Sarah Cannon, who previously worked at Alphabet’s growth equity fund CapitalG, and who was Index’s first female partner.Achadjian says while she supports women’s advancement in venture capital, she’s eager to move beyond the gender debate and focus only on performance. “What I really care about is investment returns,” she said. The venture capital industry has met with both cultural and economic pressure to consider gender diversity. Morgan Stanley recently estimated that venture firms that fail to invest in women and other underrepresented minorities risk losing out on as much as $4 trillion. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 founders signed pledges to reject checks from investors if their teams are all male. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. last month announced it would no longer take companies public without at least one board director from an underrepresented group.Still, some minority groups remain woefully underrepresented in venture capital and have made few gains in recent years. Of the 52 women who became venture partners in 2019, only one identifies as African American or Latina, according to All Raise. She is Mercedes Bent, a former analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., who joined Lightspeed Venture Partners last year. The small number of minorities is in part due to the anemic entry rates of black and Latino people in the industry—respectively making up just 0.67% and 3.22% of new venture employees between 2010 and 2015.“Venture capital is still a closed network, very much based on who you know,” said Kostka. “This is not a pipeline problem, this is about breaking people out of their existing circles.”All Raise collaborated with PitchBook and Crunchbase to collect the data, focusing on venture funds based in the U.S. with $25 million or more assets under management. Corporate, life science and health-care funds were not included in the results.(Updates with details on the women hired in the 10th paragraph. A previous version of this story was corrected due to an error in All Raise's original study with the number of women hired in venture capital last year. )To contact the author of this story: Lizette Chapman in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, Anne VanderMeyAndrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- LinkedIn Chief Executive Officer Jeff Weiner, who turned the job-search company into a global social network for professional users before steering it through a sale to Microsoft Corp., will step down. Ryan Roslansky, currently senior vice president of product, will become CEO effective June 1.Weiner, who was LinkedIn’s CEO for 11 years, will become executive chairman, the company said Wednesday in a statement.LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman hired Weiner, 49, in 2008, and he brought on Roslansky later that year. The two helped take the company from a basic job board where resumes were posted to a community of almost 675 million people that is a resource for employment opportunities and online corporate networking. Microsoft spent $26 billion for LinkedIn in 2016 to increase revenue from internet-based software and reinvigorate a customer and sales management business that had fallen far behind companies such as Salesforce.com Inc.Weiner, who guided LinkedIn through its initial public offering before the Microsoft acquisition, said the company has become central to helping people “navigate the global economy in the 21st century.”“Despite the scale and impact we’ve achieved thus far, it still feels like in many respects we’re just getting started,” Weiner said in an email to employees posted on LinkedIn.During Weiner’s tenure, LinkedIn’s revenue increased to more than $7.5 billion in the past 12 months from $78 million annually when he took over, the company said. He said the strength of the business made now a good time for the change. The enterprise social network has been working to boost user engagement, connect the online site to Microsoft’s customer and sales software and build up a training and professional development business.When Microsoft announced the deal, industry watchers said it was essential for the software giant to convince Weiner, a popular leader who insisted on a commitment to LinkedIn’s culture, to stay longer than the usual two to three years for an acquired CEO. It will now fall to Roslansky to keep LinkedIn’s strategy and culture moving forward. Microsoft’s decision to appoint a new CEO, resisting the temptation to fold LinkedIn into the Redmond, Washington, mothership, indicates a commitment to independence from a parent company that once made short-lived promises toward the separate identity of its acquisitions.Roslansky has served in leadership roles in almost every part of LinkedIn’s business. He was instrumental in developing LinkedIn’s influencer program and publishing platform. Most recently he has been the network’s head of product and has overseen an attempt to reshaping the consumer and enterprise applications into one ecosystem. Roslansky will report to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.Weiner said he began talking to Nadella about the shift last summer. He said he has been increasingly focusing on initiatives outside his role as CEO of LinkedIn, which made a change logical.Tomer Cohen, currently vice president of marketing solutions, will replace Roslansky as head of product.Separately, Microsoft announced executive shifts in its Windows and Office units, with Surface chief Panos Panay gaining oversight for Windows software and experiences.Brian MacDonald, who led Microsoft’s rival to Slack Technologies Inc., called Teams, is retiring and will be replaced by Jeff Teper, a longtime Office executive who was one of the people who originally hired Nadella at Microsoft.Joe Belfiore, a veteran Windows executive who has been working on Microsoft’s browser software, will be taking a leave. He will return to a role in the Office business.(Updates with additional Microsoft changes in the 11th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Molly Schuetz.To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Dropbox Inc. has named Google Cloud executive Olivia Nottebohm to the chief operating officer post that has been vacant for the past 16 months at a time the file-syncing software maker navigates what it considers the largest product overhaul in company history.Dropbox, which invented the market for software that synchronizes and shares files over the internet, is trying to remake its strategy around a workspace app called Spaces that houses Dropbox files and works with productivity software from companies like Slack Technologies Inc. and Atlassian Corp. The strategy puts the San Francisco-based company in closer competition with Microsoft Corp. and Nottebohm’s former employer Alphabet Inc.’s Google in the battle over whose software owns more of workers’ time and devices.Nottebohm said part of her role will be to sell this new model for Dropbox to its customers. She expects the idea of helping users combine data and tasks from different places into one workspace will have a strong appeal to customers who have to switch among various apps in their work and personal lives.“As a mother my whole day is fragmented, and I am constantly switching frames,” she said. “The vision of de-cluttering in a work environment is a very powerful message. We see in our customers that they are constantly changing frames and topics.”Dropbox’s revenue growth is projected by analysts to slow over the next two years and the stock remains below its 2018 IPO price, with shares down about 30% in the past 12 months. Chief Executive Officer Drew Houston is looking for ways to broaden the business from a file-sharing app to a larger slice of the overall market for productivity software. At Google Cloud, Nottebohm was a vice president responsible for sales to small- and medium-sized businesses, among other duties. Former COO Dennis Woodside left Dropbox in September 2018 after working on projects like expanding the company’s sales force to target larger customers and building its own cloud to wean much of its data storage from Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon Web Services cloud unit. When Woodside left, the company said the role wouldn’t be filled. Nottebohm’s hiring is the latest in a series of executive changes at Dropbox in the past year. Last month, Chief Customer Officer Yamini Rangan stepped down. In October, Chief Technology Officer Quentin Clark left and was replaced by Bharat Mediratta and the company named Timothy Young as senior vice president for core product. To contact the author of this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Pollack at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Snowflake Inc.’s database software has emerged in an annual report as the fastest-growing cloud-based software program, signaling strong corporate demand for modern tools to help analyze data.Snowflake’s use among clients more than tripled in 2019, software maker Okta Inc. said Tuesday in its annual Businesses @ Work report, which tracks the popularity of corporate software. Atlassian Corp.’s Opsgenie tool took the No. 2 spot as fastest-growing, with a gain of 194%. Alphabet Inc.’s Google Cloud came in third place and Splunk Inc. in fourth.The cloud applications market generated $121 billion of revenue in 2018, according to research firm IDC. The infrastructure market, where Google Cloud competes, produced $36 billion in annual revenue, the firm said.Snowflake makes cloud-based data warehouses, a type of database that compiles information from various sources so it can be analyzed. The company competes against Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud division and database stalwarts such as Oracle Corp. The San Mateo, California-based startup is considering going public, although the chief executive officer has said the the earliest the company could be ready for such a move would be this summer.Opsgenie makes incident management software that notifies workers about critical issues to reduce or avoid service downtime. Todd McKinnon, the chief executive officer of Okta, said the types of software on the list represent a departure from the traditional business applications that topped the survey in previous years, such as office communications platform Slack Technologies Inc. and videoconferencing company Zoom Video Communications Inc.“This was the first year where the fastest-growing things were infrastructure tools or security tools,” McKinnon said in an interview. “It’s a natural coming of age. We’ve put a bunch of apps in place. Now you have to make sure they’re secure, that users aren’t being phished, that you’re using the data in those apps for insights.”The most popular corporate apps overall, by unique monthly active users, are Microsoft Corp.’s Office 365, Workday Inc. and ServiceNow Inc. Google’s G Suite and Salesforce.com Inc. round out the top five.Increasingly, corporate developer teams are buying work tools independent of their IT organizations. The most popular developer software is the Atlassian Product Suite, Okta said. It was followed by Microsoft Corp.’s GitHub, PagerDuty Inc., New Relic Inc., and the newly public Datadog Inc.Okta crunches these numbers based on data from its 7,500 customers, which use the software to securely log into various tech systems. The report presents and analyzes data from Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2019.(Updates with additional details in eighth paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the full name of Snowflake Inc. in the first paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew Pollack, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Enterprises are focusing on enhancing workspace communication to boost productivity, which puts Microsoft and Slack under the spotlight.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The reputation of Masayoshi Son, the world’s most prolific unicorn breeder, came crashing down last year with the collapse of WeWork. An 80% writedown on The We Co., and a 970 billion yen ($8.8 billion) loss at the SoftBank Vision Fund delivered some cold hard truths about his vulnerability.You might think that Son would have learned his lesson. Instead, he’s doubling down, with plans to start a $108 billion fund that's even bigger than the first. To win back investors’ confidence, though, the chairman of SoftBank Group Corp. might want to consider a different tack: becoming an angel.That’s not just a euphemism. Angel investing would take Son back to basics. Compared with the SoftBank Vision Fund, a SoftBank Angel Fund should be:Much smaller: $50 billion max. Write lighter checks: Nothing larger than $10 million.(1) Invest earlier: No later than Series A.This concept of smaller, lighter, earlier ought to become a mantra. But it takes guts — Son would have to rein in the swagger that comes with writing fat paychecks. Not that his habit of throwing billions at Southeast Asian startups isn’t bold; but when that business already has a product, traction, brand awareness and market leadership, then you can’t exactly call it brave — especially when it’s other people’s money.Angel investors take a punt on new companies at the earliest stages, often before a product has been fully developed or any revenue acquired. In the past, they were generally rich individuals who knew the founders and were parting with a relatively modest amount of cash to give young entrepreneurs a leg up. The average angel and seed deal size in the fourth quarter was $1.8 million, according to Crunchbase News. When Son entered the venture capital scene in 2016 with a $97 billion checkbook, this old-school model of investing — based on the careful assessment of a startup’s revenue, return and growth — was thrown out the window. Son’s Vision Fund tends to invest much later, in rounds such as Series E, F or even H. Son also wielded his giant fund to pick winners, and by extension nominate losers, in ways that defied logic. He offered WeWork founder Adam Neumann just 12 minutes to make his pitch, and then told him that his company wasn’t being crazy enough, New York Magazine reported last year. Neumann should aim to make WeWork ten times bigger than originally planned, the founder of the co-working space operator was told.WeWork was by no means an exception. Son muscled his way into a host of startups, often forcing founders to choose between playing for Team SoftBank or getting defeated by it. Consider online lending startup Social Finance Inc. Co-founder Mike Cagney told Bloomberg Businessweek that Son gave him a choice: Take SoftBank’s money, or watch it go to a competitor. (He took the deal.) In 2019 alone, SoftBank was an investor in four of the world’s five largest funding rounds, according to a report by CB Insights. The result was not only implosions like WeWork, but overvalued unicorns like Uber Technologies Inc. and Slack Technologies Inc. whose stocks have fallen since their IPOs. It also made many founders and investors wary of Son and his approach, which may be making it harder for him to cut deals.Masayoshi Son isn’t timid, to be sure. His reputation is built upon decades of courageous bets that netted him, his investors, and his founders billions of dollars. The most famous being Jack Ma and a little e-commerce company that became Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. But the past few years suggest he’s forgotten those roots as a supporter of scrappy young upstarts.Most recently, he’s reported to be offering up to $40 billion to help Indonesia build its new capital city. He’s already opted to join a steering committee that will oversee construction of the new metropolis on Borneo Island — 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) away from current capital Jakarta — alongside former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. While there’s something noble about offering advice to a developing nation as it grapples with congestion and flooding, it’s hard not to feel that Son is perhaps straying a bit far from his core mission. After all, he has his investors and staff to look after. Shifting to angel investing wouldn’t be entirely altruistic. This segment is the hottest sector of funding right now, according to data compiled by Crunchbase News. Whereas late-stage investing — the type the SoftBank Vision Fund specializes in — has declined over the past year, angel and early-stage investing is on the rise.Son prides himself on being a visionary, with a 100-year time horizon. That makes for good headlines and big numbers. But if he wants to secure his legacy, there’s nothing more honorable than being an angel.(1) Even $10 million is huge by some standards.To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Airbnb Inc. is laying the groundwork for a public market debut later this year, announcing a new corporate governance strategy that values safety, sustainability, diversity and accountability.The home-share startup has said it will track guest safety incidents, verify all seven million listings by December, measure its global carbon footprint and enhance employee diversity. To achieve its ambitions, Airbnb is creating a new Stakeholder Committee on the board and tying staff bonuses to safety metrics, according to a statement Friday.In addition, Airbnb has promised to be transparent, reporting progress at an upcoming Stakeholder Day that can be attended by guests, hosts, communities, employees and investors.“Building an enduringly successful business goes hand-in-hand with making a positive contribution to society,” the company said. “Increasingly, this is what citizens, consumers, employees, communities and policy makers desire -- even demand.”Airbnb has been on the defensive over safety since a mass shooting in October at a party house in Orinda, about 20 miles east of San Francisco, where five people died. Local media started to highlight the number of shootings at Airbnb rentals, and family of those slain questioned how the platform vets its guests. In December, the Wall Street Journal published an investigation showing how Airbnb employees who pushed for stricter safety measures, like requiring users to supply a government ID, were overruled by company executives who feared this could deter new guests or hosts.The company is also entangled in battles with cities around the country over regulations and has been accused of discrimination by hosts. With a $31 billion private valuation, Airbnb is poised to be one of the most high-profile market listings this year. Getting ahead of some of the concerns could help appease investors who may be wary of the unfriendly reception other tech titans, like Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and Slack Technologies Inc. received last year.The new Stakeholder Committee will be led by Belinda Johnson, who is due to step down as chief operating officer and join the board in March. The company will also award $100 million in grants to support local projects that promote cultural heritage, economic vitality and sustainable communities and demonstrate clear local impact, according to the announcement.These new initiatives will be demanding on the company as it prepares to go public; verifying every listing by December means staff will have to work through tens of thousands of listings a day. But Airbnb says it’s just getting started.“When we first sat down to begin this work, we knew we were undertaking a difficult and serious task. We allowed ourselves to think about problems and opportunities that will take multiple teams working over multiple years to solve,” the company said. “We are nowhere near finished.”To contact the reporter on this story: Olivia Carville in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at email@example.com, Robin AjelloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Yahoo Finance speaks at length about the future of retail and the cloud business in an exclusive interview with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
(Bloomberg) -- Oyo Hotels is firing thousands of staff across China and India, people familiar with the matter said, adding to growing signs of trouble at one of the largest startups in SoftBank Group Corp.’s portfolio.The company has let go of 5% of its 12,000 employees in China partly due to non-performance, while dismissing 12% of its 10,000 staff in India, one of the people said. It plans to shed another 1,200 in India over the next three to four months, the person added. Oyo is undergoing a restructuring, trimming redundancy in China and India, leading to thousands of dismissals, according to the people, who requested not to be named because they aren’t authorized to talk to media.“We continue to be one of the best places to work for and one of the key reasons for this has been our ability to consistently evaluate, reward and recognize the performance of individuals in a meritocratic manner, and enable them to improve their performance,” Oyo said in a statement.Oyo’s downsizing is another setback for Masayoshi Son‘s SoftBank, whose portfolio has been buffeted by recent trouble at WeWork and slumping share prices at Slack Technologies Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. The billionaire has called for greater financial discipline among the founders in his portfolio, spurring job cuts at smaller outfits such as Zume Pizza Inc. Other SoftBank investees, including Getaround, Wag Labs Inc., Fair and Brandless Inc., have had to cut staff or changed business models once it became apparent revenue and profits were not living up to their once-grand ambitions.Read more: SoftBank Vision Fund Employees Depict a Culture of RecklessnessAdding to Oyo’s challenges, hotel owners in China have been protesting in front of the company’s offices, accusing the startup of violating contractual agreements. The growing turmoil may complicate SoftBank’s efforts to raise a successor to the Vision Fund, the world’s largest pool of startup investments.Oyo will “enhance communications with hotel owners and develop owner loyalty” this year, the company said in the statement. “We will launch the VIP owner program, and contact owners regularly, to ensure that the interests and needs of theirs and ours are equally taken into account.”Son has been a keen supporter of Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal, helping fund the hotel company’s fast international expansion. Oyo had been growing at a rapid clip, but its reputation has suffered due to customer complaints about bad experiences along with grievances about poor or unfair treatment from several of the more than 20,000 hotel owners in its chain.“Oyo is one of SoftBank’s current crown jewels,” said Michael Norris, research and strategy manager at Shanghai-based consultancy AgencyChina. “Issues in China, Oyo’s largest market, continues the Vision Fund’s woes.” It would make raising a similar-sized second Vision Fund a challenge, he added.SoftBank’s Vision Fund has so far invested about $1.5 billion in Oyo, pushing its valuation to $10 billion. The company also counts Airbnb Inc., Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners as backers. It promoted its real estate business chief, Rohit Kapoor, to CEO for India and South Asia in December to shake up the business.In its aggressive effort to acquire market share, Oyo offered hotel stays for as cheap as $4 a night, according to one person familiar with its practices. The company also stocked up on rented room inventory by signing exclusive deals and guaranteeing income to hotel owners. It’s now allegedly reneging on those guarantees, the cause of the protests outside its Chinese offices, one person said.Read more: Ritesh Agarwal, the Amazingly Ambitious Hotelier(Updates with Oyo response starting in third paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Saritha Rai in Bangalore at firstname.lastname@example.org;Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Vlad Savov, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. is unveiling new cloud tools designed for retail customers, seeking to position itself as an alternative to Amazon.com Inc. and corporate software companies like Slack Technologies Inc. and Salesforce.com Inc.Microsoft is adding a feature to its Slack rival, the Teams corporate chat program, that lets store workers push a button to turn their mobile phones into walkie-talkies for in-store communications. In a speech on Jan. 12 at a retail industry event, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella plans to discuss how Ikea shifted more than 70,000 workers to Teams, using the service for meetings and chat. The home furnishing giant’s largest store, in Stockholm, also started using a scheduling feature to manage the shifts of 150 restaurant staffers.Ikea is also working with Microsoft to determine if Teams can play a role in its “store of the future” concepts. The Swedish company may put video screens in stores that use Teams to connect customers with kitchen design advisers, said Kenneth Lindegaard, an Ikea vice president. The company plans to have the rest of its 165,000-person workforce on Office 365 cloud software and Teams by the end of spring, although Ikea still has some smaller groups using Slack and Google’s G Suite, he said. Ikea also uses Microsoft’s Azure and Google Cloud, he said.The retail industry has been one of Microsoft’s most successful as the software maker tries to gain ground in cloud computing against market leader Amazon Web Services and lure more customers to its internet-based Office products. Some retailers are loath to work with e-commerce rival Amazon. Nadella and Google Cloud chief Thomas Kurian are set to speak next week at the annual show of the National Retail Federation, the biggest retail trade group, underscoring how significant the industry is to Amazon’s biggest cloud competitors. “A key part of our offering is that we partner and we don’t compete,” said Shelley Bransten, the vice president who oversees Microsoft’s work with retailers and consumer goods companies. But there are other benefits to working closely with retailers, she said in an interview. Some of the software products built for retailers will be useful for companies in other industries.For example, the walkie-talkie feature in Teams can help manufacturers, said Emma Williams, a Microsoft vice president who is charged with adding features to Office and Teams for use by customers in health care, retail, manufacturing and finance. Microsoft explained the new features in a blog post Thursday ahead of Nadella’s speech in New York, the CEO’s first appearance at the retail conference.Retail customers are also key to Microsoft’s competition with Salesforce, the leader in cloud-based customer relations software. Microsoft announced the official release of its Dynamics Commerce software for helping retailers manage inventory, scheduling, call centers, e-commerce sites and in-store operations. The company said outerwear maker Canada Goose Holdings Inc. has been using it. Microsoft also provided new details on how some previously announced Azure customers are working with its products. One year ago, Microsoft said Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. would begin using Azure and deploy Microsoft 365—a collection of software that includes Windows 10, Office cloud services and security and mobile-management software—to the pharmacy giant’s more than 380,000 workers. Now Walgreens will try Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 goggles for worker training and the drugstore chain also is using Microsoft products to anonymously track shoppers’ steps, in order to better plan store layouts. Microsoft is also targeting another lucrative Amazon business — digital advertising for products on retailers’ websites. In August, Microsoft acquired New York-based PromoteIQ, which helps companies like Kroger Co. and Kohl’s Corp. sell ads on their websites to companies who want prime placement for their goods. Nadella will announce Home Depot has also signed up for the service.To contact the author of this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Pollack at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jillian WardFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.