Tesla investors got some grim news yesterday (unless you are the group hoping for Musk’s departure). That news is that the SEC is suing Elon Musk for fraud and is seeking to have him removed as the leader of Tesla. The suit seeks to have Musk banned from serving as an officer or director of a public company. The basis for the suit is the series of tweets Musk made regarding taking the company private, which the SEC says were “false and misleading statements”.
FINSUM: This is a pretty serious move from the SEC, made worse by news out today that Musk chose the price of $420 as a marijuana reference to impress his girlfriend.
Amazon has announced the launch of a new store in New York city. So far, most of Amazon’s brick and mortar aspirations have been unfulfilled, with only a handful of physical stores across the country. However, the company will launch a new store in New York that will feature the top-ranked and trending items from its website. The company is seeking to offer the items New Yorkers buy most directly in its store. Everything in the store will be a 4-star or higher item. The store is called 4-star and will launch in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan today.
FINSUM: We think this is an excellent theme for Amazon stores and could be a concept for the company to launch many more physical outlets across the country.
Two of Instagram’s founders have just left Facebook on acrimonious terms. The departures come six years after their company was bought by Facebook for about $1bn. They are leaving on poor terms because of recent changes Facebook has made which seem to prioritize Facebook’s growth at the expense of Instagram. Many analysts say the departures are a considerable negative for the stock, especially coming as part of a long string of troubles. There is also a serious threat that the two founders may come up with a competing product. Instagram accounted for 14% of Facebook’s revenue, or about $7.5 bn this year.
FINSUM: We don’t think a competing product is a worry, at least not yet. But image-wise, it does look like Facebook is a bit out of control.
A provocative headline, we know. But it turns out there are some good reasons why Amazon should consider splitting itself up before regulators do. There are two big reasons the company should consider cleaving itself. The first is that if regulators eventually do it, it will likely be much more messy and painful. But secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, Amazon’s web services business has become so large that it is starting to negatively impact its retail business. Amazon web services (AWS) accounted for more than 100% of the company’s operating income, and analysts estimate it would be worth $600 bn on its own, versus just $400 bn for the retail business. Its might is now getting in the way, however, as former AWS customers like Target have now moved away from using it because the don’t want to share information with Amazon’s retail business, which is a major competitor.
FINSUM: We are quite sure this won’t happen any time soon, but it is beginning to be easier to see the value in doing so.
The market has periodically started to worry about the regulation of the tech industry. For a while that felt a bit premature, but given recent events, it is starting to feel more real. For instance, the FTC has just begun a marathon of hearings, which will run through November, into the state of competition and consumer protection in the digital economy. The hearings are about more than tech though, as they are fundamentally about inequality and worker’s rights across the whole of the economy. The head of the FTC said “In my view, basing antitrust policy and enforcement decisions on an ideological viewpoint (from either the left or the right) is a mistake”.
FINSUM: These hearings seem like the first stage of what might prove to be big changes for anti-trust policy in the US. If changes do happen, we believe they will be much more far-reaching than just for tech.
Top tech industry executives have spent their week speaking with the Senate and answering tough questions about their data security, fake news, and political content. Many fear it is a preamble to a big regulatory crackdown on the sector by the Senate. Well, that has not occurred yet, but in a worrying development US attorney general Sessions has announced that his department is looking into the tech sector in regards to competition and free speech issues. Sessions said he would be meeting with state attorney generals to discuss a “growing concern” that tech companies “may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas”.
FINSUM: This might be the beginning of a major regulatory move against the sector. We think the market will start handicapping the odds of a big crackdown as more news comes out.