Displaying items by tag: tech
The whole market is worried about tech, and with good reason. Current government investigations into antitrust practices could harm Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies. However, all the anxiety has created a potentially great way to profit from them—sell puts. Puts on tech companies are currently trading at a steep premium because of anxieties, but selling puts—a practice which profits when the share prices rise—can be a quite profitable at the moment.
FINSUM: We think this could be a good strategy for the next year. The likelihood of heavy tech regulation seems less under Republicans, so for the next year we think there is potentially smoother sailing for Silicon Valley. That said, regulating the industry is one of the few things both Trump and the Democrats agree on.
One of the surprises in the Big tech space has been that top names have not moved as much on news of various antitrust and other probes as one might have expected. Here is why: investors just don’t think any current actions will have a material impact on business models. For instance, Facebook agreed to pay a $5 bn fine last week, but that sum is small enough that it does not change Facebook’s incentives in any way, it can just keep on doing what it has been.
FINSUM: We think this is a woefully optimistic view. Regulating Big Tech is one of the few areas of strong bipartisan agreement between Trump and the Democrats. The likelihood of it having a material impact on the sector’s business model seems high to us.
Big tech companies have had an incredible decade, but that may be about to go the way of Wall Street, and not the post-Glass Steagall Wall Street, more like post Dodd-Frank Wall Street. Regulatory inquiries and fines against Big Tech are starting to pile up, and while the actual fines are tolerable given the companies’ massive profitability, the real change that could hurt them is structural. All the regulatory inquiries have forced tech companies to load up on compliance and related staff—Facebook’s employee count has surged from 6,000 six years ago to 35,000 today. Margins at Google have fallen considerably too. All of that is happening at the same time as top line growth is inevitably slowing because of the size of the businesses.
FINSUM: We think Big Tech might be at the very beginning of the end of its golden age.
Facebook announced this week that it would pay a $5 bn fine to settle a Free Trade Commission investigation into privacy violations. The exact same day, Facebook announced that the FTC had launched another probe, this one perhaps more worrying. The new probe is a formal antitrust investigation into Facebook. The company disclosed the investigation alongside its quarterly results yesterday.
FINSUM: So Facebook and big tech not only have the DOJ on them now, but now the FTC too. End of the golden age of the FAANGs?
There have been a lot of worries about the tech sector this year. Besides valuation, the big fear has been the threat of regulation. Well, those anxieties are proving to be correct as the Department of Justice has just officially announced that it has opened a probe to figure out whether the tech sector is smothering competition. The broad antitrust investigation did not name companies in particular, but said it would focus on “search, social media and some retail services online”.
FINSUM: This is quite a worrying development, but it is hard to say how exactly it may play out. There does seem to be popular momentum behind further regulating big tech, which means lawmakers may be more emboldened.