February 09, 2013

TechZone 360 Week in Review


It's the end of a busy week in the tech business world.

We're watching snow fall as the Northeast encounters one of its typical winter storms -- not the monster today's headlines would have us believe it is, not an "Oh my god, global warming is killing us with snow" sort of storm, but rather the kind of snowfall we've seen many of over the last 40 years or so…the kind where schools close and we're happy with the day off kind of snow. Gentle, actually, and peaceful.

It contrasts quite nicely with all the noise of that busy tech week we mention above. The biggest news of the week came from Dell, which rapidly followed through on plans to take itself private for $24.4 billion. It is an amazing thing to see a company once worth more than $100 billion in market cap (it's currently around $25 billion) go back to the private side - but it means no more quarterly reports, no more stockholders or huge institutional investors to answer to, to more need to drive ever growing revenue and profit - no need to ensure the company catches the tech waves exploding all around it -- which Dell has now famously failed to do.

On the other side of the equation, Oracle decided to acquire Acme Packet, which nicely rounds out its IP transformation portfolio. The deal comes at a critical time in the historic transformation of global networks to being data center-centric and all-IP. Not to be outdone (well, the prices are different, but the impact relative to all companies concerned is the same, Twitter is looking to shake things up by buying BlueFin Labs. BlueFin is known for its social TV metrics and analysis capabilities. The total amount of this deal hasn't been disclosed since the parties are privately held, however the strategic move is being touted as Twitter's most sufficient company expansion in history.

The week also brought us interesting news from Zynga, Pinterest, Instagram and HootSuite.

Poor Zynga -- after going public to much fanfare and lots of virtual farmers, the business is proving much more difficult to sustain than might have been imagined by IPO investors. Zynga's Q4 numbers are in but they show a mixed picture. One of the biggest items on the roster of fourth quarter announcements was that full-year 2012 revenue was $1.28 billion – up 12 percent over the same time last year. Zynga reported a full year net loss of $209 million and earnings per share of $0.28.

Pinterest, on the other hand, did a bit better; the company is seeing skyrocketing growth following several major investments. The site is now fixing its attention on generating revenue, with advertising systems, online retail profit-sharing and traffic partnerships all in development, according to a report yesterday from the Wall Street Journal. Although still unprofitable, this rapid growth, development and future promise has attracted the attention of investors, who have valued the site at between $2 billion and $2.5 billion during financing talks with Pinterest themselves.

Instagram's news wasn't quite as exciting, but it does leave its users in a better position; it is now possible to view your Instagram feed online. The site has been a purely mobile app for the most part of its existence. In November 2012, the company launched Web profiles, which looked very similar to Facebook’s Timeline. This week it completed this bridge to the Web by allowing users to view their Instagram feeds on the Web. HootSuite meanwhile, added Socialcast support to its services, which allows enterprises to more easily ride the social media wave. Socialcast is touted as the social network built for the enterprise that connects people to the knowledge, ideas and resources they need to work better together. What more can one ask for?

Well, how about an Apple radio capability for iPhones and iPads? We've heard the rumors but might it become real? It turns out that hidden buttons have been uncovered within Apple's iOS 6.1 -- it's a radio! Hundreds of millions of iOS users received a message over the last few days that iOS v6.1 was available for download and installation. Of course, no sooner did Apple send the update than it was jail broken and examined in-depth by geeks across the country. This time around there was a software tool available that that provides developers and hackers with deep system level access to do things like installing applications from third party app stores, changing the look and feel of iOS, and adding new software features. Yes, there is indeed a radio lurking in there.

Finally, we'll wrap up our snow-blessed beginning to the week's end by asking this question: What is Apple to do with all that damn cash it has in hand? We're talking about $137 billion dollars it has literally sitting in the Apple vault doing nothing. It turns out Apple activist investors want some of it to head their way. It's a tough conundrum for Apple - but we'll say this much - we wish we had the same conundrum!






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