Verizon and BT, major telecoms companies on opposite sides of the Atlantic, are looking to spend more time on their networks as they sound the retreat on being big players in the media sector.
Verizon is looking to sell Yahoo and AOL for $4bn-$5bn, according to the Wall Street Journal. It paid more than $9bn for both as it built a digital media portfolio, adding AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017 to a division that became known as Oath.
Hans Vestberg, the former Ericsson boss who took over as CEO of the US’s largest wireless carrier in 2018, has shown little interest in challenging Facebook and Google’s online ad dominance. His veins are made of fibre-optic cables and he oversaw the development of its 5G and fibre networks before getting the top job. Verizon has already sold more than $31bn in bonds this year to pay for its $45bn bid for 5G airwaves and any media sale could help reduce that debt burden.
BT confirmed this morning it had opened talks with a number of potential investors as it considers a sale of its sports broadcasting operation, in order to focus on its core broadband and telephony business. Dazn, Amazon, Walt Disney and private equity companies have been having discussions. Bryce Elder comments BT has very little to show for the more than £7bn it has spent on football broadcast rights over the past decade and BT’s strategy now revolves around laying fibre cables.
Reverting to the safer revenues of a utility seems sensible in a confusing and constantly shifting media landscape. The UK broadcaster ITV has just submitted its views on the future to the regulator Ofcom ahead of its licence renewal process beginning later this year.
It says the value of being the third channel on an electronic programme guide is being reduced by the new interfaces being brought in by platforms such as Comcast-Sky, Amazon and Apple, who carry its linear channel and ITV hub streaming app. It wants legislation to help ensure platforms guarantee prominence for public service broadcasters and give them fair terms — better than the 30 per cent ad revenue share they often insist on at present.
“Discovery” of a broadcaster’s content by the user is vital and Netflix’s latest move to help those viewers struggling with how to find content and make choices harks back to linear TV. There is always something on when you turn on a regular television and the new Play Something button on the login screen will start playing something you’ve been watching or is similar to what you’ve been watching. Instead of channel-hopping, you can skip to another Netflix choice. Subscribers might like it, ITV may not approve.
1. Apple hardware sales surgeApple’s quarterly revenues rose 54 per cent to $89.6bn, while net profits jumped 110 per cent to $23.6bn. Total iPhone sales increased 66 per cent, with 5G features encouraging users to upgrade. Lex says a $3tn equity valuation may soon be in reach. Facebook said prices for digital advertisements were soaring amid a boom in demand, as it reported revenues increased 48 per cent to $26.1bn, beating analysts’ expectations of $23.7bn.
2. Samsung hit by chip shortagesSamsung Electronics can’t make enough chips for itself, reporting manufacturing of its smartphones, televisions and home appliances has been disrupted by the deepening global chip crunch, and that it was “rebalancing” production. The world’s top maker of computer chips and smartphones also reported a 46 per cent year-on-year increase in first-quarter net profit to Won7.1tn ($6.4bn), beating an analyst consensus of Won6.7tn.
3. Chinese regulator widens tech warningsChinese officials have called in 13 tech companies, including Tencent and ByteDance, to ask them to “rectify prominent problems” on their platforms, in a sign that regulatory pressure extends beyond Jack Ma’s Ant Group. Also, China’s food delivery apps have come under fire for their treatment of employees after a television exposé featured an undercover government official posing as a delivery rider for Meituan.
4. Big Tech calls out ransomware threatBig US tech companies and officials are urging governments to designate ransomware as a national security threat in a push to combat a hacking epidemic that has cost businesses tens of millions of dollars. Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon, cyber security companies such as FireEye and officials from the FBI and US Department of Justice have published a report calling for measures to tackle the lucrative criminal enterprise.
5. Quantum’s financial 5-year horizonQuantum computing could be brought to bear on some of the most complex calculations in financial markets within five years, considerably earlier than expected, according to research jointly conducted by Goldman Sachs. Near-term breakthroughs will make it possible to quote prices over the phone to customers looking to trade complex derivatives, rather than them having to wait hours.
For a Frenchman who cares about making amazing food, Anton Soulier finds inspiration in surprising corners. Over the past 18 months, he has spent a whole lot of time studying how McDonald’s, Burger King and Domino’s do what they do. Now, with a fresh $37m in funding raised this week for his dark kitchen start-up Taster, which makes ‘delivery-only’ food brands, he’s ready to take them on. “Our ambition is to become bigger than McDonald’s,” he tells Sifted. How is he going to do it?
Elsewhere in European start-ups this week, Irish drone company Manna completed its biggest fundraising yet, as it prepares to launch delivery services in the UK and US; Portuguese start-up Sensei raised money to help supermarkets rival Amazon Go; and Sifted looks at the top Nordic start-ups and top Parisian start-ups to watch in 2021.
Dell unveiled a competitor to Microsoft’s Surface Pro this week with its Latitude 7320 Detachable. As it sounds, there is a detachable keyboard for the Windows tablet, which also has a kickstand. It includes a touch display with support for Dell’s pen. The Verge says the most significant update compared to previous models is that it includes Intel’s newest 11th Gen processors, up to a Core i7. The 7320 is available now in the US, later in the UK and starts at a premium $1,549 (£1,279).