Everyone and everything has a value, and thus, everyone and everything has a price to be paid. When a company goes public, they open the floodgates for investors, consumers, and industry rivals to gain access to all information that becomes transparent following an initial public offering (IPO). In some cases, an IPO can garner significant interest from investors and result in a spontaneous acquisition from a company with the necessary capital to do so.
Ryan Smith, CEO, and co-founder of Qualtrics, a survey software developer based in Provo, Utah filed for an IPO earlier this month, in hopes of taking his private company to the next level. What he didn’t realize was that, en route to ringing the opening bell, his company would be acquired. The company had been recently valued at $2.5 billion, after raising around $450 million from venture capital firms like Accel, Insight Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital, according to Fortune. Qualtrics was predicted to have one of the hottest IPOs this week and then SAP SE (SAP) came in for the kill.
“I feel more at peace about this than going public. We didn’t need to go public. We had no investor pressure, no financial pressure, and we had no employee pressure. We were going public for the sole reason of creating the category. And nothing is bigger for that than this combination. It would take ten years to do what we are going to do [with SAP].”
–Ryan Smith, Chief Executive Officer & co-founder, Qualtrics International
The German-based software behemoth announced late Sunday evening that it was purchasing Qualtrics for $8 billion in cash taken from a silver briefcase just like in the movies. SAP SE (SAP) had been interested in Qualtrics for quite some time due to the company’s aspirations for increased offerings in the customer relations management sector of their business. Given that the company has grown to be the biggest software company in Europe, and the twelfth largest tech company based on Forbes 2018 ranking of public companies, the acquisition of a company with data analytics software ready to meet high demands seemed like a lucrative decision.
“Yes, we did pay a handsome price, but it’s well deserved. This is the most simple, if not the easiest thing we’ve ever done on the M & A front. Qualtrics is our crown jewel.”
Bill McDermott, Chief Executive Officer, SAP
Representing the largest-ever purchase of a VC-backed enterprise software company, SAP’s (SAP) acquisition of Qualtrics will allow the two companies to dominate the CRM space, a sector currently with Salesforce at the top of the food chain. Every tech exec worth their weight in bitcoin knows that access to an understanding of consumer data directly correlates to profit or lack thereof. Qualtrics has picked up speed over the last few years because of its ability to collect data on customers, brands, employees, and products to give companies key insights on how to operate and/or augment business practices. Hence, SAP’s (SAP) decision to gain access to quality data analytics.
Though the acquisition may benefit SAP (SAP) in the long-run, the market responded negatively to the price the company agreed to pay for Qualtrics. SAP’s shares dropped 5% in early Frankfurt trading, selling for $101.34 per share. Despite analyst criticism, McDermott, SAP’s CEO, stands by the company’s acquisition deal and went on to explain how the deal will have an effect similar to Facebook’s (FB) acquisition of Instagram.
“Under Armor runs their whole business on SAP, everything from their customer relationships in every single channel on any device, including direct to consumer, wholesale, and retail. We know the prior history of the consumer, but what we don’t know is why the customer feels a certain way about Under Armour’s Hovr shoe…But you know who knows that? Qualtrics knows that. They know why the customer likes the size, the fitt, the color style..”
–Bill McDermott, Chief Executive Officer, SAP
Good qualitative data, and subsequent insight to how these statistics, can help a company grow as well as present a potential opportunity for investors looking into the sector. SAP (SAP) acquired Qualtrics to take their position a leader in the tech industry to greater heights and, though they paid more than a pretty penny, we will see in the coming months if the investment pays off.
Nike Doesn’t Need Roads
A long time ago, in a Pacific-Northwestern state far far away, a man named Bill Bowerman preached the gospel of the original running shoe. “A shoe must be three things,” he proclaimed. “It must be light, comfortable and it’s got to go the distance.” In the late 1950s, Bowerman was displeased with the current track shoe market. Shoes were made of heavy leather, metal, and were anything but soft and comfortable. As a track coach for the University of Oregon, revered both then and now as an elite running school, Bowerman was obsessed with helping his runners slash seconds of their times. He would dismember track shoes in his garage, and experiment with different animal skins to determine which material made the fastest shoe for his athletes.
One of the first student-athletes to try a Bowerman original was Phil Knight, the eventual founder of Nike (NKE). As to why Bowerman chose him, Knight admitted that “he wasn’t one of the best runners on the team. Bowerman knew he could use me as a guinea pig without much risk.” Bowerman made every shoe to the exact dimensions of a runner’s foot, measuring widths and noting individualities, such as extended heel or slim ankle. As for raw materials, nothing was out of the question. Bowerman used kangaroo leather, velvet, deer hide, snakeskin, and even fish skin, in pursuit of the perfect track sneaker.
“Most American shoemakers are not interested in what we track coaches think about track shoes. The best shoes…at this time are made by the Germans. Their sole material is not too good and I can either replace their sole or I can make my own shoe. I don’t think there is any question, certainly, in my own mind there is not, that I now have the best shoe in the world — if I could just find some good American shoemaker to make it.”
-Bill Bowerman Co-founder Nike 1960
Bowerman would eventually find a good American shoemaker, or better yet, he would become the shoemaker he sought out. Partnering up with his former student-athlete, Phil Knight, the two running enthusiasts would eventually start Blue Ribbon Sports and years down the line, Nike (NKE).
Nearly six decades have gone and went since Bowerman pioneered the first pair of Nike (NKE) running shoes, and since then Nike (NKE) has achieved preeminent success as the be-all, end-all sports brand for athletes, no matter what they play. While shoes designed for athletic performance have been tweaked and reworked for years now, we have yet to see a major alteration in how shoes are tightened, i..e advancements in lace technology. Leave it to Nike (NKE) to, once again, lead the way, running head first into the future.
Earlier this month, Nike (NKE) released the new Adapt BB, a play on the HyperAdapt 1.0, which is itself a real-life attempt on the self-lacing sneakers from Back To The Future II, only this time, no Delorean or wild-eyed scientist could have prepared any of us for this sneaker. Nike managed to create a shoe with power laces controlled via a companion smartphone app.
Matthew Panzarino, a staff writer for TechCrunch, brought up an interesting point when speaking to the possible use cases for app-controlled sneakers. He talked about how basketball players sometimes need coaches to tie their shoes before a game, and after hours of the same level of tightness, with no relief even on the sidelines, this can restrict blood flow and cause injury.
“Consider basketball: Over the course of a basketball game, the foot can expand almost a half-size during play. A level of fit that feels comfortable at one point might feel constrictive just 24 minutes later. Because the needs of the foot change at any given time based on the sport, its duration and on specific movements, like a slashing cut to the basket, “perfect fit” is a floating target.”
–Nike on “Adapt BB” basketball shoe
Trump Unfazed By Buzzfeed Report
Ever since I was a child, my mother always taught me to remember that the worst truth was better than the best lie. She’d whip out this adage anytime she had some inclination that what I had recently told her wasn’t the whole truth, nothing but the truth, but in fact, a bald-faced lie. I recall one evening where I was heading to the house of a friend who lived a considerable distance away.
At that point in my driving career, I hadn’t learned how to operate a vehicle on a highway, so my mother made me promise I would take side streets. Unbeknownst to her, the highway shaved off about twenty minutes of the drive, so naturally, I winged it and made it safely to my friend’s place. I held onto that lie for several weeks until she found out and made me take the bus for the rest of high school. I bring up this story not to bore you, but to demonstrate that all liars must come to terms with their deceit one way or another and that it could’ve been much simpler to just come clean and get it over with.
A bombshell report released by Buzzfeed News late yesterday evening claims that President Donald Trump personally directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen “to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.” To those of you who have just about had it with media coverage surrounding our President, imagine how the millions of Americans who voted him into office must feel after hearing about this news.
Over the last two years of the Trump presidency, much has been brought up regarding his behavior as commander-in-chief, with phrases like “obstruction of justice” and “impeachment” coming out of the mouths of Democrats and several disgruntled Republicans. The new report from Buzzfeed alleges that Trump not only “directed” and “personally instructed” Cohen to lie to Congress, but that the goal of these mistruths was “to obscure Trump’s involvement” in the Trump Tower Moscow venture.
Since the release of the report, Democratic leaders have been screaming “obstruction of justice” so loud that even the people in the cheap seats are irritated with the high-decibel blathering.
My opinion, which I can guess might be largely unpopular, is that Americans and left-leaning politicians have had qualms with Trump since he was inaugurated, and in that time, headlines have emerged detailing immoral platitudes made by the President via his official presidential twitter, as well as a need for a federal investigation into whether he colluded with foreign powers to secure the Presidential seat. If the Democratic leadership wanted to introduce articles of impeachment, what’s been the hold up from doing so?
I believe that Trump may be unimpeachable at this point, that is unless the Buzzfeed News report ends up being true and he did direct Michael Cohen to lie under oath in front of the United States Congress.
Back in June, about a month before special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation started heating up, President Trump fired Michael Cohen after his residences and homes were raided by the FBI. Lying awake in anguish every night, Cohen couldn’t stomach his relationship with Trump and eventually decided to cooperate with Mueller. Michael Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in jail for nine counts of felony charges, including being charged with scheming to help secure the Trump presidency.
“I have been living in personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen I deeply admired. Today is one of the most meaningful days of my life. The irony is that today I get my freedom back.”
Following his sentencing, Cohen sang like a canary, to anyone that would listen, about the suspicious activities he partook in whilst serving as Trump’s legal counsel. Cohen admitted that he and several Trump aides continued negotiations with Russian entities about the Trump tower project in Moscow well into the 2016 presidential campaign. He blamed “his blind loyalty to this man [Trump] which led him “to take a path of darkness instead of light.”
As for the fate of our forty-fifth president, we’ll just have to wait and see if Buzzfeed’s report will substantiate a major move by the Democratic leadership, or perhaps their lackadaisical nature will buy Trump a couple more months to come up with a backup plan.
Google Pixel Watch May Be Closer Than We Think
It may surprise you that I am incredibly concerned about the fate of human existence in congruence with modern technology. I firmly believe that with every day that goes by, we are becoming far more dependent on devices than any of us would like to admit, except for me. I fully understand the glitz and glamor dazzling friends with the newest Apple (AAPL) product or some other shiny, high-functioning device, but doesn’t it bother you that devices are becoming more connected to our bodies, both technically speaking as well as literally, in terms of their designs.
A decade ago, almost nobody could’ve anticipated that millions of people would buy a watch that tells time, but also gives you access to your own internal vital signs. Whereas televisions were invented with remote control, giving users a comforting distance between themselves and the screen, we are slowly innovating towards closing the gap between our physical proximity with our devices. One such category of devices referred to as “wearables” by those of us privy to tech jargon, is a collection of pieces of tech driving someone like me up the wall with anxiety. We decided some years ago, after the release of the Apple Watch (AAPL), that wearing technology was somehow a brilliant idea.
In the years following the introduction of wearable devices, companies across the tech industry have championed products designed to allow consumers to track their heart rate, send text messages, and even navigate around whatever city they may find themselves in. One such company, Google (GOOGL) has yet to enter the wearable space, but rumors about a Pixel Watch have whispered in the wind for quite some time now. Today, the world’s search engine turned rumors into facts as it announced plans to purchase smartwatch technology from Fossil Group (FOSL) for $40 million. As part of the transaction, per the official press release, a portion of Fossil Group’s (FOSL) research and development team currently supporting the transferring IP will join Google (GOOGL).
“Fossil Group has experienced significant success in its wearable business by focusing on product design and development informed by our strong understanding of consumers’ needs and style preferences. We’ve built and advanced a technology that has the potential to improve upon our existing platform of smartwatches. Together with Google, our innovation partner, we’ll continue to unlock growth in wearables.”
–Greg McKelvey, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Digital Officer, Fossil Group
Though the smartwatch sub-sect of the tech consumer marketplace has been dominated by Apple (AAPL), Fitbit (FIT), and Samsung, it makes sense that Google (GOOGL) would have an interest in getting a piece of the action. Stacey Burr, VP of Wear OS, Google’s (GOOGL) wearable technology division, lauded the Fossil collaboration announcement, expressing that “the addition of Fossil Group’s technology and team” would allow Google (GOOGL) to develop a beautifully designed portfolio of smartwatches, while continuing to support the “ever-evolving needs of the vitality-seeking, on-the-go consumer.”
It’s worth noting that Google’s (GOOGL) $40 million deal is for technology that has yet to hit the market. Fossil Group’s (FOSL) research and development team have been working tirelessly to create a new product innovation relating to smartwatch technology, but it been kept under wraps for the most part. Burr told Wareable that Google (GOOGL) saw the technology being worked on by Fossil R&D and believed that it “could be brought out in a more expansive way if Google (GOOGL) had that technology, and was not only able to continue to use it with Fossil but bring it to other partners in the ecosystem.”
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