Spotify's direct offering is cheaper and simpler than an IPO, but brings new risks for investors

“Transparency breeds trust,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tweeted after his company filed for a direct stock listing. Ek is certainly right, and so it may be a bit churlish to point out that, whether a company goes public through an IPO or a direct listing, the SEC still requires a certain degree of transparency on financial and operational matters. As expected, Spotify is listing its shares directly on the NYSE without the help of underwriters, although three Wall Street firms will receive a flat fee to act as advisors.

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft: With great scale comes great destructive powers

This member-only article was unlocked for you by Kevin Kelleher. Unlock expires 1 day, 23 hours from now. For unlimited access to all of Pando, become a Pando member for just $10 a month. Looking at the rich harvest of tech earnings last week, I couldn't help but think of “Scale,” a surreal story that Will Self wrote in 1995, the same year Amazon set up its online store. “Some people lose their sense of proportion; I've lost my sense of scale,” says the protagonist, a drug addict whose...

Amazon closes Whole Foods acquisition. Here’s what’s next

Amazon closed its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Market today, kicking off a new chapter not only for these two players but for the entire retail industry. The companies, which outlined their plans in a joint statement last week, are wasting no time making changes that will affect their customers. Starting today, Whole Foods will offer lower prices on a range of produce, meat, and other staples, and Amazon will start upgrading the stores’ point-of-sales systems to offer its Prime members

Let’s call ‘pivot to video’ what it really is: Desperation

At first, a pivot to video made sense. High bandwidth on mobile, mega-platforms like YouTube, and the promise of disrupting TV commercials made it alluring. This was compounded by steadily declining cost-per-click rates on text-centric content — not to mention the painful memories of what happened to newspapers that waited too long to move online. If all that left news sites feeling scared, Mark Zuckerberg terrified them. He kept saying things like video is a “mega-trend” like mobile.

Cue sad playlist: Pandora departures point to uncertain future

Capping a tumultuous year for the music-streaming pioneer, Pandora is losing founder and CEO Tim Westergren as well as its president and chief marketing officer. The departures signal a larger influence of SiriusXM, which recently bought a 19 percent stake in the company, and leaves the money-losing company’s fate uncertain. Westergren cofounded Pandora and has served as an executive and board member since 2000. He returned to the role of CEO in March 2016.

3 Reno startups thriving beyond Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley loves to talk about what makes it special: great universities, a networked VC community, quality of life. But rising rents and crowded freeways have strained that dream, and emerging tech hubs are enticing not only startups but talented workers who want something more. After years of drawing in educated tech workers, some areas of the Bay Area faced an emigration in 2016, according to U.S. Census data. That trend is enticing some startups to set up outside major tech centers.

Did Nest just photoshop Simone de Beauvoir? And why?

History is messy. Even messier is the business of trying to erase history. Messiest of all is any attempt to rewrite literature: History may be written — and rewritten — by victors, but mess with literature and you have a problem on your hands. Nest Labs, the highest-profile company in the Other Bets category under Alphabet’s corporate umbrella, unveiled a new security camera today. As reported, it has some interesting innovations that borrow from Google’s AI.

Is Sergey Brin’s massive humanitarian sky yacht full of hot air?

Sergey Brin is not given to half measures. The company he cofounded set out a 300-year plan and aimed for nothing less than organizing all the world’s information. So now that details about the airship he’s building are coming out, it should surprise no one that it will not just be big, but the biggest. Brin hasn’t commented on his airship, but the Guardian quoted an unnamed source today as saying that Brin’s airship is “going to be massive on a grand scale,” a goal so audacious it demands redundant language to describe it.

Andreessen was right: Hardware is hard

“Hardware is hard. It's called hardware for a reason.” So said (Pando investor) Marc Andreessen at a PandoMonthly in 2013. He was talking about a mantra that had appeared in Silicon Valley among founders and investors: “Hardware is the new software.” Software, to quote another Andreessenism, was eating the world, thanks to new tools and cloud-based services that were making it cheap to launch a software startup. At the time, some were seeing the same dynamics starting to work in consumer hardwa

How Cheap Internet Access Could Be SpaceX’s Secret Weapon

Elon Musk is not one to let setbacks slow him down, even when setbacks involve the explosion of a rocket containing cargo precious to fellow tech billionaire Mark Zuckerberg. As of this week, SpaceX, where Musk is CEO, is back in the business of launching rockets. And Musk is pushing ahead on his outsize ambitions for the company. After 17 successful launches between 2012 and 2015, SpaceX initially planned to launch 20 rockets in 2016. Largely because of the aforementioned explosion.

How Amazon Go Plans to Totally Reinvent Grocery Shopping

The Jeff Bezos playbook works something like this: sketch out a big, audacious goal in a fledgling market, launch with a modest yet fine-tuned project and build incrementally over many years until you’re the 500-lb. gorilla of a thriving industry. This is playing out right now with Amazon’s cloud services. An experiment that began a decade ago to offer startups access to its tech infrastructure has turned into the dominant player in the cloud sector, with $13 billion in revenue. Amazon Web Serv

Waiting For Yahoo's Turnaround: A four-year one act Beckett play

Above is the photo that Yahoo put up on its Investor Relations page to accompany its third-quarter, and possibly final, earnings report. It's a photo of a room, a sadly spacious room with two empty, clearly uncomfortable chairs. The room looks like it's from some outmoded, yet never quite developed TV talk show – imagine a moody six year old designing the set of The Mike Douglas Show. The predominant color is purple, the universal shade of the bruised. “I am pleased with our Q3 results,” Maris said.

Here's Why Nobody's Talking About Nanotech Anymore

Of all the investment fads and manias over the past few decades, none have been as big of a fizzle as the craze for nanotech stocks. Ten years ago, venture capitalists were scrambling for investments, startups with “nano” in their names flourished and even a few nanotech funds launched hoping to track a rising industry. And today? Nobody in the stock market gets excited about the phrase “nanotech” anymore. Which is strange, because nanotechnology itself is yielding applications and products in a number of industries.

How Postmates Survived and Thrived Despite the Naysayers

Imitation may be a form of flattery, but in the world of tech startups, it can also be deadly. Solve a common problem and copycats are sure to emerge, often undercutting you with lower prices even at the risk of burning through the piles of cash they have raised. Not long ago, it seemed like this was the fate facing Postmates. The San Francisco-based company built an app that wants to be nothing less than a remote control for your city, with food and other goods delivered to your doorstep an hour later.

Why Microsoft Is Spending $26 Billion on LinkedIn

A key to understanding the massive and unexpected $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft can be found in the letter LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wrote to his employees explaining the deal. “You might feel a sense of excitement, fear, sadness, or some combination of all of those emotions,” he wrote. “Every member of the exec team has experienced the same, but we’ve had months to process.” That range of emotions also sums up how investors and customers feel when a big merger takes place.

Xiaomi Exec: 'We're Playing a Completely Different Game'

In 2013, former Google executive Hugo Barra made a move that stunned Silicon Valley observers: He left his high-ranking job at the search giant’s Android unit to take a post at Xiaomi. At the time, few in the U.S. had heard of the upstart Chinese smartphone firm. But Barra saw the company’s potential. Investors now value it at $45 billion; some call it the “Apple of China.” Today, there are signs that Xiaomi’s rocket ship is heading back to earth. The company failed to meet smartphone sales exp

Silicon Valley Has Just Arrived at a Major Turning Point

This year has been an unusual one for corporate finance–record M&A dealmaking, a drought in IPOs–but as 2015 wears on, things are starting to get downright weird. The trend is especially noticeable in the tech industry, where startups have been shunning the IPO market for a few years, hoping instead to tap into mega-rounds of private financing. Only now are they moving into the IPO queue, with Square, Match Group and Atlassian aiming for IPOs by year’s end. The trouble is, they are going publi

Could the Internet Become a Failed Technology?

Once a year, we alter a single digit in the number we use to name the year we all live in – a change as slight, in the grand scheme of things, as it is arbitrary – and somehow it prompts a collective examination of where we’ve been and where we’re going. As 2013 – a year in which the Internet became a much more pervasive presence in more and more lives – gave way to 2014, a new angst emerged over what the Internet was doing to us as it became a more integral part of our lives and identities.

Will Adobe's New Cloud Strategy Pay Off?

A risky makeover of the king of shrinkwrapped software is starting to win over skeptics. Adobe chief Shantanu Narayen and a dozen of his top executives were se- questered in a tony Carmel Valley spa in California. It was early September of 2011, and the group was running through a corporate bonding exer- cise. Everyone was to take a penny and recount what they were doing during the year stamped on the coin. Eyes began to roll, according to those present. Then something strange happened.
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