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Apple's cash plans surprise Wall Street
The big surprise in Apple's quarterly earnings wasn't its results, even though they came in ahead of estimates, or its guidance, which was below estimates. No, the real surprise was Apple's statement that it plans to eventually reduce its net cash to roughly zero.
The company, which currently has more than $280 billion (BILLION) in cash (along with around $120 billion in debt), didn't put a time frame on how long it will take to get there. It said it would have more to say about its plans as part of next quarter's earnings report.
- The average selling price of an iPhone jumped nearly $100, to $800, thanks to the iPhone X.
- Wearables — including watches, AirPods and Beats headphones — were up 70% from a year ago, helping the "other products" revenue top $5 billion for the first time.
- Apple's fast-growing services business climbed another 18%, to nearly $8.5 billion.
- The company saw double-digit revenue growth in every region. Sales in emerging markets, excluding China, were up 25%.
Bonus: This chart of Apple Watch sales is pretty great. For those unaware, Apple gives occasional superlatives but not actual sales numbers.
Earnings wrap up: Sprint, Amazon and Alphabet
Breaking this morning: Sprint's earnings for the quarter ending in December 2017 beat analyst expectations — boosted by expected gains from the recent GOP tax law, Axios' David McCabe reports.
The gritty details:
- The company brought in earnings of $1.75 per share, up from a 12-cent loss per share in the same quarter of 2016. Analysts had expected the stock to lose 4 cents per share, according to Investors Business Daily.
- Sprint said it would receive a roughly $7.1 billion "favorable impact from tax reform" — a significant boost in income for the quarter.
- The company added 184,000 postpaid phone subscribers. That's still less than its main three competitors.
The bigger picture: Sprint still lagged behind Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile in new subscribers.
Apple wasn't the only tech giant to report earnings Thursday. In fact, it wasn't even the only one that starts with an "A":
Conservatives in tech are afraid to share views: study
Google’s response to former-employee James Damore’s “diversity memo” has made people — especially those on the conservative end of the political spectrum — less comfortable sharing ideological views with co-workers, according to a
new survey of Silicon Valley tech workers.
The survey, conducted by the Lincoln Network, a right-of-center group, says that conservatives feel more discouraged than liberals in the tech industry.
Why it matters: Damore’s memo questioning women’s aptitude for engineering jobs — and Google’s subsequent firing of him — became a lightning rod in the broader debates about diversity and tolerance. While Silicon Valley promotes its openness to diversity, it’s been attacked as an “echo chamber” for Democrats that has alienated Republicans.
How they responded:
- 70% of respondents identifying as “very conservative” felt less comfortable talking about political views with colleagues.
- 64% of “conservatives” and “libertarians” were less comfortable
- Meanwhile, 13% of “liberals” and 26% of “very liberal” respondents felt more comfortable.
- 59% of very conservative respondents said they known someone who did not pursue or left a career in tech because of perceived conflicts of viewpoints.
My thought bubble: It’s not a zero-sum game. As recent issues at Google highlight, it’s possible for a lot of different groups to feel less comfortable voicing their views within the industry.
How cryptocurrencies are being used to evade sanctions
Foreign governments have found a new use for cryptocurrencies: Dodging international sanctions, Axios' Shannon Vavra reports.
Why it matters: There is a dark side to digital currencies, and rogue regimes like North Korea are already exploiting it.
How it works: Cryptocurrency "provides a way for sanctions evasion for countries because of anonymity and plausible deniability” in the way they're transferred, says Kenneth Geers, a cyber policy expert and former National Security Agency official. “That allows for buying and selling across borders with very little oversight."
The impact: These funds could back North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile testing programs. In Russia, they could support a regime that is believed to have interfered in the U.S. election and in other countries' political systems. And for Venezuela, they could help a dictatorship that has abused anti-government protesters and deprived citizens of economic opportunity.
African American museum goes high tech
The National Museum of African American History and Culture today is launching a new interactive installation that was constructed via 3D scanners by Google's Black Googler Network, Axios' Anthony Brown writes.
Why it matters: The installation will allow museum visitors to interact with rare artifacts in 3D, giving people access to objects that otherwise would not be featured in the museum, the engineers said Thursday night.
How it works: BGN and museum staff explained that Google donated 3D scanners and trained the Smithsonian museum staff to allow them to condense the usual multiple hour process of scanning artifacts into the interactive design to 15 minutes. The installation is part of a $1 million donation from Google when the museum first opened.
- Happy Groundhog Day.
- Airbnb said Thursday that CFO Laurence Tosi is leaving the home-sharing juggernaut, while legal and business officer Belinda Johnson will become chief operating officer. Airbnb also said it won't be going public this year. Axios' Dan Primack gives a closer look here.
- Thursday was Antonio Neri's first day as CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, filling the spot previously held by Meg Whitman. Neri is a 20-year HP veteran, having started out as an engineer in customer service.
- Google released its YouTube TV app for Roku and Apple TV devices, The Verge reports. It's also bringing its YouTube Go (which allows downloads and is aimed at emerging markets) to 130 more countries.
- Viacom and CBS will explore whether to get back together.
- Intel is seeking investors to take a majority stake in its AR glasses unit, per Bloomberg.
- HBO has reached 5 million digital subscriptions.
- Founders Fund partner Cyan Banister is leading the round of new financing for HQ Trivia, the popular trivia gameshow app, Recode reports.
- Dell confirms it's in IPO talks.
- This morning, Bitcoin dipped below $8,000 for first time since Nov. 24.
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Seattle's KIRO radio made excellent use of surveillance footage showing a break-in attempt in its parking lot, assigning a play-by-play announcer to narrate the effort.