Square’s down round offers cautionary unicorn tale

November 6, 2015

Jack Dorsey’s payments firm may go public for $3.5 bln, or 41 pct below its last private valuation. Rising competition, losing Starbucks’ business and deflating markets are only partly to blame. It’s a sign to well-funded upstarts that good ideas don’t always guarantee success.

Expedia finds back door to Airbnb’s market

November 5, 2015

The travel site is paying $3.9 bln for HomeAway. Though the vacation-rental firm lacks the urban clout of its better-known rival, moving in with its new parent will help. Cost cuts are low, but HomeAway’s cash pile will ease the blow to Expedia of shelling out a 28 pct premium.

Facebook a master at hooking users on mobile habit

November 5, 2015

The social network reported more than 1 bln active daily visitors, a testament to its success in persuading people to check in on smartphones and tablets. Its reward was a 40 pct rise in ad revenue. Future growth may depend on pushing this kind of digital addiction.

No simple cures for Gilead and Apple valuations

October 28, 2015

Like the iPhone maker, the biotech is the best in its industry and churns out hefty profit. Yet its stock trades at a big discount to the market. Investor impatience for astonishing new products - and fears that neither company will find them - borders on the irrational.

How Theranos Hoovered up $9 bln of influence

October 27, 2015

CEO Elizabeth Holmes persuaded a clutch of bigwigs like George Shultz to join her board, tapping the roster at Stanford’s world-improving think tank. Theranos’ headline valuation shot skywards. But the wise old men don’t seem to be helping now that things are looking shaky.

Twitter CEO’s creative giveback is promising start

October 23, 2015

Jack Dorsey is donating a third of his stake in the $20 bln microblogging site, or about $200 mln worth, to the employee compensation pool. The move should engender some needed loyalty after his decision to moonlight as CEO of Square. Twitter could use more such bold ideas.

Blood test casts doubt on unicorn valuations

October 15, 2015

The promise of faster, easier blood diagnostics allowed Theranos to raise money at a $9 bln price tag. The details of the firm’s technology have never been clear and have now been called into question by a WSJ report. It’s easier for questionable valuations to thrive in private.

Square float is missing three sides

October 15, 2015

The U.S. payments upstart’s IPO narrative is based on growth, but it’s missing three other critical storylines. It’s losing money. Governance is compromised, with dual-class stock and a part-time CEO in Jack Dorsey. And the company’s allies may have incentives to become rivals.

Review: Steve Jobs, both man and machine

October 9, 2015

A new Hollywood biopic directed by Danny Boyle provides a glossy, fictionalized yet revealing glimpse of the human being behind Apple’s iconic products. A recent documentary has a harder critical edge. Four years after his death, Jobs’ flawed genius defies categorization.

New Twitter CEO flaps with one wing behind back

October 5, 2015

Co-founder Jack Dorsey is now the micro-blogging site’s permanent boss. But he also leads payments service Square, which is considering an IPO later this year. Perhaps he can succeed at these two very demanding jobs. Twitter, though, has saddled its investors with a risky gamble.