Streaming holdout Adele is a business anomaly

November 24, 2015

The British singer is poised to beat album sales set 15 years ago by withholding her new record ‘25’ on the likes of Spotify. Few stars can make such refusals. Streaming music revenue is expected to surpass sales by 2018. Most artists will be destined to go with the digital flow.

Asian online giveaways echo past internet follies

November 23, 2015

The drug firms are shrugging off Uncle Sam’s latest attempt to prevent mergers predicated on relocating to low-tax jurisdictions. The largest-ever inversion, at some $150 bln, ought to raise pressure on lawmakers to find more comprehensive fixes to the great M&A tax dodge.

Starboard’s Yahoo flip-flop misses the point

November 19, 2015

The pushy investor now wants the $31 bln tech company to offload its main business instead of its Alibaba holding. A switcheroo won’t erase a discount and residual tax liability on the stake. However it’s engineered, the real problems for Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer will remain.

Public investors lasso Square to tame the unicorns

November 19, 2015

Jack Dorsey’s payments firm has priced below its indicated range and at less than half the value of its last funding round. A two-timing CEO, rising competition and losses provided ammunition for old-school mutual fund managers demanding big discounts to lofty private valuations.

Hulu deal would broadcast mixed signal

November 13, 2015

Time Warner may buy into the U.S. video-streaming service already backed by Comcast, Disney and Fox. Though the implied value is bound to be far less, Hulu could be worth some $17 bln, according to Breakingviews calculations. The ownership structure warrants a big discount.

Alibaba Singles’ Day frenzy confuses growth debate

November 12, 2015

The Chinese e-commerce group processed transactions worth a staggering $14.3 bln on Nov. 11, 60 pct more than last year. Yet the boost is unlikely to have much impact on annual volumes. One day of online discount shopping also provides few clues about Chinese consumption.

Strategies diverge on China’s new web battlefield

November 11, 2015

The country’s online giants are pouring cash into local services like taxi-hailing and takeaway food. Baidu invests mostly in wholly-owned units, while Tencent takes minority stakes. Alibaba does both. As costs mount amid uncertain returns, investors are happier with less risk.

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.