Breakingviews

Guest view: What’s holding technology M&A back?

By Guest Contributor
April 9, 2015

Though deal-making is near boom-time highs, most of it’s not about making bold bets on the future, says Andreessen Horowitz’s managing partner. Activism plays a role. But as newly public tech firms that are more resistant to external pressure mature, the dynamic will shift.

Request for IBM activism likely falls on deaf ears

April 6, 2015

Some big shareholders are begging for a Big Blue shake-up. They have reason to be dissatisfied – 11 quarters of falling revenue have sent the shares into a slump. Snag is IBM has already exhausted the typical activist playbook of tapping the balance sheet, buybacks and disposals.

ZTE’s turnaround not as impressive up close

March 26, 2015

The Chinese telco equipment maker’s earnings almost doubled in 2014 – an improvement on the losses it was making three years ago. Yet revenue increased just 8 percent. ZTE is banking on smartphones and wearables to drive growth, but users don’t yet seem to be taking the bait.

Google’s CFO search should have it feeling lucky

March 24, 2015

There’s a dearth of executives with the financial, tech and government experience needed to help run a $400 bln company. Even fewer women fit the bill. Silicon Valley and Wall Street just can’t find enough Ruth Porats fast enough. The challenge is to create more like her.

Alibaba deal spree strains its financial strength

March 24, 2015

The e-commerce giant barely explained its recent investments in an Israeli venture capital fund or U.S. chat app Snapchat. Similar purchases absorbed 75 pct of Alibaba’s operating cash flow in 2014. Though its core business is robust, returns on the new ventures are uncertain.

Silicon Valley sexism case tests new M&M color

March 11, 2015

Venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins didn’t slip the candy down blouses, behavior that cost one tech law firm big bucks in 1994. But they’re accused of unfairly blocking a woman’s rise. It’s a subtler but more toxic flavor of discrimination that suggests how little has changed.

Rob Cox: Silicon Valley’s boom-boom room moment

March 3, 2015

These days the talk of the geek enclave isn’t the latest Mary Meeker report or mega-IPO but complex legal complaints alleging naughty behavior by leading venture capitalists. The lawsuits are the latest reminder that the tech industry’s moral exceptionalism is undeserved.

Alibaba’s split nationalities invite trouble

March 3, 2015

Taiwan wants to boot the e-commerce group out for not declaring itself Chinese. Yet Alibaba’s home changes depending on who asks. China’s taxman sees Hong Kong, licensing bodies see China, and investors see the Cayman Islands. The confusion may encourage regulatory meddling.

Tech drive strips old-school carmakers of clout

By Breakingviews Columnists
March 2, 2015

Apple is the latest to take an interest. From Tesla to Google, the shift to connected, self-driving vehicles may take a while, but it could shake up everything from systems to materials to car usage. The winners may be able to rev up returns far higher than current performance.

China web metrics add up to little for investors

February 13, 2015

Economic indicators stop being useful as they become targets. The numbers tech companies like Alibaba and JD.com bandy around are no exception. Each defines its metrics differently, and there is much room for spin. As business models evolve, these numbers will go from confusing to irrelevant.