NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Slack Technologies is on the wrong end of the network effect. Shares in the work-messaging firm fell about 10% on Tuesday as its chief rival – Microsoft’s Teams – announced it has almost twice as many users, based on latest reported numbers.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Alphabet still runs fast, but its pace is slowing. It’s a common problem that comes with aging. A potential bid for device-maker Fitbit could bring new youthful energy for the $880 billion firm, or just a slightly expanded waistline.
NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Breakingviews) - Ambitious American lawmakers crafting an antitrust shopping list are putting Amazon near the top. Jeff Bezos’ $880 billion retailing behemoth deepened its hold on consumers again in the third quarter. The dominant internet retailer spent heavily on faster shipping, propelling revenue growth of 24%. Ruthless expansion in areas, such as advertising, where its existing operations give it a leg up, and new markets such as healthcare, bring a showdown with City Hall closer than ever.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - The pressures to settle opioid-related litigation against U.S. companies have reached critical mass. A combined $50 billion of proposed settlements is now on the table. Drugmakers and distributors prefer one-off payments, even large ones, rather than open-ended uncertainty. Meanwhile localities want cash as soon as possible. That’s a recipe for deals.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Merger talks between Altria and Philip Morris International are off, but a deal could still rise from the ashes. The idea of a $187 billion combination has sputtered amid turmoil at Juul Labs, of which Altria owns 35%. The market is already suggesting that the vaping upstart is worth less than what Altria paid in December 2018. If it continues to fall, the logic of a combination could bring Philip Morris back for another pull.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - If there’s a company WeWork wishes it were, it could be Airbnb. The office-sharing firm’s initial public offering has been postponed because investors took a look at the underlying business, as well as the company’s governance, and decided they wanted none of it at anything like the company’s $47 billion private-market valuation – or indeed at half that, or less. Although Airbnb is another overgrown upstart in the space-sharing business, its initial public offering, targeted for 2020 according to the company on Thursday, may succeed in many of the ways WeWork’s is failing.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Juul Labs has discovered the fountain of premature aging. The e-cigarettes it sells were intended as a safer alternative to smoking, but now lawmakers are treating them like a menace. Growth markets, such as China and India, are receding from view and Juul’s $38 billion valuation from last year has probably gone up in smoke. However, all of this doesn’t mean that vaping is dead, or that e-cigarettes won’t be profitable.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - A new app kerfuffle shows that fun still trumps privacy concerns. Consumers love FaceApp’s filter for making selfies look older or sexier, but its Russian ownership has suddenly sparked worries about potential data misuse. Yet the app isn’t new, and people have been posting their images on social media for years. It’s past time for regulators to set some boundaries.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Amazon.com’s data deal is inviting D.C. scrutiny. As its executives appeared at an antitrust hearing in Congress alongside those of other tech firms, the e-commerce giant offered customers $10 to track their web browsing. It’s a smart way to grab business from rivals, and the price low-balls the value of user data. That’s a demonstration of how dominance works.
NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Breakingviews) - At some point, antitrust investigations of Google and Amazon.com become a no-brainer. As a step in that direction, the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department, which police U.S. competition issues, have divvied up responsibility for the tech giants, according to news reports. That could create ammo for future fights. Facebook ought to worry too.