Apple's Q4'17 earnings call. New unicorn. Bitcoin's all-time high.


Yesterday on an earnings call, Barnes & Noble's CEO made a strange announcement. He said the company was embarking on a bold new strategy. Wait for it ... 


Meanwhile, in the troubled world of online media, the chatter was about a similar pivot. News flash: Here's how you can save yourself if you're a troubled media company: 

Readers! Genius!
Actually, it is refreshing to see some companies return to their core mission. 

Barnes & Noble has failed in e-reader hardware (remember Nook?) and its stores now look like they're confused about whether they want to be gift stores, toy stores, or well-appointed waiting rooms for public toilets.
Meanwhile, digital media companies have been "pivoting to video," pretending to be mini-TV studios. Or they have fronted at being tech/software companies (with corresponding multiples) on the back of a decent in-house CMS or analytics dashboard.
It's easy to try to do the Silicon Valley thing and engage in a form of innovation theater by announcing pivot after pivot. But if suddenly you find yourself pivoting back to your original business model, um — it's probably time to stop.

Have a great weekend.


This week in data:
  • 15: We analyzed earnings call transcript data and found that in Apple’s latest earnings call that took place this quarter, terms related to augmented and virtual reality were mentioned 15 times. Different pieces of evidence suggest Apple is betting the farm on AR and moving ahead with AR glasses. Read about this and more in our Apple Strategy Teardown released yesterday.

  • 17: Speaking of Apple, we also dug into the company’s organizational structure. According to Apple’s own key people page on its website, CEO Tim Cook has 17 direct reports, including Ive, CFO Luca Maestri, COO Jeff Williams, and various SVPs and VPs.

  • 6%: Netflix is leading Salesforce by just about 6 percentage points in Round 3 of our bracket to determine the best company to invest in and hold for 10 years. Polls close this Sunday, so make sure to cast your votes here.

    $1.07B: UK-based Radius Payment Solutions, a payments provider to the fleet and logistics market, raised $200M from Inflexion Private Equity. At a $1.07B valuation, it is the latest company to make it onto our real-time Unicorn Tracker.

  • $11,000: This week, the largest cryptocurrency Bitcoin passed the $11,000-per-coin price to hit an all-time high. But it has since fallen. Early today, it was trading above $10,000. To put all this in perspective, Bitcoin started the year at ~$1,000. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, it’s worth checking out our blockchain explainer for a more detailed explanation on Bitcoin, Ethereum, ICOs, and all things blockchain.

  • 20 years: Amazon has showed interest in the pharmaceutical space as far back as 1998 (nearly 20 years ago), when it made the first of two investments in was later acquired by Walgreens, a company whose CEO commented just this week that he believes Amazon "will not come in an industry so complicated as our industry." Recently, news broke that Amazon is in exploratory talks with generic drug-makers about a potential entry into the pharmacy space. We previously dug into Amazon's long-clear ambitions in pharma here.
  • $110M: The amount raised by ag tech company Farmers Business Network in Series D financing from Campbell Soup Company, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, T. Rowe Price, and Temasek Holdings. The round brings the company’s total disclosed funding to $190M. Farmers Business Network is one of over 100 startups on our ag tech market map, which features companies powering the future of farming and agribusiness.

  • $14.1M: This week, website and online publishing platform Verst announced its team will be joining Dropbox. Verst previously raised $14.1M in total disclosed funding from investors including Greylock Venture Partners and CrunchFund.
  • 5 years: Blue Apron appointed Brad Dickerson (formerly CFO) as the new president and CEO of the company. Dickerson — who joined in February 2016 — will replace former co-founder and CEO Matt Salzberg, who has held the position for over 5 years (since Blue Apron was founded). Blue Apron went public at a valuation of $1.89B in June 2017, and the company’s stock price has consistently declined over the past several months, falling to just under $3 this week (it priced its IPO at $10 per share). We previously looked at the valuation history between Blue Apron and also public meal kit delivery competitor Hello Fresh. The analysis highlights Blue Apron’s post-IPO stock decline.

  • 100,000: This week, WeWork acquired Meetup — a networking service for people to organize and join social events based on interests — for $200M. The company’s previous investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Omidyar Network, and Union Square Ventures, among others. WeWork has said that about 100,000 people have gone to a Meetup meeting at WeWork in 2017.
  • $120B: An approved sales-tax increase from last year gives the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) an estimated $120B over 40 years to tidy up city infrastructure. In anticipation of the 2028 Olympics, the city plans on transforming itself by creating cleaner skies, responsive buses, and last-mile transit, among other initiatives. We previously looked at over 80 startups making cities smarter across traffic, waste, energy, water usage, and more.

  • $6.59B: Consumers purchased $6.59B worth of goods this past Cyber Monday in what is said to be the “largest-ever single day of online sales in the US.” Purchases made on smartphones also broke a record, reaching $2B in sales. According to projections, 2017 will be the first year to break $100B in online sales. The holidays aren’t over, so check out our 2017 gift guide for some more shopping inspiration.
  • 92.4%: Some scientists believe banning glitter will be good for the environment. Glitter is a microplastic made of a polymer known as Mylar. According to a 2014 study, 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are drifting in seas across the globe. Of that number, microplastics account for 92.4% of this floating waste, which often looks like food particles to marine life. According to an article earlier this week, many UK nurseries have banned glitter from their facilities as a result of the “terrible damage” it causes to the environment.
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