Here goes our weekly magazine of stories curated from around the world. In this edition: Tesla vs. the ‘New York Times’: Cars Are Now Gadgets. The Kind of Capitalist You Want to Be. Are We Suffering From Mobile App Burnout?How Will You Measure Your Life? CEO Tech Guide to Creative Financing and more.
Apple vs. Einhorn: Why the Investor Is Suing a Company He Loves
David Einhorn loves Apple. On CNBC and Bloomberg Television appearances, the hedge fund manager described the company as “phenomenal” multiple times. He reiterated that the single largest position his Greenlight Capital holds is a bullish bet on Apple. In a press release, he said the company was “filled with talented people creating iconic products that consumers around the world love.” Einhorn has a cheerful, boyish face, and it almost appeared to pain him that all of this publicity has to do with him suing the company he loves. Greenlight this morning announced a lawsuit intended to return some of Apple’s $137 billion cash horde to shareholders. Slowing growth has led the company’s stock to decline nearly 35 percent since its September high of $702, but Apple reported stratospheric sales in its most recent quarterly filing. Even after issuing a dividend last year, Apple has $145 in cash per share on its balance sheet. That’s a lot. Read more here.
Dell buyout faces opposition
Dell’s largest outside investor on Friday said it would vote against the proposed $24.4 billion deal to take the computer maker private. The shareholder, Southeastern Asset Management Inc., which says it owns approximately 8.5% of Dell’s shares outstanding, voiced its opposition to the leveraged buyout in a strongly-worded letter to the Dell’s board of directors. A copy of the letter was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “We are writing to express our extreme disappointment regarding the proposed go-private transaction, which we believe grossly undervalues the Company,” the letter said. Read this story here. Also read: What opposition means for Dell, problem with management buyouts and Southeastern’s letter to Dell. The latest on this is that Michael Dell had agreed to value hsi 16% stake in the company at about 2 % below the price offered to other share holders. Read here.
New new world
A Growing App Lets You See It, Then You Don’t: The ephemeral now has value, at least for users of cellphones. More than 60 million photos or messages are sent each day through an app called Snapchat and then, after they are viewed for a few seconds, the missives vanish. That disappearing act — and a volume that is over a tenth of the well-established Facebook’s — has made the tiny start-up a technology hit, amassing millions of users and the backing of some of the most respected names in Silicon Valley, even though it doesn’t make any money. Read more about Snapchat here.
Tesla vs. the ‘New York Times’: Cars Are Now Gadgets: Late Wednesday night, Tesla Motors issued its much-anticipated response to a scathing New York Times review of its all-electric Model S sedan. In a blog post, Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk used data logs gathered from the car to accuse reporter John Broder of outright lies. Broder, for example, complained about freezing inside the car, since he had to turn the heating system off to save electricity and keep driving. Balderdash, says Musk: The data show the cabin had an average temperature of 72F for the majority of the trip. Broder, in a series of posts, has argued that he followed Tesla’s instructions and that the car simply did not handle the cold weather of the Northeast well. He also claims to have been testing not really the Model S itself, but rather the network of free, superfast charging stations Tesla has started putting up around the country. This is how Broder explains away the baffling circumstances in which he didn’t charge the car while spending the night at a hotel. The tit-for-tat squabble is entertaining. Musk’s data-heavy beatdown, especially, is great reading. Read more here.
CEO Tech Guide to Creative Financing: Bloomberg Businessweek talks about revenue based financing and crowdfunding. Mike Glanz, chief executive of HireAHelper, a website for finding help with moving, wanted to hire additional computer programmers to work on an important project. The problem was that he didn’t have money to pay their salaries. Glanz’s options seemed limited. No bank would make a loan to someone whose company wasn’t profitable and who didn’t have collateral. Angel investors would demand too big a stake for a relatively small infusion of cash. The project, he thought, would have to wait. Then Glanz heard about Lighter Capital, a Seattle-based investment firm that offered an unusual type of loan. Instead of paying a fixed amount of interest, borrowers promise a share of future revenue until the debt is satisfied. Most important to Glanz, such loans do not depend on a company’s profitability or collateral. He applied online for a $200,000 loan and was pre-approved within a few minutes. Read more here.
The Kind of Capitalist You Want to Be: John Mackey writes for the Harvard Business Review: Some years ago I was on a panel with other former recipients of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award. The conversation had moved into the territory of what it really takes to succeed as a business builder. I expressed my deep conviction that business leadership could not be only about maximizing profits for shareholders; it had to deliberately pursue the many other positive impacts good businesses have on their stakeholders. It didn’t take long for the guy next to me to react. “What John just told you,” he announced to the room, “is a load of crap. Business has always been about money, and it always will be.” I could have just dismissed my copanelist as a dinosaur—someone stuck in the tar sands of an old paradigm. But that didn’t seem like it would accomplish anything, and besides, he’s a man I respect in many ways. So I tried to learn how to articulate my beliefs better. Read more here.
When It Pays for the Founder to Take a Break: When computer geek Dustin Snell graduated from high school, he skipped college and went to work making software. In 1995 he founded his first software company and nine years later started his second, Network Automation. As that Los Angeles-based business expanded, he became increasingly eager to “hand it over to more seasoned management,” spend more time with his family, and “get a fresh look at the technology landscape.”
So in 2011, he promoted his chief financial officer to CEO and transitioned to chief software architect, working remotely and using some of his free time to take on a handful of management and technology consulting projects. Snell says the outside work helped him better understand the challenges and opportunities other businesses were facing. More here.
15 Questions That Win New Customers: When you’re having a conversation (or series of conversations) with a potential customer, work these questions into the dialogue. Once you’ve gotten answers, you’ll know exactly what you must do to turn the prospect into a customer.More here.
Are We Suffering From Mobile App Burnout? At last count, I had 259 applications on my iPhone. I probably use 16 regularly — including Google Maps, Messages, Twitter for iPhone and Instagram. When I got my first iPhone in late 2008, I couldn’t wait to peruse the App Store for cool new games, neat productivity tools and quirky new social services. In a way, it felt like what television once was, a new kind of inexpensive, readily available entertainment. During those early days, people rushed to download the next new thing, and Apple’s swiftly rising count of the number of applications available was a hallmark of success. The sheer number of apps gave Apple a significant market appeal and a seemingly unbeatable lead over rivals like Android and Research in Motion, who all scrambled to try to recreate those successes.
8 Point Somethings: If you can hear above the hullaballoo surrounding the Windows 8 launch, you’d know that Windows Phone 8 (WP8) is finally here. But what does this mean to you, especially if you’re considering a smartphone purchase in the next couple of months? Here’s my take on the top 8 things you need to know about Microsoft’s big revamp of the Windows Phone platform for smartphones. More here.
Another Weird Shiny Thing on Mars
The Curiosity Mars rover has found some strange-looking little things on Mars – you’ve likely heard of the Mars ‘flower,’ the piece of benign plastic from the rover itself, and other bright flecks of granules in the Martian soil. Now the rover has imaged a small metallic-looking protuberance on a rock. Visible in the image above (the green lines point to it), the protuberance appears to have a high albedo and even projects a shadow on the rock below. The image was taken with the right Mastcam on Curiosity on Sol 173 — January 30, 2013 here on Earth — (see the original raw image here), and was pointed out to us by Elisabetta Bonora, an image editing enthusiast from Italy. Read more.
Odds of Death by Asteroid? Lower Than Plane Crash, Higher Than Lightning: Most people in the U.S. woke up to a spectacular sight this morning: videos from Russian dashboard cameras showing a fireball in the sky crashing down to the Earth. The 15-meter meteorite impacted the atmosphere and exploded above the Chelyabinsk region of central Russia, injuring an estimated 1,200 people and causing roughly 1 billion rubles ($33 million U.S.) in damage. It was the largest meteorite to hit the country in more than a century. More here.
How Will You Measure Your Life?
In the spring, Harvard Business School’s graduating class asked HBS professor Clay Christensen to address them—but not on how to apply his principles and thinking to their post-HBS careers. The students wanted to know how to apply them to their personal lives. He shared with them a set of guidelines that have helped him find meaning in his own life. Though Christensen’s thinking comes from his deep religious faith, we believe that these are strategies anyone can use. And so we asked him to share them with the readers of HBR. Read Christensen on how to measure your life here.
Make Your Writing Pop: 8 Tips : If you didn’t have to write much before, you sure do now. Writing is pervasive in everything we do. Today’s communication is dependent on tweets, posts, emails, blogs, presentations, profiles, resumes, websites, white papers, case studies, and proposals. Whew! And that’s just for people who don’t write for a living. I swear, my 10th grade English teacher Mrs. Mitchell never said it would be like this! Have no fear! I teamed up with best selling author, and communications expert Sam Horn to help make your writing POP! More here.
Aaron Swartz wanted to save the world. Why couldn’t he save himself? Asks Justin Peters.
On Jan. 4, 2013, Aaron Swartz woke up in an excellent mood. “He turned to me,” recalls his girlfriend Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, “and said, apropos of nothing, ‘This is going to be a great year.’ ”Swartz had reason to feel optimistic. For a year and a half, he’d been under indictment for wire and computer fraud, a seemingly endless ordeal that had drained his fortune and his emotional reserves. But he had new lawyers, and they were working hard to find common ground with the government. Maybe they’d finally reach an acceptable plea bargain. Maybe they’d go to trial, and win. “We’re going to win, and I’m going to get to work on all the things I care about again,” Swartz told his girlfriend that day. It’s not that he’d been idle. In addition to his job at the global IT consultancy ThoughtWorks, he’d become a contributing editor to the Baffler, done significant research on how to reform drug policy, and completed about 80 percent of a massive plot summary of the novel Infinite Jest. But Swartz held himself to high standards, and there was always more to do: more books to read, more programs to write, more ways to contribute to the countless projects he’d signed on for. Read more here.