Apple Music Passes Spotify; SocGen Layoffs; Lyft Threatens Morgan Stanley With Lawsuit

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THE HEADLINES

 

HEARING FOOTSTEPS

Apple Music has taken the Iron Throne from Spotify.

AAPL now boasts the largest number of paid US streaming subscribers, in an ever-tightening race to become the top music service in the land. In February, Apple claimed the top spot with 28M paid subscribers in the US vs. Spotify’s 26M.

Neither streamer publicly breaks out subscribers regionally, and those figures don’t include members in a trial period … or your ex who still mooches off your Spotify and Netflix accounts. However, taking Spotify’s ad-supported users into account, it still has a higher listener number state-side.

Global game

While Tim Cook and his minions have taken over the US market, Apple still trails the Swedes on a global level. According to Spotify, as of December, it had 207M active users globally, with 96M of those users paying for a plan. Without a free, ad-supported service, Apple enjoys just 50M global users. For those of you keeping score at home, more than half of its paid subscribers live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It was expected that Apple would close the subscriber gap more than six months ago, but alas, another letdown. *cough* AirPower *cough*. Still, Apple is putting up big numbers, posting a monthly growth rate of 2.6% to 3%, compared to Spotify’s 1.5% to 2%. Given the “hockey stick growth” it’s no wonder that Apple is dipping its toe into other subscription services like news and video streaming.

What can Spotify do?

Spotify isn’t taking its losses lying down. It recently sued Apple and accused Tim Cook and crew of using the “Apple tax” to keep competitors at bay. The Apple tax is a 30% subscription fee that the Cupertino phone makers skim off the top of the first year of any subscription purchased through its App store, and then a continuous 15% fee each year after that.

 

AU REVOIR

SocGen going all Joey Gladstone on ’em.

Societe Generale plans to cut roughly 700 jobs at its Paris HQ and hundreds more at its London and NYC locations. This is due in large part to difficult trading conditions.

The French bank is cutting $567M in costs and reviewing less profitable investments, as it has said market conditions are unlikely to improve in the near term. Bruno Benoit, the head of SocGen’s fixed income and currencies trading unit, will also be leaving the company. If nothing else, Benoit has proven to be adept at reading between the lines: the bulk of the cost reductions were focused on fixed income and currency trading activities.

The bigger picture

The job cuts, which may be announced as early as this week, come as part of CEO Fredric Oudea’s revamp of the French lender. In addition to overhauling senior management positions with staff from Bank of America last year, SocGen is also buying Commerzbank’s equity markets and commodities, presumably before Deutsche Bank can f*ck that up too.

 

RUNNING INTERFERENCE

Fact: Morgan Stanley is the Andy King of investment banks. Need proof? The financial juggernaut, who just so happens to be the lead underwriter on Uber’s IPO has been accused of helping Lyft investors short their newly minted public shares.

The red-headed step-child of the US ride-hailing market sent a letter to Morgan Stanley threatening legal action after the NY Post and The Information reported that MS had been approaching pre-IPO shareholders about a product to short the stock.

Apparently, the crack legal team at Lyft needs to learn a thing or two about CYA. You see, Lyft’s lockup agreements don’t allow for pre-IPO shareholders to reduce their economic positions in the ride-hailer for 6 months, but the legalese doesn’t disallow hedging.

Of course, Morgan Stanley denies going hard in the paint: “[Morgan Stanley] did not market or execute, directly or indirectly, a sale, short sale, hedge, swap or transfer of risk or value associated with Lyft stock for any Lyft shareholder identified by the company or otherwise known to us to be the subject of a Lyft lock-up agreement.” Sureee.

Unsurprisingly, the possible “tortious interference” is being investigated by Finra and its probably only a matter of time until SEC starts sniffing around.

 


IN OTHER NEWS

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iStockphoto


  • Boeing down. The plane manufacturer announced that it is pulling back production on its 737 jetliners for the first time since the 9/11 attacks as a result of the recent crashes and inability to perform proper safety testing. Boeing has had a rough go of it lately after two aircraft crashed within five months of each other. The planemaker is reducing production by 19%.

 

  • Payday. Good news for the economy: payrolls were up in March by 196k. The numbers, released by the Department of Labor, provide payroll information and generally an increase shows signs that employers were hiring over the period. Estimates had the report coming in at 177k. The beat helped cool concerns that the economy is cooling as a whole.

 

  • On second thought, nevermind. Google had planned to assemble an ethics council to get together and discuss the potential misuse of Artificial Intelligence. Apparently, appointing Kay Coles James was not what Googlers had in mind. More thank 2.3k Google employees signed a petition calling for the President of the Heritage Foundation’s removal and the search engine wound up scrapping the idea altogether.

 

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