Equifax Settlement; Microsoft’s $1B Investment; Apple Deal Brewing
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HACK CITY B*TCH
The FTC slapped consumer credit reporting company Equifax with a $700M fine for a data breach that leaked 147M American’s credit reports and personal info. Hackers were able to access Social Security numbers, date of birth, and credit card records during the 2017 sh*tstorm.
This fine is the largest handed down by the FTC, dwarfing the $128M penalty dealt to Uber for a data breach of its own. In addition, Equifax is also required to increase its overall data security procedures. Apparently, “Steve from IT never forgets to install a software update patch,” isn’t a fool-proof control system.
Equifax announced that $425M of the fine will be used to create a consumer restitution fund and allow users who were affected by the breach to collect up to $20k in cash. There’s just one catch: it’s nearly impossible to prove that an individual’s data was compromised and used in a malicious way.
If consumers can show that they spent time and energy monitoring or fixing their credit, or suffered any out-of-pocket losses, they will be eligible for the $20k. Otherwise, they can get a $125 coupon (yes, a coupon) to have Equifax monitor their credit activity … which will all but ensure their data is available the next time Equifax gets hacked.
Luckily for Equifax none of the consumer data has shown up in a Lithuanian back alley a la the dark web.
Microsoft is investing $1B into OpenAI LP, a startup founded in 2015 by Elon Musk that specializes in artificial intelligence. Elon, however, left the OpenAI board in 2018 to avoid a conflict of interest with Tesla and to pursue his passion of posting dank ass memes on the twitterverse.
Microsoft will utilize OpenAI to enhance its cloud computing platform Azure, which is second in market share to Amazon’s AWS. Azure has been a key driver to the software giant’s growth, with sales having risen 64% last quarter compared to Q2 2018.
A cup of joe
Starbucks is making an investment in Brightloom, as part of a plan to enhance the adoption of its mobile ordering system and loyalty program across markets. Financial details were kept on the DL … kind of like the rationale as to why every Starbucks location only stocks like 3 of each of its breakfast sandwiches daily.
In return for receiving cash and giving up a board seat, Brightloom, which was formerly called eatsa, will roll out the coffee company’s mobile ordering and payment systems to Starbucks licensees. As it currently stands, less than half of the Starbs’ markets around the globe have adopted the companies mobile apps and only eight utilize digital payments. So their work is cut out for them.
The two companies will also sell access to its platform to other restaurant companies that are trying to roll out a mobile payment process.
Apple is allegedly in late-stage talks to potentially purchase Intel’s smartphone-modem chip business … possibly. The deal, worth upwards of $1B, could be done as early as next week, barring setbacks, and would give Apple even more control over developing major components of its devices.
iPhones aren’t what they used to be
Apple devices, especially its smartphones, are selling about as well as Busch Lattes on BYU’s campus as of late. Hence the value of this vertical integration play. Acquiring a slew of patents and talent from Intel will allow Apple to bring modem development in-house.
It’s probably fair to assume that Apple’s pissing contest with Qualcomm, another modem maker, forced Tim Cook’s hand. Telling Qualcomm that its services are no longer needed is certainly atop Cook’s to-do list. After a lengthy legal battle with Qualcomm, Timmy iPhones was forced to reconcile with his frenemy and fork over an undisclosed sum for Qualcomm’s troubles.
Speaking of the Qualcomm deal
Following Apple and Qualcomm’s settlement and before the ink could dry on the multi-year modem deal, Intel saw the writing on the wall. During Apple and Qualcomm’s beef, Intel had chipped away at Qualcomm’s lead (Qualcomm was no longer the exclusive provider of iPhone modems, so there was that), but it soon became clear that Apple was stuck with Qualcomm whether it liked it or not. Spoiler: it doesn’t like it. Thus, Intel ceased development of its 5G modems … and put up a for sale sign outside.
Intel had gotten into the smartphone modem biz via the $1.4B purchase of Infineon Technologies but saw the road to profitability becoming increasingly more difficult.
IN OTHER NEWS
- Robinhood Markets closed another funding round, this time worth $323M. The deal, which Robinhood had been seeking since May, brings the firm’s valuation to $7.6B from its previous $5.6B at the end of 2018. Investors don’t seem to be bothered by setbacks encountered last year when Robinhood announced a checking service with 3% interest, which quickly became delayed over concerns about whether and how users’ money would be insured. The market for wannabe day-traders has never been hotter.
- What the frack? Halliburton is cutting 8% of jobs in its North American workforce, the company’s largest region, and plans to closet unused fracking gear as the firm shifts its strategy. Halliburton is the world’s largest supplier of fracking equipment, but according to energy consultant Rystead Energy, Halliburton and its competition could have as much as 24.4M horsepower for fracking available in the US and Canada. Demand in the region would only reach 15.5M horsepower, thus the equipment shelving. At least they have the looming war with Iran to look forward to.
- Amazon is opening two robot powered fulfillment centers in Ohio, according to Bezos and the gang. Each warehouse will be larger than 700k square feet and will be located in the northern part of the state, in Akron and Rossford if you’re an Ohio geography buff. While this might seem like bad news for us humans looking for work, someone’s gotta run the place, and Amazon will be hiring more than 2.5k full-time employees to man its new centers. If we’ve learned anything from Amazon, those employees will probably get two 15 minute breaks to split between all of them.
- The White House and Congressional leaders have reached a two-year US debt ceiling and budget deal, according to the President. The deal raises US discretionary spending from $1.32B to $1.37B, and moves the US closer to avoiding a debt default, which would trigger automatic, across-the-board spending cuts. The deal also takes steps to avoid another government shutdown that would have taken place September 30th when funding expired. Lawmakers still need to pass separate appropriation bills to avoid that, but this is a step in the right direction … unless, of course, you’re part of an anti-government militia.
- Johnson & Johnson is heading to court next Monday to try and get thousands of lawsuits alleging its talcum based products cause cancer dismissed. The Daubert hearing is scheduled to ensure expert witness testimonies are based on sound science. J&J will be there to argue plaintiffs’ witness’ scientific principals, and if it gets its way, have all of the plaintiffs’ 22 expert witnesses dismissed, along with the cases themselves. If all the cases are dismissed, J&J could find itself free of 79% of the 14k open lawsuits against it.
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