Goldman Sachs’ Pay Cut; SpaceX Raises $500M; HQ Trivia Isn’t Doing So Hot

by 1 week ago

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THE HEADLINES

 

A GOLD DAY IN HELL

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Looks like Chad and the boys are going to have to put a hold on springing for the new Maserati before heading out to the Hamptons this summer. NBD, rumor has it the 2019 Miatas are great on gas …

As part of its Q1 reporting, Goldman Sach’s top brass announced that the company is cutting compensation and benefits for employees by 20% in the first quarter, to $3.26B.

That equates to roughly $90k for each of the banks 35k employees, on average, compared to $119k last year.

Due in large part to analysts taking a haircut, the company’s bottom line actually beat analysts estimates. Revenue, however, fell 13% to $8.8B thanks to lower returns in the trading division. Unsurprisingly shares got pummeled, falling 3.8% on the day, to below $200.

Don’t bank on it

Big bank earnings season has been a roller coaster of emotions thus far. JPM knocked it out of the park last week with record profits but Citigroup and Goldman have not followed suit. Citi had an EPS beat as well ($1.87 v $1.80) but fell short on revenue targets ($18.58B v. $18.63B).

 

BLIND OPTIMISM

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is raising more money as it continues its efforts to launch Starlink, a global satellite-based internet service provider … which will undoubtedly become self-aware and ‘terminate’ humanity. This week, the firm closed a $500M funding round, while questions remain about whether or not satellite based internet is either feasible or fiscally responsible.

Wait, what?

Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, said in February that “I’m pretty sure we can launch satellites into orbit.” That’s a start. Estimates indicate that launching a full-fledged satellite internet service could cost upwards of $10B, and would require more than 11k satellites in orbit. As of now, the largest internet satellite network in the world only has about 100 …

Even with a business plan that’s fraught with uncertainty, SpaceX has managed to keep investors optimistic. Just last week, the firm landed its Falcon Heavy center core back on earth, before promptly losing it in the ocean. The key takeaway is that reusable shuttles are feasible, and would likely lead the way for Starlink’s success. With this most recent funding round, SpaceX’s privately held shares are priced at $204, a 10% increase from December. The company is valued at $30.5B.

That’s Bezos’ music!

The race for satellite internet is heating up faster than Israel can crash a lunar lander into the moon. Big Bad Bezos and his Amazon cronies have also announced an initiative, called Project Kuiper, which would provide internet for underserved communities around the world. Leading that charge is none other than Rajeev Badyal, a former VP at SpaceX. Also in the race is OneWeb, a Softbank backed venture that launched its first round of satellites in February.

SAVAGE

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard that Scott Ragowsky, aka Quiz Khalifa, is leaving HQ Trivia for DAZN, a sports startup co-founded by booger sugar aficionado and ex-ESPN chief, John Skipper.

You can add Host Malone’s departure to the laundry list of headlines that have gripped the 35 person company that was valued at more than $100M in March 2018. There were the reports of abuse by Colin Kroll during his time at Twitter (Kroll and Yusupov also founded a little app called Vine, which was bought by Twitter), Yusupov going full Charlie Sheen circa 2011 and of course co-founder Colin Kroll’s tragic death.

And as recently as February … a mutiny.

And you thought Theranos was dysfunctional

Rus Yusupov is Bill Lumbergh in All Birds, according to employees. Following Kroll’s death in December of 2018, Yusupov took over as CEO … again (he had been relinquished of his duties due to his lack of innovation), and quickly returned to his old ways.

Adhering to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school of thought, Yusupov made only marginal updates to the company’s product offering, much to the chagrin of employees who watched as HQ Trivia tumbled down the App Store rankings. Let’s be honest, that Wheel of Fortune knockoff ain’t it chief.

So, in February 2019 employees took matters into their own hands, coming just short of going all ‘Horrible Bosses’ on Yusupov. At least twenty HQties at HQ’s HQ signed a petition calling for the ouster of Rus with one “s.”

Welp, that backfired

But the coup attempt appears to have just made Yusupov more powerful. In response to employees calling the “wahmbulance,” the board created a “leadership Committee,” consisting of Yusupov and cronies, as it “searches” for a new CEO. The committee has allegedly fired conspirators and keeps a lid on the company’s runway and CEO search.

Oh, and the board will not allow the company to fundraise until a new CEO is put in place.


IN OTHER NEWS

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  • Flat tire. It’s not just Lyft’s stock price that is hitting the skids. The company’s bike-share biz is removing thousands of electric bikes from Washington (Capital Bikeshare), New York (Citi bike), and San Francisco (Ford GoBike) thanks to apparent braking issues with the models. Lyft is erring on the side of caution and removing and/or disabling the bikes until a new model can be completed.

 

  • AT&T sold its minority stake in Hulu back to the streaming-video service as it focuses on building out its own streaming platform. AT&T acquired the stake when it bought Time Warner Cable. The latter purchased its stake in Hulu in 2016 when the OTT company was valued at just $5.9B. AT&T sold its 9.5% for $1.4B valuing the provider at $15B. While Hulu’s growth is impressive it is still dwarfed by Netflix’s $150B valuation.

 

  • Waste Management is adding to its landfill. The garbage and, well, waste management, company is purchasing competitor Advanced Disposal Services for $2.9B. WM, the largest company in the space, is valued around $40B with a network of 250 landfills throughout the country. ADS is number four and will add key geographic locations to Waste Management’s land-folio.

 

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