Tag Archives: business acquisition

Nuttin But A Beats Thang: Apple to The Next Episode

It has been a real Dre Day, although it is not February 18th.
After long rumor mill, it is finally official. Apple acquired Beats headphones.  The deal has cause quite a lot of buzz around the globe, but I think the deal makes sense from many perspectives:

1. Beats is a good buy.
Buying Beats is not a speculation. Apple is buying a company, who is dominating premium headphones market with over 51% market share (some estimates have it even higher). As Beats is private company there is no public revenue numbers, but there are estimates of 1B of revenue with probably quite high profit margin. Buying 1 billion business for 3 billion is not a long-shot (like WhatsApp acquisition, which had significantly higher price tag) it is pure mathematics. You are buying market leader with an already established business and fast growth.

2. Beats gives Apple a headstart with music streaming service.
Yes, Apple could build their own streaming service, no one doubts that. Having Beats streaming service gives them great launchpad to go into a territory they have neglected. And I would not also worry about negotiating about the rights again. Apple has been quite effective in doing that in the past. Apple CEO Tim Cook stressed the importance of music in the recent interview:

This is all about music, and we’ve always viewed that music was key to society and culture. Music’s always been at the heart of Apple. It’s deep in our DNA. We’ve sold Macs to musicians since the beginning of Macs. And we accelerated the music industry with the digital music revolution with the iPod and the iTunes music store.

When we talk about Apple today, the music has not been on the focus compared to the heyday of iPod & iTunes. This deal makes Apple´s music offering again interesting. The future of music is streaming (although as an avid record collector, the future and past will forever be on vinyl) and that is something where the almighty Steve Jobs was wrong. This acquisition enables Apple to get on the parity with competitors and on the other hand provides Beats Music immediate increase in interest. It is probably no coincidence that Tim Cook mentioned Beats Music as the streaming service which has “gotten it right”.

3. Beats will be an important part of the Apple´s wearable tech puzzle.
You seldom buy companies because of their current state, but because of the current potential. That is where I think this gets really interesting and I am quite sure that Apple will be having some tricks on the sleeves and not just concentrating on music with this acquisition.
iWatch has been rumored for a while. It will probably arrive when you least expect it. It is certain that Apple will enter to the wearables and they will probably do it right as well. Although the wearables have not yet really taken off, believe me eventually they will. We overestimate technological disruption on a short-term and underestimate it on a long-term. Apple has also been massively successful in fulfilling needs of the people, they do not even realize they have.
Beats headphones have been one of the best examples of wearable tech, because they have really nailed the lifestyle aspect. Sound quality is one thing, but you really want to be seen with your Beats headphones. This is something the first wearables have not really grasped. When wearable tech looks ugly only the geekiest early adopters will wear them. And no offence to geeks but they do not start trends. Wearable technology is even more fashion than technology.
Apple has definitely understood this as they have also been recruiting fashion specialists from YSL and Burberry. I don´t believe that is an isolated strategy from the Beats acquisition.

4. Buying beats is getting the right talent
You are hiring Dr. Dre, one of the most legendary music producers ever and Jimmy Iovine, who knows the ins and outs of the music business. Iovine has been also key partner with Apple during the launch iTunes Store. Both are visionaries and can definitely help Apple to shape the future of music and wearable offering. Will they fit in Apple corporate culture? Who knows, but at least you could not hire more capable talent to help you in your future endeavors.

Also I do not really get the talk about how uncharacteristic this acquisition is for Apple.
Yes, they are usually buying smaller and more obscure companies (at least for mainstream audience). Nevertheless they are buying companies.
If you have loaded cash reserves, I don´t understand why you should withdraw from buying other companies. If it makes sense and in this case it does.
Necessary part of evolution of a company is to know when to do something surprising. This was surprising move (initially, not necessarily today because it pretty much just confirmed the rumors), which showcases that Apple does not sway away from being bold.

So put on “The Chronic” on your turntable or your favorite streaming service and:

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What´s App Facebook? 4 Questions You Need to Ask to Understand The Acquisition of WhatsApp

Facebook´s acquisition of WhatsApp for about 19 billion (!) is the biggest deal ever for venture-capital-backed startup. As far as the money goes, it is naturally mind-boggling amount of cash but strategically I am trying to get my head around this. Four big questions came to my mind, when analyzing the acquisition:

1. What kind of ecosystem Facebook is building?
Currently Facebook is owner of three really strong (and separate) digital platforms: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Despite launching the ad units in Instagram, the photo platform has been relatively autonomous regarding Facebook. Apparently they will continue similar approach with WhatsApp and even more so as there will be no ads (in foreseeable future) in WhatsApp. See more in question 2 on that matter.
If we compare to Google, who builds their entire product offering under strong Google branding and synergies, Facebook currently resembles more of a venture capitalist and having quite separate and independent entities. Either approach is right or wrong, but at least currently Facebook ecosystem seems quite disjointed compared to the Google one. But maybe they have a bigger plan intact: see question 4.

2. How will Facebook monetize WhatsApp?
On the investor call Facebook mentioned that there would be no ads on WhatsApp and they are mainly concentrating on growth in the near future. Currently WhatsApp is free for one year and then you pay 0.99 for every additional year (and not even in all the markets).  Current business model is not exactly breaking the bank as it has quite limited growth opportunities, but compared to many other social ventures coming from Silicon Valley it is already profitable. From monetization standpoint it is interesting opportunity for Facebook to enter also to the subscription business and test it first with WhatsApp before rolling it to wider.

3. Was it strategically right decision?
Initially buying WhatsApp seemed a rather uninspiring and unsurprising act. More forward-looking would have been buying some emerging mobile instant messaging platform from Asia (Line, KakaoTalk, etc.). Especially as Facebook mentioned that the reach in emerging markets was one of the core reasons for acquiring WhatsApp. Asian mobile instant messaging platforms would have been better fit also to current Facebook monetization strategy as these platforms are currently more open to advertising as well? Cynical view of the strategic importance of the buy was that as the main Facebook platform loses steam the growth and engagement had to be bought to please the investors.

4.  Will there be Facebook Premium in the future?
How much would you pay for your Facebook account?
It might be that the goal of buying Instagram and WhatsApp is eventually to have capabilities to introduce Facebook Premium. This social network would add the best of the Facebook ecosystem and provide value on certain subscription fee. I have been toying around with that idea for a while, but currently it seems more reality than ever before. I have been quite disappointed of the unimaginative monetization strategies Facebook has had (overtly media-focused) and venturing to subscription models without endangering the crown jewel of free Facebook seems lucrative and interesting option.

The reaction from the markets to the acquisition was slightly disappointed and Facebook stock plunged slightly.

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Why Yahoo Bought Tumblr?

“F*ck yeah”

Ended David Karp (founder of Tumblr) his announcement about upcoming Yahoo-acquisition. He is not the only one amped up about the deal. Internet has been buzzing about the Yahoo´s recent acquisition of Tumblr. On theory marriage of Tumblr & Yahoo looks rational. Will it be that on practice?

What will Yahoo get from Tumblr?

1. Reach (especially to the young target audience)
Currently Yahoo has over 700 million unique visitors/month and Tumblr with its 300 million unique visitors and over 100 million blogs might help it bypass the 1 billion-visitor threshold. Yahoo is buying growth.
Tumblr user base is also the youngest among the different social media channels. It is stronger than any other social network within 13-18 and 19-25 demographic. As the buying power of teens and tweens increases even more, this target audience becomes more and more lucrative for marketers. It is therefore important to reach them young and maintain that relationship.
2. Gateway to Social Media & Mobile
Like many of its peers, Yahoo has been struggling with social media & mobile. It actually has a more impressive track record with screwing up potential social media opportunities (Flickr-which has been rewamped today as well, Geocities, Del.icio.us) than utilizing them. By buying Tumblr, Yahoo will get healthy social media which has been designed to be mobile-first from the beginning.
3. Street Credibility
Yahoo has not been a flavor of the month in recent years. Tumblr acquisition is exactly the kind of bold move that shareholders love. It is also the most prolific action Marissa Mayer has yet announced after taking the helm of the struggling company last year. Will it be the right move? That remains to be seen.

What will Tumblr get out of the deal?

Coherence & Monetization
Being the most user-friendly blog platform has its benefits, but also certain challenges. Tumblr is also the world´s most NSFW blog platform filled with porn, politically incorrect gifs and one-off-jokes (not even saving the founder David Karp). How Tumblr will maintain its characteristic quirkiness, but become “brand safe”? Currently adult sites are the leading category of referrals for Tumblr. Yahoo, as a household name, will give more legitimacy for Tumblr and probably help to clean up its act.
Tumblr has also been struggling with monetization and its business model throughout its whole existence. Whatever you say about Yahoo, you cannot dispute their skills and strengths on traditional ad sales. With Yahoo sales teams with interactive advertising (Tumblr) on their toolkit, it will be quite interesting selling point. The challenge is to find ad solutions which are seamless and enhance user experience.

What next?

Based on the statement from Marissa Mayer, it is quite improbable to see radical changes with Tumblr in the immediate future. The model for the Yahoo/Tumblr-coexistence will probably follow Instagram/Facebook –route where Instagram has remained relatively independent from Facebook. Many are likely to draw parallels between this acquisition and the quite ill-fated Geocities-acquisition from 14 years ago, but I am not that pessimistic. Tumblr definitely fills certain problematic gaps within Yahoo´s current strategy.

The crucial questions are whether the synergies that look obvious on paper come to fruition in action and was the price right?

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