Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech, including:
Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to Serge Gainsbourg’s “Requiem pour un con”
This week: A last waltz for Yahoo and AOL
With all the big news this past week about Donald Trump’s Facebook account, Apple’s courtroom battle with Epic, and the Bill and Melinda breakup, you might have missed another important development in tech: the sale of Yahoo and AOL.
- Verizon announced it was selling the two sites to private equity firm Apollo Global Management for about $5 billion, roughly half of what it paid to acquire them.
- Employees at the web companies tell Insider they’re worried about layoffs, which isn’t a crazy concern to have when you find out that your new owner is a private equity firm.
- But Verizon Media Group CEO Guru Gowrappan, who will remain in the top job at Apollo, says the PE firm plans to invest in Yahoo and AOL’s “iconic products.”
Iconic is an apt description for both Yahoo and AOL. The companies helped create the internet as we know it today, with decades-long histories that have spanned the administrations of about a half dozen US presidents and just as many transitions of technology standards. (Remember the ubiquitous 3.5 inch AOL floppy discs?)
As Insider columnist Adam Lashinsky writes, the slow decline that befell both companies is the result of a long list of causes. Yahoo’s fall from grace is particularly instructive when you consider all the trends the company recognized early on but never capitalized on, allowing other companies to steal the show. Lashinsky writes:
“It bought a Web 1.0 company called GeoCities that could have been the next MySpace or Facebook but wasn’t. The same goes for Flickr, the preeminent photo-sharing site of its day later outshone by Instagram. It even beat Google to the punch by acquiring the original search-based ad auction company, Overture, only to be overwhelmed by its competitor.”
Read the full story here:
Elon’s crypto comedy show
Elon Musk, the self-declared Imperator of Mars, is due to host comedy show “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, a must-see TV event that has apparently, and fittingly, fueled a surge in the price of dogecoin – a cryptocurrency that was created as a joke.
As Insider’s Margaux MacColl reports, the venture capital world is getting serious about the crypto boom, especially with the news that Andreessen Horowitz is launching a $1 billion crypto fund.
- “The fervor right now that you’re feeling is coming from big institutional pools of capital moving into crypto,” one VC investor tells Insider.
- Even “Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary, who once called bitcoin “garbage,” now says he’s allocated 3% of his portfolio to the cryptocurrency. By contrast Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger still hates “disgusting” bitcoin.
- Andreessen partner Chris Dixon laid out 5 reasons he’s bullish on crypto to Insider last month.
Of course, there’s a risk that blockchain tech could obviate the need for VCs altogether. Instead of giving away equity in their company in exchange for a venture firm check, a crypto startup could simply issue its own currency through an “initial coin offering” and raise capital all by itself.
Now that’s a crypto joke that VCs might not find very funny.
See also: Elon Musk is pumping stocks, cryptocurrencies, and the energy of 49 million loyal followers to dizzying heights. Experts break down the risks of his incessant tweets, from legal trouble to losses for small investors.
Snapshot: Blast off
It looks like something from a new action movie, but there are no special effects in this video of Britain’s Royal Marines training with a jet pack.
The “Jet Suit” made by the UK’s Gravity Industries is still experimental and the British military has not committed to buying the technology. But the video, based on three days of training drills conducted by 42 Royal Marines, offers a fascinating glimpse of how jet packs could be used for military operations.
In the video, a Jet Suit-equipped Royal Marine blasts off an inflatable raft and lands on the deck of a nearby ship. He then throws down a rope ladder to let fellow soldiers board the vessel, part of a maritime operation known as “visit, board, search and seizure.” Trust me, you’ll want to watch this video.
Vernacular watch: “Separation contract”
Not necessarily in tech:
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