Lawmakers including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called Apple’s decision to remove an app that Hong Kong protesters used to track police activity “deeply concerning” in a letter to CEO Tim Cook.
The letter comes after some politicians have criticized the decision on Twitter.
Apple said it removed the app because it was posing a threat to law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong.
Seven United States lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have written aletter to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing “strong concern” about the censorship of apps in China — particularly the company’s decision to remove HKMaps Live, a controversial app Hong Kong protesters have used to track police activity.
“Apple’s decisions last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKMaps is deeply concerning,” read the letter, which is signed by senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), as well as Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin), and Tom Malinowski (D-New Jersey).
The letter comes after politicians including Wyden and Cotton publicly criticized Apple’s decision to remove HKMaps Live from its App Store on Twitter last week.
Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment regarding the company’s response to the letter.
Apple said at the time that it removed the app because it was being used in ways that “endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong” in a statement to Business Insider on October 10. The company said it has verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app “has been used to target and ambush police.”
“For those of us who support the promotion of basic human rights and dignity, it was refreshing to hear a tech titan say that priorities were more important than profits,” the letter reads, referring to a previous Cook quote from a speech he had given in front of the Anti-Defamation League in 2018. “So you can imagine our disappointment to read that Apple had removed HKMap, a crowdsourced mapping app widely used by Hong Kong residents, from the App Store this week.”
Apple isn’t the only tech firm that’s been in the spotlight for decisions it’s made in the wake of the Hong Kong protests. Video game publisher Blizzard Entertainment faced backlash after punishing an esports player who voiced support for the Hong Kong protests during an event.
There are several reasons why you might want to change the name of your Mac. If your computer is a hand-me-down, it might have the name of the previous owner on it and you probably want to change it to your name.
If your Mac has a non-descriptive name such as “computer” or no name at all, it may be hard to find it when you want to send or share files.
If you have more than one computer, each should have a name that clearly identifies it so that you can tell them apart. You might do this by naming them for the model, such as “MacBook Air,” “iMac,” etc.
You might want to add your name, to differentiate your computer from others in your home that belong to other users. If multiple computers on your network have the same name, Apple will automatically add a number to the end of the name.
Best practice, however, is to give each Mac its own unique name.
It’s ridiculously easy to change the name of your Mac — once you know where to look, that is.
1. Click on the Apple icon on the upper left corner of your Mac screen. Select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.
2. In the System Preferences window, select the blue “Sharing” folder.
3. In the “Sharing” window, simply click into the text box next to “Computer Name” at the top and enter your new computer name.
4. Once you exit the Sharing window, your computer’s hostname will automatically change to match your new computer name. The hostname is an address (your-Mac.local) that devices equipped with Apple’s Bonjour networking software use to recognize and connect to your computer. You can manually edit your hostname by clicking the Edit button under the Computer Name field.
The hostname must contain only letters and dashes.
If you manually edit the hostname, it won’t change when you change your computer name. However, you don’t need to worry about this. Your printers and other devices should be able to communicate seamlessly with your Mac, even if you change its name several times.
Austin, Texas, is becoming a tech hub in its own right, with massive tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google moving in with an army of well-off employees looking for better cost of living without compromising vibrant culture.
Ask any investor where the next big startup will come from, and odds are they won’t say San Francisco.
The high costs of living, and the accompanying costs of labor, have pushed many investors to look elsewhere to stretch their venture dollars further. On top of that list is Austin, Texas — where Business Insider recently spent a week talking with investors and founders to get the pulse of its fast-growing tech scene.
The capital of the Lone Star State is commonly referred to as the “Silicon Hills,” a reference to the hills just over the highway bordering the city to the north. With a top-ranked university, desirable downtown housing, and thriving outdoor leisure scene, Austin is drawing more attention to itself as an incubator for some of tech’s hottest up and coming startups.
“We’ve always been called out as being a second-tier startup environment,” investor and Osano founder Arlo Gilbert told Business Insider. “There was San Francisco, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and then Austin was like, five. And I think that most of us here have felt like that wasn’t fair.”
But with the arrival of Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, tech industry notables have been forced to acknowledge Austin’s thriving startup scene. One investor told Business Insider that when he moved from California to Texas, his colleagues in the Bay Area threw him a “Texas, not taxes,” themed party.
And with its venture capital renaissance, Austin feels poised to give Silicon Valley a run for its investor money in 2020. So we asked them — which companies are armed and ready to take on Silicon Valley’s red hot startup economy?
Here are the 11 hottest startups Austin investors say they’re watching in 2020.
ScaleFactor wants to remake finance software for small businesses.
What it is: ScaleFactor provides accounting and financial software for small and medium businesses, and is perhaps best positioned to become one of Austin’s breakout unicorns. The startup uses machine learning to automate bookkeeping, payroll, and other complex tasks.
The fintech startup has gained acclaim with local and Silicon Valley investors as an improvement on Intuit’s Quickbooks accounting software, and most recently raised Series C funding at a $360 million valuation.
Founded: 2014 by Kurt Rathmann.
Funding: $105.89 million from Coatue Management, Citi Ventures, Stripes Group, Bessemer Venture Partners, Flyover Capital, Firebrand Ventures, and Canaan Partners.
Outdoor Voices wants to make athleisure for everyone.
What it is: Outdoor Voices makes athletic apparel for women, men, and children who are “doing things,” as its marketing materials suggest. The female-founded online apparel company highlights function and comfort over form and aesthetic — the antithesis of other popular athletic brands like Lululemon.
Outdoor Voices is one of Austin’s many successful consumer retail startups, having moved to Texas from New York in 2013. The startup encourages athleisure in its corporate dress code, and its employees are active in Austin’s burgeoning fitness scene. It has opened traditional storefronts in several cities, but its flagship remains in its Texan hometown.
Founded: 2013 by Tyler Haney.
Funding: $67.18 million from GV, Forerunner Ventures, General Catalyst, Collaborative Fund, Bam Ventures, and Gwynneth Paltrow.
The Zebra wants to change how car owners purchase insurance.
What it is: The Zebra offers transparent car insurance policy comparisons in “black and white,” hence the name. By partnering with over 200 insurance providers, The Zebra is able to compare a specific customer’s options in a highly-regulated and often confusing industry.
The startup has goals to expand to other areas of insurance as younger consumers start making large purchases like homes, broadening its appeal. Because it is not providing insurance itself, The Zebra cofounder Joshua Dziabiak told Business Insider that the startup is well-positioned to withstand an economic downturn, should one occur.
Founded: 2012 by Joshua Dziabiak, Adam Lyons, and Keith Melnick.
Funding: $61.5 million from Accel, Silverton Partners, Floodgate Fund, Ballast Point Ventures, Mark Cuban, Daher Capital, and Birchmere Ventures.
Anaconda wants to make open source data analytics accessible to everybody.
What it is: Anaconda is an open-source data analytics tool for in-house data analytics teams. The service uses its own machine learning and artificial intelligence technology to simplify analytics for young startups and legacy companies alike.
The startup counts Jim Curry, Peter Freeland, and Lanham Napier – all formerly of pioneering Texan tech company Rackspace — as some of its core investors through BuildGroup. That’s a fitting match given the investors’ expertise in open source and enterprise software.
Founded: 2011 by Peter Wang and Travis Oliphant.
Funding: $48 million from BuildGroup, ORIX Growth Capital, Quansight Initiate, Citi Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, and DARPA.
EverlyWell wants to make lab test pricing transparent.
What it is: EverlyWell offers at-home testing kits for food sensitivity, fertility, hormones, STDs, and thyroid or metabolism issues, all compliant with federal standards. The tests are not currently covered by any insurance provider, but EverlyWell says that it tries to keep its pricing simple and easy for consumers to understand.
EverlyWell patients receive results that have been reviewed by licensed physicians through a mobile app. They are then able to take those to a primary care or specialist provider without having to step foot in a traditional medical testing lab. The startup received national attention when founder Julia Cheek pitched the idea on Shark Tank.
Founded: 2015 by Julia Cheek.
Funding: $45.1 million from Goodwater Capital, Highland Capital Partners, NextGen Venture Partners, SoGal Ventures, Next Coast Ventures, and Sequoia Capital.
AlertMedia wants to help companies communicate with employees during emergencies.
What it is: AlertMedia offers tools for companies to communicate with employees during all types of emergencies, from hurricanes and wildfires to terrorist attacks or mass shootings.
AlertMedia sends an alert across multiple modes of communication, including push alerts and traditional SMS messages. According to Crunchbase, the startup has also been used for logistics coordination and filling on-call shifts at hospitals.
Founded: 2013 by Brian Culver.
Funding: $42.58 million from JMI Equity, Next Coast Ventures, ATX Seed Ventures, Silverton Partners, and Capital Factory.
SpyCloud wants to warn businesses of data breaches in real-time.
What it is: SpyCloud provides enterprise software that alerts companies to account takeovers in real-time to help better prevent data breaches. The startup’s technology alerts companies as soon as employee, customer, or company assets appear to have been compromised by an outsider.
The rise of SpyCloud comes as cybersecurity becomes even more important to every kind of company: Breaches like the Capital One hack show what can happen to a business and its reputation in the the wake of a cyberattack.
Founded: 2016 by Ted Ross and David Endler
Funding: $28.5 million from M12, Silverton Partners, March Capital Partners, and Altos Ventures
Diligent Robotics wants to automate hospital tasks.
What it is: Diligent Robotics makes robots that perform repetitive manual tasks through a combination of artificial intelligence software and proprietary hardware design. It announced on October 1 that its flagship robot, Moxi, will be available in Texas hospitals in 2020.
Moxi is designed to perform tasks like transporting tools around large floors, but is explicitly not made to interact with patients. That said, many healthcare providers are eager to automate processes like chart reading and reading of vitals given current nursing shortages in Texas, cofounder Andrea Thomaz told Business Insider.
Founded: 2017 by Andrea Thomaz and Vivian Chu.
Funding: $5.25 million from True Ventures, Ubiquity Ventures, Capital Factory, Next Coast Ventures, and Grit Ventures.
Osano wants to help users take control of their data.
What it is: Osano is a certified B-Corporation — meaning that it’s designed to serve the public good, not profits — that helps users understand different company’s privacy and data collection policies, which are usually stored deep in a lengthy terms of service agreement.
Instead of just clicking “Agree,” Osano wants website users to better understand what data is being collected about them, who has access to it, and who is profiting off that information. Armed with a clear explanation of what, exactly, they are giving up to a specific website, users can make informed decisions about where to go online.
Founded: 2018 by Arlo Gilbert and Scott Hertel.
Funding: $3 million in seed funding from LiveOak Ventures, Barracuda Networks, Next Coast Ventures, Social Starts, and Capital Factory.
Enzyme Health wants to match doctors with telehealth providers.
What it is: Enzyme Health matches doctors with telemedicine providers using machine learning technology. The software matches providers with doctors and nurses based on availability and expertise, allowing patients to better access care without needing to be physically nearby.
Enzyme Health also works with more traditional healthcare groups, like hospitals and insurance providers, that need to offer remote care.
Founded: 2018 by Michelle Davey, Griffin Mulcahey, and Philip Johnson.
What it is: bthere is a mobile app for iOS and Android that lets friends share locations with each other. The app was started on campus at the University of Texas at Austin to help friends keep track of each other after leaving a party.
The app officially launched in April without outside funding. It also has gamified features, doling out coins to users that spend time IRL with connected friends on the app.
You can now save up to a whopping $600 on the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 at Best Buy today only (October 18, 2019) — the sale ends at 11:59 p.m. CT.
Microsoft’s Surface laptops and 2-in-1s are some of the best Windows 10 devices around, thanks to their stunning design and powerful specifications.
Now, you can get a pretty impressive discount on a few Surface products — so if you’re in the market for a Windows 10 laptop or 2-in-1, now is the time to buy.
There are two Surface devices on sale at Best Buy: the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 and the Surface Pro 6. While they have both been replaced by newer Surface devices, they are still worth buying — especially at these prices.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is one of the most powerful laptops out there. The model that’s on sale comes with an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, along with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage — and that should make it more than powerful enough for the vast majority of use-cases. It’s a relatively sleek and stylish laptop too, offering a minimalistic look that rivals even the likes of the MacBook. It’s only 0.57 inches thick, and comes with a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack, and a Mini DisplayPort.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is pretty powerful too, and it’s even more portable. It’s available in a few different variants, so whether you’re simply looking for something to take on the road with you or you need top-tier performance, there should be a Pro 6 for your needs.
The best thing about the Surface Pro 6 is how portable it is. The device has a 12.3-inch touchscreen, making it easy to interact with Windows 10 in tablet or laptop mode.
The first variant comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, along with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which we think is probably the best option for most people. The second device comes with an Intel Core i7 processor instead of a Core i5 chip, and that’s the model for those who need a bit of extra oomph.
The sale ends today, October 18, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. CT, so act quickly if you’re interested.
Neumann envisioned WeWork as a multigenerational family dynasty that would keep close control of the company for hundreds of years. He explained his vision to staff at WeWork’s Global Summit, an all-hands meeting in Los Angeles in January, according to a video clip reviewed by Business Insider.
The source who provided the video is not authorized to speak to the media but said the remarks were so standard for the unconventional founder that staff did not react.
In the video, Neumann appears to respond to a question about WeWork’s investors.
“WeWork is a controlled company. People don’t know that,” he tells the audience. “I, Adam, and my family control the company 100% — very rare when you have investors. It’s not the truth of any company in the world. Google still has it a little bit. Facebook and Mark [Zuckerberg] already lost it. No other company else has it.”
The Neumanns made some plans that hinted at how they would keep this control. WeWork’s original August filing to go public said Adam Neumann received 20 votes per share of his stock, an unusual structure even by Silicon Valley standards.
And if something were to happen to him, his wife, Rebekah Neumann, would play a major role in succession planning. If Adam were permanently disabled or died in the decade following the initial public offering, Rebekah would be one of a two- or three-member committee to select the new CEO. If both Rebekah and Adam were unable to participate in the selection, the trustee of their estate would step into Rebekah’s shoes.
In subsequent filings, WeWork reduced Adam Neumann’s voting power and barred Neumann family members from the board. A representative for Neumann couldn’t be reached for comment.
He said he didn’t expect his children to be future WeWork CEOs, as he was before his ouster last month. Neumann added that he worried that his children wouldn’t “earn” leadership and that he would prefer a leader who “grew from the bottom.”
Even if the Neumann children didn’t lead the company, he still thought they would be involved.
“They don’t have to run the company, but they do have to stay the moral compass of the company,” he said. “If we do this right, over the years different CEOs will come, but we will keep an eye on these basic values and basic moral standards and not allow them to shift.”
Neumann intended this plan to work for the long term.
“It’s important that one day, maybe in 100 years, maybe in 300 years, a great-great-granddaughter of mine will walk into that room and say, ‘Hey, you don’t know me; I actually control the place. The way you’re acting is not how we built it,'” he said.
Adam Neumann was replaced last month with two co-CEOs after a tumultuous lead-up to an IPO that was ultimately shelved. Investors cited several concerns with his leadership, including conflicts of interest with his family. Rebekah Neumann, who was credited as a cofounder and led WeGrow, also stepped back from her roles.
Got a tip? Contact Meghan Morris on Signal at (646) 768-1627 using a nonwork phone, Twitter DM @MeghanEMorris, or email at [email protected]. (PR pitches by email only, please.)
Financial analysts at Morgan Stanley Research recently estimated the project could grow SpaceX’s base valuation to $52 billion, possibly up to $120 billion.
However, SpaceX recently asked to nearly triple its maximum Starlink network from 12,000 to perhaps 42,000 satellites, which would incur a major investment.
A new Morgan Stanley estimate suggests the 30,000 extra satellites may cost SpaceX $60 billion, but the report doesn’t even mention the rocket company’s planned low-cost rocket system, called Starship.
If prior projections from SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk pan out, the cost to launch Starlink could be one-tenth or less of Morgan Stanley’s estimated capital cost.
It’s tricky business estimating the value of SpaceX, the fast-moving rocket company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2002. The same goes for the capital costs of its ambitious projects like Starlink: a plan to bathe Earth in high-speed internet access using a fleet of thousands of satellites.
If the new project claims just a few percent of the global telecommunications industry and earns $30 to $50 billion a year, as Musk has said it might, the analysts figured SpaceX could grow to a $52 billion company. Or maybe anywhere between $5 billion and $120 billion, depending on the degree of its failure or success with Starlink.
Key to that estimate, though, is the cost to build and launch Starlink satellites. As Space News reported this week, though, SpaceX now plans to nearly triple its maximum of about 12,000 satellites to 42,000 of them.
This threw a wrench into the valuation calculus, so Morgan Stanley Research on Friday emailed reporters a short update that attempts to reckon the cost of 30,000 additional Starlink satellites.
Financial analysts like to hedge their bets using as reliable, real-world factors as possible. So it’s understandable they’d eschew factoring in Starship — the system may not exist for years, or at all if can’t escape the development phase.
Still, the potential cost savings with Starship are well worth considering.
‘We’d certainly like to transition to Starship’
If Starship comes to pass as Musk has envisioned it over the years, the two-part steel launch system would be fully reusable and capable of launching several times a day. That is in stark contrast to current rockets, which can take months or years to prepare for launch and only get used once, wasting untold millions per flight.
Through rapid reuse, Starship would upend the traditional launch industry by only costing SpaceX fuel, launch support staffing, occasional refurbishment, and other fairly negligible costs.
Morgan Stanley Research assumes Starlink would get off the ground 60 satellites at a time, as SpaceX demonstrated in May, at a cost of about $50 million per Falcon 9 launch. The estimate also assumes each Starlink satellite’s cost is about $1 million, or on par with the satellites of competitor OneWeb.
While the update does invoke Starship, it does so obliquely and without naming it — only its projected cost per launch.
“This [estimate] also does not assume cost improvements to build & launch satellites, with SpaceX targeting to reduce launch costs further, to ~$5M,” the document states.
If Starship costs $5 million to launch, which jibes with what Musk has recently said, that’s about 10 times less than a Falcon 9 launch. This means the cost to launch 30,000 satellites at 60 satellites per launch shrinks from $60 billion to around $6 billion.
“Starship isn’t required for this system, but we’d certainly like to transition to Starship because the cost of launch per satellite is already more than the cost of the satellite,” Musk previously told Business Insider. “Starship, which would be a fully reusable system, and with much lower propellant costs and at a much larger scale, would dramatically improve launch costs, probably by a factor of 10 or something like that.”
But it’s also important to consider how many more Starlink satellites Starship might be able to carry at once.
Starship would launch a lot more into space than a Falcon 9 at a fraction of the cost
Each of SpaceX’s 60 satellites launched in May weighed about 500 pounds (227 kilograms), making their total mass about 30,000 pounds (13,620 kilograms) minus . According to a new website for Starship, the vehicle could heave about 220,000 pounds (99,800 kilograms) into orbit at once — or more than seven times what Falcon 9 launched in May.
Assuming SpaceX could and would scale up the number of Starlink satellites accordingly — and they’d fit inside the nosecone of Starship — perhaps as many as 300 or 400 could launch at once. This could cut launch costs for Starlink another several times, possibly to the single-digit-billion range for the maximum of 42,000 satellites.
This may not be the plan, though, since Starlink satellites would be deployed to many different orbits, or planes, around Earth to ensure proper internet coverage.
In any case, SpaceX is eager to have Starship — which Musk recently said could start flying within one or two years — start launching and deploying Starlink satellites.
“It’s a heck of a lot of launches. We’ll hopefully have Starship active if we’re anywhere near 12,000 satellites,” Musk said in May. “For the system to be economically viable, it’s really on the order of 1,000 satellites. If we’re putting a lot more satellites than that in orbit, that’s actually a very good thing, it means there’s a lot of demand for the system.”
SpaceX did not acknowledge several requests for information and comment from Business Insider.
Mark Hurd rose suddenly as a major figure in the world of tech when he was tapped to lead one of Silicon Valley’s most iconic companies during a time of crisis.
Oracle announced on Friday that Hurd had passed away, not long after announcing that he was going on medical leave from his role as co-CEO. His death capped what many remember as a brilliant career, but one marred by controversy and even scandal.
In 2005, Hurd was on his 25th year as the little-known CEO of NCR, the Ohio-based maker of ATMs, when he became the surprise choice to lead Hewlett-Packard after the sudden departure of ousted chief exec Carly Fiorina. It thrust him into the spotlight for the first time in his career.
“The opportunity to lead a company like HP doesn’t come along every day,” he told reporters when he was introduced.
“I’m only concerned about the future,” he said, when asked about the turbulent tenure of his predecessor. But in what appeared to be an indirect criticism of Fiorina’s glitzy and high-profile leadership style, Hurd also said: “Don’t expect to see a lot of me.”
Mixed record at HP
But Hurd’s tenure at HP and in Silicon Valley turned out to be a dizzying rollercoaster ride.
Hurd will be remembered as an operational and sales genius who streamlined HP’s operations, in moves cheered by Wall Street. But he will also be known for a turbulent reign at HP which was marred by severe cost-cutting, a corporate spying scandal, and another that included allegations of sexual harassment that ultimately forced him out and led him to a new role at Oracle.
“Mark Hurd is like a tragic hero in an ancient Greek play,” analyst Steve Allen of S2C partners told Business Insider. “He was a brilliant leader of large organizations, but his legacy will always be tainted by scandals.”
Other analysts focused on Hurd’s achievements as a business strategist.
Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies called Hurd “one of the smartest CEO’s I ever met.”
“He helped turn around HP and their stock doubled during his five years at the company. At Oracle he brought strong leadership and great strategic thinking that helped Oracle continue to grow. I was always impressed with his leadership skills as he was a brilliant tactician. This is a big loss for Oracle and the entire tech world.”
IDC President Crawford Del Prete described Hurd as a brilliant executive who helped two tech behemoths navigate a rapidly changing industry.
“He was an incredible guy,” Del Prete told Business Insider. “He had an unbelievable ability to sell, and to grasp and quantify complex topics.”
But looking back on his stint at HP, Del Prete acknowledged, “The things he did were painful for Hewlett-Packard.”
Shortly after Hurd took over, HP announced it was cutting 14,500 jobs. It was the second major round of cuts following HP’s merger with PC manufacturer Compaq, which led to the elimination of 17,000 positions.
Hurd became known for aggressive cost-cutting. It was good for HP’s bottom line and its stock price, but it wrecked morale within a company which had been known for its employee-friendly culture, inspired by its founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.
But Del Prete also said the streamlining Hurd spearheaded also helped HP. “That was the stage that HP needed to go through” to become more competitive and more nimble player in a fast changing market, he said.
Another analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates had a less generous assessment.
“Hurd was financially driven and improved metrics at HP, but damaged the wellspring of HP’s prosperity by defunding R&D and interfering with the science-oriented culture of the labs,” he told Business Insider. “HP is far less influential than it was in Silicon Valley, and his pivot had a lot to do with that.”
A series of scandals
Then came the spying scandal.
A year after Hurd took over, HP was accused of launching what turned out to be a fumbled internal campaign to find out who was leaking confidential information. The campaign involved unethical and questionable tactics aimed at reporters and employees.
Hurd and other board members, including chairwoman Patricia Dunn, had to appear before a Congressional committee to explain what happened.
“With the benefit of hindsight, I would not do it again,” Hurd testified. “I agree there is a difference between legal and ethical.”
In 2010, Hurd faced his biggest scandal at HP, one that eventually ended his reign. He was accused of sexually harassing a contractor who served as an adviser to Hurd. The board subsequently found that there was no harassment, but they did find irregularities in his expense account reporting.
Hurd stepped down. One of the notable public reactions to his departure came from Larry Ellison, who called the HP board’s decision to force Hurd out “the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.”
Just a few weeks after Hurd left HP, Oracle announced that it had hired him to serve as co-president with Catz. They were promoted to co-CEOs in 2014 when Ellison stepped down, although he remained as chief technology officer.
At Oracle, Hurd became known as the skilled sales leader and strategist, while Catz focused on operations, with Ellison serving as the visionary CTO and chairman providing guidance. Hurd played a critical role in Oracle bid to establish a stronger presence in cloud computing, where the company lags stronger rivals like Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
A better fit at Oracle
In a way, Hurd turned out to be a better fit at Oracle.
“Larry Ellison saw his capabilities as a sales executive and someone who can drive the software business forward,” Del Prete said. “Mark’s passion and aggressiveness was really a great fit within Oracle.”
Allen of S2C Partners said Hurd’s comeback after his fall at HP was impressive, although he and Oracle faced serious challenges in the future.
“He was able to rise from the HP ashes and go on to do battle for Oracle, much to his credit,” he said. “In the end, the world has changed, and new leadership at, say Microsoft, has made all the difference. Mark Hurd was likely to be less successful in the future, than he was in the past. But his early death is tragic, nonetheless.”
When he was introduced as a major Silicon Valley figure nearly 15 years ago, Hurd appeared to foreshadow how his career as one of tech’s most famous executives would unfold.
“You’ll find that companies that have much history have tremendous assets in their legacy,” he said. “They also come with some baggage.”
Netflix has had a harder time holding on to subscribers in the US since it raised prices earlier this year.
Its third-quarter earnings report did little to assuage investors’ fears that its pricing power may be limited.
Netflix’s pricing power will be tested more during the fourth quarter and into 2020, when forthcoming services like Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus take hold.
The streaming giant may have to pull back on regular rate increases or find other ways to boost the value of its streaming service.
“I don’t think the price itself is the issue,” Eric Haggstrom, the forecasting analyst at eMarketer, said. “It’s purely psychological … Netflix is the one streaming service that has been consistently raising prices so far.”
There was a dull mark on Netflix’s third quarter, which otherwise helped reassure Wall Street it could defend its streaming empire from soon-to-be rivals like Disney and Apple: Subscribers in the US were still canceling the service in higher numbers than before.
Netflix added about 280,000 fewer paid subscribers in the US than forecasted during the third quarter, after losing paid subscribers in the country the prior period. The company blamed its latest misfire on churn, or the rate cancellations which rose slightly after Netflix hiked prices in the US earlier this year.
The streaming giant squeezed in one last big price hike in 2019 before forthcoming streaming services like Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max, Peacock, and Quibi try tried eat its lunch. It announced in January, across its US plans, rate increases of $1 to $2, which were still rolling out to existing subscribers through the second quarter.
Netflix’s struggles since, in its largest single market, has Wall Street analysts and investors questioning how much the service can continue growing domestically, and what the limits are to its pricing power.
“It basically says they have some limits on their pricing power, at least for now,” James Wang, analyst at investment manager ARK Invest, which runs two exchange-traded funds that include Netflix, told Business Insider. “That’s what caught me on the more cautious side,” he said, noting that the report was quite strong overall.
Netflix’s frequent price hikes may evoke the worst of cable TV for some customers
Netflix’s pricing power will be tested more during the fourth quarter, and into 2020, when its new competitors take hold.
So far, none are positioning themselves as direct threats. Disney, Apple, and WarnerMedia are all tiptoeing around “800-pound gorilla in OTT,” as Brett Sappington at entertainment research firm Parks Associates said. “Those other services have content that’s unique and are seen as an add ons,” he said.
Disney Plus, for example, will be more family oriented. Apple TV Plus is launching with nine original series, and no licensed or library content.
Netflix, meanwhile, is still trying to be the home for nearly everything. It wants to make your favorite show, be it a guilty pleasure or prestige drama, and movie, from indies to blockbusters, and have your beloved TV repeats like “Seinfeld.” In that sense, Netflix has become the equivalent of broadcast or cable TV to some cord-cutters.
It’s also the only major streaming service that is profiting entirely from subscriptions. Amazon, Apple, and Disney-controlled Hulu can afford to undercut Netflix on price, as they are, because their streaming services are backed by other profitable businesses, such as Apple’s iPhones and Disney’s movies and parks.
As such, Netflix has had to raise prices in the US more regularly than most of its peers — about every two years or less. Hulu, by contrast, lowered the price of its cheapest plan this year, right after Netflix raised rates. And HBO Now, which charges more than Netflix does for its standard plan, hasn’t raised prices since its 2015 launch.
Yet people in the US, scarred by constantly raising rates for cable TV, worry about being tied to services with ever-rising rates. Netflix’s pricing power may be limited not by its actual prices, but the frequency with which its raising them.
“I don’t think the price itself is the issue,” Eric Haggstrom, forecasting analyst at eMarketer, said. “It’s purely psychological. The main reason people cut the cord in the first place is the consistent price increases they’re subject to … Netflix is the one streaming service that has been consistently raising prices so far.”
The streaming giant is hoping higher-caliber films and other new content will make its service more valuable
Many industry watchers still agree Netflix is a good value at $13 per month for its standard plan. But the company is also looking at other ways to round out its content lineup and make itself indispensable to streaming users. Netflix has been spending heavily on animated originals, ostensibly to replace some of the movies and shows it is losing as Disney shifts its library to its own streaming service.
Netflix has also been investing in big-budget movies, the kind you’d expect to watch in theaters or ignite Oscar buzz. The company called out during earnings movies including Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman”; “Marriage Story,” with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson; and Michael Bay’s “Six Underground” that will hit the service later this year.
“What we have to do is just give it a pause and really focus on the value,” Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, said in the third-quarter earnings interview when asked about pricing and churn. “If you think about it, we haven’t had many big movies in the past, and movies are very valuable. People are used to paying for a lot of that.”
Introducing a greater caliber and breadth of movies on top of the indies and so-called “TV movies” on Netflix now may also help replace some of the content from outside studios that the streaming company can no longer rely on licensing year after year.
But it’s harder to tell how films, a newer endeavor for Netflix, will drive or retain subscribers. Netflix lowered its subscriber forecast for the upcoming fourth quarter, in part because of new releases that are harder to predict the the audience for than returning seasons of existing series.
Whether Netflix will be able to match the hit ratio of movie studios that have been releasing films for decades also remains to be seen.
“If you think about how long Disney has been doing this compared to Netflix as a studio, Netflix is a startup,” Jeff Galak, associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, said. “They’re still figuring out the right formula.”