Daniel Cullinane CPA
25 Plaza 5 25th fl Jersey City NJ phone 732-516-1648 fax 732-516-9778
2500 Plaza 5 25th fl Jersey City NJ 07311 phone 732-516-1648 fax 732-516-9778
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JANUARY NEWSLETTER 2
The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is one of the world’s largest venues for manufacturers to launch new cars and for industry CEOs to explain their visions for the year ahead. The period over which the show has been open has been a rough one for Ford Motor Co. (NYSE F).
An announced but loose joint venture with Volkswagen and the planned introduction of an electric version of its F-Series were not enough to offset poor earnings results that offered no hard 2019 projections. Ford CEO James Hackett, who will be on the job two years in May, may not make the anniversary.
Ford’s performance during the show did not help shareholder sentiment. The stock is still down for the past year, off 29%. The Ford family, which owns a massive block of the company’s shares, can’t be happy. Ford is led by family scion William Clay Ford Jr., who has the title of executive chairman. At 61, he could take over Ford and attempt to turn it in a better direction. He was CEO from 2001 to 2006.
First among the events that bothered outsiders was the Volkswagen announcement. Ford described it as a critical step forward as it tries to get its house outside the United States in order. Ford framed the deal as the “first formal agreement in a broad alliance.” Based on comments by both Hackett and VW’s chief, Dr. Herbert Diess, there may not be a second.
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The two companies said, “The alliance will drive significant scale and efficiencies and enable both companies to share investments in vehicle architectures that deliver distinct capabilities and technologies.” This is far from specific. The broad future plans were even less so:
In addition, Volkswagen and Ford have signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate collaboration on autonomous vehicles, mobility services and electric vehicles and have started to explore opportunities. Both companies also said they were open to considering additional vehicle programs in the future. The teams will continue working through details in the coming months.
Ford warned that it missed its fourth-quarter numbers. Earnings of $0.30 per share were two cents short of the most recent consensus expectations. The Wall Street Journal reported that Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said in an interview, “We’re very confident about the things we know we can control … but at this point we want to be a little prudent with how specific we are.” He was referring to 2019 expectations.
Finally, Ford will launch an electric version of its F-150, the best-selling vehicle in America. Company management couldn’t say when the vehicle will be available.
One of the biggest challenges in protecting privacy is that many of the violations are invisible. For example, you might have bought a product from an online retailer—something most of us have done. But what the retailer doesn’t tell you is that it then turned around and sold or transferred information about your purchase to a “data broker”—a company that exists purely to collect your information, package it and sell it to yet another buyer.
The trail disappears before you even know there is a trail. Right now, all of these secondary markets for your information exist in a shadow economy that’s largely unchecked—out of sight of consumers, regulators and lawmakers…
Meaningful, comprehensive federal privacy legislation should not only aim to put consumers in control of their data, it should also shine a light on actors trafficking in your data behind the scenes. Some state laws are looking to accomplish just that, but right now there is no federal standard protecting Americans from these practices. That’s why we believe the Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.
Publicly, Apple and Facebook have brawled over privacy issues, with Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg trading high-profile barbs over the past year. But behind the scenes the two companies are fighting what may be a more consequential battle for leadership in messaging, vying for customers’ attention and loyalty through Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, and Apple iMessage…
iMessage has an estimated 1.3 billion active users, based on Apple’s most recent disclosure of total active devices that have the service preinstalled. Facebook Messenger alone, meanwhile, has already grown to more than 1.3 billion monthly active users as of September 2017. WhatsApp, the messaging leader in many parts of the world, has 1.5 billion users, and Instagram, which also includes messaging, has 1 billion users. Some of those are likely to have downloaded more than one of the Facebook apps.
Many of those Facebook-owned apps were downloaded on Apple’s iOS devices. Data from analytics company Sensor Tower shows that in the U.S. around 40% of new downloads of Messenger since 2014 and 46% of new downloads in the last year were on iOS devices.
“Our biggest competitor by far is iMessage, and in important countries like the U.S. where the iPhone is strong, Apple bundles iMessage as a default texting app and it is still ahead,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a rare comment about the competition on Facebook’s most recent quarterly earnings call.
My take: In The Information’s comment stream, Stewart Alsop says what I was going to say, only better:
From the user’s point of view, both products suck. iMessage does not sync well on Apple’s own devices, which is supposed to be a key benefit. And Facebook Messenger purposely does not integrate with other communications apps and is hard to use for sharing or forwarding. Both ignore email as an adjacent app. (And I didn’t even mention LinkedIn Messaging!) Does the battle between two titans actually involve making a better product for consumers?