Archive for December, 2019

Tech’s biggest companies are worth ~$5T as 2019’s epic stock market run wraps

Look, this is the last post I’m writing in 2019 and I’m tired. But I can’t let the year close without taking stock of how well tech stocks did this year. It was bonkers. So let’s mark the year’s conclusion with some notes for our future selves. Yes, we know that the Nasdaq has been setting new records and SaaS had a good year. But we need to dig in and get the numbers out so that we can look back and remember. Let’s cap off this year the way it deserves to be remembered, as a kick-ass trip ’round the sun for your local, public technology company. Keeping score We’ll start with the indices that we care about: The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 35% in 2019 The SaaS-heavy Bessemer Cloud Index rose 41% this year Next, the highest-value U.S.-based technology companies: Microsoft was up around 55% in 2019 Apple managed an 86% gain in the year Not be left out, Facebook rose 57% Amazon posted its own gain of 23% in 2019 Alphabet managed to grow by 29%, as well Now let’s turn to some companies that we care about, even if they are smaller than the Big Five: Salesforce? Up 19% this year Adobe was up 46% in 2019, which was astounding Intel picked up 28% in the year, making it no slouch Even Oracle managed to gain 17% in 2019 And so on. The technology industry’s epic run has been so strong that The Wall Street Journal noted this morning that, powered by tech companies, U.S. stocks “are poised for their best annual performance in six years.” The Journal highlighted the performance of Apple and Microsoft in particular for helping drive the boom. I wonder why. Public investors loved SaaS stocks in 2019, and startups should be thankful How long will we live in the neighborhood of Nasdaq 9,000? How long can two tech companies be worth more than $1 trillion at the same time? How long can the biggest tech companies be worth a combined $4.93 trillion (I remember when $3 trillion for the Big Five was news, and I recall when the group reach a collective value of $4 trillion).1 But the worst trade in recent years has been the pessimists’ gambit. No matter what, stocks have kept going up, short-term hiccoughs and other missteps aside. For nearly everyone, that is. While tech stocks in general did very well, some names that we all know did not. Let’s close on those reminders that a rising tide lifts only most boats. 2019 naughty list Several of the most lackluster public tech companies were 2019 technology IPOs, interestingly enough. Who didn’t do well? Uber earns a spot on the naughty list for not only being underwater from its IPO price, but also from its final private valuations. And as you guessed, Lyft is down from its IPO price as well, which is not good. Some 2019 IPOs did well in the middle of the year, but fell […]

TRACED Act signed into law, putting robocallers on notice

The Pallone-Thrune TRACED Act, a bipartisan bit of legislation that should make life harder for the villains behind robocalls, was signed into law today by the president. It’s still possible to get things done in D.C. after all! We’ve covered the TRACED Act several times previously, as robocalls are, in addition to being horribly annoying, a uniquely annoying high-tech threat. Using clever targeting and spoofing technology, scammers are placing millions of calls that at best irritate and at worst take advantage of the vulnerable. The new law won’t end that practice overnight, but it does add some useful tools to regulators’ toolboxes. Here’s how I summarized the bill’s provisions earlier this month: Extends FCC’s statute of limitations on robocall offenses and increases potential fines Requires an FCC rulemaking helping protect consumers from spam calls and texts (this is already underway) Requires annual FCC report on robocall enforcement and allows for it to formally recommend legislation Requires adoption on a reasonable timeline of the STIR/SHAKEN framework for preventing call spoofing Prevents carriers from charging for the above service, and shields them from liability for reasonable mistakes Requires the attorney general to convene an interagency task force to look at prosecution of offenders Opens the door to Justice Department prosecution of offenders Establishes a handful of specific cutouts and studies to make sure the rules work and interested parties are giving feedback Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took a break from other business to laud the enactment of the law: Americans were battered by 48 billion robocalls last year. I get them, too. I hate them. They need to stop. I’m so proud I fought for the #TRACEDact to protect Americans from these annoying, persistent, & dangerous calls. And I’m so proud it’s now law. — Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 31, 2019 And FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s praise was effusive in a statement his office sent along: I applaud Congress for working in a bipartisan manner to combat illegal robocalls and malicious caller ID spoofing.  And I thank the President and Congress for the additional tools and flexibility that this law affords us.  Specifically, I am glad that the agency now has a longer statute of limitations during which we can pursue scammers and I welcome the removal of a previously-required warning we had to give to unlawful robocallers before imposing tough penalties. And I thank the American people for never letting us forget how fed up they are with scam, spoofed robocalls.  It’s their voices that power our never-ceasing push to fight back against the scourge of robocalls and malicious spoofing. Of course the new law isn’t a magic wand; The FCC is still limited in what it can do and how quickly it can act. Even major fines like this $120 million one have had a negligible effect on the nefarious industry. “Like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon,” said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel at the time. Here’s hoping the TRACED Act amounts to more than a bigger spoon. We’ll […]