Benner on Tech: Verizon's Plan for AOL

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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Verizon said it’s going to buy AOL for $50 a share in a deal that values AOL at about $4.4 billion. This is part of Verizon's plan to expand its digital platforms and acquire some content so it’s more than just a pipe for data. It also gets a new revenue stream in the form of AOL’s adtech business. I'm not sure how I feel about the telco rush into content, but AT&T has already gotten into that game, so Verizon can't sit idly by. At first blush this seems like a good exit for AOL. The shareholders get paid something like a 17 percent premium, and under the Verizon umbrella the company can find ways to shrink and sell off any non-core parts. 

Smartphone Second Thoughts

Samsung once had dreams of being the biggest, most important player in the smartphone world and hitting an annual sales goal of $400 billion.

But in the wake of poor Galaxy S phone sales and a shake up in the executive ranks, the Wall Street Journal says the company is reconsidering that plan.

Self-Driving Cars Meet the Real World

Over six years of testing -- including 1.7 million miles of manual and autonomous driving -- Google's self-driving vehicles were involved in 11 minor accidents, the company said. Most of the accidents were incurred when person-operated cars rear-ended the Google vehicles. Only light damage was incurred. No injuries were reported. 

Ventureland

Airbnb has no desire to go public. Cuba is the company’s fastest-growing market. (Bloomberg)

Blue Apron, which mails pre-measured amounts of groceries to your home, is trying to raise more than $100 million at a $2 billion valuation. (Wall Street Journal)

Flexport has raised money from Google Ventures and Ashton Kutcher to become the Uber of the sea, making the way we transport goods more efficient. (Bloomberg)

MarkLogic, a database startup, raised $102 million and is now valued at more than $1 billion.

Uber is experimenting with letting customers pay by cash in India. (Venture Beat)

Xiaomi has started a money market unit and an app to compete with Alibaba in online finance. (Bloomberg)

Venture investor Heidi Roizen shows us how a founder can build a unicorn and walk away with nothing.

People and Personnel Moves

Michael Cavanagh is joining Comcast as chief financial officer. He was previously at the Carlyle Group. (Wall Street Journal)

Ed Felten joined the White House as deputy U.S. chief technology officer.

Fan Bao is the investment banker who’s trying to find the next Alibaba. (Bloomberg)

Daniel Zhang, the new Alibaba CEO, is skilled at dealing with foreign investors and international brands. (Wall Street Journal)

Sheryl Sandberg has returned to work at Facebook following her husband’s death. (Bloomberg)

Companies

Alibaba is working with Dubai-based Meraas Holding to provide technology in the Middle East and North Africa. (Bloomberg)

Facebook is testing a way to search for links within its app. (Wall Street Journal) Publishers warily inked their deals with Facebook. (Wall Street Journal)

Samsung is assembling smartphones in Indonesia as it shifts some of its operations to lower cost markets. (Wall Street Journal)

Twitter paid over $86 million to buy Periscope and Niche. (Re/code)

Media Files

Warner Music says streaming revenue surpassed sales of downloads for the first time. (Re/code)

The New York Times’s "NYT Now" news app will now be free and paid for with advertising rather than subscriptions. (TechCrunch)

Security Watch

Cyber attacks cost the health-care system $6 billion a year. (Bloomberg)

News and Notes

Chinese smartphone makers are trying to crack the Indian market. (New York Times

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Maria Lamagna at mlamagna@bloomberg.net