Benner on Tech: Icahn Agitates, Bidders Battle for Nokia's Maps

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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Carl Icahn is agitating at Apple again, saying the company’s stock should trade at around $240 a share, much more the $130 a share that it trades at today.

Some of his suggestions are from the same old playbook that he (and lots of other activist shareholders) favor. He wants the company to embark on an even bigger share buyback program, writing in a letter to the company’s Chief Executive Tim Cook that “this is not a choice between investing in growth and share repurchases.”

But his great faith that Apple is poised to take over two huge industries -- television next year and cars in the year 2020 -- seems to be misplaced, or at least a little on the early side (as my colleague Matt Levine wrote). The Wall Street Journal reports that the company shelved its TV plans about a year ago.

The Mapping Race Is On

Nokia’s maps business, which provides data to Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo, is the object of a bidding war. The universe of bidders could pay around $4 billion for the asset. As Bloomberg reported, Uber, Baidu and the firm Apax Partners are working together on a bid, as is a group comprised of Tencent, NavInfo and the buyout firm EQT Partners. The tech players are competing with financial buyers such as Hellman & Friedman, Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo, as well as a consortium of German carmakers including Audi, BMW and Daimler.

Thanks to things like self-driving cars and other advanced technologies that are coming to automobiles, mapping has become an important platform. Presumably, this trend is a reason why Apple recently acquired the GPS startup Coherent Navigation.

My Scoop

Jawbone got a $300 million loan from BlackRock, not an equity investment. It’s a lifeline and a tight leash for the financially troubled hardware maker.

A Tale of Two Twitters

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy joined Twitter only to be confronted by lots of trolls. Within hours of joining Twitter, U.S. President Barack Obama had over a million followers and was greeted with tweets like, “Since Congress is a bunch of ppl shouting opinions at each other, you should feel right at home on Twitter.”

Ventureland

21 Inc., a bitcoin startup that’s marketing chips that let devices such as smartphones mine for the digital currency, just added former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to its advisory board. (Wall Street Journal)

Snapchat is getting into the music video business. (New York Times)

Spotify is working with Starbucks to bring the streaming music company’s playlists to all Starbucks locations in the U.S. (Variety)

Uber is taking up to 30 percent of an UberX driver’s fare, up from 20 percent to 25 percent, as part of an experimental tiered fee structure that lowers commissions for drivers that take on more rides. (Wall Street Journal) The company’s director of global expansion products, Tom Fallows, talked about why Uber is still fighting for market share in India and China and the cultural differences between Uber and Google. (Strictly VC)

Venture investor Fred Wilson argues the VC industry could learn a thing or two from the private equity business.

Companies

Amazon couriers in New York City are using the subway because it’s usually the fastest form of transportation in the city. (Financial Times)

Apple saw an appeals court uphold a patent infringement verdict against Samsung, but throw out a ruling on the iPhone's appearance that had originally gone against Samsung. Now $382 million of the original $930 million judgment could be stripped away. (Bloomberg)

Facebook could let businesses contact users through WhatsApp. (Bloomberg)

The company is talking to developers about making games for its Messenger platform. (the Information)

Google just lowered prices for its cloud computing products.

Samsung gave reporters a peek at its new, $300 million Silicon Valley facility in San Jose, California. (Wall Street Journal)

Media Files

Jay Z dissed Spotify and YouTube during a private concert for subscribers to his music streaming service, Tidal. (the Verge)

Security Watch

In an open letter to President Obama, tech giants told the president to reject proposals to put "backdoors" for law enforcement into smartphones and other devices.  (Washington Post)

United Airlines is giving out frequent flier miles to people who can find security flaws. (Bruce Schneier)

News and Notes

Tools that let wireless operators block mobile ads could create a barrier to innovation. (Financial Times)

The Federal Trade Commission laid out recommendations for how consumer data should be handled in the wake of the RadioShack bankruptcy. (PC World)

Tech folks have paid Hillary Clinton millions of dollars to deliver speeches, with speeches to the industry accounting for $3.2 million of the $11.7 million that she’s made since January 2014. (Washington Post)

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