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2 Mergers and a Maybe: The M&A roundup the world needs right now
Mergers and acquisitions… three words that bring giant and sometimes not-so-giant corporations together under one huge, carbon-footprint-inducing roof.
Here are a few high-profile deals that caught our eye, and one potential behemoth that could rear its head in the near future.
Merger: Sanofi acquires its second biotech company this month
Yesterday, the French drugmaker agreed to buy the Belgian biotech company Ablynx for $4.8B.
Ablynx is its second high-profile biotech deal this month, after reeling in Bioverative for $11.6B.
There has been a relatively large uptick in biotech mergers in 2018 (with half as many this month as there were in all of 2017), and Sanofi’s leading the charge -- making one of their most expensive purchases in 7 years.
Merger: that’s Keurig Dr. Pepper to you, pal
Keurig Green Mountain, the company behind everyone’s favorite non-biodegradable coffee pods, has acquired the drink supergroup Dr. Pepper Snapple in a $21B pileup.
This makes it an even bigger supergroup, (dare we say megagroup?), now known as Keurig Dr. Pepper, expected to hit $11B in yearly revenue.
Maybe: Dell is in talks to ‘reverse merge’ with VMware
Dell technologies is considering a sale to VMware, the $60B cloud computing company that Dell is currently an 80% owner of.
This odd move is known as a “reverse merger,” and it gets slightly more odd: The acquisition would allow Dell to go public for the second time after re-privatizing back in 2013.
This deal is far from finalized, but if it goes through, it could help Dell’s investors -- who backed their company move in 2013 -- monetize their deal, and also pay down their $50B of debt.
Not to mention it would be the biggest deal in tech history.
Two and a Half Mergers
You gotta fight! (DUN DUN) For your right! (DUN DUN) To reeeeeppaaair
Anyone who’s spent an afternoon at the “Genius Bar” or paid top-dollar at an “authorized repair” shop knows the pain of trying to fix a device that’s controlled by Apple -- AKA, the maaan.
Luckily, 17 states are raging against the difficult-to-repair machine, introducing bills this year to make standard parts and manuals available to the general DIY public.
And now Washington’s taking it to the next level, proposing legislation that would actually ban manufacturers from designing products that “prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions” by the average joe.
It’s all part of the ‘right to repair’ battle
Tech manufacturers have a vested interest in keeping total control over the repair process, claiming that it’s a security measure against malicious attackers.
However, supporters of the bills point to the post-sale monopoly this creates -- and the independent repair shops that currently operate in a legal grey area, using counterfeit parts from China, or recycled components.
It’s not just Apple taking heat… it’s companies like John Deere
John Deere’s tractors are surprisingly high tech -- and if one of them breaks down, they have to be taken to a designated repair shop to be fixed.
Long story short, this fight is bigger than your cracked iPhone screen. And if the bills pass (most of them are still in the early stages), big tech manufacturers nationwide may have to revisit their business models.
Back in November, fitness tracking app Strava published the Global Heatmap -- a seemingly cool interactive that used 13 trillion GPS points to show where people were the most active between 2015 and 2017.
But the feature came with a “major security oversight:” turns out, soldiers use fitness trackers too -- and their movements, which show up on the map, were used to pinpoint the location of US military bases.
On the map, populated areas are illuminated with the activity of millions of users. But in sparser areas (i.e. “war zones”), the map is pitch black -- and upon closer examination, one can make out faint outlines of activity in or around US military bases.
The revelation was first pointed out on Twitter, and within hours, many users had used the map to identify secret CIA sites in Somalia, missile systems in Yemen, and US Special Operations bases in Africa.
The data, said one analyst, offers “a mine of information to anyone who wants to attack or ambush US troops in or around the bases.”
Whose fault is this?
Strava does offer users an enhanced privacy mode that allows them to opt out of data sharing -- though the app’s privacy settings have come under heat in the past for not being very straightforward.
Still, soldiers probably shouldn’t be publicly tracking their locations -- or even using these devices at all.
And the blame for that falls partly on our government: the Pentagon has openly endorsed the usage of Fitbits among military members as far back as 2013.
Where does it end, Elon?!: Boring Company sold $5m worth of flamethrowers in 2 days
Elon Musk’s “tunneling” startup, The Boring Company, released their flamethrower for pre-order a few days ago -- and in approximately 48 hours, they’ve sold $5m worth of fire spitters at $500 a pop.
Alright. What the heck’s going on here?
Well, it started with some hats...
While the Boring Company was created to make holes in the ground the size of Musk’s ego, it’s really served more as a platform for quirky, highly lucrative side-goofs -- like selling Boring Company hats for $20 apiece.
Last month, Musk tweeted out the incentive: “After 50k hats, we will start selling The Boring Company flamethrower.”
That challenge took Musk all of 14 days to meet: in less than a month, the company netted $1m in hat revenue.
So, Musk had to live up to his promise
Described as a glorified “roofing torch,” the Boring flamethrower has already sold half its stock (the company “only” plans to release 20k units).
In 2017, Musk failed to deliver on some of his more ambitious goals (like producing 5k Model 3 Teslas per week) -- so it’s good to see him hitting his mark here.
It’s possible this is a PR stunt meant to distract from his other production shortcomings. But it’s also entirely possible that the guy’s just having fun in the most Muskalicious way imaginable.
1. When you don't want to discuss a task or topic in the current moment... or ever again. 2. You’ve finished the “strategic” planning for a project, but aren’t ready to commit to a deadline. 3. The go-to response to any idea proposed in the last 10 minutes of a meeting.
VP: Alright, it’s decided -- we launch our new product this year.
Engineer: Totally. 100% on board. This Wi-Fi-connected washing machine is gonna blow our customers’ socks off.
VP: Awesome. When can we expect the first prototype?
Engineer: Let’s circle back next week.
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