The rap against Tesla Motors has always been of the “yes, but” variety. Yes, it’s a fine artisanal designer and manufacturer of electric cars and its CEO is one of the few business leaders alive for whom the label “visionary” isn’t hyperbolic. But Elon Musk’s auto company can’t seem to make very many vehicles and will run out of money long before it figures how.
Tesla offered new grist for the bears Tuesday, with an earnings report that copped to a hellish manufacturing situation for its game-changing, $35,000 Model 3 sedan. Tesla has humiliated established carmakers with its brilliant vision. But Detroit, Turin, Stuttgart, and so on have understood scale as well as capital allocation for decades. Such gargantuan tasks could yet humiliate Tesla.
The company’s fans hang on. Gene Munster, a Wall Street analyst turned venture-capitalist/analyst, published a report promising Tesla “will be worth the wait.” One set of Munster’s statistics stands out, though, in describing Tesla’s plight. Munster reckons Tesla has accepted 475,000 pre-orders for Model 3s. Munster thinks Tesla will be able to make just 2,500 Model 3s in the fourth quarter. Were that production level to remain unchanged, it would take Tesla nearly 50 years to deliver on its promises. Even at the 190,000 rate Munster predicts for all of 2018–and Tesla rarely hits its goals–competitors will be onto a new model before pre-orders are satisfied.
The bears, by the way, finally appear to be more numerous than the bulls, at least for today. Tesla’s stock was off more than 6% on the news.
Under Armour, whose run of sales growth has ended, is doing away with its line of wearable fitness trackers. That’s a formidable graveyard that now includes products by Nike, Jawbone, Pebble, and Microsoft. Another tough business.
Three cheers for Aaron, the clever writer and unabashed Taylor Swift fan, who headed each Data Sheet news item yesterday with a song by the country-turned-pop singer. Quite a few of you sent your appreciations yesterday. I asked Aaron if his devotion to Taylor had anything to do with his daughter (that’s my explanation) or if he’s just a big fan himself. His reply: “More the former, although she’s pretty popular with the whole household. Something about Tuesday’s hearing [of social-media executives on Capitol Hill] just made me start thinking of ‘Bad Blood’ (like D.C. used to love big tech but now it’s over/hates them, like a jilted lover) and then the rest just happened.”
Thanks Aaron. You rock!
Take my money. Blue Apron went public on June 29 pricing its shares at $10. As of Wednesday’s close, it stands at less than half that: $4.67. So of course it’s a good time for another meal delivery company to go public. Germany-based HelloFresh listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in an IPO raising about $369 million.
Exchange set. Cross-border payments startup TransferWise raised $280 million in private backing to expand in Latin America and Asia. The company moves money across borders by matching people and businesses on each side of a transaction and charging just a 1% fee.
MOAR phones. Razer is best known among the video gaming set for its sleek, ultra-high performance PCs and laptops, so why not phones? I’m not sure the strategy is sound but the company, which plans to go public soon, introduced its first smartphone on Wednesday with plenty of gaming-friendly features like an unusually rapid 120Hz refresh rate display.
New day, new record. Bitcoin surged to over $7,000. And what will investors do when they find out that Amazon just registered three domain names linked to the cryptocurrency market? They are amazoncryptocurrencies.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, and amazonethereum.com, according to Domain Name Wire, which broke the news.
Expensive declaration. It was another busy earnings day for well known tech companies. After getting beat up on Capitol Hill for two days, Facebook demonstrated its financial power. Revenue jumped 49% to $10.3 billion and profits of $4.7 billion were up 79%. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who didn’t go to D.C., said he’d raise spending on ad reviewers and other measures to block bogus content from spreading in the future. “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits,” Zuck said.
Filling the gap. Qualcomm’s revenue dropped 5% to $5.9 billion, as its legal dispute with Apple continues to cut into royalties. But booming sales in China helped make up for a higher than expected portion of the missing fees, and Qualcomm’s shares gained 1% in premarket trading. A couple of smaller tech companies disappointed Wall Street and saw their stock prices sink. Symantec lost 8%, Fitbit was down 2%, and GoPro plunged 10%.
Reveal the money. The Securities and Exchange Commission warned anyone endorsing so-called “initial coin offerings,” or ICOs, that they must follow federal laws about touting securities for sale. Celebrities like Floyd Mayweather and Paris Hilton, or anyone else who backs an ICO deal, “must disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion,” the agency said.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The thing about digital currency is it’s all digital, just a string of ones and zeroes stored on a memory chip somewhere. And anyone with the right passcode can grab the digits and make off with the currency. So people go to great lengths to protect their bitcoins, dash coins, and moneros. Former Wired editor Mark Frauenfelder put his 7.4 bitcoins in a standalone storage device, a sort of digital safe, called a Trezor. He wrote the incredibly lengthy 24-word passcode down on a piece of orange paper. Then this happened:
“Wait,” Carla said. “We had the house cleaned while we were gone. I’ll call them.”
Carla called the cleaning service we’d used and got the woman who cleaned the house on the line. She told Carla that she did indeed remember finding the orange piece of paper.
“Where is it?” Carla asked.
“I threw it away.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Microsoft Just Made Its First 3D Printing Investment in This Startup By Jonathan Vanian
Qualcomm Says Battle With Apple Could Drag On for ‘Some Time’ By Aaron Pressman
This GIF Compares Touch ID to Face ID, Side-by-Side, in Action By Grace Donnelly
Google Is Taking Three Steps to Avoid Election Meddling By Kirsten Korosec
BEFORE YOU GO
With terrorism unfortunately in the news again this week, you can learn more about the origins of al-Qa’ida, as the CIA released online thousands of documents and videos seized in the 2011 raid that killed Usama Bin Ladin, including Bin Ladin’s personal journal. Fascinating if chilling reading. The Long War Journal has some initial analysis of the materials, as well.