NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- We can't have lunch in SoMa, Burbank or Beverly Hills without the conversation turning to this question: What will Apple buy and when?
The most valuable company in the world is sitting on more money than God. It could speed up its ambitions in entertainment, health & fitness, augmented reality, etc., with the cash it has lying between the sofa cushions. The most commonly cited acquisition target is Netflix. In recent months, analysts have floated ideas as disparate as Magic Leap, Tesla and Peloton. Today, Vanity Fair's Nick Bilton adds Snap to the list. ... But Apple has long been cautious and selective about acquisitions, preferring to do things its own way.
If only there were someone who could address all this scuttlebutt... On Monday, I'll be interviewing Apple SVP Eddy Cue at SXSW... 11 a.m., Ballroom D.
We land at AUS this afternoon and are bee-lining to Guero's for queso.
What Silicon Valley is talking about: The return of Travis Kalanick, Huawei's 5G ambitions, Snap layoffs and the Galaxy S9 ... What Hollywood is talking about: What's next for Netflix, what's next for #TimesUp ... What Seattle is talking about: The gutting of the Seahawks' defense ...
Good morning. Senator Mark Warner's office has announced that he will headline two events at SXSW this Saturday, both focused on Russian interference in U.S. elections. It's the story that refuses to die, and for good reason. Two notable headlines on WSJ.com today: "Russian Influence Campaign Extracted Americans' Personal Data" and "Russian Trolls Tried to Torpedo Mitt Romney's Shot at Secretary of State."
Watch for more news on the Russian influence campaign from my CNN colleagues Jose Pagliery and Donie O'Sullivan in the hours ahead...
Life After Uber: Travis Kalanick's next
Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has returned with a new investment fund called 10100, or "ten one hundred." The announcement comes after Kalanick's sale of $1.4 billion in Uber shares to SoftBank, a deal that also reduced his voting power on Uber's board.
Kalanick: "The overarching theme will be about large-scale job creation, with investments in real estate, e-commerce, and emerging innovation in China and India. Our non-profit efforts will initially focus on education and the future of cities."
• Translation pt. 1, via The Verge's Nick Statt: "It... suggest[s] an admission on the Uber co-founder's part that his role as a Machiavellian behind-the-scenes player at [Uber] may be coming to a close."
• Translation pt. 2, via Recode's Johana Bhuiyan: "Kalanick will be keeping himself busy by financing and sitting on the boards of companies, at least until he finds his next full-time job."
The Big Picture: There are second, and third, and fourth acts in American lives. Kalanick resigned as Uber's CEO in June after a shareholder revolt against his leadership. He resurfaced at Davos, looking to start his next chapter.
Backing Out: Uber retreats in Asia
Meanwhile, Uber, now under the leadership of Dara Khosrowshahi, is continuing its retreat from Asia:
• Uber is finalizing a deal to sell its operations in Southeast Asia to Grab, the area's leading ride-hailing service, per Bloomberg.
• SoftBank, Uber's largest investor, also has stakes in several Asian ride-hailing services and has encouraged Uber to focus instead on the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Australia.
• Uber already sold its China operations to Didi Chuxing in 2016 and merged with Russia's Yandex in 2017.
Rise of China: Huawei's 5G ambitions
Picking up on our conversation yesterday about the U.S.-China tech wars, and Washington's fears of China's influence over our wireless systems...
"China's Huawei Is at Center of Fight Over 5G's Future," by NYT's Raymond Zhong in Hong Kong:
• "[A]s the world prepares for a new generation of mobile internet that could let you download a feature-length movie in mere seconds, [Huawei] is determined to lead, putting it at the center of an international fight over the technology's future."
• "But the company has also been a top concern of Washington officials. ... a 2012 congressional report said Beijing could use Huawei's equipment to spy on Americans."
"How Cellphone Chips Became a National-Security Concern," by WSJ's Stu Woo and Drew Fitzgerald:
• "The U.S. made clear this week that containing China's growing clout in wireless technology is now a national-security priority."
• "Cellular-tower radios, internet routers and related electronics use increasingly complex hardware and software, with millions of lines of code. Hackers can potentially control the equipment through intentional or inadvertent security flaws."
• "Some Congress members worry that in a decade or two, Huawei and China's ZTE Corp. might become so dominant that American carriers such as AT&T Inc. will have no choice but to use Chinese equipment for at least some of their needs."
The Spies at Home
"Facebook Really Is Spying on You..." by WSJ's Joanna Stern: "Facebook is now so good at watching what we do online-and even offline, wandering around the physical world-it doesn't need to hear us. After digging into the various bits of info Facebook and its advertisers collect and the bits I've actually handed over myself, I can now explain why I got each of those eerily relevant ads."
Hardware: New Galaxy S9 reviews
My PACIFIC colleague Jordan Valinsky rounds up the first reviews of Samsung's new flagship phone, the Galaxy S9:
Pros: Camera, price and display.
Cons: Bixby personal assistant, gimmicks galore (AR emoji) and average battery life.
• The Verge: "It has a head-turning design, fast performance, a great screen, and a very good camera. Outside of the display, the S9 isn't a class leader in any category, but it's good enough in all of them that the whole package makes for a great phone."
• CNBC: "Samsung's Galaxy S9 is the best phone to launch in 2018 - so far. It's loaded with more features than most people will ever use (or perhaps even want)."
Snapchat Cutback: Evan Spiegel lays off 100
"Snap Inc. is preparing its largest round of layoffs to date," via Cheddar's Alex Heath:
• "The Snapchat-maker plans to announce the cuts internally within a week, according to people familiar with the matter."
• "The layoffs will exclusively affect less than 10% of Snap's engineering department and number around 100 people."
The Big Picture: Snap is still crawling its way back after a disastrous IPO. Despite an overwhelmingly positive last quarter, Snap's user growth has slowed in recent years. Snap also continues to face blowback over its recent redesign.
• "Peter Thiel's Money Talks, in Contentious Ways. But What Does He Say?" (NYT)
• "Amazon Targets Medicaid Recipients as It Widens War for Low-Income Shoppers" (WSJ)
• "Most Americans See Artificial Intelligence as a Threat to Jobs (Just Not Theirs)" (NYT)
• "Dude, you have an all-male conference. Time to make room for women." (USA Today)
For The Record: New Netflix numbers
Here's what we want to know:
• How much debt does Netflix have? Last we checked it was $20 billion.
• What is CEO Reed Hastings going to do when subscriber growth hits a ceiling and he can't find a new hit?
Here are answers Netflix is giving to other questions, via Valinsky:
• How do people watch? "Netflix says 70% of its global members watch shows on their TVs, 15% on their laptops and 10% on their phones. Recode notes that number 'isn't a shock,' and says it's a 'good reminder that not everything is moving to the phone.'"
• They still deliver DVDs? Yes, to 3 million customers! Hastings says there's no immediate plans to scrap the option.
• Any plans for sports or live TV? "Hastings told reporters he's not going to copy his rivals in that area: 'We don't do [live] news, we don't do [live] sports. But what we do do, we try to do really well.'"
Bonus, via Engadget: "Netflix is adding vertical video previews (think Instagram or Snapchat stories) to its app in April."
Talk of Tinseltown: What's next for #TimesUp?
The latest from Kim Masters, at THR: "The anti-harassment crusade now seeks structure and a real leader amid skepticism about CAA's role and 'movie star cliquey' meetings."
Top quote: "It became a brand overnight. No one anticipated that."
What #TimesUp has achieved:
• Money: "Its legal defense fund has raised $21 million.
What #TimesUp hasn't achieved:
• Structure: "Several important Time's Up members say that it has become clear that there will have to be more structure, and the group is seeking a professional manager as well as funding to pay that person's salary."
• Trust: "Early meetings took place at CAA... When certain A-list actresses... and major players repped at other agencies... were invited to meetings while their agents were not, some suspected that CAA might use the gatherings to try to poach clients."
Sports Break: Seahawks take flight
Two headlines rocking the Emerald City:
• "Seahawks trade Michael Bennett to Eagles..."
• "Report: Seahawks will release Richard Sherman..."
The Big Picture: "In Seattle, a Seahawks Defense That Flowed Together Drifts Apart" by NYT's Benjamin Hoffman:
• "Sherman appears to be in his final days on the Seahawks' roster, and the team's famed Legion of Boom defense appears to be fading into something far less spectacular. With Seattle's secondary hampered by injuries recently, and with the often-dominant lineman Michael Bennett headed to Philadelphia in a trade, this week has the distinct feeling of a page turning on one of the sport's great defensive units."
The Brighter Picture: Seattle may finally get an offensive line.
Have a great day, everyone. We'll see you in Austin.
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