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It’s Comeback Week on Wall Street

Catch up with this week’s Five on Friday!

Jamie O’Donoghue
Jul 26, 2019 · 7 min read

#OhSnap

Beleaguered social network Snap Inc. surprised investors this week by posting a narrower-than-expected loss and revealing impressive user growth.

What does this mean?

Among social media companies, Snap has become the byword for poor management and thwarted promise. After going public in March 2017, in what was supposed to be “the biggest tech IPO since Facebook”, the company behind the hugely popular Snapchat app has seen its shares tumble relentlessly since its original $30 billion valuation. For some, Snap had become a lost cause, racked as it was by negative publicity and executive departures. However, the company’s earnings success this week complicated the picture. Snap soared past estimates on all important metrics, with its user base now standing at a very healthy 203 million daily active users. This marks the company’s second consecutive quarter of growth, and shows that CEO Evan Spiegel is not ready to be written off just yet.

Bet You Didn’t Know

Snapchat’s famous ghost logo is known internally as “Ghostface Chillah”, a reference to Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah.

#NikeDeal

NBA rookie Zion Williamson signed with Nike’s Jordan brand on Tuesday, in what some are calling the sportswear giant’s biggest shoe deal since it partnered with LeBron James in 2015.

What does this mean?

The relationship between Williamson and Nike has been interesting, to say the least. Back in February, in one of the most farcical sporting moments of the year, Williamson’s Nike shoes “exploded” just 33 seconds into a showdown between Duke and North Carolina, causing a minor injury to the rising basketball star. This week’s deal — estimated to be worth around $75 million — represents a double victory for Nike, which has not only secured the endorsement of one of basketball’s biggest names, but has also managed to partially reverse the negative implications from February’s unfortunate incident. As we saw with last year’s Colin Kaepernick affair, Nike has one of the most impressive marketing departments in the world, which manages to stage expertly timed interventions into the overlapping worlds of sport, politics, and pop culture. The Williamson deal is just another example of its grand strategy at work.

Bet You Didn’t Know

Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal once attended a meeting at Nike HQ wearing “all Reebok” in order to show his disinterest in signing a deal with the company.

#NotAfraid

Tinder CEO Elie Seidman said this week that the dating app’s prestige among young adults will allow it to withstand competition from Facebook, despite the larger company’s recent encroachments.

What does this mean?

Last year, Facebook began rolling out a dating product in several countries, with mixed results. One of its proposed features, the so-called ‘Secret Crush’ option, would allow users to assemble a secret list of friends that they were romantically interested in. The function was slammed as ‘creepy’ by a number of publications and social media commentators. However, Facebook’s biggest advantages over the Match Group-owned app lie in the sheer size of its resources, as well as its huge reach. Despite Facebook’s push into the online dating space, Tinder still boasts highly impressive figures. The app gets more than 2 billion views per day, and claims to be responsible for an astonishing one million dates every week. In related news, Tinder revealed that it will bypass Google’s Play Store in order to evade its hefty 30% transaction fee, proving that Facebook is not the only tech giant that Tinder is prepared to face down.

Bet You Didn’t Know

The average Tinder user logs onto the app a remarkable 11 times per day.

#EarningsOverview

Earnings season is back upon us, and so are all the market fluctuations that come with it. To get you up to speed, sit back, relax, and enjoy ‘The Earnings Overview’:

The Good

Alphabet — Advertising remains the central engine of profit for the Google parent, but the company’s cloud and hardware divisions also contributed heavily to a major earnings beat.

The (Not So) Bad

Align Technology — The company posted strong numbers, with revenue growth of 22.5%, but investors baulked at a reduced forecast for the current quarter driven by China woes.

The Ugly

iRobot — Shares took a serious hit after the robotics company lowered its full-year guidance and warned that the US-China trade war would negatively impact segment growth.

#AndFinally

Last night, Elon Musk’s private space venture SpaceX live-streamed the launch of a test version of its latest big rocket, the Starship. Although the spacecraft barely lifted off the ground, the event represented a major marketing coup for the company, as well as for Musk himself. The visionary billionaire has managed to keep his name out of the headlines in recent months, but lately he’s staged a comeback of sorts with a series of spectacular announcements. First he amazed the world by revealing technology from his sinister ‘brain-machine interface’ initiative, Neuralink, and now he has once again brought SpaceX into the spotlight. Although Tesla’s underwhelming earnings this week caused a big selloff, Musk has nonetheless managed to reassert himself as this generation’s most renowned celebrity entrepreneur — one part Richard Branson, two parts Tony Stark.

What does this mean?

Sure, both Neuralink and SpaceX have absurdly ambitious aims — to merge brains with computers in the former case, and to build colonies on Mars in the latter — but Musk is nothing if not a personification of ambition and, indeed, absurdity.

Bet You Didn’t Know

Elon Musk confessed that he named his son Xavier after Professor Xavier from Marvel series ‘X-Men’.

The Week In Numbers

$120 million

is how much Elon Musk secured this week for The Boring Company in the tunneling venture’s first round of outside funding.

$800 million

is how much Amazon revealed it invested in its delivery infrastructure last quarter as it pushes towards next-day delivery.

$1 billion

is how much Apple has revealed it will spend on acquiring a majority stake in Intel’s smartphone modem division.

The Takeaway

A key theme from this week’s events has been the power of a good comeback. This happened in a big way for Snap Inc. Previously something of a pariah among major social networks, the world will be watching how CEO Evan Spiegel reacts to the spate of positive attention that followed the company’s impressive earnings report. Elon Musk has managed to scale back some of his wilder antics while also reminding us of why the world admires him with another extraordinary display of technological might. If Spiegel and Musk proved that a comeback can never be too dramatic, then Nike’s excellent handling of its exploding shoe affair shows that it can never be too small either.

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