Pinterest: Now $4 billion, and the next Amazon?
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
Pinterest has raised a mammoth round of venture capital, $225 million, that values the company at $3.8 billion. All that money, without one dollar of revenue to speak of. Meanwhile, Amazon posted yet another profitless quarter, yet its revenue continues to outperform, and Wall Street continues to love it. In the past six months, Pinterest's valuation has risen by 50 percent; Amazon stock, a "paltry" 32 percent rise by comparison, including its after-hours eight percent spike today.
A long-term plan for domination is Amazon's key to keeping on the Street's good side while profits remains nil. And Pinterest, which is evolving into an e-commerce giant of sorts with its recently unveiled "promoted pins" and popularity among those "pinning" products they prefer, espoused its own grandiose philosophy in a statement on its recent fundraising—and it may not even need to establish a business model for a long-time if it can keep raising this much money.
"We hope to be a service that everyone uses to inspire their future, whether that's dinner tomorrow night, a vacation next summer, or a dream house some day."—Ben Silbermann, Pinterest co-founder and CEO
The $150 billion iPhone
Every company should have a rainy-day fund. But too big a fund means cash is idle, when it should be put to work. That's the issue Apple faces as it responds to a letter today from big shareholder Carl Icahn, who urges a $150 billion buyback, triple what Apple has planned. Apple has about that much cash on hand, and presumably would still have plenty if a buyback took some time to complete. Icahn is a big fan of Apple and its management, and thinks a bigger buyback would boost the stock price. But if Apple management won't go along, Icahn says he could mount a proxy fight. A recent Moody's report said Apple's cash amounted to 10 percent of the cash held by all U.S. corporations.
"The timing for a larger buyback is still ripe, but the opportunity will not last forever."—Carl Icahn
Ghost of retailers' holiday past
The ghost of retail holidays' past has finally caught up with one of America's biggest chains. With the economy not perking up as fast as once expected, the approach of the all-important holiday shopping season has retailers biting their nails—and looking for ways to compete with online merchants. So Target has joined one of the big trends of the past few years: online shopping with in-store pickup. Already popular with customers at Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Sears, this provides convenient shopping at home without the wait or expense of shipping. The Minneapolis-based retailer will also push "Cyber Monday," which kicks off a week of online deals starting the Monday after Thanksgiving. And, as it did last year, it will match competitors' prices for any item bought between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31.
Maybe this is why JPMorgan wants to settle
For the big banks, bad news keeps on coming. Bank of America will lay off 3,000 employees to respond to an 11 percent decline in mortgage lending. JPMorgan Chase faces investigation over whether it turned a blind eye to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. And nine banks are being investigated for their sales of allegedly toxic mortgage-backed securities. The U.S. Justice Department investigations, looking at whether the banks misled investors in those securities, involve virtually all the big names: Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and Wells Fargo. But not JPMorgan.
The key to immortality
You're so busy at work you barely ever see your family. Life could go by in a flash and your kids barely know you. Help is on the way, in the form of the next cutting-edge-technology: lifelogging!
Yes, a group of young companies is busily finding ways to help people record every miniscule detail of their lives, for easy searching later, memory aid, or as a legacy for descendants. At the extreme, this involves wearable cameras like Microsoft's SenseCam that record everything, like in the Robin Williams movie, "The Final Cut" (which viewed the practice as, at best, creepy). Various approaches store and categorize emails and other information users leave in their wake. Even that junk people ladle into their Facebook pages counts. True believers think future generations will be glad to know what we had for lunch on a certain Thursday.
"I tell people never, ever delete."—Gordon Bell, researcher emeritus at the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley Laboratory
—By Jeff Brown, Special to CNBC.com