The most important tech stories of 2018 — in tweets

  • Facebook, Elon Musk and the rise and fall of cryptocurrency dominated tech headlines in 2018.
  • Microsoft, T-Mobile, Comcast, Disney and IBM all announced major acquisitions.
  • Here's a look at the biggest tech and media stories from 2018, through tweets.
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Ray Tamarra | Getty Images

Elon Musk, Facebook, cryptocurrencies and "Fortnite" helped define the year in technology in 2018.

Here's a look back now at the year in technology media — in tweet form.

January

It was less than 12 months ago when start-up Ripple was sitting on close to $80 billion of XRP, a cryptocurrency that trades publicly like bitcoin. Celebrities including Paris Hilton and Jamie Foxx were endorsing coin offerings.

Since then, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies has fallen by about 80 percent.

This tweet from Ripple sums up the mood in January, when the buzz around crypto's surge had taken the tech world by storm.

February

Facebook didn't have the best year from a public relations standpoint. It got a lot worse as the year progressed. But the drumbeat had started by February, punctuated by actor Jim Carrey's tweet that he was selling his Facebook stock and deleting his page because of the company's dissemination of false information ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

March

In the land of video games, "Fortnite" owned 2018. It's still a bit unclear what the rise of the online video game means for the technology world. Will today's tweens and teens use video games as their primary methods of social contact, eschewing social networks? Will "Fortnite" become the bedrock game of choice for years to come, lifting the valuation of Epic Games even higher?

We don't know yet, but it certainly made a star of Ninja, who told CNBC in March he made $500,000 a month playing the game in what is thought to be CNBC's most retweeted tweet ever.

April

Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered questions from lawmakers about the company's use of a data, a problem that would linger throughout the year, after a series of investigative reports shed more light on its procedures.

And after years of flirting, T-Mobile and Sprint finally pulled the trigger and announced a merger, which could take the number of U.S. major wireless companies from four to three. It's still unknown if U.S. regulators will allow the deal, though it did gain approval from U.S. national security officials on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. last week. If a deal does go through, we'll miss T-Mobile CEO John Legere throwing shade at Sprint. He reminded us of that with this friendly announcement of the deal in April.

May

Netflix announced that former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama entered into a multiyear agreement to produce content for Netflix, reinforcing the importance of original material to CEO Reed Hastings's strategy. Netflix actually topped Comcast and Disney in May in overall valuation for the first time ever, crowning the company as the world's most valuable media empire. That didn't last too long, as a sell-off of FAANG stocks later in 2018 pushed Netflix back down to earth — sort of. The company still has a valuation far higher than its media peers from a comparative multiple perspective.

June

Microsoft made its big acquisition of 2018, acquiring GitHub for $7.5 billion. CNBC later reported how Microsoft outbid Google for the developer platform, cementing Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's reputation for being open to the outside developer community. Microsoft's recent acquisition strategy, with deals for Minecraft, LinkedIn, GitHub and others, helped propel the company to the world's most valuable in recent weeks, surpassing Amazon and Apple. Would anyone have predicted that five years ago?

July

Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a big year on Twitter in 2018. His odd rant about British diver Vernon Unsworth, who helped rescue 12 boys trapped in a cave in Thailand, started chatter among onlookers that Musk might want to tone down the rhetoric as the CEO of a public company. Spoiler alert: That didn't happen.

Musk would apologize later in July for calling the diver a "pedo" and a "child rapist," claims he said "were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths" about Musk.

August

Musk shocked the world by announcing his intentions to take Tesla private for $420 a share with "funding secured." Who was funding the transaction? Tesla wouldn't say. It turned out the answer was no one. That's an SEC violation. Musk would eventually back down on the take-private thing and settle charges of fraud and market manipulation, agreeing to step down as chairman of Tesla and personally paying a $20 million fine. Musk's ill-advised tweet led to a significant market loss in Tesla shares, but shares have bounced back after Musk's settlement.

September

Twitter made news of its own, permanently banning conservative commentator and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his publication Infowars. The move followed similar decisions from YouTube, Apple and Facebook, which removed content from Jones, citing restrictions on hate speech and harassment. The reactions from tech's most influential companies marked a potential turning point for how they dealt with public discourse. Decisions on speech comes fraught with challenges, many of which will certainly extend into 2019 and beyond.

It's very unusual to have the fate of a $39 billion company come down to a public auction, but that's what happened when Comcast outbid Disney to acquire Sky in a three-round event, run by the U.K. takeover panel. The auction was a byproduct of a months-long bidding war between Comcast and Disney for the majority of 21st Century Fox, which had initially agreed to a deal with Disney last December. Comcast's higher offer for Fox in June eventually caused Disney to pay $20 billion more for the assets, but Disney ended up getting some of that money back when it agreed to sell its stake in Sky (part of the broader Fox deal) to Comcast.

October

IBM made the biggest tech acquisition news of the year, agreeing to buy Red Hat for $31 billion. The deal is IBM's largest ever and is an attempt to keep Big Blue relevant as more enterprises shift to cloud computing.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died at 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Allen and Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975. Later in life, Allen became a fixture in the sports world, buying the National Basketball Association's Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 and the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks in 1996.

November

Thousands of Google employees walked out of their jobs to protest the company's behavior around covering up sexual harassment. A New York Times article claimed the company paid longtime executive Andy Rubin $90 million in severance after an employee accused him of sexual misconduct. Google has revamped its sexual harassment policies in the wake of the employee protests.

Two tech heavyweights, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff, publicly squared off in a series of tweets about San Francisco's persistent homeless issues. Prop. C, which passed, will raise more than $300 million for homeless programs through a tax on the biggest businesses in San Francisco. Benioff has been one of its biggest supporters. Dorsey argued the tax wasn't the best way to fix problems around homelessness.

December

Canada arrested Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on charges of defrauding banks, including HSBC and Standard Chartered, by concealing payments from Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. The arrest has roiled markets as investors have speculated how it might influence broader U.S.-China relations. It's still unknown if Canada will settle the case or extradite Meng to the U.S.

And Facebook's in the news again.

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