Congress Taxes IRS; Tableau Pops; FB IPO'versary
An informative and entertaining look at the must-see CNBC moments that will sharpen your business edge today, tomorrow and beyond. What follows are some notes and quotes from the biggest stories covered on CNBC on Friday, May 17.
IRS Congressional Hearings
The House Ways and Means Committee grilled Steven Miller, the IRS's outgoing acting commissioner, and J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general investigating the targeting of conservative groups. Hearings next week with the House Oversight and Government Reform and Senate Finance committees getting into the action.
Ahead of the hearing, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp told CNBC, "We want to know who hatched this plan. "The scale of it and the length of time, this was a pattern. This was a culture of discrimination where it was OK to go after conservative groups," the Michigan Republican said in a "Squawk Box" interview. But "progressive groups seemed to find the process just worked OK for them. That's what's troubling."
Another member of the panel, Democrat Charles Rangel of New York, also appeared on "Squawk Box," labeling as "ridiculous" any talk of impeaching President Barack Obama over the IRS violations. "This is embarrassing for the president, but he's doing everything he can," Rangel said. "In a bipartisan way, we want to see how this got started and cut this cancer before it spreads."
Tableau on the Floor
Big data company Tableau Software opened for trading, jumping more than 50 percent from its IPO price. It lets users organize and visualize large sets using proprietary drag and drop commands. Its four main products have been used by major corporations, including Oracle, but Tableau also offers integration into small businesses. Its IPO price was raised from the initial $23 to $26, to $31; then opened at $47. The company raised $254 million, offering 8.2 million shares.
"I think there's a lot of excitement about data of analytics," said Tableau CEO Christian Chabot said in a Web-only video. "People are calling data the oil of the 21st century. Tableau helps people understand data, make use of it, generate meaning from it, and I think that's the excitement we're seeing in the marketplace."
The company is founded on "breakthrough advances" by Pat Hanrahan and Chris Stolte at Stanford University, and "that breakthrough has been what we're commercializing," Chabot said. "People out there feel like they're swimming in data. They just want to get in there and answer some questions and summarize it and visualize it. Often, they want to present it and tell stories about it."
Facebook: One Year Later
While Facebook shares have had a tough time trading since it went public a year ago—it's been down about 30 percent—the social media giant has been making big changes in mobile and a host of other innovations. And, don't forget, Facebook still has a market value of $63.4 billion.
Facebook analysts and Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray and Ken Sena of Evercore Partners discussed the future of Facebook amid the worst-performing stock on the Nasdaq since its IPO a year ago. "We did lower our target price this week," Sena said. "As you look at the mobile app experience, and particularly international, how is Facebook doing in that regard, and are they gaining share? … We published a report [this week]. The answer was somewhat inconclusive. Instagram is doing very well, Facebook Messenger is doing well. But in areas where Facebook has dominant scale, it's not necessarily growing faster than a lot of these newer players."
"Who knew how valuable it would be?" Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig told "Squawk on the Street." "But what was clear was its momentum was so strong. We found Facebook when it was so strong, at four and a half million users. Now it's got a billion users. Did we know it would be that big? No. But we knew it captured a very powerful demographic that had been onto something that was very different than My Space. They had gone into real names, real identity, real community. They had taken a very different path. It was really powerful and growing very quickly. I don't think anybody could have anticipated its full value. And I don't think it's really reached its full value, it's just at the beginning of what Mark [Zuckerberg] and Sheryl [Sandberg] want to do."