Apple May Invest in $100 Billion SoftBank Fund


Apple has held talks about investing in a $100 billion technology fund that SoftBank aims to launch next year, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.

Apple may contribute as much as $1 billion to the fund, which would give the company insight into up-and-coming technologies.

Apple invested $1 billion in May in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing. The deals would mark a shift in strategy for the iPhone maker, which has largely concentrated on acquiring startups valued at less than $1 billion.

A Self Driving Apple Car: A Potential Reality


apple-carA letter sent last month to U.S. transportation officials offers some insight into Apple’s plans for the growing self-driving vehicle market.

The letter from Steve Kenner, director of product integrity at Apple, addresses the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy crafted by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA).

“The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” Kenner wrote in the letter of Apple’s ambitions.

Kenner said Apple supports a proposal that companies share “de-identified” data from crashes or near-misses to help improve self-driving technology, but warns the policy must take consumers’ privacy into account.

“Data sharing should not come at the cost of privacy,” said Kenner. “Apple believes that companies should invest the resources necessary to protect individuals’ fundamental right to privacy.”

Kenner says Apple also backs simulation methods to determine how vehicles would fare in a crash, and a variety of analytical processes to identify and fix any potential safety or cybersecurity issues early in development.

Apple has never confirmed it is working on autonomous software or a self-driving vehicle. The tech giant has long been rumored to be working on its own vehicle as part of an initiative dubbed Project Titan. In July, Bloomberg reported Apple was shifting its focus toward creating its own autonomous driving system. In September, a report from The New York Times claimed Apple has laid off employees of its automotive team.

Other companies have already confirmed plans to create their own self-driving vehicles. Two months ago, Tesla revealed it would create its own fully self-driving electric cars. Google and Ford also have plans for autonomous vehicles.

One of the primary concerns over self-driving cars is whether they’re safe enough to use. This year, some Tesla vehicle owners have claimed their cars crashed while the car’s Autopilot self-driving system was engaged.

Tesla is working on a next generation of Autopilot offering 360 degrees of visibility and updated sensors capable of detecting objects on the road more accurately.

Sirius Approaches Pandora’s Board With Takeover Interest


Board hasn’t responded to new engagement from Greg Maffei

Sirius XM‘s Chairman Greg Maffei recently approached Pandora Media Inc.’s board to express renewed interest in a takeover of the Internet radio provider, according to people familiar with the matter, following up on its offer from earlier this year.

Pandora shares rose on Friday after a CNBC report that the company is willing to engage with Sirius. They closed 16% higher at $13.33, valuing the company at about $3.1 billion. Sirius fell 5.6% to $4.30, giving it a market value of $20.8 billion.

Pandora hasn’t decided if it will restart talks with Sirius.

Though Pandora dominates the online radio market it pioneered, the company’s growth has slowed in recent years, at the same time as on-demand services Spotify Ltd. and Apple Music have added millions of users.

Pandora advisers have begun soliciting interest from buyers

Co-founder Tim Westergren, who returned as Pandora’s chief executive officer in March, is trying to almost quadruple sales to $4 billion by 2020 by going into new businesses, such as ticket sales and concert promotion, while converting free users into paying customers.

The company made three acquisitions last year to diversify beyond online radio, including ticket seller Ticketfly, and is about to introduce a new on-demand service similar to Spotify.

Is Kate Bush About to Score Her First UK No.1 Album in Nearly 30 Years?


Kate Bush will likely score her first UK number one album in nearly 30 years with new record Before The Dawn, the Official Charts Company has predicted.

The singer-songwriter released a live album of tracks from her 2014 Eventim Apollo London residency – also called Before The Dawn – on Friday.

At the midweek point, Bush’s album has 5,000 combined sales ahead of last week’s chart-toppers Little Mix and their effort Glory Days, which has slipped into second place.

Bush’s last chart-topping album was compilation record The Whole Story, which was released in November 1986 and reached number one in January 1987.

If the Before The Dawn continues its trajectory and tops the charts, it will be the British musician’s fourth number one album.

Video show above is the single “Running Up That Hill” written and produced by Kate Bush. The song was the first single from Kate’s 1985 album Hounds of Love.

How Best Buy Keeps Growing in The Age of Amazon


Best Buy’s shares are flying high heading into Black Friday, harking back to a time in the mid-2000s when the retailer was still opening new stores and was seen as more of a curiosity than a major threat.

And smiling — at least, for now — is Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly, who delights in proving wrong the naysayers who thought the online juggernaut would put Best Buy out of business. To the contrary, he says there’s room in the market for both to win.

“Amazon is raising the bar,” said Joly. “We are clearly raising the bar. And I think it’s going to become harder and harder for others to compete — because the economics are very tough. You need to be really good at this.”

This will be Joly’s fifth holiday season as CEO of the electronics chain, overseeing one of the biggest turnaround stories in retail. During an interview at Best Buy’s Richfield headquarters, Joly discussed a wide range of topics from competition such as Amazon and holiday strategies to why its stores will be open on Thanksgiving.

The chain also has upgraded its digital channels and sped up its delivery, now getting more packages to customers’ doorsteps within two days.

Of course, Amazon hasn’t been sitting still, either. The online giant has extended its reach by adding millions more households to its Prime membership program through enhanced services such as new streaming content and two-hour delivery of everything from restaurant food to alcohol to last-minute holiday gifts through its growing Prime Now network.

Best Buy’s online sales have jumped 24% in each of the last three quarters and now account for about 11% of its overall sales.

Amazon and Best Buy currently control about 25 percent of the U.S. electronics market, Joly said. Down the road, he expects that other smaller players might bow out or de-emphasize electronics among the various categories they sell.

Peter Keith, an analyst with Piper Jaffray said “My view is they have eliminated the online threat of Amazon. It’s still there, but they’re not losing share to them anymore.”

Snapchat Files For One of The Biggest Tech IPOs in Years


snapchatSnapchat has filed for an initial public offering, sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday, which puts the messaging app a step closer to the biggest U.S. stock market debut since 2014.

The Venice, California-based company could go public as soon as March and be valued at $20 billion to $25 billion, making it the largest IPO since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s (BABA.N) went public two years ago valued at $170.9 billion. It would be the largest U.S. technology IPO since Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) debut in 2012 with a value of $81.2 billion.

Snapchat filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the U.S. Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. Companies with less than $1 billion in revenue can secretly file for an IPO, allowing them to quietly test investor appetite while keeping financials confidential.

The filing was made before Republican Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 which has increased uncertainty in global markets, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI has hit record highs for four straight sessions.

The sources asked not to be named because the information is private. A spokesman for Snap Inc, Snapchat’s parent company, declined to comment.

Reuters was first to report news of the confidential filing.

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