Love is…An IPO; Volkswagen’s “Goodwill”; Snapchat Vs. Facebook Video Smackdown

For the love of money…

Image courtesy of atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While the odds of meeting “the one” via online dating are slim, that hasn’t stopped Match Group Inc from making a regulatory filing for an initial public offering on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol MTCH. The company, which also owns Tinder and OKCupid, is looking to raise close to $404 million in order to pay of some of its debt to billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC InterActiveCorp. The company’s, whose value is estimated to be around $3 billion, is looking to sell some 33.3 million shares for somewhere between $12 – $14 a pop. Indeed, online dating is very big business, despite the odds. In 2014, Match Group pulled down $148 million in profit on $88 million in sales. In the last twelve months, the company saw about $1 billion in revenue with sites getting 59 million monthly active users along with 4.7 million paid members. The sites run on 38 languages in close to 200 countries. A lot of the big bucks are coming from mobile users as evidenced by the fact the 68% of new registrations came from mobile devices in just the first six months of the year. So whether you find love, or not, is besides the point. The money comes from the quest to find it.

A little desperate?

Image courtesy of Paul/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Paul/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You know its bad when they start handing out $500 Visa gift cards. And that’s exactly what Volkswagen decided to do in the wake of the company’s emissions software scandal that magically allows some cars to release up to 40 times the legal amount of nitrogen oxide into the air we breathe. The embattled auto company is also giving away $500 in dealership credit. Oh, and three years of free roadside assistance. Did I say free? Well, you basically relinquish your right to sue Volkswagen if you happen to own or lease one of their 11 million affected cars. Don’t worry, though. Only 482,000 of them are currently polluting the United States. So say goodbye to personal lawsuits or class-action participation. Like the one that’s suing Volkswagen to get it to buy back your vehicle for the exact amount you paid. Of course, that’s assuming the lawyers arguing that case actually win. Then there’s the potential $18 billion criminal lawsuit looming against Volkswagen for violating the United States Clean Air Act. Except, you can’t be a part of that one since it would be coming from the government. But you would lose out on any potential future compensation. Once you sign up for one of Volkwagen’s “goodwill package,” you are on your own.  Some Audi drivers will be eligible for the deal, as well. In order to get your $500 Visa gift, dealer credit and free roadside assistance, you have to go to VWDieselInfo.com and sign your life away. Sort of. Then wait four weeks to go shopping. You have until April 30, my emissions spewing friend.

Do I smell an IPO?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Snapchat dissed Facebook once by rejecting the social networks’s $3 billion offer to buy it back in 2013. Now, the messaging app is nipping at Facebook’s heels as it just announced that its daily video views tripled to 6 billion…since May. Facebook’s video views, while doubling to 8 billion, are not considered nearly as impressive, since Facebook’s views are coming from desktop computers and mobile devices, while Snapchat’s views are exclusively done on mobile devices. Those video advertising’s numbers pull in way more cash than your plain old digital ads. One research firm predicts a 42% jump in digital video revenue to $7.5 billion and you can be sure Snapchat and Facebook are going to be fighting it out for as big a share as possible. Especially where apps are concerned, those digits are huge. But there seems to be some dispute as to what counts as a video view and it all depends on where you’re watching it. If you happen to be spending some quality time with your Facebook account, the social media counts a view as three seconds or more. Youtube counts 30 seconds as a bona fide view. But Snapchat charges for views that just less than a second. You be the viewing judge.

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SeaWorld Earnings Tank; Unstoppable Facebook; Expedia’s Vacation Plans

Nothing to Sea here folks…

Image courtesy of bandrat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bandrat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Once again, the life aquatic seems to be taking a hit. SeaWorld is still having a hard time trying to convince the world, and PETA, that its Killer Whales are much happier at the theme parks than in the wild where they’d have to fend for themselves. “Blackfish,” a scathing documentary released in 2013, continues to paint SeaWorld as the bad guy and even though there’s technically no such thing as bad publicity, this situation might prove to be the exception. The company’s third quarter earnings were short of estimates with profit – yes, it still made one – of $98 million adding $1.14 per share. While forecasts were for $1.18, the $1.14 added per share was still better than last year’s take of $87 million in profit with $1 added per share. Revenue also disappointed since it increased by just .2%, coming in at $470 million, when analysts predictions were for over $508 million. Brass at SeaWorld blamed the weather and legal fees for those digits. Can’t mother nature catch a break? Attendance took a .4% hit, dropping to 8.37 million people. Former Dollywood CEO Joel Manby has taken over the reins at SeaWorld and its 11 theme parks. That should be fun to watch. Despite the dismal earnings, SeaWorld San Diego is looking to expand its Killer Whales tank. Except, they have to promise not to breed them there. But SeaWorld has no intention of making any such promises. So stay tuned…

Facebank’d…

Image courtesy of  basketman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of basketman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just when you thought Facebook couldn’t get any bigger, and I don’t know why you even thought that, the social networking company gave us some new and even more improved digits. For instance, Facebook’s new market cap is valued at $308 billion. More than Intel and Cisco, companies that produce actual tangible products.  From there Facebook continues its fiscal celebration by sharing that it sold $1 billion more in ads than it did a year ago. I did write billion. Facebook’s total ad revenue was up 45% and, mind you, 78% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from mobile. Its revenue is also up 41% to $4.5 billion and is trading around $109 per share. By George, that’s three times more than its IPO price. The company also added 31 cent per share on $896 million in net income, just $90 million and one cent more than it did last year at this time. Of course, then there’s Facebook’s 1.545 billion total monthly active users. Just to clarify, Facebook gets over one billion visitors every single day.  Facebook is still blocked in China, yet it remains the company’s biggest advertising market. The ever industrious Mark Zuckerberg and his team of 12,000 are finding ways to get around the mainland. After all, the baby-faced CEO is determined to Facebook his way into one of the worlds biggest countries and is on a mission to bring the web to every single person on the planet. That could prove to be an impossible feat with out China in the mix.

Do not disturb…

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Expedia went shopping today and picked up vacation home rental website HomeAway for the bargain price of $3.9 billion. Actually, I’m not sure how much of a bargain that was since Expedia is paying $38.31 per share, a 20% premium over Wednesday’s closing price. But no matter as this deal might just solidify Expedia’s status as an online travel superstar. Kind of like what Amazon is to e-commerce. Some, however, are a wee bit concerned that there might just be some antitrust issues involved since Expedia has been on a bit of a shopping spree having picked up Orbitz Worldwide – which also owns Cheaptickets.com –  for $1.38 billion, and Travelocity for $280 million. And while HomeAway boasts over one million vacation home rental listings in almost 200 countries, it’s not necessarily competition to Airbnb since Airbnb lists homes as opposed to vacation rentals. In any case, the alternative accommodation space industry is estimated to be worth about $100 billion so it’s probably safe to say that there is room for a little competition.

By Jetta! 800,000 More VW’s Offend; B(u)y Jeep-ers! U.S. Auto Sales Don’t Offend; Call of Duty About to Get a Whole Lot Sweeter

This thing just keeps growing and growing…

Image courtesy of  fantasista/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of fantasista/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just when you thought it was okay to start thinking about buying a Volkswagen, the company announced that yet another 800,000 vehicles are getting caught in the toxic wind of the company’s emissions probe. This revelation was the result of an internal probe and while those cars are currently out and about, Volkswagen wants to reassure the public that the cars are still safe to drive. Just don’t breathe around them. The auto company set aside close to $7 billion hoping that amount will be enough to cover the repairs and lawsuits. It won’t be. It’s estimated that there are 11 million Volkswagens worldwide that currently have the illegal software installed. Now it’s up to newly crowned CEO Matthias Mueller, who came over from Porsche, to help save the embattled car company, which already lost a third of its value and reported its first quarterly loss in 15 years.

Speaking of cars…

Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But on this side of the pond, car companies are having a much better day than Volkswagen. In fact, GM and Fiat Chrysler are currently in the wonderful throes of their best two month stretch. Ever. Well, in 15 years anyway. Even if you weren’t one of the lucky ones to have purchased one of those vehicles, it’s still good news since increased automobile sales indicate that the U.S. economy is in fairly decent shape. Ford did okay and Nissan did a little better. But nothing like GM, whose sales were up a nice beefy 16%, even though analysts only thought its sales would increase 12%. The company did especially well with a little help from its pricey truck lines and SUV’s. Fiat Chrysler’s sales were up a very respectable 15%, selling over 195,500 cars just last month. However, the company had a humongous boost from its Jeep brand which saw a massive 33% increase. This makes it the 67th consecutive month of increased sales for Fiat Chrysler. But, what exactly, is the reason why all these people are running out and buying up cars? If you answered low gas prices, then score one for you. The national average gas price hit a new low of $2.20 a gallon, 85 cents less than last year at this time.  But low interest rates and a slew of manufacturer incentives in order to move out the 2015 inventory also helped matters. A lot.

Call of Candy Crush Duty…

Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What happens when you cross the “Call of Duty” with a bunch of confections? You get the biggest acquisition of a mobile-game. Ever. Even bigger than the much-hyped Microsoft acquisition of Mojang, maker of the very beloved “Minecraft.” That’s right, Activision Blizzard, video-game maker of perennial fave games, including “Call of Duty” and “Skylanders,” scooped up King Digital Entertainment, the force behind the highly addictive “Candy Crush,” for a whopping $5.9 billion. Activision Blizzard is getting the mobile confection game maker for $18 a share, a premium over its $17.84 closing price and $4.50 less than its $22.50 IPO.  But many are wondering if Activision’s purchase will pay off. On the one hand, this is a great way for Activation to get into the $20 billion mobile gaming industry. On the other hand, King Digital failed to impress with Candy Crush follow-ups, Farm Heroes Saga and Pet Rescue, leaving many to wonder if the company’s got anything left to show.  After all, its third quarter earnings weren’t exactly sweet and monthly active users came in at 474 million, down from last year’s 495 million.