Code/red: Apple PR Impresario Katie Cotton to Retire
// HAPPENING TODAY
- Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will drop by TechCrunch Disrupt to dodge some questions.
- AOL will be hammered following an earnings miss.
- Tesla will report earnings after the bell.
- The House Judiciary Committee will meet to mark up the USA Freedom Act, which is intended to temper the NSA’s mass surveillance efforts.
- The Energy and Commerce Committee will meet to mull the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters act (DOTCOM, get it?).
Katie Cotton, Communications VP Who Helped Shape Apple’s Story, Retiring
Big news out of Apple today. Katie Cotton, who as VP of worldwide corporate communications at Apple has helped steward the announcement of some of tech’s most transformative products, is retiring. During her nearly two decades at Apple, Cotton served as gatekeeper to company co-founder Steve Jobs and current CEO Tim Cook, and guided the media narrative around pretty much everything from the iMac to the iPad. She’s long been among the company’s most powerful executives and played a key role in shaping the mystique and exclusivity surrounding the Apple brand. Her departure from Apple is a milestone. “Katie has given her all to this company for over 18 years,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said in a statement. “She has wanted to spend time with her children for some time now. We are really going to miss her.” Reached for comment, Cotton told Code/red her decision to leave Apple was among the most difficult of her career. “This is hard for me,” she said. “Apple is a part of my heart and soul.”
Softbank CEO: Alibaba Is a Strategic Partner — Until It’s Not
With a 34.4 percent stake in Alibaba, Japan’s SoftBank is the e-commerce giant’s largest shareholder, one that could make billions from its upcoming IPO. But it has no plans to do so — not right now, anyway. “We do not plan to sell the shares of Alibaba because they are a strategic group for our company,” SoftBank CEO and Alibaba board member Masa Son said during the company’s earnings call Wednesday. Of course that doesn’t mean we promise to hold it forever.” Interesting caveat, that. Particularly since selling off some of SoftBank’s Alibaba stake could presumably further Son’s ambitions in the U.S wireless industry.
Biggest Tech IPO Ever Actually Just a Pit Stop for Gas
Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma: “A public listing has never been our goal. It is one important strategy and vehicle for fulfilling our mission. It is a gas station along the road to the future. But [our employees] should be conscious that, lying behind the massive allure of the capital market, there is unparalleled ruthlessness and pressure. In this market, only a small number of outstanding enterprises can maintain a gallop.”
No Word Yet on Musk’s Advice for Gundlach …
DoubleLine Capital founder Jeffrey Gundlach has some unsolicited advice for Tesla founder Elon Musk: Make batteries, not cars.
iPad — The Meryl Streep of Customer Satisfaction
Another customer-satisfaction win for Apple, and one we’ll almost certainly see shown off at the company’s next tablet event. The iPad has once again claimed top honors in J.D. Power and Associates’ U.S. Tablet Satisfaction Study, beating out Samsung, Amazon, Acer and Asus.
Jack White’s Ultra LP Full of Groovy Features
Selected features from the upcoming “Ultra LP” version of Jack White’s Lazaretto.
- 180 gram vinyl.
- One hidden track plays at 78 RPM, one plays at 45 RPM, making this a three-speed record.
- Side A plays from the inside out.
- Dual-groove technology: Plays an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink” depending on where needle is dropped. The grooves meet for the body of the song.
- Dead wax area on Side A contains a hand-etched hologram by Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science, the first of its kind on a vinyl record.
AOL CEO: I Don’t Really Have Much to Say About Alibaba, but Here Are Some Words
Wondering what AOL CEO Tim Armstrong thinks about Alibaba’s upcoming IPO? No? Me neither, but Bloomberg asked him, and here’s what he had to say: “I think [Alibaba’s IPO] is really exciting. I think that in our lifetime, the Internet has been a big impact. … I think the fact that they are coming to the U.S. to do their IPO really is about the full access of globalization. It is very exciting, the combination of countries coming together and the Internet bringing them together in terms of the scale. So I think it is probably a fundamental game change moment for all of us.”
Platinum Play Super-Awesome Cable Bundle Mostly Crap
Further evidence that the pay-TV business model is hopelessly broken: TV viewers watch only a fraction of the channels available to them. According to a new study from Nielsen, the typical American household has about 189 channels from which to choose, yet it only watches 17.5 of them regularly. That’s just slightly more than the 17.3 channels it watched in 2008, when it received an average of 129.3 channels. In other words, a 46 percent increase in channel count over the last five years has done almost nothing to increase channel consumption. Consumers are paying for a lot of TV they never watch. No wonder Comcast and Time Warner Cable lost a combined 1.1 million subscribers last year.
“The Truth” in This Case Being Requests for Anonymous Sex
David Byttow, co-founder of anonymous messaging app Secret: “We’re trying to build a well-lit space where the truth can shine free.”
David Einhorn Releases Hot Air From Tech Bubble
Two weeks after adding his voice to the growing Greek chorus of market watchers warning of a tech stock bubble, Greenlight Capital founder David Einhorn is seeing champagne. Turns out that we are not “witnessing our second tech bubble in 15 years,” as Einhorn wrote in an April investor letter. Instead, what we’re seeing is a proliferation of smaller bubbles, which may someday prove lucrative to hedge fund managers with the foresight to build a special little contraption in which to collect them. “I’d like to clarify Greenlight’s remarks about a new technology bubble,” Einhorn told Bloomberg on Tuesday. “In general, we are bullish on technology and technology stocks. However, we have identified a number of momentum technology stocks that have reached prices beyond any normal sense of valuation. We believe that they are in a bubble, and we have shorted a good number of them in what we call the ‘bubble basket.'”