Good morning everyone,
Today we’ve got a friendly reminder that the device you’re reading this very newsletter on is almost certainly running on an Intel chip that’s susceptible to ZombieLoad. Oh, and we’re quantifying just how terrible Uber’s life as a public company has been.
Enjoy the next 4 minutes and 19 seconds.
Jeff & Jason
Hack to hack
Tuesday wasn’t a great day for people who value their privacy. Two major security breaches were revealed by Intel and WhatsApp that potentially put billions of users at risk.
For Intel, a flaw in its hardware allowed for hackers to eavesdrop on just about every piece of raw data that your computer touches. And WhatsApp, which for the record is owned by Facebook, revealed a software flaw that allowed The NSO Group, an Israeli spy firm, to access phone data by installing malware with just a phone call.
Almost every computer with an Intel chip dating back as far as 2011 was at risk for an attack called ZombieLoad, which sounds a lot like some sort of Walking Dead fan-fiction porn, that targeted its processors.
Through a series of four bugs, hackers are able to exploit design flaws rather than having to go through the trouble of inputting code. In theory, hackers would be able to see which websites a person is visiting in real time. Yes, even in incognito mode. Researchers reported the flaw to Intel just last month and many hardware and software manufacturers released patches yesterday.
For WhatsApp, a more “traditional” software hack using malware is wreaking havoc. As recently as Sunday, The NSO Group was able to place a phone call, which iPhone and Android users didn’t need to answer, in order to install surveillance software on the device.
NSO sound familiar? The group is the reason your coworker puts a sticker over their laptop camera. The company’s most well-known software, Pegasus, is able to remotely access the camera and microphone of a device without alerting the user. Luckily, NSO software is usually reserved for targeting high-level activists and journalists. In other words, you’re probably not important enough to spy on.
Bottom line: “Ian Fleming would be rolling in his grave if he saw how nerdy spying has become.” – Jason
Disney and Comcast have agreed to a deal that will give Mickey Mouse’s creator “full operational control” of Hulu. The deal is structured so that Disney will take over operations now and Comcast will have the option to sell its stake back as early as 2024. Hulu’s value is estimated to be around $27B by then, but, Comcast is guaranteed at least $5.8B on the sale.
Let’s break this down
When Hulu launched in 2008, it had four parent companies. As it stands now, Disney and Comcast own 66% and 33% (don’t @ me about the missing 1%) of the streaming service, respectively, after AT&T agreed to sell its stake back to Hulu last month. As the last remaining stakeholder, it appears Comcast realized it was time to GTFO … and that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ isn’t actually that good.
Of course, the writing was on the wall that a partnership probably wouldn’t be easy as the streaming wars heat up. Disney’s $7.99/month Disney+ will go head to head with NBCUniversal’s upcoming $12/month streaming service. Plus, Disney agreed to pay Comcast for licensing some of its content. And cash flow is king, baby!
With Comcast out of the way, Disney can start utilizing Hulu to grow its empire and develop programming for adults. The Disney+ service will be aimed at providing programs to families. Hulu and its ability to live stream TV and sports could be a rainmaker.
Bottom line: “Who knew Hulu came from such a broken home?” – Jeff
“Lyft, hold my beer.”
Uber hasn’t quite had a fairy tale beginning as a public company. Down 18% in its first two days following its IPO, the ride-hailing company still nets negative double digits after increasing over 7% during trading Tuesday.
And yesterday news broke that Uber’s underwriters, led by Morgan Stanley, were so concerned about the stock performing poorly that they deployed a “naked short.” Going above and beyond a “green shoe,” a naked short allows underwriters to sell more shares than the additional 15% allotted as part of a green shoe. These shares are then repurchased on the open market in the event that the stock is, as they say, sh*tting the bed.
While it shares the same name as the practice that was outlawed during the ‘08 financial crisis, the practice is legal according to the SEC and was named as a potential possibility in Uber’s disclosure document.
This technique, however, is rarely used, as the bank could be SOL in the case that the stock actually went up. Luckily for them, Morgan Stanley and the gang had nothing to worry about.
Bottom line: “This is what I think of when I see the words ‘naked short.’” – Jason
IN OTHER NEWS
- Stocks bounced back on Tuesday after what else, a tweet from POTUS, hinted at getting a trade deal done with China. The DJIA, S&P, and NASDAQ all jumped at least eight-tenths of a percent to claw back some of the losses from Monday. The markets are off 3.8% from highs on April 30th as trade tensions have created tremendous uncertainty.
- Citigroup and India based digital payment company Paytm are teaming up to launch its first credit card. The platform currently has 350M users and is looking for ways to generate additional revenue outside of digital payments, that generally are free. Bigger banks, naturally, are trying to piggyback off the fintech startups success and get in with the yutes.
- “We see you Bezos, and we’re all in,” – The Waltons. The most famous retailer in Bentonville is offering one-day shipping at more locations in order to keep up with Amazon’s plan for one-day delivery. Walmart is set to begin offering one-day shipping on 200k products in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Southern California areas this week. More locations will be rolled out later this year.
- The big short! Fidelity is dropping Goldman Sachs as its middle man for dealing with short sellers. Rather than ask Goldman to manage this lending business, the mutual fund giant is bringing the activity in-house. The company believed the 10% of revenue from lending that it was paying to Goldman will help make up for revs lost in the low-cost index funds now being offered.