TIME Companies

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook Has Plans to Give Away All His Wealth

Apple CEO Tim Cook attends an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, on March 9, 2015
Stephen Lam—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook attends an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, on March 9, 2015

“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change”

After paying for his 10-year-old nephew’s college tuition, Apple CEO Tim Cook says, he plans on leaving all his wealth — which today amounts to $120 million — to good causes.

But he won’t simply be writing checks. In an in-depth profile piece featured in the April 1 issue of Fortune magazine, Cook says he wants to approach philanthropy with a coherent, thoughtful, game plan.

“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” he told Fortune.

To read the entire profile of Tim Cook, click here.

MONEY Tech

Why Won’t Google Just Let Google Glass Die?

150326_INV_DIEGOOGLEGLASS
Phillip Bond—Alamy

Despite heavy criticism and disappointing sales, the search king is sticking with its Glass initiative.

Google GOOGLE INC. GOOG -0.8% board Chairman Eric Schmidt has never been shy about pushing the envelope in the company’s penchant for innovation. Its ongoing experiments with a self-driving car and those odd-shaped balloons in Project Loon (Google’s effort to beam Internet connectivity to remote regions of the world) are just a couple examples.

However, Google didn’t stop with the cars and balloons. Word has it Google is also working on nanotechnology that would seek out and diagnose cancer and heart disease, among other ailments. That’s heady stuff, and supports the notion that Google is one of the most innovative companies on the planet.

Then there’s Glass. Google’s wearable initiative might have topped the innovation list; instead, after lackluster sales and consumer angst, Google shut down its “Explorer” program, which seemingly put an end to an unsuccessful bid to bring Jetsons-like devices to the world. But according to a recent interview, Schmidt simply won’t let Glass die. And that’s a mistake.

Knowing when to say when

Conceptualizing, let alone developing, the aforementioned innovative technologies speaks volumes about Google. But as with any company willing to take calculated risks that result in fundamental changes in the way consumers live, there are misses along the way.

Longtime Google nemesis Apple APPLE INC. AAPL -0.11% didn’t become the largest company in the world thanks to its digital assistant Newton or the wildly unpopular Pippin gaming console. And those are not even in the same innovation ballpark as nanotechnology pills, let alone Google Glass. But from a business perspective there sometimes comes a time to cut the cord — when did you last see a Newton? — and for Google Glass, that time has come and gone.

What’s the problem?

A big concern, certainly from an investor’s perspective, is there’s no mass market for Glass. While the notion of a fully connected, powerful computer wearable device — which Glass was intended to be — has potential, continuing to pour resources into something consumers aren’t interested in isn’t warranted.

Although Google hasn’t revealed the cost of developing Glass, let alone its ongoing overhead to build a new version with longer battery life, better sound, and improved display, it certainly hasn’t been cheap. For shareholders to get a return on that investment, Glass will need to become a mainstream success, and that’s not going to happen.

It could be argued there is a niche business case for Glass. It could make sense for engineers who want to view detailed 3D specs of a building while it’s being built, or for doctors and other professionals needing to access reference data and communicate on the fly. But Google has put too much money and time into Glass for it to simply meet a few, specific needs. And Schmidt has made it clear: Google intends to bring Glass to the masses.

But according to IDC, by 2018 the entire wearable device market will total a (relatively) paltry 112 million units. To put that in perspective, that same year 1.9 billion smartphones are expected to be shipped globally.

The insurmountable problem

Why is there no market for Glass? After all, Glass is actually a stand-alone, Internet-connected device, unlike the new Apple Watch that has garnered so much press. Apple Watch is like virtually every other device of its ilk: It requires a smartphone to utilize most features, which include what amount to a pager and health monitor. Meanwhile, Glass has actual computing functions, including pictures, audio, and surfing the Internet.

The problems began with poor aesthetics. The first versions of Glass were simply not something most consumers would wear. Google is rumored to be working with designers to remedy the appearance problem, but the poor looks pale in comparison to the biggest concern: privacy. Nearly two years ago, even as Glass was in its earliest stages, a laundry list of industries, including banks, sports arenas, and hospitals, banned Glass.

In some instances the concerns were safety-related, but many restaurants and other public businesses banned Glass because of how uncomfortable it makes their patrons. The notion of Glass owners surreptitiously taking pictures of complete strangers and recording their conversations leaves a lot of people — understandably — uncomfortable.

With privacy becoming more of a concern with each passing day, overcoming that challenge could prove impossible for Glass, rendering it unmarketable. Speaking of Glass, Schmidt said, “These things take time.” True, cutting-edge innovations do take time to develop, and sometimes even to catch on. But all the time in the world won’t help Glass. Sometimes, Google, you have to know when to say when.

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TIME Tech

More Messages Are Now Sent on Apps Than Through Text

The ten most popular messaging apps have a total of more than 3 billion accounts

More messages are now sent via messaging app WhatsApp than through SMS texts, according to data from The Economist. WhatsApp handles 30 billion messages each day, compared to 20 billion sent through SMS texts.

The data hints at the growing significance of messaging apps in the tech world. The ten most popular messaging apps have a total of more than 3 billion accounts. To guarantee a large share of the market, Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion last year.

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app with more than 600 million users. Facebook messenger and WeChat follow, each with more than 400 million users.

Last year, WhatsApp users sent more than 7 trillion messages.

[The Economist]

MONEY Tech

3 Companies Apple Needs to Watch Out For

Apple Store, 5th Avenue, New York
Alamy

The world's most valuable tech company is riding high, but there are a few companies it should notice in the rearview mirror.

Apple APPLE INC. AAPL -0.11% is on top of the world. The stock hit a new all-time high late last month, and now the market is looking forward to next month’s debut of the Apple Watch as the class act of Cupertino makes its first push into wearable computing.

This doesn’t mean that the coast is clear for Apple. There are a few companies that may have Apple in their crosshairs, and we asked our Motley Fool investing experts which companies they thought that Apple can’t ignore if it wants to stay on top.

Rick Munarriz: There isn’t a riverboat gambler as gutsy as Amazon.com’s AMAZON.COM INC. AMZN 0.87% Jeff Bezos in consumer tech, and that could spell trouble for Apple down the line. Bezos conceded late last year that he has spent billions on failures at the leading online retailer, but that hasn’t stopped him from placing more bold bets. He’s crazy as a fox, and margin-heavy Apple is the mother of all hen houses.

Amazon isn’t afraid to sacrifice margins for the sake of market share, explaining why you can buy a Kindle e-reader for as little as $79 and a Kindle Fire tablet for less than $100. His aim isn’t always true. Last year’s Fire Phone was a flop, and that’s comforting for Apple investors since the iPhone accounted for more than two-thirds of Apple’s sales in its latest quarter. However, with Kindle and Fire TV products butting heads with pricier Apple counterparts the battle is real. Apple rightfully commands a market premium for its products, but with Bezos willing to take big hits in the pursuit of relevance it’s a hard company to dismiss in Apple’s rearview mirror.

Dan Caplinger: Many investors see Garmin GARMIN LTD. GRMN 0.4% as already having gotten defeated by Apple and other mobile-device makers, as the company that pioneered special-purpose GPS devices for navigation has found that smartphones like Apple’s iPhone have enough navigational prowess to handle ordinary GPS applications like driving directions without a custom device. Yet as Apple prepares to move into the smartwatch market with its Apple Watch, Garmin will once again pose a competitive threat that Apple will have to overcome.

Garmin has done a good job of catering to enthusiasts with its watch offerings. Its D2 Pilot and Quatix Marine watches help airplane pilots and boat captains handle essential navigational tasks, with specific capabilities that an all-purpose watch like Apple Watch won’t be able to match. At the same time, Garmin has a good reputation for its fitness products, with the Forerunner series of high-end watches providing independent GPS navigation without the need for wireless connectivity along with a host of heart-rate and physical-performance metrics for avid runners, cyclists, and other athletes.

Garmin’s focus on specialized niches has served it well after losing much of its all-purpose GPS business. To maximize its success, Apple will have to lure some of Garmin’s loyal customers away by going beyond basic apps to take full advantage of whatever technological capabilities the Apple Watch ends up having.

Tim Beyers: Web-based computing is no longer a “someday” affair. For evidence, look at the astounding growth of salesforce.com. The poster company for cloud computing doubled earnings per share in the latest quarter as revenue soared 25.7% and its backlog of booked business grew to a whopping $9 billion.

Importantly, salesforce isn’t the only one seeing heightened interest in cloud alternatives. In its annual report on the state of the cloud, hosting provider RightScale said that 88% of the 930 IT professionals it surveyed are using the public cloud to power apps and get business done.

Why should Apple investors care? The iEmpire banks on attracting users into a closed, device-dependent ecosystem. Richer cloud environments could help break the company’s vice grip on users, and no one is working harder than Google GOOGLE INC. GOOGL -1.08% to enable this future.

Success has come slowly but surely. According to Net Applications, Chrome has consistently grown its share of the browser market since April of last year. (From 17.92% then, to 24.69% as of February.) Chromebooks are also on the rise, accounting for 25% of low-cost laptops sold in the U.S. Sales are on track to nearly triple over the next three years, Gartner reports.

For now, Chromebooks are limited in scope and functionality when compared to a full-blown Mac. What happens when that’s no longer true? What happens when I can get a high-performance Alienware laptop built to run Chrome OS apps as fast and functionally as native software on a MacBook? That could take years, of course. But it’ll be a disruptive day for Apple when it finally arrives.

TIME Autos

How Silicon Valley Suddenly Fell in Love With Cars

Tesla Model S.
Tesla Tesla's battery makes it cleaner than gas-guzzling alternatives—but think about what else it's made of.

The last great remaining American preoccupation tech hasn't yet tackled is the automobile. That's about to change

“The American really loves nothing but his automobile,” Gavin Stevens says in Faulkner’s Intruder in the Dust. “Because the automobile has become our national sex symbol.” Given that longtime infatuation, you’d think Silicon Valley’s tech companies would have been eager to get into the auto industry before now. Instead, many are surprised that it’s happening at all.

Ever since the personal computer became mainstream, Silicon Valley has been inventing or reinventing new gadgets: the music player, the phone, the computer itself, first as a portable, now as a tablet. Amazon remade the shopping mall and put it on a screen. Netflix and YouTube subverted the TV set, and now Google’s Nest is going after other household appliances. This year, Apple is reworking the wristwatch, casting tech as jewelry.

The last great remaining American preoccupation that tech hasn’t yet tackled is the automobile. Much of this has to do with logistics–selling phones or music players is child’s play next to the expensive, highly regulated business of manufacturing cars–but there’s also a historical mindset at work. Detroit, with its combustion engines and metallic gears, was the epitome of an analog era that Silicon Valley displaced. The car was an anachronism, however beloved.

No longer. Google has been working on self-driving cars for a number of years. Uber has started looking into them as well. Now, according to the ever-churning Apple rumor mill, the Cupertino giant is working on a stealth car project. For tech companies, the automobile has gone from a super-sized docket to park a smartphone while you drive to a gadget that can be reimagined from the ground up with digital technology.

The sudden shift is happening for a few reasons. First, with PCs, tablets and smartphone markets close to saturation, tech giants are looking for new markets to invade with their innovations. Second, the car market seems ripe for a makeover. American automakers like GM may be reviving post-financial crisis, but the U.S. looks to have reached “peak driving:” Annual miles driven per person is down 9% from 1995, and even more among young drivers.

But the biggest single reason tech suddenly loves the car is Tesla. The company founded by Elon Musk in 2003 to make electric cars has become much more: It has fused the automaker with the tech company, and not only built a cultural bridge between Detroit and Silicon Valley but showed that both were converging toward each other.

Tesla was a wake-up call to automakers that had grown complacent about innovation. It showed that technology was a powerful way to differentiate a particular model from the herd, and that if automakers wanted to reach out to younger consumers, they should embrace the kinds of technology they enjoy. Soon, you began to hear auto executives talk about “smarter cars” and roadways as “connected networks” structured like the Internet (15 years ago, that simile ran mostly in the opposite direction).

Read more: How Apple Is Invading Our Bodies

Google CEO Larry Page has said his interest in driverless cars stems from the inefficiency of roadways, which not only cost lives but waste worker time in traffic jams. (It doesn’t hurt, either, that driverless cars could offer commuters more opportunity to look at Google ads.) Uber is also researching self-driving cars to lower costs for its passenger service as well as a planned delivery service.

The loudest buzz surrounds Project Titan, a rumored Apple car that in reality could be pretty much anything: an electric vehicle, a leased minivan, a driverless car, a ploy to acquire Tesla, a bluff to pressure automakers into putting its CarPlay software in their vehicles, or a clever Apple hoax trolling Apple rumor-mongers. Wall Street analysts, though, think an Apple car is the likely bet, and if so the marriage of Detroit and Silicon Valley is a matter of time.

If nothing else, Apple’s rumored entry into automobiles seems to have turned up the heat. Last week, Musk said Tesla would start offering “autopilot” technology in its cars this summer. Google said its more ambitious driverless-car system would be ready for broad consumption in five years.

But the dark-horse in this new race may be Samsung, which according to Thomson Reuters has “has the largest and broadest collection of patents in the automotive field including a very large interest in batteries and fuel cells for next generation vehicles.” If automobile technology boils down to a patent race, Samsung may end up having an edge. Samsung even has some history in car manufacturing.

The end goal of these tech aspirations in the automotive industry may well be partnerships with established manufacturers. After all, what company is dying to break into a low-margin heavy industry? Many auto executives scoff at the idea that jumping from smartphones to cars is good idea. They may be surprised. Cars are just another form of technology, albeit one in need of an upgrade. And who is better positioned to upgrade them Apple or Google?

TIME 2016 Election

Ted Cruz Doesn’t Own TedCruz.Com

Ted Cruz Announcement
Tom Williams — Roll Call/Getty Images Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a convocation at Liberty University's Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va., where he announced his candidacy for president on March 23, 2015.

An Obama supporter does

Sen. Ted Cruz may have been the first Republican to declare his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race, but he appears to have missed the boat on purchasing a web domain featuring his own name.

Instead, web users landing at tedcruz.com see only two phrases: “Support President Obama” and “Immigration Reform Now!”

With the .com domain out of the picture, the Texas senator has officially settled with tedcruz.org, instead.

MONEY online shopping

FAA Gives Amazon Permission to Test Delivery Drones

Amazon's ambitious Prime Air drone delivery service took another step forward Thursday, after the FAA gave the company permission to test its drones.

TIME Tech

Facebook Sued for Sex Discrimination, Harassment

A former employee of Facebook filed a lawsuit this week accusing the company of gender and racial discrimination as well as sexual harassment. What’s more, the woman is represented by lawyers who are also involved in another sexism case that is currently the talk of Silicon Valley.

Chia Hong, the former Facebook employee who sued the social networking giant Monday, claims she suffered three years of harassment during stints as a program manager and technology partner. She alleges that she was wrongfully terminated in October 2013 after she complained about being harassed and discriminated against by her boss, Anil Wilson, and by dozens of other colleagues, based on her gender, race and Taiwanese nationality.

Facebook has denied Hong’s allegations.

“We work extremely hard on issues related to diversity, gender and equality, and we believe we’ve made progress,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “In this case we have substantive disagreements on the facts, and we believe the record shows the employee was treated fairly.”

Hong is represented by the San Francisco-based employment law firm Lawless & Lawless, which is also part of the legal team currently representing former venture capitalist Ellen Pao in her high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against blue clip Silicon Valley investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Pao, who currently serves as interim CEO of Reddit, sued Kleiner Perkins in 2012 in a $16 million lawsuit in which she accuses the firm of gender discrimination for passing her over for promotions frequently during her time working at the firm.

The trial for Pao’s case started last month and has generated its fair share of national news coverage as the lawsuit plays into longstanding criticisms of Silicon Valley’s gender gap and the perception of the tech industry as a male-dominated environment.

Meanwhile, Hong’s lawsuit isn’t Facebook’s only current legal issue. Last week, a federal judge allowed a nationwide class-action lawsuit against the company to move forward. That suit involves the claims of plaintiffs, estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands, who are seeking refunds from Facebook for money their children spent on the website without parental permission.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME sexism

Google Exec Eric Schmidt Called Out for Interrupting the Only Woman on Panel

How Innovation Happens - 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival
Amy E. Price—2015 Amy E. Price Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google speaks onstage at 'How Innovation Happens' during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center on March 16, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)

Hint: don't manterrupt when a woman is talking about corporate diversity

After a panel on innovation at SXSW in Austin on Monday, Google executive Eric Schmidt was called out for repeatedly interrupting U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, the only woman on the panel.

During a Q&A session after the panel, someone pointed out that Schmidt was repeatedly interrupting Smith without noticing, and asked Smith how she felt about the unconscious bias that affects women. It turns out that the person who called out Schmidt was Judith Williams, who just happens to be the Global Diversity and Talent Program manager at Google.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 4.49.35 PM

While she didn’t use that specific phrase, Williams was criticizing Schmidt for “manterrupting” Smith, a phrase my colleague Jessica Bennett brought to light earlier this year. Here’s how she describes it:

We speak up in a meeting, only to hear a man’s voice chime in louder. We pitch an idea, perhaps too uncertainly – only to have a dude repeat it with authority. We may possess the skill, but he has the right vocal cords – which means we shut up, losing our confidence (or worse, the credit for the work) … And the result? Women hold back. That, or we relinquish credit altogether. Our ideas get co-opted (bro-opted), re-appropriated (bro-propriated?) — or they simply fizzle out. We shut down, become less creative, less engaged. We revert into ourselves, wondering if it’s actually our fault. Enter spiral of self-doubt.

It’s a handy reminder: no matter how important you are, wait your turn.

[h/t Jezebel]

Read next: How to Speak With Power

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY Tech

How Apple Could Move the Price of Gold

An Apple Watch Edition, which is made from 18-carat solid gold, on display
Martyn Landi—PA Wire An Apple Watch Edition, which is made from 18-carat solid gold, on display

Depending on how many Apple Watch Edition units Apple sells, it could easily become one of the single largest buyers of gold, if not the largest, in the world.

When Apple APPLE INC. AAPL -0.11% steps into a market, it steps in. The latest market that Apple is preparing to jump headfirst into is the nascent smartwatch market. But with Apple Watch Edition, the 18-karat gold models that start at $10,000, that also entails entering the gold commodity market.

Given Apple’s sheer global scale when it comes to producing gadgets that consumers line up around the block for, Apple will inevitably become a very large player in the gold market. Apple has long been the single largest buyer of NAND flash memory in the world, so it carries disproportionate weight in that market. Could the same thing be about to happen for Apple in the gold market?

A numbers game

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was preparing to order 1 million Apple Watch Edition units per month during the second quarter. Apple says that each Apple Watch Edition case will weigh between 54 grams and 69 grams.

Size Rose Gold Yellow Gold
38 mm 54 grams 55 grams
42 mm 67 grams 69 grams

Without knowing what Apple Watch Edition’s product mix will look like, let’s just use 61.5 grams as the average. Apple Watch Edition will be 18-karat gold, or 75% purity, which implies approximately 46.1 grams of gold per case on average. That would be just about 1.5 troy ounces (which is 46.65 grams) of gold per case.

At 12 million units per year, that translates into 560 metric tons of gold that Apple would need. That would be nearly a fifth of the record 3,114 metric tons of gold that was mined globally in 2014, according to the World Gold Council.

12 million units is too much

Fellow Fool Adam Levine-Weinberg points out that 1 million units per month is clearly unrealistic when annualized, since 12 million units per year would translate into at least $120 billion in revenue in the first year. That would be compared to the current trailing-12-month revenue base of nearly $200 billion. As much as Apple investors would love to see that type of immediate growth from Apple Watch, it’s simply not happening.

Rather, the more likely explanation is that Apple may be ordering 1 million per month only in the second quarter for some early channel fill, and that production rate will decline as it reaches its target range for channel inventory. Apple won’t even know what its target range will be until it reaches supply/demand balance.

Additionally, Apple is using a custom alloy utilizing adjusted quantities of silver, copper, and palladium in order to strengthen the metal.

For these reasons, it’s difficult to accurately estimate how much gold Apple would actually consume each year. But even using conservative figures — for example, 5 million Apple Watch Edition units per year using 1 troy ounce each would still require 5% of the world’s annual gold production — Apple will undoubtedly become a major player in the gold market.

Living on the hedge

Gold is a particularly volatile commodity to purchase. Just look at how the spot price of gold has fluctuated over the past year.

The spot price of gold is currently around $1,160, quite a bit lower than the all-time high of over $1,900 set in 2011. Component cost volatility is easily the largest contributor to Apple’s gross margin volatility, and entering the gold commodity market could take Apple’s gross margin volatility to a whole new level.

Of course, it’s not as if Apple just walks into the gold market and pays spot prices. Much like how it procures other components, it will likely utilize a wide range of forward contracts and supplier prepayments as a way to hedge against volatility. But hedging is not without risks, and hedges can become quite costly if you misjudge market movements. Just ask Delta Air Lines about how its fuel hedges performed last quarter. At times, gold can be even more volatile than crude oil.

Apple has already been increasing its hedging activity recently to accommodate for currency volatility, since foreign exchange movements have been hurting profitability in international markets. Adding gold to its hedging strategy isn’t a stretch of the imagination.

Just like the NAND flash memory market, Apple will likely soon have a big say in the price of gold.

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