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🚧 Tech Turmoil: Antitrust, Terminations, Triumphs

Tech giants are having a rough day today, and it’s no surprise—millions and billions down the drain for some. Adobe made a decision: no buyout for Figma, but get this—they’re still forking over a hefty $1 billion in termination fees. Ouch!

Over in Apple land, they’re yanking the S9 and Ultra2 watch models from the US market to comply with regulations. Meanwhile, Google’s shelling out $700 million to settle an antitrust lawsuit linked to its Google Play. Tough times, huh?

But hey, amidst the gloom, there’s a glimmer of joy! Blue Origin nailed it with their 24th flying mission—Bezos must be on cloud nine.

Let’s dive into the newsletter to see what Adobe and Google have in common.

MONEY MASTERY BRIEF

  • Adobe Pulls Out of $20 Billion Deal to Buy Figma
  • Apple Pauses Sales of Latest Versions of Apple Watches
  • Google to Pay $700 Million to Settle Google Play Antitrust Lawsuit
  • Blue Origin Successfully Completes 24th Mission

💔 Adobe and Figma – A Union That Never Was

Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE) and Figma are calling it quits! The grand $20 billion plan for Adobe to sweep Figma off its feet has hit the rocks. The regulatory hurdles, especially from the EU and UK, put the brakes on this design software marriage.

Adios, romantic union! Adobe couldn’t find a clear road to the “I do” due to the regulators’ frowns. They claim this merger would’ve dampened the innovation parade in the design software arena. Compromises were on the table, but Adobe waved them off, saying they’d miss out on all the goodies.

Adobe threw shade at the claim that Figma’s their direct competition, swearing Adobe XD was the lone ranger in that battle—though it’s apparently bleeding money. But alas, regulators didn’t buy it. So, Figma remains single and independent, no cozying up under Adobe’s wing for now.

Here’s the kicker: Adobe’s shelling out a hefty $1 billion as a breakup fee. Yeah, you read that right! Imagine not sealing the deal and still footing a billion-dollar bill. That’s enough to ruffle anyone’s feathers!

⌚️ Apple to Pause Apple Watch Sales

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is hitting pause on the sale of its sought-after Apple Watch S9 and Ultra2 models in the US.

Why the halt? Well, it’s all about complying with the US International Trade Commission’s orders, citing an infringement of a medtech patent held by Masimo.

The ITC’s ruling hit the nail on the head, stating that the oximeter, a feature embedded in Apple’s watches, falls under Masimo’s patent umbrella. As a result, Apple’s been given the red light to stop selling any products equipped with this feature.

These watch models are top sellers for Apple, so this timeout could pack a punch in terms of revenue, especially if it lingers. According to Bernstein, the Apple Watch chips in about $20 billion to its hefty $383.29 billion annual sales. 

Apple’s game plan? They’re planning to halt website sales by December 21 and store sales by December 24, just a day before Christmas Day.

But hold onto your hats! There might still be a glimmer of hope. Apple’s crossing its fingers for a Christmas miracle, hoping President Biden steps in and vetoes the order. This power resides solely with the president, and the last time such a move happened was back in 2013 when Obama vetoed an ITC ban on certain iPhones and iPads for stepping on Samsung’s patent toes.

Meanwhile, the ITC order lets Apple and its affiliates off the hook for importing watches with the oximeter feature until February 26 next year. However, the road ahead for the tech giant seems rocky unless they can ace their appeal game. Tough times loom on the horizon unless they can steer this ship in a different direction.

And by the way, here is our market analysis on the iPhone maker.

🧑‍⚖️ Google to Pay $700 Million

Big news on the Google front after their tussle with Epic Games over the Play store app lawsuit.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) just sealed the deal to settle an antitrust suit brought by state Attorneys General regarding their Play app store.

What’s in it? Well, Google’s shelling out a whopping $700 million and giving developers on Google Play the green light to offer direct payment choices to users.

This agreement was struck back in September, but the terms were just released. Out of that hefty sum, $630 million goes to a fund for consumers, while the rest heads to the states. It’s the second settlement in a series of three lawsuits about Google’s Play store monopoly. They’ve already made peace with Match, the parent company of Tinder and other dating apps.

But here’s the kicker: Google’s still holding its breath until 2024 for the court orders on the Epic case. They’re planning to appeal that decision. Yet, this settlement isn’t just a one-off. Google aims to use it as a blueprint to show their willingness to compromise with game developers.

Here’s the scoop for app developers: Now, they’re not tethered to using only Google for payments. But hold your horses; Google will still take a 15% cut on app subscriptions and a hefty 30% on in-app purchases. On the bright side, devs using other payment methods will get a 4% discount on those fees.

🚀 Blue Origin Launches Successfully

Bezos will be grinning ear to ear following the triumphant New Shephard launch of its 24th mission.

This uncrewed flight saw the rocket carrying 33 payloads to suborbital heights, with both the booster and crew capsule returning to Earth unscathed. After more than a year since its last flight, Blue Origin takes a leap forward.

Originally slated for December 18, the NS-24 mission faced delays due to ground issues and cold temperatures. However, with this success, the setback of the NS-23 mission in September 2022 fades into the background. Blue Origin now sets its sights on space tourism and cargo delivery.

Despite this recent milestone, it’s playing catch-up to its rival SpaceX, basking in greater success. Elon Musk’s company has launched 94 rockets this year alone and even collaborated with Amazon on transporting satellites for Project Kuiper. The space race continues, but Bezos’s grin likely signifies a step in the right direction.

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“It’s actually strange because although Jamie Dimon’s comments were a bit perplexing, internally at JPMorgan, they’re actually advancing several projects working on blockchain and crypto technology.”

– Brian Armstrong, Coinbase CEO, on the recent statement of JP Morgan CEO James Dimon calling for a crypto ban.

259,703. That is the total number of Tech layoffs this year, with 1167 companies letting workers go, according to Layoffs.fyi data. With Google discussing restructuring its ad sales unit, there could be more before the year runs out.

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Activision Blizzard will pay over $50 million to settle a lawsuit by a California regulator alleging that the company leadership ignored complaints about discrimination and sexual harassment. The California Civil Rights Department brought the lawsuit in 2021, but the company denied it. The settlement means that a claim of employment discrimination due to sexual harassment will be withdrawn. Full story

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Copilot now has a music creation feature after the integration of Suno. The feature means the AI-powered tool can now be used to compose songs by simply entering prompts. Suno can generate lyrics, instrumentals, and singing voices. We look forward to many AI-generated Christmas songs in the coming days. Full story

Bird is no longer flying. The electric scooter company filed for bankruptcy on December 20, a few months after being delisted from the NYSE. It marks an end for the micromobility company founded in 2017 and highlights what has been a rough year for micromobility companies. Bird plans to restructure with hopes of resuming operations with more sustainable growth. Meanwhile, Micromobility.com was also delisted from Nasdaq. This might be a precursor to its Chapter 11 filing. Full story

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) disclosed that its recent data breach compromised 36 million US Xfinity accounts. The breach was due to a vulnerability in Citrix software, but the company said the data had been scrambled and stored in a way that would make them unreadable by humans. Full story

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) plans to restructure its ad sales unit in a move that might lead to layoffs. The head of ad sales for the Americas, Sean Downey, disclosed this without specifying what could follow. Google’s ad sales unit is 30,000 strong, and with the company relying more on automation and machine learning, it could be looking to cut costs. Full story

Japanese conglomerate Toshiba was delisted from the Tokyo exchange on Wednesday after 74 years. The delisting follows a decade of struggles and scandals at the company that led to a $14 billion buyout. A group of investors led by Japan Industrial Partners are now taking the company private, although its future remains uncertain. Full story

Epic Games will allow blockchain games rated as Adults Only by the Entertainment Software Rating Board to return to its marketplace. Adults-only games have excessive nudity and violence and are banned from the Epic Games marketplace. But there are instances where the rating is used because the game uses blockchain tech; Epic is making an exception in such cases. Full story

Volkswagen Group will adopt Tesla‘s (NASDAQ: TSLA) EV charging standard by 2025. This means Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Scout, and its other brands will have access to the Tesla Supercharger network from then on. For now, the company is considering adding adapters to its current EVs. With the move, the automaker joins almost everyone who has already adopted the standard. Full story

Corporate buybacks continue to have a successful year with this week seeing the largest volume of corporate buyback ever, according to Bank of America.

OpenAI is improving its internal safety processes and will now give the board veto power over risky AI. This is part of its plan to prevent the creation of harmful AI and assuage concerns that it is too focused on profits.

However, the company had processes in place before now. That didn’t stop Sam Altman from winning the boardroom war over safe AI.

Would the new processes be enough to prevent another future boardroom fight in the company?

Let us know by replying YES or NO to this email.

Thanks for reading, and may your investments thrive. 🙂

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