The pits and peaks of tech in 2012

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2012 was a year in which technology and media companies were engaged in a veritable hive of activity and it produced a few winners and more losers. When taking a period of activity in review, I often talk about pits and peaks. Let’s take a look at some of Tech’s “pits and peaks” of 2012:

Acquisitions

Pit

Zynga’s acquisition of OMGPOP: Zynga bought OMGPOP, the creators of Draw Something in March and have since posted less than impressive earnings, and while the stock enjoyed highs in the teens, it now sits around US$2 and has had to write down between US$85 and US$95m associated with the OMGPOP acquisition.

Peak

Instagram getting acquired by Facebook: Instagram’s employees must be on cloud nine after their rollercoaster year of being officially acquired for $730m. The price of the acquisition was originally slated at $1bn, but Facebook’s falling share price (from $30 < to < $24) has decreased the costs of the sale. Instagram showed that a very lean start-up could achieve greatness through scale and innovation. More than 5-billion photos have officially been shared on Instagram.

Leadership

Peak

Yahoo! getting Marissa Mayer: It’s obviously impossible to make a judgement in 6 months, especially when the CEO has given birth within them. With that said, the stock rose significantly when she was hired and continues to look positive as they have reached an 18 month high.

Pit

HP’s US$8.8bn write-down: The world’s largest PC manufacturer is dying after having to deal with the fallout over its 2011 $10bn acquisition of the software company Autonomy. Autonomy allegedly committed serious accounting improprieties which inflated its value. The write down cost HP all of its Q3 profit and sunk its already record low stock by a further 12% after the announcement. Indicators suggest that this is soon going to result in a motion of no-confidence in Meg Whitman as the CEO.

Special mention

Groupon: The group deal buying company IPO’d at $20, the share price is now $4; its dodgy business model has left suppliers having to fork out tons of under-priced products and services for once-off customers that are merely taking advantage of a price cut and don’t plan on returning; and it has just laid of 80 sales staff. It’s only redeeming quality has been the investment in 65-million shares (a 9.9% stake) by Tiger Global Investments LP which raised the stock price 10%.

Mobile

Peak

Samsung: Despite their legal wrangling with Apple, Samsung is soon going to be making more money off Android than Google is making in total. Samsung’s phones have shipped more than all of Apple’s and their availability in the retail sector is staggering.

Pit

HTC is not selling nearly as many phones as they used to. Sales of Android based phones are down 36% and what’s really sad is that their flagship phone, the One X, is just as good as Samsung’s Galaxy S III. It seems that HTC lost the marketing war as Samsung spent more money on taking on the Apple machine as well as pandering to the whims of American carriers AT&T which requested exclusive phones for their network and got them.

Special mention

BlackBerry: RIM is falling behind Android and Apple in terms of units shipped and innovation. The average user yawns when they hear about the launch of Blackberry 10. Sony and Nokia continue to lose money as their devices come nowhere close.

Social media

Pit

#McDStories: In January, McDonalds promoted two trends on Twitter: #meetthefarmers and #mcdstories. #Mcdstories turned into a nightmare for the chain as users started telling horror stories about being high in their restaurants as well as throwing up their food – here’s another stinger:

Peak

Bodyform: Irritated boyfriend, Richard Neill, posted a complaint on Bodyform’s Facebook page about how “that time of the month” is falsely portrayed in their advertisements. Bodyform created a spoof video of an actress playing their CEO, Caroline Williams, in which she does a great job of dispelling the myths behind periods and ends off with a fart for good measure.

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