Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the 2016-2017 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He was the lead Reuters correspondent for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign and interviewed the president at the White House in 2015. Jeff has been based in Washington since 2008, when he covered the historic race between Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Jeff started his career in Frankfurt, Germany, where he covered the airline industry before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. He is a Colorado native, proud graduate of Northwestern University and former Fulbright scholar.
Twitter handle: @jeffmason1
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Silicon Valley is driven by economic power, and the ability to transmute hard science into fortunes. But its real fuel is stories, and the quintessential American desire to believe. Apple founder Steve Jobs showed that quixotic sounding ideas sometimes become reality thanks to capital, effort and acquired knowledge. Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, meanwhile, showed sometimes they don’t.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Apple is bumping up against its iPhone limits. The smartphone market is mature, and soft demand for the $1,000-plus X model suggests the company led by Tim Cook has maxed out on pricing. The company’s just-ended quarter - revenue rose 16 percent to $61.1 billion - shows Apple can still sell a lot of phones and more accessories and services. And a robust balance sheet means it plans to repurchase another $100 billion in shares and increase the dividend. But the lack of a hot product could start to test investors’ patience.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Memories of Apple nearly going bankrupt in the mid-1990s scared Steve Jobs and his colleagues. Now worth some $840 billion, it has kept an absurdly conservative balance sheet for two decades. Apple returned about $50 billion to shareholders last fiscal year through share buybacks and dividends. Yet the company, whose free cash flow more than replenishes that every year, still had over $160 billion of net cash last quarter. Doubling the payout for three years would still leave current boss Tim Cook with all the cash he needs.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - If the tech sector is in perpetual party mode, Microsoft is its designated driver. The software giant is vying with retailer Amazon to be the planet’s second-biggest firm by market capitalization, at nearly $730 billion. Its secret is dullness and durability: the predictability of Microsoft’s earnings under boss Satya Nadella has helped the firm’s stock outperform Apple, Alphabet and Facebook over the past five years.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Google’s owner Alphabet is starting to look like alphabet soup. The tech group’s $9.4 billion of earnings in the first quarter came with new noise after it adjusted the way it accounts for investments like ride-hailing app Uber, moved some smart-home appliances into Google and started stressing “impressions” over clicks. Investors wanting concrete measurements are getting squishy ones instead.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Mark Zuckerberg could learn from Jamie Dimon. In the decade since the financial crisis, JPMorgan’s boss has regularly confronted issues and explained the firm’s strategy. Social networks, like banks, rely on confidence to survive and thrive. With Facebook facing a crisis of its own, its founder would do well to recognize that.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Spotify won a stonking $29 billion valuation in its early moments as a public company. The music-streaming service’s non-traditional float saved on investment-banking fees, gave insiders a potential way out, and also notched up a far higher valuation – at least to begin with – than the prices at which its stock had traded while privately held. Was it a real victory, either for the company or for its unusual method? Ask this time next year.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Facebook's social contract is coming unstuck. Its users provide massive amounts of data, which the company uses to sell advertising. In return, it provides a free service. The same is true of search engine Google. But while more data makes Google's service better and more accurate, it has tended to make Facebook less entertaining. With questions about how Facebook data was used in political campaigns, that could make users more wary of the trade-off.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Dropbox's initial public offering stores good news for upcoming tech floats. The online-storage firm’s shares rocketed about 50 percent in its first hours as a public company. The rousing welcome for a $12 billion tech firm aimed at consumers is heartening for Spotify. And it could accelerate IPO plans for firms like Airbnb and Lyft.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Developers of self-driving cars have a legal lesson to learn from the pharmaceuticals industry. Autonomous vehicles should make road deaths like the one this week involving an Uber prototype a rarity. Paradoxically, as drugmakers found with vaccines, remaining mishaps may increase legal costs and drive companies out of the market. The pharma industry, though, found a solution.