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Posted at 8:24 AM ET, 01/18/2011

The Circuit: Apple earnings call; FCC may approve NBC-U, Comcast merger today; Goldman bars U.S. investors on Facebook deal

By Hayley Tsukayama

LEADING THE DAY: After announcing tMonday that chief executive Steve Jobs will take an indefinite leave of absence, Apple will hold its earnings call at 5 p.m. today EST. It's expected to be a strong quarter for the Cupertino, Calif.- based company as it comes off strong sales over the holidays.

Despite high sales numbers, Apple may be in a bit of trouble with its investors over the way it does business. Not only has the company, which is known for its secrecy, kept information about Jobs' health under wraps, it's also been getting criticism from its investors over the amount of cash it's holding. As the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday morning, investor Christopher Bonavico has publicly voiced his frustrations with the company's cash stockpile, which the Wall Street Journal said is expected to grow to $70 billion by the end of the year. Bonavico said that holding on to that much cash is "egregious."

Over at Fortune Tech, Phillip Elmer-DeWitt expressed annoyance over the close timing of the announcement and call, saying "Even for reporters who regularly cover Apple and are used to getting manipulated by the company's well-oiled PR machine, this is a headsnap."

Comcast, NBC merger vote expected today: The Federal Communications Commission is expected to approve a merger between NBC Universal and Comcast. The Commission is expected to vote as early as today and sources familiar with the thinking of the commission say that the deal will be approved 4 to 1 with Commissioner Michael Copps dissenting.

No U.S. investors in Facebook deal: Goldman Sachs said it will not allow U.S. investors to participate in its Facebook investment, citing media scrutiny of the deal. Goldman expressed concern that media coverage of the investment would lead to close scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission. As the Wall Street Journal reported Goldman reportedly made its decision to exclude U.S. investors on Sunday, and informed those who had expressed interest in the deal of its decision on Monday. The Wall Street Journal also reported that non-U.S. investors have already raised more than $7 billion.

Facebook backtracks on personal info policy: Facebook has decided to temporarily disable a feature it rolled out on Friday that allowed developers to access users' mobile phone numbers and home addresses. The company faced backlash from users and the Internet security firm Sophos, which said the new feature was more or less a privacy disaster waiting to happen. "Over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data," the social network said in its Developer Blog Tuesday morning.

New meme,, for sale: Only a few weeks after becoming the meme du jour, the site is for sale. The Web site, created by 18 year-old Mark Bao, provided users with a page they could send around to ask their friends to describe them in three words. The site went viral on Twitter, and has had 17.2 million pageviews since its launch. Now Bao is selling the site in a private auction, which ends Jan. 21.

Wikileaks gets access to Swiss bank accounts: A former Swiss banker publicly handed over information on 2,000 offshore bank accounts to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Assange said the information will be vetted and then, most likely, leaked in the same manner as the Web site has distributed diplomatic cables. The banker, Rudolf Elmer, said that Assange is a whistleblower doing important work.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | January 18, 2011; 8:24 AM ET
Categories:  Apple, Comcast, Facebook, Privacy, Social media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Comcast-NBC joint venture approval expected Tuesday
Next: Sprint Nextel to raise unlimited data fees for new smart phone users

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