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Episode 30: P.A. Semi + AuthenTec

Episode 30: P.A. Semi + AuthenTec

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 14:39

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I think we should leave it in. All right, yes, Melbourne of Florida, which Melbourne, Australia might be more of a tech hub than Melbourne, Florida. Who got the truth? Is it you, is it you, is it you? Who got the truth now? Who? Is it you, is it you, is it you? Sit me down, say it straight. Another story on the way. Who got the truth? Welcome back to episode 30 of Acquired, the podcast about technology acquisitions and IPOs. I'm Ben Gilbert. I'm David Rosenthal. And we are your hosts. Today's episode we're covering two acquisitions that we believe go together nicely. Apple's acquisition of PA, semi, and authentic. We think it's a really nice way to mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, just a few weeks ago. These acquisitions led Apple's A-series chips inside the phone and the touch ID sensor, which have a nice confluence with A. They work together well. Indeed. David, how are you doing today? I am doing good. I am in cold but sunny Boston today. Hey, I'm in cold but cloudy Seattle. It's kind of crazy that this is episode 30. I feel like we need like a birthday party for Acquired or something. We're getting old. I know. I know. Well, I'm marking it by being highly, highly caffeinated. And for listeners, most episodes, we record the evenings and today, I'm recording from home, David's recording from the road and a sip and coffee. Morning, show. Yeah. Our presenting sponsor for this episode is not a sponsor but another podcast that we love and want to recommend called the Founders Podcast. We have seen dozens of tweets that say something like my favorite podcast is Acquired and Founders. So we knew there's a natural fit. We know the host of Founders. Well, David Senra. Hi, David. Hey, Ben. Hey, David. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me. I like how they group us together and then they say it's like the best curriculum for Founders and Executives. It really is. We use your show for research a lot. I listened to your episode of the story of Acquired and Maria before we did our Sony episodes this incredible primer. You know, he's actually a good example of why people listen to Founders and to Acquired because all of his great listeners and investors, they had deep historical knowledge about the work that came before them. So like the founder of Sony, who did he influence? Steve Jobs talked about him over and over again if you do the research to him. But I think this is one of the reasons why people love both of our shows and there's such good compliments. As Acquired, we focus on company histories. You tell the histories of the individual people. You're the people version of Acquired and where the company version of Founders. Listeners, the other fun thing to note is, David will hit a topic from a bunch of different angles. So I just listened to an episode on Edwin Land from a biography that David did. David, it was the third fourth time you've done Polaroid. I've read five biographies of Edwin Land and I think I've made eight episodes of them because in my opinion, the greatest such primer to ever do it, my favorite entrepreneur personally is Steve Jobs. And if you go back and listen to like a 20 year old Steve Jobs, he's talking about Edwin Land's My Hero. So the reason I did that is because I want to find out like I have My Hero's who were their heroes. And the beauty of this is the people may die, but the idea is never to. And so Edwin Land had passed away way before the apex of Apple, but Steve was still able to use those ideas. And now he's gone and we can use those ideas. And so I think what Acquired is doing, what Founders trying to do as well, is find the best ideas in history and push them down to generations. Make sure they're not lost history. I love that. Well listeners, go check out the Founders podcast after this episode. You can search for it in any podcast player. Lots of companies that David covers that we have yet to dive into here on Acquired. So for more indulgence on companies and Founders, go check it out. All right, should we dive into it with the history and facts? I think so. I just want to throw in a quick note before we dive in. We want to say if you've been a listener of the show for a long time or if you're new to the show and like the episode, we would love a review on iTunes. We'd really appreciate sharing with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, emailing out to your company, whatever you feel is appropriate. It's how we grow the show and it's how we get new listeners. And also want to let everyone know we have a Slack channel. We talked about it a lot at earlier episodes in the show but haven't mentioned it in a while. There's over 400 of us in the acquired community hanging out and talking about deals that happen in real time that are too recent to cover on the show. Talking about past episodes, sharing tips, posting jobs, all sorts of things. So join us if you go to You can join the Slack there. Yeah, awesome. Look forward to seeing many of you in there. All right, let's dive in. So I'm going to start with PASMI, which was funny when we were chatting about preparing for the show. Ben was like, oh yeah, weren't they like based in Israel or something? I was like, I don't think so. And then I looked it up and it turns out that PASMI was founded in 2003 and it was originally called Palo Alto semi-conductor. But then like right after they were founded, they moved to Santa Clara. So rather than changing the name, they just decided to go by PASMI because they were no longer in Palo Alto, but right down the street. So the founder of the original Palo Alto semi-conductor was actually kind of a celebrity in the chip design industry called Dan Dobriffel. I hope I'm pronouncing that right. But he had been a lead chip designer way back in the 70s and 80s for deck. And it become kind of a celebrity in the field. He actually wrote a leading textbook that talked about chip design that was used at colleges all across the country. And he worked on, first on the deck alpha chip while he was there in the 70s and 80s. And then he got involved in the arm world and built the team actually in, moved to California and built the team in California for deck that made the strong arm processors, which were sort of higher powered versions of processors based on the arm chip set. And they tried to commercialize it and thought maybe sort of mobile devices might be an application for this. This was in the mid-90s, couldn't make it work. They end up selling the whole division to Intel. Dan goes with it to Intel. And then that becomes the X scale chip at Intel, which would power a lot of the blackberries that RIM was putting out in the late 90s and early 2000s, which was kind of cool. Yeah. Do you think we should take a minute just to, for less, this is an extremely technical episode, for folks not in the semiconductor world and not not sped in me. And yeah, yeah, right. That's a great thing to start off with. Should we sort of explain the difference between R and X86 and at least at a high level? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's do that at a high level. Why don't you go ahead and also a good disclaimer here that Ben and I are sort of playing experts on TV here about the semiconductor industry, but I'm sure we're going to miss a lot of stuff. So listeners, if you know about semis, jump in the slack or email us and tell us what we got wrong and we'll correct ourselves on a following show. Yeah. So without getting two into the details, typically computers, as we know, their desktop computers, laptops and servers use X86 architecture from Intel. And there were efforts made kind of starting or at least most popularized by ARM, ARM, to do a different chip architecture that with a different instruction set of assembly language, that was more restricted, but a lot lower power. And Intel has had attempts over the years to come up with lower power chips. The Adam processor is a great example of this, but the reason why ARM chips in our iPhones, iPads and many other things have come to be extremely popular in the last few years is because as we move to mobile devices, we have stricter power requirements when we cannot plug things into the wall. Yeah, and we'll get into this in a minute when we actually get into PASMI, but that's exactly what Dan became known for, Dan Doverfoll, as sort of an expert on pushing the limits of this powered performance trade off in chip design. But so this first strong ARM, it was kind of too early for the market in this. And so he leaves Intel in the late 90s and actually found another company before starting PASMI, and that's a company called SciBite. And SciBite is focused on making chips for, this is sort of like the run up of the internet bubble, making chips for routers and networking gear, because everybody's, these are like the three calm days and everybody's obsessed with the build out of internet infrastructure. So the big market for chips is actually in Cisco, three calm routers. And SciBite is sort of like hits the timing exactly right for the market, ends up getting acquired by Broadcom, the big chip company, public chip company, before they even released their product for over $2 billion in late 2000. Wow. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. And this is great, this is where Dan's textbook turns out helps in this acquisition, because the CEO of Broadcom, you give a quote to the Wall Street Journal about the acquisition. It said he first came across Mr. Dobberful in college when he studied the engineers' textbook on processor design. And he quotes, he says, SciBite has the best engineering team he's ever seen. So there you go, right, a textbook get acquired for $2 billion, it's that simple. So Dan stays at Broadcom after the acquisition for a couple years, but late 2003, he sort of sees mobile coming. He's ready to leave and try the low power start a company to do low power chips again. And he starts Palo Alto, a semi conductor. And they end up raising money right out of the gate and then through a couple rounds from Bessamer, Venrach, Highland. And then later on, Texas Instruments actually invests a lot of money in the company. And they're working on these sort of very low power, but combined with high performance chips. But they're initially using the power instruction set architecture, which is, as Ben was mentioning, X86 and ARM, that's a third instruction set that folks might remember was initially used by Max before Steve Jell-O-PC. The power of PC. The power of PC. The famous announcement that Max were going to switch to Intel. Yeah, which, you know, this all happened at sort of an interesting, interesting confluence of time where that was announced, I believe, in 2005 on stage at Macworld. The first Max emerged in 2006. And then in 2007, they were fully moved over to Intel. Yeah, so it was WWDC 2005 when Steve announces that the Mac had had this secret life for the last 10 years. And this was actually coming out of the next acquisition that the Mac operating system in secret had been able to run on Intel chips so that Apple would be able to switch over to Intel at any point if it felt it needed two first strategic reasons. And this, like, I got such a good dramatic job to in reveal. The fact that the last two versions, or at least one version of Mac OS 10, had actually shipped with these universal binaries to, or the ability to run universal binaries on X86 architecture or the power PC architecture. And then they pulled up images of the CDs that are in people's homes on their computers and said, you actually have this right now, we've just disabled it. Yeah, super cool. Such a Steve Jobs moment. And who else could Steve Jobs? I mean, Ben and I geek out about all this history, but I bet a lot of listeners are, like, instructions said, like chip architecture, like this is not why I buy products. But when Steve made this announcement, this was like national news. Everybody was floored. Like who else could Steve Jobs could make switching chipset architectures into such a huge announcement? Well, and yeah, it's very similar to the time when Bill Gates came on that gigantic screen to WWDC and addressed the group. This was marking the enemy, like Apple embracing the enemy. They had demonized Intel for so long and grouped them into the IBM Microsoft group of evil companies that did not represent the interests of Mac users and the creative professional in the future. And here they were basically signing a truce on stage. Yeah. And this is directly related to the history of PASMI and their interactions with Apple because PASMI, it turns out, had actually been working with Apple for several months up before this announcement and they had no idea it was coming. So when Dan and the company, they were targeting the embedded market and low power devices and mobile, they weren't actually thinking about smartphones because smartphones didn't really exist yet. They were thinking about ultra portable laptops. And so they had been working with Apple behind the scenes, trying to bid for the contract to be the main provider of chips for the next set of MacBooks. And they were convinced that they were going to win this contract from Apple and this was going to be huge and make the company. And then WDC rolls around. Steve goes on stage, makes this announcement, they're switching to Intel. And apparently Dan and the company were just like floored and completely furious because this blew up the deal that they were working on that they thought was going to make the company. Wow. So at this point, this was 2005. Apple doesn't end up acquiring PASMI until 2008. So after the launch of the iPhone. After the launch of the iPhone, right? And the iPhone isn't going to debut for another two years. And a lot of people think PASMI is kind of left for dead at this point. You know, they have this incredible technology. It really was kind of a 10X. You know, people we talk in VC and startups about, you need a 10X better product to really be disruptive in the market. And their technology really was 10X better on power savings. But they were targeting the power PC architecture. And that market just wasn't there, especially with Apple switching over to Intel. So PASMI kind of bumps along. They eventually do release a processor. 64-bit dual core processor, huge power savings comes out in 2007. But you know, there's not a big market for it. That was the only product they ever released, right? Was the only, yep, that's the only, I believe, that is the only chip they ever released into the market. And then, but then at the same time, the iPhone comes out. And the iPhone initially, folks might remember the first few versions of the iPhone, that the original one, the 3G and the 3GS, all used Samsung processors. So for a whole bunch of reasons, Apple is really interested in moving away from Samsung processors. And then in 2008, they acquired, they ended up acquiring PASMI for 278 million in cash, which is a decent outcome. But the company raised $86 million. We don't know what valuation, but it must have been at least somewhere in the mid-100 million. So not a huge outcome for investors. And certainly relative to Dan's previous company, side by, that's an order of magnitude smaller. Yeah. And it's worth taking a quick pause here, that $86 million figure. You might think, how could a company have 150 employees that was around for four years that needs to design and manufacture microprocessors and systems on a chip? How, or I guess just microprocessors, how could they only raise that much money? And it's because they were a fabulous chip company. They were not actually making these things themselves. They were, what most people do is they use a chip fab in China or somewhere else with less expensive labor costs to manufacture the chips. And they themselves are designing the architecture and laying out the board. And actually, there was a lot of speculation when Texas Instruments invested in PASMI, that their fabrication plans, because TI has their own chip fabs, would be used to manufacture those processors. So that was kind of a big strategic investor for them. Yeah, totally. And what's funny though, when the acquisition happens and is going back and rereading some of the articles about the deal when it came out, I don't know if Ben you saw the same things, most people didn't really realize that this was about the iPhone. Because this is 2008, and I believe the 3G had come out at this point, not yet the 3GS. But the iPhone was still pretty small. It had a lot of buzz, but people didn't really realize yet that the iPhone was about to become Apple and that the Mac was going to take a back seat. People were still thinking about the iPod as being, it was still, I believe at that point, I'm not sure, but roughly the same size are bigger than the iPhone. And so all the press at the time of the deal was, they were really confused about why is Apple finally buying PASMI? They switched to Intel. Are they thinking about a new ultra portable that they're bringing out that they might bring back the power PC architecture? Well, it is interesting. I love to get your take on this. What, I mean, there were clearly brilliant people there that were specifically brilliant at chip design, but they weren't working on ARM processors. No, but what did happen is right away, they basically stopped all the work that PASMI was doing on their own stuff. And they put the team on, Apple already had an existing project working on an ARM design, working on what would become the A4, the first Apple chip that they would put out, which actually launched with the iPad when the original iPad was introduced. This was a big selling point. And the whole team from PASMI got put on, got put on that. And of course, Dan is sort of this legend in low-power performance trade-off. So they really had to get the work. Yeah, good point. So yeah, 2010 Steve Jobs introduces the original iPad. It was really fun doing the research going back, watching that keynote and watching the product introduction video. Scott Forrest all takes up half of the video of the product video, which is pretty funny. Yeah, poor guy. And all the apps, so much skew of morphic design, it was actually sort of painful to look at. Yeah, yeah, but it's weird how it's so like, the lickability was the thing at the time in UI. And you wanted to touch it. And now it's just like, it's a whole bunch of wasted rendering. Yeah, total sidebar too. I kept thinking, you know, this was 2010 when it launched. I'm looking at this. We're here in January 2017, which, you know, we talk about a theme on this show that things move really fast in tech and waves keep coming successively faster. But like, that was not that long ago. And both the software and the hardware of the original iPad, you know, Steve and Johnny I have and everybody is touting it is so incredibly advanced at the product launch. And now it looks like a dinosaur. Right. And it was at the time. I mean, I had the first iPad and I remember thinking this thing is like a marvel, but knowing even then that this one would be known as the heavy one. Like it was, you really couldn't hold it out in front of you with one hand, front of you meaningful amount of time without your arm getting tired. Yeah. And you know, the bad one around the edge. I had it too. I bought it on launch day and lined up for it. It was great. I used it so much. But now, you know, now I've got my iPhone 7 Plus. I don't have an iPad anymore. And it's like, waves, you know, has almost as much screen real estate, maybe not almost a significant enough screen real estate and waves almost nothing and battery lasts forever. Amazing technology moves. Really. So that's the story of PASMI. The authentic story will run through a little more quickly because it's less interesting in whole. But it's sort of new. We haven't seen something quite like this yet on a quiet, I think, authentic was based in the technology hotbed of Melbourne, Florida, which I did not know until I started doing the research here. But there is, I believe the largest employer in Melbourne is a company called Harris, which is a giant defense contractor. And it was actually named by wire, the things you learned during research for the show, named by Wire and magazine as the number two threat to internet privacy in America in 2015, right behind the NSA. They make the main product, I believe, that Harris makes now are, what are they called? I want to say stingray that could be wrong. They're basically fake cell phone towers that your phone will try to connect to. And then through that, the government or whoever there owns these things then can track phones, huge privacy controversy around this company. But they had, in the 90s, they had a big semiconductor division. And they kind of went through, must have gone through a strategic review and decided that they were going to change that part of their corporate structure. They end up spinning off the entire semiconductor division in 1999. But right before they do that in 1998, they spin off this company called Authentek. And Authentek was going to work on specific security and authentication technology for embedded devices. And this was back in 1998. So way before smartphones are even a concept. And there's actually this really great article that we're linked to in the show notes of the CEO of Authentek is after the Apple acquisition. He goes back and he gives a talk at, I believe, NC State, which is his alma mater. And he brings one of the prototypes of Authentek's first product, which is basically the touch ID sensor that's in the iPhone. But it's like many times larger than an iPhone itself. Now it's this huge box with a separate box attached by a big ribbon cable that you stick your hand on. And it worked 5% of the time. To draw on analogy, it sure reminds me of playing with an Oculus in 2016, 2017. Yeah, definitely. So Authentek works on this technology for a long time. They actually go public themselves in 2007. We keep refining the technology and selling it to any customers along the way in applications that would find it interesting. And then finally, in 2011, they do sort of a collaboration with the NXP semi-conductors and a software firm called Device Fidelity that was working on mobile payments software. And they sort of create this suite of both hardware and software that's aimed to enable fingerprint authentication for NFC mobile payments for the Android ecosystem. So this was kind of the age of when everybody was all excited about NFC. This was a big selling point for a lot of Android phone manufacturers. And so this consortium actually wins contracts with Motorola, Nokia, and then finally with Samsung. And this was going to be a huge deal. Samsung was going to put this system in their coming flagship phones. This was July 2012, beginning of July 2012, when Samsung announces that they're going to integrate this technology in their new set of phones. And then almost immediately thereafter, late July 2012 on July 27th, Apple acquires the company. Hey, which was a big coup. I mean, we've talked about on the Android episode and a bunch of episodes in the past. This was like the height of the smartphone was Samsung had emerged with copying Apple feature for feature. And this was going to be a big innovative thing that Samsung was going to launch Apple swoops in and inquires the company. And it's interesting that I remember hearing about this when it happened and looking it up and going, oh, fingerprint recognition and kind of being like, well, maybe they'll do that on max at some point or the iPhone at some point. But the thing that totally got lost in that story was the payment stuff. And it's funny that with Apple pay becoming one of the major advantages to having Touch ID, that had its roots all the way back in Authentic. Yeah, more than a decade before. And it's pretty amazing. The that time and that amount of R&D over the decade plus that had gone into this product, I think really did make it differentiated in the market because Apple acquires the company end of July 2012. And it's just almost exactly a year later, when they announced they were acquiring the company end of July 2012. The acquisition probably doesn't close for another couple months, at least, because Authentic's a public company at this point. And it was beginning of September 2013, the very next year when the iPhone 5S comes out, that has the Touch ID sensor. So the turnaround time on this is basically immediate in terms of product development when you're integrating an acquisition. So this was an incredibly speedy job by the Apple team. And I think it speaks to the maturity of the product. Totally, totally. And I've got a couple of interesting tidbits here. I went to the Wayback machine, an, and looked up Authentic from February 22, 2011. And you'll look at their website. And it really is the whole suite of very unappled, authentication methods from that era. There's a little banner. And we can include this link in the show notes. There's a little banner there that says, does your PC have a touch sensor? And it's got that little swipe down thing that's on a lot of the PCs to log in. There's an ad for the HP SimplePass 2011 powered by Authentic's identity management system. There's a lot of this laptop. There's so much with it. Garbage product names. So unappled. Totally. And you look at this. And you the high level point I'm trying to make is this company looks nothing like an Apple company. It's kind of the antithesis of, from a go-to-market and product perspective, of the way that Apple reaches customers. I mean, they have like eight other companies logos all over this website. And what they're quote, let me pull up the Steve Dowling quote, that they always give when they acquire a company is Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time. And we generally do not comment on our purposes and plans. And that's truly how they look at it. That we're buying a technology here. We could not care about the way that they're going to market right now, the way that their products look or are defined. It's literally like, look at all this R&D these people have done. We're buying a technology company. Yeah. Well, I think this is a perfect transition unless you have anything else to go into acquisition category. I do have a couple little things. OK, go ahead. One on this show, as listeners know, we love when public companies acquire other public companies because we get to learn things. Apple paid a 58% premium for authentic over their existing, or their current trading market cap. And a lot of this was powered because Samsung was one of its biggest customers and believed to be also making a play. So I don't believe there was a counter offer, but Apple did go in high to make sure that they got the deal. Oh, we've seen other episodes where we've reviewed public companies buying other public companies. You see 18% to 30% as the premium that existing management teams and boards are willing to accept as a acquisition bid. And this is dramatically higher than other ones we've seen. And it did come with a termination fee of 20 million in case there were antitrust issues and the deal didn't close. Yeah, it's interesting though. I mean, the sticker price was $356 million, which I don't think we mentioned earlier, we should have. So yeah, that was at that almost 60% premium, $356 million. When you take a step back, that's a large premium, but like that's not that much money. And it's interesting that Samsung either didn't counter offer or if they did not buy enough to win the deal. For when you're talking about not that much money relative to the amount of what we'll get into this ingrating the show, but the amount of money in the smartphone, hardware sales for a really differentiating feature like this. Interesting move by Samsung not to let this one go, especially they just announced earlier that month, this big deal that they were going to include this as a flagship feature in future smartphones. Yep, yep. And then before we move on to, it's worth noting, we're covering two very big landmark deals here. But Apple spent over half a billion dollars after acquiring PASMI on other semiconductor and processor-related companies in Trinity, passive semiconductor's prime sense. They really, it wasn't just that they developed it wholly in-house then after acquiring PASMI. Yep, yep, definitely. And did they acquire other authentication companies along the way too? I'm actually not sure. I think smaller ones, but this was definitely the, you look at an iPhone, you identify it has a screen and a button with a fingerprint sensor, and this was the fingerprint sensor. Yep, this was the main tech behind it. All right, acquisition category. Let's do it. Let's do it. Yeah, Ben, what you were saying earlier, what I think is interesting about these two deals is they are both of them very directly related to flagship features of iOS devices, both iPhones and iPad, that would become differentiators in the market. So they make sense to do together as one episode in that sense, but I actually think they are two different categories based on the history of how the integration happened. With PASMI, clearly Apple was already working on their own ARM chips that they would release with the iPad, but this was about getting sort of the best talent in the world to come and join the team and execute with them. And then on the authentic side, so I think the PASMI acquisition was very much a people acquisition, very technically minded people. That's only 1.8 million per employee. I mean, it's actually not insane if you think that, if Apple making the bet that this is gonna have tremendous business impact, and there's not other people of this caliber, I mean, this is literally the guy that wrote the book on low power high performance chip design. But then authentic is interesting. This is a company that was a spin out from a defense contractor based in Melbourne, Florida. And I believe most of the people from the authentic acquisition are no longer at Apple or if they are perhaps a move to Cupertino. That was very clearly a specific technology in the fingerprint sensor that became touch ID that they acquired. So they both accomplished the same goal, but it's interesting. I think they took very different routes in each acquisition. Yeah, David, I couldn't agree with you more. That's exactly what I had in my notes. And I wanna just make a drill in a little bit further on one point that you made that of why it makes sense to do these two companies together. The ability of Apple to integrate these two products creates an advantage that other manufacturers don't have. So the A-Series chip have something that Apple markets as the secure enclave, which means that there is, it has the ability to do processing specifically of security applications in an isolated way from other things going on on the chip itself. Yeah, and importantly locally on the device. Yes, yes. So when you do your touch ID fingerprint, not only does it not round trip to the server, it doesn't get to memory and it doesn't even get to the main CPU. So you're, or I guess the main core of the processor. So the touch ID sensor operates fully in an isolated way. And we've seen that really paid dividends for Apple going toe to toe with the FBI. Yeah, and the San Bernardino shooting case. Yeah, and I think, when Apple plants a flag in the ground and says we're serious about device security and that I don't wanna get into the morality and politics of that, I think there's a different discussion, but they really are able to say that, you know, all the security factors that people would normally do to get into devices by rooting it or having direct hardware access. Like those fingerprints and the ghosts and in memory of those fingerprints don't even ever exist to be able to go and get them later. So I think that the integration of these two technologies is something that as Tim Cook would put it, quote unquote, only Apple would be able to take this approach. Yeah, and this is, well, this is definitely gonna be one of my tech themes, which we can talk a little bit more about later, but I'm thinking back to the next episode and Steve Jobs, you know, quoting that, if you're really serious about software, you need to make your own hardware. Which I think he ripped off from Alan Kay, right? Yes, exactly, exactly. And he attributed the quote to Alan Kay when he said it, but the classic case of that here, and it really is, I mean, no, this is a key differentiator of the iOS ecosystem and devices now for a lot of people, especially in the, in the post privacy, post truth world we live in, that no other, you know, the Android ecosystem can't make these claims, no other device manufacturer can. Also, I find it incredibly ironic that Authentic is a spin-out from a major defense contractor, ranked by a wired magazine as right behind the NSA in terms of, you know, decreasing privacy on the internet, and then becomes a cornerstone of Apple's privacy strategy. Yeah, the irony is thick. It is thick. All right, so we move on to what would have happened otherwise? Yeah, and I think one thing that I want to raise now, but not talk about until we're grading it is, I talked about this, you know, Tim Cook marketing speak on the Apple and the advantage that, you know, these two technologies combined together under the same roof and the same engineering team give, I think it's interesting for us later to examine, what was the actual business impact of that? Yeah. What would have happened otherwise, you know, I have two sort of notes here. One is who else could Apple have bought or how else could Apple have gotten here? And I look, let's look at PASMI first. It was basically a builder buy decision for Apple, and then clearly they were working on building anyway, but this just rapidly, rapidly accelerated their pace. And then with Authentic, you know, it truly was competitive. Like Samsung was very clearly skating in the same place, and they were already, Authentic was already sort of in the Android ecosystem. So it wouldn't have surprised me if somebody in the Android ecosystem that was budding and becoming, at this point I think it was kind of overtaking Apple and becoming the more popular, not the more profitable with the more popular operating system. And I could see that one going to a different company. And then the question for Apple is, you know, how would they have been able to build out the feature that they wanted to build without bringing Authentic in house? Yep, I've spot on. And I think this whole discussion, especially Samsung's failure to either submit a competitive bid for Authentic or a compelling one, I think it just really reflects the difference in perspective about products at Apple versus many of their competitors in the ecosystem. You know, Apple really say what you will about them. And I think they, as we move further into the maturity, the maturing phase of mobile devices and people start to look to the next generation, there are a lot of legitimate questions about Apple's future right now. But they really think about products from a whole product sense and from a user centric and compellingness to a user perspective. And they realize that they had a vision of what this integrated product that we were just talking about, you know, about not only the convenience of unlocking your phone and paying with your fingerprint from mobile devices, but the security and the necessity of doing that with in-house technologies versus their competitors in the Android ecosystem. And, you know, I really don't think any of them can make the same claims around both security and privacy and also seamlessness that Apple can in this arena. Nope, totally agreed. There's one other thing I just, I don't think it's insightful, I just find it hilarious that in 2008, I've seen it wrote this article that was pointing out that Apple made a choice here with ARM with the iPhone and yet, until their partner for all their Mac computers had a low power chip they were developing called the atom. And they write this whole article analyzing why it seems like Apple's not gonna go with the atom chip, but the title of the article is Apple unlikely to get up and atom. And I just read it and was like, boo. That's like a dad joke if I ever heard one. All right, tech themes. Tech themes. You know, I don't know if this was apparent to them at the time, but when you look at the proliferation of applications that Apple has been able to go into with first party hardware that, you know, they never would have dreamed of 10 years ago. It's incredible and it's all powered by the work that they did on the A series chips. So we look at the Apple watch, which has the S2 chip, which is the system, they call it the system in a package. So not just the, you know, system on a chip, but they actually package other sensors with it. The ear pods have custom silicon, the W1 chip. The touch bar has the T1, which basically is a forked version of watch OS that it runs and is a similar architecture. It's incredible that Apple's been able to so finally tune their products because they've been able to control the underlying chip and surrounding pieces of that rather than buying it from a third party. And Apple, we view as a vertically integrated company. And they're really, you know, they're modular in so many ways. They have tons of suppliers. They negotiate fiercely. They combine, you know, hundreds of other companies, products into their own and then, you know, put a nice case on it. But for the things that they think can really differentiate them and really provide a strategic advantage for the long term, they bring it in-house and doing that with the silicon and vertically integrating the silicon and all their products really enabled all these new product categories that they're trying to go after today. And I don't think any of them will be as successful or profitable as the iPhone. I think that was a unique moment in history, but it sure is allowing them to go new places. Yeah, this was one of my two that, you know, to talk about, you know, sort of the, this idea that, you know, if you care about software, you make your own hardware, the Allen K concept. But I think it's, I wanted to talk about it in the lens of there's very, very few technology companies that really take that to heart and they tend to be, you know, the giant, most successful enduring companies that do, you know, the Apple, you know, Google with what they're doing with their data centers and with, you know, and then slightly, you know, one level up the stack with TensorFlow and all the machine learning, you know, tools and technology they're creating. Amazon, certainly with Amazon Web Services. And I think, you know, that balance, if you really want to build an enormous and sustaining technology franchise, you know, it's really Microsoft does this too. And Facebook is beginning to, you have to make that transition. But you can't do that as a startup, right? Like it would be a fool there. And, you know, and... Xiaomi tried? Yeah, well, right. And they are, you know, at this moment in time, I think struggling a little bit relative to expectations. But, you know, like, Baidu does the same thing, Alibaba, but, you know, the question of when to make that transition in the lifecycle of the company is an important strategic one. You know, certainly, I don't think I would recommend baby startups doing it, you know, as a startup, you want to embrace standing on the shoulders of giants. But at some point, if you really want to compete with the big boys, you kind of have to become a giant yourself. It's true, it's true. Another interesting data point on this. So according to Geekbench, and this is from a verge article, we can link to, called the iPhone 7, a 10 fusion processor, and Intel's future. The single core performance of Apple's latest generation of smartphone processors, the A10 fusion, has basically caught up with Intel's laptop CPUs. And actually, rivals the single core performance of the Mac Pro. I mean, I'll be at a few years old, but, like, the single core performance of the chip in my phone is rivaling Intel's laptop chips. And of course, there's all sorts of advantages to being in a tower. You can put in GPUs and as much RAM as you want, and a lot more complexity without having to worry about storage. But the market for those really high end power shrinking and the market for low power chips is growing dramatically. It has grown dramatically. What I think, I mean, I've found since upgrading to the 7 plus, I had the 6 plus, not the S, the sort of two and a half year old model, at this point before upgrading. Like, I've noticed a dramatic difference in performance. Yeah. Yeah. If we really want to go tech trends and themes, how much does all this matter going forward? It's clearly been super important in the last decade to have all this power on our phones. But are we going to shift back toward the tick-tock of powerful and the client powerful and the server, powerful and the client powerful and the server? In this world of cloud and machine learning and relying on a lot of road infrastructure for our computing, is this going to be less of a competitive differentiator and how much does this world of our matter in the land of machine learning and cloud? Yeah, 100%. This actually, two other tech themes I wanted to lump together and cover quickly, the sort of, I don't think answering that question, but furthering the context for it, one is sort of market timing and waves. And I think the PSMI history illustrates this so perfectly, and we talk about on the show so often, we covered in our 2016 review episode. The key to start up in venture capital is targeting the big market at the right time and the right time of the wave. And Apple with the iPhone just got it so right, but probably the most right of any sort of combination of size and timing of waves in history with the smartphone market. Technology had just gotten to the point and consumer willingness to adopt had just gotten to the point where it was possible. You know, the first processor in the first iPhone was like, I think it was 416 megahertz, I believe, from Samsung and like, it was just barely enough to make the thing work, you know? But it was just barely enough. And but now is the product, as the market is matured and we've got, you know, a chip in our iPhones that literally is as powerful as a Mac Pro a couple years ago. How much more power do we need? You know, we're out of mature point, at least maturing point in the smartphone market. And then the other thing I wanted to tie that to is just like both of these acquisitions are total Clayton Christians in sustaining innovations, not disruptive innovations. You know, they are sustaining this wave that apples on. But as you pointed out with your question, the critical question for the tech industry for us as investors, as startups, as people working in it right now is what is the next wave, you know? Because this past wave that we've been writing of mobile and smartphones while being the largest and most prolific in history, you know, it's mature now, it's cresting. Yeah, and the title that book in the phrase, what got you here won't get you there, starts to come to mind where we're gonna get into grading here in a minute, but, you know, having their own, their own in-house silicon and to the lesser extent security features gave Apple a lot of advantages to keep their experience lead over Samsung and other Android manufacturers and to really like be able to produce the best quality, most differentiated experience phones. And I think, you know, that was, you know, hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue that we can attribute to that. But looking around as the dust starts to settle today and looking at what's next, I am not convinced that actually sets Apple up for the future in a way that matters in the next wave of experiences. Yep, completely agree, especially if the next wave of experiences are primarily machine learning, driven data and data science driven and most importantly, as a result of that service driven innovations, you know, not hardware, not software, but service driven innovations, you know, that is not in Apple's DNA. No, it's not and they, I figure what they called it, differential, quiet, differential. What's the thing where they do the machine learning on the device for the photos that they touted at WWDC? Oh, I don't remember. Differential. I'll look it up. Privacy? Yeah, well you do that. Listeners, Apple is taking the position that they can do a lot of this really advanced machine learning and cool applications that you're seeing from Google and others that they can do it on the device and they can do it without, you know, sending your identifiable information to the cloud and potentially compromising your security at a request in the future. And they're publishing papers on it and they're actually, they're using a lot of methods that were published by Google engineers years ago. And I, you know, it's interesting. I fundamentally don't think that the on-device way of doing this will win out on a long-rout and relative to having all of your data in close proximity to each other that's not bandwidth constrained all in, you know, data centers. Yeah, I mean, we're still in early, early innings of, you know, this wave. So we don't know. But I do tend to agree with you. I mean, to the extent that the quality of machine learning and data science is driven by the volume and the quality of data that you have, the siloing that data to just what the storage available on your local device and your own data generated from it, versus, you know, a Google-like approach where it's, you know, unfathomable amounts of data across the entire world interacting with your product in real time, you know, in all their data centers across the world. You know, I think Google's gonna win that. So we'll see. I think we can see too. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, like one of these, not Apple, I don't think. I don't think so. Yeah, differential privacy is the name of that feature. Got it. Yeah, you wanna move on to grading it? I think so. So for me, you know, this really is kind of a, as we were talking about sort of a tale of two cities, a tale of two acquisitions, you know, was the best of acquisitions, was the worst of acquisitions for Apple, you know, on these two companies, they spent a combined $634 million. And then it's been pointed out, they acquired many other smaller companies in the same, also in Silicon design. So let's call it another half a billionish. Let's say they spent around a billion dollars on this, on these teams and technologies. From the time they launched the A4 in the iPhone, which is with the iPhone 4. And let's just only look at iPhone and look at the generations from iPhone 4 to iPhone 6. So not the 6s, not the most recent 7. You know, it's roughly fourish years. And let's just say as a proxy that that's sort of the competitive advantage period granted by these acquisitions and the speed with which they were able to deploy these differentiating features versus the market. Those, just those generations of iPhones sold about 720 millionish units at roughly $600 average selling price. It's a little higher. So that's over $400 billion of revenue. And let's assume about a 40-ish percent gross margin. It's actually a little higher. You know, you're at sort of $170 billion of gross margin generated by units during that time. And then so, you know, trying to do the math, yeah, like, okay, how much of that is attributable? How much of those sales are attributable to these differentiated features? I don't know, 10%, 5%, let's take 5%, that's still almost $10 billion in incremental sort of contribution margin from these acquisitions. So versus a billion dollars spent 10 to 1, you know, that's great. At the same time, these are, as we just talked about, sustaining acquisitions, you know, I compare them versus, you know, our benchmarks of what great acquisitions are in Instagram and in Next. You know, those are acquisitions that generated entirely new, you know, business lines and categories for their companies, you know, in Next's case, you know, over a trillion dollars worth of, you know, worth of business, I don't think those fall into that category. So for me, I think I give a D plus slash A minus with a leaning towards the A minus side because these were incredibly executed, sustaining innovation, you know, acquisitions and had they fallen into competitors hands, I think would have changed, impacted the trajectory of, you know, Apple's profits versus the competition in this space. Man, David, this is why I love having you as a co-host. So thanks, man. Because you had done the same math and we're about to do the same thing and I just stole your thunder. No, because I didn't do the math and I had this, like, I was gonna arrive at an A minus conclusion through a much more hand wavy method, but like the actual analysis to come up with that, you know, 10 billion compared to 600 isch million. It's like, you know, it's a 16, 17 X return and you, you know, using all sorts of assumptions and sort of generalities in that model, but I totally, here's gonna be my A minus. They made hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue, some amount of that attributable to these acquisitions. It was tremendous for them getting here but didn't set them up going forward. So I was gonna discount my A to an A minus for not being convinced that it meaningfully differentiated them in the future. Yeah, well, I think we probably both, you know, together we're both at the right combination of like database analysis and big picture gut feel here. And I think you're told, like, I just can't, these were incredibly well executed acquisitions, but I just can't put them in the same league as Instagram and Nest, not Nest, Nest. Next, we'll have to do Nest at some point. I just bought one. I actually really like it. But anyway. Yeah, and, you know, the counter argument, I'm gonna stick with my grade, but the counter argument would be that, let's say we move to a world where there's not all this heavy compute going on in the phones and we, rather than having a single device, we have this networked confluence of sensors around us. So we have ear pods and we have a watch and we have a screen, but it may not have the, you know, all the innards of the iPhone in it. And maybe that screen just appears on our glasses or it appears wherever we're looking or, you know, there's all sorts of interesting sci-fi features about what the display could be like. But let's say we decouple all these things, even though a lot of that intelligence is gonna be done in the cloud, we still live in a world that's kind of, that's more bandwidth constrained than it is compute constrained or storage constrained. And I think that as bandwidth continues to be the issue, that's gonna be the gating factor and how much we can push off of our bodies versus actually have with us at all times. And Apple, you know, bringing all of this silicon design and production in-house or at least design in-house does allow them to create the best possible experience of this several device ecosystem talking to each other. As we've seen with the ear pods providing a meaningfully better experience than pairing most Bluetooth headphones. Yep, I completely agree. And I think that, you know, the truth lies somewhere in the middle and the reality is, you know, as we talked about, we are still, this is what makes, you know, our jobs fun and technology as an industry fun, like we're still early enough in the next wave or waves, you know, whatever they will be, whether it's machine learning driven services or sensor and very intimately personal device driven technologies, but we're still early enough that these stories haven't been written yet. And these waves come so fast in technology that, you know, both of us have been in this industry less than 10 years and we've already experienced, you know, multiple waves. That's what keeps it fun. Yep, yep. All right, moving on to follow up. Yeah. We got three things. So we covered, you know, our first non-technical episode, the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin and ReVirgin America. And I sent David a picture recently of, but I was flying back from vacation, had a little insert in my Alaska seat in front of me. And they really, really, really embraced messaging to all of their customers that they're merging. In the seat back pocket, there's little information things. All the flight attendants were wearing these, like, really well-designed shirts that blend the Virgin brand into the Alaska brand and extremely informative information on how all the point stuff gets combined. And so I think they're just rolling that out now to combine all of their... The loyalty programs. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I'm as a self-proclaimed, quote, west coast resident, Jenny and I. We hardly think of ourselves as living in one city and more just up and down the west coast at this point. And I'm so excited. I think this is taking the great Seattle service that Alaska has and Virgin from SFO and LAX and Oakland super excited to merge these point programs and keep getting incremental status to yours. Absolutely. Number two, Mark Laurie is starting to make moves at Walmart. They just had a big reorg, created new positions, eliminated others. One thing that we talked about in the Jet episode was if they were going to be serious about rebuilding their organization as a true internet company at Walmart. And if they're going to sort of be able to move that almost reverse acquired DNA of Jet and infuse that in Walmart. And we're starting to really see the first steps now. Yeah. News just came out in a memo from Mark Laurie, basically reorguing most of the e-commerce operations at and unsurprisingly, it's mostly Jet folks who are taking over. And I think this, we talked about this on the Jet episode, but just even more firmly positions this as sort of a very very expensive talent acquisition that Walmart did. Yeah. And it's interesting how it's funny how like the price tag actually make it command more respect internally. Like if they had bought it for $1 billion, you could see that people inside being like, we didn't have to listen to this guy. But with like a more expensive price tag comes a more necessary adherence. Man, that is some dysfunctional organizational behavior as they were put in a business school. But I actually, I can totally see that being true. Yeah. And then one other thing that's kind of a tech theme we can pull out of this is when we originally started doing the show, it was for David and I to understand why successful acquisitions went well, what were the characteristics. And as we started companies in the future that would, if not IPO, hopefully sell to larger companies, how to make those more successful within the company. And one theme that we immediately identified that Facebook does very well is this keep the team separate mantra where you let teams exist on their own for a long time. This is a big part of change management. Just sort of like message which changing, message what's not and allow the good things to continue for as long as possible from the smaller organization. A second big one that we're now seeing that, I think we saw first in the a company episode where Javier Saltero took the lead for all of Outlook at Microsoft is when you acquire the company, promote their leader to be the leader of the organization that they're coming into and allow all the goodness from the company that you acquired to actually grow in that much larger tree of the organization chart rather than existing just down in there, their little thing. Yeah, well, and I think it really depends on what the acquiring organizations, sort of goals and needs and realities are. Facebook can take the luxury with a lot of their acquisitions of letting them flourish and operate on their own because the core Facebook business at this point, we talked about on the IPO episode. At one point it was quite challenged, but at this point it's doing so well, versus a Walmart where they're just batting down the hatches versus Amazon. And in particular, I gotta think if I'm at Walmart right now and I see Amazon go, Amazon Prime Air and drone deliveries, like I've gotta be just terrified of what that's gonna do to my business, they don't have that luxury. Right, right, right. Third and last follow up we wanted to do is the news to be expected. Drama is mounting around the SNAP Inc IPO that is hotly expected in a few months. There was an article, series of articles, I believe right at the end of 2016 about potential fraud at the company and overstating their growth numbers. And then news just came out this week that unsurprisingly there Evan Speagle and Bobby Murphy are gonna have super voting shares and control the vast majority of the voting shares of the company. This is gonna be, this is gonna make for an excellent acquired episode when the IPO finally does happen. Later this year we can't wait to get all these issues, at least resolved in the context of the IPO and dig in. Yep, I can't wait either. All right, so we wrap up with Carvelt. Yeah. So mine, I was gonna recommend a whole blog, but I wanna save more posts on this blog for future Carvelt's because there's so many good ones. There's a guy named Michael Lopp who was a longtime engineering manager at Apple and then Pinterest and now I believe he runs engineering at Slack and he writes under the pseudonym RANDS and he writes at RANDS in And there's a great piece that he wrote late last year called the situation and it's about that situation where something bad happened at your company. You need to have a meeting about it. Everybody is sitting there in the meeting and kind of the all looking at each other. Like, oh, what's the right protocol for this? Like who's on the line? What do we need to do? What are the steps? And it's all about the way that you feel in that moment in a really beautiful writing style and a pretty good actual means of dealing with escalation like this and understanding, what are the logical steps that need to be taken in varying types of situations? So just love his writing style. Obviously the content is super applicable for anyone in a tech or engineering organization and highly recommend it. Yeah, even beyond tech and engineering organizations, a number of quote-unquote situations that come across on a monthly, if not weekly basis, I need to read that post. It's part of a lot of his posts are basically the pre-writing for a book called Managing Humans that he's got. So I think I haven't read the book yet. It'll probably be my carve out when I actually do read it but I'm highly recommend it. It reminds me of total aside, but when I first, when I came back from business school to Moderna and first started working on boards as a venture capitalist, I asked a pseudo-petal who was the founder and CEO of Isolane who's a very successful storage company and former Magona portfolio company in Seattle. What advice he had as a successful CEO and having worked with lots of VCs, Moderna and Sequoia and many others on his board and what advice we give him. He said, the biggest thing, just don't freak out. And I've tried to take that to heart. He's like, yeah, things are gonna happen in any journey and if you freak out as a board member then you make me as a CEO freak out and then that makes everyone else at the company freak out and then that leads to bad decisions. You know? I love that. Keep a steady hand. Cool, cool. My carve out is a fun one. Teddy and I were staying at an Airbnb for a wedding this weekend in New York and they had this, the host had this book on a bookshelf there called Daily Rituals and I thought, that sounds interesting. You'll take it up and see what's in it. And it's this cool book. It's a collection of sort of one to two pages each on really famous artists and thinkers from the last couple hundred years and just what their daily routine was like, what did they do? How did they get their work done? How did they spend their time? And super interesting. In the wide variety of some people, like Benjamin Franklin and others like very, very disciplined, very regimented in their lives and devoted hours to work and really good health habits and those things and then others are like, Voltaire. Voltaire spent most of his time just lounging in bed and he would write in bed and dictate and like drink coke, massive amounts of alcohol and then other people would do all sorts of drugs and like, it was the doubly interesting thing about it is each title of each person had their birth year and then if they were deceased, they're death year. There seemed to be no correlation between longevity and degree of hard living. People who were the most disciplined like would die in their 50s and people who led the craziest lives would live into their 90s, just interesting. I'm not sure that that justifies living a crazy life but that's a lot of it. It's a fun thing here. Yeah. That's it for today guys. If you're not subscribed and you want to hear more, you can subscribe from your favorite podcast client and if you feel so inclined, we'd love a review on iTunes or any sharing you could do with your friends, family co-workers, social media, whatever you feel is appropriate. Yeah, and just a quick preview, we've got some great episodes in the works with some really special guests. So we're looking forward to the next few months here at Acquired. We also have some new stuff coming on the show and we can't wait to share it with all you guys. So, do we know that's a teaser but stay tuned. We've got exciting stuff coming soon. Well, how about this? Join the Slack and we'll tease a little more. Yeah. Awesome. All right, talk to you guys soon. Later. We've got the truth. Is it you? Is it you? Is it you? Who got the truth now? Huh!