The Lowdown Hub

Apple and Meta’s executive sweetsAmazon renews Visa, DoorDash delivers on earnings, Hublot’s crypto

ISS has said shareholders should vote against Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s latest remuneration package © Apple/Reuters

Putting a value on the roles played by top tech executives can be difficult.

ISS, a top shareholder advisory group, has recommended that Apple investors vote against Tim Cook’s $99mn pay and bonuses package for 2021. It includes his first stock award since 2011 — worth $82mn. ISS says there “is a significant concern” with the stock award, while costs of $630,630 for personal security and $712,488 for personal use of a private jet “significantly exceeded” comparable companies.

Tim Bradshaw and Patrick Temple-West report that Cook’s steady leadership has been widely hailed as he guided Apple to become the first company to hit a $3tn market capitalisation in early January, quelling early doubts as to whether the company could flourish after the death of co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011.

Lex says Cook has demonstrated his worth, presiding over a transformation few thought possible. It points out the pay package is not a record in tech. Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai received $277mn in stock awards in 2019. Elon Musk’s moonshot 2018 pay package, which is linked to a series of milestones, means he could earn over $55bn.

Over at Facebook parent Meta, Mark Zuckerberg has placed a bigger value on the role of handling Facebook’s tarnished public image and defending the social media company against politicians and regulators. Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, has been promoted to president of global affairs and is now part of a triumvirate, with CEO Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Clegg joined Facebook in 2018 as its head of policy and communications. “We need a senior leader at the level of myself (for our products) and Sheryl (for our business) who can lead and represent us for all of our policy issues globally,” wrote Zuckerberg about the expanded role. It will include interacting with governments drawing up new regulations and making “the case publicly” for the company’s products. That will be a big job, but of all Zuckerberg’s new “Metamates”, Clegg has the best political acumen to handle it.

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. Amazon renews Visa

Amazon has reached a worldwide agreement with Visa to continue accepting payments from its credit cards, ending a tense, months-long stand-off over rising transaction fees. It was card declined though on Amazon sharing any specifics of the deal.

2. DoorDash delivers good news to Wall Street

The food delivery company reported stronger than expected revenue in the final quarter of 2021. DoorDash grew 34 per cent year on year to $1.3bn, suggesting that demand for food delivery remains high even as communities lift the vast majority of coronavirus restrictions. Its shares are up despite the tech-heavy Nasdaq being in the red.

3. Roblox in retreat Roblox, the gaming platform and potential metaverse company, lost more than a quarter of its market value on Wednesday morning. It had reported a decline in daily users as gamers emerged from their homes and pandemic lockdowns. Lex says investors now have no compunction, yanking the rug from under highly-valued but unprofitable growth stocks, with the prospect of rising interest rates.

4. Sequoia’s crypto crush

Influential VC firm Sequoia Capital plans to move deeper into cryptocurrency markets. The Silicon Valley operator announced on Thursday that it had set aside between $500mn and $600mn for a new fund that would primarily invest in crypto tokens traded on third-party exchanges. Meanwhile, US stablecoin provider Circle said its planned deal to list on Wall Street via a blank-cheque company chaired by former Barclays chief Bob Diamond had doubled in value to $9bn.

5. Inside Peloton’s epic run of bungled calls and bad luck It was a darling with investors and customers. But as the networked home fitness company was soaring to a peak valuation of nearly $50bn in late 2020, we now know that it was about to endure a series of tribulations that would involve the chief executive ceding his position and laying off three in 10 employees.

Tech tools — Hublot’s crypto watch

The Big Bang Unico Ledger © Hublot

Hublot, the Swiss luxury watchmaker, has introduced the Big Bang Unico Ledger, merging Ledger’s crypto tech with its traditional craftsmanship.

The Big Bang Unico watch combines old and new in its golden bezel. It is cast in solid “electrum”, a natural gold and silver alloy that was used by Lydian societies to mint the earliest known coins. Bitcoin’s Latin motto “Vires in Numeris”, or “strength in numbers”, is stamped six times into the bezel’s outer edge.

Packaged with the watch is the Ledger Nano X, a limited-edition crypto key that will only be available with the watch. “The Nano X is Ledger’s signature digital asset wallet, a market-leading Bluetooth-enabled piece of hardware for safely encrypting, securing, managing and growing your crypto assets,” it says. This is a 50-piece limited edition available now, priced at $28,300.

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