Here's a look at today's top tech news:
Twilio (TWLO - Get Report) , the top provider of cloud-based messaging, VoIP, and video services for third-party apps and websites, closed up 91.9% on Thursday from its $15 IPO price. That left Twilio valued at $2.37 billion, or a steep 14x 2015 revenue of $166.9 million.
The debut arguably highlights both the appeal of Twilio's strong revenue growth -- revenue rose 77% Y/Y in Q1 to $59.3 million -- and the long-term value assigned to the company's dominant position in its core market. Twilio has signed up the likes of Uber, Hulu, Airbnb, Dell, Box, and Intuit as clients, as everyone and their app-developing cousin tries to embed some measure of communications functionality into their apps.
Facebook (FB - Get Report) -owned mobile messaging giant WhatsApp, which recently announced it's handling 100 million daily voice calls, is Twilio's biggest client, and accounted for 17% of 2015 revenue. However, unlike many other clients, WhatsApp isn't under a long-term contract.
Tech bankers must be thrilled to see Twilio's strong debut, which comes at a time when many 2015 and early-2016 tech IPOs are below their offering prices. Twilio's reception could give courage to tech companies that have filed to go public, such as converged data center hardware provider Nutanix and Asian mobile messaging firm Line. Tech firms rumored to be planning IPOs include cloud analytics software firm Domo and online meal delivery firm Blue Apron.
In a final determination, the ITC ruled Arista Networks' (ANET - Get Report) data center switches infringe three of five patents asserted by Cisco (CSCO - Get Report) , thus upholding a February ruling by an administrative law judge and potentially spelling an import ban on the infringing hardware. Arista fell 3.8% in after-hours trading on Thursday in response to the news.
Arista, which has been taking switch share and saw its Q1 sales rise 35% Y/Y, claims it has re-written the software powering its switches to avoid infringing Cisco's IP. Nonetheless, there could be fears the ITC's ruling will make current and potential Arista clients cautious about placing orders, and that Arista might ultimately have to pay a large settlement to make Cisco end its campaign.
In a somewhat similar legal battle, Palo Alto Networks paid $175 million in 2014 to settle infringement suits filed by security hardware rival Juniper... and that was after a mistrial was declared for a Juniper suit against Palo Alto.
With Cisco having filed multiple suits against Arista, and Arista having filed an antitrust suit against Cisco -- Arista alleges Cisco encouraged the adoption of its command-line programming interface by rivals as an industry standard, and later began suing rivals for using it -- this particular battle appears far from over.
Shares rose 3.9% on Thursday even though BlackBerry (BBRY) missed its consensus May quarter sales estimate by $47 million. Very low expectations helped, as did the fact earnings beat estimates thanks to job cuts and other cost-reduction efforts. In addition, BlackBerry provided above-consensus fiscal 2017 earnings guidance, and reiterated guidance for positive full-year free cash flow.
Software and services revenue, fueled by enterprise mobility software sales, rose 6% sequentially. But infrastructure service access fee revenue fell 25%, and is expected to drop another 20% in the second quarter. Revenue for BlackBerry's hardware reporting segment fell 20%, with smartphone sales dropping by another 100,000 sequentially to $500,000 and average selling price (ASP) fell $25 to $290.
A September deadline for making the phone unit profitable (and possibly abandoning the business if the target isn't hit) looms large. Overall, revenue fell 36% annually in spite of the sales boost provided by the Good Technology and AtHoc acquisitions.
The amount of headroom left for BlackBerry to prop up its earnings via job cuts is quickly diminishing, at least if the company wants to remain competitive in an enterprise mobility management software market in which a slew of larger firms compete. To keep cash flow positive beyond the short-term, BlackBerry needs to offset continued service access fee declines with a stronger enterprise software ramp and/or a hardware turnaround fueled by new enterprise-friendly Android phones.
For now, this remains very much a show-me story.
Though it has allowed verified accounts to host live streams for a while, Google's (GOOG - Get Report) YouTube is playing catch-up in the livestreaming space relative to Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) , whose Periscope service has seen strong uptake since launching last year, and Facebook, which has aggressively promoted its Live service to users this year and is even paying tens of millions to media firms and celebrities to use it.
Allowing users to launch live streams from its mobile apps -- only a limited number of accounts can do so for now, but YouTube promises broader availability "soon" -- should put YouTube on better footing.
Though live streaming won't be a winner-takes-all game, YouTube has several strengths that should allow it to be a major player, such as its billion-plus monthly active users, its numerous high-profile content creators, and its ability to let users discover live streams via search results, recommendations, and mobile notifications.
Facebook, which have over 1.6 billion active users to promote Live to, has observed live streams tend to see much more user engagement than other videos, and the same should hold for YouTube. At the same time, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter all still have work to do in terms of making users aware of interesting streams before they end, and letting them know exactly when during a longer stream it's particularly worth tuning in.
In other news, YouTube has won the rights to a TV series based on the 2006 movie Step Up and produced by Lions Gate (LGF) , and will provide the show exclusively to subscribers of its $10/month YouTube Red subscription service, which it launched last fall.
Though still flying under the radar a bit, YouTube Red's unique value proposition -- it combines ad-free and offline YouTube access with the Google Play Music streaming service for the same price as music services such as Spotify and Apple Music -- should help it gain traction. Original content could act as an additional sweetener. CEO Sundar Pichai has said YouTube plans to launch 15 to 20 original series or films this year for Red.