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Code/red: eBay, PayPal Negotiating Shared Custody of Icahn

Plus, Apple's Ireland problem, e-delicious machines and Tinder for douchebags.


Carl Icahn to eBay: Great Transaction! Highly Recommended! A+++ Fast Payment!!!!

Carl Icahn is even more insufferably smug than usual today. After months of rebuffing Icahn’s calls to spin off PayPal, eBay said this morning that it would do just that, creating two independent publicly traded companies next year. EBay’s shares are soaring on the announcement, and Icahn’s stake in the company along with them. The cantankerous billionaire is eBay’s sixth-biggest shareholder, with nearly 31 million shares, about a 2.5 percent stake in the company. EBay shares are up about eight percent as I write this, which means Icahn’s stake is worth about $140 million more now than it was yesterday at market close.

eBay CEO High Bidder in Auction for Boiled Crow

EBay CEO John Donahoe in January: “You’ll notice that other commerce companies, large and small, are trying to expand into payments. And there are some payments companies that are now trying to get into marketplaces and get into commerce. I’d say commerce and payments are converging, not diverging.”

China’s iPhone Gray Market Fades to Black

Gray market prices for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in China, which were already slipping thanks to a glut of imported devices, are plummeting to new lows today now that China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has approved them for sale in the country. Early this morning, Apple announced that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be available for preorder in China on Friday Oct. 10, with retail sales beginning on Oct. 17.

Don’t Think of It as Buffering — Think of It as Intermission

August 28, 2015, will be a historic day for Hollywood. If all goes according to plan, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend,” the sequel to Ang Lee’s martial arts masterpiece, will premiere simultaneously in Imax theaters and on Netflix. A milestone event, certainly, but one that’s not going to disrupt the broader movie business any time soon. As my colleague Peter Kafka notes, “Big deal? Yes. Wave of the future? Not unless you’re very, very patient.”

Apple Better Brush Up on Blarney

As expected, the European Commission today released its preliminary findings on Apple’s tax affairs in Ireland, and they do not bode well for the company. In a 21-page letter to the Irish government, the EC said that the tax deals Apple struck in Ireland in 1991 and 2007 constituted state aid. “The rulings confer a selective advantage upon Apple in so far as it results in a lowering of its tax liability in Ireland,” the commission wrote, adding: “The Commission wishes to remind Ireland … that all unlawful aid may be recovered from the recipient.”

Oh Look, It Already Has!

So what’s Apple’s take on the EC’s claim that it used Irish subsidiaries to sidestep behemoth tax payments? It didn’t. Or, rather, if it did, it only did so because it could legally and someone should maybe fix that given the current economic situation in Europe. “Apple has received no selective treatment from Irish officials over the years,” the company said in a statement. “We’re subject to the same tax laws as the countless other companies who do business in Ireland. Since the iPhone launched in 2007, our tax payments in Ireland and around the world have increased tenfold. To continue that growth and the benefits it brings to the communities where we work and live, we believe comprehensive corporate tax reform is badly needed.”

Google May Need a Hand Making Payments

Investor Steve Cheney: “Apple Pay is three years ahead of Google in almost every regard. And since a lot of these killer use-cases anchor off commerce, Google will scramble to accelerate efforts in payments. But it’s going to be difficult to do so organically. Google Checkout and Google Wallet both failed. I expect Google to acquire Square to catch up around payment IP and merchant access, and to attempt to acquire Stripe.”

Warning: Do Not Insert Durian Into E-Delicious Machine

Thomas Fuller, the New York Times: “The so-called e-delicious machine scans food samples to produce a chemical signature, which it measures against a standard deemed to be the authentic version. The government-financed Thai Delicious Committee, which oversaw the development of the machine, describes it as ‘an intelligent robot that measures smell and taste in food ingredients through sensor technology in order to measure taste like a food critic.'”

It’s Like Tinder for Douchebags

The anonymous CEO of dating service Luxy, which may or may not be bogus: “It works just like Tinder. With one big exception: Our app allows users to weed out the poor and unattractive. … With the rise of high-speed digital dating, it’s about time somebody introduced a filter to weed out low-income prospects by neighborhood.”

Off Topic

Jeff Goldblum killing it in this GE light bulb commercial, and the absolutely fantastic Eyes of Hitchcock. Also: Some behind-the-scenes photos from “Jaws.”

Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments and Sydney Opera House cat boxes to, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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