Fred Wilson dumped Apple at $91 and doesn’t understand iCloud at all

“Fred Wilson is one of the smartest guys in venture capital. He’s made a fortune backing Twitter and Tumblr, among others, at Union Square Ventures. But when it comes to Apple, Wilson has a blind spot that’s almost as big as as his bankroll,” Mark Rogowsky reports for Forbes. “Asked which tech companies would be the most valuable by 2020, Wilson dismissed Apple’s prospects out of hand at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, questioning the company’s competence in the cloud. Yet despite some visible failures, Apple’s overall cloud achievements would compare favorably with anyone’s. And the company seems to have just gotten started.”

“Maybe Wilson can’t see it because he just doesn’t trust Apple,” Rogowsky reports. “He dumped all his stock 5 years ago after he suspected Steve Jobs wasn’t being straight about his health, as Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt recalled. Apple traded at $91 back then; yesterday it closed over $600.”

MacDailyNews Take: Being “one of the smartest guys in venture capital,” obviously isn’t the same as being a smart investor.

“With a click or two to set it up, your contacts, apps, photos, et al. are not only easily restored to a new iPhone, they’re also on your iPad, your Mac, as well as safely duplicated in an Apple data center. This all happens so seamlessly that more than 1/3 of a billion people use iCloud backups regularly without even thinking about them. The experience using Apple’s iWork apps is equally transparent. Create a document in Keynote on a Mac and it just appears on your iPad when it’s time to present. That you don’t need to do anything fits the Apple “it just works” model nicely,” Rogowsky reports. “Maybe that’s why the achievement is lost on Wilson?”

Much more in the full article here.

Horace Dediu writes for Asymco:

“Not getting the cloud” means that in the last 12 months Apple obtained:
• 800 million iTunes users and
• an estimated 450 million iCloud users spending
• $3 billion/yr for end-user services plus
• $4.7 billion/yr for licensing and other income which includes
• more than $1 billion/yr paid by Google for traffic through Apple devices and
• $13 billion/yr in app transactions of which
• $9 billion/yr was paid to developers and
• $3.9 billion/yr was retained as operating budget and profit for the App Store. In addition,
• $2.7 billion/yr in music download sales and
• more than $1 billion/yr in Apple TV (aka Apple’s Kindle) and video sales and
• $1 billion/yr in eBooks sold

See the usual excellent charts in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related article:
VC Fred Wilson: By 2020 Apple won’t be a top-3 tech company, but Google and Facebook will – May 5, 2014


  1. Whent defining the “cloud”, one should distinguish digital distribution from user-rented server space. The former model works in many markets. The second model is fraught with limitations, hidden costs, and complexities.

    iTunes = digital distribution

    Most objective users find Apple’s iCloud to be very limited, not the most reliable, and certainly a no-go for critical business use. No matter how you spin it, MDN, Apple’s storage services are lacking. Its digital distribution networks, obviously, are very powerful and mostly reliable. They are different services, and the value of each needs to be parsed entirely differently than your proposed breakdown.

      1. … @silver among the crowd calling for heads to roll when Apple rolled out the current version of “iCloud”? The one that can’t host a web site – even from iWeb – or do so many other things we used to rely on it for? The previous iteration had so many more uses than the current one has, and I still miss it.
        Other than the fact that it is STILL FREE! It’s one saving grace! Except … there’s the free Box, and the free Dropbox, and the free Google Disk, and … ? Each with a different feature set, different and equally incomplete.

    1. I generally agree with Paul. Apple does eCommerce (iTunes, App Store, online Apple Store) exceedingly well. However, aspects of iCloud are horrible. While syncing is good, file storage/organization is horrible. You can not EASILY instill any order in iCloud storage of Keynote, Pages, etc, nor can you EASILY use iCloud for other applications. If you have dozens or hundreds of documents in any Apple application, iCloud is virtually worthless. Moreover, the autosave feature is problematic – if I ungroup something in Keynote to recover a single object to paste into a new document, I have to bee exceedingly careful how I do it to avoid Keynote from saving an undesired change. As much as I liked Keynote (and I used it for years) I’ve moved back to PowerPoint for work flow simplicity and the fact that PowerPoint 2011 improved significantly while Keynote stagnated for several years and was only recently upgraded.

    2. Both of you can come back when you can point out what Paul said that was incorrect.

      iCloud is limited. It clearly is meant for personal and not business use, unless you’re a one person business.

      The storage space is somewhat limited compared to other services. Syncing your personal contacts and other data between devices is very different from being able to download a movie from iTunes.

      1. re “Both of you can come back…”
        Indeed. And also go look up the meaning of the word “troll”. Somebody who makes concrete, logical points that you disagree with is not “a troll”.

        And Canada Mark… I have a very small business, and, even so, have tens of thousands of Pages document. As you say, even hundreds is not viable to deal with under the iCloud model. Tens of thousands… ridiculous.

    3. Having a large amount of hard drive space 4TB in a iMac, a 64 gig iPhone, 64 gig iPad tied together with a Wi Fi network with a broadband service why do I need to store my important files on someone else’s hard drive, more to the point why does Apple have to waste their resources providing storage in an era where most people have more personal storage than ever before? With NSA around why would anyone store info outside of their personal control if they don’t have to?

  2. I bought $400 worth of AAPL at $22/share in 2000. It split 2:1 a few years ago, and is about to split 7:1.
    My regrest is that I didn’t buy more. And didn’t buy sooner.

  3. Switching money from Apple into other stocks means that Fred didn’t get the profits from Apple, but it does not mean that the money moved to other stocks did not pay off at a higher rate. Take to-day. Apple up 0.93%. FB up over 3%, TWTR up over 4.5%. Momentum stocks is where Fred seems to put his money and he’s not alone. That does not mean that the risk on the downside is not far greater than for a solid stock like Apple, which makes profits, pays dividends, buys back stock and has loads of cash. Unlike the high risk stocks. The market right now is like a casino; a gambling den in other words.

  4. “MacDailyNews Take: Being “one of the smartest guys in venture capital,” obviously isn’t the same as being a smart investor.”
    No, it like being the skinniest kid at fat camp.

    1. … I’m not great at that, either. I do buy and sell stocks, and make a profit doing that, but my claim to being “smart” rests on a) making 20%+ per year, and b) never losing money. More “b” than “a”. But … I’m not a “smart investor”. The best I can do at “smart” is to know my own limitations and stay within them. Take a VC guy into the world of stocks and he’s out of his depth. Likely to make mistakes.
      No need for insults, here. You guys are so good at buying stocks, how did your last VC deal go? OK, then, your last string of *virtual* VC deals? Heh! Yeah … thought so. Mine, too.

  5. MacDailyNews Take: Being “one of the smartest guys in venture capital,” obviously isn’t the same as being a smart investor.
    And right now there are little or no smart investors. They are all blind when it comes to Apple and what it has achieved and will achieve in the future. They keep investing in Google who keeps losing money. Yet raise there stock constantly. Apple makes record profits in a quarter and they drop the stock $40 a share and more. Smart investors? Where?

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