10 Things You Need To Know This Morning In Australia

Actor Robin Williams has been found dead at his home in California. Photo: Getty / File

Good morning – there’s some devastating news breaking this morning that Robin Williams has died at 63 in what’s initially believed to be a suicide. We’ll have updates on that through the day.

Here’s your morning update…

1. Telstra is buying global video streaming giant Ooyala. The telco, which is rapidly evolving into something more resembling a media and investment company, announced this morning it will acquire 98% of the video platform company with a $270 million investment, which comes on top of the $61 million it has invested over the past two years, giving it 23% ownership. It’s a big play for Telstra, giving it a consumer-facing delivery platform for video content that is widely used around the web (including on Business Insider, but also on Yahoo! Japan, ESPN, and the Telegraph Media Group), and aligns with its 50% ownership of Foxtel. Telstra CEO David Thodey said: “This provides an opportunity for Telstra and Ooyala to establish a consolidated leading global company to deliver platforms and services on which the next generation of TV and video will be built.” More here.

2. To the markets, and US stocks made modest gains overnight, with the Dow up just 0.1%, the S&P 500 gaining 0.3% and the Nasdaq up 0.7%. The major news in the US was a huge merger in the pipeline industry, with the Kinder Morgan group consolidating its subsidiaries into one company. It will create the third-largest energy company in the world, with an estimated value of $US140 billion. Shares in each of the group’s publicly-traded units surged. Rob Wile has a detailed report here, explaining how CEO Rich Kinder outsmarted all of Wall Street.

3. Australian stocks recovered from the falls at the end of last week, as did stocks around the region. The Nikkei was up 2.4% yesterday, while the Hang Seng was up 1.3% and Shanghai was up 1.4%. The ASX only managed a gain of 0.4% yesterday – futures are up 20 points ahead of the start of trade. Today we get results from Domino’s and the ailing Wotif, and on the data front, there’s the NAB business survey at 11.30am AEST which will give us an important indication on employment intentions, and the ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index out at 9.30am AEST.

4. Tony Abbott is turning it around. Not that polls matter much this far out from an election, but the Coalition’s support has surged back over recent weeks and a Newspoll out today has Tony Abbott back as preferred prime minister and the government trailing by just four points on the two-party preferred measure. As we’ve noted here before, Abbott has been reclaiming control of his agenda – leading the response and recovery on MH17, ditching the changes to the Racial Discrimination Act that tied the government in knots because of overzealous selling by George Brandis and certain free-speech cheerleaders, and making aggressive decisions on the rapidly-emerging domestic security threat from the radicalised Australian Islamists.

5. Siri could be coming to a touchscreen Mac. A new Apple patent application shows how a touchscreen Mac could work, including gestures to bring up Siri, which would help with composing emails and writing documents.

6. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has a wild performance review system at his new company, Medium. He gets all his employees to write feedback to him on a Google Doc that everyone else in the company can see. What could possibly go wrong?

7. Snapchat is hotter than Twitter. Yes, the figures are from the US, but as we’ve seen so often with digital app trends, as goes America, so goes the world – or at least Australia. And here’s a chart to make you think, showing the popularity of social media apps among US “millenials”, America’s Gen Ys. Snapchat is now much bigger than Twitter in that demographic:

8. The frequent flyer bonus. One of the often-mentioned possible solutions to some of Qantas’s problems is spinning out its frequent flyer business in a float or sale. It wouldn’t be the first airline to do this: it’s something happening around the world as the continuing squeeze on margins in the industry has management looking for other areas for profit. Reuters has documented some of the recent examples; including Air Canada’s 2005 spin-out of 12.5% of its loyalty program in 2005 that valued it at around $C2 billion – or 20 times its annual profit. The customer base is data-rich, and also money-rich, and when you think about the future, you can envisage members being tracked on their journeys through their smartphones so that deals offered to them through partners can be tailored to the individual. Here’s the full article.

9. Back door ASX listing concerns. Another tech startup, messaging app MigMe, started trading on the ASX yesterday, after a backdoor listing through mining exploration company Latin Gold. Not to single out any one company, but this is a trend that has some observers increasingly worried about the risks for investors, particularly retail investors. BI’s Alex Heber has taken an in-depth look here.

10. The Jaguar F-Type is a beast. BI’s Simon Thomsen has had one for a test drive. Here’s his review.

Vale Robin Williams. I’m on Twitter: @colgo.

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