Apple didn’t know that activist investors wanted it it take on child safety (AAPL)


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Apple didn’t know that two of its biggest investors, Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, wanted it to take a bigger role in children safety.
Apple was given a heads-up call shortly before the investors publicly released a letter calling for changes, but the letter wasn’t the result of previous talks or suggestions made privately to Apple.
The letter received an immediate response from Apple promising to add features and upgrade its existing child safety features. Apple also pointed out that it has offered child safety features since 2008.

Last week, Apple was the target of an interesting PR situation in which everyone involved walked away winners.

Apple was somewhat blindsided by an open letter by activist hedge fund JANA Partners and powerhouse institutional investor the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) demanding that the iPhone maker do more to protect kids from the dangers of too much screen time, a person familiar with the situation tells Business Insider.

The company received a “courtesy call,” shortly before this PR campaign launched, as this person described it, but the investors had not been in talks behind-the-scenes with Apple prior to the letter being made public.

In the letter, investors that jointly owned $2 billion worth of Apple stock, asked Apple to invest in research on the topic and to create a committee that included academic researchers to help it create new child safety features.

Apple promptly responded with a statement, pointing out that it’s had parental controls in its software since 2008 but promising to update them. “Apple has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online. We have new features and enhancements planned for the future to add functionality and make these tools even more robust.”

As to why Jana chose Apple, “Apple was a logical place to start,” this person said, because Apple is “socially responsible and they are perfectly positioned because they are the gateway for teens to get to these things. If you are trying to stop water from coming out of a hose it’s more effective to grab the hose than try and grab every drop of water coming out of the hose.”

We’re looking at you, Facebook

Interestingly, the motivation behind targeting Apple in this way wasn’t Apple at all. It was Facebook.

Last month, Facebook said that using Facebook helped improve feelings of “depression and loneliness.” It cited as evidence, in part, a study that Facebook itself conducted with Carnegie Mellon University, along with a few other studies from other universities.

Naturally, Facebook’s blog post didn’t mention a large study published a few months earlier by researchers at Yale and UC San Diego that found the reverse: the more that people used Facebook, the worse many of them felt.

The folks at Jana felt that Facebook was being somewhat disingenuous about the research and didn’t want Apple to “take the same kind of insular approach and say, ‘Don’t worry about it. …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech

      

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