SeaWorld Stock Drops: Is ‘Blackfish’ to Blame?
After more than a year of public criticism surrounding the treatment of its killer whales, SeaWorld has released a statement saying it will build new, larger environments at its theme parks and will fund additional research focusing on the animals, ocean health and whales in the wild.
The company, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, also stated that the plans for larger enclosures are not a result of mounting pressure caused by the documentary ‘Blackfish’ but have been in the pipeline for some time.
The company's shares, which are trading near their lowest point since SeaWorld listed its stock on public markets last year, rose Friday. But it remains to be seen if the renovations will fully address concerns about keeping large marine mammals in captivity.
Documentary ‘Blackfish’ Left a Sour Taste
The 2013 documentary ‘Blackfish’ suggests that the conditions in which whales were being kept in at SeaWorld promotes violent behavior. It also suggested that SeaWorld’s treatment of the whales led to the death of trainers.
Since its release, a number of high-profile entertainers have declined to perform at the theme park, long-time marketing partner Southwest Airlines backed out of working with the company and SeaWorld stocks have plummeted.
Too Little, Too Late?
Amid ailing profits and negative public opinion, SeaWorld says it will build a tank with 10 million gallons of water at its San Diego Park, which is almost twice the size of the current tank with a depth of up to 50 feet. The new environment will be called the Blue World Project, and SeaWorld said it would include features that will be more stimulating for the whales, for example a fast water current that will allow them to swim against moving water.
According to reports the new facility will open to the public in 2018, and if successful SeaWorld will make similar changes at its Orlando, Florida and San Antonio parks.
The company said the cost of the project will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars but would not specify the exact budget.
SeaWorld is also pledging $10 million to support research focused on threats to killer whales, or orcas, in the wild. It also announced a $1.5 million commitment to a partnership focused on ocean health.
Despite these changes however, ‘Blackfish’ director Gabriela Cowperthwaite said the lives of the whales – nor public opinion – will improve. She stated that the size of the pool was not the only concern, but also the mental wellbeing of the animals in captivity.
“None of this would change in a bigger pool,” she said. “What people are upset about is that whales are not suitable to captivity.”
Cowperthwaite said SeaWorld should instead create oceanic sanctuaries that will let the whales live out their lives in more natural environments.
Drop in Income
On Wednesday SeaWorld reported net income and revenue that fell short of Wall Street expectations and the company withdrew its financial outlook for the year. Its revenue in the second quarter was about $40 million less than analysts had expected, and the company acknowledged that ‘Blackfish’ hurt attendance.
SeaWorld stock rose 66 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $18.66 Friday. The shares have dropped 35 percent this year.
Dell to sell cloud-based iPaaS Boomi in US$4bn deal
Global investment firm Francisco Partners and private equity platform TPG Capital have entered into an agreement with Dell Technologies to acquire cloud-based integration platform as a service provider Boomi in a cash deal valued at US$4bn. The deal is expected to complete this year.
“Boomi has flourished as part of Dell Technologies, growing exponentially since we acquired them in 2010. This proposed transaction positions Boomi for its next phase of growth and is the right move for both companies, our shared customers and partners,” said Jeff Clarke, vice chairman and chief operating officer of Dell Technologies.
“For us, we're focused on fuelling growth by continuing to modernise our core infrastructure and PC businesses and expanding in high-priority areas including hybrid and private cloud, edge, telecom and APEX. All designed to help organisations thrive in the do-from-anywhere economy.”
Dell’s Boomi sell-off follows VMware spin-off
This announcement comes just two weeks after Dell said it would spin-off its 81% equity ownership of VMware to form two standalone companies. This would result in an expected US$9.3bn cash dividend payment to Dell, which says it will use those funds to pay down debt.
When Dell acquired Boomi in 2010 for an undisclosed fee, Boomi offered the industry’s only pure SaaS application integration platform, powered by its revolutionary AtomSphere technology. Dell saw Boomi as addressing one of the top barriers to cloud adoption at that time, which was managing and integrating cloud-based applications with existing applications and databases.
Now, Boomi has more than 15,000 customers globally and is still seen as a leader when it comes to organisations connecting applications, processes and people across a range of locations and devices – a process that can take weeks rather than months.
“I am incredibly proud that through innovation, passion and relentless execution, the Boomi team has created a unified platform for the modern-day hybrid IT landscape that thousands of customers worldwide depend on to digitally transform their business,” said Chris McNabb, chief executive officer of Boomi.
“By partnering with two tier-one investment firms like Francisco Partners and TPG, we can accelerate our ability for our customers to use data to drive competitive advantage. In this next phase of growth, Boomi will be in a position of strength to further advance our innovation and market trajectory while delivering even more value to our customers.”
Francisco Partners has invested in more than 300 technology companies since its launch 20 years ago and has more than US$25bn in assets under management.
“The ability to integrate and connect data and workflows across any combination of applications or domains is a critical business capability, and we strongly believe that Boomi is well positioned to help companies of all sizes turn data into their most valuable asset,” said Dipanjan Deb, co-founder and chief executive officer, and Brian Decker, partner, at Francisco Partners
Nehal Raj, partner, and Art Heidrich, principal, at TPG Capital added: “The need for automation and data integration across applications has never been greater. Boomi's cloud-native platform enables enterprises to streamline business processes and is essential for driving digital transformation.”