Biz Break: Alaska takes Virgin America into the clouds

Top Of The Order: 

Up, Up And Away Goes Virgin: A company named for the 49th state, that’s based in a city that’s about three hours from the Canadian border is soon to become an even bigger force among Bay Area airports.

That’s what happens when Alaska Air Group, the Seattle-based parent of Alaska Airlines, spends $2.6 billion to acquire Virgin America, of San Francisco. The deal, which had been speculated about late last week and into the weekend, became official Monday morning.

It’s no secret why Alaska would want to add Virgin America to its roster: The airline has hubs in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the deal give Alaska Virgin’s gates at three New York-area airports and Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. In effect, Alaska will be able to fly customers all over the Lower 48.

It’s also not like Alaska is an unknown in the Bay Area. The airline runs dozens of flights a day from San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland International Airports. You can even fly Alaska direct to Hawaii. But Virgin, known for its customer service and for having one of the best on-time records of U.S. airlines, will bump Alaska up to the No. 5 carrier in the country. Whether or not Alaska intends on keeping the Virgin brand, however, is still up in the air.

Middle Innings:

Shades Of The Old Days?: For decades after India won its independence from Great Britain, the country was a sort of black hole for foreign companies. Maybe it was due to national pride, and wanting to break free from years of colonial rule, but Indian bureaucratic policies made it nearly impossible for outside companies to get their products on the shelves of Indian stores. There’s a reason why India’s iconic Ambassador automobile became so iconic…There were almost no other cars in the country’s auto showrooms.

Well, Apple may be seeing a bit of a throwback to those days. The iPhone maker is trying to become the first to import and sell used mobile phones in India, and India is pushing back. Some government officials are worried that if Apple is allowed to sell used iPhones in India, it will end up with the company dumping low-price products in the company’s market and undercut Indian brands and other products. And where the rub lies for Apple is that it only has about 2 percent of the Indian smartphone market and needs to boost sales in India to help make up for slowing markets in the U.S. and elsewhere.

I Won’t Look If You Won’t: Google and Oracle are not really on friendly terms right now. The companies are embroiled in a patent-infringement dispute involving Google’s use of Java and Oracle wanting Google to write Chairman Larry Ellison & Co. a check for $9.3 billion to make up for what Oracle thinks is a very big mistake on the part of Google.

A new trial between the two Silicon Valley giants is about to begin, and jury selection will be a big part of it. However, while Oracle and Google definitely disagree on whether Google actually did anything wrong regarding its use of Java, both companies have agreed to not to go online and research the jurors that eventually end up on the case. No searching for juror’s background like someone looking up what their high-school girlfriend looks like on Facebook. Apparently, Oracle and Google needed to be nudged a bit in that direction by the judge in the case, but still…Maybe peace is at hand?

Say It Wasn’t The Garlic Fries: Not counting three games played on Sunday, Major League Baseball got started in full swing Monday, and it you think baseball isn’t a business, keep in mind that MLB is in the third year of an eight-year TV contract worth $12.4 billion. And then there’s the $11 (or more) beers at the ballpark…

Both Bay Area teams were on the schedule Monday. The Giants were in Milwaukee to take on the Brewers, and if you believe in trends or superstitions or are just an orange-and-black blind Giants fan, they don’t even need to play the regular season because San Francisco WILL win the World Series this year. After all, the Giants won the Series in each of the last three even-numbered years, sandwiched around three odd-numbered seasons where they failed to make the post-season. By that logic, you might as well plan on a victory parade down Market Street this fall.

Then there are the A’s, the greatest team ever to have MC Hammer as a front-office worker and the only MLB team still playing in one of those 1960s/1970s-era multi-sport coliseums that’s closer to a freeway exit than a city’s downtown. Yeah, the A’s had an off year last season after making the playoffs three years in a row, but hope always springs eternal with the first game of the year, right?

Sadly, it’s too bad that hope won’t begin with a Sonny Gray pitching performance Monday. Gray, the ace of the A’s pitching staff, was felled by food poisoning and will miss his Opening Day start. Instead, the A’s will roll out 36-year-old Rich Hill, aka “Bag O’ Hammers” to deal with the Chicago White Sox.

Bottom Of The Lineup: 

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley stocks did Monday…

Movin’ On Up: Gainers included Ruckus Wireless, which rose more than 32 percent after it agreed to be acquired by Brocade Communications in a deal worth $1.5 billion. Gains also came from Marketo, Twitter, RingCentral and Zeltiq Aesthetics.

In The Red: Natus Medical shares tumbled by more than 19 percent after the Pleasanton-based maker of medical-care products for newborns gave a disappointing quarterly forecast. Brocade shares fell more than 13 percent, and losses also came from SumPower, Medivation and QuinStreet.

The SV150 Index of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies broke even to close at 1,634.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.6 percent to end the day at 4,499.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.4 percent to end the day at 17,630.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gave up 0.4 percent to end the day at 2,056.

Quote Of The Day: “Sparky Anderson said, ‘No matter the outcome of tonight’s game, my starting pitcher’s going to the Hall of Fame.’ I said, “No matter the outcome of tonight’s game, I’m going to the Eliot Lounge.'” — Bill “Spaceman” Lee, talking about Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, in which he was the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. The Sox did not win.

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Photo: A Virgin America plane takes off past an Alaska Airlines plane waiting to taxi, Monday, April 4, 2016, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. Alaska Airlines’ parent company announced Monday that it will pay $2.6 billion to buy Virgin America. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


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