Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Oracle slump, Cyprus Plan B, Twitter turns seven, LEGO rockers

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Potential rival bid for Dell Tomorrow (March 22) is a deadline for alternative bidders to come forward and challenge founder Michael Dell’s take-private offer. Buyout house Blackstone is reportedly preparing a competing offer.

Will Obama mention the peace process? Some are calling the US president’s trip to Israel “Operation Desert Schmooze.” His first speech was one of rousing support for Israel. He may have been softening the ground for today’s speech, before a group of students, where he may bring up the touchy subject of peace with the Palestinians.

US home prices point to economic recovery. Economists polled by Bloomberg are expecting the home price index to rise 0.7% from last month, and existing home sales to increase 1.6% month over month, to 5 million.

Nike releases earnings.The sportswear giant is expected to halt or reduce its slide in China, where it’s been having trouble.

Twitter turns seven. The company celebrates its seventh birthday with 200 million users who generate an average 400 million tweets a day. The service has brought more freedom of expression to repressive regimes, and also enabled public figures to stupidly compromise themselves to an audience of millions.

While you were sleeping

Cyprus tried to find a Plan B. The nation’s president has been scrambling to come up with a deal to save the economy after its parliament rejected a controversial tax on bank savings. Cyprus’ government is now seeking financial assistance from Russia. The European Central Bank said it would keep emergency aid for Cypriot banks in place at least until Monday, but warned to cut off assistance shortly afterwards unless an international rescue plan was drawn up.

Oracle missed earnings forecasts. The world’s number 3 software maker missed expectations for third quarter software sales. Management blamed the sales force for their “lack of urgency,” though analysts are getting more concerned about tepid IT spending by corporations and governments. Oracle’s stock fell 8% in after-hours trading.

North Korea claimed it has the ability to attack US overseas military bases. The rogue state has said bases on the Pacific island of Guam and Okinawa in Japan are in its sights and it will attack them if provoked. The US plans to beef up missile defenses along the Pacific coast of the United States.

And South Korea said it was being hacked by China, which possibly meant North Korea did it. A Chinese internet address was linked to a major attack on South Korean banks and media companies. This gave rise to suspicions of North Korean hackers using Chinese internet identities to carry out attacks on the South in retaliation against UN sanctions.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zach Seward on why stationery firm Moleskine is planning a high-priced IPO. “The higher margins are being used by Moleskine’s bankers to justify a valuation between 22 and 29.1 times the company’s earnings last year, which is higher than brands like Burberry and Richemont. But is Moleskine best compared to all these luxury brands, which sell clothing and accessories, or companies that actually make, you know, paper? An illuminating chart from the company’s IPO prospectus makes the case that Moleskine is actually the opposite of a stationery company.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

There is no such thing as a “tech company.” It is just a label to increase valuations. All successful corporations innovate with technology.

Japan should stop pandering to elderly savers and focus on its youth, who are struggling with poverty and unemployment (paywall).

The truth behind Cyprus’s bank catastrophe. Cypriot banks are really Greek banks in disguise.

Surprising discoveries

The complete guide to note-taking at work. Choose digital over paper; organize obsessively; and doodle.

India’s male tech start-up founders struggle to find wives. Families see them as like impoverished artists, but not as glamorous.

Someone has created a rock band made of LEGO robots. 

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Plan Bs or Cs for Cyprus and ideas for other jobs for LEGO robots to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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