Microsoft's $3 trillion market cap milestone is the latest in a string of wins for Big Tech's elder statesman

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Hello! Introducing the worst new trend of 2024: People requesting individual checks for the food they ate at group dinners.

In today's big story, we're looking at Microsoft notching another big win by briefly reaching a $3 trillion valuation.

What's on deck:

But first, Microsoft's hot streak.

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The big story

Microsoft's milestone

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Big Tech's elder statesman briefly joined an ultra-exclusive club on Wednesday.

Microsoft became the second company ever to reach a $3 trillion market cap, Business Insider's Phil Rosen writes.

Microsoft finished the day below the threshold, but not before sharing time in $3-trillion-land with one of its biggest rivals: Apple. The fellow tech giant initially hit the mark on an intraday basis more than two years ago but secured its spot there over the last few months.

Microsoft's latest achievement comes after a string of big wins, from a massively successful partnership with OpenAI to winning $1 billion in business from rival Amazon.

It's an impressive run for a company often viewed as the least sexy in Big Tech.

Which raises the question: Is Microsoft cool again?

Ashley Stewart, BI's resident Microsoft expert, told me Microsoft's "cool" renaissance gets touted by the media every few years. (And she's not wrong.)

But she also acknowledged this time feels different. As much hype as there is in the AI space — and there sure is a lot — Microsoft seems to be delivering on much of it.

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Microsoft's history of being considered "boring" is actually helping it pitch companies on innovative tech.

Decades of experience selling tech means Microsoft has deep relationships and trust with its clients. So when it comes to diving into new, innovative tech such as AI, it makes sense companies would be most comfortable working with Microsoft, Ashley told me.

That's also why Microsoft is a valuable partner for newer AI companies. Scary new tech doesn't seem that daunting when it's got Microsoft's stamp of approval.

Still, Microsoft is facing plenty of competition in the AI space. Amazon maintains a considerable lead in the public cloud. And Google, despite all its current headaches, remains a force to be reckoned with.

And Microsoft's early victories, while nice, are also far from resounding. The company's earnings report next Tuesday will offer a closer look at the successes and failures of its AI endeavors.

It'll also need to tread carefully in its push into AI. As much potential as there is in the space, Microsoft has plenty of viable businesses outside the world of AI — and it shouldn't dismiss other divisions while focusing on AI.

3 things in markets

older woman making a duckface
  1. The stock market is looking gray, and that's a bad thing. Older Americans own 80% of US stocks, which puts the market at risk if the economy takes a dip, according to Rosenberg Research. Boomers aren't as likely to hold their positions through a downturn, which could spur a market selloff.

  2. We're still on track for the Fed cutting rates in March, according to this indicator. The Taylor Rule, which central bankers have used for years, shows where interest rates should be based on inflation and unemployment data. Currently, it's indicating the fed funds rate should be at 4.5%.

  3. A famed economist said you shouldn't confuse a booming stock market with a strong economy. Nobel economist Paul Krugman recently wrote about how consumers feel too optimistic about the economy due to the current stock market rally. In reality, few people have enough exposure to the market for a stock surge to equate to such confidence.

3 things in tech

Patrick Pleul/Pool via AP
  1. Tesla missed its profit forecasts. The EV company reported fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday. It missed earnings and revenue targets for the last three months of the year, and shares fell as much as 4% after the closing bell.

  2. What Microsoft Windows can teach us about long-term projects. Apple won't give up on building an EV, even though it's taking longer than expected. Similar to Mark Zuckerberg spending massively on AI and the metaverse, it's about building the next big platforms — if you're not in the race, you're not really a player.

  3. Salesforce's CEO told workers that AI won't steal your job — it'll make you better at it. Marc Benioff chatted with the Walmart CEO and president about the big question on everyone's minds: How will we use AI?

3 things in business

Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show."
Brad Barket / Getty Images
  1. Jon Stewart will return to host "The Daily Show." After a yearlong search, Comedy Central landed on Stewart as a replacement for Trevor Noah. But he'll only return in a limited capacity as host on Monday nights, and correspondents will handle the rest of the week's broadcasts.

  2. Remote workers are getting the boot once again. The days of fully remote working are under threat, as companies like Wayfair continue to cut costs. Bank of America, for example, sent letters threatening "disciplinary action" to employees who aren't coming into the office.

  3. Self-checkout is alienating shoppers. The technology might be making customers less loyal to stores that use it, according to new research. Self-checkout has been facing a reckoning, with some stores scaling back or eliminating kiosks.

In other news

What's happening today

  • Former President Donald Trump is expected to take the witness stand. It's part of E. Jean Carroll's second defamation trial against him.

  • Nominations for the NAACP Image Awards will be announced. It honors people in film, television, theater, music, and literature.

  • Earnings today: Intel, Visa, Southwest Airlines, Comcast, and other companies.

For your bookmarks

Longevity tips

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Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

Longevity lessons from a 93-year-old athlete. His heart health and fitness levels are decades younger than his biological age. His six longevity tips include lifting weights and eating enough protein.

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hayley Hudson, director, in Edinburgh. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.

Read the original article on Business Insider