|Bid||170.29 x 900|
|Ask||170.32 x 800|
|Day's range||166.01 - 173.39|
|52-week range||137.10 - 224.20|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.07|
|PE ratio (TTM)||26.44|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||N/A|
WhatsApp is imposing additional restriction on how frequently a message can be shared on its platform in its latest effort to curtail the spread of misinformation. The Facebook -owned instant messaging service said today that any message that has been forwarded five or more times will now face a new limit that will prevent a user from forwarding it to more than one chat (contact) at a time. A spokesperson told TechCrunch that WhatsApp will roll out this change to users worldwide today.
Starting today, some U.S. Facebook users will see a new pop-up on the app asking them to complete a survey about COVID-19. The survey, from Carnegie Mellon University's Delphi epidemiological research center, is one of many new symptom mapping projects that seek to anticipate where the next wave of the virus will hit as COVID-19 sweeps through populations the world over. Carnegie Mellon's research effort will get a big leg up from Facebook, which may promote similar surveys in different parts of the world if this one goes well.
Facebook's New Product Experimentation (NPE) team, which created Tuned, describes the app as "a private space where you and your significant other can just be yourselves". NPE was created last year to focus on launching consumer-focused experimental apps. Tuned is currently ranked No. 872 in the United States and No. 550 in Canada in the social networking category, Sensor Tower said.
EU antitrust regulators want to know if Facebook's online marketplace benefits unfairly from its treasure trove of data, according to a questionnaire seen by Reuters, a sign that they are building up a case against the U.S. social media giant. The EU document sent to industry players and other parties is a follow-up to a questionnaire that the European Commission sent to the same parties last August focusing on Facebook's Marketplace. Launched in 2016, Facebook Marketplace is used by 800 million Facebook users in 70 countries to buy and sell items.
Facebook (FB) boosts user location data collection initiatives to help researchers understand and derive measures to combat coronavirus outbreak.
After reading Facebook, Inc.'s (NasdaqGS:FB) most recent earnings announcement (31 December 2019), I found it useful...
Facebook Inc said on Monday it would start surveying some U.S. users about their health as part of a Carnegie Mellon University research project aimed at generating "heat maps" of self-reported coronavirus infections. Facebook said it may make surveys available to users in other countries too, if the approach is successful. Alphabet Inc's Google, Facebook's rival in mobile advertising, began querying users for the Carnegie Mellon project last month through its Opinion Rewards app, which exchanges responses to surveys from Google and its clients for app store credit.
Foursquare, a pioneer in consumer check-ins a decade ago that pivoted into location data services for ad targeting, is merging with a competitor, Factual. The tie-up — the terms of which was not disclosed — pairs two already strong players in location data advertising services, and strengthens them as an alternative to Google and Facebook […]
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is expanding the user location data that the company offers to researchers and non-profits trying to study the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus.The world’s largest social network shares anonymized, aggregated location information as part of an effort to study disease outbreaks, and more than 150 organizations partner with the company to use that data for research. Facebook is adding new data points for researchers fighting Covid-19, including information about whether people are staying at home, and other material that details “the probability that people in one area will come in contact with people in another,” the company said Monday.At Harvard University, researchers are using the information to measure whether government recommended “social-distancing” measures are actually helping to decrease spread of the virus, which has already infected a confirmed 1.3 million people worldwide.“We are putting in social distancing policies and currently we have no idea what they actually do in terms of subsequent epidemiology of the disease,” said Caroline Buckee, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard. “Policy makers want to know things like, ‘Which of these policies actually work? And how long are we going to have to do them?’”Facebook will also put a post atop users’ feeds in the U.S. directing them to a Carnegie Mellon University survey that will ask users, among other things, to self-report possible Covid-19 symptoms. Facebook says the survey is intended to “help health researchers better monitor and forecast the spread of Covid-19.”“[Researchers] won’t share individual survey responses with Facebook, and Facebook won’t share information about who you are with the researchers,” the company said. Only those 18-years-old or older will see the survey prompt.Alphabet Inc.’s Google said last week it would publicly release mobility reports that show anonymized data about where people are traveling to help researchers better track the disease. The company’s Maps app is used by more than 1 billion people worldwide.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Telecom masts that enable the next generation of wireless communication were set on fire in the U.K. in recent days, apparently by people motivated by a theory that the technology helps spread the coronavirus. Investors are taking note.“Most will laugh at this scientifically unproven claim, but we should not underestimate public worry about potentially adverse health impacts of 5G due to radiation, and thus a possible drag on the 5G progress in democratic countries,” analysts led by Edison Lee at Jefferies Financial Group Inc. said in a note on Sunday.While there’s no evidence to support the idea that 5G airwaves contribute to Covid-19’s spread, the conspiracy is being shared widely on social media. Mast fires were reported in Belfast, Liverpool and Birmingham, according to local media. A video of a telecom tower on fire was circulated on a Birmingham community web page, and Facebook removed a group which encouraged users to share footage of equipment being destroyed, the Guardian reported Friday.At least 20 masts have been attacked in the last few days, according to trade body Mobile U.K.“It’s diverting resources from emergency services dealing with the pandemic, and from the industry ensuring the country remains connected” said Gareth Elliott, head of policy and spokesman for Mobile U.K. “It’s putting people’s lives at risk.”5G is being rolled out by all four U.K. mobile carriers: BT Group Plc, Vodafone Group Plc, Telefonica SA’s O2, and CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s Three U.K.The networks denounced the mast attacks in a joint statement on Sunday. Britain’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport tweeted that criminal acts inspired by “crackpot conspiracy theories circulating online” will “face the full force of the law.”Counter-terrorism police are investigating, according to Vodafone U.K. Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery.The government has set up special units to combat misinformation about the virus, and says it’s pressing social media companies “for further action to stem the spread of falsehoods and rumors which could cost lives.” Media regulator Ofcom last week sanctioned a small radio station for featuring a guest who claimed 5G caused the pandemic. Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson shared the theory on his Instagram account last week.Concerns about links between 5G and cancer were already slowing its roll-out in countries including Switzerland, Bloomberg Businessweek previously reported, despite a lack of scientific support for the claims. Last month the independent global health body, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, deemed 5G to be safe.“Public fear, even if not fact-based, can pressure governments to act if it is big enough,” the Jefferies analysts wrote. “With so many unknowns as to the nature of COVID-19, it is not surprising that people might believe any theories, no matter how baseless.”(Updates with number of attacks and wireless industry comment from fourth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Myanmar said it’s considering whether to tap emergency financing from multilateral lenders including the International Monetary Fund to cushion the blow of the coronavirus outbreak.The government has held discussions with the IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others, Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the government panel set up to tackle the economic impact of the virus, said in an interview.“We may seek emergency funds in the future, if things lead to the need for that,” Aung Naing Oo said Friday. “Our plan is to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on the economy.”Multilateral lenders have pledged to mobilize huge amounts to help countries grappling with the damage caused by the pathogen. The IMF has said it’s ready to deploy all of its $1 trillion lending capacity, while the World Bank expects to make as much as $160 billion available over the next 15 months.Factory closures, especially in the labor-intensive garment industry, are already leading to job losses in Myanmar. Economic growth is set to slow sharply to 2%-3% this year, compared with an earlier expectation of 6.4%, according to the World Bank.The Southeast Asian nation had 21 confirmed infections and one death as of Monday morning. There are fears the disease known as Covid-19 is more widespread than official numbers suggest because of limited testing, and that a major outbreak would overwhelm health care facilities.Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has so far announced a $70 million lending program to help businesses, but this is fraction of the country’s $71 billion gross domestic product. The central bank has also lowered borrowing costs.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Data sharing by technology companies is helping government officials fight the dizzying spread of the coronavirus by monitoring compliance with social distancing and stay-at-home orders.It’s also putting privacy experts on edge.Companies including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. were already collecting, for advertising purposes, huge volumes of data from websites and smart-phone apps like maps and weather services, which transmit signals about their owners’ location. Some of them are now stripping the data of personal identification markers, aggregating it, and providing it to researchers, public-health authorities and government agencies.The ability to pinpoint the movements of individuals is crucial at a time when controlling the pandemic’s spread depends on compliance with government orders to stay home if possible, and to practice social distancing if not.But consumer advocates fear that an emphasis on health over privacy could undermine the protection of civil liberties, similar to what happened after 9/11, when the U.S. secretly began collecting mass amounts of data on its own citizens in an effort to track down terrorists.Risk of Intrusion“There is an understandable desire to marshal all tools that are at our disposal to help confront the pandemic,” said Michael Kleinman, director of Amnesty International’s Silicon Valley Initiative. “Yet countries’ efforts to contain the virus must not be used as an excuse to create a greatly expanded and more intrusive digital surveillance system.”In the U.S. the new data-sharing practices are happening on many levels. One leading effort that began two weeks ago involves a partnership between a network of researchers and tech companies such as Facebook, which supplies anonymous and aggregated geo-location data.In assembly-line fashion, an analytics firm called Camber Systems takes mobile application data from digital ad companies and sends it multiple times a day to researchers who’ve joined the Covid-19 Mobility Data Network, according to network co-coordinator Andrew Schroeder.Those scientists study the now-anonymous data from multiple sources for insights about mobility rates, which are then shared with foreign governments like Italy and Spain and with U.S. states and cities, including New York, Seattle and California, Schroeder said.No ‘Surveillance’ The network says the analysis, which is meant to help measure enforcement of social-distancing rules, doesn’t contain personally identifiable information and that contracts governing the use of the information prohibit raw data from going directly to governments.Camber Systems declined to comment. Facebook said its data are aggregated in formats that prevent re-identification of individuals and that scientists and other users are subject to licensing agreements. Schroeder said the group is only using the data to address the public health crisis and not “for commercial purposes” or for “police surveillance.” Separately, Facebook, Google, Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and others have pledged to work together in coordination with government to combat the spread of the virus. An ad hoc tech industry task force has also spoken with White House officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a person familiar with the matter. Members of that task force have discussed proposals to share analyses of social-distancing compliance and hospital usage, the person said.Google announced Friday it would release new data about how the pandemic has cut down on foot traffic to transit centers, retail stores and public parks in more than 130 countries. The company said it’s responding to requests from public-health officials who want to know how people are moving around cities as a way to better combat the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Google reiterated in a blog post on Friday that, in its mobility reports, it’s using anonymized, aggregated data. Apple Inc. launched yet another initiative when it announced on March 27 that it was developing an app in partnership with the White House’s coronavirus task force, the CDC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The goal is to give the CDC guidance on users who input symptoms, risk factors and other information. The company said that individual responses wouldn’t be sent to the government.Earlier: Apple Joins Others in Launching Covid-19 Screening ToolsBut on Friday, four Democratic senators sent a letter asking what Apple was doing about privacy compliance, data retention, cybersecurity, and the terms of agreements with governments.With so many initiatives popping up, privacy gurus worry that information collected will later be used in ways it wasn’t intended. They say they don’t want to obstruct efforts that could help turn the tide in the crisis. Still, they want assurances that the data are truly anonymous. They want the data to be clearly defined, with real potential to be helpful, and to include limits on its reuse -- especially by law enforcement. They also want the data discarded once the coronavirus crisis ends.The sources of anonymous data can sometimes be exposed by combining datasets. Even when made anonymous, location points that come from phone apps, for instance, can be linked to a person by checking who lives at the address where the phone rests at night.“Location data can clue you in to a lot of other sensitive points about you,” said Sara Collins, policy counsel at Public Knowledge. “This discussion about backing into sensitive data from one data point I think is going to stay relevant.”Some of the data-sharing initiatives have already exposed potential community-spread problems. Tectonix GEO, based in Maryland, specializes in visualizing geolocation data, including for the federal government. It teamed up with X-Mode Social, based in Virginia, which sells location data from mobile phones to marketers. In March, they used the phone coordinates found on a single Florida beach during spring break to show how people had congregated and then dispersed -- possibly spreading the virus far and wide.X-Mode hasn’t shared any data with governments or heath agencies and hasn’t been been asked to, a spokesman for the company said.Cuebiq Inc., which specializes in helping companies analyze the effectiveness of ad campaigns on travel, weather, and other location-based apps, is posting its own “Mobility Insights,” with county-level readings across the U.S. on the movements of people in areas under stay-at-home orders. Chief Executive Officer Antonio Tomarchio, said it chose to provide analysis from a wide geographic area to protect privacy while trying “to help as much as we can.”“This is not like surveillance,” said Tomarchio, who’s watched the “disaster” unfold in his native Italy. “It’s not that we’re seeing each device.”Privacy RulesBusiness groups have used the pandemic to seek a delay in privacy rules, including a March letter from dozens of trade groups that urged California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to delay enforcement of the state’s new privacy law for six months due to Covid-19. The groups represent advertisers, tech companies, financial services firms, telecom providers, retailers, toymakers and more. Becerra’s office said it wasn’t planning any delay in the July 1 enforcement date.“Industry wants to use its role addressing today’s threats to public health as a lobbying tool to weaken the resolve of lawmakers to protect privacy,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and a longtime online privacy advocate.Use of consumers’ data is governed largely by individual services’ privacy policies, which are often contained in sprawling documents that most users click through without reading. Few, if any, of the data uses clearly run afoul of laws or regulations, privacy experts say.Hubei ProvinceMany of the proposed ways to use data to combat coronavirus in the U.S. also stop short of what several other countries have done.In China, authorities used phone-carrier data to trace everyone who’s been in or near Hubei province, home to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Singapore’s TraceTogether app uses Bluetooth technology to map a person’s contacts in case an infected person fails to recall all social interactions. And Israel has approved the use of tracking technology developed to combat terrorism to trace the movements of coronavirus patients.The lack of a federal law in the U.S. and the potential for privacy erosions are prompting advocates to push for guardrails. “This pandemic is just another example of why we need a strong, comprehensive baseline federal privacy law and a U.S. data protection agency,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, policy director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which has filed government records demands about the White House’s work with tech companies.“People may choose safety for the moment,” said Jessica Rich, a former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection bureau and now a fellow at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy. “When this crisis is over, we will have eroded privacy norms and expectations and even regulations. And will we be able to get that back?”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke to what sounds like a new level of cooperation between the company and Washington.
(Bloomberg) -- Teddy Kramer worked at WeWork from 2013 to 2015. When he left the company, he had been a director of new market development, helping the co-working startup open new offices in different regions. He’d put in the time and been granted shares in the company. At first, he thought he might be able to sell them after WeWork’s much-anticipated initial public offering in September, but the IPO attempt flopped.As a backup option, Kramer and other current and ex-WeWork staff were told they would be able to sell their shares to SoftBank Group Corp. in a deal set to take place on Wednesday. Kramer was expecting to sell between $50,000 and $100,000, he said, and he was depending on the cash to cover expenses while he started his new business, a co-working space in San Francisco called Neon. On Thursday, though, SoftBank sent a letter to all WeWork shareholders: The deal was off. The Japanese conglomerate, the largest investor in WeWork parent We Co., was pulling out of the agreement to purchase billions in WeWork stock from existing shareholders. The abrupt about-face has impacted many people like Kramer—rank-and-file employees who had been banking on the payout from SoftBank, some of whom are now left in a lurch as the coronavirus pandemic slams the global economy. They’d already faced the disappointment of losing the chance to sell after the promised IPO and seeing their highly valued WeWork shares lose almost all their worth in the fallout. SoftBank’s decision to pull out underlines the precarious nature of owning shares in a startup, even when the company was, at one point, the most valuable startup in the U.S.Less than a year ago, WeWork was on pace for an IPO that would add to the rolls of tech millionaires. New York was bracing for an infusion of wealth akin to the bonanza that beset Silicon Valley overnight when Facebook Inc. went public in 2012. An IPO or multibillion-dollar stock transaction like the one SoftBank agreed to with WeWork provides the seed money for people to buy homes and start businesses. For WeWork, those opportunities evaporated with little forewarning, coming as a shock to some shareholders who had already begun laying the foundation for their new lives. SoftBank cited several reasons for pulling out of the deal, including that WeWork was currently facing government inquiries from U.S. attorneys, the Securities and Exchange Commission, attorneys general in California and New York and the Manhattan district attorney. Those ongoing inquiries, the company said, meant that the conditions of the original deal had not been met. Representatives for SoftBank and WeWork declined to comment. In the letter sent early Thursday confirming the deal was off, SoftBank framed the called-off stock sale as something that would have mainly benefited WeWork’s ousted chief executive officer, Adam Neumann, and WeWork’s investors. The bulk of the proceeds of the $3 billion stock sale was set to go to just five investors, including Neumann and venture capital firm Benchmark. "Adam Neumann, his family, and certain large institutional stockholders, such as Benchmark Capital, were the parties who stood to benefit most from the tender offer," SoftBank said in a statement about the decision. "Together, Mr. Neumann’s and Benchmark’s equity constitute more than half of the stock tendered in the offering. In contrast, current WeWork employees tendered less than 10% of the total."But for employees, a tenth of $3 billion is still a lot of money. Add in additional workers who have recently left the company, and that figure could climb even higher. Some current and former staff at WeWork have taken issue with SoftBank’s statements about its decision to pull out, arguing that the money they stood to receive from the sale would make more of a difference in their lives than to Neumann and others.“They’re trying to leverage the negative press that has followed Adam since the IPO by saying ‘This is just a billionaire making more money,’” Kramer said.Kramer, 36, is used to the roller coaster ride of startups: An earlier company of his, Six4Three, spent years in a lawsuit against Facebook Inc. that unearthed documents around the social network’s attitude toward privacy and informed the debate around the Cambridge Analytica scandal. With this latest setback, Kramer said he’s fairly lucky. He hadn’t signed a lease yet for his new company, and doesn’t have employees that he would have to cut. But without the money from the stock sale, his business dream is on indefinite hold. In the meantime, he’s tutoring kids in reading comprehension over Zoom and looking for a different job.Other people were depending on the SoftBank sale to help defray costs they’d incurred when WeWork’s stock seemed much more valuable. One current WeWork employee, who also asked not to be named because of a non-disclosure agreement, said they bought a house last summer thinking they'd be able to pay for it after selling shares in the IPO. When that didn't happen, they had still been hoping cash from this stock sale could help offset some of those costs.A former employee, who asked not to be named because they signed a non-disclosure agreement, said that once the company’s IPO prospectus was made public in August, they figured that meant the IPO was likely to take place. Right after that, this person took out a loan in order to buy the shares they had access to. The idea was to buy early to try to avoid short-term capital gains tax.Over the next month, though, as WeWork’s bankers struggled to get institutional investors to commit to buying into WeWork’s IPO, the company’s prospects started to look shakier. The former employee said that WeWork’s then chief financial officer, Artie Minson, repeatedly tried to reassure workers at all-hands meetings. Minson told them the company had strong revenue, that its numbers had never been better, and that the company would go public by the end of the year.But quickly, WeWork withdrew its IPO and turned to SoftBank for bailout funding to avoid going bankrupt. Employees were offered the chance to reprice their shares at around $4 each. The former employee, though, still had a tax bill based on the value of the shares at their time of purchase, around $50 apiece. That left this person with a six-figure tax bill—and no way to sell the shares in order to pay it off. The former employee had been hoping that they’d be able to sell enough shares to SoftBank this week to pay off the loan taken out to buy the shares in the first place—not the profit this person had envisioned, but just enough to break even.Some employees might be able to find some relief, said Deep Gujral, a principal who works with venture-backed companies at the professional services firm Withum. Gujral recommended trying to negotiate with creditors: "Given the current climate, and Covid-19, they might be more receptive" to relaxing payment requirements, he said. "If you have a mortgage, and you go to the lender, they might be flexible." Gujral also expects to see class-action lawsuits that include current and former WeWork employees as a result of the withdrawn tender offer. After energy-services company Enron filed for bankruptcy in 2001, employees were able to use federal laws around benefit plans and stock to their advantage in court, and the same could apply here, he said.But hypothetical lawsuits are of little comfort to most WeWork shareholders. “The rest of the world needs to know that there are 500 to 1,000 early employees who are paying the price for this,” Kramer said. “All we ever did was work hard and make this company an $8 billion company. This was our moment. SoftBank came in and made a deal: ‘We're going to take care of you.’ And now all of a sudden it's, ‘Eh, we're not doing that.’”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook's WhatsApp is in the midst of a lawsuit against Israeli mobile surveillance outfit NSO Group. Last year brought news of an exploit that could be used to install one of NSO's spyware packages, Pegasus, on devices using WhatsApp. The latter sued the former over it, saying that over a hundred human rights activists, journalists and others were targeted using the method.
Facebook (FB) releases Messenger App For Windows and MacOS as usage of desktop browser increases 100% amid coronavirus-induced lockdown.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Mike Guerriero opened his first dessert store in 2014. Two years later, on his 25th birthday, he opened a second in Montclair, New Jersey. He sells cakes, of course, but he’s proudest of the handmade Italian ice cream he’s spent years perfecting. Naturally, he named his stores Gelati by Mike.Broad-faced, bearded and full of energy, Mike seems at first glance more like a steakhouse guy than a gelati guy. But he came to his calling the hard way, bouncing around households and schools in Paterson, New Jersey, before an apprenticeship in a local gelateria opened his eyes: Great gelati filled people with joy. “No matter what side you pick, at best you can only make about half the country happy,” he notes. “Ice cream is one of the very few things that’s still bipartisan, something we can all agree on.”Like so many artists, Mike wanted to make his passion his life. Unlike most artists, he also discovered that he was a gifted entrepreneur.“I was pretty much raised on the streets of Paterson. I missed out on a lot, but at the same time it made me into a sort of shark. I’m street-smart and savvy. When you come from nothing you’re not afraid of losing it all,” he says. “Coming where I come from and being used to working seven days a week was all I needed. I was able to pay myself a good salary and hire people that we cared about. I don’t even see it as work.”I live in Montclair but I’m not a gelati connoisseur. People in town who are (including my wife) say Mike’s gelati is chef’s-kiss perfect. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s won awards in the U.S. and Europe. Mike was in Rimini, Italy, in mid-January collecting his latest award when he noticed something odd — Chinese acquaintances he met there were suddenly fleeing back home. By the time he and his wife boarded a plane to the U.S. on Jan. 31, Italy had publicly confirmed its first coronavirus cases. A few weeks later, the country began lockdowns, and eventually decided to cut itself off from the rest of the world to spare itself the worst ravages of what became a pandemic.When Mike got home he warned people.“Because we did business with both Italy and China, we could see how bad it was and how bad it would become,” he says. “We knew right away and kept trying to pull the alarm. We kept posting on Facebook and on our personal pages that there was a crisis coming. But the story kept getting pushed back at us by customers, local police, officials and even celebrities that the flu is worse and Ebola is worse. It was anarchy with employees and customers arguing about who or what to believe and whether we were just snowflakes buying into a hoax.”Customers were irked that Mike wouldn’t let them eat in his store and that he wanted to maintain physical distances between everyone who worked in or entered the shop. Then February became March, the horrors of the virus became progressively clearer, people began dying around the country, and millions of small business owners like Mike confronted the possibility that their enterprises — along with their hopes, dreams and financial independence — would be shuttered.My town, like many towns, gets a lot of its character from small stores, boutique enterprises and restaurants. Small businesses of all stripes and sizes are also a foundation of the American economy. About 30 million small businesses around the U.S. employ about 59 million people, or almost half of the adult workforce. At last count, those little companies and the people who work for them accounted for about 44% of gross domestic product. As goes small business, so goes the economy. As goes the economy, so goes the country’s stability and well-being.The financial tsunami cascading across small businesses behind the coronavirus is why the federal government set aside $350 billion in aid for them as part of a broader $2 trillion barrier wall it’s attempting to erect between the pandemic and the economy. That money was meant to be available to people like Mike today. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted the good news on Tuesday: “I encourage small business to apply for Paycheck Protection Program so you can keep your employees paid! Program will be available Friday.”Mnuchin’s program offers low-interest, short-term loans that entrepreneurs can use to cover about two months of average payroll costs and other operating expenses. It’s a bridge built with the expectation that this crisis will have a relatively short span and that small businesses — which are routinely starved for cash and can be perilous to run even in the best of times — need only tap that lifeline to survive. The reality is that this is an epic crisis likely to have very long legs, and the small business community is on the precipice.It’s not clear that more money will be available for small businesses, since they’ve also been out-muscled and out-maneuvered by large corporations in the Washington cage match lobbyists have waged to snare a piece of the federal stimulus pie. Banks, which are conduits for federal aid, are also likely to perform financial triage when they assess which businesses get the dough. Real estate, retail, manufacturing and mining are the biggest sectors of the small business landscape, and banks may focus on them and overlook modest outfits like Gelati by Mike.There are already worrisome signs that the federal program isn’t well-managed. Banks are reportedly troubled that Mnuchin’s program won’t be able to launch today because the Trump administration has provided no clear parameters about how to disburse the funding and has engineered “unworkable requirements for the loans.”Mike sees other warning signs. He said it’s unclear how easy it will be to apply for a loan and how quickly the money might arrive. His accountant advised him that only businesses that have “relationships” with their bankers will get the first appointments to discuss a loan. “In plain English, the more of a hook-up you have, which would be bigger companies with power,” the more likely you are to get a loan, Mike says. A note he shared with me from his local banker advised him to email her a raft of forms to apply for a loan, while warning him that the federal government hadn’t given banks “any guidance yet as to how to process these loans.”In the meantime, one million cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide, about 10 million Americans have recently filed jobless claims, and Mike is trying to soldier ahead. His revenues have plunged about 60%, he says, and to help keep his stores afloat he hasn’t been paying his mortgage or car payments. Before the pandemic, he had 54 employees, but now has 13 he considers full-time even though they are working reduced hours. Those folks had been making an average of $12-13 an hour, and Mike says he’s paying them an extra $2 an hour in hazard pay while also providing them with meals. He and his wife have stopped taking salaries.To save money, Mike also considered cutting orders from dairy, orange juice and toilet paper suppliers because his needs have slackened. But after reading about local seniors and others who couldn’t afford to buy those things, he decided to keep paying and now delivers the goods free of charge to the needy.Mike doesn’t allow anyone into his stores, offering curbside pick-up or home delivery instead. And he misses the daily contact with customers. “We’re making the deliveries ourselves so our customers can see that we’re still in business ourselves and that we care,” he says. “I’m the type of person who always has to be out and about, so this is hard for me.”He also thinks his world has permanently changed.“I think the days of people crowding our stores to order ice cream are over. People aren’t going to want to crowd in public places like my shop or restaurants any longer,” he predicts. “Unfortunately, it’s natural selection. The virus is picking and choosing business owners among us strong enough to survive. Whatever the future is none of us will keep doing business the same way ever again.”This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Timothy L. O'Brien is a senior columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.