201.00 -0.05 (-0.02%)
After hours: 7:59PM EST
|Bid||200.91 x 1300|
|Ask||200.99 x 1000|
|Day's range||200.07 - 201.57|
|52-week range||123.02 - 208.66|
|Beta (3Y monthly)||1.06|
|PE ratio (TTM)||32.14|
|Earnings date||28 Jan 2020 - 3 Feb 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||239.30|
The past decade saw a ton of innovation from incumbent companies — like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. But new companies emerged as well and made their mark.
Peak globalization is one of 10 investing themes Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has highlighted for the next decade. Shifting demographics and automation are two other stories with investment implications.
(Bloomberg) -- Less than a year after Amazon.com Inc. walked away from a planned headquarters in New York, the e-commerce giant has announced a significant expansion in midtown Manhattan.The company signed a lease for 335,000 square feet in the Hudson Yards neighborhood on the west side. The new office will accommodate more than 1,500 workers and is slated to open in 2021, according to an e-mailed statement.“As we shared earlier this year, we plan to continue to hire and grow organically across our 18 Tech Hubs, including New York City,” the Seattle-based company said.Amazon abandoned plans in February to build an additional headquarters in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood following fierce public criticism of tax breaks promised to the company, and concerns about the impact on housing costs and transportation. The move sent shock waves through New York’s real estate community, which worried that the city was becoming inhospitable to business.But recent months have shown that companies are still attracted to New York and its deep pool of talented workers. Facebook Inc. announced that it was leasing more than 1.5 million square feet at Hudson Yards last month. And Google is also in the midst of a major expansion in the city.Amazon said it is not receiving tax benefits or other incentives for its new office, which will be located in SL Green Realty Corp.’s building on 10th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. The outpost will be roughly the same size as the company’s other corporate offices in New York, where it currently has more than 3,500 employees in its tech hub.Dow Jones reported the lease earlier on Friday.To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in Seattle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Giammona at email@example.com, Linus Chua, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- What to make of the alarming data on assaults, murders and other unsafe incidents reported by Uber Technologies Inc. on Thursday?More than 3,000 sexual assault allegations were made in 2018 by Uber drivers and passengers in the U.S., the company said in a first-of-its-kind safety report. We can't know from the data if Uber is statistically safer than other forms of transportation, or safer than being a human — particularly a female human — in the United States in 2019. Taxis, public-transit agencies, professional-car services and other transportation providers don’t make comparable national reports of crime as Uber has done.The reported incidents are a fraction of the more than 1 billion rides Uber transacts in the U.S. each year. There is, though, one sure thing we can say about Uber, Lyft and related services that make them different than other forms of transportation: They sold us on the power of trust, and any erosion in that trust makes the companies vulnerable.When services such as Uber and Airbnb were getting off the ground earlier this decade, people were understandably apprehensive about taking a ride with strangers, or staying in the home of a random person. Our parents literally cautioned us against this our whole lives, and it seemed incredibly stupid to defy a lifetime of warnings.Slowly, though, these services wore down many people's natural reluctance to trust strangers in these circumstances. That was partly because Uber, Airbnb and similar companies were too convenient and useful for many people to shun. But also, and importantly, our stranger-danger fears wore down because the companies successfully convinced us to trust that any danger of that type was remote.The idea is that the collective power of millions of riders and drivers rating and reviewing each other would keep us safe. Uber and its peers around the world also touted their ability to screen drivers and passengers, and track rides to protect people from possible harm. There were questions from the beginning about how well Uber and other companies that put regular folks in the role of professional driver were screening people who used its service. But the companies’ ability to convince many people to tamp down their stranger-danger anxiety was a secret to success for Uber, Airbnb and the like.That's why anecdotes — and now data — of horrible crimes on Uber passengers and drivers matter, no matter whether they are statistically large or small. Those old feelings of anxiety recur.The sad fact is that assault is a common crime we don't like to think or talk about, because it makes us feel vulnerable. Every institution in America can do much more to protect vulnerable people. None of that absolves Uber from responsibility to do more.There is compelling reporting indicating that Uber sometimes protects itself from liability at the expense of drivers and riders who are preyed upon. Uber in its early years of aggressive expansion did truly unconscionable things in response to allegations of a passenger raped in India.Now, Uber deserves credit for doing the work to catalog and disclose incidents of abuse in its network, but we can’t be confident how many terrible abuses could have been avoided if Uber did more to prioritize safety. How much of the problem is Uber, and how much is the world? Because companies such as Uber sold us on trust, they get no passes when it comes to ensuring the safety of riders and drivers.The collective power of trust is one of those internet-era truisms that is coming under question now. It turns out those five-star product reviews can be bought and gamed. That person on Facebook who says she’s a civil rights activist may be a Russian propagandist. It turns out that even genius technology companies are fallible, perhaps willfully so, about letting dangerous people slip through the cracks.These risks are all present in the real world, of course, but for a long time we were convinced the power of the internet made trust more solid. Now companies, and the users of their products and services, are reckoning with the limits of trust. To contact the author of this story: Shira Ovide at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
U.S. regulators on Friday said they had found now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica deceived consumers about the collection of Facebook Inc data for voter profiling and targeting. The Federal Trade Commission also found that Cambridge Analytica engaged in deceptive practices relating to its participation in the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework - a pact on the cross-border transfer of personal data. The agency order prohibits Cambridge Analytica from misrepresenting the extent to which it protects the privacy and confidentiality of personal information.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Social-media companies insist they’re making progress in fighting the manipulation of their platforms. But two researchers, working on an extremely modest budget, have just shown that their defenses are routinely bypassed by an entire manipulation industry, largely based in Russia.In a report for NATO’s Strategic Communications Center of Excellence, Sebastian Bay and Rolf Fredheim described an experiment they ran between May and August. In the first two months, during and just after the European Parliament election campaign, they hired 11 Russian and five European “manipulation service providers,” who they found simply by searching the web. The companies then delivered 3,530 comments, 25,750 likes, 20,000 views and 5,100 followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube — all fake.Given how serious the social-media platforms claim to be about purging inauthentic activity, the experiment’s success rate was stunning. Four weeks after they were posted, a vast majority of the fake engagements were still live; even reporting them to the platforms didn’t get most removed.The study reveals a major weakness in the way the social-media giants report their anti-fraud efforts. Facebook has a lot to say about how much content it removes, for instance, but that’s like the mayor of a town reporting that 50% of its roads are now pothole-free: You never know which 50%. The important metric is how much manipulative content gets through. Bay and Fredheim found that, once professionals get involved, most of their work sticks, to the extent that they often deliver more engagements than promised for the money. Defenses only work on the most basic level. The pros are always a step ahead.NATO, of course, is mostly interested in political manipulation, and the researchers found that some of the same accounts that helped carry out their study “had been used to buy engagement on 721 political pages and 52 government pages, including the official accounts of two presidents, the official page of a European political party, and a number of junior and local politicians in Europe and the United States.”An important question is whether such efforts actually work. One recent paper tried to determine what effect the Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency has had on U.S. political attitudes. The IRA, whose employees and owner were indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into meddling in the 2016 election, used some of the same techniques as the NATO Stratcom researchers. But, the paper said, their fake accounts were effectively preaching to the converted. Even for users who directly interacted with the IRA accounts, the researchers found “no substantial effects” on their political opinions, engagement with politics or attitudes toward members of the opposing party.This doesn’t mean social-network manipulation is ineffective for political purposes; much more research would be needed to draw any sweeping conclusions. What’s clear now, though, is that the manipulation industry isn’t primarily geared toward political uses. Bay and Fredheim found that “more than 90% of purchased engagements on social media are used for commercial purposes.” Even though it’s Russian-based, this industry isn’t about evil Kremlin masterminds trying to turn technology against American democracy. Rather, it’s about talented Russian engineers, stuck in the wrong country for launching grand commercial ventures like Facebook or YouTube, trying to make money by milking the existing platforms.What that usually amounts to is helping online “influencers” cheat advertisers. The abysmally low removal rates for fake video views in the Stratcom experiment show the platforms aren’t fighting such abuses hard enough. They don’t have to: They’re still essentially black boxes from an advertising client’s point of view. As a result, perhaps billions of dollars (estimates vary wildly) are lost to such fraud each year.Platforms have spent enough time trying, and failing, to prove that self-regulation can work for them. Governments should act to protect not so much voters as advertisers from the manipulation industry, penalizing social-media companies for their inability to prevent fraud and demanding more transparency. Now, as Bay and Fredheim wrote, “data is becoming scarcer and our opportunities to research this field is constantly shrinking. This effectively transfers the ability to understand what is happening on the platforms to social media companies. Independent and well-resourced oversight is needed.”Policy makers need to realize that the platform-manipulation industry doesn’t thrive because it’s a Kremlin weapon. Political weaponization is only a side effect of a parasitic industry built on the flaws of the social-media business model. It’s the model that needs to be regulated.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy Lavin at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- For many anti-Brexit centrists in the U.K., it makes no sense that Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats are doing so poorly in the polls. If you’re unhappy about Britain quitting the European Union under Boris Johnson and you’re unexcited by the Labour Party’s quasi-Marxist economic experiments, then who else do you give your vote to on Dec. 12?The center has been abandoned by Johnson’s Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour; unfortunately, the Lib Dems have failed to fill it, not least because of their uncharacteristically radical (and undemocratic) promise to scrap Brexit altogether — without another referendum.For a time this year, events seemed encouraging for Swinson. The Lib Dems came second to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the European Parliamentary election, winning 20% of the vote. They then nabbed 700 new council seats in local elections and benefited from eight defections of members of Parliament from other parties. Their new leader put out leaflets saying “Jo Swinson, Britain’s Next Prime Minister.”Indeed, the whole reason the U.K. is having an early election is because Swinson decided, along with the Scottish National Party, to back Johnson’s call for one. Without that decision, he would have remained in charge of a lame duck minority government and his Brexit deal would have come in for some real scrutiny. Her decision was always a gamble, and one that looks like failing.“Why do you risk going down in the history books as the party leader that paved the way for Boris Johnson to win an overall majority, deliver his Brexit and govern for the next five years?” the BBC’s Andrew Neil asked Swinson in October. “You’ve given a Tory prime minister the Christmas present he craved.” Swinson batted away the suggestion that she had zero chance of becoming prime minister, citing Donald Trump’s victory and the Brexit vote. “Nothing is certain,” she insisted. But when she met Neil again for an interview this week, the change of tone was clear. Swinson is no longer running for Downing Street.Her party now polls 13% on average. A YouGov survey, using methodology that was accurate in the last election (known as MRP) gives it only one extra seat in Parliament. U.K. Polls are notoriously unreliable, but the party too seems to have scaled back its ambitions. According to Who Targets Me, which tracks campaign ads, the Lib Dems have launched 47 new Facebook ads targeting a very narrow list of seats. In Swinson’s Scottish seat in East Dunbartonshire, her party is running defensive ads, asking voters to “stop the SNP” rather than make its leader prime minister.In their favor, the Lib Dems have well-established local operations, so their ground game in the constituencies they’re targeting is fairly strong. They come a close second to Labour and well ahead of the Tories in online ad spending. It’s unclear, though, how much help either factor will bring.An analysis by the Telegraph newspaper identifies 13 Lib Dem target seats where a swing in the vote of 7.5% or less would give Swinson’s party a win; nine are in Conservative hands and most backed remain in the referendum. But the 21 seats already held by the Lib Dems aren’t even considered safe. This doesn’t herald the kind of election night Swinson had in mind when she agreed to a vote.Three problems contribute to her troubles; two of her own making. The first was Swinson’s decision taken to adopt a policy of revoking Brexit if she won an election outright. While the plan was backed at the party’s conference, there was no great enthusiasm for it.Revoke was a risky choice for a party meant to occupy the pragmatic center; far from uniting remainers, it struck many voters as undemocratic. How could a party put in power by less than half the popular vote overturn a referendum with a 52% majority? Swinson has struggled to answer that. Second, if the big strategic decision has gone wrong, so have some tactical ones. Swinson has been forced to defend some creative bar charts that showed her party practically drawing even with the Conservatives. It turns out the polling question had asked a small sample of local voters in North East Somerset which party they’d vote for if only the Tories and the Lib Dems were in contention. A similar thing occurred in Hastings and Rye. British actor Hugh Grant had to correct the record when the party celebrated his support for the Lib Dems; he was merely campaigning for tactical voting to keep out Johnson and his Brexit deal.For a party trying to prove it’s more trustworthy than the Tories and more competent than Labour, none of this inspires confidence. It hasn’t helped that the campaign was centered around Swinson herself, a virtual unknown when she became leader. The declining ratings for her and the party will encourage voters who want their ballot to count to return to one of the main parties. I wrote in July that Swinson’s success would depend largely on Johnson faltering, which hasn’t yet happened with less than a week of campaigning to go. That’s because of the third problem the Liberal Democrats face: the U.K. electoral system, which the party has long wanted to change. It’s a winner-takes-all approach, where small parties are elbowed out of the way by the big two. That pattern seems about to be repeated.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The social media company accused ILikeAd Media International Co software developer Chen Xiao Cong and marketer Huang Tao of using improper "celeb bait" and "cloaking" practices since at least 2016. Facebook said this enabled the defendants to hijack users' ad accounts, known as "account take over fraud," violating its terms of service and advertising policies. Facebook said this kind of lawsuit is rare, and that it has since April notified hundreds of thousands of users that their accounts may have been compromised.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- I now have low expectations when Mark Zuckerberg writes a manifesto, gives a speech, grants media interviews or fields questions from lawmakers.In these settings, and particularly on questions about how the world should or does work, Facebook Inc.’s chief executive officer can seem over-rehearsed, scarily superficial, cravenly political, evasive — or all of the above. But in less-scripted moments, or when the world isn’t watching, Zuckerberg is often clear-eyed about where the internet is going and articulate about Facebook’s strategy. Fifteen years after Zuckerberg started Facebook in his college dorm room — maybe you’ve heard that story before? — that scary-smart version of Zuckerberg remains the internet executive I want to hear from the most. Don’t believe me?Check out the transcript the Verge published in October of two meetings between Zuckerberg and employees. Most of the attention focused on his forceful push back to Elizabeth Warren and others who want to break up Facebook. But I was more interested in Zuckerberg’s astute explanation of how TikTok, the short-video app from China’s Bytedance Inc., is a distilled, video-focused version of Instagram’s “explore” section. He is not wrong.With those employees, Zuckerberg also talked in more nuanced ways than he has in public about the novelty of a Chinese internet app gaining traction outside its home country, how Facebook was trying to copy elements of TikTok and why TikTok was vulnerable. This was the opposite of the thousand-yard-stare Zuckerberg the public sees in media interviews. This was Zuckerberg in his element as a skilled and confident internet diagnostician and tactician.That Zuckerberg may not be the likable Everyman who pets a calf, but I wish we got to see more of him. Repeatedly in Facebook’s quarterly earnings calls over the years, Zuckerberg has given moments of insight that distill Facebook’s playbook or explain what trends such as online video, the Snapchat app and the Pokemon Go mobile game show about the future of technology.You get a likewise incisive, perhaps cutthroat, version of Zuckerberg from reading Facebook internal emails that come out in occasional lawsuits or investigations. Those glimpses are of a ruthless and savvy executive trying to undermine rivals and devise partnerships that would make people more loyal to Facebook. You might read those selective disclosures and feel Zuckerberg is unethical and selling out people who use Facebook. You might be right. But he is also astute about what works on the internet and how to position Facebook for success.And if Facebook was the mystery bidder for wearable gadget company Fitbit Inc., Zuckerberg refused to get involved in a conventional corporate acquisition process and basically nagged Fitbit’s CEO to make a deal on his terms. It was kooky, and the CEO of the unidentified suitor seemed like a loose cannon, at least in the one-sided telling of this Fitbit securities document. It’s also true that Zuckerberg’s personal involvement and unconventional personal persuasion helped Facebook acquire Instagram, which likely added more value to Facebook than anything else the company did this decade. Look, even the savvy tactician Zuckerberg can be horribly wrong. He brushed off the effects of misinformation spreading on Facebook around the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He plunged his company rashly into live video, a feature that is rife with risks and one that has not taken over the internet as Zuckerberg once predicted.Maybe Zuckerberg is just like the rest of us. When he’s talking out of the glare of shouting members of Congress and engaging on topics he feels confident about, he’s like a different person. Today, though, more is expected. Leaders — particularly those like Zuckerberg whose products are so widely used and influential — are expected to be capable of thinking deeply about problems in the world, not only to devise clever product and business strategies.The people who lead large companies must play many roles: diplomat, policy maker, motivational captain of their employees and an assuring public face to customers. It’s a nearly impossible assignment, but that doesn’t mean we should lower the bar for these executives. A version of this column originally appeared in Bloomberg’s Fully Charged technology newsletter. You can sign up here.To contact the author of this story: Shira Ovide at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Monetising hate: covert enterprise co-opts far-right Facebook pages to churn out anti-Islamic posts. Exclusive: Israel-based group has gained access to at least 21 pages, using them to launch coordinated false stories to their 1 million followers around the world
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- After an international outcry that included a Twitter campaign led by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Amazon has removed Auschwitz-themed Christmas ornaments from its site. Most observers — myself included — were heartened by this decision. Does the world really need these products, or, for that matter, an Auschwitz-themed mouse pad and bottle opener?Still, the question arises: Where should a company such as Amazon.com Inc. draw the line when it comes to selling third-party merchandise? I propose a standard: Focus on whether the merchandise contributes to further understanding, one way or another, rather than whether it might embody evil.(1)This principle runs counter to how the world of social media works, I realize. “Cancel culture” tends to issue decisions based on the worst aspects of a product, writer or public figure, because that is what is endlessly circulated and condemned. But there is another way of thinking about the problem — namely, by focusing on the positive.It is still possible, for example, to buy Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” on Amazon, either through third-party merchants or Amazon itself. That book is more offensive than an Auschwitz bottle opener, as it directly calls for the extermination of the Jews and the conquest of Europe, and it probably still inspires neo-Nazis today. Nonetheless, I hope “Mein Kampf” continues to be for sale.For all of its evil, “Mein Kampf” is an essential document for understanding the rise of Nazism and Hitler. As such, it should be allowed in spite of its potential downside. There is both intrinsic and utilitarian value in maximizing public access to as much knowledge as possible.In contrast, it is hard to argue that an Auschwitz-themed mouse pad has anything positive to offer, whether to our historical knowledge or otherwise. At best, it is an act of obnoxious trolling and thus it was appropriate for Amazon to take it down. (As of this writing, it still appears to be unavailable.) Of course as a separate matter, Amazon should ban unsafe and illegal products as well.This positive-contribution standard can also apply to a social media platform such as Twitter. There will never be hard and fast lines about whether any given individual should be allowed to keep posting or maintain an account, even if the content is widely considered objectionable. Better to focus on whether that person offers substantive contributions, rather than judging them by their very worst or most offensive utterances.Of course that will lead to Twitter, Facebook and the like tolerating some pretty bad material. But if “cancel culture” is not appropriate for Hitler himself — and that seems to be the case — then surely other evil thinkers today should be tolerated as well. Maybe we can learn something from them, even if what we learn is not exactly what they are intending to teach us. The Nazi-sympathizing films of Leni Riefenstahl are not banned, for instance, and indeed are still watched for their aesthetic merits.I once had a Marxist professor (H. Bruce Franklin) who edited a book titled “The Essential Stalin.” I did not necessarily agree with his views, but I did learn a lot about Stalin and Marx along the way. And I am certainly glad that no one stopped him from teaching that class. To this day, I think of him as one of the best professors I ever had.One alternative option is for Amazon to allow everything on its site, in the interests of free speech and the free distribution of products. But Amazon has no obligation — as a private company — to sell offensive material, and Amazon is not outlawing whatever other channels people might have for buying the Auschwitz-themed mouse pads and other objectionable items.Another option would be an Amazon-authorized independent third party to rule on merchandise decisions, much as Facebook appears to be doing for controversial posts. Yet this does not solve the basic dilemma. At times public outcry will demand that Amazon act swiftly, such as with the Auschwitz-themed Christmas ornaments. A third-party adjudicator, presumably, would be bound by bureaucratic procedures, just as a court system is, and furthermore it would face a heavy volume of cases.It may strike you as odd that the standard I propose would allow Amazon to sell one of the most vile books of the 20th century yet prohibit the sale of a few tasteless ceramic ornaments. But Amazon — and its customers — should be grateful for any effort that reduces or eliminates their chances of encountering truly useless junk.(1) To be clear, my conflicts of interest in any Amazon-related column are massive. Not only does Amazon sell my books, but it also receives thousands of dollars of my business each year, it helps shape the future and fiscal future of my place of employment and affects just about every facet of my daily life.To contact the author of this story: Tyler Cowen at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tyler Cowen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of economics at George Mason University and writes for the blog Marginal Revolution. His books include "Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is drafting a bill that would call on regulators to retroactively review about two decades of “mega mergers” and ban such deals going forward.Warren’s staff recently circulated a proposal for sweeping anti-monopoly legislation, which would deliver on a presidential campaign promise to check the power of Big Tech and other industries. Although the Trump administration is currently exploring their own antitrust probes, the proposal is likely to face resistance from lawmakers.According to a draft of the bill reviewed by Bloomberg, the proposal would expand antitrust law beyond the so-called consumer welfare standard, an approach that has driven antitrust policy since the 1970s. Under the current framework, the federal government evaluates mergers primarily based on potential harm to consumers through higher prices or decreased quality. The new bill would direct the government to also consider the impact on entrepreneurs, innovation, privacy and workers.Warren’s bill, tentatively titled the Anti-Monopoly and Competition Restoration Act, would also ban non-compete and no-poaching agreements for workers and protect the rights of gig economy workers, such as drivers for Uber Technologies Inc., to organize.A draft of Warren’s bill was included in an email Monday from Spencer Waller, the director of the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies at Loyola University Chicago. Waller urged fellow academics to sign a petition supporting it. He said Warren was working on the bill with Representative David Cicilline, the most prominent voice on antitrust issues in the House. Waller declined to comment on the email.Representatives for Cicilline and Warren declined to comment. The existence of the bill and Warren’s support of it were reported earlier this week by the technology publication the Information.In Washington, there is some support across the political spectrum for increased antitrust scrutiny of large technology companies. Warren positioned herself as a leader on the issue this year while campaigning on a plan to break up Big Tech. She has repeatedly called for unwinding Facebook Inc.’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, along with Google’s purchase of YouTube and advertising platform DoubleClick.Read more: Warren Accuses Michael Bloomberg of ‘Buying the Election’It’s not clear when a bill would be introduced or whether it would move forward in its current form. Cicilline has said he would not introduce antitrust legislation until he concludes an antitrust investigation for the House Judiciary Committee in early 2020.Amy Klobuchar, a Senator from Minnesota who’s also vying for the Democratic nomination, has pushed legislation covering similar ground. Klobuchar plans to introduce additional antitrust legislation soon, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss the plans and asked not to be identified.Any proposal would face significant hurdles to becoming law, and Warren’s version could be particularly problematic because it promotes the idea that antitrust enforcement is equivalent to being against big business, said Barak Orbach, a law professor at the University of Arizona who received a draft of the bill. “The way I read it is that Elizabeth Warren is trying to make a political statement in the course of her campaign,” Orbach said. “It’s likely to have negative effects on antitrust enforcement, so I just don’t see the upside other than for the campaign.”The bill proposes a ban on mergers where one company has annual revenue of more $40 billion, or where both companies have sales exceeding $15 billion, except under certain exceptions, such as when a company is in immediate danger of insolvency. That would seemingly put a freeze on many acquisitions for Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., Facebook, Microsoft Corp. and dozens of other companies. The bill would also place new limitations on smaller mergers.Chris Sagers, a law professor at Cleveland State University, said the proposal would serve as an effective check on corporate power. “I don’t think you’ll have new antitrust policy until Congress says the courts have incorrectly interpreted the statutes,” he said. “Someone has to do what Elizabeth Warren is doing.”(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org;Joshua Brustein in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Is there anything short of a major external shock — or a polling meltdown — that could knock Boris Johnson’s Conservatives off course for a comfortable U.K. parliamentary majority on Dec. 12?On the face of it, an upset seems unlikely. The Tories are leading by about 10 points in national polls on average. When Johnson warns that the vote is going to be “very, very tight” and that it will “go to the wire,” he’s trying to make sure Conservative voters and Brexit supporters don’t get complacent. Currency traders aren’t buying Johnson’s line that it’s a close contest: The pound climbed to its highest level since 2017 Wednesday in anticipation of his victory.And yet there’s a significant range in the polls, with some showing as little as a six-point lead over the opposition Labour Party (which would bring us into hung-parliament territory) and others as much as 15 points (getting closer to a Tory landslide). There are also plenty of seats that could be decided by vote swings of only 5%. It wouldn’t take a voter tsunami to capsize the Tories; a strong undercurrent that isn’t visible from the surface could do it.That’s where the ground war comes into play. For all the focus on Facebook advertising, TV debates and social media campaigns, U.K. elections are still fought largely by party activists who knock on doors, hand out leaflets and engage voters face-to-face or over the phone. These aren’t just feel-good efforts for local militants; they’re pretty sophisticated operations. Party “agents” (similar to U.S. campaign managers) match information on declared support with key demographic and lifestyle indicators to determine which homes and streets to target, and then coordinate the activists’ work. The aim isn’t to change minds but to mobilize supporters and capture some waverers too. “By and large, the more you campaign, the better you perform electorally,” says Justin Fisher, a professor of political science at Brunel University London. In fact, traditional campaigning has proved more effective than either mail campaigns or online advertising, Fisher says. “In the last election, if Labour had done no real campaigning on the ground, they would have had 27 fewer seats.” Instead, it closed a massive polling gap and made its strongest gains in the postwar era, denying the Tories a majority. “In effect, the national campaign is almost subservient to the local campaign,” Fisher says.In their recent book on British party membership, Tim Bale, Paul Webb and Monica Poletti track how much time members give to campaigns. They found about one-third of members devoted at least 10 hours to the 2015 and 2017 campaigns.Labour has a competitive advantage on this front, with some 485,000 members compared to 160,000 for the Conservatives. While non-members who support the parties are also important, it’s the members who tend to do the heavy lifting. Nearly 44% of Tory members said they spend no time campaigning versus one-third of Labour members.The winner-takes-all electoral system means the U.K. vote is really 650 mini-elections. While most races are already locked up, plenty of “marginal” seats are in play, where a shift of less than 7% of the votes would cause it to change hands.Traditional party loyalties count, but they aren’t absolute. About one in three voters switched their support between the 2015 and 2017 elections. And plenty of voters make up their minds late in the day. What political scientists call “voter hesitancy” has been growing, making it more likely that the final days matter. That explains reported Conservative plans for a last-minute social media blitz, although the Tories are lagging Labour and the Liberal Democrats in online advertising.Still, the Tories have done a better job of consolidating the 2016 Leave vote than Labour has in winning over remainers. And while Tory voters skew older, Johnson seems to have made headway in getting more voters above the age of 30 to shift his way (the tipping point for voting Conservative is now closer to 40, down from 47 in the last election). Given his “get Brexit done” mantra, Johnson will feel confident of holding onto the Leave-voting seats his predecessor Theresa May won in 2017. It will be harder to defend the party’s remain-backing constituencies, largely in London and Scotland. But Johnson has made some headway north of the border by opposing a second Scottish independence referendum.Johnson’s hope for a strong majority rests on pulling many Leave-voting Labour seats to the Conservatives. An analysis by the Daily Telegraph shows the Tories need a swing of just 7.5% to pick up 41 Leave-voting seats; places like Dudley North, which Labour won by only 22 votes in 2017, need a tiny shift. These are the places were Labour’s ground warriors will be fighting hardest. They may make more headway than the polls, which aren’t that granular, are showing us.Yet these activists have a difficult job, from selling Labour’s indecisive Brexit policy to countering charges of anti-Semitism. Labour also suffers from a historically unpopular leader in Jeremy Corbyn. A recent Kantar poll showed 41% of voters name Boris Johnson as their preferred prime minister and only 22% Corbyn (the option “neither” got 27% support). This isn’t a presidential race, but voters do have to be able to visualize the person in Downing Street.Ultimately, the ground campaign can’t entirely make up for weak messaging or an unpopular party, as Fisher’s research also shows. However simplistic or misleading, Johnson’s message may prove too appealing to an electorate that’s tired of Brexit, and wary of what Corbyn is selling. To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook risks becoming a "one-stop grooming shop" if it presses ahead with plans to encrypt across all its messaging services, the NSPCC has warned. The social networking site is considering end-to-end encryption on Messenger and Instagram Direct - on top of WhatsApp, which is already encrypted. Out of 9,259 instances where police in England and Wales said they know the platform used in child abuse image and online child sexual offences, just over 4,000 were carried out on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. antitrust enforcers have broadened their scrutiny of Amazon.com Inc. beyond its retail operations to include its massive cloud-computing business, according to people familiar with the matter.Investigators at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have been asking software companies recently about practices around Amazon’s cloud unit, known as Amazon Web Services, said the people, who declined to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.The outreach by the FTC signals that the agency, which is already looking at Amazon’s conduct in its vast online retail business, is taking a broader look at the company to determine whether it could be violating antitrust laws and harming competition.The FTC and Amazon declined to comment. The agency’s scrutiny won’t necessarily result in an enforcement action against the company.AWS dominates the market for foundational cloud-computing technology that provides the storage and computing power needed to run applications. It is several times bigger than its next largest rival, Microsoft Corp.’s Azure, according to analyst estimates. Gartner Inc. puts AWS’s share at 48% and Microsoft’s at 16%.AWS accounted for 60% of Amazon’s operating income in the most recently reported 12 months. The unit’s profitability in recent years has helped keep investors happy even as the company continues to spend heavily to expand both its retail and cloud-computing businesses.Amazon also sells an array of products that run on top of those basic services, such as databases, machine-learning tools and data-warehousing products. It competes with hundreds of other software companies large and small that offer similar products.One issue the FTC could look at is whether Amazon has an incentive to discriminate against those software companies, which sell their products to clients of AWS, while at the same time competing with Amazon. The fear is that Amazon could punish the companies that work with other cloud providers and favor those that it works with exclusively.The dynamic echos that in Amazon’s retail marketplace, where third-party sellers depend on the platform to reach customers because of its size, but in many cases they also compete with Amazon’s own products. That’s a conflict that threatens competition, according to critics.The FTC’s Amazon inquiry is part of antitrust investigations sweeping across the technology industry. Federal and state authorities are investigating Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. while the House Judiciary Committee is examining conduct of those companies as well as Amazon and Apple Inc.\--With assistance from Matt Day.To contact the reporters on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at email@example.com;David McLaughlin in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Naomi Nix in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
D.A. Davidson senior research analyst Tom Forte said long-standing Google executive Sundar Pichai was the right choice to take over Alphabet.
Facebook Inc's Instagram said it will require birthdates from all new users starting on Wednesday, expanding the audience for ads for alcohol and other age-restricted products while offering new safety measures for younger users. Until now, Instagram except for limited circumstances has required its 1 billion users only to say they are at least 13 years old. Instagram said advertisers were not the driving force for the new requirement.
(Bloomberg) -- LinkedIn’s senior executive in charge of human resources has resigned after breaking “compliance” rules, according to people familiar with the matter.Christina Hall left the Microsoft Corp.-owned company because of an internal “compliance” issue, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details aren’t public. LinkedIn Chief Executive Officer Jeff Weiner announced the move to staff on Tuesday, they said.“Nina McQueen will lead our global talent organization on an interim basis while we conduct an internal and external search for a replacement,” said Ngaire Moyes, spokeswoman for LinkedIn, in an emailed statement on Wednesday, declining to comment further.Hall, who had been at LinkedIn for six years, led the company’s human resources team, and oversaw hiring and benefit programs at the company. A former lawyer, she previously held roles in the compensation departments of Facebook Inc. and Intuit Inc., according to her LinkedIn profile. She’d held her current title since September 2018.She didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016 in an all-cash purchase valued at $26.2 billion.(Updates with details on Hall’s background in fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Giles Turner in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Amy Thomson in London at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook has been reviewing its policies after lawmakers and regulators criticized a decision not to fact-check ads run by politicians, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg saying it does not want to stifle political speech. In the letter that Reuters obtained on Tuesday, the U.S. Democratic Party's administrative and fundraising body has flagged its concerns to Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, and sought more transparency.