GOOG - Alphabet Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real-time price. Currency in USD
1,520.74
+6.08 (+0.40%)
At close: 4:00PM EST
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Previous close1,514.66
Open1,515.60
Bid1,518.02 x 1400
Ask1,521.96 x 1100
Day's range1,507.34 - 1,520.74
52-week range1,025.00 - 1,529.63
Volume1,197,836
Avg. volume1,460,131
Market cap1.045T
Beta (5Y monthly)1.04
PE ratio (TTM)30.93
EPS (TTM)49.16
Earnings dateN/A
Forward dividend & yieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-dividend dateN/A
1y target est1,616.37
  • Google ends its free Wi-Fi program Station
    TechCrunch

    Google ends its free Wi-Fi program Station

    Google said on Monday that it is winding down its Google Station, a program as part of which it worked with a number of partners to roll out free Wi-Fi in more than 400 railway stations in India and in several other public places in many other pockets of the globe. Caesar Sengupta, VP of Payments and Next Billion Users at Google, said the program, launched in 2015, helped millions of users surf the internet -- first time for many -- and not worry about the amount of data they consumed. Additionally, it had also become difficult for Google to find a sustainable business model to scale the program, it said.

  • Bloomberg

    Facebook Needs Regulation to Win User Trust, Zuckerberg Says

    (Bloomberg) -- For years, Facebook Inc. lobbied governments against imposing tough regulations, warning in some cases that they could harm the company’s business model. Now, it’s pleading for new rules for the good of its business.“If we don’t create standards that people feel are legitimate, they won’t trust institutions or technology,” Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in an op-ed in the Financial Times on Monday. It coincided with a visit to Brussels, home of the European Union’s institutions that have crafted some of the toughest rules in recent years.Silicon Valley firms have suffered from what’s been dubbed as a “tech lash,” with users frustrated over how web platforms profit from their data. Facebook has borne the brunt of that disenchantment following a series of missteps including privacy breaches and accusations it didn’t do enough to stop election manipulation on its platform. Meanwhile, Facebook’s user growth is stagnating in the U.S. and Canada – its most important markets.“I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook’s business in the near term but it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term,” Zuckerberg said in the op-ed, echoing comments he made over the weekend at the Munich Security Conference.In Brussels, Zuckerberg is due to meet with European Union tech czar Margrethe Vestager and other senior EU officials as the bloc prepares new legislation in areas including artificial intelligence, gate-keeping tech platforms and liability for users’ posts, all of which could impact Facebook’s business.Read more about Zuckerberg’s visit to Brussels here.Zuckerberg has previously called for global regulation covering election integrity, harmful content, privacy and data portability. He said Facebook will publish a white paper on Monday raising questions it hopes new regulation will address.Political AdsIn the op-ed, Zuckerberg said Facebook was hoping for clarity around what constitutes a political ad - especially if paid for a group not directly affiliated with a political party, such as a non-governmental organization. Companies also need clearer lines around data ownership to enable users to move their information between services, he said.In addition, the Facebook chief said the company would look into opening up its content moderation systems for external audit to help governments design regulation in areas like hate speech.Zuckerberg reiterated that private companies like Facebook shouldn’t be in charge of making decisions that balance social values, and hopes that regulation will draw cleaner lines to help companies navigate those decisions, even as regulators in Europe are also investigating Facebook over its compliance with existing privacy and antitrust rules.“People need to feel that global technology platforms answer to someone,” Zuckerberg said, but also stressed that the plea “isn’t about passing off responsibility.” He said that Facebook is continuing to make progress on some of the issues on its own.Brussels VisitsZuckerberg’s Brussels visit follows a recent trip by Alphabet Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai in January who came to discuss regulating artificial intelligence ahead of the EU’s plans to be unveiled this week, when it’s also likely to spell out proposed liability rules for tech platforms later this year.It’s not a coincidence that the chief executives of tech firms like Facebook and Google are making the pitch for regulation in the EU capital. They have seen before that, when the EU sets sweeping laws on tech, like the General Data Protection Regulation, the impact can reverberate far beyond its borders.When it comes to liability for what users post on its platform, Zuckerberg said over the weekend that a third regulatory system should be created -- somewhere between newspaper publishers, who can be sued for what journalists write in their pages, and telecommunications companies, who aren’t liable for customer conversations.To contact the reporter on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at ndrozdiak1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Amy Thomson, Jennifer RyanFor 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.

  • EU Fights For ‘Purpose’ in Grand Plan for Tech, AI Rules
    Bloomberg

    EU Fights For ‘Purpose’ in Grand Plan for Tech, AI Rules

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world threatened by trade wars. Sign up here. China might have data and the U.S. might have money, but Europe has purpose.That’s the message European Union tech czar Margrethe Vestager aims to convey on Wednesday when she unveils plans to help the bloc compete with the U.S. and China’s technological might on its own terms, conforming with fundamental EU rights including strict privacy and non-discrimination rules.On the EU’s menu: new rules for AI, possible legislation for gate-keeping platforms, plans to make data centers carbon-neutral, as well as incentives for businesses to share information with the aim of forming data pools that bolster innovation.Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice president for digital affairs, is trying to reassure anxious Europeans that she can handle concerns Europe is becoming irrelevant while Asian and American companies dominate high-tech markets.The strategy “will produce and deploy much more artificial intelligence” in Europe, but “it will not be the same” as in the U.S. and China, Vestager said in a press briefing to journalists ahead of the announcement. Based on what she knows about their practices, Chinese AI might not meet European standards, she said.Artificial intelligence has started to penetrate every part of society, from shopping suggestions and voice assistants to decisions around hiring, insurance and law enforcement, provoking concerns about privacy, accuracy, safety and fairness. The EU wants to ensure technology deployed in Europe is transparent and has human oversight, particularly for high-risk cases.In situations where the use of AI could pose risks to people’s safety or their legal or employment status, such as those involving self-driving cars or biometric identification, the EU’s requirements could include implementing conformity checks by public authorities, Vestager said.Facial Recognition RulesAccording to a recent draft of the EU document, companies could have to retrain their systems with European data sets if they can’t guarantee the facial recognition or other risky technology was developed in accordance with European values.Facial recognition has sparked an intense debate in the U.S. and Europe as police departments have started testing the technology. In the U.S., reports that police were using technology from Clearview AI -- a startup that’s scraped billions of photos from social media accounts with the aim of helping law enforcement find suspects without criminal records -- caused a backlash from privacy groups and lawmakers.The same groups are urging legislation to prevent abuses of a technology they say is often inaccurate and could restrict people’s freedom to assemble. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials warn against banning a tool that can make societies safer.With the EU’s AI white paper, Vestager said she wanted to start a debate to determine which circumstances it would be justified to deploy remote facial-recognition technology, warning that without such a debate agencies and companies would steam ahead.“Then it will just be everywhere,” Vestager said. She added that one solution for the EU could be to draw up a European-wide legal framework to govern use of the technology.Valley ViewsFollowing Wednesday’s announcement, the EU will begin a 12-week consultation, inviting the public to submit comments to their AI plans before the commission formally proposes legislation as soon as the end of the year.The EU’s plans have already drawn top executives from Silicon Valley to Brussels, including Alphabet Inc.’s Sundar Pichai, to voice their views on how AI should be regulated.Vestager and other EU officials are due to meet Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, who is capping off a trip to Europe with a visit to Brussels to discuss new regulations for the internet.Tech firms have seen before that when the EU sets sweeping laws on tech, like the General Data Protection Regulation, the impact can sprawl far beyond its borders. The EU’s GDPR has spurred similar legislation in Brazil and forced businesses selling into Europe to revise how they collect, store and process information.”EU regulation in this area is likely to have an effect similar to GDPR. People outside Europe are watching the commission,” said Mark Coeckelbergh, a professor of philosophy of media and technology at the University of Vienna. “This is a chance for the EU to set an example of regulation that supports ethical development of AI.”Other parts of the EU’s digital strategy will also serve to rein in U.S. and Chinese companies, potentially to the benefit of European business.Antitrust RulesVestager is also promising a review of antitrust rules, including potential legislation for “gate-keeping platforms,” that would give the EU the ability to crackdown on big tech. While she has fined Google, investigated Amazon.com Inc. and ordered Apple Inc. to pay a massive back-tax bill, the EU has also been criticized for failing to make real changes to how mostly U.S. tech companies have gained power in digital markets.Meanwhile, China’s rapid success in moving into new business areas, taking a global lead on technology and manufacturing where Europe and the U.S. were once ascendant, has also alarmed both Washington and Brussels. German firms have pushed for more barriers to Chinese takeovers and for looser antitrust rules that hinder consolidation between rivals, measures Vestager said she would examine.While EU officials have come to terms with the fact the next Facebook or Google probably won’t come from Europe, they are optimistic about local innovation in robotics, machinery, payments and other business-to-business companies.Plans to encourage data sharing among businesses and with governments -- also to be announced Wednesday --could further boost these firms’ leadership positions. That scheme is also designed to advance the bloc’s AI ambitions by pooling large sets of high-quality industrial data.“We are what we eat and that also goes for artificial intelligence,” Vestager said. “If you eat crappy stuff, well you’re not likely to be a fit for purpose algorithm either.”(Updates with Zuckerberg’s trip to Brussels in 15th paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at ndrozdiak1@bloomberg.net;Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Amy ThomsonFor 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.

  • Big Data Won't Save You From Coronavirus
    Bloomberg

    Big Data Won't Save You From Coronavirus

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- How often do you see a piece of economic or financial information revised upward by 45%? And how reliable would you regard a data set that’s subject to such adjustments?This is the problem confronting epidemiologists trying to make sense of the novel coronavirus spreading from China’s Hubei province. On Thursday, the tally there surged by 45% — or 14,480 cases. The revision was largely due to health authorities adding patients diagnosed on the basis of lung scans to a previous count, which was mostly limited to those whose swab tests came back positive.The medical data emerging from hospitals and clinics around the world are invaluable in determining how this outbreak will evolve — but the picture painted by the information is changing almost as fast as the disease itself, and isn’t always of impeccable provenance. Just as novel infections exploit weaknesses in the body’s immune defenses, epidemics have an unnerving habit of spotting the vulnerabilities of the data-driven society we’ve built for ourselves.That’s not a comforting thought. We live in an era where everything seems quantifiable, from our daily movements to our internet search habits and even our heartbeats. At a time when people are scared and seeking certainty, it’s alarming that the knowledge we have on this most important issue is at best an approximate guide to what’s happening.“It’s so easy these days to capture data on anything, but to make meaning of it is not easy at all,” said John Carlin, a professor at the University of Melbourne specializing in medical statistics and epidemiology. “There’s genuinely a lot of uncertainty, but that’s not what people want to know. They want to know it’s under control.”That’s most visible in the contradictory information we’re seeing around how many people have been infected, and what share of them have died. While those figures are essential for getting a handle on the situation, as we’ve argued, they’re subject to errors in sampling and measurement that are compounded in high-pressure, strained circumstances. The physical capacity to do timely testing and diagnosis can’t be taken for granted either, as my colleague Max Nisen has written.Early case fatality rates for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome were often 40% or higher before settling down to figures in the region of 15% or less. The age of patients, whether they get sick in the community or in a hospital, and doctors’ capacity and experience in offering treatment can all affect those numbers dramatically.Even the way that coronavirus cases are defined and counted has changed several times, said Professor Raina MacIntyre, head of the University of New South Wales’s Biosecurity Research Program: From “pneumonia of unknown cause” in the early days, through laboratory-confirmed cases once a virus was identified, to the current standard that includes lung scans. That’s a common phenomenon during outbreaks, she said. Those problems are exacerbated by the fact that China’s government has already shown itself willing to suppress medical information for political reasons. While you’d hope the seriousness of the situation would have changed that instinct, the fact casts a shadow of doubt over everything we know.How should the world respond amid this fog of uncertainty?While every piece of information is subject to revision and the usual statistical rule of garbage-in, garbage-out, epidemiologists have ways to make better sense of what is going on. Well-established statistical techniques can be used to clean up messy data. A study this week by Imperial College London used screening of passengers flying to Japan and Germany to estimate the fatality rate for all cases was about 1% — below the 2.7% of confirmed ones found in Hubei province, but higher than the 0.5% seen for the rest of the world.When studies from different researchers using varying techniques start to converge toward common conclusions, that’s also a strong if not faultless indication that we’re on the right track. The number of new infections caused by each coronavirus case has now been identified in the region of 2.2 or 2.3 by several separate  studies, for instance — although that number itself can be subject to change as people quarantine themselves and self-segregate to prevent infection.The troubling truth, though, is that in a society that expects to know everything, this most crucial piece of knowledge is still uncertain.Google can track my every move and tell me where I ate lunch last week, but viruses don’t carry phones. The facts about this disease are hidden in the activity of billions of nanometer-scale particles, spreading through the cells of tens of thousands of humans and the environments we traverse. Big data can barely scratch the surface of solving that problem.To contact the author of this story: David Fickling at dfickling@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.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.

  • Facebook Prepares for Wave of Influencer Marketing in Politics
    Bloomberg

    Facebook Prepares for Wave of Influencer Marketing in Politics

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is trying to clarify how it will handle a new wrinkle in the world of digital political advertising: politicians paying influencers to post on social media platforms like Instagram, which it owns.In the past, political entities were technically barred from offering money for posts, which has become a common practice for marketers. But Facebook is changing its policy after a New York Times report this week about how Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is paying Instagram creators to make and distribute posts making him “look cool.”(Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)A company spokeswoman said Facebook has heard from multiple campaigns about the subject, and wanted it to be easy for users to identify paid political speech, whether it was direct advertising or branded content. “Branded content is different from advertising, but in either case we believe it’s important people know when they’re seeing paid content on our platforms,” the spokeswoman said.Now Facebook is stepping up enforcement of rules — which had been inconsistent —  requiring influencers to use Facebook’s tool to tag paid posts with a prominent disclaimer. It said Friday it will require users who worked with the Bloomberg campaign to retroactively add these disclaimers to branded posts the campaign sponsored. “The campaign was explicitly clear that these posts were ads and sponsored content,” said Sabrina Singh, a Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman. “We went above and beyond to follow Instagram’s rules and the text of the post clearly shows that these are the campaign’s paid ads.” Facebook will now require political candidates buying branded content to register as political advertisers with the company. Unlike other political ads, branded posts won't end up in Facebook's ad archive unless the politician also pays Facebook to promote the posts.  Elizabeth Warren criticized Facebook for creating a new loophole. "Refusing to catalogue paid political ads because the Bloomberg campaign found a workaround means there will be less transparency for the content he is paying to promote. Mike Bloomberg cannot be allowed to buy an election with zero accountability," she wrote on Twitter.  The emergence of political branded content is a reminder of how hard companies have to work to keep up with the changing landscape of political speech.  These posts, also known as sponsored content —  or, if you must, “sponcon” — have pushed the boundaries of advertising for the last half-decade or so. As individual users on Instagram, Google’s YouTube, Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch and other platforms amassed large audiences, marketers began seeing them as a viable alternative to standard advertising. Influencers now regularly tout products in their posts.  Regulators have complained for years that they often do so without explaining that they’re being paid. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission sent dozens of letters to influencers and marketers requiring them to disclose any “material connection” that someone pitching a product had to advertisers. The commission is currently reviewing its endorsement policies, with an eye toward social media. “We may need new rules for tech platforms and for companies that pay influencers to promote products,” FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra wrote on Twitter this week. While Bloomberg’s campaign has drawn unprecedented attention to political branded content, he isn’t the first politician to fall for the charms of social media influencers. And as more money pours into political advertising in coming months, there will likely be candidates and other political entities willing to explore any potential advantage.  Gil Eyal, the chief executive of Hypr, a company that helps marketers find influencers for sponsored content deals, said he’s noticed a recent wave of interest from political entities. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries about how we can do this,” he said. He declined to name anyone who had contacted him, and said they’ve turned down the proposals. “We truthfully say this isn’t our forte,” he said. “I think they underestimate how hard this is to do.”  Main Street One, a New York-based startup, has been pitching Democratic and progressive organizations on influencer campaigns for months as a way to drown out online disinformation. It has run several such experiments. Late last year, it helped run an influencer campaign promoting Cory Booker funded by United We Win, a Democratic super PAC. This sparked a debate among influencers about whether accepting money from politicians was appropriate, and whether doing so would be bad for their personal brands.   Curtis Hougland, Main Street One’s chief executive officer, said the group doesn’t always pay influencers for posting — it’s also seeking out volunteers. But those it does pay can get as much as $500 per post. Finding the right influencers, he said, is a side-door way to effectively target messages. The company might pay more, he said, for posts from someone whose followers are clustered in a particular geographic region, or who fall into some other demographic they’re trying to reach.  The response has been mixed, said Hougland, with some potential clients concerned that the risk of such campaigns outweigh the benefits. In his view, mobilizing left-leaning social media influencers is the best way to reach voters in a distracted and messy online media environment. “Can we live with that risk tolerance?” he said. “I think by being less precious we can be more effective.” (Updates with comments from Bloomberg campaign in the sixth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Mark Niquette.To contact the author of this story: Joshua Brustein in New York at jbrustein@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at mschuetz9@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor 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.

  • Tech Daily: NVIDIA & Intel Earnings, JEDI Stay Order, Facebook App, More
    Zacks

    Tech Daily: NVIDIA & Intel Earnings, JEDI Stay Order, Facebook App, More

    Earnings reports from NVIDIA and Cisco, a stay order on the JEDI contract, Facebook's app to compete with Pinterest and other stories are covered in this daily.

  • Shopify’s Sweetheart Week Has It Encroaching on Market Stalwarts
    Bloomberg

    Shopify’s Sweetheart Week Has It Encroaching on Market Stalwarts

    (Bloomberg) -- Canada’s homegrown tech company Shopify Inc. is on a tear.After surging annually since its 2015 initial public offering, it has rallied 36% to a market value of almost C$82 billion ($62 billion) in 2020, making it the seventh largest company on the S&P/TSX Composite Index. That puts it about C$8 billion away from usurping Bank of Nova Scotia -- the fifth biggest company. Canadian National Railway Co. -- is No. 6 on the benchmark.Shopify’s value has climbed about C$7.9 billion just this week as fourth-quarter revenue topped analysts’ estimates and the provider of online shopping tools gave an optimistic forecast for the year.Shares of Shopify have skyrocketed to fresh records amid a dearth of quality tech companies on the S&P/TSX Composite Index. The benchmark tech gauge has a mere 10 members compared with over 71 on the S&P 500’s tech index, which includes FAANG giants such as Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Netflix Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc.Still, Shopify’s meteoric rise has some analysts calling for caution. Credit Suisse analyst Brad Zelnick downgraded the stock to the equivalent of a hold on its “lofty valuation” but raised his share price target for the U.S.-listed stock to $575 from $450. He did, however, contend that company has a “great business.” The stock is currently sitting at about $527.Markets -- Just The NumbersChart of The WeekPoliticsPrime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government will do everything it can to resolve protests that have crippled parts of the country’s railways, leading to disruptions in passenger travel and the shipment of key goods. RBC Capital Markets said the demonstrations are another reason the Bank of Canada will be “biased to ease.”Get the latest news on the pipeline protests hereThe coronavirus continues to spread within China. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that the epidemic will take a “real” toll on Canada’s economy given it’s global knock-on effects. Reduced tourism from China and lower commodity prices will also impact Canada’s growth.EconomyA new survey showed that Canadians are growing increasingly confident of getting a job with better pay were they to leave their current workplace, another indication of the health of the nation’s labor market as the unemployment rate sits at historic lows and wages climb near the fastest pace since the recession.The housing market in major Canadian cities continued to tighten as home sales fell and prices rose in January. A combination of steady population growth, low unemployment and cheap borrowing costs have brought buyers into the market but shrinking supply is damping transactions and driving bids for homes higher in places like Toronto.Up next, economists will be watching manufacturing sales figures on Feb. 18, inflation data due Feb. 19 and retail sales expected on Feb. 21. The stock market is closed on Monday for a holiday in Ontario and some other provinces.TrendingInCanada1\. Former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, also known as “Hurricane Hazel” turned 99 with NHL’s Maple Leafs team celebrating her birthday. She was in office for 12 terms before stepping back in 2014.2\. An extreme cold warning alert was issued for the city of Toronto Friday as temperatures dip below 30 degrees Celsius (that’s -22 degrees Farenheit).\--With assistance from Shelly Hagan.To contact the reporter on this story: Divya Balji in Toronto at dbalji1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kyung Bok Cho at kcho7@bloomberg.net, Jacqueline Thorpe, Danielle BochoveFor 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.

  • Google’s Critics Dismiss Move Posting Competitors’ Travel Links as Window Dressing
    Skift

    Google’s Critics Dismiss Move Posting Competitors’ Travel Links as Window Dressing

    Google competitors in Europe and the United States aren't putting much stock in the search engine's test in Europe where it is placing rivals links in a "carousel" above its own far-more-elaborate boxed collection of vacation rental offerings. Michelle Schwefel, who heads the office of political communications for Deutsche Ferienhausverband (the German Holiday Home Association), […]

  • Google’s $2.6 Billion Fine Is Like Loose Change, Judge Says
    Bloomberg

    Google’s $2.6 Billion Fine Is Like Loose Change, Judge Says

    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Google’s 2.4 billion-euro ($2.6 billion) fine is “a small amount of cash” to the search-engine giant, according to a European Union judge, who also raised the prospect of increasing the antitrust penalty that the company is seeking to overturn.Colm Mac Eochaidh’s persistent questioning of Google’s representatives during the third day of a hearing at the EU’s General Court caused lawyers to scramble through papers seeking a response when he told them the tribunal had the right to increase the 2017 fine, then the highest the EU had ever levied for antitrust abuse. The Irish judge is one of five justices who will rule in the coming months on whether Google unfairly discriminated against smaller shopping rivals.“Did that level of fine deter you from repeating the behavior?” Mac Eochaidh asked before wondering how “might it be justified to increase or alter the fine.” He suggested that the penalty meant little to Google since it was only “a small amount of your cash in hand, so not actually that eye-catching in the light of day.”Google hadn’t bargained for a potentially bigger fine when it attacked the EU’s antitrust findings during the hearing. Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, EU investigators and company executives were in the Luxembourg court to hear Google argue that regulators had overreached and made crucial errors. The case is the first of three lawsuits against EU antitrust decisions and a loss for the EU could halt its tough enforcement of big tech firms.When Google’s attorney Christopher Thomas said there could be no increase in the fine because EU regulators hadn’t asked for one, Mac Eochaidh immediately contradicted him. The EU’s second highest-court has “unlimited jurisdiction” to increase the fine even if the issue hasn’t been explored, he said.The senior judge on the panel, Stephane Gervasoni, stopped his Irish colleague, asking if his questioning was theoretical or if there were actual reasons to increase the fine. It’s rare for one judge to question another. Judges appeared to move away from the possibility of a higher penalty in the case, stressing that any such move would need additional legal analysis and the opportunity for Google to give its views.It isn’t the first time Mac Eochaidh has needled Google during the three days of hearings on the appeal. On Thursday, he said it was “perfectly apparent” that the company had promoted its own services and demoted others -- a key point for the EU side.On Friday, Mac Eochaidh urged Google’s lawyer to imagine he had savings of 120 euros in his back pocket but was fined 2.4 euros for dropping some litter.“Would you miss the 2.4 euros?” the judge asked.(Updates with judge’s questioning in third paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Aoife White in Luxembourg at awhite62@bloomberg.net;Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net, Joe Schneider, Anthony LinFor 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.

  • New York and San Francisco Tech Industries Are Leaving Women Behind
    Bloomberg

    New York and San Francisco Tech Industries Are Leaving Women Behind

    (Bloomberg) -- San Francisco and New York have created thousands of lucrative jobs in technology, but despite efforts to increase diversity in the industry, women are still being left behind.The two cities, sometimes rivals for attracting tech talent, slid backwards in recent years on gender diversity, according to data from SmartAsset, a financial technology company that provides personal finance advice online. From 2013 to 2018 they either did worse or made little progress on women’s workforce participation in tech and gender pay gaps.“No single city or no city’s tech sector has figured this out,” said Eli Dvorkin, editorial and policy director at the Center for an Urban Future in New York. “Tech jobs are falling behind the diversity of the workforce overall. They tend to be whiter, they tend to be much more male and typically see a notable under-representation of blacks and Hispanics.”In the U.S., women made up about 26% of the tech workforce nationally, according to SmartAsset. But while jobs for computer and information technology workers are expected to grow by 12% overall from 2018-2028, employment opportunities for these often well-paying positions still usually favor men, according to the report released earlier this month. Racial diversity isn’t much better. In 2017, the latest year for which data is available, only about 20% of New York’s tech workforce was either black or Hispanic, and only 7.5% of San Francisco’s, according to a 2019 analysis by the Center for an Urban Future.San Francisco and the broader Bay Area is home to many of the biggest U.S. tech companies, as well as major venture capital firms. In recent years, tech giants from Alphabet Inc.’s Google to Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. have been expanding in New York, too, adding to a burgeoning startup scene, helping technology rival finance as the city’s growth engine. But despite industry efforts to increase women in the workforce, progress in the two cities has been limited.One of the main reasons for the lack of representation is limited access to tech skills training. New York in particular, despite having a strong pipeline of programs, is failing to reach under-served communities, according to a study by the Center for an Urban Future and Tech:NYC released Wednesday. The city’s programs focus more on basic digital skills instead of the advanced training required for tech jobs.Exposure to tech training early on is also important to break social conditioning surrounding who belongs in science, tech, engineering, and mathematical occupations. “By the time they get to high school, many boys are socialized to think STEM is for them, while many girls are socialized to think the opposite,” said Dvorkin.Part of the issue is also the high cost of living in the two cities. Women are choosing to move to more affordable cities with growing tech opportunities, according to Denise Roy-Desrosiers, managing director at the nonprofit Girls in Tech New York.“New York has become a less friendly city for both women and men,” said Roy-Desrosiers. “Women are still being paid less to do the same jobs and so while that is still the case, women will take advantage of working in places where they can afford to live comfortably and independently.”New York went from being the fifth-best city for women in tech in 2013 to 27 in 2018, according to SmartAsset data. The percentage of women working in tech declined to 25% from 26%, while the gender pay gap, defined as the percentage of men’s salaries women make for the same jobs, widened. Women in the industry were making 84% of what men made in 2018 compared with 96% five years earlier.Google and other big tech companies expanding in New York represent a significant chunk of the industry’s workforce and the gender imbalance within their ranks is also making New York less like the “haven for disruption and innovative work culture that it once was,” Roy-Desrosiers said.Still, New York does better than San Francisco on most diversity metrics. San Francisco never made it to the Top 10 best cities on SmartAsset’s list for women. It dropped to 33 in 2018 from 23 in 2013. While women’s participation in the workforce increased marginally over five years, the gender pay gap increased to 79% from 88% in the city. Topping the 2020 list of the best cities for women in tech was Baltimore, where women make up 33% of the tech workforce and their average earnings are about 94% that of men in the industry.To contact the reporter on this story: Nikitha Sattiraju in New York at nsattiraju@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at mschuetz9@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor 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.

  • Boeing, Apple, Google top growing list of companies warning about a coronavirus impact
    Yahoo Finance

    Boeing, Apple, Google top growing list of companies warning about a coronavirus impact

    Yahoo Finance is maintaining a working list companies that have been affected by the outbreak, and are expected to feel the effects through the first half of the year.

  • Google In Talks with Publishers to Pay for Displaying News
    Bloomberg

    Google In Talks with Publishers to Pay for Displaying News

    (Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google is in discussions with publishers about paying licensing fees to include excerpts of their articles in Google News search results.The early-stage talks are taking place primarily with French and other European publishers, and may not lead to any agreements, a person familiar with the matter said. A deal would apply only to news products like the Google News vertical, they added, not general web content queries.Google sparked an outcry in France last fall after it said it would show stripped-down French news search results that wouldn’t include article previews or snippets following a new copyright law.It led French publishers and officials, who had hoped to win compensation from platforms as part of the new law, to accuse the search giant of strong-arming them. French antitrust regulators at the time said they would investigate Google over its implementation of the rules.News executives have been calling on Facebook Inc. and Google to pay for the rights to host their articles. They argue that their journalism is what’s drawing users to those platforms, while the two tech giants are capturing most of the online ad dollars.Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president of news, said helping people find quality journalism is “important to informed democracy and helps support a sustainable news industry.”“We’re talking with partners and looking at more ways to expand our ongoing work with publishers,” he added.In Europe, Google’s rocky relationships with publishers have led to legal action, long European Union antitrust investigations and an EU copyright directive that allows news outlets to seek payment from internet sites that display their articles. France was the first country to implement the new rules.In October, Facebook introduced a separate news section in its flagship app and agreed to pay some publishers $1 million to $3 million a year to put their articles in it.In an earnings call last week, News Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robert Thomson mentioned Google by name, saying there are “positive signs” the search company’s CEO Sundar Pichai “has a thoughtful appreciation for the profound social influence of high quality journalism.”The Wall Street Journal reported the discussions earlier.To contact the reporters on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at ndrozdiak1@bloomberg.net;Gerry Smith in New York at gsmith233@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Nate Lanxon, Molly SchuetzFor 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

    For Self-Driving Startups, Revenue Is Elusive, But Miles Add Up

    (Bloomberg) -- May Mobility Inc.’s boxy white-and-green self-driving shuttle pulls up to a damp corner in downtown Detroit. Its big doors swing out revealing a safety driver and six seats that face each other. It’s more comfortable than a subway car or most buses, but not by much.The shuttle slips down a bus lane and stops at a corner to look for passengers. It’s a fixed route that covers a little less than a mile in Detroit, ferrying passengers from cheap parking near Greektown, a small entertainment district, to the crowded headquarters of Quicken Loans and other towers that employ some 18,000 people.May’s shuttle tops out at 25 mph. The toaster-shaped cruiser isn’t sexy, and the ride is about as exhilarating as a merry-go-round at the county fair. But it’s bringing in revenue from the general public (it charges for services in Detroit but declines to say how much; it makes $800,000 a year in Providence, where it runs a similar service), which deep-pocketed giants such as General Motors’ Cruise LLC and Argo AI, which is backed by Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG, have yet to do with autonomous vehicles. Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, considered by many to be the technology leader, does charge riders but limits that group to 1,500 selected patrons.  Although those well-funded players aim for superhuman levels of driving, startups like May are tailoring their ambitions to what autonomous technology can safely do today.The difference between what May is doing vs. the moonshot being attempted by the better-funded carmakers underscores the real state of autonomous driving. As recently as a year ago, the popular imagination and investor dreams saw self-driving vehicles replacing Uber drivers and car ownership in the not-so-distant future. Then Cruise and Waymo both delayed true driverless services to the public, and the buttons for autonomy were reset. “Everyone working on this realizes it hit a wall,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal with Navigant Research.May  has managed to get a public service going by keeping it simple. It provides slow rides on easy fixed routes that serve a specific need. “Our progress is that we’ve delivered 200,000 revenue-generating rides,” said May Chief Executive Officer and founder Edwin Olson. “Some companies have the bankroll to be in R&D mode, but a few of us are working toward sustainable operations.”For those companies trying to master self-driving software, the stakes are huge. Cruise, which has raised $6.15 billion from outside investors and gets $1 billion a year from GM, may yet start running ride-hailing services this year but hasn’t committed to a date after missing its December target. Waymo, backed by Alphabet’s cash hoard, also delayed a shift to commercializing a purely driverless fleet, prompting Morgan Stanley to cut the estimated value of the unit from $175 billion to $105 billion in September.Argo, Cruise, Waymo, and other companies are trying to master all driving scenarios and do it better than human beings can. It’s what Cruise CEO Dan Ammann called “superhuman” levels of safety, at an event in January, when the company showed off its four-passenger Origin self-driving vehicle.Waymo is starting to charge passengers fees. Riders of the company’s Waymo One program must pay, even though they are selected from a group of volunteers who’ve signed up to test the service. Aptiv PLC has developed self-driving cars and put them in Lyft Inc.’s fleet in Las Vegas. Waymo runs cars with Lyft, too. For now those cars always include a test driver for safety.May has raised a comparatively tiny $84 million. Another startup called Voyage, which specializes in autonomous rides in retirement communities, has raised $52 million; it plans to start charging a fee for its services soon, said CEO Oliver Cameron, without giving a date.With a much smaller purse, startups needs to bring in revenue faster, Olson said. They can’t keep going back to investors for cash.In Detroit, May provides self-driving shuttles for Bedrock LLC, the real estate company owned by billionaire Dan Gilbert, carrying people from its parking garage to offices almost one mile out along the loop that it runs. Bedrock pays May for the service.May runs 25 vehicles in three cities. Olson said that as he adds vehicles to the fleet in each market, bigger scale gets him closer to a profit.In Providence, May started operating a ride-share shuttle service in May 2019, running from an Amtrak station about five miles to downtown, with 10 stops on the entire route. Olson said May will pick up routes that are too small for public transit but still serve a need. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation pays the company annually for the service. Once corporate or government entities define the need, May ensures its vehicles can handle the route. It also knows what its operating costs will be in that market.Voyage is making a similar play at the Villages, a retirement community with 125,000 residents about 45 miles from Orlando. The company has been running test vehicles using Chrysler Pacifica minivans that pick up elderly commuters traveling to different points in the village.Cameron said Voyage’s cars also top out at about 25 mph. Its service is door to door, so there is some variation in the route. Still, this is simple driving in low-traffic areas. The company is running test vehicles and refining its service in California and plans to introduce hundreds of vehicles at The Villages, a large retirement community in Sumter County, Florida.Cameron likens Voyage’s approach to the early days of Amazon. The online retail giant didn’t start off selling everything. It began with books, then moved to music before taking on the entire world of retailing. Tesla Inc., too, started with a small two-seat roadster before it moved to larger, more passenger-friendly electric cars. “Amazon and books is a great example,” Cameron said. “Let’s put one thing online, then figure out warehousing, logistics, and online payment, and then expand. We’re imitating Amazon books.”Similarly, Olson said May is learning how to manage its business. Part of running a simple business model is that the cars are cheaper to build, so capital costs are lower. “I can put $500,000 worth of sensors on a vehicle, but that’s a research vehicle,” Olson said. “It’s cheaper to operate at 25 mph instead of one that goes 60 mph.”The companies developing AV software have faced two big challenges, Abuelsamid said. One is how the computer brain perceives image data gathered by cameras, lidar, and different kinds of sensors to tell whether something is a pedestrian, a fixed object, or a plastic bag blowing in the wind. The other is predicting what those objects, especially pedestrians, will do in the next few seconds so the car can make a decision. When a car is moving more slowly on routes with fewer objects, it’s much easier to run autonomous vehicles. That’s what makes the advanced approach from the likes of Cruise and Waymo such a technological challenge, Abuelsamid said.May has an advantage with its approach, Olson said. Rather than identify and have programmers try to solve every rare and difficult driving scenario, called edge cases, May’s vehicles have their own simulator on board that can read an upcoming situation, such as a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The software then runs predictive solutions—should the car speed up before the pedestrian gets in the crosswalk or stop? The simulators are teaching the car how to manage edge cases.Olson is betting that May will be able to get a commercial advantage before his rivals get to market. He predicts he will close in on a profit in two years while most of his competitors won’t be commercializing for three to five years. “By then,” he said, “we will be a multi-billion company with years of experience with the technology and providing service.” May will have to move fast. If the likes of Cruise, Argo or Waymo get paid services to the mass market faster than he thinks, their sheer financial muscle could create a business for autonomous technology that is controlled by a few players, almost like computing has just a handful of operating systems. Then there will be a shakeout.“There will be a handful of companies that produce AV software,” Abuelsamid said. “In the next few years, the number of companies developing the software will be culled down significantly.”To contact the author of this story: David Welch in Southfield at dwelch12@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Dimitra Kessenides at dkessenides1@bloomberg.netFor 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.

  • Google protests 'eye-catching' $2.6 billion EU fine, judge disagrees
    Reuters

    Google protests 'eye-catching' $2.6 billion EU fine, judge disagrees

    Google on Friday attacked what it called an eye-catching 2.4 billion euro (£2 billion) EU antitrust fine, prompting a judge to ask how a rich company can miss a relatively paltry amount. The sparring underlines the battle ahead for the world’s most popular internet search engine, with two other challenges against EU antitrust enforcers to be heard in the coming months. The Alphabet unit argued that additional amounts tacked on to the fine imposed by the European Commission in 2017 to deter anti-competitive behaviour known as a deterrent multiplier and another multiplier factor was excessive and unwarranted.

  • Google’s Waze Deal Is a Likely Target in FTC Antitrust Sweep
    Bloomberg

    Google’s Waze Deal Is a Likely Target in FTC Antitrust Sweep

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission just ordered major technology companies to fork over details on waves of small acquisitions made during the last decade. A more sizable deal is also seen as a target for the regulator: Google’s $1.1 billion purchase of mapping app Waze.The FTC quickly approved the 2013 transaction, but antitrust experts say the regulator will take a second look because it combined two popular digital mapping services under the same corporate roof, eliminated a fast-growing Google rival and solidified the internet giant’s grip on valuable data.Bilal Sayyed, the FTC’s director for the Office of Policy Planning, told reporters on Tuesday that the agency is planning to examine many deals that were reviewed in the past, while declining to share specific examples.“Certainly, Waze is one of them,” said Robert Litan, a partner at Korein Tillery LLC and former Justice Department antitrust official. Google declined to comment.Alphabet Inc.’s Google has acquired dozens of startups over the years to add technical talent, fill product holes, gather new users and accumulate more data. Few of these transactions rang traditional antitrust alarm bells, but in aggregate they helped the company build the western world’s largest online search, digital mapping and advertising businesses. Global watchdogs are now investigating whether this dominance is harming business customers and consumers. Reassessing past acquisitions is part of this effort, and the Waze deal is a clear candidate.“It was literally Google acquiring its number one competitor in maps,” said Sally Hubbard, director of enforcement strategy at the Open Markets Institute, which is pushing for a crackdown on big internet platforms. “It was a bad deal that should have been blocked.”Back in 2013, the acquisition was a strategic coup. Google faced two existential threats at the time: social media and smartphones. Social networks, like Facebook, were stealing eyeballs and advertising, while mobile apps risked displacing key Google services, including its digital maps, that were mainly used on desktop computers. Waze was riding both trends. The startup’s mobile app drew in dedicated fans who posted frequent updates on traffic and interacted with one another, generating social and location-related data in new ways that Google couldn’t match.When Google announced the deal, Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said the “move eliminates Waze as a potential acquisition target for competitors who could use the app’s collection of data and 50 million users to bolster their own location-based products.”Antitrust regulators in the U.K. launched a more in-depth investigation of the Waze deal, asking Google to keep Waze separate from the rest of its businesses while conducting the probe. The final report from the Office of Fair Trading, published in December 2013, cited concerns from other companies that Google was knocking out a threat to its mapping service. One complainant said “the acquisition removed Google’s closest competitor.”Read more: How Tech’s New Monopolies Test Old Antitrust Thinking: QuickTakeTrustbusters didn’t have to rely on rivals. Waze Chief Executive Officer Noam Bardin offered the same assessment two months before joining Google. “We’re the only reasonable competition to [Google] in this market of creating maps that are really geared for mobile, for real-time, for consumers -- for the new world that we’re moving into,“ he said at an industry conference.A Google spokeswoman said the company’s former employees have created “more than 2,000 startups -- including companies like Pinterest, Quip and Instagram -- that’s orders of magnitude more than the number of companies we’ve acquired. We always seek to work constructively with regulators and we’re happy to provide information about our business.”In late 2012, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook suggested his customers should use map apps, including Waze, sparking a surge of downloads.By 2013, the Israeli startup was close to a deal to pre-install its app on devices made by an unnamed smartphone company, according to the U.K. investigation. There was also the potential to work with Facebook Inc. to enable people to chat and meet up with friends driving to the same location, which could have given Waze more users, the report said. Google’s acquisition abruptly halted those initiatives.The regulator concluded that the deal would not damage competition in the U.K., citing Apple’s Maps app as a rival. But last year, it asked economists to evaluate some of its past decisions, including the Waze ruling. That study found that the U.K. agency didn’t consider how Google and Waze would make money from their maps -- even though this was already relevant when the deal happened.“The merger with Waze might have made Google an even more relevant provider of location data, reinforcing its competitive position for the provision of online advertising across all its services,” according the study from consulting firm Lear.European regulators have since targeted the data that big internet companies collect as a competition issue. If the FTC takes a similar approach, the agency could probe how much of Waze’s driving data feeds back into Google’s ads business. “These free map apps are just data-suction tools,” Hubbard said. “Regulators are starting to figure it out.”Google has kept Waze a separate service, but the internet giant has used data from the app to improve its ads, according to RBC’s Mahaney. “New ad formats in Google Maps have clear similarities to existing formats in Waze (coincidence?),” the analysts wrote in a September note to investors. “Google has now collected enough data through Waze to effectively roll out broader solutions for advertisers in Google Maps and provide them attractive returns on investment without severely impacting the user experience.”Read more: Google Flips the Switch on Maps, Its Next Big Money MakerFiona Scott Morton, a Yale University economist and former Justice Department antitrust official, said Waze may be of particular interest to the FTC because location data makes Google’s dominant Search advertising much more potent. “Another party that wanted to be good at search advertising would need a good map,” she added.On Tuesday, the FTC demanded internal documents from Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to see if they “are making potentially anticompetitive acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors.”The regulator is eyeing deals that weren’t reported under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act, which requires companies to tell enforcement agencies about acquisitions of a certain size. While Google declared plans to buy Waze, it never filed the purchase under HSR, likely relying on an exemption related to the startup’s lack of U.S. revenue at the time.The FTC can investigate deals even when there’s no HSR filing. The agency also has the power to probe acquisitions that it cleared in the past. In some ways, the recent attention on the tech sector in Washington and Europe is an attempt to revisit the earlier laissez-faire approach to industry consolidation.“They weren’t examined carefully by the agencies,” said Scott Morton. “Now that they understand that these companies have acquired market power, they’re interested in finding out how that happened.”(Updates with comment from Google in 11th paragraph)\--With assistance from David McLaughlin and Aoife White.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.net;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alistair Barr at abarr18@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor 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.

  • Dealmakers, Beware: A ‘52-Headed Monster’ Is Watching
    Bloomberg

    Dealmakers, Beware: A ‘52-Headed Monster’ Is Watching

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The anything-goes world of megamergers under President Donald Trump has encountered new resistance. More than a dozen U.S. states sued to stop T-Mobile US Inc.’s takeover of Sprint Corp. and failed when a judge ruled against them this week. But their unusual effort to step in as de facto antitrust regulators in the era of a lax Trump administration — and the fact that the case was seen as such a close call — is sure to unnerve other dealmakers who may be contemplating their own controversial mergers and acquisitions. The Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission are the main regulatory bodies that deal-hungry telecommunications CEOs must appease to get their transactions over the antitrust hurdle. (Other industries may have to answer to the Federal Trade Commission.) But the states have emerged as one more powerful group to worry about. In the T-Mobile-Sprint matter, state attorneys general from around the country, led by New York and California, demonstrated a willingness to go beyond the convention of securing one-off concessions for their own constituents when a deal raises concerns. Instead, if regulators drop the ball, the states are prepared to team up and take companies to court, with proceedings that could potentially stretch on for months — and time is money. With the DOJ, FCC and now the states, it’s become “a three-headed monster,” said John Stephens, AT&T Inc.’s chief financial officer. “Or maybe a 52-headed monster, I should say,” he added, speaking during a post-earnings phone interview on Jan. 29, before the Sprint ruling.District Judge Victor Marrero ultimately ruled in favor of the wireless carriers this week, rejecting the states’ arguments that the merger will lead to higher prices for consumers and that wireless newbie Dish Network Corp. won’t become a viable competitor capable of replacing Sprint. The deal, which the companies expect to close by April, will shrink the number of U.S. national wireless carriers from four to three, a level of market concentration that was taboo under previous administrations.On the one hand, the ruling has the potential to open the floodgates for other megamergers that traditionally would have been considered off-limits. To use a hypohetical, take Dish and AT&T’s DirecTV: They compete in providing satellite-TV service to U.S. households, and both parties have said in the past that there would, in theory, be benefits to putting the businesses together, if not for the regulatory hurdles. (AT&T executives have since said they aren’t planning to sell DirecTV.) But just as T-Mobile and Sprint successfully argued that their industry is different now thanks to changing technologies, satellite providers could make that claim, too. Even so, the states’ persistence in the Sprint matter may make some would-be dealmakers think twice about how far they’re willing to go to get a transaction across the finish line. Keeping with the Dish-DirecTV example, those are precisely the kinds of well-known brands that the states could go after in a merger fight. And if it weren’t for the states, T-Mobile and Sprint would have had the major regulatory approvals they needed wrapped up months ago; FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave his blessing back in May, and the Justice Department cleared the deal in July. As the battle with the states dragged on, Sprint’s market value shrank, its business deteriorated, and now T-Mobile wants to renegotiate the price it pays Sprint’s shareholders. In a bit of irony, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that it’s looking into whether past purchases by U.S. technology giants such as Amazon.com Inc., Google and Facebook Inc. that slipped by regulators’ radars were, in fact, anticompetitive. The FTC’s announcement — part of the ongoing scrutiny of the power wielded by Big Tech — came hours after the ruling for T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, one of the most anticompetitive megadeals in the tech sphere.Letitia James, the New York attorney general who led the T-Mobile-Sprint opposition, said in response to Tuesday’s court decision that while she disagrees with the outcome, the states “will continue to fight the kind of consumer-harming megamergers our antitrust laws were designed to prevent.” Think she means it?To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at tlachapelle@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.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.

  • Bloomberg

    Expedia Jumps After Projecting ‘Double-Digit’ Profit Growth

    (Bloomberg) -- Expedia Group Inc. gave a 2020 profit forecast for “double-digit” growth, topping analysts’ estimates and suggesting the company will be able to maintain bookings in the face of slowing global travel demand caused by the spreading coronavirus. Shares gained more than 10% in extended trading.The online travel giant reported revenue gained 7.3% to $2.75 billion in the fourth quarter, just missing the $2.77 billion analysts’ projected. Gross bookings climbed 5.9% to $23.2 billion in the period ended Dec. 31, the Seattle-based company said Thursday in a statement.Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $478 million, beating the analysts’ average estimate of $451.6 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“We are not providing a specific guidance range given uncertainty on how much cost savings we’ll recognize this year and the full effect of coronavirus,” Chairman Barry Diller and vice chairman Peter Kern said in the statement. “However, taking these factors into account, we expect 2020 Adjusted EBITDA growth to be in the double-digits.”The pair said they were targeting $300 million to $500 million in “run-rate cost savings across our business.”Diller said the company will streamline and simplify the business. “For several years we have really lost clarity and discipline,” he said on a conference call with analysts. “We were a bloated organization.”Shares jumped to a high of $124.25 in extended trading after closing at $110.59 in New York. The stock has dropped 13% in the past 12 months.The recent outbreak of the coronavirus, known as Covid-19, which originated in China and has spread to more than 20 countries, is battering hospitality companies from airlines to hotels to cruise operators as tourists cancel trips and businesses shutter events. The virus will dent the company’s bottom line by $30 million to $40 million in the current period, executives said on the call. However, Diller conceded the economic impact is difficult to predict.“We don’t truly know the extent of it,” Diller said, adding shortly after that he believes “it will go beyond Asia.”The health crisis is one of several challenges facing the company since Chief Executive Officer Mark Okerstrom and Chief Financial Officer Alan Pickerill were ousted in December after clashing with the board over prospects for growth. Diller said the company isn’t hunting for a new CEO. Instead, the 78-year-old billionaire media mogul will remain in control of the company’s day-to-day operations, along with Kern, for the foreseeable future -- but not beyond 2020.“I haven’t been on one of these analyst calls in endless amount of time so I’m probably a bit draggy,” said Diller, who is chairman and founder of IAC/InterActiveCorp. “Having been chairman of Expedia for, I don’t know, I think 20 years or so, I thought I knew a lot about the company, but there is nothing like being on the ground. And we’ve been on the ground.”In November, Okerstrom lowered the outlook for 2019 earnings after missing analysts’ estimates in the third quarter. Expedia largely blamed Google, which has been cramming the top of its search results with more advertising, pushing down free listings from travel companies and forcing them to spend more on marketing.Diller said he has reached out to Google’s senior management, telling them “exactly what we feel about this. “I have implored them to stop actually taking away the profits from businesses that are one of the main contributors to their advertising revenue.”Diller called for the federal government to regulate Google, saying the new search engine optimization changes were an “existential issue” for online travel agencies. The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Justice Department already have announced broad antitrust reviews of the major tech companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google.Expedia has been squeezed by Airbnb Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc. in vacation home rentals -- the fastest growing sector of the travel market. Last year, the company revamped its short-term rental unit Vrbo to try to catch up with its rivals. Vrbo reported revenue growth of 13% in the fourth quarter to $259 million. The unit generates about 10% of Expedia’s total revenue, but analysts and investors focus on Vrbo because it represents the company’s best bet for growth.In the fourth quarter, net income rose to $76 million. Profit, excluding certain items, was $1.24 a share, beating analysts’ average estimate of $1.14.(Updates with coronavirus impact in the eighth paragraph; comments from chairman throughout.)To contact the reporter on this story: Olivia Carville in New York at ocarville1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at mschuetz9@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor 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.

  • Social media ads 'posing as articles' are a problem, says media exec Vivek Shah
    Yahoo Finance

    Social media ads 'posing as articles' are a problem, says media exec Vivek Shah

    The most concerning ads on social media are not necessarily false but rather those “posing as articles,” says Vivek Shah, who runs J2 Global, an advertising and media company that owns sites including Mashable, IGN, and PCMag.

  • Google closes $2.6B Looker acquisition
    TechCrunch

    Google closes $2.6B Looker acquisition

    When Google announced that it was acquiring data analytics startup Looker for $2.6 billion, it was a big deal on a couple of levels. It was a lot of money and it represented the first large deal under the leadership of Thomas Kurian. Today, the company announced that deal has officially closed and Looker is part of the Google Cloud Platform.

  • Court says Melbourne dentist can serve Google for user details over bad review
    The Guardian

    Court says Melbourne dentist can serve Google for user details over bad review

    Court says Melbourne dentist can serve Google for user details over bad review. Matthew Kabbabe is seeking to sue anonymous user who posted that procedure was ‘a complete waste of time’

  • AdQuick raises $6M to conquer an advertising market Google and Facebook won't
    TechCrunch

    AdQuick raises $6M to conquer an advertising market Google and Facebook won't

    With Google and Facebook yielding massive control over the online ad market, leaving only scraps for other ad platforms, perhaps it was only natural that tech startups would take a step back and start to look for opportunities in selling billboards. AdQuick, a marketplace for out of home (OOH) advertising, tells TechCrunch that it has closed a $6 million Series A led by Initialized Capital with participation from WndrCo, Shrug Capital, Work Life Ventures, The Todd & Rahul Angel Fund and rapper Nas.

  • GameSnacks, from Google's Area 120, brings fast, casual online games to developing markets
    TechCrunch

    GameSnacks, from Google's Area 120, brings fast, casual online games to developing markets

    A new project called GameSnacks is launching today from Google's in-house incubator, Area 120, with the goal of bringing fast-loading, casual online games to users in developing markets. Billions of people are coming online through mobile devices. Today, over half of mobile website visitors leave a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, but on low memory devices and 2G or 3G networks, a typical web game will load much more slowly -- even triple or quadruple that load time, or worse.

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