GOOGL Dec 2019 1295.000 call

OPR - OPR Delayed price. Currency in USD
54.24
0.00 (0.00%)
As of 3:49PM EST. Market open.
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Previous close54.24
Open50.50
Bid0.00
Ask0.00
Strike1,295.00
Expiry date2019-12-20
Day's range50.50 - 55.41
Contract rangeN/A
Volume5
Open interestN/A
  • YouTuber Draws China Fire for Calling Taiwan Leader ‘President’
    Bloomberg

    YouTuber Draws China Fire for Calling Taiwan Leader ‘President’

    (Bloomberg) -- A YouTuber in Taiwan said his Chinese talent agency is demanding he remove a video in which he addressed Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen as president, the latest clash over China’s assertions of territorial control in Asia.Chen Chia-chin, better known as Potter King, published a video on Facebook and YouTube Saturday, showing Tsai visiting his media startup. He used his signature humorous pickup lines and repeatedly addressed Tsai as “president,” which is in fact her title.His Chinese agency, Papitube, demanded he not use the word in his videos, nullified his contract and took over his Weibo account without his consent, Chen wrote in a Sunday post on his Facebook page. Facebook and YouTube are banned in mainland China.”I have told them not to interfere with our content,” Chen wrote. “We totally cannot accept this. This is absurd.”The incident is the latest in a growing number of attempts by Chinese officials and companies to impose political views beyond the reach of mainland censors. While Taiwan and China split amid a civil war in 1949, Beijing continues to exert claims over self-governing Taiwan and bristles at any language or action that bestows Taiwan with the image of sovereignty. Global brands such as Calvin Klein, Coach and Givenchy drew the ire of Chinese internet users after implying the island is its own country.Papitube criticized Chen in a post on its official Weibo account on Sunday. “We strongly condemn Potter King’s inappropriate language and actions,” Papitube said. “We are ending all partnerships with Chen Chia-Chin, whom we have a contract with, effective today.”Chen declined an interview through a representative at his startup, but the chief executive officer of his media startup, Ju Yang New Media International Co., said they would not comply with Papitube’s request.“We support democracy,” said Mars Lee, Chen’s business partner. “Everyone should take this seriously because many people fought for and won democracy with their lives, time and souls. Some people think democracy is easy to obtain like air, but it is not easy at all.”In a series of screen-shots of a chat history Chen presented with his post, a contact at his Chinese agency asked that Chen delete his video of Tsai on Facebook and YouTube. The Chinese agency said the issue lies with him calling Tsai “president” and added the agency will cancel Chen’s contract. Chinese state media typically refer to Tsai as the “Taiwan leader” or “regional leader.”Papitube may be particularly sensitive to content that could alienate government officials in Beijing. One of its stars, Papi Jiang, was censored in 2016 for foul language, with the authorities demanding that she remove her videos and clean up explicit comments. Papitube didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.Tsai’s spokesman Ernesto Ting said it is only natural for Taiwanese to address their president as president. “This is a demonstration of Taiwan’s democracy and freedom,” he said.The clash comes as Beijing is more forcefully exerting its national interests abroad. Over the weekend, China’s ambassador to Germany threatened Berlin with retaliation if it excludes Huawei Technologies Co. as a supplier of 5G wireless equipment, suggesting the sales of German carmakers in China may be at risk.China’s official CCTV also pulled the broadcast of an Arsenal soccer game after star player Mesut Ozil criticized the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighur Muslims on Instagram and Twitter.Earlier this year, China’s state broadcaster dropped National Basketball Association games after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey voiced support for Hong Kong protesters.\--With assistance from Gao Yuan.To contact the reporter on this story: Debby Wu in Taipei at dwu278@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google Culture War Escalates as Era of Transparency Wanes
    Bloomberg

    Google Culture War Escalates as Era of Transparency Wanes

    (Bloomberg) -- Each morning, workers at Google get an internal newsletter called the “Daily Insider.” Kent Walker, Google’s top lawyer, set off a firestorm when he argued in the Nov. 14 edition that the 21-year old company had outgrown its policy of allowing workers to access nearly any internal document. “When we were smaller, we all worked as one team, on one product, and everyone understood how business decisions were made,” Walker wrote. “It's harder to give a company of over 100,000 people the full context on everything.”Many large companies have policies restricting access to sensitive information to a “need-to-know” basis. But in some segments of Google’s workforce, the reaction to Walker’s argument was immediate and harsh. On an internal messaging forum, one employee described the data policy as “a total collapse of Google culture.” An engineering manager posted a lengthy attack on Walker’s note, which he called "arrogant and infantilizing." The need-to-know policy "denies us a form of trust and respect that is again an important part of the intrinsic motivation to work here,” the manager wrote.The complaining also spilled into direct action. A group of Google programmers created a tool that allowed employees to choose to alert Walker with an automated email every time they opened any document at all, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The deluge of notifications was meant as a protest to what they saw as Walker’s insistence on controlling the minutiae of their professional lives. “When it comes to data security policies, we’ve never intended to prevent employees from sharing technical learnings and information and we are not limiting anyone’s ability to raise concerns or debate the company’s activities,” said a Google spokeswoman in an email. “We have a responsibility to safeguard our user, business and customer information and these activities need to be done in line with our policies on data security.” The actions are just the latest chapter in an internal conflict that has been going on for almost two years. About 20,000 employees walked out last fall over the company’s generous treatment of executives accused of sexual harassment, and a handful quit over Google’s work on products for the U.S. military and a censored search engine for the Chinese market. Earlier this year, Google hired IRI Consultants, a firm that advises employers on how to combat labor organizing, and it recently fired four employees for what it said was violation of its policies on accessing sensitive data.The extent of Google’s employee rebellion is hard to measure—the company has tried to portray it as the work of a handful of malcontents from the company’s junior ranks. Nor are the company’s message boards unilaterally supportive of revolt. “We want to focus on our jobs when we come into the workplace rather than deal with a new cycle of outrage every few days or vote on petitions for or against Google’s latest project,” wrote one employee on an internal message board viewed by Bloomberg News.  Still, the company seems stuck in a cycle of escalation. Walker’s internal critics say his Nov. 14 email is part of a broader erosion of one of Google’s most distinctive traits—its extreme internal transparency. The fight also illustrates the lack of trust between Google’s leadership and some of its employees, according to interviews with over a dozen current and former employees, as well as internal messages shared with Bloomberg News on the condition it not publish the names of employees who participated.The conflict comes as Google is changing in other ways, too. On Dec. 3, Sundar Pichai, who took over as Google’s chief executive office in 2015, became the head of Alphabet, its parent company. His elevation marks the end of the active involvement of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who established Google’s distinctive culture when they founded the company as Stanford graduate students. Pichai has at times supported internal activism. He spoke at an employee protest against the Trump administration’s immigration policies and apologized to employees for Google’s track record on sexual harassment. His executives met repeatedly with critics of the company’s military work. Some Google managers began signaling that they're losing patience with internal activism even before the firings, according to one person who worked with them. Executives have not met with dissenting staff leadership in many weeks, according to one of the employees.While Walker wrote in the “Daily Insider” that organizations have to change as they grow, he simultaneously argued that the policies he described had always existed. “It was that way since the early days of Google, and it’s that way now,” he wrote. This particularly offended several long-time Googlers, who said on internal message boards that Walker’s comments didn’t square with their own memories. For some of them, the incident illustrated a broader breakdown in their trust of leadership. “I want to believe that executive management is saying everything—disclosing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” said Bruce Hahne, a Google technical project manager. “I don’t think we are currently under those conditions.”Hahne, 51, doesn’t meet the Google management’s profile of internal protestors. He joined the company in 2005, a year after Pichai, partly because he was attracted to its mission to organize the world’s information. His disillusionment crept in gradually during the company’s myriad controversies. In an online essay, Hahne compared Google to a “rogue machine” that was “originally created for good but whose psyche has turned corrupt and destructive,” much like Hal 9000 from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. “You don’t treat a rogue machine like family,” wrote Hahne, “instead you come up with a plan, you disable or dismantle the dysfunctional parts of the machine, and you seek to reprogram the machine to serve its original purpose.” When it was founded two decades ago, Google established an unusual corporate practice. Nearly all of its internal documents were widely available for workers to review. A programmer working on Google search could for instance, dip into the software scaffolding of Google Maps to crib some elegant block of code to fix a bug or replicate a feature. Employees also had access to notes taken during brainstorming sessions, candid project evaluations, computer design documents, and strategic business plans. (The openness doesn’t apply to sensitive data such as user information.)The idea came from open-source software development, where the broader programming community collaborates to create code by making it freely available to anyone with ideas to alter and improve it. The philosophy came with technical advantages. “That interconnected way of working is an integral part of what got Google to where it is now,” said John Spong, a software engineer who worked at Google until this July.Google has flaunted its openness as a recruiting tool and public relations tactic as recently as 2015. "As for transparency, it’s part of everything we do," Laszlo Bock, then the head of Google human relations, said in an interview that year. He cited the immediate access staff have to software documentation, and said employees "have an obligation to make their voices heard."Google’s open systems also proved valuable for activists within the company, who have examined its systems for evidence of controversial product developments and then circulated their findings among colleagues. Such investigations have been integral to campaigns against the projects for the Pentagon and China. Some people involved in this research refer to it as "internal journalism."Management would describe it differently. In November, Google fired four engineers who it said had been carrying out “systematic searches for other employees’ materials and work. This includes searching for, accessing, and distributing business information outside the scope of their jobs.” The engineers said they were active in an internal campaign against Google’s work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and denied violating the company’s data security policies.Rebecca Rivers, one of the fired employees, said she initially logged into Google’s intranet, a web portal open to all staff, and typed the terms: “CBP” and “GCP,” for Google Cloud Platform. “That’s how simple it was,” she said. “Anyone could have stumbled onto it easily,” she said.In an internal email describing the firings, Google accused one employee of tracking a colleague’s calendar without permission, gathering information about both personal and professional appointments in a way that made the targeted employee feel uncomfortable. Laurence Berland, one of the employees who was fired recently, acknowledged he had accessed internal calendars, but said they were not private. He used them to confirm his suspicions that the company was censoring employees. Berland, who first joined Google in 2005, added that he felt the company was punishing him for breaking a rule that didn’t exist at the time of the alleged violations.  Google declined to identify the four employees it fired, but a company spokeswoman said the person who tracked calendars accessed unauthorized information.Other employees say they are now afraid to click on certain documents from other teams or departments because they are worried they could later be disciplined for doing so, a fear the company says is unfounded. Some workers have interpreted the policies as an attempt to stifle criticism of particular projects, which they allege amounts to a violation of the company’s code of conduct. These employees point to a clause in the code that actively encourages dissent: “Don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right—speak up!” Workers are "trying to report internally on problematic situations, and in some cases are not being allowed to make that information useful and accessible,” said Hahne. There is now a “climate of fear” inside Google offices, he said.Google’s permissive workplace culture became the prime example of Silicon Valley’s brand of employment. But transparency is hardly universal. Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. demand that workers operate in rigid silos to keep the details of sensitive projects from leaking to competitors. Engineers building a phone’s camera may have no idea what the people building its operating system are doing, and vice versa. Similar restrictions are common at government contractors and other companies working with clients who demand discretion.The specifics of Google’s business operations traditionally haven’t required this level of secrecy, but that is changing. Google’s cloud business in particular requires it to convince business clients it can handle sensitive data and work on discrete projects. This has brought it more in line with its secrecy-minded competitors. The protests themselves have also inspired new restrictions, as executives have looked to cut off the tools of the activists it argues are operating in bad faith.Google’s leaders have acknowledged the delicacy of adjusting a culture that has entrenched itself over two decades. “Employees today are much, much more active in the governance in the company,” Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO and chair, said at an event at Stanford University in October. Amy Edmonson, a professor of leadership and management at Harvard Business School, said that Google’s idealistic history increases the burden on its executives to bring along reluctant employees as it adopts more conventional corporate practices. “It’s just really important that if you’re going to do something that is perceived as change that you’re going to explain it,” she said.Bock, the company’s former HR director who is now CEO of Humu, a workplace software startup, suggested that Google hasn’t succeeded here. “Maybe Alphabet is just a different company than it used to be,” he wrote in an email to Bloomberg News. “But not everyone’s gotten the memo.” (Corrects Berland comment in 19th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Josh Eidelson.To contact the authors of this story: Ryan Gallagher in London at rgallagher76@bloomberg.netMark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Brustein at jbrustein@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google, Apple asked if apps like TikTok must disclose foreign ties
    Reuters

    Google, Apple asked if apps like TikTok must disclose foreign ties

    The chair of a U.S. congressional panel wrote to Alphabet's Google and to Apple on Friday to ask what if any disclosures mobile apps are required to make regarding overseas ties, a concern that follows reports of Chinese investment in popular apps such as TikTok and Grindr. Rep. Stephen Lynch, chairman of a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, said in a statement that he had asked both Google and Apple to tell Congress whether they required app developers to disclose any non-U.S. ties. Concern over China acquiring sensitive data about U.S. citizens through social media apps is one of several sore areas in relations between the United States and China even as U.S. President Donald Trump's trade war with China fans suspicion between the world's two largest economies.

  • Bloomberg

    Palantir Wins New Pentagon Deal With $111 Million From the Army

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Army will spend $111 million next year in a new contract with Palantir Technologies Inc., deepening ties between Peter Thiel’s data analytics company and the Pentagon.The new Defense Department deal will represent about 10% of Palantir’s revenue next year, according to people familiar with the company’s finances. It’s the first step in what could be a four-year, $440 million deal with the Army.The Silicon Valley company will provide software to connect human resources, supply chains and other Army operations systems into a single dashboard. The Army considered earlier proposals for related work from Accenture Plc, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and Microsoft Corp.“We started Palantir in 2004 to help the war fighter and solve difficult problems,” Doug Philippone, head of Palantir’s global defense business, said in an emailed statement. “In helping the Army make better use of its own data, we accomplish both goals.”The Defense deal solidifies a relationship between the U.S. government and the Palo Alto, California-based company, which was co-founded and partly bankrolled by Thiel. The billionaire venture capitalist and adviser to President Donald Trump has chastised other technology companies, in particular Alphabet Inc.’s Google, for their reluctance to work with the Defense Department. After Google abandoned a Pentagon effort known as Project Maven, Palantir stepped in to help develop video recognition software as part of the project, a move reported earlier by Business Insider.On Saturday, a company spokeswoman said Palantir will run its first-ever commercials, which will air during the Army-Navy football game, in a bid to show its support for the U.S. military.In recent years, Palantir has sought to work more with companies and be less reliant on government contracts. Airbus SE and Merck KGaA are among its customers, but government clients still make up a significant portion of revenue.To contact the reporter on this story: Lizette Chapman in San Francisco at lchapman19@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google’s Shopping Comparison Draws Justice Department Scrutiny
    Bloomberg

    Google’s Shopping Comparison Draws Justice Department Scrutiny

    (Bloomberg) -- U.S. antitrust enforcers are examining Google’s conduct in the online shopping comparison market as they continue their probe of the search giant.Richard Stables, chief executive officer of the shopping comparison site Kelkoo Group, said he spent more than an hour with Justice Department officials on Thursday to discuss how Alphabet Inc. allegedly hurt his European-based business.The meetings show that the Justice Department, which opened its investigation of Google with a document seeking a wide swath of information on the company, has an interest in at least one of three landmark European antitrust cases.A Justice Department spokesman said the department has had numerous productive meetings with third parties, but declined to comment on specific discussions.Stables said he also met with congressional staff members for lawmakers on antitrust committees in the House and Senate earlier this week.In 2017, the European Union fined Google 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) and ordered the company to stop promoting its own shopping search results over those of competitors. Stables, who has been trying to convince the EU to toughen its remedy, outlined to the U.S. antitrust enforcers what he said was harm to consumers stemming from Google’s practices.Google’s practice of elevating its own services raises prices for consumers by limiting access to rival shopping comparison sites, Stables said.In the meetings, Stables said he raised concerns that Google could squash not just other European comparison sites, but also travel companies, searches for local businesses and services, and other firms in the U.S.U.S. companies that fear Google have been reluctant to speak out, he said, but he was was willing to help enforcers in Washington understand the market because the political moment made him more optimistic about getting a remedy.In addition to the Justice Department and Congress, 48 state attorneys general are probing Google, and some Democratic presidential candidates have ramped up their rhetoric on the dominance of tech giants.The states began their investigation by focusing on Google’s position in online ads, but some states have recently broadened their focus.Google spokesman Jose Castaneda directed reporters to a September blog post when Google Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker pledged to work with antitrust officials.(Updates with context on the states’ investigation, in second-to-last paragraph. An earlier version corrected the day of the meeting, in second paragraph)\--With assistance from David McLaughlin.To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.net;Naomi Nix in Washington at nnix1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Alphabet Seeks Quiet End to Investor Suits Over Sex Harassment
    Bloomberg

    Alphabet Seeks Quiet End to Investor Suits Over Sex Harassment

    (Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc. is pursuing mediation to settle investor litigation alleging the company let senior leaders at Google get away with sexual harassment and misconduct for years.Company directors this year set up a special committee to evaluate the claims after several shareholder groups sued, alleging that the board failed in its duties by allowing harassment, approving big payouts to departing executives and keeping the details under wraps. The committee recommended that the case go through private mediation, a closed-door process, according to a filing in California state court in San Jose.Both sides agreed to extend Alphabet’s deadline to respond to the claims until Feb. 14 to accommodate the mediation, according to the filing.Google’s handling of sexual harassment and misconduct has been a major flashpoint over the last two years. Thousands of employees walked off the job last year to protest the company’s policies after a New York Times report detailed how Google paid Android founder Andy Rubin $90 million in severance even after an employee accused him of sexual harassment.Google has since changed some of its policies and no longer bars employees from signing away their right to bring complaints in court.A Google spokesman declined to comment on the litigation. Louise Renne, a lawyer representing investors, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.The lead case is In Re Alphabet Inc. Shareholder Derivative Litigation, 19CV341522, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County (San Jose).To contact the reporters on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at gdevynck@bloomberg.net;Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, ;David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter Blumberg, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon Roundup: Government, re:Invent Conference, India, Other
    Zacks

    Amazon Roundup: Government, re:Invent Conference, India, Other

    Amazon had a big week with government issues, a host of new deals and announcements at its annual conference and developments in India.

  • 3 Growth-Focused Cloud Stocks for Tech Investors to Buy for 2020
    Zacks

    3 Growth-Focused Cloud Stocks for Tech Investors to Buy for 2020

    We found three cloud-focused software stocks using our Zacks Stock Screener that investors might want to consider buying for 2020...

  • Energy Efficiency Is a Hot Problem for Big Tech’s Data Centers
    Bloomberg

    Energy Efficiency Is a Hot Problem for Big Tech’s Data Centers

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Electrons aren’t much of a growth industry in the U.S., the second-largest electricity market in the world after China. Electricity sales rose last year, after nearly a decade of being flat or falling slightly, but are still only up 3% since 2007. There is one market, though, where demand for electrons is booming: data centers. That power-hungry growth market, though, is also where some of the world’s biggest, most capitalized and most innovative companies are bringing their might to bear. Before getting into that innovation, though, there’s a crucial equation to consider: the power usage effectiveness ratio, or PUE. PUE is a measure of a data center’s energy efficiency — the ratio of total energy used divided by energy consumed specifically for information technology activities. The theoretical ideal PUE is 1, where 100% of electricity consumption goes toward useful computation. All the other stuff — power transformers, uninterruptible power supplies, lighting and especially cooling — uses power but doesn’t compute, and as a result raises a data center’s PUE. A 2016 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study listed what was, at the time, PUE for facilities at various scales: a server sitting in a room, a server in a closet, a “hyperscale” extremely large data center. The smaller the server, the higher its ratio and the lower its efficiency. For the smallest server spaces, the PUE is above 2, meaning that more than half of its energy use is for things other than computing. For hyperscale, the PUE is 1.2 — meaning that most of the energy is going to computation. Here are that same data, expressed a bit differently, to show a server or data center’s power consumption by use. Here you can see that the smallest applications used more power for cooling than for computation. But at hyperscale data centers, more than 80% of power consumption went to IT (servers, networking and storage), and only 13% went to cooling. But now, with so much computation happening in the cloud (and, in reality, in hyperscale data centers), it’s worth finding out what today’s PUEs are and just how close they can get to that theoretical ideal of 1.0. A recent Uptime Institute survey of 1,600 data center owners and operators found that 2019’s average PUE is 1.67, and that “improvements in data center facility energy efficiency have flattened out and even deteriorated slightly in the past two years.” That PUE means that 60% of data center electricity consumption is going to IT, and the rest to cooling, lighting and so on. However, some operators are doing much better than that. Google says that its data centers have a PUE of 1.1, with some centers going as low as 1.06. There’s some seasonality in play, particularly because most of Google’s data centers are in the Northern Hemisphere; its Singapore data center has the highest PUE and is the least efficient of its sites. That’s not surprising given Singapore is hot and humid year-round. One key way to lower the cooling demand for a data center is to cool only to the temperature at which the machines are comfortable, not to where humans are most comfortable. For Google, that’s a temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s another approach, and one that draws on computation itself: machine learning. Google unleashed its DeepMind machine learning platform on the problem of data center energy efficiency three years ago; last year, it effectively turned over control to its own artificial intelligence: In 2016, we jointly developed an AI-powered recommendation system to improve the energy efficiency of Google’s already highly-optimised data centres. Our thinking was simple: even minor improvements would provide significant energy savings and reduce CO2 emissions to help combat climate change.Now we’re taking this system to the next level: instead of human-implemented recommendations, our AI system is directly controlling data centre cooling, while remaining under the expert supervision of our data centre operators. This first-of-its-kind cloud-based control system is now safely delivering energy savings in multiple Google data centres.It seems likely that more of that sort of approach will be adopted by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and other major cloud computing firms. Even with efficiency gains, data center electricity demand is voracious and growing; that growth has a number of implications for the power grid and for power utilities. The first is that many of these major consumers of electricity are also contracting for wind and solar power to meet their demand. The second is that, with many data centers clustering in locations such as Northern Virginia, data center loads are becoming a meaningful share of utility peak demand in a given service territory. Recent BloombergNEF research finds that data centers could make up 15% of Dominion Energy Inc.’s summer peak demand by 2024. Given that data center operators have every incentive to economize on electricity, utilities need to compete to provide service. Preferential — and confidential — contracts for power supply are one way to do that, with the result being that other rate payers bear the cost, as Bloomberg News reported last year. Gains in efficiency don’t mean that data center demand for electricity is going down. Their scale and growth is a testament to their power usage effectiveness. Their preferential contracts for electricity, on the other hand, feel like a testament to their effective usage of a different kind of power: buying power. Weekend readingChevron Corp.’s $10 billion to $11 billion impairment charge, related mostly to its Appalachian natural gas assets, “ushers in oil’s era of the sober-major.” Chevron has also called time on the Kitimat liquefied natural gas export plant in British Columbia, writing off years of development while also planning to sell its 50% stake. Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. has launched the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier. Tesla Inc. has lost its third general counsel in the course of a year. Vancouver-based Harbour Air Ltd.’s electric seaplane has taken flight. I looked at the environmental implications of electrifying aviation last month. Stanford University has released its 2019 Artificial Intelligence Index Report.  Venture capital fund Piva, funded by $250 million from Malaysia’s Petronas, has launched with a focus on energy and industry. Bloomberg Media will acquire CityLab, a news site covering “urban innovation and the future of cities.” Nomura Holdings Inc. will acquire sustainable technology and infrastructure boutique investment bank Greentech Capital Advisors. Hiro Mizuno, the chief investment officer of Japan’s $1.6 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund, has “embraced ESG principles so enthusiastically” that the fund will not award new mandates to managers without environmental, social and governance credentials. Considering the legacy of Xie Zhenhua, a key architect of the Paris Agreement and China’s climate negotiator for more than a decade. Greta Thunberg is Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Get Sparklines delivered to your inbox. Sign up here.To contact the author of this story: Nathaniel Bullard at nbullard@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nathaniel Bullard is a BloombergNEF energy analyst, covering technology and business model innovation and system-wide resource transitions.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • YouTube’s Music App Outpaces Spotify, Local Rivals in India
    Bloomberg

    YouTube’s Music App Outpaces Spotify, Local Rivals in India

    (Bloomberg) -- YouTube has signed up more than 800,000 subscribers for its paid services in India since debuting in March, according to people familiar with the matter, vaulting it past some competitors in one of the world’s fastest-growing media markets.The services have been growing faster than rival paid music offerings in India, including Spotify and local players Gaana and JioSaavn, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the subscriber data hasn’t been released. Apple Music also competes in the market, but it’s been tight-lipped about its subscriber figures.Gaana, owned by Times Internet, has more than 1 million paid subscribers, according to a representative. But it’s been around for almost a decade and has more than 125 million monthly users, who mostly use the free version of the service.YouTube has long struggled to to gets users to pay for its services, especially since the company’s main website is synonymous with free videos. But the Google division has started to gain traction, and the numbers out of India suggest it’s having particular success in the world’s second-most-populous country.YouTube sells two paid services in India: YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium. The music service offers a library of songs on-demand, much like Spotify, as well as the ability to download tracks, listen to music without ads and play tunes while using other apps. YouTube Premium offers the traditional YouTube video service without ads -- and the ability to play clips offline. But music is the driving force behind YouTube’s appeal, especially in India.Bhushan Kumar, the Bollywood Boss Behind YouTube’s Top ChannelThe country has emerged as a battleground for online music services, which are eager to sign up users in a country with more than 1.3 billion people. Unlike China, where online media services are tightly controlled by the government, India offers a similarly massive population without the same level of regulation.Western companies such as Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube compete with local services, and will soon contend with Resso, a platform from Chinese tech giant ByteDance.ByteDance is testing Resso in India and Indonesia before rolling out a paid version of the app next year. ByteDance’s short-form video app TikTok has more than 200 million users in India, enough to be a real challenger to YouTube and Instagram.Major PresenceBut YouTube already has a big presence in India, giving it an edge as it tries to get subscribers to pay fees. More than 265 million people use the free YouTube service in the country, making it YouTube’s largest market. India is also home to the channel with the most subscribers, T-Series, the country’s largest record label. Google has plowed resources into India in its bid to find new internet users and markets.The growth is also notable because India isn’t typically hospitable to paid services. The country is one of the poorer major economies, making its average citizen very sensitive to price. The leading free music services, Gaana and JioSaavn, have tens of millions of users, but few paying subscribers.Representatives for Gaana and JioSaavn didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.Netflix Inc., the world’s most popular paid online video service, has had to cut its price to compete in the country. It introduced a cheaper, mobile-only plan in India earlier this year and said this week it’s testing other pricing models.Netflix Is Spending $420 Million on Indian Content, CEO SaysYouTube has convinced people to pay by selling its service at a low price -- less than $2 a month -- and offering special features to subscribers. People who want to listen to music while not actively using the app -- a popular feature known as background listening -- must pay for it. The other apps offer background listening for free.Spotify has said that its Indian service has outperformed its expectations so far, though most of its growth has been from users of its free service.(Updates with Gaana subscriber figures in third paragraph.)\--With assistance from Ragini Saxena.To contact the reporter on this story: Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at lshaw31@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Dave McCombsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Alphabet's Latent Logic Buyout Bolsters Waymo Initiatives
    Zacks

    Alphabet's Latent Logic Buyout Bolsters Waymo Initiatives

    Alphabet's (GOOGL) Waymo acquires Latent Logic to establish presence in the autonomous vehicle market of Europe and the U.K.

  • FTC Eyes Suit to Block Facebook Plan to Merge Apps
    Bloomberg

    FTC Eyes Suit to Block Facebook Plan to Merge Apps

    (Bloomberg) -- U.S. antitrust enforcers are considering going to court to stop Facebook Inc.’s plan to merge technology systems so that users can communicate across the company’s apps, according to a person familiar with the matter.The Federal Trade Commission is studying whether to seek a court order to block the company’s effort to enable messaging among users of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, said the person, who declined to be named because the investigation is confidential.Facebook’s integration plan, announced in January, has come under criticism from those who say the move would make it harder to break up Facebook as part of any antitrust case against the company. The FTC, the U.S. Justice Department and a group of states are investigating whether Facebook has violated antitrust laws.FTC Chairman Joe Simons signaled he agreed with that view in an interview with Bloomberg in August. Asked how difficult a breakup of Facebook would be once the services had been well integrated, he said it would make the case “very messy.”“It’s hard,” he said. “It’s really hard.”Simons told Bloomberg at the time that he’s willing to go to court to seek a breakup of a tech company. Any decision by the FTC to sue would need a majority vote by the five-member commission.Facebook shares fell as much as 4% after the Wall Street Journal reported on the FTC’s deliberations. The shares fell 2.7% to $196.75 in New York.Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg wants to allow users of the messaging service on Instagram to chat with those using similar functions on WhatsApp and on the original Facebook site and app. Facebook says that would allow it to better view and control foreign election interference, the spread of terrorism and other content it deems bad. Currently users can’t communicate between services.The company has already begun to integrate messaging systems for Instagram, a photo app, with Facebook Messenger, Bloomberg has reported. The massive undertaking will stitch together the underlying technology and require corporate reorganization, but won’t change much about users’ interaction with the services.Critics including co-founder Chris Hughes have focused on Facebook’s ownership of the apps and its plans to knit them more tightly together. Such detractors have cast the integration as a source of danger to user privacy. They also say it would allow the company to further abuse its dominance and fend off enforcers’ attempts to curb its behavior.Facebook says it faces robust competition, even accounting for its ownership of the services.Many technological services are able to work together even when provided by different companies -- a concept known as interoperability. Users of Google’s email service, for instance, can easily communicate with friends who get their messages through Microsoft, and phones call one another regardless of wireless providers.Mobile chatting is not as well integrated, however. Those who study competition say that interoperability between rivals bolsters competition, but Facebook’s plan would allow the company’s apps to talk to one another rather than to outside services.The Justice Department has previously pushed back on the integration plan because it will involve encrypting Instagram and Messenger and make messages invisible to Facebook the way that already occurs on WhatsApp. The department, along with officials from Australia and the U.K., said in October that the company should pause its efforts until it can ensure lawful access to user communications. Facebook said in a letter released Tuesday that it rejected that call.The FTC’s investigation of Facebook, which became public in July, is examining in part whether the social media company’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp should be unwound even though they were previously approved by the agency.Advocates for aggressive antitrust action against Facebook, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, have argued both deals allowed Facebook to fend off emerging competition by acquiring platforms that posed a threat to its dominance. Warren has said she would seek to unwind both deals if elected president in 2020.(Updates with Facebook plan starting in fifth paragraph)\--With assistance from Kurt Wagner and Sarah Frier.To contact the reporters on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Paula DwyerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Alphabet Lawyer Sold $145 Million of Stock Before Page Exit
    Bloomberg

    Alphabet Lawyer Sold $145 Million of Stock Before Page Exit

    (Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc. legal chief David Drummond unloaded about $145 million of stock -- his biggest share sale on record -- in the weeks before co-founder Larry Page stepped down as chief executive officer.Drummond sold $72 million of stock in early November and an additional $73 million on Dec. 2, regulatory filings show. The latter disposal occurred a day before the Google parent announced that Sundar Pichai would succeed Page as CEO and become Drummond’s boss.While he has sold stock periodically since joining the firm in 2002, Drummond has divested almost twice as much this year as he did in 2018. He was Google’s first lawyer and ran the search giant’s legal and corporate development arms for years before shifting to Alphabet in 2015.Last year, Drummond was accused of having had a relationship with a female employee in the legal department. The woman, Jennifer Blakely, later came forward, saying Drummond abandoned her and their child and repeatedly violated rules governing workplace relationships.Drummond, 56, has said the two underwent a difficult breakup and that he never started a relationship with anyone else at company.But the details, coupled with accusations of misconduct by other senior Google executives, gave more fuel to critics who said that the company hadn’t done enough to reform a culture where powerful men weren’t penalized for inappropriate relationships or sexual misconduct. Last year, thousands of Google employees worldwide walked off the job in protest.This year, Alphabet’s board began investigating how misconduct matters were handled. The company no longer requires that workers sign away their right to challenge it in court. Some other executives accused of misconduct have left the company.A Google spokeswoman declined to comment or to make Drummond available for comment.Insider sales are closely watched by some investors to gauge management’s confidence in the business. That said, executive stock sales are hardly unusual. Most public-company bosses receive the bulk of their compensation in equity and periodically dispose of some of it to diversify their wealth.Drummond, whose most recent transactions were made under a pre-arranged stock-trading plan, has sold about 120,000 shares worth roughly $157 million so far this year. Regulatory filings suggest he collected most of those shares by exercising stock options with expiration dates from December 2020 through April 2022. The sales figures don’t exclude the cost of exercising those options.Drummond married another Google employee earlier this year, according to Axios.(Updates with stock-trading plan in 10th paragraph)\--With assistance from Mark Bergen.To contact the reporters on this story: Anders Melin in New York at amelin3@bloomberg.net;Gerrit De Vynck in New York at gdevynck@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, ;Pierre Paulden at ppaulden@bloomberg.net, Peter Eichenbaum, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • AMZN Stock: What to Know About Amazon Heading into 2020
    Zacks

    AMZN Stock: What to Know About Amazon Heading into 2020

    Shares of Amazon (AMZN) have slipped 6% in the past six months, while the S&P 500 climbed 9%. So when will Wall Street and investors start to think about buying Amazon stock again?

  • Google makes moving data to its cloud easier
    TechCrunch

    Google makes moving data to its cloud easier

    Google Cloud today announced Transfer Service, a new service for enterprises that want to move their data from on-premise systems to the cloud. This new managed service is meant for large-scale transfers on the scale of billions of files and petabytes of data. It complements similar services from Google that allow you to ship data to its data centers via a hardware appliance and FedEx or to automate data transfers from SaaS applications to Google's BigQuery service.

  • Tech Giants and Oil Drive Fastest GDP Growth Among U.S. Counties
    Bloomberg

    Tech Giants and Oil Drive Fastest GDP Growth Among U.S. Counties

    (Bloomberg) -- While the economy in Los Angeles County, home to Hollywood, topped the list as America’s biggest last year, the nation’s fastest-growing large county was to the north in Silicon Valley.The economy in Santa Clara County -- home to tech giants like Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google -- expanded 10.2% to $316.5 billion, according to data released Thursday by the Commerce Department that included nearly 20 years of county-level GDP data.Not only was Santa Clara the fastest-growing among all counties with populations exceeding 500,000, but it was also the country’s fifth-largest by GDP. The top 10 counties by GDP accounted for 19% of U.S. GDP, when using the national figures.GDP represents the total value of goods and services produced over a specific time and can be used to gauge economic health. On the whole, 2,375 counties saw gains in real GDP last year, while economies shrank in 717 counties. GDP was unchanged in 21.Among medium counties, or those with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, activities centered around oil and gas extraction helped Canadian County, Oklahoma, grow 21%. The Texas counties of Reeves, Loving, Winkler and Martin -- the heart of the Permian Basin, which has driven growth in U.S. oil production -- all showed GDP growth of at least 39% in 2018.However, a slowdown this year in oil and gas well drilling reduces the chances for such a repeat performance for these energy-intensive areas.For counties with a population of fewer than 100,000, Jackson County, West Virginia, grew at a stunning 86.5% in 2018, with the construction industry leading the area’s growth. The gain coincided with construction activities related to TC Energy Corp.’s Mountaineer XPress natural gas pipeline. In contrast, GDP in Grant County, North Dakota, declined 44%, as farmers suffered from a drought.\--With assistance from Vince Golle and Dominic Carey.To contact the reporter on this story: Reade Pickert in Washington at epickert@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Scott Lanman at slanman@bloomberg.net, Vince GolleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • ETFs to Make the Most of Disney+ Growth Story
    Zacks

    ETFs to Make the Most of Disney+ Growth Story

    Given the huge success of Disney's streaming service, investors could tap the opportune moment with consumer ETFs having the largest exposure to this global media and entertainment company.

  • Waymo buys Latent Logic, drives deeper into simulation and Europe
    TechCrunch

    Waymo buys Latent Logic, drives deeper into simulation and Europe

    Waymo has acquired Latent Logic, a U.K. company that spun out of Oxford University's computer science department, as the autonomous vehicle company seeks to beef up its simulation technology. The acquisition also marks the launch of Waymo's first European engineering hub, which will be in Oxford, U.K. This likely won't be the end of Waymo's expansion and investment in Europe and the U.K. The former Google self-driving project that is now an Alphabet business said it will continue to look for opportunities to grow the team in the U.K. and Europe.

  • ByteDance's Resso Stirs Up Competition in Music Steaming Space
    Zacks

    ByteDance's Resso Stirs Up Competition in Music Steaming Space

    Tik Tok-parent ByteDance's new music app Resso is expected to challenge the dominance of Spotify (SPOT) and Apple in the music streaming space.

  • APAC Smart Speaker Boom Highlights AMZN, BABA, GOOGL & Others
    Zacks

    APAC Smart Speaker Boom Highlights AMZN, BABA, GOOGL & Others

    Smart speaker market in Asia-pacific (APAC) region is gaining steam on the back of growing efforts by Amazon (AMZN), Google, Alibaba, Baidu and Apple.

  • Bloomberg

    Apple Keeps Payments Tech for Itself and Europe Has Had Enough

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc.’s digital wallet is expanding in Europe just as regulators crack down on the tech giant’s move into financial services.At issue is Apple’s role as a platform for other services. Spotify Technology SA already complained to antitrust regulators that Apple favors its own music service. Now banks and other payments providers say the company gives its Apple Pay service an unfair advantage by limiting access to a key component inside iPhones.“Access to technical interfaces is now a key competitive factor for payment systems,” Kerstin Altendorf, a spokeswoman for the Association of German Banks, said. “The same conditions should apply to all market participants.”The arguments leveled at Apple come as lawmakers and regulators look to curb the power of Silicon Valley technology platforms, including Google and Facebook Inc.European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager has begun scrutinizing Apple Pay, and antitrust regulators in the Netherlands and France are concerned, too. In Germany, a law that kicks in Jan. 1 could force Apple to open up its payments technology more for competitors.This is all bad timing for Apple, which is relying more on digital services like Apple Pay to generate growth. Its digital wallet is linked with 900 banks in Europe already and the company plans to work with another 1,500. How well that goes will partly depend on the fight for access to Apple Pay tech.Vestager’s officials have sought industry feedback on how iPhones may favor Apple Pay over other payment solutions. While that hasn’t triggered a formal probe yet, Vestager said she’s heard “many, many concerns” over the service and how that might hamper competition for easy payments.Bad blood between Vestager and Apple won’t help either. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook called one of Vestager’s decisions “political crap” when the EU ordered Apple to pay Ireland 13 billion euros in unpaid taxes.And Vestager’s concerns about Apple Pay are echoed by other antitrust regulators in the region. France’s antitrust regulator has warned about new entrants to quickly gaining dominant positions, and the Dutch regulator in October launched a market study to analyze the impact of big tech firms on its payments market.Germany is on the front lines of this battle. A law, kicking in Jan. 1, requires operators of digital money infrastructure to open up access to competitors for a reasonable fee. While Apple isn’t mentioned in the law, the company may be most exposed because Apple Pay relies on the iPhone’s near-field communications chip for slick in-store payments.Wireless payments are powered by so-called NFC chips, that let thousands use their phones to pour through subway ticket gates in London and Tokyo. The component also handles the wireless signals that allow Apple Pay users to wave their phones at store terminals for instant charges to a credit or debit card. Banks want the same functionality for their own iPhone apps and complain that Apple won’t give them access to the chip.Germany could force Apple’s hand. The new law requires “non-discriminatory access to the technical infrastructure” said Altendorf, the spokeswoman for the German bank association. That’s a step in the right direction, she added.Apple has already had to make changes to Apple Pay in response to an antitrust complaint in Europe. Swiss mobile payment app Twint contacted regulators because Apple’s wallet app kept automatically launching when customers tried to use Twint’s QR-based app at payment terminals. Apple last December agreed to implement a technical solution, deactivating NFC when the Twint app is open to stop Apple Pay interfering with its competitor’s service.Apple says it restricts access to the iPhone’s NFC chip as part of a system that encrypts users’ card information. Allowing competing mobile payments apps to access the NFC chip decoupled from Apple’s added layer of security could increase the risk of fraud and other security breaches, it said.Apple believes “deeply in competition,” it said in a statement, and the company has tried to make the service “the kind of seamless and convenient payment and wallet system that our users want and expect.”Customers can also still use alternative mobile payment options on Apple devices where transactions are processed through black-and-white QR codes instead of NFC technology.Security concerns may scupper these QR-based alternatives, which are used by Twint, Payconiq International SA and other Apple Pay rivals.QR codes can be easily spoofed, according to James Moar, an analyst at Juniper Research. “I don’t really see that as viable competition to Apple Pay in Europe at this point,” he said.\--With assistance from Mark Gurman and Sarah Syed.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, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Can DuckDuckGo replace Google search while offering better privacy?
    The Guardian

    Can DuckDuckGo replace Google search while offering better privacy?

    Can DuckDuckGo replace Google search while offering better privacy?The alternative search engine markets itself on protecting users’ privacy, but is it worth using?

  • Google Workers Rising Up After Employees Are Fired
    Bloomberg

    Google Workers Rising Up After Employees Are Fired

    Dec.13 -- Google fired four employees for what the technology giant said were violations of its data-security policies, escalating tension between management and activist workers at a company once revered for its open corporate culture. Rebecca Rivers, a former Google employee, and Bloomberg's Mark Bergen appear on "Bloomberg Technology."

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