GOOGL Jan 2020 1310.000 call

OPR - OPR Delayed price. Currency in USD
58.50
+4.50 (+8.33%)
As of 2:20PM EST. Market open.
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Previous close54.00
Open58.50
Bid52.00
Ask53.30
Strike1,310.00
Expiry date2020-01-17
Day's range58.50 - 58.50
Contract rangeN/A
Volume3
Open interest395
  • The Most Popular Google Searches of 2019
    Investor's Business Daily Video

    The Most Popular Google Searches of 2019

    Can you guess the top Google search of the past year? Here's a hint: it's something we've been discussing quite often recently.

  • 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.

  • 'Disney Plus’ was Google’s top US trending search term in 2019
    TechCrunch

    'Disney Plus’ was Google’s top US trending search term in 2019

    Google today released its annual "Year in Search" data that takes a look back at some of the most notable searches of 2019. Specifically, Google looked at the biggest trends -- meaning, search terms that saw the largest spikes in traffic over a sustained period in 2019 compared to 2018. In the U.S., Disney's new streaming service "Disney Plus" was the biggest search trend of 2019, followed by Cameron Boyce, Nipsey Hussle, Hurricane Dorian, Antonio Brown, Luke Perry, Avengers: Endgame, Game of Thrones, iPhone 11 and Jussie Smollet.

  • 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.

  • 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, Facebook Market Power Gets More Scrutiny in Australia
    Bloomberg

    Google, Facebook Market Power Gets More Scrutiny in Australia

    (Bloomberg) -- Google and Facebook Inc. will come under greater scrutiny from Australia’s competition regulator as the government seeks to rein in the market dominance of the digital giants.Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a special unit will be set up within the competition watchdog to monitor digital platforms, with an immediate focus on online advertising. The government will also review privacy laws to better protect consumers. Morrison pledged to tackle the “power imbalance” between tech companies and traditional media and will force them to negotiate over revenue sharing and the use of news content.The announcement Thursday was Morrison’s response to a sweeping report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission this year that raised concerns about the use and storage of personal data and the erosion of the mainstream media. The government supported, in varying degrees, most of the watchdog’s 23 recommendations but said more time was needed to consider such complex issues.“I want us to be the model jurisdiction in the world for how we are dealing with digital platforms,” Morrison told reporters. “We have regulation and restrictions that were written for an analog economy. If it’s wrong in the real world, it’s wrong in the digital world.”Tech platforms will have to work with news companies to develop a voluntary code to govern their relationship by November 2020, or else the government will consider a mandatory code.Some RejectionsMorrison rejected the ACCC’s call for new rules to force content to be taken off digital platforms in the event of copyright infringement. He also rejected changing tax rules to encourage philanthropic support for journalism.Australia’s government is “kicking the issues down the road a little bit,” said Rob Nicholls, a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales Business School in Sydney. While the need for further consultation is understandable, delays in acting “essentially mean that competition and consumers are left in the status quo that the ACCC has already identified as being unacceptable.”Google, Facebook Face Australia Crackdown on Market PowerRegulators worldwide have been trying to loosen the tech giants’ grip on everything from advertising and search engines, to news, data and elections.Broader HurdlesFacebook, the world’s largest social media company, is grappling with a mushrooming list of challenges, including antitrust investigations, criticism of its handling of personal information, and dissatisfaction with its treatment of political content.In July, Facebook agreed to pay $5 billion to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission -- the largest privacy fine in the agency’s history -- to resolve the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Google was also fined by the FTC to settle claims it violated children’s privacy on its YouTube platform.Google said Thursday it would continue to engage with the ACCC and the Australian government on areas “such as privacy, ad tech and our work with publishers.”Facebook said it was an opportune time for the government and industry to work on new regulation “that affords choice and opportunities for millions of Australians that use our services.” The company remains focused on “achieving economy-wide privacy protection.”To contact the reporters on this story: Edward Johnson in Sydney at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net;Sybilla Gross in Sydney at sgross61@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edward Johnson at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net, Angus WhitleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Disney+ Passes 22 Million Downloads: Time to Ditch NFLX & Buy Disney Stock?
    Zacks

    Disney+ Passes 22 Million Downloads: Time to Ditch NFLX & Buy Disney Stock?

    Disney+ downloads passed 22 million on mobile devices, the independently owned app-tracking company Apptopia announced Tuesday.

  • Australia tells Facebook and Google to commit to competition rules, or else
    Reuters

    Australia tells Facebook and Google to commit to competition rules, or else

    Australia said on Thursday technology giants such as Facebook Inc and Google will have to agree to new rules to ensure they do not abuse their market power and damage competition, or the government will impose new controls on them. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will create a code of conduct to address complaints that the technology companies have a stronghold on advertising, the main income generator of local media operators.

  • Bloomberg

    YouTube FTC Push on Kids’ Privacy Criticized by Consumer Groups

    (Bloomberg) -- A coalition of 19 privacy and children’s advocacy groups called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to maintain privacy protections for all viewers of content aimed at young people, pushing back on an exception sought by YouTube.The latest clash between the advocacy groups and the internet video giant comes as the agency considers changing its rules under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which bans data collection on those under age 13 without parental consent. Initial comments on the rewrite are due Wednesday.In September, YouTube agreed to pay $170 million to settle claims by the FTC and New York State that it violated COPPA, and it announced it would change how viewers can interact with videos directed at kids.In a Monday blog post on the proposed rewrite, the Google unit argued that adults watch content aimed at kids and those over 13 don’t need the protections when engaging in nostalgia viewing, research or seeking parenting advice. Currently companies must extend the protections to anyone watching content aimed at children.Kids and privacy groups, including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the American Academy of Pediatrics, said on Wednesday that creating an exception for those over 13 would be “troubling” and result in under-protection.“Children undoubtedly will patronize child-directed content on their parents’ devices, logged in to their parents’ profiles,” the groups wrote.They also reiterated the call to subpoena information from companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google to find out how many adults are actually watching content for kids.The company has maintained that the main YouTube service isn’t for children, and doesn’t allow viewers under the age of 13. In Tuesday follow-up comments to the FTC, Google said methods such as requiring users who are already signed to reenter their passwords or device PINs could demonstrate that an adult is watching, as could providing a fingerprint or prompting facial recognition.The FTC will consider the comments as it reviews the regulations.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Buy Amazon (AMZN) Stock on the Dip Before a 2020 Rally?
    Zacks

    Buy Amazon (AMZN) Stock on the Dip Before a 2020 Rally?

    Is now the time to buy Amazon stock on the dip heading into 2020 with AMZN stock down 6% in the last six months?

  • Facebook, Google Drop Out of Top 10 ‘Best Places to Work’ List
    Bloomberg

    Facebook, Google Drop Out of Top 10 ‘Best Places to Work’ List

    (Bloomberg) -- Big tech companies like Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, long seen as some of the world’s most desirable workplaces offering countless perks and employee benefits, are losing some of their shine.The Silicon Valley companies dropped out of the Top 10 “best places to work” in the U.S., according to Glassdoor’s annual rankings released Tuesday. HubSpot Inc., a cloud-computing software company, grabbed the No. 1 ranking while tech firms DocuSign Inc. and Ultimate Software were three and eight, respectively.Facebook, which has been rated as the “best place to work” three times in the past 10 years, was ranked 23rd. It’s the social-media company’s lowest position since it first made the list in 2011 as the top-rated workplace. Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, was ranked seventh last year.Google, voted “best place to work” in 2015 and a Top-10 finisher the previous eight years, came in at No. 11 on Glassdoor’s list. Apple Inc., once a consistent Top-25 finisher, was ranked 84th. Amazon Inc., which has never been known for a positive internal culture, failed to make the list for the 12th straight year.Microsoft Corp. was one of the lone big technology companies to jump in the rankings. The Redmond, Washington-based software company moved to No. 21 from 34 a year ago. A few technology companies made the list for the first time, including SurveyMonkey at No. 33, Dell Technologies Inc. at No. 67 and Slack Technologies Inc. at No. 69.Twenty companies on the list have their headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area, more than any other metro area, Glassdoor said.The annual list ranks companies using employee reviews on areas such as compensation, benefits, culture and senior management. Many of the big tech companies, including Facebook and Google, have been criticized this year for a myriad of issues, and in some cases employees have publicly opposed executive decisions.At Google, employees have protested against the company on a number of topics, including the company’s “intimidation” tactics against worker organizers. The results of an internal employee poll at the internet search giant, reported by Bloomberg in February, showed that fewer employees were inspired by Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai’s vision than a year earlier. It also found fewer workers believe senior management could successfully lead the company into the future.At Facebook, which just like Google provides employees with perks including free meals, corporate transportation and laundry services, workers have pushed back internally against leadership on some policy issues, such as the decision not to fact-check political advertisements.(Updates with new tech entrants in the fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • ‘Silicon Valley’ Exits With Serious Points About Big Tech
    Bloomberg

    ‘Silicon Valley’ Exits With Serious Points About Big Tech

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The sixth and final season of the HBO comedy show “Silicon Valley” — which concluded, sadly, on Sunday — begins with a speech.Richard Hendricks, the chief executive officer of Pied Piper, the internet company he started five seasons earlier, is testifying before a Senate committee alongside executives from Facebook, Google, Amazon and, of course, Hooli, run by Hendricks’s archnemesis Gavin Belson. The hearing is about data privacy.When it’s Hendricks’s turn to speak, he gets up from his seat on the panel and starts pacing (“I just think better on my feet”), grabbing a bulky microphone box so the senators can hear him. Thomas Middleditch, who plays Hendricks, is a master of physical comedy, and the image of him walking back and forth with a big microphone box under his arm is hilarious. But what he’s saying isn’t remotely comical:These people up here — you want to rein them in. But you can’t. Facebook owns 80% of mobile social traffic. Google owns 92% of search. And Amazon Web Services is bigger than their next four competitors combined. … They track our every move. They monitor every moment in our lives. And they exploit our data for profit. You can ask them all the questions you want, but they’re not going to change. They don’t have to. These companies are kings and they rule over kingdoms far larger than any nation in human history. They won. We lost.For the previous five seasons, “Silicon Valley,” which was created by Mike Judge — the same man who gave us “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “Office Space” — had gleefully skewered the inanities and pretensions of the tech industry. Who can forget Judge’s eccentric venture capitalist Peter Gregory (said to be based on Peter Thiel) inspecting the sesame seeds on the burger buns arrayed on his desk (all bought from Burger King) and realizing that a  shortage of said seeds was on the horizon — and that he could make a killing in the sesame seed market?Or the time the pompous stoner Erlich Bachman, whose house is “incubating” Pied Piper, goes to a private dinner claiming to be a “pescapescatarian” — “one who eats solely fish who eat other fish” — and all the other tech execs decide they want to be pescapescatarians, too.Or, in perhaps the single greatest line in the entire series, the ruthless, platitude-happy Belson, warning of a coming “datageddon,” tells his executives that Hooli’s compression algorithm has to beat Pied Piper’s. After all, he explains, “I don’t want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than we do.”(1)But as Hendricks’s speech suggests, this season felt a little different. Having mocked everything from companies that viewed revenue as a distraction to billionaires comparing their treatment to Holocaust victims, “Silicon Valley” seemed this season to turn its attention to more pressing matters. The short, seven-episode final season had its share of gags and funny lines, but it also seemed to me that Judge and his fellow showrunner, Alec Berg, wanted to point out not just what was inane and pretentious about tech culture but what was wrong with it.In the second episode for instance, Hendricks finds out that a contractor is using an internet game he created to collect data from Pied Piper’s customers — something the CEO has vowed his company would never do. When he tries to get rid of the contractor by collecting some of the conversations he has taped, the man instead plays them for his board — who are impressed with his gaming software’s ability to mine data.In the next episode, a sleazy billionaire offers Hendricks $1 billion for Pied Piper. Why? Because he wants to use it to sell data he will collect from the company’s customers.  Hendricks turns him down, intent on creating a “new, democratic, decentralized internet” where the bad behavior of Big Tech “will be impossible.” That, he believes, is the only viable workaround to such problems as monopoly behavior and privacy violations. (The billionaire then buys the contractor’s gaming company.)But the high point of the season comes in the fifth episode, when Belson, who has been tossed out of Hooli (Pied Piper bought it), realizes that he can create a new persona by promoting ethics in the tech industry. “Tethics,” he calls it. Pretty soon he has every tech titan in the valley signing on to his “tethics pledge” and contributing money that will allow Belson to build the “Belson Institute of Tethics.”It turns out that every banal line in the tethics pledge was plagiarized from the mission statements of Applebee’s, Starbucks and other companies. Thus do Judge and Berg dispense with the hollow promises of Facebook and others to do better whenever they are called out on some new example of, well, untethical behavior. As Odie Henderson, a coder-turned-critic who recapped “Silicon Valley” for Vulture, put it recently, “Tech goodness is a naive fantasy.”Needless to say, the crew at Pied Piper fail spectacularly in its attempt to create a new democratic internet. In the final episode, filmed partly as a documentary a decade in the future, Hendricks, now the Gavin Belson professor of ethics in technology at Stanford, is asked whether he thinks Pied Piper made the world a better place.“I think we did OK,” he says wistfully. Judge and Berg, on the other hand, did better than that. For six too-brief seasons, they did indeed succeed in making the world a better place.(1) Mocking the phrase “making the world a better place” was a “Silicon Valley” preoccupation. See here, for instance.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at jnocera3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at dniemi1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • YouTube Outlaws Insults Based on Race and Sex, With Caveats
    Bloomberg

    YouTube Outlaws Insults Based on Race and Sex, With Caveats

    (Bloomberg) -- Google’s YouTube video service expanded its definition of banned speech after months of criticism, saying it will now remove clips and comments that make “veiled or implied threats” against individuals or insult people based on attributes such as race and sexual orientation.The new harassment guidelines are part of YouTube’s efforts to clean up its platform, which has been plagued by videos that advertisers, users and regulators find toxic.Read more: YouTube Managers Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run RampantIn June, journalist and YouTube creator Carlos Maza publicly accused Steven Crowder, a conservative comedian, of repeatedly harassing him with homophobic remarks on YouTube. The company said Crowder’s videos didn’t violate its policies and didn’t remove them. Employees at Google protested the decision. YouTube responded by pulling ads from Crowder’s videos, sparking accusations of bias from some politicians.“We will no longer allow content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation,” Matt Halprin, YouTube’s head of trust and safety, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “This applies to everyone, from private individuals, to YouTube creators, to public officials.”Videos that “repeatedly brush up against” YouTube’s policies may be removed from its advertising program, Halprin added. This means that the controversial Crowder videos would now be considered a violation of YouTube’s policies, a company spokesman said.But there are exceptions. YouTube said videos that include harassment language in certain contexts, such as a documentary or a scripted satire, will not be removed. Neither will clips featuring or discussing powerful people “like high-profile government officials or CEOs of major multinational corporations.” YouTube will decide when videos meet these exceptions or not.Maza said he was skeptical of the new policy after it was announced on Wednesday. YouTube’s prior rules around harassment already covered protected groups and people, Maza said, but the company hasn’t be able to police content across its sprawling site. “The issue has never been the scope and language of the policy. The problem was with enforcement,” he said by phone. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”Crowder didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. He posted a video on Tuesday titled, ‘Urgent. The YouTube ‘Purge’ is coming.”(Updates with comments from YouTube creator in seventh paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Russian Artist Puts $150,000 Banana to Shame

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Forget Maurizio Cattelan’s $150,000 banana, duct-taped to the wall at Art Basel in Miami last week and eaten by a less well-known trickster artist. (The buyers of the artwork are fine with that — it came with a manual that prescribes replacing the fruit every week or so, anyway.) The best art of this type comes from Russia, because there, it actually means something.The art object that, as any responsible critic should recognize, eclipses Cattelan’s headline-grabbing “Comedian,” was sold online on Dec. 9 for 1.5 million rubles ($23,600). It was created by Artem Loskutov, an artist from Novosibirsk, Russia, who started the now nationwide tradition of “Monstrations,” annual rallies where people carry nonsensical signs. (“We Can’t be Knocked Off Course: We Don’t Know Where We’re Going,” one said this year.) The object is a piece of canvas-covered cardboard with a steel plaque glued to it and Loskutov’s signature, in marker, underneath. On the plaque, a woman named Nailya professes her love for a man named Andrey Kostin, in English, and tells him, “We are of the same blood,” an apparent corruption of the line from Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book,” “We be of one blood, ye and I.”Loskutov’s description of the materials used in creating the work says, “found object, stainless steel, 5X14 cm; marker, canvas on cardboard.” But the plaque is, strictly speaking, a stolen object, not a “found” one. Until a few days ago, it was affixed to one of the 6,800 benches in New York City’s Central Park “adopted” by donors to the Central Park Conservancy.It came from what’s probably now the most famous of these benches: Earlier this month, it got a prominent mention in a 29-minute video by anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, an arch-foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, that has been viewed more than 5 million times (and counting) on YouTube. The video is dedicated to the relationship between Andrey Kostin, the (married) president and chief executive officer of the state-owned bank VTB and state television anchor Nailya Asker-Zade. The state banker, according to Navalny, has showered Asker-Zade with expensive gifts, including prime real estate and the use of a yacht and a private plane. The cost of it all appears to be too high even for Kostin’s significant legitimate income, Navalny wrote.Kostin hasn’t commented on the video, nor has VTB, Russia’s second biggest bank by assets. Asker-Zade, known for her fawning interviews with members of Putin’s close circle, thanked Navalny on Instagram for the publicity.Navalny’s made-for-YouTube investigations are political tools rather than journalistic endeavors, and much of the film’s substance should probably be classed as opinion rather than fact. But when it comes to the Central Park plaque, Asker-Zade is mentioned in Central Park Conservancy’s 2015 annual report among donors of between $10,000 and $24,999. Navalny specializes in exposing impossibly lavish lifestyles that embarrass Putin allies and scandalize the average Russian. Judging by his video’s viral spread and the indignant comments it’s spawned on social networks, he handily hit his mark here.To put his allegations in context, Navalny wrote in a separate post that by his count the total value of the gifts is comparable to the amount that’s been raised by Rusfond, one of Russia’s biggest charities dedicated to funding medical treatment for seriously ill children, over its 23-year history. That would be difficult to prove, but is important for what happened next.Suddenly, the plaque disappeared from the bench, an event Navalny was quick to report on Twitter. On Dec. 9, it resurfaced in Loskutov’s possession. To turn it into art, Loskutov didn’t just paste it on cardboard and scribble his name underneath. He promised to donate the proceeds from its sale to Rusfond. The same day, he announced the object had fetched 1.5 million rubles in an informal auction he had run online. (The original screws from the bench were offered as a bonus.) To complete the performance, proof of the transfer to Rusfond is still needed. But Loskutov’s work has already garnered numerous comments to his tweets and Facebook posts — both accusing him of theft (even many Putin foes were uneasy about this) and praising him for his audacity.  One commentator summed the whole situation up like this: “They stole our money and we’ll steal their memories.” Although there's no proof Asker-Zade or Kostin engaged in theft.On Tuesday, Loskutov took to Facebook and Twitter again to post a quote attributed to a host of greats, most often to Pablo Picasso: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” It’s unclear, though, if he meant himself or the bureaucrats and managers of state-owned companies whom Navalny often accuses of graft.The New York Times’ art critic Jason Farago recently offered what he called “a reluctant defense” of Cattelan’s banana on the basis of the artist’s “willingness to implicate himself within the economic, social and discursive systems that structure how we see and what we value.” If that defense is valid, Loskutov’s action works on more levels than Cattelan’s work. It’s art as Robin Hood-style theft, art as tabloid journalism, art as political protest, art as social commentary, art as commerce and art as charity all rolled into one. It’s not a case of art imitating life or the other way round, but art’s bold intrusion into life as it plays out under one of the world’s most dispiriting authoritarian regimes.Loskutov’s performance, whatever its consequences for him, deserves a place among other audacious Russian art works such as Voina Art Group’s 2010 depiction of a gigantic penis on a St. Petersburg drawbridge exactly opposite the secret police office or Petr Pavlensky nailing himself to the pavement on Moscow’s Red Square in 2013. It’s easy these days to be cynical about the value of art and to play tricks on audiences based on the amount of money some wealthy people are willing to pay for fatuous objects. It’s much riskier, and much more meaningful, to challenge allegedly corrupt elites and the enforcers and benefactors of authoritarian nations. Where political opposition is feeble, art has a role to play.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon (AMZN) Leases Space in Manhattan to Build New Office
    Zacks

    Amazon (AMZN) Leases Space in Manhattan to Build New Office

    Amazon (AMZN) plans to open a new office in Manhattan in a bid to further expand in New York.

  • TikTok Owner Is Testing Music App in Bid for Next Global Hit
    Bloomberg

    TikTok Owner Is Testing Music App in Bid for Next Global Hit

    (Bloomberg) -- TikTok owner ByteDance Inc. is testing a new music app in emerging markets as it tries to pull off another global sensation akin to its viral video-sharing service.Called Resso, the new app is now available in India and Indonesia, two of Asia’s most populous countries and places already keenly familiar with TikTok. Since an initial launch six months ago, Resso has been installed by about 27,000 users across the iOS App Store and Google Play, according to data compiled by Sensor Tower, which said the numbers indicate promotion of the app began in earnest at the end of November.ByteDance, the world’s most valuable startup, has been quietly developing the app to challenge the likes of Spotify and Apple Music in countries where paid music services have yet to garner large audiences.“The dilemma for all three companies is how to monetize a price-sensitive user base with low relative incomes,” said Michael Norris, research and strategy manager at Shanghai-based consultancy AgencyChina. “At the moment, it’s a race for active users in the developing world. Commercial realities will be put aside, at least for now.”Unlike Spotify, Resso displays real-time lyrics and lets users post their comments under individual songs. They can also generate music-accompanied GIFs and videos, emulating a favorite feature of TikTok. The app offers a monthly paid subscription service, which costs 119 rupees ($1.70) in India, the same as Spotify. Premium Resso users will be able to download music and listen ad-free.The Beijing-based company has secured rights from Indian labels T-Series and Times Music, Bloomberg News previously reported.A TikTok Craze Is Minting Celebrities and Ruining Lives in IndiaYet there are still no rights deals with the world’s three largest music companies -- Warner Music Group Corp., Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment -- which control the vast majority of popular music and whose catalogs would be crucial for Resso to catch on globally, according to people familiar with the matter.Record companies credit TikTok with minting a new generation of music stars, including Lil Nas X, the singer of “Old Town Road.” As it has attracted hundreds of millions of users with their music, however, those companies are now demanding ByteDance increase the licensing fees it pays.“Resso is currently in a beta testing phase,” a Resso representative said in a statement. “We are optimistic about its long-term prospects but we are still very early in the process and only in a limited number of developing markets.”ByteDance was valued at $75 billion last year in part because investors are confident about its reputation as a mobile app factory. But the seven-year-old startup is still on the lookout for its next major breakout hit after TikTok and news aggregator Toutiao, its first signature app. With the paid music app, ByteDance is also looking to expand its revenue stream beyond advertising to counter a slowing home economy that has dampened advertisers’ appetites.A rare global feat for a Chinese internet company, TikTok has been installed nearly 1.5 billion times since launching in 2017. New U.S. users grew 38% to 11.6 million in the third quarter, according to Sensor Tower, up from 8.4 million a year earlier.But its Chinese ownership has become a lightning rod for criticism as tensions rise between the U.S. and China over trade and technology. American politicians and teen users alike have expressed concerns about the app’s handling of user data and censorship of politically-sensitive expression.Testing out Resso in its chosen markets gives ByteDance the breathing room to scale up the service slowly and out of the intense spotlight that’s placed on its other services.(Updates with analyst comment in fourth paragraph)\--With assistance from Muneeza Naqvi.To contact the reporters on this story: Zheping Huang in Hong Kong at zhuang245@bloomberg.net;Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at lshaw31@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.

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